Trying to avoid converting optical to analog audio, or to find optical speakers - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a Panasonic TV with ONLY optical-out, and I haven't found any speakers that take that input and achieve what I want.

I just bought the Creative D3X speakers, and I would really like to use them but I don't want to buy something like this:
http://www.amazon.com/D3-Digital-Converter-Optical-Toslink/dp/B005K2TXMO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1363269203&sr=8-4&keywords=optical+to+3.5mm

I was quite sure that this item:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002MQGRM/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Would convert Optical to the 3.5 stereo cable that I needed, but it's looking more like that is a 3.5 optical cable, right? They should have been a bit more specific, I can see alot of people getting confused by that.

Is there any way around getting this converter box? Or are there any unpowered converter boxes? I have far too many of them.
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post #2 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:31 AM
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You are going to need a digital to analog converter like your
First link.
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post #3 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thought so. Argh... I think I'd rather buy another set of speakers that handle optical in to avoid having yet another converter box laying around taking up a plug in my house.

Gonna have to look into other sets now.
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post #4 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:41 AM
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Right the second is for optical in optical out. The converter from optical to analog still wont work unless the speakers have an app built in. What you need is an audio video receiver and it has optical inputs and can drive you speakers, or just get a home theater in a box.
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post #5 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeApOn View Post

Thought so. Argh... I think I'd rather buy another set of speakers that handle optical in to avoid having yet another converter box laying around taking up a plug in my house.

Gonna have to look into other sets now.

If you find something let us know. I've never seen active speakers with built in optical input, although I'm not expert enough to say they're not out there. My Google-fu has not turned anything up with what I consider reasonable search terms like 'active speaker +optical'.

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post #6 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Right the second is for optical in optical out. The converter from optical to analog still wont work unless the speakers have an app built in. What you need is an audio video receiver and it has optical inputs and can drive you speakers, or just get a home theater in a box.

Really? If I convert the optical to analog sound I can't just plug into my speaker's AUX port? I figured if I swallowed the bullet I could just get this converter box.

So is my optical out from my TV essentially forcing me to buy a home theater? I really want a simple speaker that I can plug into from my TV. Soundbar, whatever. Just something. This is not for my main HT, just a side room that I'd like some decent sound in.
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post #7 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by WeApOn View Post

Really? If I convert the optical to analog sound I can't just plug into my speaker's AUX port? I figured if I swallowed the bullet I could just get this converter box.

So is my optical out from my TV essentially forcing me to buy a home theater? I really want a simple speaker that I can plug into from my TV. Soundbar, whatever. Just something. This is not for my main HT, just a side room that I'd like some decent sound in.

Optical fiber carries a digital signal. This absolutely must be converted to analog via DAC circuitry somewhere in order to be played on any speaker(s) out there.

Since you seem to be pursuing a minimalist approach, a soundbar with optical input may be your best bet.

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post #8 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 08:02 AM
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Thats the ticket, a sound bar with a wireless sub. I was thinking you had the speakers already and had no idea if they are a prices set.
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post #9 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JD in NJ View Post

Optical fiber carries a digital signal. This absolutely must be converted to analog via DAC circuitry somewhere in order to be played on any speaker(s) out there.

Since you seem to be pursuing a minimalist approach, a soundbar with optical input may be your best bet.

Definitely going for a minimalist approach here. This is all for a new side room that I built that doesn't have much room.
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Thats the ticket, a sound bar with a wireless sub. I was thinking you had the speakers already and had no idea if they are a prices set.

Speaker is arriving today. But it's from Amazon so I can just refuse or return for a refund.

Going to look into a soundbar with optical and that supports bluetooth.

