Sound Advice: Connecting computer to speakers is a snap

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2011 - 2:55 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q I have a desktop computer I use with powered computer speakers. Nearby, I have a vintage stereo receiver with speakers. Is it possible to run the computer audio through my receiver and speakers, and will it work when using Netflix or iTunes?

A This is easy to do, and the receiver and speakers will play all audio from the computer, be it music, movies, video games or Web content.

All you need is a $5 miniplug-to-RCA cable. Connect the miniplug end to the output you use with your computer speakers. Connect the other end to an RCA input on your receiver, using any input but phono. Select the input on the receiver, turn the computer volume to 75 percent so you send out a strong but undistorted signal and adjust the volume on the receiver. The sound will now come from the speakers.

Tremors affect photos

Q After reading your column on the Olympus PEN cameras, I am considering buying one. Due to a medical condition (familial tremors), my hands are unsteady. I am concerned that this will affect picture quality. Will a telephoto lens compound my problem?

A Any hand movement at the moment of exposure will probably affect picture quality. Your tremors might cause fuzziness, and with the telephoto lens it will be more pronounced. Using higher shutter speeds might help, but it depends on lighting, the lens and the shutter speed.

You might want to try a Tamrac ZipShot (www.tamrac.com, $49), an ultra-compact tripod, for steadier shots. You hold the collapsed tripod at arm's length, release your grip and it automatically extends and locks the legs. It's a useful tool for any photographer.

System of the week

This week's system is a complete home theater for less than $1,000. It uses a powered sound bar so you don't need to run speaker wires. This compact, simple setup combats one of the most frequent complaints I receive these days, namely thin, weak sound from the speakers in flat-panel TVs.

The Samsung PN42C450 is my favorite TV selling for less than $500. This 42-inch 720p plasma regularly sells for $499 and has a sharp picture with vivid, yet natural, color. Providing sound is Sony's HT-CT150 Sound Bar system, only $299. It has been playing to rave reviews from customers and is simple to set up and use.

Add an Insignia NS-WBRDVD2 player from Best Buy for only $129. It will play Blu-ray, DVDs, CDs and wirelessly stream content from Netflix, Pandora and CinemaNow.

Get three $5 HDMI cables from Amazon (www.amazon.com) or Monoprice (www.monoprice.com). Use them to connect the Blu-ray player and your cable/satellite box to the soundbar, then connect the soundbar to the TV. You will have an easy-to-use system with great picture and sound.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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