How To Use A Video Projector with an Under-TV Sound Base

BenQ HT2150ST Video Projector With Pyle Pyle PSBV600BT Wave Base
BenQ HT2150ST Video Projector With Pyle Pyle PSBV600BT Wave Base. Photos by Robert Silva

So, you want that big screen video projection home theater experience, but you don't want the hassle, or the room, for a full home theater surround sound audio system that requires all those speakers.

Well, I may have a solution for you that is easy to set up, use and doesn't take up a lot of space. The solution - Use an Under-TV audio system, which is similar to a sound bar, but instead of being mounted above or below a TV, and Under-TV audio system, as its name suggests, is placed under a TV.

Depending on the brand, you will see these products labeled as a Sound Base, Speaker Base, Sound Plate, Wave Base, Sound Stand, etc... However, they all serve two functions: As a platform to set a TV on top of, and as an integrated single cabinet sound system that provides an alternative to a multi-speaker sound system or sound bar for getting better sound for your TV.

Although they are designed and marketed to be used with TVs - there is another way you can use an Under-TV Audio System, as a way to get better sound for your video projector, in lieu of a full surround sound speaker setup.

The way this works is that instead of setting a TV on top of the Under TV Audio System, set your video projector on top of it instead.

What You Need

You need a video projector, an audio/video source device(s), such as Blu-ray or DVD player, Cable/satellite box, or Media streamer that has video outputs (such as HDMI, component, or composite), and both Digital optical and analog stereo audio outputs.

Then, of course, you need an under-TV audio system that also has a set of analog stereo and digital optical inputs.

Of course, you also need a screen, or a suitable white wall, to project your movies or other video content.

How To Set It All Up

OK, now you have what you need, now it is time to connect it all up.

In order to this, place your video projector on top of the Under TV audio system and place both on a table, moveable low profile rack, or other platform and position the projector/under TV audio system so that it is an optimal distance to your screen or wall.

Once you have determined that, the next step is to connect all your source devices to the projector and under TV audio system.

First connect the video output of your source device to your video projector using HDMI (best), component (better), or composite (worst) connections.

Next, connect the analog audio outputs from your source device to the Under TV audio system - however, depending on your seating position in relation to the projector and Under TV audio system, you will make the audio connections differently.

How Seating Position Changes Your Video Projector/Under-TV Audio System Setup

If the video projector/under TV setup is in front of your seating position (in other words, between your seating position and the screen), make sure that the front of the Under TV audio system is facing back towards your seating position and simply connect either the analog audio or digital optical output of your source device normally.

However, if your seating position is in front the video projector/Under TV audio system (in other words your seating position is between the video projector/under TV audio system and your screen - or more simply, the video projector/under TV audio system is behind you), then make sure the front of the Under TV audio system is facing the screen.

In order to make sure that the audio soundfield is correct in this setup when you have the front of the Under TV Audio System facing the screen, you also need to make a change in your audio connections between your source device(s) and your under TV audio system.

Here, you must use the analog audio connections and connect the left channel output of your source device to the right channel input of your Under TV audio system and connect the right channel output of your source device to the left channel input of the under TV audio system - Do not use the digital optical audio connection option in this type of setup.

You are probably asking yourself - what's the deal? Why must I connect the audio in this way?

Here is the reason - if you are sitting between the projector/sound system setup (the sound system is behind you), and the sound system is facing the screen, then that means that channels are physically reversed - in other words, the right channel speakers of the Under TV sound system are now facing the left side of the screen and room, and the left channel speakers are now facing the right side of the screen and room.

So, in order for the sound to be projected forward to both the listen position and the screen correctly, you must reverse the physical channels using the analog audio connections, which provide a separate connection for each channel.

This is also why you cannot use the digital optical connection option in this type of setup as the both the left and right channels send through a single cable, and are locked in the digital audio bitstream and cannot be reversed - unless your Under TV audio system has an audio or stereo reverse switch which is very unlikely (this used to be a feature on stereo receivers years ago, but is now very rare).

Practical Uses For A Video Projector/Under TV Audio System Setup

Now that you have "freed" your video projector sound setup from the "burden" of a home theater receiver and all speakers, here are some practical uses in addition to a traditional living room setup.

One option is to use this setup as part of an outdoor entertainment experience, while other options might include party, classroom, or even business use, where an external audio system is desired, but setting up a full surround sound audio system is not practical.

More Info

It is important to note that if you want a full home theater video projection experience, using a video projector/under TV audio system combination is not a substitute for the surround sound experience would get from a dedicated 5.1 or 7.1 channel home theater setup, but for those with limited space, or would like some portability, a video projector/under TV audio system might be just the solution, especially when you consider that most video projectors do not provide onboard speakers, and those that do are definitely not suited for watching movies.

For some examples of what to look for in an Under TV audio System, check out some that are included in my Best Sound Bars list as well as the following reports and reviews: