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Why don't TVs give variable analogue audio out?
Why don't TVs give variable analogue audio out?
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Old 24th December 2011, 10:06 PM   #1
CopperTop is offline CopperTop  United Kingdom
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Default Why don't TVs give variable analogue audio out?

Just getting something off my chest here!

I am looking to buy a new TV and I have, once more, run into a recurring problem that I have not managed to solve in 20 years.

Everyone knows that a TV has poor speakers, so the natural thing to want to do is to connect it to the external amplifier and speakers that are already in your living room.

All the manufacturer has to do is slap a couple of phono sockets on the back. The output should be a line level facsimile of what is being sent to the TV's internal speakers, with the option of turning those speakers off via a menu setting or a switch. The TV volume control should still work. The TV source selection should still work. Simple. It's not rocket science.

Over the years I have wanted to do this many times, but have *never* achieved it. The problem has always been at least one of the following:

(1) The TV audio output is a fixed level. Result: your amp and/or sources must be remote controllable, and you'll need a multitude of different remotes just to change the volume.
(2) You can't turn off the TV's internal speakers.
(3) The TV doesn't have an analogue output, but maybe optical.
(4) The audio output is muted if the source doesn't have any video. So you can't use your TV to select CD on one of its SCART inputs, for example.
(5) Any combination of the above.

This totally unnecessary problem has spawned the monstrosity known as the 'AV Receiver' which does (hang onto your hats) allow the user to select from a multitude of different sources and, control the volume of them - using its remote control. There's a whole load of buzz around making the TV the heart of the living room, the entertainment centre etc., but a good start would have been to have made it, effectively, an audio and video selector and volume control all along. As far as I can tell it wouldn't have added a single penny to the cost of the hardware, as everything is there already but just connected up in a strange way.

The problem is still not solved. My father's 2 or 3 year old Sony has phono audio out, but it is fixed level as per usual. We connected a powered sub-woofer, but of course when we change the internal TV speakers' volume, the sub-woofer level doesn't change accordingly. He would also like to listen to CD or DAB radio through the TV as just another source, but can't because of this and the muting-without-video problem.

Some of the new TVs I am looking at have tiny tinny speakers, but only an optical out. Some have SCART, but there's no way of knowing (even if you look in the manual) whether there is analogue audio coming out of it and whether its volume is fixed.

TV manufacturers please note: I was going to buy a TV today, but after downloading and studying countless manuals without being able to find an answer to this problem, the desire to buy is draining away. I may just continue using my old set (and a kludged solution that I know works, sort of) for another 5 years. I can't believe I'm the only one.
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Old 24th December 2011, 10:22 PM   #2
stratus46 is offline stratus46  United States
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We had a std def 35" Mitsubishi with audio output that followed the volume control. Speaker could be turned off so it worked well with an external amp and speakers. Amp was powered on by a Solid State Relay that detected the 150W draw from the TV.

The 50" Samsung DLP had your issue of audio output that was constant level. The Samsung had dual 10 Watt amps internally so I added a 4PDT internal/external speaker switch and terminal strip on the back. Worked OK.

Newer 55" LG has an earphone jack that is feeding a Technics receiver and the same speakers from the first two TV sets. Power for the receiver is from a Solid State Relay triggered by an unused USB port on the TV. Works OK.

It all works OK but you're right about it being a chore to get it to work.

Merry Christmas

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Old 25th December 2011, 06:34 PM   #3
JoeDJ is offline JoeDJ  United States
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I got a relatively inexpensive Samsung 46'" LED about a year ago and the anilog audio out is controled by the TV's volume control.

However, it is a single 3.5mm (stereo) jack.
To make matters worse the anilog output is effected but the TV's sound EQ which I have to use to make the TV's sound accepable.

So, I have re -EQ it when I want to feed it into my stereo sys. I got a simple, seperate EQ just for this purpose in addition to my main sys EQ.

I agree that anilog audio seem to be just an after thought in most TVs .

