5.1 surround sound help needed

Can anyone tell me where I can get something like "An Idiot's Guide to Connecting Surround Sound Components"? I'm having a hell of a time. You can answer here or email me directly at dalehimself@yahoo.com.

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Not sure what you currently have, but here is a brief description, assuming current equipment with HDMI connections. Given your question, I will try to keep it very simple. You should provide more information on exactly what your issues are.

You start with a surround sound receiver, sources (TV and BluRay/DVD), and speakers.

The receiver is the core. It has inputs for a DVD/BluRay player and for your cable box, through HDMI cables. So, connect your BluRay and cable box to the receiver through HDMI cables. You can get cheap HDMI cables through MonoPrice.com if you do not have them. Do not pay the big box store prices.

The receiver will output a video signal to your TV, through HDMI, and audio to your speakers.

Video from the receiver to the TV goes through HDMI. The receiver will switch the input to the TV as you change sources using the receiver remote.

Speakers connect through normal speaker wire, except for the sub-woofer, which typically uses a RCA connector type cable.

For audio you typically have 5 speakers and a sub-woofer, all connected to the receiver. The center, left and right speakers provide the main front sound, while the 2 back speakers (surround speakers) provide secondary effect sounds. The front and center speakers are the most important. There is also a sub-woofer which provides the low frequency sound. It also connects to the surround receiver.

The receiver has connections for all of the speakers. The front, center and surround speakers are through normal speaker wire. The sub-woofer typically has its own power, so it connects from the receiver through a cable with RCA type connecters.

So, you need a surround receiver, a DVD/BluRay player, 5 speakers and subwoofer.

I would suggest a BluRay player rather than a DVD player. It will play both BluRay and DVDs and the cost of an entry level BR is not that much more than a DVD player.

That is pretty basic. If you have specfic questions, please ask.

In addition to DTC's advice, there are some really great primers at www.HomeTheater.com, www.soundandvision.com and www.hometheaterhifi.com

If you can also go to a local library and pull some back issues of Home Theater Magazine that will be helpful too.

Mark Fleischmann who is a contributing author to Home Theater Magazine also published a book called Practical Home Theater. You can get it on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1932732136/ref=mp_s_a_1?qid=1350563484&sr=1-1&pi=SL75

Hope that helps and good luck
This is really helpful, and I'm going to try a few things and get back to you. I'm currently using a Pioneer receiver and a Marantz DVD player that will play anything (except BlueRay of course). My main concern/issue, is getting surround sound from 5.1 audio discs. I think I've tried a few different configurations, and can never seem to get sound from the back. So 2 questions:
1: Do 5.1 audio discs necessarily have surround/back information, or could they be just front audio;
2: Would there ever be output options that I need to check and/or assign in the DVD player?

Thank very much for your help!


Two things:

1) your receiver should be telling you visually the channels being used and
2) you need to calibrate/balance the audio among all channels. Newer receivers will do this automatically and older ones will need you to do it.

Not all channels are active all the time in movies so its a good idea to have a calibration disk or use the pink noise feature of your receiver to confirm audio and correct setup of each speaker.