Set-Up for Dummies (like me)



Thanks to all the help I got on this board, I ordered the following system: HK225 receiver, Yammy DV-C6480 disc player, and Energy Take 5.2 sub/speakers. (Around $1300 total.) Everything is arriving today. Hooray!

The problem: I'm a home theater newbie and I know absolutely nothing about the best way to set a system up. I bet lots of other people out there are in the same boat. The more I read about it the more complex it sounds.

I don't need super-technical stuff (I can say with relative certainty that I'm not going to buy one of those sound-tester widgets and crawl around in my living room). I just need some basic starter tips.

Like: cables. I take it that I'm going to want to upgrade from the cables/wires my gear comes with. Can anyone tell me what kind of cables are reasonably priced and work well? Do I just need to upgrade the speaker cables, or should I upgrade the coax and other connector cables as well?

Optical vs. digital vs. coaxial vs. S-video... what the f***? Is it possible for someone to give me a simple rundown on what connections are best between components?

My DVD player and CD player are one unit, but the instructions for my receiver has separate instructions for how to connect the two components. If they're one and the same, should I connect them as I would connect a DVD player?

Sub/speaker placement. I know the the front speakers are supposed to be about as far apart as I am from the center speaker. I know that the sub, ideally, is not in a corner, and is behind the plane of the front speakers. Anything else obvious I need to know? And I've seen in some discussions the idea of hooking speakers up to the sub rather than the receiver... should I consider this?

That's (way more than) enough for now. I know I'm opening a huge can of worms here, but I'm sure others out there want some simple tips too.

Thanks in advance! You guys are great.

Hay Dave,

That post made me laugh...because while you may not buy a sound pressure level meter (widget thingy) you *will* be crawling around your living room...we all do!

Since you're setup is strikingly similar to mine I'll try and answer these, anyone feel free to jump in. I guess I'll go it by component:

DVD/CD PLAYER - connections need to go two places at least: video to the TV, audio to the HK.

VIDEO -- Depending on the TV that you have you can connect out of the 6480 via any format: composite (single yellow-tip RCA cable), S-video (single multi-pin cable) or component (three discrete RCA-type plugs (Pb, Pr, Y). Any of these will work, but the order in which I listed them is the order of ascending'll probably go with S-video, so you'll need a single S-video cable connected from the DVD player to the TV. [there is an exception to this, which is if you want to route the video signal *through* the HK...but we'll get to that later]

AUDIO -- this can be really simple or more complex, it depends. The simplest way to go is to get *either* a digital coax cable OR an optical cable. Connect it to the HK (say, optical 1) and you're done.

Then you'll assign the optical 1 input to DVD on your HK and that's it. When you select DVD on the HK, you'll be listening to the digital output of the DVD/CD player.

So, the total cables you need to connect the DVD player and make it work is two: one s-video (OR composite, OR component) from DVD to TV for video signal, and one optical OR coax to HK for audio.

One quick note, the cables do NOT have to be $50 /each Monster cables. My optical cable is from Radio shack ($14 I think) and I also have a coax from the Shack ($15 I think). The shorter the lengths the ckeaper too.

Now, you can get more trick with the audio portion of things (because I see you bought an excellent DVD player...same one I have ;-). Part of what makes the 6480 really nice is the fact that it has excellent digital-to-analog convertors onboard (burr-browns).

In the config that I just told you (a single optical connection) you are passing a digital signal which the HK will decode, in this manner you are by-passing the Yamaha's burr-brown decoders. In order to use them you simply connect a standard stereo analog cable (red and white) connection from the back of the 6480 (called analog on the back) to, say, the CD input of the HK.

Now, when you select "CD" on the HK you'll be hearing the DVD/CD player outputing your music as decoded with its on-board decoders (by-passing the HK's decoders). So, you may have the 6480 connected to the HK with *both* optical (or coax) for digital sound, AND via an analog stereo RCA cable for analog sound.