Last edited by JoeDJ; 25th December 2011 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 25th December 2011, 06:50 PM   #4
Conrad Hoffman is offline Conrad Hoffman  United States
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My Sharp is a few years old but when you shut off the TV speakers, the signal at the audio out jacks is controlled by the remote volume control. I just keep a power amp connected and it works fine. The Sharps got very low ratings in the major consumer magazine a while back, but AFAIK that rating was very much related to the poor built in sound. With external speakers it's rather nice.
I may be barking up the wrong tree, but at least I'm barking!
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Old 25th December 2011, 06:57 PM   #5
JoeDJ is offline JoeDJ  United States
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BTW..... does anyone know if those optical to analog L/R convertors are any good?
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Old 26th December 2011, 01:06 AM   #6
Mrbobb is offline Mrbobb  United States
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Is a triumvirate conspiracy by the TV/AVR/Remote vendors!

In my old CRT, the built-in spkrs were perfect for center, so what did I do? opened it up and rewired the thing! Aren't we not DIY'ers?
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Old 26th December 2011, 09:46 AM   #7
toprepairman is offline toprepairman  United Kingdom
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Personally I prefer line level, but then I don't mind getting up to adjust volume. There is remote volume control on the freeview box.
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Old 28th December 2011, 08:19 PM   #8
eds65gto is offline eds65gto  United States
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Default TV audio output

I have the same problem's with the two new tv's I bought last month , A Samsung 23 in and a Sony XBR55HX929. Both had lousy audio , like a 50;s transistor radio , really awful.

With the Sony I use a ZVOX 555 box under the tv that turns on and off and controls volume with the tv remote and takes either line or optical audio inputs. The Sony tv switches the headphone audio jack from headphone output to line output? and turns off the internal speakers.

I like the idea of a USB controlled switch , where do I find that ? A load sensing power strip would work too , but they are all so big and cannot be hidden behind a flat tv easily.

On the Samsung tv I just plug a pair of powered computer speakers into the headphone jack and the volume is controlled with the tv volume control. Using the headphone jack mutes the speakers too. I just have to plug and unplug the power supply for the speakers when I turn on the tv. I works for me.

It seems that the tv manufacturers have completely forgotten about audio since all the hype and attention given video and 3D.

The Home Theater magazines have completely forgotten about audio too , I guess thinking all tv's will be hooked up to Home Theater receivers , but not the case with me.
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Old 28th December 2011, 08:39 PM   #9
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Why don't TVs give variable analogue audio out?
I'm very happy that my present Toshiba LCD TV has variable volume out via RCA, no matter what the input. Makes life easy. I run that to a little Lepai amp then into a late '50s vintage Fisher console. Perfect.

My last CRT also had variable out (thank you Magnavox) but before that I had to do something similar to what Mr.Bob did. I just took off the back, tapped into the speaker lines and ran those to RCA connectors on the back. Worked like a charm.
Take the Speaker Voltage Test!
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Old 2nd November 2012, 03:45 AM   #10
RodGee is offline RodGee  United States
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Default I disagree, respectfully guys

I consider this yet another ploy to squeeze another dollar from the consumer market. Surround sound has been the focal point of the entertainment center for over 2 decades at least and crafted around each new generation of television. Each time a new increment is implemented, these manufacturers partner with departments within their own subsidiary companies to make items low in sales (receivers. surround systems) more marketable. I don't believe for a second "all" these manufactures just 'forgot' about audio... That even sounds contradictory in its stated phrasing. This is done purposely which is why there's no possible way to know if a tv has this fault without purchasing the tv, installing the sound system and repeating this discouraging process. In my state of pissiness, i've come up with a way to test a tv on the showroom floor, but it requires total understanding from the sales floor reps and since most large screen tvs are mounted on the walls, even this can be a big hassle to accomplish. I have a double RCA to headphone adapter which allows me to plug a headset into it, take it to the showroom and plug it directly into the tv audio output, raise/lower the volume on the tv and know instantly if the tv has an output volume control... This method will help u guys out tremendously, but when it comes to internet shopping, there's no hope to solving this quandry... yet!
I purchased a new 40" Westinghouse LED tv for which i'm ready to return and replace with the original 37" Westinghouse LCD tv i purchased at a yard sale which has the audio output control which proves to me that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but sound brings a million pictures to mind all at once...
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