Hands On: Russound’s Little TVA2.1 Amplifier Boosts TV Audio without Surround Sound

Capitol's Fred Harding says Russound's little TVA2.1 amplifier provides big TV sound where surround-sound isn't required -- great for secondary rooms and aging customers.

Fred Harding reviewed the Russound TVA2.1 amplifier in his home.
Fred Harding · December 3, 2015
It’s no surprise that as televisions get skinnier, sound quality tends to suffer. We’ve seen this trend for the past five years or more, and it’s not likely to reverse itself.

Those pesky laws of physics keep rearing their heads: You’ll get more bass from a larger cabinet with a larger power amplifier. Thin TVs just don’t have the cabinet volume to deliver fuller sound.

The problem is further exacerbated by an aging population. Bluntly, chances are pretty good that many of your customers don’t hear as well as they used to. Better and/or louder sound is an issue for many folks.

As installers, we can place a fancy surround sound system in that will rock their world, but not every TV set needs or requires that. Clients who rent may not want to have surface mounted wiring in place, yet they can’t have wiring installed behind their walls. Older customers may be uncomfortable with a new remote control which may have more buttons than they want or need.

Russound has introduced a new amplifier called the TVA2.1 that can help address many of your customers concerns. It’s a two channel, 35-watt-per-channel device in a flat pack design, measuring just under 10” x 5 ¾” x 1 ¼” deep. The flange configuration allows you to mount the unit on the wall, or zip tied to a bracket, or whatever the job requires.

The unit has both analog and digital inputs, which makes life good for many newer sets that only feature digital audio outputs. The unit features a subwoofer output, and comes with a credit card sized remote control with volume up, down and mute command buttons.

Download: Ultimate Guide to High-Performance Audio

Packed in the box is a small IR target with a 3.5 mm stereo plug on it, so that the unit can be mounted on the back side of your customers display and still offer remote volume control.

What makes this unit cool is that it can use the supplied remote, or you can teach the unit to respond to whatever volume related commands your client has on their remote control. All of a sudden, Grandma and Grandpa can enjoy better sound without having to learn a new remote control.

Setting up the TVA2.1

Setup on the unit is a breeze. I have a set of NHT Super Zero speakers from way back that fit nicely next to my Panasonic plasma display. I connected the digital out from the TV into the toslink in on the amp, connected the speaker wires using the supplied removable phoenix plug, and plugged in the power supply for the amp.

After turning the power switch on, I grabbed the Panasonic remote and pushed the IR learning button for two seconds. Holding the remote about four inches away, I taught volume up, then down, then mute commands in that order. It took two tries to do it, simply because I didn’t get a good mute command from the remote.

When the amplifier installation was dressed and done, I went into the setup menu on the television and made sure that the audio output was set to PCM and the TV speakers were turned off. With that, I sat down, turned the set on and off and raised and lowered the volume with the original equipment remote control.

The sound coming through the NHTs was markedly better than the sound from the TV speakers. I had to explain to my wife that when you hit the volume buttons on the TV remote an icon would appear onscreen saying the speakers were off. Since you could hear sound, it was vaguely incongruous.

All in all, this was a great way to improve the performance of a TV set for bedroom applications or for older folks who want to hear the set but don’t have interest in surround sound systems. Setup is a breeze and selling audio with video improves profitability. Consider selling these to apartment dwellers, those with secondary TV viewing areas, older folks and more.

View Product Details: Russound TVA2.1

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  About the Author

Fred Harding is in sales and technical support at Capitol Sales, a full service distributor of electronic installation hardware. He is a frequent contributor to CE Pro, writing hands-on product reviews and technical tips. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Fred at

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