Audio n00b: optical audio?


Standard Member
I'm going to plead complete ignorance here because what I think I know about audio systems is probably wrong. Now, I’ve just wired in a new HD TV, while doing so I noticed that the TV has an optical audio output and the DVD player also has an analogue arrangement of 6 mono plugs for audio output.

Now, I’m assuming that these are to connect up to some sort of speaker and amplifier configuration, but I’ve never had, never seen and never used one on anything other than my PC and the surround sound speakers on that are somewhat different.

So, what I’m basically asking is:
Can I get a set of speakers and amps that will hook up to both my TVs optical out and my DVDs analogue out?

What’s the technical name for this kind of setup, so I can find it?

And what sort of makes give good sound quality at a reasonable price (mid range)?



Distinguished Member
First off define mid range.
Is that between £300 and £30,000.
Optical carries all channels down one fibre cable.
6 channels out is direct out and therefore you will need to look for a AV with 5.1 direct in. But that said your DVD player will have either or both digital optical or digital co-ax out.


Standard Member
Ok, not mid range, defiantly low end, I’ve been doing a bit of research and I can’t find anything that fits my requirements. See it needs to have both a digital optical input and an analogue coaxial (I think that’s right, the 6 mono plugs) input as well, and, really, If it’s going to get used a wireless remote.
This is the closest I’ve found to meeting my needs, yet I still think I’d struggle to hook it up and it’s about £78.71 over the top end of my budget.

So, I’m thinking, if I can’t buy it, I’ll build it.
Plenty of these digital decoders on ebay and coupled with this:
A cheap set of analogue speakers with a wireless remote, it can accommodate all requirements, now the only thing to think about is how to hook the two analogue inputs into the amp at the same time. I’m thinking of some kind of Y adapter soldered together, but I’m worried about noise feedback from one input to the other, I’m a bit tired to be thinking about analogue signals and their AC nature.

But thank you for your response and please check I’m going about this the right way. This represents a nights research on Google, I am by far no expert, Just someone looking for cheap surround sound while watching a DVD.


Standard Member
If you're after the cheapest surround sound solution, then perhaps look into one of these type of units...

It's a surround sound DVD player package with all the speakers for a 5.1 setup. You can plug your tv's sound output into it, but as this particular unit is the cheapest thing around there are things to consider:

1) This particular unit doesn't have any digital inputs, so you can't use the optical out from your tv. This probably isn't a deal-breaker for you as this unit has an analogue audio (RCA / phono) input which your tv should (but not for definite) have an analogue output on it. If you're not sure, these connections are just the red and white plugs. Running the optical output from your tv would probably have a slght increase in quality over the analogue RCA route, but if you're on a tight budget then these are the limitations you'll have to accept. Also the optical out on tv's normally don't support a properly decoded surround sound signal like a DVD player definitely would, they are just an alternative wiring solution.

2) The particular unit I've suggested will run analogue surround sound (it has Dolby Pro-Logic II support), and this just uses 2 stereo inputs and turns them into 5.1, or even 7.1 audio output. The unit also has support for digital surround sound in the form of Dolby Digital (DD), but this will only work when watching a DVD (or audio CD) that has been specifically made with a Dolby Digital option (99% of DVDs will run Dolby Digital). Some films support DTS based surround sound, but this unit doesn't support it, but as the difference between DD and DTS isn't much, and again while on a budget, this shouldn't be an issue for you.

3) A unit as "good a value" as this is very limited on input and output connections. In your case, with this unit you'll be able to watch films in full digital surround sound (plus audio cd's in at least analogue mode) and tv in analogue Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound, but that'll be all you can do. If / when you buy more equipment you won't have any spare inputs to add them to this system - that's when you'll either have to start using audio switching / splitting devices, or just make the move to either a basic "seperates" type amp (that'll just manage your audio equipment - i.e. audio signals and your speakers) or get a full AV receiver (that manages video connections as well as audio) - but this is obviously where you have to commit more funds into your setup than you'll possibly want to (going by your budget).

4) Sound quality probably won't be overly impressive, these units are an entry-level surround sound solution - and you just get what you pay for. The 5 "main" speakers (fronts, centre, and surrounds) will probably be "functional" and adequate, but don't expect any major rumbling for the sub, they'll just give the sound some bass that the other speakers won't provide.

I know you already have a DVD player now, but these all-in-one audio solutions normally have a DVD player included, and if you're limited with funds then this may be your only real option.

Good luck with it all.


Distinguished Member
What DVD player do you have?
DVD players are pretty cheap now so getting a new one with digital outputs i.e. HDMI/Optical/Coaxial will not be expensive.
Then get yourself an AV reciever and speaker set. Something like the Onkyo 3405/5405 or Yamaha 196 would be good places to start.


Standard Member
What DVD player do you have?
DVD players are pretty cheap now so getting a new one with digital outputs i.e. HDMI/Optical/Coaxial will not be expensive.
Then get yourself an AV reciever and speaker set. Something like the Onkyo 3405/5405 or Yamaha 196 would be good places to start.

It's a DVD-RW VHS recorder combo, I have a much better DVD player that I dont use because I still have things on VHS and can use the unit to transfer things to DVD, havn't yet upgraded everything to DVD so it still needs to be there. But having another DVD player on top of the DVD VHS recorder seems silly, yes I have a universal remote but there's limited space and the cables are a nightmare.

My idea is not to get a home cinema system, but to use the equipment I already have to it's full potential. Sady It all seems so incompatable and overpriced.

I am greatly disapointed that there are so few surround sound systems available, I would have thought there'd be a pleathora to choose from, at most i've found about 3 even woth considering.

Thanks for your help.

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