Answers to your multimedia questions.
Q I received a sound bar over the holidays and can't connect it to my TV. My TV only has a coaxial (orange) digital output and the sound bar has the red and white audio inputs. Is there any way to make it work?
A You can still use your sound bar. All you need is a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to place between the TV and sound bar.
The correct DAC will have a coaxial digital input and a pair of red-white analog outputs. Just connect the TV to its digital input and the sound bar to its analog outputs, and your sound bar will work perfectly.
Be careful when shopping. Although most DACs have optical and coaxial inputs, some inexpensive models have only one or the other.
The most common use of a DAC is to connect digital components such as computers to home audio systems or any other device with red-white analog inputs. For example, most Mac computers have optical digital outputs. Although you can use the headphone or line output and a miniplug-to-RCA cable to connect a Mac to a stereo system, you will get better results with a DAC connected to the digital audio connection, because the headphone output signal can be noisy.
You can spend thousands of dollars on a DAC, but there is no need to do so, especially for what seems to be a modest setup with a sound bar and TV. The $28 FiiO D3 and the $20 Cables to Go DAC are available online, and both get good marks from users. Radio Shack stocks a model with coaxial and optical inputs for less than $40.
For a higher-end product to use in a high-grade audio system, check out the $349 Musical Fidelity V-DAC.Reporting from CES
As I write this, I'm in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, checking out what the industry has in store for us this year. I can tell already that the coming year is going to be a great one, especially for televisions and digital photography.
As you would expect, there have been a lot of expensive, cutting-edge products such as a refrigerator that can scan your grocery receipt, log in your purchases and tell you when your vegetables are going to go bad. That's not what I find so exciting, though.
This year promises to be one of the best for affordable products that deliver great quality. You will see bigger, better televisions at lower prices and high-quality, full-featured digital cameras from major manufacturers at unheard-of price points.
What's more, 2012 will see the return of TV manufacturing to the United States after a long hiatus, thanks to Element Electronics' new factory in Detroit. If you're looking for a budget-priced television, be sure to give it a look.
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