Really confused on how Home theater receivers work

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by WhiteIphone5, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. WhiteIphone5 macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2011
    Lima, Peru
    im about to purchase an Onkyo receiver 5.1 channel receiver with speaker and subwoofer.
    now is the part where im confused about. The receiver has 4 HDMI IN and 1 HDMI OUT
    as far as i know to get HD sound the device must be connected through the receiver like PS3 HDMI> Onkyo Receiver. but how do i play the ps3 if its connected to receiver? so here im guessing is where the HDMI output comes, so say i connected to my tv via HDMI 1 on my tv and Output on receiver. so do i just always stay on HDMI 1 on my tv and from there select the input on the receiver? do i need an optical audio? what if my tv has ARC?
    i have a APPLE tv, google tv, xbox, ps3.
    so do all of them connect to the receiver via HDMI? so when does optical audio comes to place becuase my tv and all my gadgets has one, which one do i choose?
    will there be a screen on HDMI 1 on my tv that says which input i would like my receiver to output? someone break it down for me please.
  2. NMF, Feb 28, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013

    NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    Only one HDMI cable needs to go to the TV. That's the "Output" cable. The rest of the stuff plugs directly into the receiver, and you select which input on the receiver you want to use. The receiver's remote will have an "Input" button just like your TV. The receiver is kind of like a USB hub in this situation. Multiple things plug into it, but only one cord goes to the actual device (in this case the TV).

    The receiver remote is now the most important remote you own. It controls what content is displayed on your screen and also controls the volume of your speakers. The volume buttons on your TV remote? Useless. They do nothing. The receiver is now king.

    Also, you don't need optical audio. That is for people with old receivers that don't have HDMI. Those people plug their devices directly into the TV via HDMI, and then a separate optical audio cable from the device to the receiver. Two cables per device. Totally stupid. Since you are buying a newer receiver that has HDMI, you don't need to worry about optical audio at all. :)

    You're all good dude!
  3. WhiteIphone5 thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2011
    Lima, Peru
    awesome thank you so much!!
    also are there receivers that auto detect the source that is being turned on and automatically switch to that input?
    also one more question, say i buy another device and there is no more HDMI input, and i connect to tv, how do i get sound to go through the receiver?
  4. NMF, Feb 28, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013

    NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    Sort of. Well, yes. Eh. It doesn't always work. It's fastest/easiest to just press the button's input on the remote. You'll need the receiver remote to control the volume anyway. My receiver's remote has separate buttons for "HDMI 1," "HDMI 2," etc. It depends on the individual unit I guess.

    Optical audio cable. ;)

    OR: powered HDMI switch. I use this one. All of my game consoles are on the same HDMI port on the receiver. Works flawlessly.

    Don't overpay for an upgraded receiver for something as stupid as HDMI ports.
  5. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Get a receiver that has enough inputs.
    No auto detect, just use the remote to select your desired source.
    You will probably want HDMI standby passthrough.
    HDMI carries audio.
  6. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I have the 7.1 Onkyo setup, and there is one caveat that has not been mentioned here. In order to get sound when watching TV, your set needs to support ARC ( audio return channel) to use only an HDMI cable in. My set does this and if yours is ARC enabled, then all the instructions above are good. If however it doesn't, you would need to run an optical cable from the Onkyo into the TV in order to get sound whilst viewing. Check your TV manual for more details.
  7. WhiteIphone5 thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 27, 2011
    Lima, Peru
    TV supports ARC. After all the explaining from you guys, im going to proceed and purchase.
    thanks everyone!
  8. warvanov macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2011
    Not totally stupid! I have a 10 year old receiver that still works like a champ but doesn't have HDMI inputs. I'm not about to replace it just to reduce cables. Now THAT would be stupid!
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Yes. They use the HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) standard. Both the receiver and the client device like say the Blu-Ray player need to have CEC. Like NMF mentioned, it can be wonky, particularly between different brands.

    You might like a programmable remote like the Harmony series. You just program in all your devices and it does the HDMI switching for you.
  10. Non-Euclidean macrumors member

    Dec 21, 2012
    Houston, TX
    Note his link above. MONOPRICE is your best friend when it comes to any cable you need, and switching gear. BestBuy/MicroCenter/Frys/etc, charge retarded pricing for anything with HDMI switching (check out a KVM switch with HDMI some time).

    I have the same setup, but in a worse boat, since I havent upgraded my old Yamaha 995 receiver yet, which has no HDMI input, or my 1st gen HD Sony KVHS510 beast, which has 1 "state of the art" DVI input. So I use an HDMI switch with a HDMI/DVI cable to the TV, and switch digital sources in the receiver.
  11. waw74 macrumors 68030

    May 27, 2008
    I have an LG TV and blu-ray and a denon receveir.

    i can put a disc in the player, and hit play, the receiver and TV will turn themselves on, and to the correct input.

    and when i turn off the TV, the receiver and blu-ray turns off.

    i also have the harmony remote, you set it up on your computer via USB, tell it what devices you have, and it sets up what they call actions for you.
    i have an action called "watch blu-ray" it will power up the TV, receiver, and blu-ray, put the TV and receiver in the correct input, and then you use the one remote to control everything, so play, pause, and the like control the blu-ray, volume controls the receiver, and so on.
    then if you want to watch the TV, you could hit the "watch cable" action, it would power off the blu-ray, power on everything else, and then the buttons would control the cable box.

    also if your TV and receiver don't both support ARC, you will need the optical cable if you plan to use the tuner in your TV.
  12. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    Think of the receiver as a switch. All the input sources (CATV, Blueray, etc) from the various devices go in and a single HDMI cable goes out to the display. The receiver also has an on-board signal amplifier to split the audio among 3 or more speakers. One other advantage of this set-up -- one remote to rule them all!
  13. JoeBlow74 macrumors regular

    Aug 2, 2012
    After you hook everything up and get it working good, set the HDMI to "passthrough". By setting the HDMI to passthrough, you are passing the digital video signal from a connected device through the receiver and making the TV's video processor enhance the picture. The audio from the connected device will be processed by the receiver and out to your speakers. There should be some settings under the HDMI setting, in your settings. :D


    Agreed. If you can find one remote to rule them all, find a Harmoney ONE remote. This litteraly will control everything you want.
  14. GarrettL1979 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2012
    I use a Harmony 650 which is must cheaper and does just about everything the harmony one does. You might even be able to find a reconditioned one for less than $50.

    On a side note, due to a faulty design, the 650 does need some small adjustments made to its battery connectors and housing when you get it. I added a small piece of material between the battery cover and the batteries, and angled the battery connectors outwards a bit using some needle nose pliers. It took about 5 minutes to do these things, and they keep the batteries locked into place.
  15. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    The Harmony remotes seem to be popular but I personally prefer URC. They have a steeper learning curve as they're designed for system integrators but they're very versatile remotes.

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