How are wireless subs? I'm expecting the bass might be off-sync with my TV due to the wireless latency?
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post #10 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 08:21 AM
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Don't need the tv's speakers the sound bars work great and the wireless sub do to. I have 2 of the Vizio sound bars in use and am pleased with them,
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post #11 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 11:00 AM
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I was thinking tha Mackie used to make studio monitors that take a digital input (ie have builg-in DACs) but couldn't find them on a quick search. Then it occurred to me that they probably wouldn't work right, anyway, unless you could ensure you only get PCM out of the TV. Because a DAC needs PCM in order to convert digital to analog so that amps and speaekrs can utilize it. AFAIK, a normal DAC will not recognize a DD or DTS signal, and couldn't take, say, a 5.1 channel mix in DD (from an OTA broadcast) and convert it into a stereo signal or whatever you might want.

So yeah for simplicity a decent soundbar is likely the best bet.
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post #12 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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So if I buy a converter box some people are saying that I still won't be able to use a speaker that doesn't have optical in? Is this true?

It would go like this:

TV--->Optical out-->converter box-->3.5mm stereo-->AUX input on speaker

This would work, no?
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post #13 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeApOn View Post

So if I buy a converter box some people are saying that I still won't be able to use a speaker that doesn't have optical in? Is this true?

It would go like this:

TV--->Optical out-->converter box-->3.5mm stereo-->AUX input on speaker

This would work, no?

No sure where you're getting that. You need an analog signal into the amp (which may be built into the speaker) or you will never get "real" sound. If the digital is converted to analog then you have an analog signal.

Here's a potential problem, related to my post above, with the FiiO box: (this is a review on the AMazon site) "Fast shipping and looks like good product, But does not work with latest Panasonic 32 inch LEDTV TCL32E3. Tried to use it with existing stereo audio receiver. The problem is panasonic digitial audio out optical terminal outputs signal based on the source signal There is no option to just output PCM. All the digital over the air TV channels are now ATSC and TV outputs Dolby digital based on source TV signal and all you hear is digital click click noise from speakers."

Trying to put this as simply as I can, there are different types of digital "sound." CDs use "pulse code mosulation" which essentially takes a picture of the location of the sound wave 44,000 times per second and creates a number that shows where the wave is at any given moment. That's PCM. PCM is what digital to audio converters(DACs) convert into analog sound so that it sounds like sound and not clicks and pops.

PCM takes a lot of space, because there are 16 bits 44,000 times per second for each channel. So they have invented ways to encode (much or most) of the sound in a much more compact format. Dolby digital (DD) is one, and DTS is another. What actually happens is the sound starts out as PCM, Then somebody runs it through a converter to turn it into DTS or DD. That way it can be stored and retrieved on a normal DVD, or transmitted over optical. You can't transmit multichannel (more than stereo) PCM over optical as i understand it.

So when you play back "sound" that is encoded as DTS (from a DVD or BluRay) or Dolby (DVDs, BluRays, over-the-air, digital cable) you first have to turn the DD or DTS BACK into PCM (kind of like unzipping a zipped file) then you have to run the PCM through a DAC in order to get something other than clicks and pops from it. It looks like th FiiO box is just a DAC. Feed it DD or DTS and it''ll spit out clicks and pops because it can't read the DD or DTS.
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post #14 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeApOn View Post

So if I buy a converter box some people are saying that I still won't be able to use a speaker that doesn't have optical in? Is this true?

It would go like this:

TV--->Optical out-->converter box-->3.5mm stereo-->AUX input on speaker

This would work, no?
Yes, that would work. You'd need to set the TV output to PCM since the converter doesn't decode DD 5.1. But, it seems like a waste to spend more than $100 just to get an analog stereo output when you can feed optical directly into a soundbar.
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post #15 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JHAz View Post

I was thinking tha Mackie used to make studio monitors that take a digital input (ie have builg-in DACs) but couldn't find them on a quick search. Then it occurred to me that they probably wouldn't work right, anyway, unless you could ensure you only get PCM out of the TV. Because a DAC needs PCM in order to convert digital to analog so that amps and speaekrs can utilize it. AFAIK, a normal DAC will not recognize a DD or DTS signal, and couldn't take, say, a 5.1 channel mix in DD (from an OTA broadcast) and convert it into a stereo signal or whatever you might want.

So yeah for simplicity a decent soundbar is likely the best bet.

