I recently bought a Vizio VSB200 (refurbished). Seems that's all I see now--perhaps Vizio has stopped making them. Anyway, I bought before I researched. Turns out, the VSB200 accepts only PCM digital audio input and my tv (LG 42LH30) outputs only AC3 and cannot be made to output PCM (I called the LG support line). It also has no RCA (analog) outputs.
In college, I had a text book that began, "The nice thing about standards is there are so many to choose from." Silly me--I thought digital optical audio was digital optical audio. Alas, not true.
Anyway, Grefen makes a digital-audio-to-analog converter (which costs more than I spent on the VSB200) and it accepts only AC3 input. The odd thing is, when I stream certain shows from Netflix, they play sound on the VSB200 (which sounds great, BTW). Others do not. Broadcast (OTA) TV does not produce sound on the VSB200. Some shows streamed from Netflix (like Star Trek TOS) will produce sound from some episodes, but not others. How can a TV, which I'm told cannot output PCM, apparently put out PCM when connected to Netflix? Will the Grefen still work if I stream a show from Netflix that is putting out PCM? Confused? Me too.
Anyway, my question is, do I spend more money on the converter from Grefen? Or sell the soundbar to someone who has analog output from their TV?
Also, I've looked at the specs for a lot of other soundbars and almost none of them say whether they accept AC3 or PCM, or both (or perhaps there is yet another digital audio format I'm unaware of?) They all say whether there is a digital optical audio input jack--but this incident has taught me that this is insufficient information. Are there any soundbars on the market that accept AC3 input? Or, ideally, will switch automatically between multiple digital audio formats? How can you tell without calling each manufacturer?