Best Connections to Older AVR

I have a Cambridge Audio 540R V3 receiver, Panasonic DMP-BD210 Blu-ray player, Pace RNG200N HD/ENP cable box, and Panasonic TC-P42ST30 plasma TV. The guy at the store where I bought the two Panasonic products told me to connect the cable box and Blu-ray player to the TV with HDMI and connect the TV's digital audio output to the receiver with a Toslink cable. I am new at all this, but I do not think this is the best way to have the best sound considering my receiver—which, by the way, can only deal with video via HDMI, not sound. What do you think ?

Luc Lesage

Normally, I don't recommend the connection scheme specified by the guy at the store. I usually recommend connecting the HDMI outputs from your source devices (Blu-ray player, cable box) to the AVR and the HDMI output from the AVR to the TV. As you point out, however, the Cambridge 540R V3 does not decode audio via HDMI; instead, it requires audio from a separate coax or Toslink connection, which means you would have to connect one of these outputs from the Blu-ray player and cable box as well as HDMI. If your Blu-ray player had multichannel analog outputs, you could use those instead, but the DMP-BDT210's has only a L/R stereo pair of analog outputs.

Since the 540R V3 must get audio via coax or Toslink, there is no performance difference between the two connection schemes, so it really doesn't matter which you use. If you connect the Blu-ray player and cable box to the TV via HDMI and the TV's optical output to the AVR, you'll be using the TV to switch sources; if you connect the source components to the 540R with HDMI and Toslink audio, you'll be using the AVR to switch sources.

The best choice for you depends on which way you find easier to use when selecting which source you want to watch. Another factor is where the components are physically located. If the Blu-ray player and cable box are near the AVR—say, in an equipment rack—and relatively far from the TV, it's more convenient to use short cables from the source devices to the AVR and a single longer HDMI cable from the AVR to the TV. But if all the components are near the TV, this consideration is unimportant.

Update: According to WC in the comments below, most TVs limit their optical digital-audio output to 2-channel stereo. I never use that output, so I don't know if it's true in most cases, but if it's true for the ST30, your best option for multichannel audio is to run HDMI and Toslink from the Blu-ray player and cable box to the AVR and HDMI from the AVR to the TV.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to

yachtmandu's picture

via HDMI...mainline the cable box to the TV, mainline the blu-ray to the tv -then, for audio: bolt the blu ray player to the AVR via optical, and finally run another optical link from the cable box to the to AVR for audio for high def tv...your receiver specializes in audio - let it do it's job and let the tv and blu ray player take care of the video...your receiver is adept at audio, but maybe not so good at video - make the best of what your gear is capable of...

WC's picture

Most TVs will limit the audio to stereo from the TV optical output. If you want surround sound 5.1 run audio cables from the Blu-ray and cable box to the AVR. I would try switching the HDMI with the AVR otherwise you will need to switch video on the TV and audio on the AVR.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I never run HDMI to the TV and then optical audio from the TV to the AVR, so I didn't know that most TVs only send 2-channel audio from their optical output. If that's true, your suggestion is right on the money. I'll add it to my main response above. Thanks!
Tucker1011's picture

As a consumer level television salesperson (and a Panasonic plasma owner), I can confirm that he's right. Basically the toslink exists on the television as a function of OTA HD (and I suppose Netflix these days). My understanding is it's a standards council deal, to stop people from doing something shady that only those folks could devise - like stopping HD over component in the age of BD drives in computers.

loop7's picture

I only have an HDMI capable pre-amp/processor (Integra) in the living room but in my bedroom I have of the last non-HDMI Denon AVRs. I'm running HDMI directly into a panel and optical from an Apple TV and the same BRD you have into the AVR. Going this route provides pure DTS, Dolby flavors, etc.

Interesting post because a pal of mine with a theater we would all like to have (Runco, Watson, Integra, Bryston, Oppo) is a purest and would not dream of putting video through any type of device. 100% of the consumed media is BRD. He's running separate as you were advised. Seems old fashioned but is it really?

yachtmandu's picture

Scott advised: "I never run HDMI to the TV and then optical audio from the TV to the AVR" - good advice

input all sources via HDMI (blu-ray player, hi-def box) directly to the tv - then, input all audio sources to the AVR via whatever connections are available (toslink, coax, rca jacks) - do not, repeat, do not output audio from the tv to the may take a few extra clicks on your remotes (like muting the tv audio) and selecting sources, but with practice you'll be a zen remote master in the dark...

mailiang's picture

I agree. Also, there are no extra functions required to mute your Panny ST30, since its audio has an off function.


albert26's picture

Sorry I wished I could answer earlier
all correct ,,just remember all Tosslink or Optical Interconnects are not created Equally,,,try something pure glass, you will hear the difference,WireWorld..MIT,,,etc,,,

Tucker1011's picture

I'm not sure if you're a spam-bot, but here's the jig.

Toslink is a digital interconnect, like HDMI, like Coax audio. Digital is all or nothing in nature. If you're receiving a signal, then you're getting the full signal. Any and all signal compression must be introduced by the source, and thus is not conducted on the cable like in an analog setup.

Where you spend your money on cables nowadays is in construction quality - and in the case of gear like Monster, lifetime warranties on most interconnects.

yachtmandu's picture

In case you missed it: we are trying to help Luc connect his older gear to his newer gear. Your advice and divine inspiration via the Vulcan Mind Meld from the High Priests at Monster are, frankly, growing a bit weary. However, I do enjoy your attempt to sell an extended warranty on Monsters attempt at quality vs a twelve pack of two-ply.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
yachtmandu, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as is everyone on this site. However, your last two comments ventured into personal attacks and even profanity, which I do not allow on this site, so I deleted them. Please be respectful of others when posting comments.
Tucker1011's picture

You're right though, it was about Luc and his gear. I just get irked when people start talking about this toslink having have a truer sound than that toslink - or this HDMI will have less grain than that HDMI. The only reason I mentioned Monster was because of the Live Forever guarantee. I'm just familiar with it, and it was for the sake of example.

I ain't tryin' to sell people nothin'.

yachtmandu's picture

Scott, Tucker, and anyone offended...kindly consider my apology for crossing the line. No excuses. Meanwhile, did Luc figure out his connections? This is a story that needs an ending....