IR & RF Home Theater

IR & RF Home Theater: a reader asks…

In this part of the universe, the trend is to have a closet built where the a/v and all encompassing electronic equipment resides. My stack is over 70′ away from my main entertainment center and is powered by a Yamaha advantage 840 and includes an array of ceiling mount speakers, 12″ power subwoofers etc. etc ad nauseam/or you get the point. How do I connect my firestick, fire tv blaster and echo to the closet stack. Im currently running mx890’s with an rf to ir converter in closet. I also have wireless ir blasters hooked up. I cant figure out the sequence. To make matters worse I have two complete different systems but both are the same as the aforementioned with the second one being for Master ensuite. Please help

I know that connecting home theater equipment can be a daunting task, but it sounds like you’ve conquered the majority of the issues, and have a sweet system (or two!). Connecting new pieces of equipment to your existing setup can be frustrating.


I am familiar with the Universal Remote MX890, but switched to a Logitech Harmony Elite system when I added new equipment to my system and discovered that there was no easy way to program the MX890 myself. Not saying you should do this, but you may need help getting the MX890 remote programmed for new equipment.

Or not, with the Firestick/Echo products, you can voice-control most of your equipment. The Echo and the Firestick remote can convert your voice commands to RF commands recognized by the Firestick. The MX890 remote and the Firestick Blaster can convert RF commands to IR commands recognized by your other equipment.

As a primer, there are two ways to communicate control signals from a remote to another device: RF (radio frequency) and IR (infrared). The latter is line-of-sight only, that’s why you needed the IR blasters – so the IR remotes that came with the Yamaha receiver and any other gear in your closet could receive IR signals from the home theater room. RF controls don’t need line-of-sight, so they will work as long as the RF signal is strong enough (usually fine for your 70’ needs).

The IR blasters repeat the IR signal from the theater room to the closet. Your MX890 remote uses RF to communicate with its IR-control system, so it doesn’t need the IR blasters to work. The MX890 also has IR emitter on it so you can turn the TV/projector on and off (which is in the theater room with the remote and not visible to the MX890’s IR-control system in the closet).

For the main system you describe, I’m assuming that the Yamaha Adventage RX-A840 (online manual here) already has an HDMI cable running from one of the HDMI OUT ports on the receiver in the closet to the TV or projector, as well as wires running from the receiver to each of the speakers.

So any source device (such as the Firestick) can be plugged into an available HDMI IN port on the Yamaha receiver which sends the video to the TV/projector and sound to the speakers – no special wiring needed. Just plug the Firestick into one of the HDMI IN ports (#7 on page 10 of the manual) and connect the microUSB cable from the Firestick to the included wall wart power supply (hint, use the wall wart, not a USB port on your receiver or any other gear).


The included Firestick remote uses RF, so you should be able to use it in the theater room without any problem. You might need to use the small HDMI cable extension (that came with the FireTV) so you can place the Firestick above the back of the receiver (RF signals are blocked by metal) and ensure good wireless reception.

The Fire TV Blaster (I think you mean this device) is needed only to convert Echo/Firestick RF commands into IR signals to control other devices that use IR. So you’d mount the Fire TV blaster in the closet so it can send IR signals to your receiver (for volume control, source switching, etc.). If you also wanted it to control the TV/projector, you’d need a 2nd Fire TV blaster in the theater room (but you have your MX890 for that, so likely not needed unless you want total voice control).

If you do want total voice control, then by all means, enable the URC skill in your Amazon Echo device. That way you can use the existing MX-890 control system with your Amazon Echo. I haven’t tried this, but it should let you issue general voice commands that correspond to at least some of the button pushes you’d use on your MX-890 remote.

Your last issue sounds like the real problem – you want to use one Firestick with two video/audio systems. My low-tech answer is that: since the Firestick is so cheap, why not just buy a 2nd one for the Master ensuite? It will come with its own remote (and the remotes are pre-programmed to work with the Firestick they came with). When setting up each Firestick, you can name them so you can know which one you’re controlling (in the smartphone app).

I should mention that your Yamaha Adventage RX-A840 has two separate HDMI OUT ports, so you could’ve used the same system to provide video/audio to both the theater room and the Master ensuite (provided you could run an HDMI cable from the closet to the Master ensuite’s TV).

