How to Connect Soundbar to a TV with or without an Optical Cable

Handy Tips & Tricks to help you set up your system

Getting a soundbar for your TV can take the entertainment experience in your home to a whole new level. It is a legitimate way of enjoying your music or watching the latest blockbuster movies with a true surround sound.

Now, if you’ve just bought a soundbar, you might be wondering what the best way to connect it to your TV is.


You’ll be glad to know that there several ways to go about, and depending on your TV design or personal preferences, your television will have the sound quality you desire.

In this post, we will consider some of the options you have; particularly how to connect the soundbar with an optical cable and without one.

Soundbar Back ports

First off, we will look at how you can improve the quality of sound on your TV set by connecting it to a soundbar. Follow the steps below:


  1. Check the optical cable to see if there are any protective plastic caps fitted at the ends; if any, remove them to ensure that the cable will plug into the various ports/

  2. Locate ports on your TV marked for Digital Audio Out. This port releases an optical signal that can be passed on to a soundbar, speakers, or any other compatible device.

  3. Plug in your optical cable into the Digital Audio

  4. Out port on your television.

  5. Plug the other end of the optical cable into the Digital Audio In port of the soundbar you want to connect. 

  6. Ensure that you are connecting from the Optical Output port on your TV to the Optical In on your soundbar so that data flows from the TV to the soundbar to produce sound. Doing the opposite won’t work!
  7. Switch on the power on both the TV and soundbar.

  8. Press the source button on the soundbar’s remote control and set it to digital IN. “D-IN” will be displayed on the front panel of the soundbar to show that it is ready to go.

​How to Connect Soundbar to TV without an Optical Cable

Samsung Soundbar

There are various reasons you’d want to connect your soundbar to your TV without an optical cable. Maybe your television is just too old or perhaps you just like doing things your way. Whatever the reason, you’ll be glad to know that there are several ways to achieve this:

Connecting Wirelessly via (Bluetooth)


If you are looking to ditch all that clutter and tangle of cables in your living room, connecting with wireless technology is the best solution you have. The process is generally easy, especially if you are working with Bluetooth soundbars under $200.


  1. Firstly, you’ll need to enable the Bluetooth on your soundbar so that the device is discoverable. This will allow you to establish the connections; soundbar and the TV.

  2. Enabling Bluetooth is fairly intuitive, but will vary from one device to another, depending on the soundbar model you are using. In most cases, you will find a dedicated Bluetooth button, either on the soundbar or remote control, that you’ll need to press and hold until the LED indicator lights up.

  3. Once your soundbar is in discoverable mode, you can now move to your TV. Usually, this will require navigating through the settings with your remote control. For some Tv models, simply press the home button and scroll your way to the Add Accessory menu; here the TV will automatically start to search for Bluetooth devices.

  4. If your TV is not Bluetooth enabled, there are several adaptors you can use to connect a sound signal source to a Bluetooth signal. This should enable you to establish a Bluetooth connection.

Once you have connected the two devices, you can press play to start enjoying your music or movie.

How to Connect with Aux Cables

In case your TV doesn’t come with wireless capabilities, you can opt for aux cables to connect your soundbar. Some TV models have a 3.5mm output jack that you can use for this.

The connections involved are quite straightforward; the same kind that is used in headphones. Just plug one end of the cable into the TV and the opposite end into the soundbar.

If your soundbar lacks a 3.5mm input, you can buy an AUX to RCA cable on Amazon. The cables are relatively cheap and serve to divide the stereo signal between two RCA cables.

The problem with this method is that you only get right and left sound. This means if you have a 3.0 soundbar or anything higher, you might not get the best sound quality. 


How to Connect with RCA Cables​


Most TV models with wireless capabilities or a 3.5mm output also come with HDMI or optical ports. But older TVs only have RCA and coaxial inputs, and in this case, the soundbar will usually cope with a two-channel RCA configuration.


Ensure that you have RCA output ports on your TV and not input ports. If not, you might have to split the signal before it reaches the TV. You can do this by connecting the yellow video cable to the TV and the red and white radio cables to the soundbar. 


Just like with the 3.5mm cables, RCA cables mostly have left and right output. Therefore, you’ll need to improvise with the center channel of a 3.1 or 3.0 soundbar.


In some situations, there will be a 5-channel RCA output that you can hook up the right, front left, and center jacks to your soundbar. However, most soundbars with three speaker channels or more will only connect with optical and HDMI cables or wirelessly.


How to Connect with HDMI Cable


This is a fairly simple process, but before you start, ensure that your TV supports HDMI-ARC, which enables sound to travel along a cable on both sides. ARC or Audio Return Channel allows you to use HDMI as an audio input, as well as audio output.

HDMI Connector


Most HDMI ports on TVs are only input, meaning they won’t send any data from the TV. They strictly receive data. If your TV supports ARC, you can connect all your kits (like set-top box) to the soundbar and use the HDMI cable to connect your soundbar to your TV. 


Follow the steps below to connect a soundbar to your TV:

  1. Turn on both the TV and soundbar

  2. Find the HDMI OUT port on the soundbar and plug in the HDMI cable.

  3. Locate the HDMI ARC port on the TV and plug in the free end of the HDMI cable then you can start enjoying the surround sound.

With the latest of quality soundbars under $300, you’ll need to select the HDMI option to enable the audio output. The benefit of using HDMI cable is that you’re able to transmit huge amounts of audio data. 

Conclusion


The easiest way you can connect a soundbar to your TV is by using an optical cable. However, many TV models don’t come with an optical cable input, which may force you to experiment with alternative methods of getting these connections without the optical cable. 


Luckily, the other methods available to you have been discussed in the article. So, if you have a TV model that doesn't support an optical cable, you can rest assured that it won’t stop you from reveling in the quality surround sound that even a cheap soundbar can offer.


FAQ


Do you need an optical cable for a soundbar?


An optical cable will help you to connect a soundbar to your TV. However, you don’t always need it to connect the two devices; there are alternative ways of doing this. For instance, you can connect them wirelessly via WiFi or Bluetooth technology if both devices are compatible or use an HDMI cable. You can as well opt for RCA or AUX cables to connect your TV with soundbar. 


Is Optical Audio as Good as HDMI?


Both optical and HDMI cables help to transmit digital audio between devices. They both deliver a better sound profile than the red and white analog cables. The main difference between them is that HDMI can transfer higher-resolution audio, such as formats found on Blu-ray- DTS HD MASTER Audio and Dolby TrueHD


What is Optical Cable for Soundbar?


An optical cable for soundbar is an optical digital-audio cable that is used to connect the soundbar to a TV to improve sound quality. It is usually included in the package when you buy a soundbar for TV and features a relatively easy installation process. 


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