How to connect speakers to a digital optical audio

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by JIDude, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. JIDude

    JIDude Auditioning

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    My tv only has a digital optical audio out (LG 47LW5600 is the make and model). I have speakers and now need an amp or receiver, however searching on Amazon.com I am unable to find one that lists digitcal optical as an input. I feel like I'm going crazy, surely most amps/receivers must have this as an input, right? Anyway, just wondering if you kind and knowlegeable folks would point me in the right direction.
     
  2. gene c

    gene c Producer

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  3. JIDude

    JIDude Auditioning

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    Thanks much! I swear I clicked on at least half-a-dozen receivers listed on Amazon, and then did a text search on each page for "optical" and nothing popped up. I think Amazon sometimes does not list the complete specs and I just happened to click on receivers that either do not have digital optical or else have it and Amazon does not list it. But after posting this plea for help, I went to Newegg and Crutchfield and the word "optical" was listed on just about every receiver.
    I have bookshelf speakers called BIC America DB62si. What I'd planned to do is connect the tv with a receiver via the digital optical, and then run speaker wire to the speakers (I bought some 16 gauge speaker wire to do this).
     
  4. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    The problem with using the digital optical output from the TV is that for any external sources (Blu-Ray, Cable/Satellite, game systems) any digital surround sound signal that is sent INTO the TV will be downconverted to analog stereo before it's output via the digital optical connection.

    For virtually ALL TVs out there, only signals from the TVs built in tuner will be output in their native, digital form (and if you're using cable or satellite, then you aren't using the TVs tuner).

    Ideally, to get the best quality sound for all of your sources, you would run separate audio and video connections for EACH source device directly to the receiver (use a different input on the receiver for each - that's what receivers are designed to do).

    Then, you run a single video connection from the receiver's video output to an input on the TV. In this setup, the TV is merely a monitor and all your audio/video switching is done via the receiver.

    The only other consideration to make when shopping for a receiver is whether or not you would benefit from "analog to HDMI upconversion". This feature is found starting on mid and upper mid-level receivers and will convert any type of incoming video signal to output via the HDMI output on the receiver. It's a nice feature to have if you have one or more non-HDMI sources (Wii being a common analog source).

    The Onkyo 509/609 are both frequently recommended. The 509 does NOT have analog to HDMI upconversion, the 609 does - that and a powered Zone 2 on the 609 are the main differences between the two. Amazon has pretty good deals on both. If you're open to factory refurb. units, accessories4less.com has both models also, for about $60 cheaper than Amazon.
     
  5. Michael Leff

    Michael Leff Auditioning

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    Just to clarify, you mean my blue ray player, external speakers, etc should connect directly to my DirecTv receiver which, in turn should connect directly to my tv?
     
  6. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    No - in my previous reply, "receiver" refers to an Audio/Video Receiver (AVR). Something like this: Onkyo 616.

    A DirecTV receiver (set top box, or STB) is considered a "source", just like Blu-ray, VHS, PlayStation, etc. Basically, anything that "produces" audio and/or video output should connect directly to an Audio/Video Receiver, which is designed to switch between all of these different sources.

    The AVR switches both audio and video - sending the resulting audio to connected speakers and video to a connected display. The AVR is also equipped to process or decode various forms of digital surround sound. Only the AVR can take the encoded audio stream from, say, your Blu-Ray player and properly decode it to send the proper audio signal to each of the 5 or 7 speakers that are connected to it.

    TVs, on the other hand, can't do this last part. They are "dumb" when it comes to all these different audio formats. Instead of decoding/processing it correctly, they simply downconvert it to stereo. TVs are not intended to serve as the hub of a home theater system. AVRs are designed to do that.
     
  7. dontknow

    dontknow Auditioning

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    I have a nice AVR hooked up in the family room but I bought a Panasonic Plasma for the bedroom and although it has a great picture, I find the audio lacking the only output is a optical which the specs say "PCM, Dolby Digital". Would I be better off looking for a sound bar of some kind? (which one?) or buying a digital analog converter and hooking it a great (but sadly outdated 16 years) Pioneer prologic AVR and the Bose surround speakers that are gathering dust in the attic. Also If I could somehow use the old amp I could (since this is a Bedroom TV) use earphones so as to not bother my wife with late night. I really need some help as right now I am whistling "Dixie"
     
  8. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    If you have a cable or satellite receiver in your bedroom they all have rca style stereo outputs. You could hook those to the old Pioneer. All you need is a set of stereo audio cables. A soundbar would be a good option but I really don't know anything about those either. I do know there are two basic varieties, powered and passive. Powered soundbars have their oun internal amplifiers and can be connected straight to the Panasonics optical output. A passive soundbar would need a receiver to power them. Either way, connected to the tv with optical or two the Pineer with analog stereo cables, you're only going to be sending a stereo signal to the soundbar. Some powered soundbars have DolbyProLogic built into them but they are pretty expensive. Here's a site with a little more info http://www.soundbarinfo.com/
     

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