How to Set up a Blu-Ray Disc Player

Match your Blu-ray Disc player with your TV and home theater system

Before turning on your Blu-ray Disc player make sure it is connected to your TV or video projector (or to your TV/video projector via a Home Theater Receiver), preferably with an HDMI cable if that option is provided.

After connecting the Blu-ray Disc player to your TV, video projector, or home theater receiver, turn your TV, projector and (if used) home theater receiver on, switch to the input on your TV/projector and home theater receiver (if used) where your player's signal will be coming in from and then turn your player on.

The following set-up information applies to most Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players.

Basic Blu-ray Disc Player Setup

The next series of steps may vary between brands/models, but let's check out the ones that are the most common.

  1. Once you turn on your Blu-ray disc player, the first thing you will probably see on the TV screen is the Manufacturer and/or Official Blu-ray Disc Logo.

    If you connected your player via HDMI and do not see a logo or a setup menu, or see "snow" on your screen, you may need to troubleshoot your HDMI connection.

  2. Next, you will be asked to pick a Language and/or Location.

  3. Almost all Blu-ray disc players provide network connectivity and smart features (internet streaming). If WiFi is provided, you will be asked to find and choose your network and then be prompted to enter your network password. However, if you have your Blu-ray Disc player connected to your network using Ethernet instead of WiFi, connection to your network is automatic — no password entry is required.

  4. Once your network connection is confirmed, the player may display a Firmware Update Available message. If so, select OK to download and install. This may take anywhere from a few minutes to a half-hour or more.

    Don't turn the player off press any button your remote control unless prompted by the player. During this process, your TV screen may go dark one or more times.

  5. Confirmation that the firmware update has been installed may be in the form of a message displayed on your TV screen, the front panel of your Blu-ray disc player, or your player may turn off and turn back on automatically.

  6. At the conclusion of the above steps, you may be asked to confirm the TV or video projector's Aspect Ratio and/or prompted to set up additional features, which, as stated previously, may vary from brand-to-brand, and model-to-model.

  7. Place a Blu-ray Disc into the loading tray and see if the player displays the disc menu and allows the disc to be played. Also, since almost all Blu-ray Disc players also play DVDs and CDs, try one of those disc types as well.

Blu-ray Disc Player Video Connection Options

In 2013 a decision was made to phase out all analog video connections (composite, S-video, and Component) on Blu-ray Disc players made for the U.S. market. Also, although not required, many manufacturers have also phased out the stereo and multichannel analog audio output connections. However, information on both analog video and audio connection options is still provided for those connecting or setting up pre-2013 manufactured Blu-ray Disc players.

Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray Disc Player AV Connections

When you connect most Blu-ray Disc players to your HD, Ultra HD TV or video projector directly or via a home theater receiver, and turn everything on, the player will automatically adjust to the native resolution capabilities of your TV or video projector.

This means that the Blu-ray Disc Player knows that it is connected to a TV or video projector and what type of connection is being used (HDMI, DVI, or Component).

For Blu-ray disc players, after the connection is detected, if the player doesn't sense that the TV or projector is 1080p, the player will reset its video output resolution to the native resolution of the TV or projector – whether it be 1080i, 720p, etc... Afterward, you can still go into the Blu-ray Disc Player setup menu and change the output resolution of the player manually, if desired.

For Ultra HD Blu-ray players, the same rule applies. If the player doesn't detect a 4K Ultra HD TV or projector, it will reset its output resolution to the resolution that the TV supports (1080p, 720p, etc...).

Resolution Confusion

Although some Blu-ray disc players can output video via component video connections, the maximum resolution via those connections is 1080i. However, for Blu-ray Disc players made after January 1, 2011, the video resolution output via component connections is limited to 480p.

Also, S-Video or Composite video connections can only pass video signals at 480i resolution, regardless of which of these are used to connect to a 1080p or 4K Ultra HD TV.

