How to Connect a Soundbar to a TV Without ARC

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Updated August 16, 2022

If you are new to the world of enhanced television audio, you may wonder how to connect a soundbar to a TV without ARC. Some of the best speakers, after all, are premium soundbars, and these soundbars typically require an HDMI ARC connection, though other options are available. Keep reading to learn how to check for ARC ports and other connection types.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Modern soundbars prefer to connect via an HDMI port equipped with audio return channel (ARC) technology.
  • If your TV lacks an HDMI ARC port, try using the optical output to make the connection.
  • Other options include going for a Bluetooth soundbar and choosing an analog connection via RCA cables, though you can also select an external device for volume control and the like.

How to Check for HDMI ARC

Learning how to connect a soundbar to a TV with HDMI is of no use if that port does not double as an audio return channel (ARC.) Luckily, you can check on the status by simply looking at the port itself, which is handy when learning how to connect a soundbar to a TV with no audio output. You should see an ARC logo of some type near or adjacent to the HDMI port, so you can move on to learning how to control your soundbar with a TV remote.

Insider Tip

If your soundbar lacks an RCA connection, try using an adapter.

If your HDMI port is not equipped with ARC technology, you are not out of luck, as you can learn how to connect a soundbar to a TV with an optical cable (among other options.)

How to Connect a Soundbar Without HDMI ARC

Here are a few solutions if your TV is equipped with older HDMI ports that do not feature ARC technology.

Use an Optical Cable

You can simply plug a standard optical cable from the soundbar to the Digital Audio Output port on your TV, sometimes called the optical port. This is a highly plug-and-play experience, as you should not even have to mess with the settings; the soundbar should just work once plugged in. The downside? Optical connections do not allow for some fancy pants audio, such as Dolby Atmos surround sound and the like. Additionally, the sound quality may be slightly lower than HDMI ARC.

Use Bluetooth

Many modern soundbars offer Bluetooth wireless connections. As long as your TV can support Bluetooth, then you should be able to make a connection wirelessly.

Use an Analog Connection

If your TV lacks all modern connection types, such as Bluetooth, HDMI, and optical, you can always connect a soundbar via an old-school analog setup. As long as your soundbar has an RCA/3.5mm output, you are good to go. Simply plug the cables from the soundbar to the related RCA input affiliated with your TV.

STAT: Altec Lansing introduced a multichannel soundbar in 1998 called the Voice Of The Digital Theatre or the ADA106. It was a powered speaker system that offered stereo, Dolby Pro-Logic, and AC3 surround sound from the soundbar and a separate subwoofer. (source)

Soundbar Without ARC FAQs

What exactly is HDMI ARC?

ARC HDMI is just a type of HDMI port that allows for dispersing sound through different channels, allowing connections to DVD players and the use of Dolby Digital surround sound.

What TVs have HDMI eARC?

Most modern TVs offer ARC HDMI technology, allowing you to connect audio without the need for a coaxial cable or an HDMI cable. Once connected, easily send audio from the cable box, DVD player, or any other gadget.

What about Dolby Atmos?

Hooking up an external device with Dolby Atmos for surround output sound requires ARC technology of some kind. Otherwise, the Dolby Digital power interlock cannot function due to the incorrect audio cable options.
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