A sound bar is a simple solution to enhance your TV’s audio while creating a pleasing surround sound effect. For one reason or another, you may want to connect your soundbar to a receiver. so how would you go about doing that?
To connect a soundbar to a receiver, you must first be clear about the end goal, as this is not common practice. consider the type of soundbar in question, confirm the availability of the necessary features and ports on your devices, and obtain the necessary cables for connections.
Reading: How to connect receiver to soundbar
This article explains in great detail the steps to connect a soundbar to a receiver. but in addition, we’ll also cover other topics related to this question, including types of soundbars and their features, reasons to connect a soundbar to a receiver, and tips to help you get the most out of your soundbar. Let’s dive right in.
types of sound bars
To begin with, let’s clearly understand what a soundbar is.
A sound bar is a type of speaker in the form of a long, thin “bar” casing that houses multiple speakers. soundbars are designed to easily fit under a television screen or any other display device. When connected to your TV, these unique speakers enhance your TV’s audio, provide good bass response, and can help create a surround sound effect.
Sound bars have evolved from simple, basic rectangular-shaped units enclosing two speakers to high-tech, multi-channel, all-in-one surround sound bar systems. These modifications over time are what make up the different types of sound bars currently on the market.
active sound bars
Active soundbars are serious rivals to full-featured surround sound systems. this soundbar is an all-in-one sound unit. includes several speakers, one or more amplifiers, processor and connection ports, all in one box.
Active soundbars are easy to set up and operate. the complexities only come with the most advanced devices that offer a host of additional features to allow users to further fine-tune their sound.
some active soundbars come with a separate wireless subwoofer like the yamaha yas-207bl soundbar with wireless subwoofer (check price on amazon).
others may also include some rear speakers to create that immersive theater-quality surround sound experience.
Because of all the built-in capabilities of this soundbar, you don’t need a separate audio video receiver (avr) for amplification, signal processing, or connection ports. This means you can enjoy all the benefits of a multi-channel sound system without the hassle of setting up multiple speakers and dealing with too much wiring.
You can still technically connect your active soundbar to a receiver (although this isn’t the best practice to adopt), and that’s what we’ll cover later in this article.
passive sound bars
The main difference between a passive and an active soundbar is that a passive soundbar does not have a built-in amplifier, so it requires an external amplifier/receiver to process the signals and amplify the sound.
Passive soundbars have multiple speakers housed in the rectangular box, just like active soundbars. they can also feature multiple channels, with the most common being three channels: left, center, and right.
On the rear end of the passive soundbar are connection ports for plugging in cables that connect it to a receiver. And since passive soundbars are designed to plug into a receiver, setup is usually pretty straightforward (as we’ll see later).
A passive sound bar can be set up alongside other surround speakers connected to the same receiver and produce great sound quality without any hassle. The same cannot be said for active soundbars as you will end up with two amplifiers and overlapping can result in poor sound quality.
Another difference between the two types of sound bars is that passive sound bars are less popular on the market but are actually more expensive than their active counterparts.
a great example of a passive soundbar is the klipsch rp-440d-sb (amazon link).
active vs passive soundbars
here is a summary table comparing the two types of sound bars:
For passive soundbars, you need to plug them into a receiver, as the speaker does not have a built-in amplifier. therefore, connecting a passive sound bar to a receiver is not a question of “if”, but rather “when”. we will see how to make this connection shortly.
why connect a soundbar to a receiver?
but what about active soundbars? why would anyone want to connect this all-in-one unit to a receiver?
here are some reasons users give:
- to take advantage of the wide range of settings and controls on a receiver.
Some users mistakenly believe that since the receiver has so much control over balance and other settings, it would be helpful to connect the soundbar to it to take advantage of the receiver’s features.
This is not a recommended practice. If you’re looking for more settings to work with and tweak your sound, there are highly advanced soundbars with a variety of features you can use. take for example the vizio sb46514-f6 46″ 5.1.4 with dolby atmos, wireless subwoofer and surround back speakers (amazon).
if you still feel limited and want to use the receiver setup, then the best way is to use a passive soundbar or connect regular speakers to the receiver.
- to use the soundbar as three-channel front speakers, i.e. front right, left and center.
This is still not a recommended connection simply because active soundbars are not designed to work this way. this setting will blend the front channels and interfere with sound quality.
Also, for those who want to use active soundbars in this way, there’s a good chance of adding other stand-alone surround speakers to serve as rear channels. the problem with mixing soundbars and other speakers is that they are often not compatible. the sound produced will be inconsistent between units.
- to use the soundbar as a center channel speaker.
This is one of the most understandable reasons to connect the soundbar to a receiver. That said, it’s still not the best way to go.
placing the active soundbar as the center channel speaker will use other speakers for the other channels. Chances are these separate speakers are different brands, sizes, or shapes, and that’s a setback.
different shapes and sizes will make audio sound different on all speakers. this doesn’t create a very nice sound overall.
- to use the soundbar as the main speaker.
this is another understandable way to set your sound. let’s see how you can achieve this.
how to connect an active soundbar to a receiver
so you want to use your sound bar as a main speaker connected to a receiver? although this is not the norm, there are a few ways to make this happen.
First, depending on the method you choose, confirm that you have the required connection ports, the correct cables, and that devices are supported where needed.
the following are the different ways to connect your active soundbar to a receiver.
1. using an optical cable
You can only connect a soundbar to a receiver using this method if your receiver has a digital optical out port.
- First, it is always recommended to keep the receiver off while connecting your devices. this is to prevent short circuits or any other possible damage.
- connect one end of the optical cable to the output port on the receiver.
- take the opposite end of the cable and insert it. into the soundbar’s optical input port.
