You’ve just unboxed your brand-new soundbar and you’re all set to hook it up to your TV. But hang on- there’s a problem! You can’t find any ‘audio out’ at the back of your TV! What do you do?
How to Connect a Soundbar to a TV With No Audio Output
Even if the panel of your TV does not have an Audio Out, you can still connect its audio to a soundbar via digital cables such as HDMI ARC or Optical Fiber or through Bluetooth. Other methods include using a 3.5 mm headphone plug to stereo RCA plugs or using a separate device like a set-top box.
Just because your TV does not specifically have a port labeled “audio out”’ doesn’t mean it cannot be connected to a soundbar.
Most modern TVs should have either HDMI ARC/eARC ports or optical (digital audio) outputs. Many will also have headphone jacks. These ports can be used to connect your TV to your soundbar.
Let’s walk you through these options to connect a soundbar to a TV With no audio output:
The easiest way to connect a soundbar to your TV is via HDMI ARC/eARC.
HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) is a digital connection that allows audio and video data to be transmitted through a single port via an HDMI cable. HDMI eARC ( Enhanced Audio Return Channel) is an advanced form of HDMI ARC and provides superior audio quality.
If you’re not already familiar with it, the HDMI port is easy to spot- it’s a trapezium-shaped plug with opposing sides of unequal length. If your TV has HDMI ARC or eARC capability, there will be an ‘ARC’ label just next to the HDMI port. If you’re not sure, check your TV user guide- it will mention these details.
For this to work, your soundbar should also have the corresponding HDMI ARC/eARC connection.
- Turn off the TV and your soundbar.
- Look for the HDMI ARC input on your TV and the HDMI ARC output on the soundbar.
- Plug one end of the HDMI cable (Amazon link) into the TV panel’s HDMI ARC port.
- Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the TV OUT ARC port on the rear panel of the soundbar.
- Now power on your TV and soundbar to test the audio.
- From your TV settings, go to audio output settings and change the output mode to soundbar instead of built-in speakers. These settings may differ according to your TV model, so check the manual for more specific details.
For more details read my article on How to Easily Connect a Soundbar to TV with HDMI
The next best thing to an HDMI ARC connection is an optical/digital optical/fiber optic or Toslink port.
Developed originally by Toshiba, optical digital cables use optical fibers and light to transmit audio signals from a source such as a TV or a transmitter to an external A/V system or speaker setup.
Look for a port labeled Optical Out or Toslink Out or Digital Audio Out. The optical port is a distinct port. It has a squarish shape that glows red around the port door when the TV is on.
You will need an optical digital audio cable (Available on Amazon) to transfer the audio from your TV to the soundbar. Your soundbar should also have the corresponding optical port.
1. Find the optical output on your TV and the optical input on your Soundbar.
2. Connect the two devices using the optical digital audio cable (which has a square connector).
3. Go to TV settings to deactivate your TV’s speakers. You can do this by either turning off the in-built speakers or selecting ‘external speakers’ from the TV audio menu.
4. Finally, test the connection to see if the TV audio is coming from the soundbar.
Note: If your TV has an optical port but your soundbar only has an RCA out you can use a Digital to Analog converter. (Amazon link)
3. Connect Using the Headphone port
If your TV has a headphone output, you could connect that to your soundbar using a 3.5 mm to RCA adaptor cable.
However, suppose your soundbar has a 3.5mm headphone jack instead of RCA, you can use a headphone plug to headphone plug (it looks like a headphone cord with male 3.5mm plugs on either end).
The downside of this option is that the volume output will not be that great.
Since more and more of the newer soundbars are optimized for Bluetooth, you can use Bluetooth to connect it to your TV provided both devices are compatible and are Bluetooth enabled.
If your TV does not have Bluetooth you can try using a Bluetooth adapter (available on Amazon)to get wireless connectivity.
- Turn on the Bluetooth mode on your soundbar by pressing the Bluetooth button.
- Select pair on the soundbar remote, to get into the Bluetooth pairing mode.
- Turn on your TV and navigate to the audio settings, followed by Bluetooth settings. These settings may vary according to your TV model, so ensure to read your TV manual.
- Select the name of your soundbar from the list of available devices shown.
- When your TV pairs with the soundbar, you’ll hear a notification sound from the soundbar.
- Check if the devices are paired correctly. You will be able to hear the TV audio on the soundbar if the two devices are correctly paired.
If you already have a set-top box, you can use this device to connect the TV to your soundbar.
- Take an HDMI cable and plug one end into the HDMI port on your TV. Alternatively, you could use an optical cable for the optical-in port if your TV has this port.
- Fix the other end of the cable (HDMI or optical, depending on which one your devices have) to the set-top box.
- After this, connect your soundbar to the set-top box using RCA cables.
Here’s a helpful video that shows you how to connect your set-top box to your soundbar.
Many people refer to the RCA output on TVs as the audio out. However, this is not the only way to connect audio from your TV to a soundbar, so there’s no reason to worry if you don’t see this port on your TV.
Depending on the available ports on your TV and soundbar, you can use the checklist given in this article to find out which connection will work for you.