How to Set Up a Sony STRDH550 Theater System

Authored by: Tech Pro Team

1. Introduction

Setting up your own home theater can be incredibly rewarding, and provide an experience close to, and sometimes better than going to the cinema.

This guide will give you the tools and knowledge you need to create the setup at home you've always wanted, bringing your movie and television experience to the next level.

Your Sony STR-DH550 will provide the hub, where you'll connect all other elements of your home theater system, tying it all together.

Sony STR-DH550

2. Terminology

Like any hobby or job, there's a lot of very technical terms used to describe various aspects. Because of this, this guide cannot be exhaustive, but we'll be focused on a few, common terms you'll be encountering throughout this process.

  • Source
  • Something that generates video or audio. Your Blu-Ray player is a source of video and audio from movies. Your cable box is a source of audio and video for television, and so on.
Example source Blu-Ray Player.
  • Output
  • This is where the device creates signal to go to another device. For example, the HDMI port on the back of your Blu-Ray player is an output.
Example outputs on back of home theater equipment
  • Input
  • This is where a device takes in the signal from another device. For example, the HDMI ports on the back of your television are inputs.
Example input on back of home theater equipment
  • Tuner or Receiver
  • This is the 'hub', or the central point where everything connects to. Your Tuner will take in inputs from various sources, and route them to various outputs. For example, you connect your game console to your tuner, and your tuner plays the sound on your nice home speakers, and displays the video on your television.
Front and back of Sony STR-DH550
  • HDMI
  • Common type of cable used to connect home theater equipment. Stands for "High Definition Multimedia Interface"
HDMI Cable
  • RCA or Composite
  • Common type of cable used to connect home theater equipment. Named after the Radio Corporation of America. Used mostly for audio, and older video equipment.
3 piece RCA cable
RCA jacks
  • Optical
  • Common type of cable and connection for home theater equipment. Sometimes called TOSLINK. It is a fiber optic cable for audio. 
Optical cable
Optical jack
  • Coax
  • Common type of cable to connect from your antenna, satellite dish, or cable provider to your decoder box.
Coax Cable
Coax Jack

3. Documentation

At first, setting up a home theater can be daunting, but a little careful planning can go a very long way in making it a fun, easy, and rewarding experience.

Write down what you have

To start, make a list of every device you have that you'd like connected to your home theater system. While this seems silly at first, it keeps you really organized later, making the actual setup a snap.

It's also helpful if you run into problems. If your Smart TV starts having problems, and you need to call for help, moving it to look behind is a hassle. Simply glancing at a single sheet of paper with everything written down makes it a lot easier.

For each device, you'll want the following information:

  • What the device is, its make and model, the type of connections it accepts, and the type of connections it makes. For example:
  • Device #1
    TypeA/V ReceiverMake/ModelSony
    STR-DH550Input Connection(s)HDMI, RCA, OpticalOutput Connection(s)HDMI, RCA, Speakers 
  • Device #2
    UN40MU6300Input Connection(s)HDMIOutput Connection(s)Optical 
  • Device #3
    TypeBlu-Ray PlayerMake/ModelPanasonic
    DMP-UB700Input Connection(s)NoneOutput Connection(s)HDMI 
  • Device #4
    TypeGame ConsoleMake/ModelNintendo SwitchInput Connection(s)NoneOutput Connection(s)HDMI 
  • Device #5
    TypeRecord PlayerMake/ModelAudio-Technica
    AT-LP60Input Connection(s)NoneOutput Connection(s)RCA 
  • Device #6
    TypeCable BoxMake/ModelArris XG1v3Input Connection(s)CoaxialOutput Connection(s)HDMI

This lets you easy look through, count up the cables you need, decide what is going where when it's time to connect everything, and generally organize your setup.

Draw a diagram

While this, too, can seem silly at first, it is key to understanding how everything connects. The best installers at movie theaters all have a 'map' drawn up simply showing where each part is, and where it goes. When it comes to troubleshooting, adding a new device, or taking one away later, this will be the single most helpful document you have.

It can be as simple or as complex as you feel you need. In most cases, for a home theater, simple pictures of your receiver at the center, and each device around it with colored, labeled lines indicating the type, input and output, and further to your speakers is all you should need.


Example diagram of a home theater setup.