In the first scenario the HK is doing the decoding which is *great* for movies as the HK will auto-sense Dolby and DTS, and in the second the Yamaha is doing the conversion (with its burr-browns) for *really* nice sound on music.

There is yet *another* config, though, for audio and that's for DVD-Audio disks which pass 6 channels of discrete music (which must be expereinced!). In this case, you would hook up (with three pairs of stereo analog RCA cables) the 5.1 output from the back of the 6480 to the preamp-in section of the HK. (let me know if you have any questions about this). This would then have the 6480 connected in three *separate* ways to the HK, all of which would be handling a different and specific task! (this is exactly how I have things set up).

SPEAKER WIRE -- Don't cash out your 401K to buy the stuff people will try and sell you. Buy decent wire (12 guage preferrably) and get decent connectors, like bananas (though not immediately required). I got a 250ft spool of 12 guage at home depot for $'s great. If your runs from the receiver aren't more then 20-30 feet, 14-16 guage is also fine. But figure out your speaker placements first before spending too much on speaker cable. It's like hair, easy to cut to short--can't put it back on though.

SPEAKER PLACEMENT -- From what you wrote, you have a good grasp on this. A decent rule of thumb is equilateral triangle with your head being one of the points. I've read other places and use this rule as well that the listener should be 1.5x the distance between the L/R speakers...which whould be between 8-10 feet...but feel free to experiment.

A really good site is It's the site for M&K speakers. You can download their manuals as PDFs and they offer really good suggestions for placement (height, distance, surrounds, etc). Try it for some bathroom reading sometime. They have really good suggestions for sub placement, but you seem to be on it...but feel free to experiment, especially with the sub. This is where you'll be crawling around your livingroom ;-)

As for the speaker connections for the sub...don't do it. Rather, use a sub-woofer cable (again, don't break the bank) and the sub-woofer pre-out on the HK. The HK gives you excellent control over the crossovers for the sub and satellites, and it will also save you a heap of speaker wire.

Ah, one more thing, you will want to connect the HK to the TV using what's called "monitor out", this will let you use the on-screen-display of the HK for initial config and tweaking...very convenient. A composite cable is fine.

Damn I am long-winded...let me know if you have *any* other questions...and GOOD LUCK!

*also, read all you bought some really nice gear and the manuals may tell you some things you didn't know!

H1pst3r, you are my freakin' hero! I'm serious.

This clears up the big stuff. A few more incidental questions:

1. This is dumb, but... is there anything wrong with mounting one of the satellite speakers sideways on the wall? So it's on its side, I mean? It's a wall-space issue.

2. Without starting a massive 1000 page posting frenzy, can I ask: what is the difference between optical and digital coaxial cable, and which is better?

3. You said that I could run the video through the receiver... is that preferable in some way? And would it just involve running one s-video into the HK and one out from it to the TV?

4. Why is it that these components don't come with the necessary wires/cables?

5. What exactly is "crossover," and how/why do I control it?

That's it. Again: hooray for H1pst3r!

Oops! One more:

6. "Connectors"...? The speaker wire *can* just be stuck directly in the widgets on the back of the speaker, right? So getting banana connectors is preferable somehow? And if so, how exactly do you attach them?


Glad I could help. Answered in order:

1. No. Some audiophiles might talk about frequency response on the veritical and horizontal axiz...but, for all practical purposes, no.

2. Definitely no. Optical is kinda cooler looking, but sonically NO!

3. Yup, you got it. It's a convenience thing, allowing you to switch video inputs by simply switching them on the receiver. I go dirct from DVD to TV, but that's mainly because I have cable that can't go through my receiver, so I end up switching at the TV anyway. Plus, theoretically I can't see whay one would put *another* piece of gear in the middle of a nice video signal.

