If you just bought a sound bar, you may have noticed that there are several different types of connection ports on the back. Most sound bars these days come with at least one HDMI port, while others have optical ports, RCA ports, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about the different ways to connect your TV to your sound bar, and which cable offers the best audio quality.
hdmi: the best way to connect a soundbar to a TV
The best way to connect the sound bar to the television is with an hdmi cable. This is because HDMI transfers audio digitally, which means it will be raw and uncompressed. Plus, HDMI cables can handle most high-end soundbars, including those that support surround sound.
Most televisions these days have multiple hdmi (high-definition multimedia interface) ports. however, to connect a sound bar, you need to make sure your TV has an hdmi arc (audio return channel) port.
To find out if your TV supports HDMI ARC, check the labels next to the ports on the back or side of your TV. If you see at least one HDMI port labeled ARC, it means you can use an HDMI cable to connect your sound bar to your TV. You’ll also need to make sure your soundbar has an arc hdmi port, but most models do these days.
You may also see an hdmi port on your TV or sound bar labeled earc (enhanced audio return channel). This type of hdmi connection is usually only found on higher end TV models now, but it’s becoming more popular.
hdmi-arc vs. hdmi earc
hdmi earc is a new technology that offers better speed and bandwidth than the previous generation. With an HDMI EARC port, your TV can send more data to your soundbar, which means better audio quality.
While arc supports compressed 5.1 surround sound audio, earc supports uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. it also supports higher bitrates, so you can get true dolby atmos and dts:x with an earc connection. The new format also has built-in lip-sync compensation, a feature that is only optional with HDMI ARC.
If you want to learn more about the difference between surround sound systems, check out our guide on how to set up a surround sound system here.
plus, earc is backwards compatible, which means you don’t have to worry if your tv has an arc port and your soundbar has an earc port. however, if your television has an earc port, you should consider getting a sound bar that also has an earc port. Otherwise, you won’t be able to take full advantage of your TV’s audio quality.
how to connect your sound bar to a tv using hdmi
To connect your soundbar to your TV, plug one end of your hdmi cable into the ARC or EARC port on your TV and the other end into the OUT port on your soundbar. make sure you have an hdmi 1.4 cable for an arc connection or an hdmi 2.1 cable for an earc connection.
if you have more than one hdmi port on your soundbar, the input ports can be used to connect other devices such as game consoles, blu-ray players and more. This way, you won’t need to connect all of your devices directly to your TV, making it easy to unplug cables, especially if your TV is mounted.
Once you connect your soundbar, you may also need to change the audio settings on your TV. While most TVs will automatically detect when a soundbar is connected, you may also need to switch your TV’s audio to the correct external speaker option. In some cases, you may also need to download an app on your smartphone to control some features on your soundbar.
Optical: The Next Best Cable for Connecting a Soundbar to a TV
if your tv doesn’t have hdmi ports, the next best cable to connect your soundbar is an optical cable. this connection is also capable of transferring digital sounds. the audio quality produced by optical cables is incredibly good and is capable of working with surround sound systems.
while hdmi cables are capable of transferring high quality audio for 7.1 surround sound systems, optical cables can only work with compressed 5.1 surround sound systems. therefore, if no hdmi port is available, using an optical cable is the next best thing.
how to connect your soundbar to a tv using an optical cable
To connect your soundbar to a TV with an optical cable, plug one end of the cable into the optical out port on your TV. then plug the other end into the optical input port on your soundbar. Depending on your TV and sound bar, this port may also be labeled Optical Digital Audio Out.
After connecting the optical cable to the correct ports, it’s best to refer to your soundbar’s manual for steps to activate.
how to connect a sound bar to a tv without hdmi or optical ports
If your TV doesn’t have hdmi or optical ports, the best way to connect them would be with rca cables. these are the basic red and white ports you see on some older televisions. however, most newer TVs will have better options.
how to connect a soundbar to a tv using rca connectors
To connect your TV to a sound bar with RCA cables, plug the red and white cables into the audio output ports on your TV. then plug the red and white cables into the audio input ports on your soundbar.
connect a sound bar to a TV via bluetooth
If you want to go the easy way, you can connect your soundbar to your TV via a bluetooth connection. the audio quality won’t be as good as with digital connections, but it does mean you can connect your soundbar to your TV wirelessly.
how to connect your sound bar to a tv via bluetooth connection
To connect your sound bar to your TV via bluetooth, you need to refer to the manuals of your devices. but, in general, soundbars usually have a bluetooth button on the remote or on the device itself. you just need to press any of these while the soundbar is on to start syncing it with your TV.
Usually you can find the bluetooth button on your TV by navigating through its menu. just use the remote to review all the settings. If your TV doesn’t support Bluetooth, you may need to purchase a Bluetooth adapter that you can connect to one of the ports on your TV, but this may not work for all TV models.
If you’re looking for a new soundbar, check out our list of the best soundbars for any budget.
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