How to connect a soundbar to a TV with an optical cable (and without!)

When you’re looking to get the best audio experience when you’re watching films, then for many people a soundbar is part of this experience (check our guide to the top soundbars for this!). A soundbar can add some much needed bass and volume to your audio system, and can completely transform how you watch the TV.

Although finding a good soundbar is pretty easy, it’s not quite as easy for some of us to get it up and running. So, how can you connect your soundbar up to your TV? Well, we’re going to look at the best ways that you can do this.

How to connect a soundbar to a TV with an optical cable

If you’re trying to connect your soundbar to a TV, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to get started. All you need to do is;

  1. The first thing that you need to do is find the digital audio out port which is on the back of your television. You’ll often find this next to the AV and component out ports.
  2. From here, all you need to do is find the digital audio in port on the back of your soundbar. You can go ahead and plug the other end of the optical cable into your soundbar.
  3. That’s pretty much it! You can go ahead and turn your television and soundbar on and check that everything’s working fine.

It isn’t difficult for you to use an optical cable to connect a television and a soundbar together. But, this isn’t the only way that you can connect the two together.

How does an optical cable work?

A lot of people look to use an optical cable to connect the two devices together, but they’re not exactly sure how an optical cable works. At its simplest, they’re a good way for you to connect two devices together with high quality audio.

Soundbar to TV

They’re actually made from what is essentially piece little bundles of glass wrapped together, which transmit light signals in order to carry an audio signal. This isn’t glass like we know it to be that is used for windows – it is much denser than this, which allows it to carry your data through.

You can use the optical output of your television to connect to the optical input port on your soundbar – this is how you transfer the audio from your TV to your soundbar.

Digital optical cables are still commonly used to connect speakers and televisions together. But they’re definitely not the only way that you can do this.

How do you connect a soundbar to a TV without an optical cable?

If you don’t want to use an optical cable, or your television doesn’t have a port for it or it’s not working, then there are other ways that you can connect the two together. Here are some of the alternative methods that you can use to connect your soundbar to your TV.


The best alternative for connecting your soundbar and TV together is by using a HDMI cable. Unlike an optical cable which can only transfer sound, a HDMI cable has the ability to transfer both audio and video content (although for our soundbar we don’t care bout this).

In some cases, this is going to be the best method to connect the two, as every new television is going to come with multiple HDMI ports in the back. So, this is a good way to connect the two together if you want something that is designed to be used the same way as an optical cable.

In fact, actually the part of a HDMI cable that is similar to an optical cable is called the HDMI ARC, or Audio Return Channel. This is just a standard that all HDMI cables must meet, and it means that it works to do the same function as an optical cable.

RCA cable

Though some people think this method is old school, and well.. it is, it’s still another way you can connect a television and a soundbar together. As opposed to being a digital connection, this is via a phono analog connection. If you have a new smart TV, then you might not have the ability to do this without an audio output port via phono.

Most people won’t want to use analog nowadays, so it could be time to throw your old RCA cables away.

Headphone jack

Although you might not have thought of this, in some scenarios you can actually connect your TV and your soundbar together by using a simple AUX cable.

This isn’t the best method in my opinion, with the main reason for this being that in many cases, when you turn your TV off and on again, the volume on your television won’t be working. This can be very frustrating, and it’s not the method that I’d use long term.

However, if you’re just looking for a short term fix whilst you wait for an optical cable for a HDMI, then it’s definitely not a bad solution.


In an ideal world, you’re always going to want to use a HDMI cable or an optical cable to connect your soundbar and your television together. They are present in all modern televisions, and they offer a high quality connection between the two devices. However if you don’t have these cables, then there are other options out there that you can consider.

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About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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