Q: I often find myself listening to Pandora through my TV, but I have a pretty decent number of vinyl records and would like to set up a stereo system. I’d also like to listen to the TV through the stereo, if possible. Is there a stereo system that won’t break the bank but will give me very good sound? I’d like to stay in the $2,000 to $3,000 range for everything. I have a Toshiba 46-inch TV without Smart TV features and would prefer floor speakers.
A: A television component sound system does not have to be surround sound with multiple speakers placed around the room. A pair of stereo speakers on either side of the television can make for very good listening.
A stereo receiver with HDMI is the best option, but receivers without HDMI but with Dolby Digital also can be used for this. They can be found on Craigslist for under $50 because everyone wants HDMI these days. Just take the optical output from the TV and connect it to an optical input on the receiver, hook up stereo speakers to the left and right speaker outputs and you are ready to go.
Of course, stereo receivers with HDMI are readily available, too. I recommend the Denon DRA-800H for $499 (usa.denon.com). It is a full-featured stereo receiver with 100 watts per channel, the ability to drive two pairs of speakers, multiple inputs including several HDMI inputs and abundant wireless connectivity options.
Polk Audio says it still has a limited stock of its high-end LSiM705 tower speakers. Normally $3,000 per pair, they are currently available for $1,500 per pair. Nothing can touch them for that price. The best place to purchase them is polkaudio.com because they are drying up on Amazon and other online retailers.
Pair the Denon receiver with the Polk speakers and you’ll have the basis of an excellent high-end system for $1,000 less than the speakers alone typically cost. The Music Hall MMF-1.5 Vessel Special ($499) or Music Hall Classic Fantastic ($698) from LP Gear (lpgear.com) are both excellent turntables that will shine in your system. I suggest spending a bit more for the Classic, but either way you will not be disappointed.
Adding a Roku streaming player (roku.com) to the TV will provide the largest amount of free programming channels. The Roku Express for $24.99 is all you need for your TV. Finally, a Sony BDP-S6700 Blu-ray player will play Blu-ray Discs, DVD and CDs through your new system. It is widely available at electronics stores and big-box outlets for $99.
Connect the speakers to the receiver’s speaker terminals, then connect the turntable to the phono input and everything else (including your cable box) to the HDMI inputs. Select what you want to listen to or watch, and the sound will be sent to the speakers and the picture to the TV. You will have beautiful sound and picture quality along with the convenience of the DRA-800H acting as your entertainment hub.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.