More Firestick with older equipment

Hi Chris, I’m in Nairobi, Kenya. I recently bought an Amazon firestick to help “transform” my basic Samsung UHD (Model PA51H4500AR) tv to something much more exciting. I think I am only halfway there as I was disappointed to note that the firestick does not work with my Sony DAV-TZ140 home theater. I ran to the internet for a solution and stumbled across an article you wrote in 2016. Although the article was really insightful, I was hoping you could offer a personal solution to my problem. The tv has two HDMI ports, an optical audio port but it is just my luck that the home theater does not. If I will need a receiver, I would be grateful if you could point me to one I can purchase. Thanks!

A quick google search on your home theater system (using search terms “Sony DAV-TZ140 manual”) yielded an online manual which I used to check what sort of audio inputs you have. It only shows 2-channel analog stereo inputs (using RCA plugs), so there’s likely no way to get full surround sound from the Firestick to the system’s speakers.

You could use an HDMI audio extractor box such as this one for £18UK. I’m giving you Amazon UK links since Kenya uses the same type of electrical power (type G plugs, 240v 50hz). With that and a simple RCA stereo audio cable, you can at least get stereo audio from the Firestick to the surround sound speakers. Here’s how you’d connect things:

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  1. Run an HDMI cable from the extractor box’s HDMI OUT port to an available HDMI IN port on the TV. Don’t forget to provide electrical power to the extractor box (you may need a converter if you buy the extractor box from overseas).
  2. Connect the RCA stereo audio cable between the extractor box’s RCA OUT ports and the matching RCA IN ports on the back of your home theater.
  3. Turn on the TV and set it to use the HDMI port coming from the extractor box. Also turn on the Sony DAV-TZ140 and set it to use the Audio In source (button #5 on the remote control). See page 14 of the manual.

Once all that’s done, you can connect the Firestick to the extractor box’s HDMI in port. Don’t forget to provide electrical power to the Firestick (using the microUSB port on the side of the Firestick). At that point, the extractor box should validate HD Copyright Protection (HDCP) with the Firestick and allow the video to play through to the TV, and send the stereo audio to the Sony DAV-TX140. You want to make sure that everything else is connected and setup correctly before you connect the Firestick, so that the Firestick’s HDCP circuitry can ‘see’ all the other connected equipment. Firesticks can be finicky about HDCP.

Of course, you almost certainly won’t get beautiful 5.1 channel surround sound which the Firestick is perfectly capable of providing. Your home theater system wasn’t designed for general purpose home theater work. It was only designed to play DVDs and send that surround sound audio to the speakers. I can’t tell for sure from the online manual, but your receiver does have Dolby ProLogic circuitry, so it should be able to take the 2-channel audio signal from the extractor box and split the signal to all your surround sound speakers, ‘faking’ surround sound. To cycle through the audio capabilities, press the Surround button on your remote repeatedly while playing a movie and choose the setting that sounds the best (probably the MULTI or A.F. MULTI entry on the receiver).

If you want a true home theater experience with true 5.1 channel audio from the Firestick, you’ll need a more capable home theater receiver. I can’t guarantee how well those Sony surround sound speakers will work with a different system, so you might need a set of generic home theater surround sound speakers, or a new home theater receiver that comes with a set of matched speakers. After all, your current system and those speakers are only rated for 30 watts.

Without knowing your budget and what home theater stores are available in your area, my suggestion would be for you to shop around and see what’s available.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for all the feedback on your site.
    I was hoping you could help me as I am having trouble letting go of my old receiver and large Pinnacle speakers. The receiver is hard wired to ceiling/floor speakers. Watched a DVD last night (with receiver sound) and would love to have this sound with the Fire stick too. Is there a good, cheap way of making this happen? Or am at the stage where I need to have a modern receiver or other set-up?

    Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1019AH (housing in a low cabinet w/front windows; not close to router)
    TV: LG Nano 9 series –2020 (65NANO90UNA)
    Fire stick” 2020 4k

    thanks, greg

    • Hi Greg, happy to help!

      I looked up your Pioneer receiver: the online manual for the VSX-1019AH-K is at https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/StaticFiles/Manuals/Home/VSX-1019AH-K_OperatingInstructions0128.pdf. If you have that model, it has multiple HDMI IN ports and you can plug the Firestick into an available HDMI IN port. I’m assuming you have:

      1. connected an HDMI cable from the Pioneer’s HDMI OUT port to one of the LG TV’s HDM IN ports and set the TV to use that HDMI IN port.

      2. connected the Firestick to one of the Pioneer’s HDMI IN ports after you had already turned on the TV and set the Pioneer to use the HDMI IN port used for the Firestick

      You want to make sure the the Firestick runs HD Copyright Protection (HDCP) and authorizes your TV to play the video from the Firestick. hence the order of connection above. Once you’ve done all this, you should be able to stream content from the Firestick without issue – HD video to the TV and Dolby Digital audio to the Pioneer-connected speakers.

      I see only two potential issues:

      1. If you want to watch 4k video. Your Firestick and TV are 4k compatible (3840×2160), but your Pioneer receiver is only HD compatible (1920×1080). The Pioneer receiver won’t up-convert the video to 4k.

      2. If the distance from router to home theatre equipment is too far and you can’t get a WiFi signal to the cabinet.

      For problem #1, you could plug the Firestick directly into an HDMI IN port on the TV, and run an optical cable from the TV to the Pioneer receiver for audio. That’s if your particular TV has an Optical OUT port (it’s not clear from the online manuals). Then you’d watch 4k video on the TV, and send Dolby Digital audio out via the optical cable to the Pioneer and onto the speakers.

      Remember to set everything up before you plug the Firestick into the HDMI port so that the Firestick can “see” the Pioneer receiver and validate HDCP. That means setting the TV to use the HDMI IN port you used for the Firestick, ensuring the TV is set to output the audio through the Optical OUT port (not internal speakers), and set the Pioneer to use the Optical IN port as the source.

      For problem #2, you’ll need a way to get WiFi signal to the Firestick as that’s the only way it connects to the internet for streaming video.

      If you have an ethernet connection at the cabinet (from your router), you can get a simple WiFi access point to extend your WiFi network to that location.

      I used the manual for your LG TV at https://www.lg.com/us/support/product/lg-65NANO90UNA.AUS for reference – so I assume you are in Australia, right?

      You may want to refer to my article at https://positek.net/hdcp-explained/ if you are having trouble getting the Firestick to send video to the TV and audio to the speakers. Firesticks are quite finicky about HDCP.

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