- remember to check that the digital encoding standards for both the receiver and the soundbar match. this will ensure there are no strange sound problems.
- connect the receiver to your TV or any other display device.
- turn on the power.
- adjust the set the receiver to point the audio towards the sound bar.
- adjust the TV settings to enable audio output to the receiver.
2. using an hdmi cable
If your receiver does not have a digital optical output port, you can use this method instead.
first, confirm that all your devices (receiver, sound bar, and TV) support arc (audio return channel).
- turn off the TV, receiver, and sound bar.
- plug one end of the hdmi cable into the receiver’s hdmi arc port.
- plug the other end into the soundbar.
- connect the receiver’s hdmi to the television
- turn on the devices
- change the receiver settings to accept hdmi control
- turn on hdmi control for the TV.
- for the TV, remember to also correct the settings to enable audio output to the receiver.
an alternative method using hdmi cable
for this method, the receiver does not play its usual audio functions.
basically you will have all hdmi connections handled through the receiver. the difference is that it disables the receiver’s audio functions. but keep in mind that not all receivers allow you to turn off their audio features.
so instead of relying on the receiver to process audio signals, connect the soundbar to your TV directly using an aux, optical or rca cable. sound will now play through the soundbar and the receiver will act as an hdmi switcher.
how to connect a passive soundbar to a receiver
Passive soundbars aren’t as popular as active soundbars, but connecting a passive soundbar to a receiver is pretty easy because that’s how they were designed to work.
- turn off all devices.
- connect one end of the speaker cable to the soundbar and the other end to the center channel of the receiver. this is if the soundbar is single channel.
- if the soundbar is multichannel (which typically has three channels: front left, center, and right) , use three speaker cables for the connection. each of the cables connects the respective channels.
- connect the receiver to your TV.
- turn on the devices and play .
tips to get the most out of your sound bar
How can you get the most out of your sound bar? Here are some tips to help you enjoy the optimal home theater experience with these compact speakers.
choose a sound bar according to your needs
As sound technology develops, so does the versatility of sound systems, including sound bars. there are a variety of features available with different soundbars. to get the most ideal for your environment, consider your needs and preferences.
A person may be interested in having a family home theater primarily for watching movies. someone else might be looking for surround sound just to enjoy digital music. a third scenario could be where you want your video game soundbar to create new dimensions and an immersive effect.
With all of these diverse needs, you’ll do yourself a great service if you’re clear on what you want and choose the model, design, and size of soundbar that best suits those needs.
another important factor to consider is the size of the room in which you will place your home theater system. Although soundbars are compact, there is still a wide variety of sizes to choose from.
Is a really compact but quality sound bar like polk audio magnifi mini home theater (amazon) enough for your space? or do you need a larger device like the yamaha yas-207bl with wireless subwoofer (amazon)?
For aesthetic reasons, the dimensions of your TV may also indicate the size of the soundbar you choose.
have the proper settings for your sound unit
Now that you’ve got the ideal soundbar, you’ll need to set it up properly so you get the best sound quality.
here are some placement tips to help you with your setup:
- place the sound bar in the middle of your TV. this ensures a balanced, natural sound experience.
- do not block the TV with the soundbar. Raise the TV or mount it on the wall.
- If your TV is wall-mounted, it might be a good idea to mount your sound bar as well. remember to leave some space between the two devices for easy access to the controls.
- if not wall-mounted, make sure the soundbar is positioned high off the floor. never place it on the ground. with the speakers at ear level when you’re sitting, you’ll be able to get clearer sound.
- Under no circumstances should you place your compact speakers inside a cabinet or enclosed space. speakers produce better sound when outdoors.
- optimize room setup too. adding curtains and rugs on the floor helps reduce excess sound reflections and makes audio signals sound more authentic.
add wireless speakers
so, so far we have established that soundbars (with multiple channels) work much like a home theater. but still, you can still increase the surround sound effect and create a more immersive experience by building a sound system around your soundbar. this will require adding wireless speakers.
Take, for example, with your three-channel sound bar, you have front left, center, and front right speakers. but with, say, two additional speakers, that creates a 5-channel sound system. this can be really surprising when watching action-packed movies, for example.
There are soundbars that already come bundled with wireless speakers, so consider getting those when you make a purchase. a great option is nakamichi shockwafe pro 7.1 4ch dts:x with wireless subwoofer and 2 rear surround speakers (amazon).
A wireless subwoofer will also give you a boost with basic audios adding up to a great listening experience. so look for that too when selecting a soundbar.
Go to your soundbar menu and familiarize yourself with the different settings and modes available on your device. play around with different options to find the best ones for different situations.
It would be a shame if you underutilize the potential of your sound unit just because you don’t know there is a better way than the one you’re already used to. so use a trial and error strategy to discover new levels of sound for your home theater.
In addition to adjusting the sound bar settings, it is recommended to always turn off the sound on your TV when using your sound bar. This is because the audio from the TV is often of poorer quality compared to that from compact speakers and will interfere with the overall quality of the sound produced.
sound bars are a great flexible sound solution for today’s ultra high definition televisions. Due to their slim designs, modern TVs have little room to invest in suitable speakers. and that’s why sound bars have become so popular.
With the two types of sound bars available (passive and active), you can choose the most ideal purchase according to your needs and preferences, but taking into account the pros and cons of each.
Passive sound bars are designed to connect to a receiver for power, while active sound bars do not require a receiver. however, there are certain ways to connect a powered sound bar to a receiver, although this is not the norm.
All in all, for a great home theater experience, follow a few simple tips, including buying the right unit for your needs, adding wireless speakers and subwoofers, creating the right setup, and mastering device setup.
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