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The speaker hookup was no trouble at all - just more of them than in my previous installations. I had already installed the side and rear surrounds, so all I needed to do was install the front three speakers and make the connections from the receiver to all speakers. I made up five sets of short speaker cables, terminated in banana plugs, four of which go from the receiver to the J-box on the front wall, one set of longer cables for my front speakers, and another short cable for my center channel. This took a little over an hour, because I was anal-retentive and used heat-shrink tubing on the banana jacks to "seal" them and make them look professional.
Speaker cables, with neat heat-shrink jackets.
There's no mysery to setting up the speaker connections. Just connect the cables from the J-box to the receiver.
Speaker cables into J-box.
Speaker cables into receiver.
After hooking up the speaker cable, I hooked up the rest of the "left rack" equipment - my turntable, CD player, and universal disc player. Even with careful routing, this quickly becomes a rat's nest (why don't manufacturers offer .5m cables???). I must say that digital connections tend to clean up the works, however. One cable can generally carry multiple channels of audio. For example, I used Denon's D-Link to connect the universal player to the receiver. D-Link carries a full 5.1 channels of DVD or DVD-Audio signal to the receiver in one CAT5-sized digital cable. However, for SACD, I still needed the six-channel RCA hookup (the giant snake you see in the picture).
A/V connections into receiver.
My intention is to replace every analog connection with a digital one, as soon as possible (and only if possible, of course). For example, the analog outs of my Jolida CD player are hooked up in the picture. Since then, I've replaced that connection with a coaxial digital one. One less cable to manage.
Since I'd already installed the side and rear speakers, all I had to do was install the front speakers. Once everything was wired to the receiver and J-box it was time to wrestle my new PSB T65s into place. Boxed, they are very huge, and weigh about 60lbs. each side. I ended up sliding them down the stairs on an old towel to save my back. After moving them into position, I fooled around with the spikes until they didn't rock, and then made some final adjustments to position. Then the center channel went in.
Once the speakers were connected came the moment of truth - a smoke test of the audio system. I held my breath and turned on the receiver and the CD player. No smoke. I then loaded Joni Mitchell's Don Juan's Reckless Daughter and shed a tear as the music came up loud and beautifully clear. I switched into surround mode, and all the speakers sprang to life. The installation was mostly done!
After the smoke test, I ran the receiver's "auto room EQ" program to let it set levels, delay and equalization on all channels. I was pleased to hear each channel come to life properly as the program ran.
I then unboxed the Sony HS51 projector and set it on the coffee table (ceiling mounting the projector would come later). I had already run HDMI and S-Video from the universal player and receiver, respectively, so all I had to to was plug them in. I loaded up the DVD player (The Matrix, naturally), and fired up the projector. After a couple of minutes futzing with the lens shift controls, I had a beautiful image on the screen. However, the center channel wasn't playing the dialog. About an hour of fooling around with settings, cabling, etc., and looking at the manual went by before I realized that I had to enable the Denon D-Link connection on both the receiver and the player. That done, the center channel came to life and I proceeded to enjoy the "training scene" and the "lobby scene" of The Matrix, with beautiful Dolby Digital sound!
The first material played on the system.