4. Power Requirements

While you simply need to power every device in your home theater setup, thinking about how to protect your investment from power surges is also something to consider.

This is an area where a little planning goes a very long way:

  • How many devices will you be connecting?
  • If you have six total devices, a small four plug power strip will not suffice.
  • Will you want to expand and add more devices later?
  • Most people will end up adding to and expanding with more devices in the future. You'll want to have extra outlets available to accommodate your future needs.
  • Do you want an easy way to turn on and off your whole setup?
  • Some power delivery devices will have front-facing power switches, or readouts for how power delivery is happening.
  • What shape of plugs do you have?
  • While most devices have moved away from the large, boxy AC to DC adapters that stick out of the wall or hang off the socket, they can still pose a problem. Depending on the type of power delivery accessory you choose, these types of plugs might interfere with neighboring outlets. Some power delivery device manufacturers have taken this into account, and rotated the plugs to make it less of an issue.

All power delivery devices wear out over time. Some may wear out more slowly, but expect to have to replace this part of your system every couple of years to avoid problems.

Different types of Power Protection

There are 3 different types of power distribution and protection devices.

It can be extremely dangerous to connect one power delivery device to another, or 'daisy-chain' them. Always plug these devices directly into a wall outlet, and not into another power delivery device.

Outlet Duplicator / Power Strip

Power Strip
  • Very low cost.
  • Minimal, if any, protection. Most power surges are just passed through to your equipment which can damage or ultimately destroy them. Some models have a small fuse in them which is destroyed when a particularly strong surge occurs.

Surge Protectors

Surge Protector
  • Average cost.
  • Provides decent protection to your devices. Some of these types tend to offer some extra protection as well for cable lines or networking lines. Many come with simple warranties that protect against power surge damage should your devices incur any while connected to one of these.

Power Conditioners

Power Conditioner
  • Very high cost.
  • Provides not only decent protection, but also 'conditions' the power, so there's little if any noise or power fluctuations introduced to your equipment. While subjective and very dependent on what is coming to your equipment in the first place, some people feel it can help with picture and sound quality.
  • These tend to be aesthetically pleasing, and integrate well with modern home theater and surround sound setups.

5. Networking

Most home theater equipment now has the ability to connect to your home network, and provide content from the Internet.

From your Smart TV showing Netflix, to your game console that can play games with people across the world, to your Blu-ray player retrieving additional content for different movies, or even Internet radio stations on your receiver, it's a good idea to plan ahead for your Internet-enabled home theater system.

  • Many devices can make Wi-Fi connections. This usually works just fine, but just like any other Wi-Fi device, it can end up with interference that can cause stuttering, lower picture quality, or a complete inability to play. If possible, it's always a great idea to consider setting up a hard-wired Ethernet connection for your devices. Also, this tends to be easier; no passwords to remember, just another wire to plug in.Ethernet Cable
Ethernet cable
  • Ethernet Port
Ethernet port
  • Look for an Ethernet port on the back of your Internet-enabled devices. If you see one, you don't have to use Wi-Fi to connect it to your home network. You can use that wired connection to provide faster, easier setup.
  • To make things even easier, you can use a network switch to connect everything with one cable back to your router.
Network switch

  • These are small boxes that basically give you more Ethernet ports for the back of your router. The benefit here would be that you'd connect all of your home theater devices to the switch, then have only one Ethernet cable connecting your switch to your router, giving you the most reliable connection possible for all of your connected home theater devices.

6. Speaker Setup

Most speakers will use very standard, simple 2-wire cables to connect them to your receiver.

Speaker Wire
  • Speaker wire has a polarity. In other words, it matters which side plugs in where. Most speaker wire will already be in a bundle of 2, and one of the cables will be a different color, or have a stripe of color or a label of some sort so you can identify them easily.
  • You will need one 'run' of cable (both wires) for each speaker. Make sure it is long enough to not only reach, but follow the contours of your room, and some extra for slack. This keeps them from being accidentally pulled out.
  • Depending on the model of the receiver you are using, the type of terminal you will plug your speaker wire into may vary.
  • Many receivers and speakers may allow for you to use something called banana plugs, which can be attached to the speaker wires before plugging them in to give a cleaner, easier to use, and more permanent solution for connecting your speakers to your receiver.

