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Using a DAC with my Smart TV


KingBee Avatar
KingBee Plus
17 573 2 Scotland
13 Feb 2022 11:45AM
Here's a question for the TV/audio buffs.

When I bought my Sony 'smart' TV last August, I was aware that I was giving up the facility to connect my TV direct to my hi-fi set-up using phono cables, I researched the options and settled for an optical connection using an Amazon Basics DAC box with it's supplied Toslink cable.

Now, while that works reasonably well, the only problem I have is that in order to get a decent sound from the TV (and its connected Blu-ray player and Firestick) through my (analogue) amp and speakers I have to crank up the volume on my amp way beyond what I would normally need were I simply to play a CD, for example, with the player connected directly to the amp in the traditional manner - ie, with phono cables (the other problem being that when after watching TV I forget to change the volume back to 'normal' for pure audio purposes, I end up being blown out of my chair.)

Why is that volume discrepancy happening? Is it because I'm using an optical connection rather than a phono one? Do I need a better quality DAC/Toslink connection, eg a DAC with its own volume control? Would that make any difference? I'm in my '70s so I'm no longer looking for a pristine sound from my equipment because my ageing lugs simply won't appreciate it; rather, I just want to be able to equalise the volume levels on the sound coming from all the various amp inputs, without continually having to remember to adjust the amp's volume control when I change from one input to another.

As always, any and all advice would be most welcome. Thank you.
silverscot Avatar
silverscot 10 572 Scotland
13 Feb 2022 12:02PM
Try looking in TV settings. There may be a control for volume for external devices, similar to headphone volume.
George
PhilScot Avatar
PhilScot Plus
17 933 United Kingdom
13 Feb 2022 12:49PM
Consider a sound bar for the TV.
petebfrance Avatar
13 Feb 2022 1:17PM
It's well beyond me, but a quick check here and here suggests that it may be possible to increase the volume from the TV if the output can be varied using the TV volume (see links). May help. I only use the TV for DVDs so my DVD player is connected to the amplifier - nice and simple!
KingBee Avatar
KingBee Plus
17 573 2 Scotland
13 Feb 2022 1:19PM
Thanks George, but I've already checked the TV's PCM (digital optical output) settings and they are configured for optimum sound control. No, there must be some other solution - in which regard, thanks Phil, for your suggestion, but I have tried a decent sound bar and it in no way compares with the sound quality I get from my Yamaha A-S500 amp and it's trusty chums, the B&W DW 602 speakers. Also, the hi-fi set up gives me more of a 'surround' effect because of how I have the speakers positioned, with the TV's own speakers providing the 'central' output.

I'm no techie, but it seems to me that this is a digital issue rather than an analogue one. I'll do some more research but at the end of the day I can probably live with the problem I've outlined. In fact, I can control the digital output volume from my chair with my amp's remote control - it's just a case of remembering to grab the damned thing before I switch inputs!

Thanks again, George, Phil - appreciate your taking the time to contribute.
Bob
themak Avatar
themak 10 1.1k Scotland
13 Feb 2022 1:49PM
My (limited) experience of cheap optical cables is that they can be terrible. I don't know if that would account for the volume mismatch, though. Notorious for synching errors. I currently have one of these on order - not exactly a cheap option but may help.
https://www.futureshop.co.uk/audioquest-pearl-digital-optical-cable
KingBee Avatar
KingBee Plus
17 573 2 Scotland
13 Feb 2022 1:52PM
Thanks Peter. Again, much appreciate your suggestions and most helpful links. These days the rear end of a typical Sony 'smart' TV is decidedly minimalist, so to get an audio cable from my TV to my analogue amp I have to go down the optical route, with the optical cable from the TV going into the DAC and phono cables going from the DAC to my amp, because I have no phono sockets on the former (ie, the TV) and no optical/HDMI sockets on the latter. Aside from that, I have no option to shift between "Fixed" and "Variable in relation to audio output.

I can, of course, set my TV sound to come through my audio system instead of my TV's own speakers, but that would mean me having to have the audio system switched on even if all I wanted to do was watch regular TV. I only use my hi-fi set-up when watching a Blu-ray/DVD film or sometimes when watching something on catch-up TV with my Firestick - the rest of the time the TV's own speakers are perfectly fit for purpose.

Many thanks again for getting in touch.
Bob
Techno Avatar
Techno Plus
15 7.7k 8 England
13 Feb 2022 1:56PM
To enjoy high quality video and audio, the best method is to connect via a high speed HDMI cable, if your TV has an HDMI ARC socket, you do not need an optical digital cable, if your analogue amplifier has no HDMI sockets, as previously mentioned the "Sound bar" could be the answer, but worth checking in the sound menu on your Sony TV there should be some comprehensive adjustments under the heading Expert or Advanced, you may find Audio Volume setting or similar, checking this (Selecting) in theory may help to equalize your audio levels between the sources.

My experience with smart TV' s sometimes they are too smart for there own good, gone are the days of the SCART plug, once an AV was selected instant switching occurred, I digress, I still have one foot in the analogue world.......

Sound Bar info

Good luck
Mal
KingBee Avatar
KingBee Plus
17 573 2 Scotland
13 Feb 2022 2:00PM
To Malcolm: many thanks for your contribution. Based on other research, I was already thinking of getting a better optical cable so your link looks like an ideal solution, at least in terms of the prospect of improving sound quality if not the levels; but then, I won't know about the latter unless I try a better cable. We'll see!

Cheers.
Bob
KingBee Avatar
KingBee Plus
17 573 2 Scotland
13 Feb 2022 2:08PM
Thanks Mal. I definitely still have at least 'one foot' in the analogue world - hi-fi, watches, and the like. Still got SCART cables too, but of course I've now got nothing to put them in......

I do have an ARC HDMI connection on the TV but my amp is analogue - see my response to Peter. Don't fancy a sound bar for reasons explained in my reply to Phil. As for checking the sound menu on the TV, yes, I believe there are Expert/Advanced settings but since I'm neither (Expert or Advanced) I may do more harm than good. I'll have a look, at least, and may come back to you on that/report any positive outcome!

Thanks again.
Bob

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