One of the fastest ways of improving the audio of your television watching experience is to use a soundbar. However, suppose you do not have a television with Bluetooth capabilities, or you would rather use a cable to ensure a stable connection. In that case, you will need to pick the proper method for connecting your soundbar.
You can either use your soundbar like a hub and connect devices through it, so you’re running one cable from the soundbar to your television, or you can connect your soundbar like a speaker and separately connect any other devices.
Which method works best for you will depend on the mediabar you’re trying to connect and whether your TV can use ARC. Keep reading to get more details about connecting your soundbar and some accessories you might need.
Connecting a soundbar without Bluetooth
There are five different cables setups that you can use depending on which connection options your specific soundbar and TV have available.
An HDMI cable can carry large amounts of audio data and cope with sound systems from 5.1 to 7.1 surround sound. However, most HDMI ports are input-only on TVs, so they can’t send data from the TV.
To use HDMI to connect your soundbar to your TV, you will need a TV that is ARC, Audio Return Channel, compatible, which means audio data can travel in both directions along the cable. If it is ARC compatible, you can connect all of your devices, like game consoles, to your mediabar with a single HDMI cable to the TV.
Make sure that you use an HDMI-ARC or HDMI Out cable on the soundbar. Your soundbar may not come with an HDMI.
Digital optical or coaxial
When an HDMI cable isn’t an option, you can try using a digital optical or coaxial that can transfer digital audio up to 5.1 surround sound. The difference between the two cables is that the optical cable has a square connector, whereas the coaxial has a circular one.
Optical cables are slightly different from coaxial because they convert electrical signals to optical light to go through the cord then convert it back. Some people think this makes coaxial cables better because it doesn’t convert the signal, so there could theoretically be less electrical interference, but there isn’t any noticeable difference.
Make sure to check your television before deciding which cable to buy since not all TVs have a digital coaxial port.
3.5mm line out
A 3.5mm line out or RCA supports analogue audio instead of digital, so you won’t get the full digital surround sound that you would from the above methods, but still a good way to connect your soundbar.
Make sure that you use the 3.5mm connector labelled “line out” on your TV and not the headphone jack which looks the same. If you plug your mediabar into the headphones jack, it will still transfer audio, but the quality will be much worse. Then connect the other end to your soundbar.
You’ve probably used the RCA sockets before with their distinctive red and white circular connectors. The setup is as simple as making sure the red cable connects to the red socket and the white cable to the white socket.
If your television does not have an RCA output, then you can connect your soundbar through your DVD or Blu-Ray player, but only those devices will have audio coming through the soundbar.
When none of the above options are viable, you can always use the headphone jack, but you will need to adjust the volume settings or have poor audio quality.
Some televisions can change the headphones jack to a “line out” connection in the settings, so you don’t need to change the sound settings at all. If you don’t have this option, then you will need to adjust the volume, bass and treble settings until you find a mixture that works for you.
Headphones jacks have a safety function that lowers the volume a lot, so you will need to increase the volume of the TV much higher than average to get decent sound from your soundbar. Just make sure you turn it down again when the soundbar is unplugged.
While Bluetooth may be the most modern way of connecting your soundbar, there are still plenty of cable options to connect your device and get excellent sound quality. HDMI and optical or coaxial cables are wonderful ways of getting surround sound quality from your soundbar.
However, if digital audio is not an option, then you can always set up your soundbar like a speaker or a set of headphones and adjust the settings on your television a bit to get improved audio all the same.