If you have a 3D TV and 3D Blu-ray Disc player, but your home theater receiver is not 3D compatible check out:  How to Connect a 3D Blu-ray Disc Player to a non-3D compatible Home Theater Receiver

The 4K Factor

Beginning in 2013, a number of Blu-ray Disc players started to provide 4K Upscaling capability, and, in 2016, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players were introduced that can play Ultra HD format discs. These discs cannot be played on a standard Blu-ray disc player whether it has 4K video upscaling or not. However, Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players can play standard Blu-ray Discs, as well as DVD and CDs.

To get the benefits of either 4K upscaling from a Blu-ray Disc player or native 4K from an Ultra HD player, it needs to be connected to a compatible 4K Ultra HD TV using an HDMI connection. However, if connected to a 720p or 1080p TV, in most cases, either type of player will adjust to the display resolution of the TV automatically — consult your user manual for specific details.

4K Resolution Comparison Chart
Image courtesy of OPPO Digital

The HDR Factor

For Ultra HD Blu-ray disc players, another thing to take into consideration is HDR. This feature provides extended contrast range that also improves color in both light and dark scenes.

Sony SDR and HDR Comparison

To get the full benefits of this feature both the player and the TV have to be HDR compatible and the player needs to be playing or streaming content that is HDR-encoded. To add to the confusion there are several HDR formats.

HDR is not available on standard Blu-ray Discs or DVDs.

An HDR-enabled TV usually detects an incoming HDR signal automatically. Some Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players and TVs offer additional settings to tweak HDR performance.

If you have an HDR source connected to a TV that isn't HDR-compatible, you will still be able to view the content, the TV just ignores the extra HDR coding.

Consult your Ultra HD Player and TV user guides for more details on if they include HDR support and, if so, which HDR formats they are compatible with.

Blu-ray Disc Player Audio Connection Options

If you have a home theater receiver that has HDMI inputs and the receiver has Dolby TrueHD/Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio/DTS:X decoding (check the labels on your receiver or the user manual for details), your home theater receiver is able to accept either an undecoded or fully decoded uncompressed digital audio signal from the Blu-ray Disc player via the HDMI connection. This is the preferred connection to use.

If you have an older home theater receiver that does not have HDMI inputs or one that has HDMI inputs that only pass through video and audio to your TV, then it would be best to use the traditional method of connecting the digital audio outputs (either digital optical or coaxial) of the player to your home theater receiver.

Using this connection option you won't be able to access all surround formats, but you will be able to access standard Dolby Digital/DTS and 2-channel Uncompressed PCM.

OPPO Digital BDP-103D – Digital Coaxial, Digital Optical

On the other hand, if you have a set of 5.1 or 7.1 channel direct analog inputs on your receiver and your Blu-ray Disc player has a set of 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog outputs, this is a better option than using the standard digital audio (optical or coaxial) connection option.

The Blu-ray disc player can pass decoded the surround sound signal internally and pass it to your home theater receiver as a fully-decoded or uncompressed audio signal via the multichannel analog outputs that would be the same quality as using the HDMI connection option for audio.

The downside of the above option is that instead of connecting one cable to your receiver for audio, you would have to connect five or seven connections to get the audio from your Blu-ray Disc player to your home theater receiver.

OPPO BDP-103D Multi-Channel Analog Audio Outputs

For more on how to access audio from a Blu-ray Disc player, check out our companion article: Five Ways to Access Audio From a Blu-ray Disc Player.

The Bottom Line

The initial setup process for Blu-ray Disc players is very straightforward, with much of the process done automatically, or easily followed via simple onscreen prompts.

However, after making all of your audio and video connections, consult your Blu-ray Disc player's user manual for any additional audio and video setup procedures.

If you have hesitated to buy a Blu-ray or Ultra HD Blu-ray player because you think it is too complicated to get up and running, just follow the tips outlined above and you should be all set.

If you don't have one, here's our list of suggested Blu-ray Disc Players.