4. Companies are cheap and for the what they would include, we'd all throw it out anyway.

5. A crossover is what tells the receiver where to send specific frequencies to which speakers. So, in your setup, you'll want to "tell" the reciver to send all frequncies above 80 or 100hz to the satellites and frequencies blow tat to the sub. The HK is great at this let me know if you ahve questions. In this way, the small sats (which are not designed to play full-range sounds) are not trying to play the bass frequencies...a job designed for the sub.

6. Ya, you can just stick the bare wire inthe "widgets" (speaker clips) that *will* work fine. Banana's just insure a tight fit...not necessary!

Cheers and enjoy...ley us know how things are coming together!


I read the manuals front to back--good stuff!

In the Yammy manual, it says to set your front speakers to "large" and the surrounds to "small."

In the HK manual, it says to set all your speakers to "small."

Does it matter? And if so, which one is right?

Phil Krewer
Not to jump in on H1's conversation, but I'd say to set the speakers to all small on both. Esp with the 5.2's that you have. I would guess that they are going to have a more limited low freq response. The setting for the DVD player should only kick in when you are using the 6 channel inputs.

Yup, what Phil said!

I defintely agree...all small...though you can mess with the crossover freq in the HK to fine tune things (80-120khz for the crossover on the fronts, and surrounds)

Phil, *please* jump in ANY time, my hands are killing from typing ;-)


Argh! They're suckin' the life out of me! Or at least the money.

All right, guys, I went out and bought 100 ft. of 12 guage speaker wire at Home Depot (~$50). Then I went to Radio Shack and spend $100 MORE on cables and connectors (an optical, two s-video, four rca, banana clips). And now I've just remembered: I forgot to get a subwoofer cable! I'm looking around on the internet and they seem to be $30 minimum!

1. How important is it to get a really good subwoofer cable?
2. Should I hook the cable up to the "input" or the "xover" on the back of my sub?

My wife's gonna kill me...

And while I'm at it: do you guys have any recommendations vis a vis a power strip? The guy at Radio Shack tried to sell me one for $40, but I figured I'd hold off until I knew more. I have a cheapy power strip now, but it's several years old and bottom of the barrel.

Phil Krewer
Hey Dave,

Yeah, they really gouge you on cables. Theorectically a good sub cable would be better. I use a couple from Monster cable. Having said that, if you're straped for cash any good RCA cable will probably work fine. Hook it up to line in on your sub and the sub pre-out on your reciever. You can probably get one for about $5 and it might save your life, lol.

I have all my equip hooked up to a cheap AR power strip except the DVD player which I hooked up to my receiver as it has no remote off/on. I have never had a problem. I'd use the cheap power strip you have for now. You can always upgrade later when your wife calms down.

Good Luck,


Phil Krewer
Hey Dave,

One more thought. If you hooked up the C6480 you have with all the connection. ie, digital, two analog, 6 analog for the 6 channel input. You can remove the 2 analog inputs and use one of them for your sub if its long enough. If you want to play a stereo cd in analog mode just select 6 channel input, it should work fine.


So funny reading this thead. I am a newbie to Home Theater as well. I bought my AVR 225 two weeks ago and finally have everything hooked up. Its amazing how much you can learn in just a couple of weeks by tweaking and reading all the threads out there.

My wife wanted to get a new Stereo when our Aiwa shelf unit craped out. I told her we might as well spend an extra couple hundred and get a Receiver/speaker system and then use our dvd player as our cd player. I bought the Receiver and it didn't fit in our tv stand. So spent another $200 to get another tv stand. Then I spend another $150 getting Speaker wire/bananna plugs/optical/coax/xbox-s-video & optical/ect.

I think my wife was about to kill me when our new stereo turned into a $1000 investment.... but when I put in Monster Inc or Ice Age and the bass kicks so loud that we think our condo is going to crumble to the ground we both laugh... I then raise my hands in the air like Spacey from American Beauty and say "I RULE"!

This is all very funny to me.

have fun everyone.


