Adding stereo output to a CRT Television

Forward: I should reiterate that this is a dangerous undertaking. I am not a licensed television technician, so there is a very good chance I myself am not taking the proper safety precautions. I welcome comments that educate, especially on safety. Thank you.

Since moving into my new apartment I have had an itch for creating a space dedicated to retro gaming. The formula is simple: Console + CRT Television = Awesome. So I reclaimed my old 13 inch TV from my dad's attic, daisy chained my RF Modulators, and I was golden. I just want to take a moment to mention how much better "older" consoles look on a CRT. Its amazing. There have even been studies on the Atari VCS as played on an older TV compared to modern LCD displays.

Visuals aside, I think many people will agree that video games from the mid 1980's through the late 1990's had (for the most part) great musical scores utilizing multiple channels to create inspiring pieces that really brought the player into the game. In fact, games like The Legend of Zelda, and Final Fantasy even had full sized orchestras replay their ballads. Unfortunately, in terms of quality, a lot was lost through the tiny 8 ohm speaker inside your TV (Fig.1), much different from today's media centers.

So I had the consoles and the tube, but something was still missing. It didnt take long to realize the audio was severely underappreciated. The issue was, the only connection in or out of the TV was the coaxial in the rear, so the speaker itself was the only way to get audio out. The solution was simple, I needed to bypass the speaker and connect it to my HiFi setup for more control over the audio frequencies.


Fig 1. 8ohm Mono Speaker





Now that I had a plan, I needed the materials. Lucky for me, I already had a female RCA connector in my parts bin, which is really the only part I needed, aside from the actual cable to connect to my stereo.


Next I Soldered the two channels together. I'm not doing anything fancy here, the TV was already setup for Mono output, all I'm doing is splitting it into two for my stereo. The leads can be confusing, so I used a multimeter to determine which leads went to the post (positive) and which went to the ring (negative).


Then I soldered to the speaker, paying attention to polarity. In retrospect, I could have added a switch to disconnect the speaker altogether, allowing full output through my stereo.


Next, holes were drilled into the rear of the set (I chose a location next to the coaxial) and epoxied the connector to the inside. Take note, it's a lot easier to solder the connector before attaching it to the case; luckily the epoxy wasn't cured...


Once the epoxy was set and relatively stable (roughly 10 minutes, give or take), I carefully connected the speaker to the television's board and attached it, and the outer shell together as it was.



After about an hour or so, I was enjoying my games on a whole new level (have you heard Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden for the NES' soundtrack?!) -and it didn't cost me a dime.






It should go without saying, but you need to be careful if you decide to do this yourself. The warnings on the back of these televisions are no joke, the charge stored up in these can
kill you.