I"m a transplant from the 70's analog stereo world. LIfe was complicated with the 20+ cables going everywhere to listen to stereo or tv. But now I have a question. My flat screen has multiple inputs, HDMI and analog jacks for several components. But just one digital audio output. So I am ASSUMING that I can plug everything into the TV, and I only need the digital audio output from the tv to my sound system....is this correct?
Do you want it your way or the right way?
Get a AV receiver, to run everything into it. Then you just have the one hdmi to the tv. If you want sound without having the AV receiver on, get a soundbar like we did, and use it for just regular tv viewing. With Blu-ray players having stuff like Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, etc. there really is not a need for a AV receiver with the same stuff.
I have a Denon 1612, and it has a USB port on the front, if we ever wish to plug in a iPod or other mp3 device. I just use the Airmusic app if I wish to stream my music on it, to our Blu-Ray.
The digital audio output does not use the same cable with RCA plugs used for stereo sound, and is usually an optical output using a single fiberoptic cable. You can get by without an A/V receiver if you have enough inputs in back of the TV and also your sound system has a matching digital audio input.
Some A/V receivers requires multiple cords going to the TV: HDMI for example into the TV Video 1, component video to the TV Video 2, composite (yellow jack) to the TV Video 3. (Composite is not used often these days.) When you use an A/V receiver you usually connect the audio directly to speakers or in some cases another amplifier without going through the TV.
Tornado victims: Do not rush to rebuild. Take your time and look for and get a good contractor. Or consider selling the property and moving to a home that is ready to live in.