Really small speakers for 42" plasma

I came to the conclusion, last night, that I fall asleep watching movies when I can't hear the dialogue.

Our Panasonic plasma has the speakers pointing down at the carpet so it is not surprising the sound is muffled. I boost it with a four speaker surround system so I am not short of bass and ambience. I just can't hear what the actors are saying.

Can someone recommend a pair of relatively inexpensive, but really small, speakers I can keep in a nearby cupboard and plug into the plasma when watching a movie, please. I say really small as they need to be put away when not in use. The plasma is fine for most viewing but the tendency to overdo the sound effects in movies is when I have my problem.

Tony
 

AV Online

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hi, what sort of budget are you looking at? The Q Acoustics Q-TV would allow you to permanently have decent sound and is reasonably discrete.
 
Thank you sir,

I'd hoped to spend less than £100. Don't forget there are already five other speakers feeding the signal. My problem is that none are all that close to the plasma. I really don't want to spend £300 buying eight more speakers (if that is what your ad says).


And 'discrete' would not, in my wife's view, mean sticking two big speakers permanently on the side of the screen. I asked for "small, speakers I can keep in a nearby cupboard".

But thanks for the suggestion. I'm happy to buy from you if you can meet my spec.

Tony
 

AV Online

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
Oops, sorry! I somehow missed your mention of having the surround system already when reading the first time. Do you have any details on that? You say it only has 4 speakers in your original post? You could purchase a small set of amplified speakers commonly used for computers and the like, but it's possible you may be better off trying to optimise your current system.
 
Thanks, but no, John.

I was one of the first people to use a plasma in a home. Unicol made me a floor stand that slides on our carpet and allows the plasma to be viewed from various seating areas depending much on the time of the year. After a Fujitsu I had a Panny 42PWD3 which of course had no speakers. I bought a couple small bookshelf speakers that I hung on the back - but did put under the plasma for movie watching. I sold them on eBay thinking my new HD/3D plasma would not need them, but it does.

Our surround sound system is dotted around the room. It would never satisfy a committed enthusiast but it suits us. The speakers are not all that close to the plasma and I am not prepared to move them.

I just want two small speakers to sit on the Unicol stand during Lovefilm time - and go back in the cupboard for other viewing times as we hate clutter. I could go to the local Richer or Maplins or buy some snazzy Bose jobbies - but felt I should get better advice around here.

Thanks for the ideas - don't stop them coming.

Tony
 
Someone has just told me that I cannot plug speakers into the audio out socket of the TX-P42GT20B Panasonic plasma unless they are active speakers.

Is that true?

Tony
 

jason1wood

Well-known Member
That's right Tony, as AV online said, small PC amplified/active speakers would work. You have to have the active speakers as the TV out doesn't power the speakers so it needs to be done within the speaker or external AV amp/receiver.
 
Thanks. The phrase active speaker was new to me - so that is why I missed the significance.

What I need are the re-chargeable ones - not mains driven. How easy is it to re-organise the wiring as many seem to be a daisy chain pair coming from one stereo audio socket?

In the meantime I have created a noticeable improvement by making two black plastic sound reflectors that go under the down facing internal speakers. The sibillants, directed forward, are much improved.

Tony
 
I am flushing this message back to life as last night we abandoned Color of Money as we simply could not follow the dialogue.

Could some kind soul take a look at the three items on my shopping list and let me know if I have made a mistake in what I need.

The Panasonic plasma has a red and white RCA audio out socket. My main query is how the Altec Lansing speaker produces mono sound when it has a 3.5mm stereo socket - will my setup work or do I have to be smarter getting the left and right hand audio into the two Altecs?

Thanks in advance.

Tony
 

Si01327

Active Member
Apologies if I've missed something but is your plasma the Panasonic 42PWD3 that you mentioned, or have you since got a newer Panasonic model (you mention a new HD/3D plasma as well)?

Assuming it's a new model, does it have an optical out on the back of the TV that you don't use? If so you could just get a simple DAC box (Amazon: FiiO D3 Coaxial/Optical to R/L DAC Audio Converter: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics) and an optical cable to convert the sound from the TV into an analogue signal you can connect directly into your Altec's. This might give you a stronger/clearer sound than what you're currently getting from the red/white RCA outputs at the moment.

Depends on the model of your current TV and whether or not you're already using the optical out (if it has one) on it?

Si
 
Si,

I had a 42PWD3 and that had internal amps so I was able to drive a couple of small bookshelf speakers with it.

Now I am with the TX-P42GT20B. It seems to have optical out. It looks a funny socket on the back (no real hole) but I'm not acquainted with optical!

TX-P42GT20B - Specification - Panasonic UK & Ireland

That box you suggest requires mains. I have that nearby as well.

Does the box require active speakers? I am by no means committed to the Altecs - they just seemed good value. I am not wildly keen on having to run them on batteries but if I didn't I'd have more mains leads than I'd like lurking around on the floor.

I like the concept. Can we progress?

