TV speakers are great, but if you want better sound, the best option is to connect your TV to an external audio device. A home theater system is one way to improve the sound coming from your TV greatly.
There are various ways of connecting the TV to a home theater system; some are better than others. Once connected, the home theater system will automatically take over the sound output, but sometimes, you have to modify some settings on the TV or home theater.
Read on as we look into different ways to connect a sound system to your TV and get TV sound to play through the home theater.
- Before connecting the TV to your Home theater, ensure the home theater system is correctly set up.
- Home theater systems have a central unit (AVR or soundbar) that the speakers and other devices (TV, DVD player, Blu-ray player) connect to.
- The central unit can be an amplifier, receiver, soundbar, or subwoofer.
- The TV can connect to the home theater system through an HDMI ARC/eARC connection, an optical cable, a coaxial cable, or even RCA cables and Bluetooth.
- You will only get true surround sound from the home theater if you use a digital connection between the TV and the home theater.
- Once connected, the home theater speakers should automatically start playing audio from the TV.
- In some instances, you might have to change the TV’s sound output settings or the Input/source on the TV/home theater system.
Setting Up a Home Theater System
Connecting the TV to a Home Theater System
Once the home theater speakers are correctly set up, you can connect the TV to the speaker through various methods.
It is important to note that home theater speakers can only play surround sound if connected to the TV via a digital wired connection. Otherwise, if connected using analog or Bluetooth, the speakers will only receive stereo channels spread across the home theater speakers, which is not a true surround sound output.
Below are the different ways to connect a TV to a home theater system and get the TV sound to play through the home theater speakers.
HDMI ARC/eARC is an advanced HDMI connection that can send audio signals from the TV to the source device (AVR or soundbar) or send video from the AVR to the TV through a single cable.
Before the introduction of HDMI ARC, we needed at least two cables – one to send video from the AVR to the TV (regular HDMI cable), and the other to send audio from the TV to the AVR.
ARC in HDMI ARC actually means Audio Return Channel, which probably makes sense now. HDMI ARC enables two-way communication between your TV and your AV receiver or soundbar.
eARC, on the other hand, stands for Enhanced Audio Return Channel, which is the same as ARC. The only difference is that eARC can transmit uncompressed audio and is compatible with more surround sound formats than regular ARC.
HDMI ARC Explained
When you combine HDMI ARC with HDMI CEC, you can use the TV remote to control the volume level and change input sources on the sound system.
Both the TV and home theater system must support HDMI ARC/eARC for you to use this feature. You can find out if they support HDMI ARC/eARC by looking at the HDMI ports for ARC/eARC labeling or checking the user manual for your device specifications.
If the TV or the home theater does not support HDMI ARC/eARC, you will need an additional audio cable to connect the TV to the home theater.
The steps below describe how to connect your TV to the home theater using an HDMI ARC/eARC connection.
- Connect the HDMI cable to the TV’s HDMI ARC/eARC port.
- The other end of the cable goes into the home theater’s main unit (AV receiver or soundbar). Ensure you connect it to an HDMI ARC or eARC (sometimes labeled TV OUT), not just any HDMI port.
- Most TVs will notice the HDMI connection and automatically start outputting audio through the home theater speakers.
- But if the sound still comes from the TV speakers, check its sound output settings and ensure they are set to HDMI ARC/eARC. The steps vary depending on the TV’s operating system and manufacturer, so consult the user guide.
- Also, check that the home theater’s input source is HDMI and make sure that HDMI ARC is enabled.
Modern TVs and home theater systems use optical connections to transmit audio signals. The connection is faster and less susceptible to interference.
If your TV and home theater system has an optical port, you can get an optical cable to transmit audio signals from the TV to the home theater. The best part is this type of connection can transmit surround sound so you can enjoy your favorite shows better.
To use an optical connection, connect one end of the optical cable to the TV’s optical OUT port and the other end to the home theater’s optical IN port.
Most TVs and home theater systems will automatically switch to optical audio when they notice the connection but, in some circumstances, you might be forced to change the sound output on your TV.
Coaxial connections can also transmit multi-channel digital audio signals; thus, they support surround sound. A coaxial port is a standard RCA port, and so is the connector, with the difference that coaxial transmits multi-channel audio signals, and you only need one cable.
Most RCA ports are color-coded orange or black for easy identification, but on some devices, they might be colored differently. You can check the back of the TV and your home theater’s main unit for a coaxial port which will probably be labeled coaxial or digital in/out.
You can also check the specifications of your device in the user manual or manufacturer’s website to find out if coaxial audio is supported.
To connect your TV to a home theater system via a coaxial cable, insert one end into the TV’s coaxial port and the other into the home theater’s coaxial port.
Ensure the cable is firmly inserted, then use the remote to change the audio source to coaxial.
Some TVs might require you to manually change the sound output from the TV speakers to the external speakers.
If your TV and home theater system support Bluetooth connectivity, you can wirelessly connect them. The steps vary depending on the device’s operating system and manufacturer.
A general procedure of connecting the home theater speakers to your TV involves getting the home theater system into Bluetooth pairing mode.
You can use a source/Bluetooth button on the home theater’s main unit or the remote. Once it is in pairing mode, enable Bluetooth on the TV by going into the Settings menu, then connectivity/ sound settings, and locate the Bluetooth option.
The TV will show you a list of available Bluetooth devices, and the home theater system should be one of them. Select it to complete the pairing process.
Once connected, you should hear your TV’s audio through the home theater speakers.
Unfortunately, Bluetooth cannot transmit surround sound, so you will only be hearing stereo audio spread through the various speakers of the home theater system.
Aux to RCA Cables
If the TV has a headphone port, you can use an AUX to RCA cable to connect it to the home theater. If you have a TV with RCA audio outputs, you can use an RCA-to-RCA audio cable.
Simply insert the AUX end of the cable into the TV’s headphone OUT port and the RCA end of the cable into your home theater’s RCA ports. Then change the home theater’s input source to RCA.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Question: How do I connect my TV to my speakers directly?
- Answer: You can only connect speakers directly to your TV if the speakers are powered (active), i.e., speakers that do not need an amplifier as it is built in. The various ways of connecting such speakers to the TV include;
- Using an HDMI ARC/eARC port on the TV and speaker
- Using an AUX to RCA cable
- Using RCA cables
- Using Bluetooth
- Using Optical/coaxial cables
- Note that the TV and speaker should have compatible ports for a successful connection. However, you can use various adapters and signal converters to connect the TV to the speaker if they have incompatible ports.
- If you have passive speakers, the speaker should first be connected to an amplifier/receiver, then connect the amplifier/receiver to the TV.
- Question: How do I connect my home theater to my TV using HDMI?
- Answer: If the home theater and TV have HDMI ARC/eARC ports, you can connect them by inserting the HDMI cable into the TV’s port and the other end into the home theater’s main unit, which can be a receiver, soundbar, amplifier or sub-woofer
- However, note that you need a 1.4 or later HDMI cable if your devices use ARC and an HDMI 2.1 cable if the devices use eARC. Also, you will need a different connection method if one or both devices do not support ARC/eARC.
There are various ways to connect your TV to a home theater system and get audio from the speakers. The best connection setup is digital, as they support more audio formats and channels, making it possible to enjoy surround sound.
However, if you cannot get a digital connection, you can rely on an analog one at the expense of getting true surround sound.
Always have the TV and home theater manuals nearby in case you encounter any challenges when setting up the connections.