Q I read your recent column on the Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ XL speaker. I received mine and it works great with music on my iPad, but I'm confused about making a connection to my TV. My TV doesn't have a headphone output or analog audio outputs. The only output is a single optical digital output. In your column you said to use a converter with the TV's digital audio output, but I'm really in the dark on what product to buy. I went to the local Radio Shack, but they didn't seem to have anything. Can you recommend products and instruct me on how to make the proper connection?
-- L.O., St. Paul, Minn.
A I've received this question quite a few times ever since the OontZ XL column came out. The following step-by-step instructions will allow you to use the speaker with a television's optical digital audio output. You can use this technique with other audio products as well.
We will start with an overview of the situation. Almost all TVs have an optical digital audio output for use with an external audio system. The OontZ XL only has Bluetooth and a mini-plug auxiliary input. We need to change the TV's digital audio signal into an analog audio signal and send it to the OontZ XL mini-plug input.
First, you need an optical digital audio cable. These are available online for $6 or less. There is no need to buy anything fancy as a $5 cable will work just as well as a $500 cable. If your TV is over 37 inches I recommend getting a 6-foot cable. It is surprising how a 3-foot cable ends up being too short once you wrap it around TV stands, furniture, etc. A 6-foot BlueRigger optical cable sells for $5.99 on Amazon. Connect the digital audio cable to the output on your TV.
Next, you need the converter itself. They are not common and you will probably need to go online to get one. The Sanoxy AGPtek Digital Optical Coax to Analog RCA Audio Converter Adapter has received good reviews on Amazon and sells for a mere $16.48. Connect the optical cable from your TV to the corresponding input on the converter and connect the converter to an electrical outlet with the supplied AC adapter.
The Sanoxy adapter has red-and-white RCA audio outputs and the OontZ XL has a mini-plug auxiliary input. You need an RCA-to-mini-plug cable to connect them. You can get an RCA Stereo "Y" adapter plug for $1.99 on Amazon. This "Y" adapter does not have much cable length so if you want some slack between the converter and the OontZ XL get a 3-foot RCA-to-mini-plug cable instead. The cost is about the same. Connect the red-and-white ends to the adapter and insert the mini-plug end into the OontZ XL auxiliary port.
Turn everything on and select the auxiliary input on the OontZ XL. Adjust the volume and you will hear the television sound come from the speaker. It will be a huge improvement over the TV's speakers! With the digital output you will need to adjust the volume at the speaker. If you have a TV with a headphone output you can connect it to the auxiliary input on the OontZ XL and control volume with the TV remote.
Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadviceblog.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.