Tony
 

Si01327

Active Member
Yep, the 42GT20 has an optical output on the rear of it so that's ok.

Part of the problem, I think, is that you're listening to two "mono" speakers (the Altecs) which have been cabled together as a stereo pair. The reality is each speaker will be functioning on it's own, so adding a second one (or third, or fourth) isn't really improving the sound coming from the TV. I'm not really explaining this very well but hopefully you kinda see where I'm coming from?!

In order to solve your problem (improve the clarity/loudness of the dialogue when watching films) perhaps it's worth looking at the set up as a whole first. From your first post you mention you've "boosted the sound" with four speaker dotted around the room. Can I ask what these are connected to? I'm guessing some form of home cinema system but could also be a traditional amp with the DVD/Bluray connected into one of the inputs on it.

One other thing in the interim period you could check. If your set up is simply a DVD/Bluray player connected into a normal amplifier with four speakers connected to it spread around the room, could you try loading a film up but before you play it, go into the setup/audio menu for the film and change the sound output from it's usual default of 5.1 to something like 2.1 or Dolby Stereo. It's possible the soundtrack for the film, when outputted as 5.1 through your DVD/Bluray player, is the cause of the lack of clarity when listening to it with your set up and changing it to the basic stereo mix/2.1 may provide a better sound.

Of course if you have a proper home cinema set up then this all makes no difference, apart from why you haven't popped a 5th (centre) channel speaker into your room?!

Let me know. I'm sure there must be a way to sort this out for you without going to any major expense!

Si
 
Si,

No I haven't even bought the Altecs yet anyway!!

With my old plasma I had the bookshelf speakers hooked on to the back and when we wanted to watch a movie I put them on the shelf under the plasma and pointing to the sofa. I sold them when I swopped to the new plasma as it could not drive them (as far as I could tell).

What I realised was that the two internal speakers in the new plasma pointed straight down at the carpet and the screen is on a floor stand at sofa level height. I tried a compromise of creating two plastic baffles to reflect the sound forward. It worked a bit by increasing the sybillants (if that's what they are called) but Color of Money was still too muffled.

I do have a surround sound system but the speakers are not where experts like you would want to see them. It is designed for visual aesthetics (getting on well with the wife mainly) and it is not as if the two 'front' speakers are near enough to the plasma to substitute for something coming from the screen. I will look again at the set-up on the Sony Blu Ray player. It could be part of the problem as we never have difficulties with listening to 'live' television.

My set-up is a Sony Blu Ray being fed into (a) the plasma and (b) a Yamaha RX-V567 surround sound receiver. I guess that if the Blu Ray is hoping to work 5.1 it may be giving the plasma quite a lot of mush.

But I would still like to look at adding some under the plasma speakers which I can point towards us, the viewers.

Can we keep talking please!

Tony
 
Further to the above I have put Color of Money back into the Sony BDP-S470.

I see it is using Dolby 4.1 when it runs the film. I can't find any way of altering the way the soundtrack is output.

There are masses of settings on the Yamaha surround sound device but that is being fed separately from the audio outs of the Blu Ray. The plasma is getting the signal from the Blu Ray HDMI socket.

Tony
 

Si01327

Active Member
Hi Tony.

Thanks for the explanation, it's helped get a better idea of how you're set up!

I think the problem is simply this: As you've only got four speakers connected to the Yamaha, whenever you play your DVDs or Blurays the film will be outputting 5.1 channels of sound but the centre channel will not be heard (this is the one that carries the vocals and is usually situated underneath or on top of the viewing source, hence the "centre" tag given to it!). Consequently the dialogue of any film at the moment will sound distant/muffled/unclear as the amp is being told to output on all 5 channels of sound, yet there's nothing connected on the centre channel.

If you're looking at options for connecting some additional speakers to the plasma so you can pop them out underneath it when you watch a film, then hide them away again for everything else, why can't you simply wire another speaker back to the Yamaha and connect it to the centre channel? You can still hide this speaker away when you don't need it but when you do watch films you'll hear everything crystal clear as this speaker will output the vast majority of the vocals. It's still underneath your TV so shouldn't upset the wife, and other than popping another speaker cable from the amp to the TV there are no additional wires to worry about (mains cables etc).

I think this would be the answer to your problems. When watching the TV and listening to it through your amp i.e. Eastenders etc, you've not noticed any issues because invariably the broadcasts are in stereo so there's nothing specific being channelled through the missing centre speaker. To change the sound output for a film, go into the top menu for the DVD/Bluray you're watching (usually a button called top menu or disc menu on the remote - it's the first screen that comes up when you load a film and has other options like Scene Selection, Extras etc). On that menu look for the option that will be called something like Audio Selection/Language Selection/Setup etc. Click on that and you should see some choices with regard to the sound for the film you're watching. The default for most these days is English 5.1. To change to a stereo output, just select the one that says Dolby Digital 2.1 or similar (basically anything apart from 5.1!). The DVD/Bluray will then output 2.1 sound instead of 5.1 and my guessing is that it will sound better almost immediately when you watch it. It's not a setting on the Yamaha or anything in the Sony menus that changes this, it's in the menu for the film you load at the time and as such would need to be selected everytime you watch a film.