Just found a pair of Behringers that take optical audio in, but... I only have one optical out from my TV. Would I need a receiver in between the speakers and the TV? If so I may just opt to use one of these.
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post #16 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, that would work. You'd need to set the TV output to PCM since the converter doesn't decode DD 5.1. But, it seems like a waste to spend more than $100 just to get an analog stereo output when you can feed optical directly into a soundbar.

More than $100? So I would then definitely need something more than this?
http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=avsforum_vs-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FD3-Digital-Converter-Optical-Toslink%2Fdp%2FB005K2TXMO%2Fref%3Dsr_1_4%3Fie%3DUTF8%26qid%3D1363269203%26sr%3D8-4%26keywords%3Doptical%2Bto%2B3.5mm

This would convert the digital to analog, right? But then there is the problem of codec? Would my TV definitely have the ability to control what type of codec it outputs?

I thought the above item would be all I needed. Really wish my TV had more than just optical out.
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post #17 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 01:01 PM
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If the TV is set to output stereo PCM rather than encoded DD 5.1, you don't need a receiver with the Behringer speakers. Run the digital stereo signal to the right speaker. It does the analog conversion and sends analog to the left speaker. But, there doesn't appear to be a way to integrate a sub.

Your TV manual will tell you whether you can force a stereo PCM output. But, I've never seen one that can't. The linked converter is all you need to get a stereo PCM input converted to analog stereo. $32, not $100. My bad.

But, I really don't understand what you are trying to accomplish here.
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post #18 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
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If the TV is set to output stereo PCM rather than encoded DD 5.1, you don't need a receiver with the Behringer speakers. Run the digital stereo signal to the right speaker. It does the analog conversion and sends analog to the left speaker. But, there doesn't appear to be a way to integrate a sub.

Your TV manual will tell you whether you can force a stereo PCM output. But, I've never seen one that can't. The linked converter is all you need to get a stereo PCM input converted to analog stereo. $32, not $100. My bad.

But, I really don't understand what you are trying to accomplish here.

Sorry -- I haven't been nearly as descriptive in this thread as I have been in others. I'll give a brief summary:

I got a new TV in a side room that I'm looking to have as an extension to my main home theater room. More of a private viewing area. I'm looking to get a very basic speaker setup in there. My initial plan was for a single speaker like a JAMBOX or something similar. I really wanted the Bluetooth connectivity alongside having it connect directly to my TV as an external speaker. So here is how my path has been so far:

Bought JAMBOX -- only has 3.5stereo in and disables Bluetooth functionality when it is plugged in. (I would like both at once)
Bought CREATIVE D3X -- has an AUX port as well as the ability to be remotely powered on and off via bluetooth(saves me from walking and powering it on all the time).

Problem is my TV ONLY has optical audio out, so I bought what I thought was a toslink to 3.5 stereo cable, but it was actually just toslink mini. (At the time I didn't know about DACs). Bought the digital adapter box I linked to above, hoping that I can convert the toslink to RCA and then use an adapter from RCA to 3.5 stereo. However some people have mentioned the problem where the speaker might need something to know how to convert the PCM or whatnot.

Now I did not really want to have the DAC since it's yet another small converter box that needs to be powered -- I have enough of those already. So I started looking for a speaker that has an optical input so I can avoid the DAC. Ideally I would like some type of soundbar or single speaker that can support Bluetooth as the other ones did. But I'm really hooked on the auto-on/auto-off of the Creative D3X, so I want to try the DAC when that comes in as well.

I bought an iLive soundbar, the only sub $299 speaker that I could find that supports optical in and Bluetooth. Just hoping the sound quality is decent, and it can support bluetooth and optical at the same time.


Sorry for all the complexity, the situation has kind of gotten out of control.

The very brief version: Looking to get speakers for my TV that supports ONLY optical-out, and would like that same set of speakers to support Bluetooth.
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post #19 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 02:01 PM
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When it comes to getting sound... the converter to Creative D3X will work. So will the Behringer speakers. I can't help with Bluetooth.
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post #20 of 32 Old 03-14-2013, 05:41 PM
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Man have you gotten a lot input on your question. As I said before get a soundbar with a wireless sub. Most have optical ports, analog RCA inputs and some even have HDMI inputs and outputs. Fast clean and inexpensive.
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post #21 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 05:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

When it comes to getting sound... the converter to Creative D3X will work. So will the Behringer speakers. I can't help with Bluetooth.

