How to Install Your New Stereo System

A step-by-step guide to stereo system installation and setup

What to Know

  • Position the speakers, receiver or amplifier, and any related devices. Make sure no components are plugged into a power source.
  • Connect each device to the receiver or amplifier using the connections recommended for the device.
  • With all the devices connected and the volume turned low, attach every device to power to test the installation.

This article explains how to set up and install a basic stereo system. Most setups include a pair of speakers, an amplifier or receiver, and other media devices such as music players. If you plan to set up a more advanced 5.1 speaker home theater system, the process is more complicated.

How to Install Your New Stereo System

When you're ready to unpack and install your new stereo system, open the owner's manual to the pages describing the setup and installation for reference. Diagrams of your devices fully set up are useful if you run into any problems during the assembly. As you work, save the packing materials and cartons in case you need to return a defective speaker or component.

  1. Unpack and position the left and right channel stereo speakers according to these placement guidelines.

    Two stereo speakers
  2. Unpack and set up the receiver (or amplifier) and any other devices in your home media setup. Make sure all the components are not plugged into the wall and are turned off.

  3. Connect left and right channel speaker wires to the main or front speaker outputs on the back panel of the receiver or amplifier. This is usually easy to do, but depending on your setup and labels, it can become confusing.

    Speaker wire connections

    Consult your speaker's or receiver's (or amplifier's) manual if you get stuck.

  4. Connect the digital outputs of the source components to the receiver or amplifier. Devices such as DVD and CD players often have an Optical Digital Output, a Coaxial Digital Output, or both. Connect one or both outputs.

    Typical optical and coaxial digital outputs
  5. Connect the analog inputs/outputs of the source components to the receiver or amplifier. Many devices—even some DVD and CD players—come with analog outputs. This connection is optional unless your receiver or amp has only analog inputs or if you are connecting the players to a TV with only analog inputs.

    Analog inputs

    If necessary, connect the left and right channel analog outputs of the players to the analog inputs of the receiver, amplifier, or television.

  6. Attach the AM and FM antennas to the appropriate terminals on the receiver.

    AM loop antenna
  7. With the power buttons on the components in the OFF position, plug the components into the wall. With multiple components, it may be necessary to use a power strip with multiple AC outlets.

    Volume knob on stereo

Turn on the receiver at a low volume and confirm that sound comes from both speakers. If you have no sound from any source, turn off the system and recheck all the connections, including speakers. Retry the system again.

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