How to connect an old stereo to the TV to have a cinema sound without spending a euro

When it comes to improving the sound of a new generation flat screen TV, we can choose to buy external equipment like a Sound bar, powered speakers, receivers plus passive speakers, etc. that offers us more power and functionalities.

However, you may have another resource at your disposal that does not involve an economic expense and that even provides you with a higher sound quality: use an old stereo audio equipmentEither a modular type with separate components and speakers, or a chain or mini music system with everything integrated.

Some time ago we commented on the possibilities of recycling components of an old mini-system, an aspect that we can transfer to music equipment in general that we probably have stored in the storage room or even installed in a room in the house and that we never turn on because we prefer to listen from mobile phones with headphones, from a PC, etc.

This type of equipment will be clearly obsolete in terms of digital sound formats, latest generation connectors, they will not have WiFi, Bluetooth, you will not be able to handle them with your mobile or access streaming services or play MP3 files, but nevertheless they may be able to provide you that extra power and sound quality you need for TV, and without having to spend anything or as much on a cable to connect them.

How to connect an old stereo to the TV


If you have a old stereo purchased more than 15 or 20 years ago, chances are that do not have HDMI connectors nor with ARC (Audio Return Channel) functions. It will also be strange if it offers some type of digital coaxial connector, although if it was a high-end set you may find some optical digital port with TosLink connector.

This output port from the TV to the stereo allows us to send a digital audio signal under the S / PDIF protocol, hence the port is often marked under these acronyms on the TV housing, and supports the transmission of signals of stereo and multichannel PCM sound compressed in formats such as Dolby Digital and DTS.


In our case, as the sound equipment will be old, we will not be able to choose to decode this type of Dolby Digital or DTS tracks, so we will send the sound from the TV in stereo PCM and we must indicate in the configuration of the television that it is this one that decodes the sound signal.

If we have this type of optical input should be our first choice, since we will not have electromagnetic interference and we will maintain the highest quality in the signal until it reaches the stereo. But if the equipment is older, we will most likely have to opt for analog connections.

Here we have two basic possibilities to get the sound of the TV: the classic RCA stereo connectors (typical black wire and red wire or red and white wire) or the 3.5mm jack stereo audio output traditional in headphones, computers, players and mobiles until a few years ago.

cable RCA
Cable RCA

The RCA audio outputs If we use good cables they should provide us with a very good transmission quality, although here we may find ourselves with the opposite problem: that TV is so modern that it no longer has these types of connections. This situation paradoxically occurs with the most recent models of the highest range, although if your TV is of low-mid range, you probably do have it available.

cable cable jack de 3,5 mm

Finally we have the option of use a 3.5mm jack cable capable of transmitting a stereo sound signal between the TV and the stereo. It is usually available on all televisions as an option for output audio to speakers or headphones, although you may not find it as such on the stereo. But no problem, since you can always get a 3.5mm jack to RCA plug cable adapter both male and female termination versions.

KabelDirekt - 0.2m Stereo Audio Coaxial Adapter (1 3.5mm Jack Male Connector to 2 RCA Female Connectors, for the connection of 3.5mm RCA Cables), Pro Series

KabelDirekt – 0.2m Stereo Audio Coaxial Adapter (1 3.5mm Jack Male Connector to 2 RCA Female Connectors, for the connection of 3.5mm RCA Cables), Pro Series

Configuration and commissioning

Very well, we have everything plugged in and now it is time to configure both teams so that the whole works. To start you have to select audio output corresponding (for example RCA, jack or headphones) on the TV setup menu and in turn choose the sound system corresponding audio input with that connector.

Selector connectors

After that it is convenient adjust equalizer parameters and sound modes available on both devices. At this point we will have basically two options: adjust the parameters directly on the music chain, if it has EQ controls (usually they at least have knobs for bass and treble) and some listening modes. O well do it from the TV menu, which will be more modern, advanced and will probably have a greater range of options.

Which system is better? Well, it will depend on each specific case and especially on the range of music equipment that we have. If it was high-performance, you probably have quality filters that offer precise levels of adjustment that will produce better sound quality. If not, then the TV will be our best option.

Another interesting point to assess is whether we can install an additional subwoofer on the TV and / or the sound system to help us improve in low frequencies. In some models it is possible to have this function, which can be useful to complement the sound of the music system when watching movies.

Photo | Will Francis

Source: Xataka Smart Home by

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