How to Add a Single Speaker to Your TV for Better Sound
If you have an AV receiver, it will quickly become apparent to you that you can’t power a single speaker from it. That’s not the way they work. They assume that you’ll have at least two speakers connected to any AV receiver. But what if you have a single speaker lying around? Like an extra bookshelf or center channel? People find themselves in possession of extra speakers all the time. Is there a way to add a single speaker to a TV for better sound? There sure is! Let’s discuss!
How Will It Sound?
Your first question might be, “Is this a good idea?” We can’t answer that question. The answer will depend on the quality of the speaker, how far you sit from your TV, and your tolerance for mediocre sound. Will it be better than the internal speakers in your TV? Almost certainly. But will it be “good?” Maybe? We don’t know. Most speakers (even center channel speakers) aren’t meant to be set up this way. But here’s how to do it.
The Equipment – Getting the Sound from Your TV
At the very least you are going to need a device to take the stereo audio from your TV (left and right channels) and sum them together into a mono signal. For that, you’ll need the SPRODIO Single Stereo to Mono Converter. It costs around $25 and looks like this:
The SPRODIO takes a stereo RCA signal and combines it into a mono signal. If your TV has RCA outputs, then this is all you’ll need. If it doesn’t, look for an optical output. An optical connection is digital so you’ll need a DAC to convert it to an RCA analogue signal first. We suggest this $14 one from Monoprice:
From your TV, you should now have one RCA cable that has both the left and right channel information on the same cable. You now need to amplify that signal and send it to your single speaker.
Equipment – Amplifier
Now that you have your single RCA in hand, you’ll need a way to connect that to your speaker to get sound. For that, you’ll need an amplifier. We recommend the $140 Monoprice Unity 100-Watt Bridgeable Power Amp.
There are a couple of things we like about this solution. First, there is no large volume control knob. There is a small volume control on the back, but it is harder to adjust. While this may make setup a little more difficult, it also means that it can’t easily be accidentally changed. It also comes with all the hardware you’ll need to mount the amp behind your TV. This makes for a truly clean install. Yes, there will still be cables, but that was always going to be the case. The Monoprice Unity is bridgable as well if you need additional power. Very convenient.
Hooking It All Up
Let’s start with the TV and work our way to the speaker.
Step 1: If you DON’T have an RCA output on your TV, you’ll first connect the Monoprice Digital Coax & Optical Toslink to R/L Stereo Audio Converter to your TV’s optical output. If you have an RCA output on your TV (red and white) then you can skip this step.
Step 2: Next, you’ll need a normal, double-ended (red and white) RCA cable. You’ll connect those to the red and white outputs (either on your TV or the converter) to the SPRODIO Single Stereo to Mono Converter. On the other side of the converter are two mono outputs (red and white). Pick one and connect a single-ended RCA cable to it (it doesn’t matter which, they both have the same signal).
Step 3: With your single-ended RCA cable in hand, connect it to one of the RCA inputs on the Monoprice Unity amp. There is a red and a white input. Pick one and connect your RCA cable. If you pick white, the left channel will get the signal. Red will send the signal to the right.
Step 4: Using normal speaker wire, you’ll connect to either the L or R speaker connections. These may look a little different to you. These are called phoenix connections. There are small screws on top that you will need to loosen. You then insert the speaker wire and tighten the screw to secure the wire. Yes, you will need to use a bare wire connection (no banana plugs here). Connect the other end of the speaker wire to your speaker (technically the ‘+’ side goes to the red terminal on the speaker but it really doesn’t matter in this situation).
We’d always recommend connecting everything up first and testing it out before you start to try to hide all the gear. We like the Monoprice amp because it can easily hide behind your TV. You will have a lot of extra wires to tuck away, plus all those new devices need access to power. Will this be simpler or even cheaper than a soundbar? Maybe cheaper but probably not simpler. But if you have a single speaker lying around and want to add it to your TV for better sound, this will work.
For additional setup help check out these related articles:
- Setting the volume properly, check out Can You Use Your Old AV Receiver as an Amp
- Positioning your speaker properly, check out Using a Bookshelf as a Center Speaker
Thanks to Rob H. of the AV Rant Podcast for his help with this article.