Flat screen TVs don’t always offer enough sound due to their slim profiles leading to limited space for internal speakers, as well as space for what speakers they have to resonate around in for that ported-like presentation you used to be able to get out of older/larger TVs. Some sound better than others, but none of them offer the kind of sound you’d typically want to sit down to a movie with. We have tested many TVs throughout the years, and found some of them rocking as low as 10-watt solutions inside.
This means you need external amplification to solve this problem with, and not everyone has the space for (or may be looking for) a full surround system solution with speakers running all over. So this leaves you with soundbars or a smaller numbered speaker solution such as stereo. Now let’s say that you have two speakers sitting around collecting dust and nothing to power them with. Even better, you also have a small (or any size) self-powered subwoofer as well. Russound offers a solution that allows you to bring those speakers to life and use them with your TV.
Russound’s 2.1 channel amplifier (model TVA2.1) offers a small profile that allows you to install it conveniently behind the TV either on the way or even on the back of the TV (assuming the mounting holes on the amp match any of he VESA holes on the back of the TV allowing you to achieve a secure mount. It can power two speakers with up to 35-watts of power and offers an RCA out for a self-powered subwoofer (one that plugs into the wall for its own power separate of the amp).
Most speakers that you typically find at an electronics store (less some of the larger standing tower speakers) can be powered by 35-watts. Some speakers from brands like Klipsch, Samsung, Sony and more; can be powered with as low as 20-watts (it’s important that you match the right speakers with the amp). Typically, you are going to seek out smaller bookshelf style speakers or smaller, but they will still rock the living daylight out of your TV’s built-in speakers.
You could go with bookshelf options or you could also go with in-wall/ceiling speakers that mount directly into your wall or ceiling. Now you’re really talking a small footprint–assuming you’re ok with running wires through your walls or ceiling.
Russound also offers speakers that you can use with the amp. We haven’t heard any of their speakers in person, so we can’t say how well they hold up to some of the other brands; but, the price is generally pretty low if you’re not looking to spend much.
The amp itself is about 10″x5″ in size and just over one inch thick. As mentioned, you can easily hide it behind any size TV that you’d install in your home, office or anywhere else really. So the only concern running through your mind is “where do I want to place my speakers?”. It does require its own power obviously, so you do have a power cord and brick coming from it that you will have to hid somewhere. If you have an in-wall recessed plate with plug, you can easily hide it all behind the TV.
The backside of the amp features multiple inputs, including analog (RCA) as well as both coaxial and optical digital inputs. There is no switching, so you are only connecting your TV to the amp. As long as all of your playback devices (ie, Blu-ray, cable, satellite, DVD, gaming console etc) are connected to inputs on your TV, you will have audio from everything going to the amp.
There is a left and right speaker connection for wired speakers (positive and negative wires) for connecting your two speakers with. A small adapter is included that slides into the output in the back of the amp that allows for you to tighten such speaker wire down with. Next to those wire outputs, there is an analog (RCA) output for a subwoofer that you would plug in a self-powered sub into.
Next to the outputs, you have the input for the power cable as well as a main power switch for the amp. Moving back to the other side of the amp where the inputs are, there is an input for the included IR sensor. The sensor is tiny and comes with a long cable allowing you to route it to the front side of the TV somewhere. There are two double-sided stickers you can use for placement (ie, along the edge of the TV somewhere). There is also a sensor located right next to that input which is used strictly for learning your remote with.
Neighboring the IR input, there is a IR learning button. This is used to learn the volume up, down and mute buttons on your TV’s remote, allowing you to use it to control the amp without the need of multiple controllers. Technically, if you use a universal remote, you can use this to learn the additional buttons you may have that you’d like to dedicate to the amp separately. It’s all user preference. When learning your TV’s remote, it does have to be pointed at the back of the amp as apparently the external sensor won’t work for learning. Once it has learned your remote, you can continue using either of the sensors for control.
If you’d rather not make use of the learning feature, it does come with its own remote. A small, simplistic remote with just three buttons. Just like what it would learn from your TV’s remote, you have volume up, down and mute. It’s small and flat and quite similar to those you would find with after-market car stereo systems.
So now let’s talk about quality! Again, the amp is simple and only offers 35 watts per channel. It won’t be enough to blow you out of your seats with, but it will indeed sound far better than your TV’s volume. Making sure to pair it with decent speakers is important if you’re looking to squeeze the most out of these. Something with decent lows paired with a horn-style tweeter will more than likely gain you the most use out of the wattage since horns typically don’t take much to feed (which is why Klipsch speakers are so versatile when it comes to wattage range support). It is recommended that the speakers you use or either 6 or 8 ohms. Also, keep in mind that the speakers have to support as low as 35 watts or less to be powered.
We paired the amp to a number of smaller Klipsch speakers as well as small profile Bose and Polk Audio speakers to see how well it performs. It held up pretty well and although it didn’t get the level of volume and range that we’d actively seek out while watching a TV (keep in mind, we surround ourselves with 7.1 to 11.2 channel solutions and high-end speakers typically). However, it is only 35 watts. It simply sounds good for what you get.
So now about the price. It looks like the current MSRP is $299.99. This is a little high in our opinion. Scratch that. This is quite high of a price. Bringing others into the room to have them blind-guess what it’s worth, the average price quoted was $50-$70. Not a single guess fell over $100. So $300 is a bit steep.
You can find the amplifier on Crutchfield.com and more information from Russound’s website, Russound.com. There is no information on their website about purchasing it from them or others, so at the moment, it looks like Crutch is your only option.
For smaller rooms where you want a simplistic setup with minimal devices seen running everywhere, this is perfect. It’s compact enough to hide out of site. You can integrate it with your TV’s remote to keep down the remote count and you will only be bothering with two speakers (and possibly a sub), so you will hardly have any speaker wired running anywhere. It sounds good for what it is and gives you that missing sound presence your ears crave when watching TV and other media. It’s just that price. It’s the only thing that weighed the score down to 7.5. If it wasn’t for that, it would more than likely have a flawless score because it delivers exactly what it promises.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Link — Product Manual
- Shipping Dimensions:
11.6″ (W) x 5.0″ (H) x 7.5″ (D)
(29.5 x 12.7 x 19.1 cm)
- Shipping Weight: 2.0 lbs (0.9 kg)
- Amplified Channels: 2
- Frequency Response: 40Hz to 20KHz +/- 1dB, 20Hz -3dB, Sub Out: -3dB at 170Hz
- Input Impedance: 22K
- Line Output: Subwoofer
- Power Output: Continuous Stereo:
30 watts per channel at 8 ohms <1% THD+N
- Power Requirement(s): 27 VDC 4.0A (External D235PS Power Supply)
- Signal to Noise Ratio: >90dB 20Hz to 20KHz
- Total Harmonic Distortion: 1% (1KHz @ 1W)
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.