Hey Dave,
Check out, they have some good prices on AR cables. I'm using AR for all the connections to my HK525 and I'm very happy with the results.

Praise be, it's all hooked up! And MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN it sounds good! I don't have a tutored A/V ear, but what I'm hearing is making me happy. Even my wife, who's still looks at this system and sees $$$, admits it sounds sweet.

But still, I have more questions (does it never end?).

1. I have my subwoofer underneath the table that the gear sits on, and there's a cloth over the table, covering/hiding the subwoofer. Is this a big deal? (By the way, I bought the $50 Monster subwoofer cable, and managed to stay married...)

2. The "universal" remote that came with the HK225 is driving me nuts. I've got it doing the basic, minimum features of my vcr, tv, and cable tv box, but what I really want is for it to work on my Yamaha DV-C6480 (I just love typing the whole name). H1pst3r, are you out there? You have this unit, and an HK receiver. Have you figured out the code? I've gotten it so it will play, stop, etc., but it won't open, or disc skip, or any of a number of other functions. I've tried all the codes that came with the HK manual, and only one works, and only for the bare minimum. I've tried the searching method described in the HK manual, with the same result. I've searched on the internet and in the Yammy's manual--no luck. Should I abandon hope and just have both remotes sitting out (another loss for the wife...)?

3. Hipster, I did the EZ Set Up with the HK, and it sounds good, but what are all those knobs on the subwoofer? And what's this "crossover" business, and how can I play with it? Is there any easy way to explain this stuff?

This is enough for now. I have to go buy the wife more flowers...

Question regarding above setup?I just purchased the Denon 3803 receiver and I am looking for the best possible setup using the burr-browns from my receiver. I also have a panasonic dvd player and a 55" tv. I currently have it set up as follows: optical from dvd to 3803 and s-video cable from tv to dvd. Can you advise?

Phil Krewer
Hey Chris,

I had a 3803 for a while. Great receiver. The optical from your DVD to your receiver will use the DACs on the receiver. If can use component on your DVD player to the TV it should be a little bit better picture. If you have anymore questions then feel free to ask.


Thanks Phil,I have a another question for you since you also had the 3803. How do I hook up to use the video up convergence? Am I already set to go? How do I program the remote? chris

Phil Krewer
Hey Chris,

There's nothing special that you have to do to get the up conversion to work. Just hook up everything with the best connection and then use component cables to your TV. If you hook up anything to the component in you have to assign what it is on the on screen menu. The menu for the 3803 doesn't show up on the receiver you have to view it on screen and it will not work in progressive scan mode. The instructions for programing the remote are in the book. If you have problems let me know.



I've been pondering a purchase of the denon 3803 over the 2802. Is it really that much better of a receiver(obviously you think so) but did you compare the two before hand and if so,what made you decide on the 3803 as it's about $300 more than the 2802.
Any response would be greatly appreciated.

I was wondering if someone could tell me how to hook a ps2 in to my reciver? any help will be appericated.

oops I forgot to say I have a denon 1803

Diego Abbiate

I just set up my 3803 but can not get sound out of my surround B speakers which are connected to a speakercraft splitter. I have verified the physical connections, so I believe it is a set up issue. I have gone over the manual many times, but it is not very clear. Any suggestions?

Use a fibre optic cable and hook that up to the digital input on the Denon.You may have to go to the ps2 menu by having no disc in the ps2 and go to "system configureations" and then "digital out" obviously you set it to on. the default is off.
Have you gotten sound from the surround speakers?the room B speakers are usualy powered by the surround amps.

s. whitaker
help, everythings hooked up but the new speakers, receiver says impedence 8 -16 , front and rear spkrs say 6 ohms, does this mean i can't use them, already had to buy new receiver to handle home theater spkrs, blew up the old ones with the dvd, thanks

s. whitaker
oh, also can i use the digital hook-up on the dvd and analog on everything else? tech, has gotten way ahead of this woman, thanks again
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