Looking back, the last couple of years has been actually a pretty big upheaval in my media consumption world. Starting it off, on Black Thursday in 2016, I got televisions. For ages, I had an old tube TV I never watched. And that was interesting for a while. I never did much with it.
A few months later after getting these TVs, I got a game system – a Wii. Snicker all you want, but it was, and occasionally still is, fun. If nothing else, it gave the TV a reason to exist. A few months after that, I bought a couple of Roku sticks, which I plugged into the TV, giving the TV more reason to exist. Finally, this year, I implemented the Plex server on my network, so I can stream music to the Rokus that are on the TVs. And all this time, I’ve had a old home theater system with a 5-disc DVD changer and VCR, with 5.1 speakers.
Despite having all this possibility, things are kind of a mess. The biggest problem is the sound system. If I watch the Roku or listen to Plex through the Roku, I can only get sound through the TV speakers. If I watch a DVD, I have to mute the TV speakers because it doubles the HT 5.1 system. If I play the Wii, I have to turn on the HT system and mute the TV.
The root problem is that the TV needs to be the center hub of all video and audio and the audio from the TV needs to be routed to the HT system. Because the HT system is downstream from the TV, if the HT system is serving audio and video back to the TV, it will short circuit the audio path and playback will perform as expected.
So, evaluating my options, I have two older components that need integrated with a newer component. In this case, the TV will be the hub for audio and video, but the Wii and the HT system are only analog. This affects the signal path in two places. I only have one analog input to my TV, so either the Wii or the HT system will have to have the signal converted from component (RCA) to HDMI. Then, the only audio output from the TV is digital optical, so I need another conversion from optical (SPDIF) to RCA. Upconverting one direction and downconverting the other. Ridiculous.
Finally, I’m not entirely sure the digital output from the TV will be unmixed, meaning that if I turn the TV speakers off, or mute them or turn down the volume, will the digital signal still be sent or will it be muted?
The optimistic end result is that audio from all sources: Roku/Plex, Wii, and DVD will all go through the HT speaker system’s Aux input. When a DVD is played, the HT system will still play through the speakers and when the DVD is not played, it should return to Aux. Maybe I’ll have to change the input on the HT remote.
Fortunately, the converters aren’t very expensive, less than $15 each. Here’s to hoping it all works…