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Advantages of Using External Speakers with LCD TV’s

written by: •edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 11/4/2009

Televisions have been getting better and better as the technology has progressed. The sound, as well as the picture, has moved on a lot in recent years. Can external speakers improve on the in-built ones in your TV?

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    Home Cinema Needs Surround Sound

    If you have an LCD or HDTV then you are halfway to enjoying a good home cinema experience. George Lucas once said when filming Star Wars, “The sound is half the picture” and he’s right.

    Most mainstream TV’s come with half decent stereo speakers that do well in most situations. They are much better at reproducing sound for TV than for movies though. If you want the best kind of experience, you need an amplifier and surround sound speakers. Or do you?

    The traditional setup is to have a surround sound amplifier with DTS, Dolby 5.1 THX or a combination of all three. The audio out from a DVD or Blu-Ray player goes into the input of the amplifier, which then separates the different sound channels into the surround sound signal.

    Speakers are connected to the amplifier and spread around your room in a neat little square. The Bass box anywhere you like, the front speakers equidistant from each other either side of the screen, and satellites behind your sofa opposite the front speakers. This is a pretty standard surround sound setup.

    It can also be expensive, and a pain if you don’t want all the bells and whistles of true surround. Or if you don’t want to be burying cables everywhere, because a surround system uses a LOT of cabling. Good quality, insulated surround sound cable can be as thick as a pencil and almost as inflexible. Rooms have to be built around this kind of kit.

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    Wireless Surround and PC Speakers

    Surround Amp Rear View 

    Thankfully along came wireless speaker systems, where the rear satellites were wireless and didn’t need meters of cable running all over the place. The speakers connect to the amplifier as normal, and the front satellites are wired. However, a sender connects to the rear satellite output and beams the signal wirelessly across the room for true surround.

    If all that seems a little too much like hard work, why not connect your PC speakers into your TV and enjoy surround that way? It costs much less, the speakers are much smaller and you don’t need an amplifier. The compromise is that you can’t get true surround, DTS, 5.1 or THX, but you do get much better sound than from your TV alone.

    A decent set of computer speakers, like those from Creative or Logitech will connect into the back of your TV and work straight away. Just install them exactly as you would on your computer. Plug them into the mains, put the bass box somewhere, then place the satellite speakers. If you want to go for a simulated 5.1 then hide the rear speakers somewhere.

    The output won’t be anywhere near as loud as a true surround system, but it will cost at least a couple of hundred dollars less, if anything at all. This kind of solution is ideal for those who don’t have the kind of budget a true surround setup can cost. If you have a PC already, and a decent set of speakers then there is no purchase necessary.

    If you don’t want a full surround sound experience, but want to improve on the standard TV speakers, then using PC speakers is an ideal middle ground. Especially if you already have them lying around.

    Surround Sound PC Speakers