Home Theater Sound on the Cheap

In 2009 I got my first HDTV, a Digital Lifestyles 42″ from NewEgg. The reviews were mixed but the common theme was that this screen had a great picture and terrible sound. I decided to take a chance, and if the sound was really that bad I’d figure something out.

Well, turned out the sound was, in fact, terrible. Not merely tinny, the speakers crackled and popped, and were essentially unusable. To my relief, the TV had a headphone jack on the side, so I got a set of Logitech X-230 computer speakers, plugged them into the headphone jack and the problem was solved – for a mere $35. The sound was really impressive for such a cheap setup and best of all the volume could still be controlled via the TV remote.

Fast forward to 2013. On Black Friday I took a trip to the local PC Richard and picked up a Panasonic TC-L58E60 58″ for a good price. The TV is great but the built-in speakers are weak and unfortunately it doesn’t have a headphone jack, so I couldn’t hook the speakers up to it. What could I do?

I did some research and ended up buying this Digital-Analog converter. It’s powered by USB and converts the optical signal to standard headphone output. For the power, I plug the USB cable directly into the TV, which is handy because then it gets powered on and off with the TV. Unfortunately with this setup the volume can’t be controlled via the TV remote any longer. I plan to get a 2.1 soundbar with wireless subwoofer eventually, but for now this mostly works. So if you’re looking to get pretty good sound your HDTV for relatively little cost, this might work for you.