One potential issue you might run into is HD Copyright Protection (HDCP). All your devices (Firestick, receiver, TV) have HDCP circuitry built-in, and that circuitry is designed to prevent piracy of protected content. This circuitry usually involves a ‘hand-shaking’ process where each piece of connected equipment validates itself with all the other pieces of connected equipment. Where the problem can occur is that the validation process usually only happens at the initial point in time where the equipment is connected. If you connect the Firestick to the receiver but don’t have the TV connected at that time and later connect it, the Firestick won’t see the TV and won’t run the hand-shaking process a 2nd time. The simplest way to avoid this problem is to first power on your receiver and TV, set the receiver to use the HDMI port you’ll use for the Firestick, and only then plug in the Firestick to the receiver. That way the Firestick ‘sees’ all your connected equipment and validates with them as it’s powered on.


  1. I have a Yamaha RX-V375 AV receiver and a Panasonic TC-58LE64 tv. I’ve tried connecting a Firestick to the receiver but I don’t get sound from my surround sound speakers. I’ve used an hdmi connector from tv to receiver and also an optical cable but neither work.

    • Hi Linda, you should’ve had no problems connecting the Firestick to the receiver and playing video out to the connected TV and audio out the connected surround sound speakers. The only thing you might have needed to do was adjust the Firestick’s audio settings to match what the receiver needed. In the Firestick menu (assuming you could see that on the TV screen), go to the audio settings. The Dolby Automatic setting should work, but you may have to try one of the other settings. Try each setting and then go to a video on the Firestick and start playing it. One of the audio settings on the Firestick should work for you.

      Running an optical cable from the TV back to the receiver simply adds another audio source (whatever’s playing on the TV). Since the Firestick is connected directly to the receiver that’s unnecessary. The optical cable would be needed if you had plugged the Firestick into the TV.

      Your Yamaha receiver’s manual is online at and shows (on page 23) how to connect an HDMI video/audio “source” like a Firestick to one of the four available HDMI IN ports on the back of the receiver. You should have:

      1. an HDMI cable that runs from the Yamaha receiver’s HDMI OUT port to one of the TV’s HDMI IN ports.
      2. the TV set to use the HDMI source coming from the Yamaha receiver
      3. the Yamaha receiver set to use the HDMI port where you’ll plug in the Firestick
      4. speakers connected to the Yamaha receiver

      After everything’s connected and the source settings are correctly set, you can plug the Firestick into the HDMI port of the receiver. Don’t forget to plug the Firestick’s included power supply into the wall and the other end into the microUSB port on the side of the Firestick – it won’t work without that. And you need to use the wall outlet & power adapter for the Firestick, connecting that microUSB cable to a USB port on the receiver or TV most likely won’t work as those ports don’t provide enough power to run the Firestick.

      • I’m sorry I never replied to this. Thank you SO much for helping me. Your instructions were easy to follow and worked perfectly. You are a great asset to many people struggling with their electronics!

  2. Al Reeves

    hello Chris. I have a large music collection on 2 external drives. My main PC is in my hideaway, my secondary PC is in the living room connected to the stereo system. By day from the hideaway I would like to be able to minimally adjust the stereo volume, and if possible also advanced songs. What is the easiest way to that? A: use music collection on main PC with Bluetooth receiver and send to living room stereo somehow. B: use music collection on secondary PC and use a RF remote somehow? I am not knowledgeable enough to know how all this clearly works and am looking for advice while considering overall ease of use/set up/affordability. Your input would be of great help and much appreciated. thank you. Cheers Al

    • Hi Al, if I were doing something like this, I’d be looking at controlling my music with my smartphone, not with a PC. That way I can be anywhere (hideaway or whatever) and manage the music playing.

      I happen to use an iPhone and have already imported my entire music library into Apple Music/iTunes. The same would work with Amazon Music or Google Play Music (if you use an Android smartphone). I would then play and control the music with whatever app on my smartphone I want, and send the music to a Bluetooth receiver to play out on other speakers.

      If your stereo system doesn’t already have Bluetooth connectivity, you can purchase a Bluetooth connector like this one from Logitech for $40 ( That lets you send audio from the smartphone to the stereo system. You can control the volume, tracks playing, etc. from an app on the smartphone.

      This is much easier than trying to remotely control a PC and a stereo system. Either way you’d still have to manually turn on the stereo system, select the correct input source and set the main stereo system volume control. Your smartphone’s volume control would then be able to reduce the music volume, or increase it up to the level the stereo system is set at.

      If you’re determined to use the PC>stereo setup, then you’d need a way to remotely control the secondary PC so you can switch tracks or albums (I think this is what you mean by “advanced songs”?). You can use remote control apps like TeamViewer ( and use the main PC to control the secondary PC. I should warn you, this is much more work for you than the smartphone method.

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