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How to connect your amplifier, receiver, tape, turntable on your home stereo system
Stereo sound in the home became very popular in the 1970s. Many companies in Japan and the U.S. made excellent stereo components which can still be found today. In those days companies produced amplifiers, tape decks and turntables of very good quality. In the decades to follow, build quality suffered in the effort of some companies to increase profits at the expense of quality. The typical home system consisted of a receiver, turntable and two loudspeakers. Some people also had a reel to reel tape recorder. A receiver is a combination amplifier and AM/FM tuner and is the heart of the system.
Stereo Receiver by Pioneer from the 1970s.
The 1980s saw the introduction of Compact Disc (CD) which was also stereo and compatible with home systems. The 1990s saw the Mini-Disc (MD) which was recordable and had stereo sound like a CD but was eventually, in later models, capable of compressing music so that you could fit two CDs on one MD.
Everything was going digital and receivers started to incorporate video as well as audio. Todays Audio/Video Receivers are more complex, and include HDMI audio and video jacks as well as the older analog audio jacks. Today, many receivers have multiple loudspeaker capability called surround sound where not just two but five or more speakers are used to immerse the listener in the sound field.
Stereo consists of two channels, left and right. Connections between components typically use a RCA stereo cable. In the 1970s, the color black was used on almost all input and output jacks on the rear panel of stereo gear. Later, in the 1980s the left channel was changed to white and the right channel was red. This made it easier to identify the left and right channels. When connecting stereo gear, you will want to connect left (L) output to left (L) input and right (R) output to right (R) input.
What you need:
Stereo Amplifier or Receiver.
RCA left and right cables.
Turntable for vinyl records.
Tape deck (cassette or reel to reel).
Cable to connect stereo components
RCA stereo cables are available at electronics stores such as Radio Shack or Wal-Mart or online at Amazon, Monoprice and others.
Loudspeaker wire consists of two wires, positive and negative. Loudspeakers have two posts on the back to connect the wires, one positive and one negative. The negative is typically black and the positive, red just like a car battery. The wires however are often not color coded which makes them hard to determine which wire is positive or negative. Some manufacturers code the positive with a white strip all along the wire insulation. One way to keep your speaker wire from being reversed is to flag the positive with a piece of tape or label as shown.
Connecting your stereo components
Make sure the power is turned off on all components.
Using speaker wires, connect left and right loudspeakers to amplifier or receiver.
Using RCA stereo cables, connect left and right outputs of all source components to amplifier or receiver's left and right input jacks.
Look for labels on the rear panel of your amp for TAPE or TUNER or AUX.
For amps with a Phono jack; only connect the turntable here.
You can use the AUX IN or even the CD IN jacks for other source components.
Match the LEFT (L) with the white RCA cables and the RIGHT (R) with the red RCA cables.
Match the black post on the loudspeaker with the black speaker terminal on the amplifier rear panel.
Match the red post on the loudspeaker with the red speaker terminal on the amplifier rear panel.
Turn the power on your home stereo.
On your stereo receiver, select the mode where your component is connected (Aux, Tape2, etc.).
Select music source and play. The sound will now be coming from your stereo speakers.
Tape recorder connection.
An important note on tape recorder hookup: Some manufacturers label their gear with PLAY and REC (record) while others label using IN and OUT. Be careful when connecting tape decks so that record and play are hooked up properly on the tape deck and the amplifier. PLAY or OUT on the tape deck connects to TAPE IN on the amp and TAPE OUT on the amp connects to REC or IN on the tape deck.
Tape Recorder - reel to reel or open reel as opposed to cassette decks.
Connecting a turntable (PHONO) for playing vinyl records
Vinyl records became popular in the 1950s and 1960s as the way to enjoy the latest music releases in stereo. Records were either the 7 inch 45rpm or the larger 12 inch 33rpm and had typically two sides and about 2 to 12 songs total. Vinyl records are still popular today with audiophiles who contend analog audio is richer and warmer than the compressed digital music of more modern times.
The PHONO connection is different than the other stereo components in that the signal level is much less from the turntable. For this reason you cannot connect just any component to the PHONO jack. The PHONO jack input on the amp has a pre-amplifier which boosts the signal level from the turntable. If your amp or receiver does not have a PHONO input, then you can buy a phono pre-amplifier unit which will allow you to connect it's output to the amp's AUX input jack or other standard input jacks.
Turntable by Pioneer.
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