OK, great! That's all I was worried about. Someone above mentioned something about speakers not being able to interpret a codec and needing to spend more than $100. The DAC I got was ~$15 and I thought that was all I would need. But I knew nothing about optical audio. Thanks for clarifying that. I might end up biting the bullet and dealing with another converter box if I really like these speakers.

As for the bluetooth -- no worries. The D3X and iLive soundbar that I am trying out both support Bluetooth. So I can use them as a remote music player from my iPhone, as well as dedicated external speakers to my TV.
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Man have you gotten a lot input on your question. As I said before get a soundbar with a wireless sub. Most have optical ports, analog RCA inputs and some even have HDMI inputs and outputs. Fast clean and inexpensive.

This is definitely the way to go to avoid the DAC -- and definitely will be what I do if I end up really not wanting the DAC.

Honestly at this point I'll likely be deciding solely based on the features and sound quality of the iLive vs. the Creative D3X. One way I use a DAC, another way direct toslink. Beyond that I would be looking at much more expensive soundbar/wireless sub combos and/or home theaters.

Thanks for the help everyone.
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post #22 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 05:48 AM
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As long as your TV can be set to output stereo PCM, it will make sure decoding is done so that the converter will get something it can handle.
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post #23 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 07:38 AM
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Or if the TV doesn't have a "PCM only" setting....
http://www.amazon.com/Gefen-GTV-DD-2-AA-Digital-Audio-Decoder/dp/B0021QBIBQ
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post #24 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Just found this single review on my TV:

"And its digital signal is DTS for digital tv signal and PCM for analog tv signal or other sources. This requires you to have digital converter supporting dolby format, which is usually expensive, probably due to Dolby license."

Does this mean I'm screwed and require that $100 Dolby converter? That would be quite infuriating if the TV is forcing me to have to use optical and buy another $100 converter in order to use anything other than an optical speaker. Very limiting.
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post #25 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 11:31 AM
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Why read reviews instead of the TV manual? It should answer the question.
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post #26 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

Why read reviews instead of the TV manual? It should answer the question.

At work, heh. Granted I could probably find an online manual. I've been through all the settings though and don't recall that I have the ability to change the audio format output.

Technically, can't I do that upstream from the device the audio is being generated from? For example if the audio/video feed starts at my PC I could make sure it's not Dolby? Or I could specifically set my PS3 to not use Dolby sound?

The Dolby isn't being generated on my TV, unless my TV is changing it to Dolby?
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post #27 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by WeApOn View Post

Just found this single review on my TV:

"And its digital signal is DTS for digital tv signal and PCM for analog tv signal or other sources. This requires you to have digital converter supporting dolby format, which is usually expensive, probably due to Dolby license."

Sounds like the reviewer doesn't know too much about what he's talking about. DTS and Dolby are two different companies, and DTS isn't typically (ever?) used for TV broadcasts. I wouldn't put a lot of stock into what it's saying.

What model of TV is this?
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post #28 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Sounds like the reviewer doesn't know too much about what he's talking about. DTS and Dolby are two different companies, and DTS isn't typically (ever?) used for TV broadcasts. I wouldn't put a lot of stock into what it's saying.

What model of TV is this?

It's a Panasonic TCL42E50.

Yeah, he seemed like he had trouble with the language or something. I just plain-old don't have the knowledge of it. Learning as I go.

Thanks.
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post #29 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 12:12 PM
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While some TVs can do it, I don't recall seeing a single Panasonic TV that passes DD 5.1 from external devices. They all use the HDMI handshake to force the source to decode and send 2 channels of PCM. So, I doubt this will be an issue for you with that TV set.
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post #30 of 32 Old 03-15-2013, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, I appreciate the input. I'll report back once I find out over the weekend.
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