HDMI vs Bluetooth for a Soundbar

Updated: Feb 14, 2024 9:45 AM


If you are new to the world of advanced home audio, you may look to compare HDMI vs Bluetooth for a soundbar. Some of the best speakers, after all, are modern iterations are often wireless via Bluetooth. So what are the main differences, and which is best for your entertainment setup? Keep reading to find out.

Key Takeaways_

  • The key difference between these two is that Bluetooth soundbars allow for wireless sound and HDMI ARC soundbars require a wired connection.
  • Bluetooth soundbars help eliminate clutter, though at the expense of sound quality (only slightly.)
  • HDMI ARC soundbars integrate easily with other stereo components, including Dolby Atmos surround sound systems outfitted with optical cables, Blu-Ray players, and other audio devices.

Bluetooth vs HDMI

The primary difference is that Bluetooth soundbars are not wired and HDMI soundbars are. Bluetooth soundbars cut down on clutter. However, HDMI soundbars have broader integration possibilities, which you’ll discover if you are comparing, say, a 2.1 soundbar vs a 5.1 soundbar.

insider tip

Make sure you have enough space above or below your TV to successfully place a soundbar.

Both options are good for beefing up your television’s audio, which is true when also comparing optical soundbars vs HDMI. Here are more contrasts between these two types, though none quite as stark as when comparing Bluetooth vs WiFi speakers.

Wireless Audio

Cables and wires are considered a necessary evil when setting up an audio system. However, that is slowly changing. Modern Bluetooth soundbars eliminate the need for a physical connection to the TV, though they will have to plug into a power source. In other words, there will be one less cable cluttering up your entertainment system. That right there is enough for most consumers. If cables don’t bug you, though, HDMI soundbars do offer some significant advantages. Additionally, you can always learn tricks to hide the wires of your soundbar.

Sound Quality

HDMI ARC technology is incredibly advanced and complex, allowing for real-time audio that sounds, in a word, delicious. The difference may only be noticeable to hardcore audiophiles, but general consensus places HDMI soundbars ahead of Bluetooth models when it comes to the actual sound. Bluetooth, by its very design, introduces some lag into the system. This lag is usually imperceptible, so it won’t cause your video and audio to fall out of sync, but the drivers must downgrade some of the audio to handle it.


If the soundbar is just one part of a larger audio system, you may have some trouble getting Bluetooth versions to play nice with your other gear. In other words, if you are looking to set up a surround sound 5.1 system, or something similar, you are better off going with a cabled HDMI soundbar. However, technology is ever-advancing, and some modern surround sound systems also use Bluetooth.

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