Connecting Audio devices - Digital Audio

Wiring & connecting Audio devices

 Wiring and connecting devices can prove intimidating sometimes to those with no previous experience.  Let me take a moment to go through the different types of connections and the difference between them.
There are two basic alternatives involved within a home theater.  Analog cables, Digital cables. This is the reason why I'm doing this post.  Time and time again I continue to come across people who are using these connections in the wrong manner expecting to get the full effect out of their devices(DVD players, Cable boxes, Playstation3, Blue Ray players...etc).  If done wrong not only is high definition out of the question but youre true surround sound is out of the question.  Making monies paid for your nice TV and stereo system nothing but a waste.

Analog Cables 
These are cables you might more easily recognize as red, white *(and sometimes yellow.) Now these cables are standard with traditional DVD players and older devices such as cassette players and record players.  New devices can have these connections and with devices like Playstation 3 and Xbox it does come with these cables standard.  These analog connections will allow 2 Channel audio through the red and white (right and left) and the yellow part of the cable is video.  If you are using this yellow cable and you have a high definition television.  Stop! You cannot acquire HD through this analog connection.

Digital Cables

This brings us to the question, if I don't use those cables what do I use?  Well Analog Cables that I've described above is an absolute last resort in my opinion.  Devices like your Computer, Playstation, Cable boxes etc.  all send Digital audio data.  What this means is the source....a blue ray or a movie on TV is sending an audio signal in 5.1 dolby digital surround sound or 7.1 DTS etc ..or something similar.  This data is transmitted digitally so you can hear the audio as it was intended.  Using analog cables messes that up and sends this signal as 2 channel stereo so right/left from your front speakers, not using your surround system properly.

 There are three ways to utilize digital sources from your devices:

Coaxil Cable
Digital Coaxil Cable

Coaxil Cable.  This connection looks like a regular RCA cable but its not.  Its designed to allow send digital data through this one cable.

Optical Cable (aka TOSLINK)

Optical Cable
Digital devices many times will also have the option for an Optical Cable.  It is also known as a Toslink Cable.  This sends digital data through a fiber-optic cable.

HDMI is the newest, most convenient and simplest to use.  This cable carries the audio and the video signal in the one cable.  This is the recommended choice if the option is available.  Its likely if you have a high definition television you are using this already.  If you arent Start.

Super Duper-Bozo Model

As I mentioned previously, without using one of these digital sources there is no point in owning High Definition televisions or home theater systems.  Save your money and pick this up instead.

For those of you more interested in setup of surround sound take a look here