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How to: Connect my computer to my home theater system?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
So your stumped on how to get your computer's audio on your home theater system?
What this FAQ is about,
-How to Connect a computer's audio to a home theater reciver
-The lingo used in Home teater systems
What this FAQ is not about,
-Connecting your computer to your TV.
-How to build a home theater system/create one

Lingo,
-THX, The George Lucas standard, 6 channels of digital sound, that meet the standards of THX quality sound.
-DTS, The rival decoder to Dolby labs providing 6 channels of digital sound.
-Dolby Digital 5.1, 6 channels of surround sound. The format consists of three speakers across the front and two speakers in the rear. The .1 is a sixth channel used by the subwoofer.
-S/PDIF, short for Sony/Philips Digital Interface
-Coaxial, Most common on DVD players, it is Copper Cable that caries Digital channels of Audio, all in one cable
-Optical, Most common connection on sound cards and S/PDIF connections, it is 2 twisted pairs of Copper Cable that caries Digital channels of Audio, all in one cable
-Toslink, is a connector format for fiber optic digital audio cables. A fiber optic digital audio cable carries audio data in the form of light impulses instead of electrical signals. The Toslink connector is a square plug and is used with newer Dolby Digital surround sound receivers similar to Optical. It is also a name brand... and has no copper in the cables

Connecting your computer to home theater system via Digital Coaxial cable,

1. You need an input on both your Home theater system and your motherboard or sound card.
It looks like this

2. Buy some Coaxial cable, runs about 5 dollars for 10 feet
3. Connect you computer to your home theater system
4. Most sound cards allow for plug in and play with your home theater system, though your home theater system might need some fine tuning for sound balance.

Connecting your computer to your home theater system via Optical out.

1. You need an input on both your home theater system and computer via Optical inputs/outputs
It looks like this

2. Buy some optical cable, runs about 7 dollars for 10 feet.
3. Connect your computer to your home theater system
4. Most sound cards allow for plug in and play with your home theater system, though your home theater system might need some fine tuning for sound balance

Common Questions asked about home theater,

Q: I dont have any of these inputs on my computer, what do I do?
A: You can do one of two things. First, the most cost effective, you can get a S/PDIF output cable that connects to your motherboard, available here . This takes the allready available S/PDIF pins on your motherboard and allows for the cables to plug into this. The S/PDIF pins look like this

The second thing you can do is buy a sound card with these digital outputs, I have the Turtle Beach Riviera its a step up from onboard sound plus it allows for Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding and Pro Logic II. It's price is good for 30 dollars and it has the optical output. If money is not a factor, i recommend the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro Great sound with a 5.25 in. bay connector.

Q: My computer has a Coaxial output, but my home theater system only has an optical input, what do I do?
A: You can buy an adapter here for 25 dollars.

Q: What type of audio decoding will I get?
A: This depends on yor soundcard or your motherboard. The Turtle Beach Riviera decodes for Pro Logic II and Dolby Digital 5.1 The decoding of the Home theater reciver can differ. It could decode for the above, or not. The Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro decodes for 7.1 channels, THX, DTS ES, Dolby Digital EX. Also backward compatable with Dolby Digital 5.1

Q: How can I hear sound in Pro Logic II or Dolby Digital 5.1 or any of the other decodings?,
A: First your Audio needs to be decoded in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS or Pro Logic II. Second your Home theater system needs to beable to decode for Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, Pro Logic II or more. If one of these don't meet any of these requirements, you will beable to recive surround sound but not any of the above digital surroundsound.
    
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post #2 of 11
i got a much more simple way buy the plug that got the yellow/red or yellow/white the the speaker plug on it then plug it in ur pc then the yellow/red or yellow/white to the sound system i done that and i got 2 subs and 3 surround sound speakers running on my pc with a 25 cd stacker.
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
ya, thats if you dont want digital sound. Basically, it takes the Red/White cables and the reciver tries to decode them, but u basically get no sound out of the rear speakers (red and white are only left and right). Mainly the center speaker will dominate over all of them making the surround sound system pointless. But if you get a Coaxial cable or an optical cable, it can decode for all 6,7 or 8 channels in the home theater system.

Ps. its red and white that carries audio (yellow is the video)
    
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post #4 of 11
I would like to go wireless, since my Home theater is in the living room and my PC is in my office. I already have a wireless network in my hacienda.

What's the best way to go there? I've heard apple makes a product, but I know nothing about it.

It would be nice to ditch my cabinet of cds and use my pc as a jukebox.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Actually pioneer is launching its wireless home theater system tommrow, but if you ask me, i would wait for reviews and preformance of the wireless set ups. It's going to be a real trade off, preformance vs convience. Also there super expensive, around 800 i assume.

look http://news.designtechnica.com/article4108.html at that for the info on wireless release from pioneer

also for others looking for the benifit of DTS/Pro Logic II and more, watch the video on the surround sound formats here http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/pn..._4151,00.html#
    
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Please delete, the internet was laggin, made a dbl post on the same thing...oops
    
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post #7 of 11
actually the faq is wrong...toslink is a type of optical cable and this means that they are the same thing except one's a brand name. optical has no copper in it...perhaps an error from the above def?
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post #8 of 11
^ i was thinking the same thing, but nice simple breakdown. oh way, the available here link is sold out. go figure no ETA i looked forever for one of those
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post #9 of 11
Wow for less than 800, I could just build a multimedia machine.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
ya, sorry for the "sold out link" i was kinda trying to give an example of what you may be looking for....

also thanks somebody.. i will make that edit right away
    
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