by Staff Writer
When it comes to connecting a DVD player to a home theater system, most people will use the best video connection available. But do they also make sure to use the best audio connection available? Don't hamper your home theater experience with subpar audio. Use the best audio connection available and you're sure to have the most immersive home theater experience available to you.
HDMI cables have become the new standard for carrying audio and video. However, HDMI is not often found on DVD players, with the exception of newer DVD players intended to be connected to high-definition televisions. If your DVD player happens to have an HDMI connection, it's generally the best and simplest way to connect your player to your home theater receiver.
If your DVD player doesn't have an HDMI connection, you'll want to look for either an optical connection or a digital coaxial connection to make the audio connection. It's not hard to find discussions about one being better than the other, but try not to be swayed by rhetoric; both connection types are capable of providing an equally excellent signal.
Optical cables don't have the same susceptibility to electromagnetic radiation that digital coaxial cables have, but this is something many consumers would never experience or notice anyhow.
Digital coaxial cables are generally only recommended for connections of ten feet or fewer. Of course, the typical home theater setup makes this a non-issue; however, if your home theater requires long-distance cable connections, you'll want to look into optical cable's ability to maintain its signal over longer connections.
More often than not, a digital coaxial cable will be less expensive than a similar optical cable. That, for many shoppers, is the deciding factor if they have to choose between the two.
Some DVD players have the surround-sound decoder built into them. In this case, if you want to send the audio to a receiver, you typically need one coaxial cable for each channel. For example, a decoded 5.1 signal would require six cables. You'll want to refer to the owner's manual for your DVD player for the specifics of this setup.
If you're not planning on using surround sound, then you can get away with simply using RCA audio connections, also sometimes referred to as composite. These are the familiar pair of round connectors, typically color-coded as red and white; this connection is nearly universal on audio and video equipment and is the simplest choice for when you just want to carry a basic stereo audio signal.