Are you confused by all these connections on the back panel home theater, AV or surround sound receiver ? We have a solution.

The following guide contains close-up images with related explanations to help you become familiar with the types of connections that a home theater receiver has and what they are used for.

The type, number and location of connections may vary by brand and/or model.

HDMI connections

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - HDMI Connections

On «modern» home theater receivers (also called AV receivers or surround sound receivers) HDMI is the most important connection . This is where you plug in all HD or 4K source devices including Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players, cable/satellite boxes, media streamers and game consoles.

Home theaters usually have four or more HDMI inputs and at least one output that connects to a TV or video projector. However, some home theater receivers may have two or three HDMI outputs, similar to the example shown above.

Multiple HDMI outputs let you connect the receiver to multiple TVs or video projectors. Depending on the make and model of the receiver, you may be watching the same or different sources on more than one TV or video projector.

HDMI inputs and outputs pass both audio and video and provide additional features such as HDMI-CEC and HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel) .

Digital audio connections

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - Digital Audio Connections

Home theater receivers include two types of digital audio connections, optical and coaxial . You use them to connect audio from most DVDs, Blu-ray players and HD and 4K Ultra HD TVs. Also, some CD players provide one or both of these output options.

These connections will have stereo access 2 channels and standard Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound signals, but they cannot pass more advanced surround sound formats such as Dolby Digital Plus, True HD , Atmos or DTS-HD Master Audio or DTS: X . They are available only through HDMI connections.

Analog audio inputs

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - Analog Audio Inputs

Although most audio is now available digitally, there are still many devices that either use analog exclusively (such as turntables, cassette decks, and VCRs) or provide it as an alternative audio connection option ( using connectors and RCA cables). ) on other devices such as TVs, cable/satellite boxes, DVD and Blu-ray players.

AM / FM radio antenna connections

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - AM / FM Radio Antenna Connections

Another source of sound included in home theater receivers is radio reception. Most home theater receivers provide connections for both AM and FM antennas. However, there are some home theater receivers that only provide FM antenna connections as they may not include an AM tuner.

Connecting speakers

Onkyo TX-NR787 home theater receiver - Connecting speakers

You cannot hear sound from the home theater receiver unless you connect multiple speakers.

When connecting speakers, you must match the speaker terminals to the speaker layout . This means you connect the center speaker to the center channel speaker terminals, left to right to main left, front right to main right, surround left to surround left, surround right to surround right, etc…

Some speaker terminals may provide more than one channel option (but not at the same time).

For example, if you are trying to accommodate a different type of speaker setup (for example, for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D Audio or 2nd zone With food ), refer to the additional illustrations in the accompanying user manual for information on which Terminals to use and how to assign them correctly.

In addition to connecting the correct speaker channel, make sure the polarity (+ -) is correct: red is (+), black is negative (-). If the polarity is reversed, the speakers will out of phase resulting in inaccurate surround sound and poor bass reproduction.

Speaker connection in zone 2 and analog audio outputs

Зона 2 Динамик и линейный выход


On home theater receivers that offer it, zone 2 function allows you to send a second source signal to speakers or a separate audio system in another room via a wired or cable connection.

Zone 2 functionality allows you to watch Blu-ray discs or DVD with surround sound in the main room while someone else is listening at the same time CD player AM/FM radio or other two-channel source in another room. All source components are connected to the receiver and can be accessed and controlled separately from the receiver’s remote control.

Subwoofer Preouts

Onkyo TX-NR787 Dual subwoofer output
Onkyo USA

To subwoofer another type of speaker must be connected to the home theater . However, instead of connecting to the sockets provided for other speakers, the subwoofer is connected to an RCA socket labeled: subwoofer, subwoofer preamp, or LFE (low frequency effects) output.

This type of connection is used because the subwoofer has its own built-in amplifiers, so the receiver does not need to power the subwoofer, only the audio signal. RCA style audio cables are used for this connection.

