How Should I Connect A Soundbar To My TV?
There are lots of ways to connect to a soundbar to a TV.Some will offer better sound than others and some you may be limited to what connections your soundbar and TV have on them. Occasionally these do not match up and some form of audio converters will be required to get your TV sound out of your TV. I’m going to go through some of the different ways that soundbars can connect to your TV and hopefully help you get the correct connection for you.
I have tried to structure this in a way from best way to connect a soundbar, to the least but this can be different with many brands of soundbars and TV combinations.
To begin I advise where possible to take the sound input to your soundbar from your TV and not from a separate set top box, like a Sky box which may also have separate sound outputs on it. This should prevent any lip-syncing issues which may occur with the exception of a HDMI input cable which would need to connect into the set top box and not the TV.
1- Optical Audio – Toslink Cable
I always try to connect soundbars where possible with an optical audio cable, often called a Toslink cable. The optical cable is a digital audio only cable that sends it’s signals over light making it a fibre optic cable. This connects to the optical output on the TV and the optical input of the soundbar. Once connected and the correct input selected on the soundbar the sound should come out in a good quality with no lip-syncing issues.The correct input is usually called ‘D-In’ or ‘Digital In’ on most soundbars but this really does depend on the soundbar that you have.
The Optical audio connection is capable of 5.1 surround sound which is 5 surround speakers and one sub-woofer. If you wanted a 7.1 surround sound system you would need to use a HDMI cable instead, but as a soundbar is not a surround sound system this is not required.
You will need:
TV & soundbar with optical connections
1 x Optical audio lead
2- HDMI Cable
A HDMI cable which is the standard for the interconnecting of all new TV’s and AV equipment is perhaps the second-best way to connect your TV to your soundbar. Excluding the HDMI ARC connection which I will come to later. A HDMI cable is a digital audio and video cable capable of 7.1 surround sound. The HDMI cable should be taken from your set top box into your soundbar and then a separate HDMI cable from your soundbar to your TV. This will allow the sound signals to be extracted into the soundbar and the picture to continue up to the TV.
If you have more than one device that you wanted to connect to your TV and sound to come out of your soundbar, such as a games console like an Xbox or Playstation. Many soundbars have more than one HDMI input which will allow multiple devices to be connected into it, like a surround sound system or an AV receiver. The switching between inputs will then be done on your soundbar instead of your TV which will remain on the same input. Although this will give a good sound I find it too much like hard work switching the inputs here instead of the TV which is why I prefer the Optical Audio Connection where possible. Also, if you have more pieces of AV equipment than your soundbar has inputs you will have to find another work around like a HDMI selector box installation before it enters the soundbar.
You will need:
TV and Soundbar with HDMI connections
2 x HDMI cables
3- HDMI ARC
HDMI Arc is not the same as a normal HDMI connection. The ARC part of HDMI ARC stands for Audio Return Channel and this allows a soundbar to be connected to direct to the TV for the sound, without having to run in and out of the soundbar with separate HDMI cables.
I personally prefer connecting soundbar to the TV with the HDMI ARC connection instead of the HDMI way but for audio quality this isn’t always the best idea. Some TV’s will allow 5.1 sound out of an ARC connection,but others will limit this to stereo sound. Also, you have the big issue of compatibility. Most new TV’s and soundbars come equipped with a HDMI ARC connection but certainly not all of them so this type of connection is often not possible.
To connect your soundbar over HDMI ARC you will need to connect to the HDMI ARC output on your TV. This is actually a HDMI output but if your look on the back of your TV one of the inputs are often labelled ‘ARC’and its very rarely HDMI 1. It’s far more often that this will be HDMI 2, 3 or 4. If you TV does not have a HDMI ARC connection then you can not do it this way. The other end of the HDMI cable will then connect into your HDMI connection on your soundbar which should also be called ARC.
