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How to setup surround sound on a Dish HD DVR satellite receiver

How to connect a digital satellite TV set-top-box to a A/V Receiver 

How to Set Up Surround Sound for a DISH HD DVR SATELLITE BOX

DISH HD DVR satellite receiver

Surround Sound has many considerations including what equipment you have to source content and user settings. In order to get true surround sound, you need to look at several settings, cables, hookups and gear.

What is surround sound?

Surround sound is designed to enhance the audio experience for the listener by literally surrounding them with multiple loudspeakers, each assigned their own channel which can be voice, music, very low sound or sound effects such that the audio is more realistic and closer to real world sound experience.

Surround sound is stored digitally on DVD/Blu-ray or broadcast digitally over the air or via satellite for HDTV. The standard for surround sound is Dolby Digital 5.1, a six channel standard which is compressed digitally and requires decoding and amplification by a home theater system or audio/video receiver with six loudspeakers.

Surround sound is only available on certain TV channels such as some high definition channels or pay-per-view type channels. The two channel audio standard, stereo, is not surround sound. Some DVD or Blu-ray players have built-in decoders. They will have audio outputs for connection to an amplifier for each audio channel.

The six audio channels (5.1) are left, right, center, surround left, surround right and subwoofer low frequencies. The left, center and right speakers are typically in front of the listener. The surround left and right are typically in the rear of the listener and the subwoofer can be placed where the listener prefers.

Satellite Receiver set-top-box

Your satellite receiver has to have surround sound capability. It has to have an optical audio output or HDMI output. Not all satellite receivers are surround sound capable. Check your DISH receiver to make sure and if it does not have surround sound capability, consider upgrading to a high-end satellite receiver like an HD DVR model. Some receivers will not output surround sound over their HDMI outputs, only their optical audio output.

You can hookup the optical audio output on your DISH receiver to the optical audio input on a decoder (A/V Receiver) with loudspeakers to get surround sound.

Cables and Connections

Surround sound has to be available in the source signal from the satellite provider. Not all programs have surround sound available. Also, surround sound has to be decoded by an external decoder like an Audio/Video Receiver or a home theater system with Dolby Digital 5.1 capability. These decoders must have HDMI or optical audio inputs. These decoders will have the loudspeaker connections. Usually six speakers are required for Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

Diagram of hookup for DISH satellite receiver to A/V receiver using optical audio cable for surround sound

HDMI Jack and Cable

HDMI can carry both HD video and multi-channel audio including 5.1 surround sound.

HDMI Cable

HDMI jack has a 19 pin connection

Digital Audio Outputs (Optical Jack and Cable)

The Digital Audio Optical cable provides up to 5.1 surround sound audio. The jack and cable use light to send digital audio data to A/V receivers equipped to receive and interpret it. The jack and cable must be aligned before plugging in, and may be covered by protective caps, which must be removed before making connections. Use caution when handling optical cables.

Optical Audio Cable

Jack for Optical cable connection

Hooking Up the Loudspeakers

Position the speakers where you want them around the room. For each speaker, take a roll of speaker wire and measure out how much you'll need to get the wire from the speaker to where you've placed your Audio/Video receiver, then add an extra 6 feet or so. Allow for the entire route of wiring including turns, angles, up, down, and around. About 6 inches from the end of each wire that you've placed near the receiver, make a mark that will help you figure out which wire goes to which speaker (left front, right front, center, left rear, right rear and sub).

To connect the wire, strip off about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch off the end, then pull the ends apart, separating a bit of the remaining wire. Twist the threads of each side of the wire together. Connect this side into the red speaker connector. Insert the other side into the black speaker connector. Complete this process for each speaker. At the receiver, complete the stripping process for each of the wires, then insert the ends into the appropriate speaker port--these should be well marked on your receiver. Connect your subwoofer into the back of the receiver using your subwoofer cables. Also, if your receiver has a power port on the back, plug your subwoofer into the receiver. This will allow you to shut off power to your subwoofer by simply shutting off the receiver.

Connect to the Receiver

Either a stand-alone audio/video receiver with 5.1 or more digital audio capability or a home theater in-a-box 5.1 audio system is required to decode, amplify and output the surround sound.
HDMI Supported Audio Formats

• 2-channel linear PCM (32–192 kHz, 16/20/24 bit)
• Multichannel linear PCM (7.1 ch, 32–192 kHz)
• Bitstream (Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio)

Your source component (cable/satellite receiver or DVD player, etc.) must also support HDMI output of the above audio formats.

Digital audio signals received by the HDMI IN jacks are output by the loudspeakers connected to the A/V receiver/AV amplifier. Normally, they are not output by the HDMI OUT (To TV), unless the HDMI Audio Out setting is set to ON.

How to connect Cables:

Connect one of the HDMI cables to the back of your Dish HDMI output port. Then connect it to the back of the appropriate HDMI input port on the A/V receiver.

Some receivers will require you to "assign" an HDMI port to a certain setting on the receiver, for instance, assign an HDMI port to the mode that will control your television. Check your A/V receiver's manual for more information on this.

Plug in any other devices you might want to use into the back of the receiver such as a DVD player.

If your TV has an HDMI port, connect the second HDMI cable to "Monitor Out" or "Out to TV' or the like on the back of your A/V receiver. Then connect the other end of this cable to the HDMI input port on the back of the television (HDTV).

If you do not have an HDMI input port on your television, do the same with your component video cables, connecting them according to color code (your receiver will have a Video Out, or Monitor Out for these as well). Set the television to the appropriate input.

Turn the volume on your TV all the way down or set the TV to external speaker to cut off the TV speakers; if you have sound coming from your TV speakers AND surround sound, it's apt to sound off-balance. You'll just need your home theater surround sound system now.

How to hookup audio video receiver


Both the A/V Receiver and the Dish receiver have audio settings which may need to be selected for the proper output. Check owner's manuals here. Example - Press the MENU button on the DISH remote control. Navigate to the proper selection such as SYSTEM SETUP or AUDIO SETTINGS and select. Hilight the Dolby Digital option and select DONE. This allows surround sound instead of stereo or standard audio.

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