Audio output from smart TV through amp and speakers - digital audio adapters

I have upgraded my lounge TV to a Sony Bravia smart TV.  The previous Panasonic has been moved elsewhere, but one feature the new Sony doesn't have is phono/RCA audio out sockets - which we had used to play the TV through the amp and to 4 speakers and a sub woofer to give surround-ish sound - mainly used for movies and concerts etc.  For most daily watching I am happy enough with the TV sound.  

As a temporary workaround, I found a 2x female phono to 3.5mm jack adapter and plugging this in allows sound over the hi-fi via the headphone socket on the side, but obviously disengages the TVs own sound - so I need to either always use the amp or plug it in when required - which is a bit fiddly and means moving the TV a bit.  I'd ideally like the hi-fi sound to supplement the TV sound when required, just by switching the amp on, as had worked previously.

My late husband set all of this up and I am not that familiar with how it is wired and don't want to mess with it as it is under carpet behind furniture etc.  I would prefer to work with what I have as it sounds pretty good already - I just want to connect it more efficiently at the TV end.

On the TV I have a spare HDMI slot, 2 x USB and a 'digital audio out (optical)' socket available to use - the latter seeming to be the most likely option.  One HDMI slot each (2 and 3 in the diagram below) is used for my Freesat Box and DVD player.  This pdf on Sony's site shows the socket arrangements.

I can see that there are seemingly adapters to connect optical audio output to phono/RCA leads (there are male plugs on the end of the cable), but there seems to be different arrangements and some are more complicated than others.  Does anyone have any recommendations and would this work as I would like?  Do they also need separate power, as I'm struggling for sockets?  I thought I'd ask before just buying something that looked suitable.
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  • facade
    facade Posts: 6,902
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    edited 26 November 2023 at 12:14PM
    Yes, an optical to phono adaptor will need power.

    The simplest solution is to buy an optical lead and take it from the socket on the TV to the amp, provided that the amp has an optical input. This will be under £10 depending on how long you need the lead to be.

    The next simplest (but much more expensive) is to get a soundbar (you might find that Sony do some sort of discount as you have just bought the TV), which will do away with the amp and speakers. Modern soundbars are very good at giving the appearance to your ears that there are speakers behind you.

    So for the simplest option, if you can't find out from the instructions or just looking at the amp, what is the make & model of the amp and I'll try and check if it has optical input.
    I want to go back to The Olden Days, when every single thing that I can think of was better.....

    (except air quality and Medical Science ;))
  • BooJewels
    BooJewels Posts: 2,716
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    Thanks @facade I looked initially late last night on my tablet and could see some had USB cables, so I think these might be to power the adapter - I've just found one that does have a power cable, that looks like it might be suitable.

    An optical cable to the amp isn't do-able and I'd already disregarded it as the amp was made a very long time before digital was a thing - so it simply won't have a suitable socket.  I often work on the 'if it ain't broke' principle and as the amp and everything is working just fine as it is, I'd prefer to leave well alone - so I'm not even going to move anything to check.

    I was actually going down the soundbar route, as my first attempt with the headphone socket wasn't as good as I hoped, but when I tried the DVD player the sound was so much louder than the TV had been, I realised that the volume output on the Freesat box was very low - so once I adjusted that so that Freesat, DVD and smart stuff were all around the same volume, it worked significantly better.   Sony do have a matching one, but it would be a tight squeeze for the available space and on balance, I think I'd prefer the headphone adapter, as I already had that, so no cost and it works.

    If I do use an optical/phono adapter, will that allow TV sound when the amp is off and then use the amp only when switched on.  I just need to check the sound options in the TV menu, but I'm not near it just now.
  • km1500
    km1500 Posts: 2,120
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    just so you know I believe optical output is not volume controlled
  • BooJewels
    BooJewels Posts: 2,716
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    km1500 said:
    just so you know I believe optical output is not volume controlled
    I don't think I was expecting it to be - I was assuming (without actually knowing, or giving much thought) it would be a basic audio out that I'd control volume for with the amp.
  • PHK
    PHK Posts: 1,144
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    That link to the sockets won't download for some reason.

    What is the model number? I ask because most modern TVs have a small AV socket that you can plug adaptor cables into to give legacy connectors like SCART, audio, composite and component.

