How to Connect Your Old Speakers to Your Television without RCA Outs

You got a beautiful flat-screen television for your living room, and as lovely as the picture looks like, the onboard speakers are less than desirable.

You wanted to connect your brand new TV to your surround sound speaker system. But to your shock, you find that it does not have an audio output, also known as an RCA output. What do you do now? Do you need to buy a brand new speaker system, and toss out a completely fine set of speakers, whose only fault is not having digital inputs? Not necessarily.

Why do most modern televisions these days no longer have RCA outputs? Most televisions manufactured these days don't have RCA outputs because the HDMI ports can handle both outgoing and incoming digital audio signals. It means that the HDMI board handles pretty much everything. Now, that might not be what you want to hear if your stereos only have analog inputs, but that does not mean there is no workaround for this.

There are still several ways that you can connect your modern television to your RCA-equipped stereo surrounding sound speaker system. Some of them sound even better than using plain old RCA cables.


Using TOSLINK Cables

If you own an HDTV unit, then it should have TOSLINK outputs. TOSLINK is the standardized fiber optic connection system. This transforms digital signals into light, which then travels through the fiber optic cable, and then gets decrypted at the other end. If your speaker system has a TOSLINK input, then you're in luck, you need to plug one end of the TOSLINK cable in the TV and the other in the speakers.

TOSLINK Cables

However, if your speakers only have RCA inputs, there is still a way to connect them to your TV. You need to get a digital to analog converter. There are quite several brands of converters you can choose from, and they all seem to work the same. You need to connect one end of the TOSLINK cable to the output jacks of the television, and the other end at the input jacks of the converter. You then need to connect a regular RCA cable to the output jacks of the converter, and the other ends to the speakers.


The great thing about using TOSLINK fiber optic cables is they can be used for 5.1 surround sound systems.


Using an HDMI Switcher Box

Surely your television has at least one HDMI port, and even the older TVs have been using this technology. The great thing about this is that the HDMI also carries digital audio information. If your speakers have an HDMI port, then you have nothing to worry about, you need to connect the two ports.


However, what will you do when your speakers only have RCA inputs? If this is the case, then you need to get an HDMI switcher box. 

HDMI Switcher Box

To use this, you need to connect one end of your HDMI cable to your television, and the other end goes into the input of the HDMI switcher, you can then choose the RCA cable outputs and use that to connect the HDMI switcher box to the speakers.


The great thing about using this method is that you can connect multiple HDMI enabled devices to television that only has one HDMI input. Some even have additional neat features, like picture-in-picture output, where you can see the output of two video sources in one screen.


Using the 3.5mm Headphone Jacks

A cheap way to connect speakers to your television without RCA outputs is to use computer speakers. Almost all modern TV sets these days come with 3.5mm audio jacks that you can use when you want to use headphones for the audio of your television.

You can also use computer speakers in place of your television's speakers. You might think that computer speakers do not sound that good, so you might be a bit apprehensive about using them. But the truth is that there are many computer speakers these days that sound pretty great. You can even get ones that have sub-woofers to give your sounds a bit more "oomph".

3.5mm Headphone Jacks

Using the Audio-out of Your Set-top Box

Audio-out of Your Set-top Box

If you are using a set-top DV-R or Digital Cable box, you can use the HDMI or TOSLINK outputs that you can use to connect to your speakers. If you are using a DVD or Blu-ray player, odds are they still have RCA outputs. In this case, you can connect the HDMI for the video output and the RCA for the audio output to the speakers.


Is It Alright to Intercept the Audio Wires?

If you have a bit of electrical knowledge, then you might be thinking of breaking open the case of your television, tracing the cables for the speakers, and then bypassing them so you can directly attach them to external speakers.


This might seem like a good idea, but it is not. The speakers in your television are low wattage, low impedance, and low powered, which means the drivers that power them are not that powerful at all. So when you directly attach large speakers to your television, they will not have enough power. Not only will you get sounds that are no better than what came out from the built-in speakers of your television, but you might also even cause irreparable damage to the audio drivers of your television. It gets even worse because you opened up the television to directly connect your speakers, you invalidated the warranty.


Conclusion

Do not fret when you discover later on that your brand new television does not have RCA outputs for your home's surround sound system. You do not need to junk your old speakers and spend an exorbitant amount of money for a brand-new sound system. You can still connect your television to your existing sound system, you need a bit of creativity, and the right pieces of equipment.

With the tips above, you do not have to settle for the not-so-impressive sounds of your television's speakers. There are lots of affordable workarounds to your problem, and you need to have a bit of skill and the right tools.

(Last Updated On: October 3, 2019)
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