How can I use my TV speakers as the center channel on my receiver?
April 7, 2008 7:02 AM   Subscribe

How can I use the speakers in my TV as the "center" speaker on my receiver?

I have a receiver hooked up to four normal speakers. I'd like to use the speakers in my TV as the center speaker.

My TV has audio inputs for each set of video inputs. These are normal RCA red-white connectors.

Is there some way to connect powered speaker wires to these without breaking the TV? My first thought was to open the TV and disconnect the speakers from the internal wiring and substitute my own. I'd prefer not to do this since the TV is new and still under warranty.

The other problem would be that the TV has two internal speakers, left and right, which I want to treat as one.

Any thoughts?
posted by odinsdream to Technology (11 answers total)
Don't know about it messing up the TV, but is there a way to switch the audio in the menu for the TV to mono? This may help.
posted by booticon at 7:34 AM on April 7, 2008

Please don't open your tv. There are parts inside which can kill you several times over even if it's unplugged.

If your receiver has a RCA line level output for the center channel (common on some receivers) then you can route that to the tv.

Probably a better option is to make due with a cheap center speaker placed discretely near the tv until you can change your receiver, tv, or other components.
posted by wfrgms at 7:37 AM on April 7, 2008

Commenting again to echo what wfrgms (what an awkward nick to type) said about opening up your TV--it can be unplugged for WEEKS and still hold enough charge to mess your shit up.
posted by booticon at 7:40 AM on April 7, 2008

It's probably not the most elegant way, but you could achieve what you want with a few parts from Radio Shack. Go buy one of these to make your stereo inputs mono. Then get one of these, but get one that will be able to plug into your the Y connector. That will allow you to plug your speaker wires in to the tv.
posted by ictow at 7:47 AM on April 7, 2008

wfrgms; I don't think I'll be upgrading the receiver anytime soon. I bought it pretty recently, and it meets every need I'll have for the next decade or so. Same with the TV. I'd like to use what I've got already if possible.
posted by odinsdream at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2008

Oh, and despite the link, the second "one of these" can be found at your local store. What I linked to might not be quite right, but it's the gist that you can ask for.
posted by ictow at 7:49 AM on April 7, 2008

ictow; isn't that a problem, though? I didn't think it was just a matter of changing one wire type to another - since the speaker wire is meant to power speakers, not input into a device expecting line-level.

I can definitely make a physical connection between the devices, but I was not sure that wouldn't result in damage to the audio inputs on the TV.
posted by odinsdream at 7:50 AM on April 7, 2008

(Commenting one more time!) Here's a Google search for "using tv speakers as center channel", with a bunch of discussions about what you want to do. From what I've seen nobody's really talking about any potential damage to the internal speakers, just really poor sound compared to buying a separate speaker.

(I swear to god this is the last time I'm commenting in this thread. =P)
posted by booticon at 8:00 AM on April 7, 2008

Odinstream, I've tried this before and was extremely disappointed. The quality of even the most modest speakers will far exceed the quality of a TV's internal speakers and will likely lead to hollow-sounding dialog -- at least it did in my case when I tried it.

The primary reason for a center channel speaker can be made moot if your TV is located equidistant from the front speakers and you sit directly in front of the TV. This will give you a "phantom" center.
posted by pmbuko at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2008

The speaker level output voltage will be too high for the line level inputs on your TV. This is easily fixed, just put a resistor divider in the circuit to cut the voltage a bit. Assuming that the centre channel negative output is at chassis ground on the receiver (measure the resistance, less than about 2 ohms is a short circuit, don't rely on the continuity test), something like this should be good enough:
 C+ >--      |      \      /      \   R1 = 100 ohm      /      \      |      |      o----- to TV L and R inputs (centre pin)      |      |      \      /      \  R2 = 1k ohm (1W)      /      \      |      | C- >-o----- to TV L and R inputs (shield)(technically, you may only want to connect one of the TV L or R shields, to avoid ground loops, but I think that is best determined by experimentation)
The 1k should be a 1W part (somewhat larger than a typical resistor). If the output power of the centre channel is higher than 50W, you'll have to up the 1k to a 2k.

That said.. Generally, TV speakers are really very horrible, and centre channels are fairly important.
posted by Chuckles at 9:51 PM on April 7, 2008

D'oh! The R1 and R2 values should be reversed. You want 1/11th of the voltage to reach the TV, not 10/11ths.
posted by Chuckles at 9:53 PM on April 7, 2008

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