    If that's the case it will be much easier for you.
  • facade
    facade Posts: 6,902
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    BooJewels said:

    <snip>

    If I do use an optical/phono adapter, will that allow TV sound when the amp is off and then use the amp only when switched on.  I just need to check the sound options in the TV menu, but I'm not near it just now.
    Yes the optical output is independent of the TV speakers, it won't have a volume control from the TV, you use the one on the amp.

    You will have to mess with the sound settings on the TV as you have to disable any surround sound output from the optical port and ensure everything is output as stereo.


    Amplifiers have had optical inputs for around 40 years now btw ;)

    I want to go back to The Olden Days, when every single thing that I can think of was better.....

    (except air quality and Medical Science ;))
  • BooJewels
    BooJewels Posts: 2,716
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    PHK said:
    That link to the sockets won't download for some reason.

    What is the model number? I ask because most modern TVs have a small AV socket that you can plug adaptor cables into to give legacy connectors like SCART, audio, composite and component.

    If that's the case it will be much easier for you.
    Sorry that the link didn't work for you, it did on my PC when I tested it from my post preview and again now on my tablet from the post.  But here are 2 screengrabs, one for the side panel, where I'm currently using the 3.5mm headphone jack and below of the back panel.





    facade said:
    BooJewels said:

    <snip>

    If I do use an optical/phono adapter, will that allow TV sound when the amp is off and then use the amp only when switched on.  I just need to check the sound options in the TV menu, but I'm not near it just now.
    Yes the optical output is independent of the TV speakers, it won't have a volume control from the TV, you use the one on the amp.

    You will have to mess with the sound settings on the TV as you have to disable any surround sound output from the optical port and ensure everything is output as stereo.


    Amplifiers have had optical inputs for around 40 years now btw ;)

    Looking at some of the adapters that are of interest, it looks like you have to select PCM as the sound type for it to work.  The TV does appear to have a setting to switch between external speakers and TV sound - so if that relates to the optical output that would be fine, if I could just choose the setting for the occasions where I want the full audio experience.

    My son and I have just been talking and we think the amp is somewhere north of 44 years old.  I was married in 1982 and my husband had it when we were courting and I seem to think he bought it second hand when someone traded it in for something new - as he was a manager of a hi-fi store at the time.  It's a Luxman, so just looking to see if I could find anything about it and seeing the price of them - maybe I should consider selling it!  If I can get a torch and mirror behind it, I'll have a look - it's fitted into a cupboard, so there's not much room, but I have an assortment of mirrors on sticks.
  • BooJewels
    BooJewels Posts: 2,716
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    Thanks for the suggestion - if you look at the second paragraph of my opening post, you will see that this is exactly what I've done and it does indeed work, but it also disengages the TV sound, so I have to unplug it to use the TV on normal sound - so I'd like something that works a bit better for me.

    I have actually just ordered an optical to phono adapter to see if that works how I want - it's only £7.99, so no great loss if it doesn't.
  • facade
    facade Posts: 6,902
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    A 44 year old amp will pre-date optical inputs, they were introduced by Toshiba in 1983 according to Wikipedia.

    The optical to phono will do exactly what you want, send a stereo signal to the amp for bigger sound.
    Depends on how the TV works, but usually the optical port is on all the time, but you can select  the sound to just go out through the optical or just the internal speakers.

    You might be able to power it from one of the usb ports on the TV with the supplied cable, but these may cause noise & interference.

    You can buy a soundbar, these can connect to the optical port, or the HDMI port on the side (eARC) or even wirelessly with bluetooth. Tbh I wouldn't recommend one though if you are happy with the TV sound for general listening. I'm like you, I use the TVs own speakers 95% of the time, if I want to push the boat out for a full cinema experience I activate my surround amp- which is connected via the optical output!

    You can also buy bluetooth to phono adapters for around the same money as the optical converter and the TV will then give the option of using the bluetooth output or the internal speakers, but they have the same problem with needing power. I bought one for a different job (connecting my tablet to the amp) and it is too noisy powering it from the usb port on the amp.
    I want to go back to The Olden Days, when every single thing that I can think of was better.....

    (except air quality and Medical Science ;))
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