You will need:
TV & Soundbar with ARC compatible HDMI connections
1 x HDMI cable
The Bluetooth connection is becoming more and more popular.Bluetooth is a wireless communication connection often associated with smart mobile phones but coming ever more popular in audio systems. If you have a Bluetooth enabled TV and soundbar it’s possible to connect the two with no interconnecting audio leads altogether, which can be helpful when installing your TV on the wall. For this type of connection to work often the soundbar and TV need to be the same manufacturer to get sound out of the TV through the soundbar.
Obviously, you only do it this way if both pieces of equipment support it and the sound isn’t always as good as via an Optical or HDMI and often it will force you to mute your TV speakers which in practice can become annoying at times.
You will need:
Bluetooth supported TV and Soundbar
5- Twin Phono’s – Red and White Cables / RCA Cable
We are now getting into the analogue type sound connections whereas everything prior has been digital. The next best way to connect your soundbar would be over a phono connection and these are the red and white connections. The two connectors are for two sound channels which is stereo,right and left sound channels.
You need to be careful when connecting soundbars over phono’s for a couple of reasons. These are 1 because the phono’s are an analogue type connection and the TV pictures are now digital. This means as the process of creating a digital signal takes a small amount of time when connecting a set top box to a TV via a HDMI cable and from the same set top box to the soundbar using the phono cables the sound will actually be a little bit ahead of the picture. It’s fine when you take the sound from the TV with the phono’s which brings me onto number 2. Most new TV’s do not have separate phono audio outputs these days.Many old types do.
Check the back of your TV and your likely to see some phono connections. It’s likely that you have a RCA connection which is red, white and yellow phono’s. The red and white is the audio again and the yellow is the video signal, however these are usually inputs which can not be used to connect to your soundbar. You may also the component connection phono’s which are, red,green and blue which is an improved version of the yellow connector and separated and white phono’s for stereo sound but again these are usually inputs.You’re looking for a separate pair of phono’s, red and white which are marked ‘Audio Output’ or something similar but again most TV’s do not have these nowadays.
If you’re having lip syncing issues often you can go into the settings of your soundbar or viewing equipment and add an audio delay to correct this.
You will need:
TV/ Set top box & soundbar with phono audio input/output connections
1 x Twin phono cable (RCA cable is fine, leave yellow phono disconnected)
6- Auxiliary Cable – Headphone Jack
Lastly, we come to the Auxiliary connection and the headphone jack. Nearly all TV’s have a headphone connection, so you may be forced to this this in the absence of other connections like the twin phono outputs. If you’re soundbar has an auxiliary connection, then simply connect a auxiliary connection between the soundbar and the TV. Select the correct input on the soundbar and away you go. You may find that this immediately mutes the sound on your TV, which can be annoying when you only want to use the soundbar every now and then because you will have to physically disconnect the auxiliary cable from the TV and then re-connect when you want to use it again.
You will also possibly have the same audio sync issues as mentioned with the phono cables with the auxiliary cable being a analogue connection also, so you may need to access the settings on your AV equipment to add an audio delay to correct these.
You will need:
TV & Soundbar with Auxiliary connections (headphone jacks)
1 x Auxiliary Cable
7- Adapter required
You may be in the unfortunate position where you simply cannot connect the soundbar to the TV as the two are not directly compatible with one and another. This is usually when the TV or soundbar are not of the same comparable age and technology has moved on. Do not despair and throw your TV or soundbar in the bin as often all that’s required is some form of audio conversion.
I’m not going to go through all the different types of audio converted out there because there are so many but pretty much everything mentioned in the sections above can be converted one way of another. For instance,I recently installed a HDMI ARC extractor which allowed me to to connect a HDMI cable which was already installed in a wall and not easily replaced to a surround sound system which only accepted an Optical Audio connection, and this gave perfect 5.1 surround to the speaker system. I also regularly install optical to auxiliary adapters to get around the automatic muting of the TV speakers when connecting wireless headphones which can be annoying.
I have put this at the bottom of the list, not necessarily because of poor inferior sound but because you will need to purchase extra equipment which I’m guessing that you do not have lying around the house!
You will need:
1 x Audio adapter
1 x Connecting cables
Best Way To Connect Soundbar To TV
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Until next time,
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