All home theater receivers provide at least one subwoofer output, but many may also provide two, as shown in the example above. This provides additional customization flexibility .

Multi-channel analog audio inputs and outputs

Пример многоканальных аналоговых аудиовходов и выходов


High-end home theater receivers offer an additional analog audio connection option called multi-channel analog audio connections .

There is a separate connection for each audio channel. This means that just as there are analog left and right channel audio connections for stereo, you can enable separate analog audio connections for center, surround left, surround right and, in some cases, surround left spin and spin right for surround sound. Used to connect RCA jacks and cables .

Multi-channel analog outputs

The most common analog multi-channel connection option, which is mainly used in mid-range and high-end home theater receivers, is the multi-channel analog audio outputs.

These outputs connect a home theater receiver to external amplifiers . However, when the multi-channel analog pre-outs are used, they disable the home theater receiver’s internal amplifiers, which are dedicated to the respective channels. You cannot combine the output power of an internal amplifier with an external amplifier for the same channel.

Multi-channel analog inputs

Some home theaters also have multi-channel analog audio inputs, but these are becoming very rare on newer models.

If a home theater receiver has this option, it provides the flexibility to connect some DVD/Blu-ray disc players or other source component that may offer this as an output connection option.

Analog video inputs

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - Analog Video Inputs

Component Video: this is an analog video connection option that separates luminance (Y) and color (Pb, Pr or Cb, Cr) into three channels, so three cables (red, green, and blue) are required to transmit video from the source. device to the receiver or TV. Component video cables can carry both standard and high definition video ( up to 1080p ). However, due to copy protection issues, most sources now limit signals through component video cables to standard definition.

Composite video. For Composite video uses a single RCA connection (usually yellow, as shown in our photo example) to send color, B/W, and luminance pieces of analog video from a source device to a TV or home theater receiver. Composite video signals are standard definition analog signals.

S-video: Another type of video connection that you could find, if you own or purchase an old used home theater receiver is S-Video .

The S-Video cable carries the B/W and color portions of the video signal through separate pins in the same cable connector. This provides better color consistency and edge quality than the composite video option, but has been replaced by both component and HDMI video connections.

S-Video and cable connection example

USB and Ethernet connections

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - USB and Ethernet Connections

USB port provided on many home theater receivers. This allows you to play music stored on flash drives or other compatible USB devices and, in some cases, allows you to turn on or charge your smartphone or other compatible device.

A growing number of home theater receivers also provide network/internet connectivity This can be provided through the connection Ethernet cable to the receiver via the provided Ethernet / LAN port .

However, an increasing number of home theater receivers provide connection both over Ethernet and wifi, which provides additional flexibility as to where you can place the receiver in relation to broadband router .

RS232, IR sensor cable, 12V trigger connections

Onkyo TX-NR787 - RS232 Home Theater Receiver, IR Sensor Cable, 12V Trigger Connections

On high quality home theater receivers you can find this trio of connections:

RS232 provides a physical connection to a PC or home theater controller.

IR sensor cable entry if it’s an input, you can plug in an IR blaster cable so the home theater receiver isn’t in line of sight with your remote. If it is an output, it allows the home theater receiver to send an IR signal to control another receiver.

12V Trigger this is a connector that allows the receiver to turn other compatible devices on or off, or run certain functions such as lowering or raising the video projection screen.

Power Cord Entry

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - Power Cord Entry

Of course, you need power to use the home theater. For added convenience, most provide a power cord that plugs into an AC inlet or outlet.

Front panel inputs and headphone jack

Onkyo TX-NR787 Home Theater Receiver - Front Panel Inputs and Headphone Jack

In addition to all the rear panel connections, many home theater receivers also have front panel connections. On some home theater receivers, they may be hidden by a hinged door.

Connections may include one or more of the following:

Wireless connections

Sony STR-DN1080 Сетевой ресивер для домашнего кинотеатра


In addition to all physical connections, almost all home theater receivers now have some level of wireless communication which may include one or more of the following:

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