Output Jacks on Your HDTV - dummies

By Danny Briere, Pat Hurley

Part of HDTV For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Output jacks send signals from your HDTV to your audio/video devices. With so many different options available, your output jacks are there so you can

  • Record, listen to, or distribute the programs

  • Control other devices

You probably can see most or all of the following audio/video output jacks on your HDTV:

  • IR Out: An infrared port for sending IR signals to control your attached devices.

  • Audio/video outputs: Usually an HDTV has two kinds of audio/video outputs that do a range of tasks:

    • REC Out: A “record out” connection for recording what you see on your HDTV to an analog VCR.

    • A/V Out: Regular composite-video and standard-audio outputs for connecting such devices as a VCR for editing and dubbing. Usually this output is bridged directly to an input; whatever is connected to the input jack goes to this output.

    These audio/video outputs usually have a couple of limitations:

    • They output a down-converted video signal, not HDTV.

    • You can’t adjust the audio volume with the TV remote.

  • Audio Only: HDTVs with a built-in HDTV tuner (ATSC or QAM) usually have a couple of outputs for sending audio to other devices, such as amplifiers, receivers, and decoders:

    • Digital Audio Out: A digital audio connection (usually an optical “Toslink” connector) for connecting external Dolby Digital enabled amplifiers, receivers, decoders, or other home-theater systems that receive optical audio.

    • Variable Audio Out: These are standard analog audio ports for connecting an analog amplifier with external speakers.

      Variable audio allows you to adjust the volume of your external sound system with your TV remote.

Many TVs have an on/off switch or setting within the on-screen display setup menu that governs how the onboard speakers are used. You might be able to switch your speakers so that either

  • The internal speakers carry all the normal audio signals.

  • The TV’s audio goes directly to the A/V receiver, and either

    • The TV’s speakers stay on playing back a stereo soundtrack.

    • The TV’s speakers are entirely off.