If you were looking to get some speakers anyway, I'd definitely pursue the addition of the centre speaker underneath your plasma and wired back to the Yamaha. That should solve all of your listening issues in one hit, plus avoid any unnecessary cables and wires!

Unless I'm missing something, is this is ok or is there a reason why you never connected a 5th speaker to the Yamaha when you first set it up?!

Si
 
"Unless I'm missing something, is this is ok or is there a reason why you never connected a 5th speaker to the Yamaha when you first set it up?!"

Brilliant.

All so simple.

Why did I never add a 5th speaker? Well the Yamaha is about my third generation of 'surround sound' system. I started off with kit made by Roger Furness and Minim AES E-Library » Ambisonics-An Overview

In those days even Radio 3 did Proms in surround sound. It all (Minim etc) died a death and I then got a newer amp that fabricated surround sound and that itself died a couploe of years ago and I swopped for the combined receiver decoder.

Why did I never add the fifth speaker? Simply because I used it most of the time to listen to records (remember those things) and the radio. I stuck it on whilst watching tv to give the tele (remember those things) a bit of oomph.

Job one is to again have a look at that Color of Money DVD and find that top menu.

Job two is to pop out and get a small speaker and wire it up to the centre channel of the Yamaha. What a pity I sold off the two small ones I had for the old plasma. I might just experiment by removing one from the back of the existing surround sound - where it is adds little to the movie so swopping it across might be the answer.

Great ideas. Thank you so much.

Tony
 
Si,

I have looked at another three DVD's. On none of them can I find a audio selection menu. Before I abandon that altogether can you suggest anything else I can do with the Sony BluRay player to find them.

Anyway I'll pursue that centre channel suggestion and report back. One decent centre speaker from Richer will be no more than the active speakers I was looking at - and if my plasma is not hearing the centre from the DVD's in it then putting speakers on the RCA's would not help.

Tony
 

Si01327

Active Member
Hi Tony.

Difficult to explain but there should be something on the DVD menu somewhere, it'll just be the wording. Some DVD's list it as Setup, others as Language Selection or Audio Setup, but there should be a menu that lets you alter the audio for the film you're about to watch. Found this as an example of said menu on a Men In Black DVD Review from this forum: http://www.avforums.com/dvdreviews/images/MIB/MIBR1DVD_menu_audio.jpg

In this instance it was called Audio Setup but hopefully that illustrates what I'm trying to describe!!

Generally speaking, the menu options on the Sony Bluray player itself shouldn't be needed in this instance. Had a quick look at the manual for the 470 player you've got and there is something in the Audio Settings menu on the player called Downmix that lets you swap between Surround and Stereo. As it's simply one or the other it shouldn't cause too much hassle to change it and see if you get any improvement with your current set up.

(Page 23 of the manual here - http://static.highspeedbackbone.net/pdf/Sony_BDPS470_Manual.pdf)

Si

If you can get hold of a centre channel speaker from Richer Sounds then that should solve all your problems anyway!!
 
Si,

Maybe the disks I have been trying are all a bit older.

Yes, turning the player to stereo from surround does make it a bit clearer.

Anyway your answer to reactivate the centre channel must be the right one. I'll get a speaker from Richer tomorrow.

Thanks for your interest and help.

Tony
 

John

Moderator
Does the Yam not have a "phantom" centre option ?

It does, Page51 explains how to set the centre speaker to none, diverting all centre channel sound to L&R
 
Last edited:
John,

It has masses of ways you can mix the speakers. So there may be a phantom one.

My problem is that I have nothing connected and I need to put a speaker under the plasma - hence Si coming up with the idea of taking a feed from the Yam.

My woofer is also a bodge. A very old active one. But that's another tale.

Tony
 

John

Moderator
You don't need to have a speaker connected, that's the point of the Mode
I am surprised the YPAO set up on the Yam has not already set it to off
 
Last edited:
John,

Don't forget we are talking about feeding a Sony BluRay direct into a Panny plasma - and having poor sound from the internal speakers.

I was suggesting adding some actives and driving them from the plasma RCA sockets. It was Si who came up with the idea of taking the centre feed from the Yam and putting a speaker under the plasma. I get muffled sound from the plasma when watching DVD's regardless of whether the Yam is on or off.

Tony
 
Thanks Si, John and the earlier helpers.

I got one of these Cambridge Audio MINX MIN10 Black | Single Speaker | Richer Sounds from my local Richer.

I have wired it up as a centre speaker and put a socket in the cable so I can tuck it away in a cupboard when we are not watching movies. In fact it is so small that it'll probably remain on the stand under the plasma.

I have set the Yam to give the centre speaker average volume and chosen Cinema as my 'scene'.

I am not fully up to speed on these settings but I'll do some more reading and see if I need to do any more.

Thanks again.

Tony
 

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