The first time you look at the back of an audio receiver can be both daunting and overwhelming. You’re usually greeted by a sea of connections of various types with colors and labels splashed everywhere.
With only a small amount of knowledge mixed with a sprinkle of confidence, making those connections becomes easy. In this guide, I intend to give you both the knowledge and confidence to connect your power amp to an AV receiver.
This is a great place to start when learning how to set up your home audio equipment creating further sonic opportunities. So, let’s find out exactly How to Connect a Power Amp to an AV Receiver…
The Basic Steps
The first step is planning your power sources. Next is connecting a trigger wire for both devices to switch on and off simultaneously. This is followed by using RCA cables to connect the receiver’s output to the amp’s input. The final step is connecting your speaker wires.
Don’t worry; it’s easy…
Sounds simple right? If that didn’t make much sense to you and maybe confused you further, don’t worry. I will explain each step in detail, giving a thorough explanation of how to complete each one.
They Both Need Power
It might seem very obvious that both the power amp and receiver will require power. So obvious that this necessity is often overlooked. While plugging in and switching on the power is the last step, planning and being prepared is the first.
You need to know which outlet is going to be used and if it’s accessible to where you plan on setting up and using your equipment. Does the power cable from your equipment reach? Will the outlet be shared with other equipment?
For power and protection…
One of the biggest frustrations with any electrical device is a short power cable. Not everybody has an outlet conveniently located inches away from their equipment. Home audio equipment usually also requires numerous outlets.
A great solution, which will extend the reach of your outlet, plus increase the number of available outlets, is a power strip. The other fantastic advantage is that they also offer surge protection, protecting all your equipment. So, here are some examples I recommend…
The Belkin power strip increases the number of available power outlets to 12 using a long 8-foot (2.4m) cord. There are six outlets in the center, along with an additional six outlets around the edges spaced apart to accommodate larger power adapters.
You can also plug your antenna’s coaxial cable and modem’s data cable into the end of the strip. So all your equipment is protected. Each piece of equipment plugged into the power strip will then be protected against any overvoltage spikes.
Another power strip I recommend is the APC which offers 11 outlets and two USB ports capable of fast charging. The 6-foot (182 centimeters) power cord makes accessing all the outlets much easier.
In the event of any power disturbances such as surges, spikes, or lightning strikes, your connected equipment will be protected. There are five compact outlets and six spaced outlets for connecting every style of power cable.
Ensure you Have all the Correct Cables
Before making all your connections, it’s important to ensure you have all the correct cables available. Luckily high-quality cables are neither expensive nor difficult to source. But the last thing you want in the middle of your task is hunting down a missing item.
The items you need are a trigger cable, RCA cables, and some speaker wire. Don’t forget that you’ll need a set of RCA cables, as well as speaker wire for each speaker. I have included a recommendation for each of these types of cables.
Essentially a mono 3.5 mm auxiliary cable, this 6-foot (182 centimeters) cable from C2G is the perfect trigger cable. It uses oxygen-free copper conductors and an aluminum foil shield to prevent EMI/RFI interference.
These 6-foot (182cm) RCA cables from Goalfish use 24K gold-plated connectors. They use a pure copper core and are covered with a braided nylon jacket. This results in the transmission of clear, high-quality sound.
Purchased in a 100-foot (30m) roll, GearIT speaker wire uses high-performance multi-twist stranded wires. Constructed with copper-clad aluminum, it is then covered with a translucent, color-coded PVC jacket.
Connecting the Trigger Wire
With your power source planned and all your cables ready to go, it’s now time to make your first connection. That will be your trigger wire, which looks like an ordinary 3.5 mm auxiliary cable you would use to connect an audio device to your car stereo.
This isn’t essential, as it allows you to switch both your power receiver and amp on together at the same time. If you don’t mind or prefer switching them both on separately, then you can skip this step altogether.
Remember all those connections and colors? It’s now time to identify where to plug in the trigger cable. The easiest way is to look for a 3.5 mm port first. That will narrow the options down significantly.
All that will be left to do then is look for the correct label on both the receiver and amp. Most equipment labels are easy to identify. Simply plug each end of the cable into the correct port once identified, and you’re ready to move onto the next step.
Connecting the RCA Cables
Now that your receiver and amp can communicate with each other and switch on simultaneously, it’s time for the next step. This is the main connection between the two devices, as it’s what carries the audio signal.
Depending on how many speakers you wish to connect is how many times you will need to repeat this step. This is where some planning comes in handy, especially if setting up a surround sound system.
Making the connection…
If you want to know How to Connect a Power Amp to an AV Receiver with ease, take it one step at a time, and one speaker at a time. For example, start with the center speaker. First, identify the “Center” RCA output on the rear of your receiver and plug in one end of your RCA cable.
Place the power amp in a convenient location, then neatly run the RCA cable and plug in the other end. Don’t forget that you will still need to access the amp to connect the speaker wires as the final step. I would recommend connecting the wire before moving onto the next speaker to avoid any confusion.
It is important to ensure that your power amp is set to having an unbalanced connection. Each amp is different but usually features one of these two different styles to swap between a balanced and unbalanced connection.
There will be two sets of connections available for you to plug in the RCA cables. Each being marked as either balanced or unbalanced. The other common style is an actual switch that can be used to make a selection.
Connecting the Speaker Wires
For the final piece of the puzzle, all that’s left is connecting speakers to the power amp using your speaker wire. Each speaker will have both a positive and a negative connection, with red being positive (+) and black for negative (-).
If you have speaker wire with a different color to black and red on the jacket, it doesn’t matter. There should be an identifying marker on each of the two wires. So long as you connect positive to positive and negative to negative, there’s no problem.
Different connection types…
There are different speaker connection types for joining amps and speakers. One of the most common styles has one or two tabs that you push and then feed the wire into. Once released, the wire is then gripped.
Another common style has a screw tab. Unscrew the tab until you can notice a small hole. Feed the wire through the hole, then screw the tab closed again. Be sure not to overtighten, as it may cut through the wire.
Need Great Speakers or an Awesome Receiver?
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And don’t forget our helpful guides on How to Setup at-Home Surround Sound Audio, Why Do Some Subwoofers Have Left and Right Inputs, and Are Home Theater Power Managers Worth It for more useful information.
How to Connect a Power Amp to an AV Receiver – Final Thoughts
You should now have a better understanding of what you need to connect a power amp to an AV receiver. Knowing the equipment required, how to identify each connection, and what planning is needed makes the process much easier.
My best advice when looking at something that appears complicated is to focus only on one area at a time. Before you know it, you’ve completed a bunch of connections and will be very pleased with your achievement.
Take your time, plan ahead, and focus on only one thing at a time and you’ll be fine.