Many home theater systems use DVD players as their central control boxes. In this setup, the DVD player connects directly to the television and all other components of the home theater system such as game consoles and portable media players connect to the DVD player. A DVD player for a home theater system typically has several types of audio inputs to support a variety of devices. Selecting the correct input for a device is essential to ensure the best possible listening experience.
The High-Definition Multimedia Interface is a standard for transmitting audio and video data digitally over a single cable. The HDMI interface supports the encryption standard used to deter the unauthorized copying of media such as Blu-ray discs and is present on most modern televisions, DVD players, Blu-ray disc players and game consoles. If you need to connect any device to your DVD player, use the HDMI port if possible for best audio and video quality.
The Sony/Phillips Digital Interface was the most common standard for digital audio transmission before the introduction of the HDMI interface. A DVD player may have a fiber optic S/PDIF audio input, a coaxial input or both. The two cable types produce the same audio quality. The primary benefit of using S/PDIF is that it -- like HDMI -- supports surround sound encoding such as Dolby Digital and DTS. Some audio devices -- such as Super Audio CD players -- support multichannel surround sound but cannot transmit this data over an analog connection intended for stereo audio.
A USB port allows you to play audio from a USB storage device or portable media player such as an iPod. Many home and auto DVD players allow you to control a connected iPod without changing the settings on the actual iPod, making it possible to maintain concentration while driving or change songs from your couch using the DVD player's remote control. Some home DVD players also include docks, allowing you to connect your iPod to the dock rather than removing the USB sync cable from your computer.
An RCA audio connector typically has two round jacks -- a red jack for the right stereo channel and a white jack for the left channel. This type of audio connector is common among older stereo components such as CD, cassette and record players. RCA audio connectors allow you to connect legacy hardware to your DVD player, but you should use a digital connection for best audio quality if such a connection is available. Some DVD models may have up to six RCA connectors for transmitting surround sound.
A mini-jack is a single analog connector capable of transmitting stereo audio. Many portable media players such as the iPod use mini-jacks for headphones. If your DVD player has a mini-jack audio input, you can use a cable with a mini-jack on both ends to connect any device with a headphone connector to your DVD player. Many car DVD players also have mini-jack inputs -- usually labeled "Aux" -- to support portable media players.
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