Dear Lifehacker, I have a new HD TV without any sound output other than HDMI. What are my options for hooking up a budget 50W(RMS) amplifier and bookshelf speakers? Are there any decent converters that can extract audio from an HDMI source and output via a 3.5mm headphone jack? Thanks, Not Quite an Audiophile
Tch, modern TVs and their lack of audio ports, eh? You rarely had this problem back in the CRTV days -- even crappy black 'n' white televisions would provide a headphone jack at the very least. The modern obsession with super-slim HDTV bezels has a lot to answer for. But anyway...
Instead of trying to leap through complicated audio hoops, you're probably better off buying a cheap home theatre receiver with HDMI inputs. You can then hook up your amplifier and speakers using the appropriate ports. Granted, this will push your budget out a bit more, but not to a ridiculous degree -- we typically see models sell on eBay for around $100.
Alternatively, why not keep things simple and plump for a soundbar? These days it's not too difficult to find soundbars with HDMI inputs -- provided you have a port to spare, connecting directly to your TV shouldn't be a problem.
A decent soundbar will provide enough grunt to render an amplifier unnecessary. Some models also come with extra connectivity (including Bluetooth/wireless) which allows you to connect satellite speakers or a sub-woofer if desired. When it comes to bang-for-buck, it's hard to look past this solution.
As always, if any audiophile readers wish to dispense some advice of their own, give NQAA your tips in the comments section below.
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