The rapid pace of improvement in home audio/video equipment sometimes feels like a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it's great that each new generation of technology improves picture and sound, but on the other hand, keeping your own system up to date can be on ongoing struggle. If your audio receiver has fallen behind on sound, features or connectivity, purchasing a newer model from a respected manufacturer such as Philips can provide an easy upgrade to your entire system.
Before You Begin
Before you start, take a moment to think about what you'll need. It's a good time to replace any other weak links in your system, so consider upgrading your speaker wires, especially if your new receiver comes with speakers. Measure how much you'll need, and take note of the gauge you're currently using. You'll need a cutter-stripper for the wire, and possibly connectors and a crimping tool. Make a list of how many devices you'll be connecting to your receiver, and how they connect. Prioritize, using HDMI or digital audio inputs for your set-top box and Blu-Ray player, and conventional audio inputs for less-crucial devices. Upgrade your existing cables, if they're mediocre.
Start by connecting your speakers. If they are to remain in the same locations, tape one end of your new wire to the old wire, using electrical tape. Use the old wire to pull the new wire to the receiver, then separate them and plug in the new wire. Make sure to match the left and right sides of the wire at both the speaker and receiver end, otherwise your speakers will be out of phase and sound quality will suffer. Use the same length of speaker wire for each speaker in a pair, so they get the same amount of signal loss. Good-quality wire in 16- or 14-gauge is adequate for most installations.
Next, connect the components to your receiver. If it has HDMI in and out, connect your digital set-top box, Blu-Ray player, HDTV or computer to those. If there's only one HDMI connector, use it for your most-used audio source and use an optical or coaxial digital audio in for the others. Connect your DVD player and any remaining audio components using analog RCA connection. Some Philips components come with a special interlink cable, letting them all be operated with the remote from your receiver. Connect this as well, if your system has that feature. Now you're ready to test everything.
Turn on your receiver and power up the attached devices. Turn the volume to a low setting. Switch between sources on your receiver to play them, one after another, and make sure they're all working. Next, put on a movie with good-quality digital surround sound and sit down in the middle of your viewing area. Adjust the speaker settings until dialog, music and sound effects are balanced. You'll need to do this even if you're using your old speakers and wiring, because the new receiver's output won't be exactly the same as the old one. If necessary, experiment with the placement of your speakers to enlarge the area of best sound.
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