7. Display Setup

  1. In most cases, most people prefer to use the simple, excellent HDMI connection between their home theater receiver and their TV. Plug one end into the back of your TV.
Inserting HDMI cable to back of TV

  1. Many TVs have multiple HDMI ports. Your receiver is going to control all of this, now. Just use the port for HDMI 1.
  2. Connect the other end of the cable to your receiver. You're looking for something labeled HDMI Out; it's usually a different color.
Back of receiver with HDMI Out highlighted
  1. Connect the optical cable to the back of your TV, and to your receiver. It should be labeled TV.
Back of receiver with Optical in highlighted

8. Speaker Connection

  1. Connect each speaker to your receiver. Keep in mind that the red and black cables must match your speakers.
Back of receiver with speaker connections highlighted
  1. Connect your subwoofer. This tends to be a single RCA cable.
Back of receiver with subwoofer out highlighted

9. Source Connection

  1. Connect each of your sources (Blu-ray, cable box, game console, etc.) to the appropriate connector on the back of your receiver.
Back of receiver with HDMI In and RCA audio in highlighted

10. Coax Connections

  1. Connect the coax cable from your premium television provider to your cable or satellite decoder.
Example back of cable box with coax input highlighted
  1. If you're using one, connect the coax cable from your outdoor antenna to the back of your TV (for over-the-air TV signal).
example coax in on television

  2. If you're using one, connect the coax cable from your outdoor antenna to your receiver for FM radio signals.
back of tuner with FM Coax input highlighted
  1. If you're using one, connect the lead for your AM antenna to your receiver for AM radio signals.
back of tuner with AM antenna input highlighted

11. Power Connection

  1. Connect the power cable to your receiver, then to your power management device.
back of turner with power cable highlighted
  1. Connect the power for all your other devices to the power adapter, as well.

12. Test Devices

  • Turn on your home theater devices, and test them out.
  • Make sure you can watch premium TV.
  • Make sure you can watch a Blu-ray movie.
  • Make sure your game console works.
  • Make sure any audio devices, such as a record player, work.
  • Make sure the speakers are in the correct locations.
  • Test any other device you have setup as part of your home theater.

It is critical to perform this step before moving forward, as we will be cleaning up the cables behind, next. After this, while it is entirely possible to make changes, it is a much greater hassle.

13. Cable Management

We can now begin bundling together and making the cables behind your system neat and tidy.

You can use one, or multiple different methods to give the look, and accessibility you want to the wiring of your home theater system.

Cable bundling

Cable bundling will most likely be the first step in cleaning up the cables from your home theater installation.

Cable Ties

  • Sometimes called zip ties, these are plastic, with a groove on one side, and a simple locking mechanism on the other. After securing the cables, cut off the remaining end of the cable tie. Given their incredibly low price, they are disposable. When you need to add another cable, you cut the old one off, and just use a new one.
Cable ties

Velcro Straps

  • Much like cable ties, a simple Velcro strap has hooks on one side, felt on the other. The benefit is they can be easily un-bundled or added to, without cutting the strip and having to use another.
Velcro strip around a cable


  • Sometimes called cable tunnels, these are for where cables are exposed, such as between your television and receiver, or going to your speakers. They place a cover over your cables to hide them in an aesthetically pleasing way. Many have little notches to lock your cables into.

Leave slack at your bundle points.
Do not tighten down any strap too much, you want some give and movement in case something shifts, and you don't want to accidentally cut, bend, crimp, or otherwise damage your cables.

Adhesive Pads
Small, sticky pads to attach your bundles to. Some come built into various straps or ties, some are reusable, such as adhesive putty.

Do not bundle power cables with any other cables. 
Power, by its very nature, creates an electromagnetic field when flowing through a cable. This can severely degrade quality for other cables they are bundled with, especially speaker wire. It's best to keep these as far away from other cables as possible, in their own bundle, for example.

Label Everything

During your bundling process, it's often a good idea to use small labels near the ends of each cable, just in case you need to disconnect something in the future. You can use a label printer to make these, but a small strip of masking tape works just as well.

For example, on your Blu-ray player's HDMI cable, a little loop of tape saying "Blu-ray" where it connects to your Blu-ray player, and where it connects to the receiver, can help you immensely should you replace the player, or the receiver, somewhere down the line. Likewise for power cables.