Sound advice: Switchbox will cure TV audio woes

  • Article by: DON LINDICH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • August 24, 2012 - 12:57 PM

Q I have a new HDTV with a whole bunch of input connections on the back, but only one audio output, an "optical digital audio" jack. I have this connected with an optical connector to an external sound bar for enhanced sound quality, but I would also like to connect my "TV ears" headphones so that I can listen without disturbing my family.

The TV ears have RCA connectors. With the old technology, I would simply have used a splitter to output to more than one audio device. How do I accomplish this with the optical audio output and the RCA jacks?

A You can get a digital-to-analog converter for about $25 and use that to convert the optical signal to an analog RCA connection for your headphones.

With only one output, you would manually have to swap the cables from the sound bar to the converter whenever you wanted to use the TV ears. That is a less than an ideal situation.

Fortunately, you also can buy a passive switchbox and connect the TV to the switchbox input, and the sound bar and headphones to the switchbox outputs. This will let you choose between the sound bar and headphones with the flip of a switch.

Good products for your needs include the FiiO D3 digital-to-analog converter for $25 and the Nyrius SW100 3 input optical digital audio selector, also $25.

Where to repair a camera

Q I have a Nikon D-80 digital camera that sounds as if it is capturing photos, but the photo doesn't actually get captured and the screen says "error." I have been trying to locate a reputable repair place to have it looked at, but I'm not sure where to go. I would like the most cost effective option.

A Have you tried a new memory card? If you haven't, before you send your camera in for repair, try a different memory card and format it before trying to take a picture.

When it comes to repairs of expensive digital cameras, I am a firm believer in sending the camera to the manufacturer's service facility.

I have never found it to be more expensive than using a third party, and you will have the advantage of dealing with the people who made and sold the camera.

In your case, that would be Nikon USA. Look for the service and support page at

Please be patient

My e-mail inbox has been absolutely inundated with reader questions lately. This is surprising, because I usually get the most questions during the holiday season.

I have been falling behind in my replies but am working on it. If you sent a question, rest assured that I plan on getting to it as soon as I can.

Send questions to Get more recommendations and read past columns at

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