Q I have a wall-mounted, 42-inch flat-panel TV within built-in cabinetry, so there is no space to attach a sound bar to the TV. What I have in mind is a sound bar that can sit directly behind the set against the wall, beneath the mounting bracket, or two small speakers that can stand at the back of the cabinet in the far left and far right corners.
Ideally, I'd like speakers that do not have to be powered (because I'd have to route the power cord through a hole in the wall). I'd rather just run an audio cable from the back of the set to the speakers.
I'm looking for speakers that sound better than what are in the TV, although I don't consider the audio quality bad. I'm not necessarily looking for audiophile quality.
Do you have any recommendations?
A You said you want a speaker that doesn't need to be powered. Please realize that all speakers must be powered in some fashion, be it by a battery, an AC power cord or by a wire coming from a receiver supplying the amplification. An RCA audio cable cannot power speakers on its own and can only supply the signal.
I frequently get e-mails from people looking for wireless speakers for surround purposes. They often do not realize that although with a wireless speaker you might be able to avoid running wires across the room from a receiver, you still need to plug it into the wall to provide power for the internal amplifiers. Rechargeable batteries are usually not convenient because you have to charge them daily if you use battery-powered speakers in a home system.
If you're willing to connect a speaker to a charger every day, the critically acclaimed Soundmatters FoxL V2 (www.soundmatters.com) meets all your needs.
It has an ingenious design called "BassBattery" in which the battery also serves as the subwoofer driver. The FoxL is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and will sound noticeably better than the speakers in your TV. I have a FoxL with a 19-inch TV in my kitchen. The difference in sound quality is night and day.
The FoxL is typically used with a computer or portable device and includes miniplug and USB cables. You can connect it to your TV with the miniplug cable if it has a headphone output; otherwise, you will need an RCA-to-miniplug cable.
If you decide to try the FoxL with your TV, I strongly recommend finding a way to connect it to its AC adapter when it's connected to your TV, because it will play louder and you won't have to worry about putting it on the charger every night after watching TV. It is rated at eight hours per charge, but if you play it loudly you might get less playing time.
The FoxL V2 sells for $169 for the basic version or $199 for a Bluetooth version that can be used as a speakerphone or to stream audio from a Bluetooth device.
Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.
Poll: What would you choose as a way for you (or your husband) to deal with a midlife crisis?