How to Check Soundbar and TV Compatibility

Rear inputs on an OLED LG Smart TV.

How to Check Soundbar and TV Compatibility

Soundbars are a popular way to add some high-quality sound to a room. Most Modern TVs have downward-facing speakers that do not project sound into a room. Adding a soundbar provides a quick fix, but first, you must verify that it is compatible with your TV. Not all soundbars have the same connections, and some have extra features that you will want to consider.

For instance, some soundbars come with subwoofers or rear speakers for extra immersion. In addition, your TV may not have the proper audio outputs for a given soundbar. That is why it is critical to verify the ports on the back of your TV. Let’s take a step-by-step look at how you can make sure that a soundbar will work with your TV.

Step 1: Look at Your TV’s Outputs

Rear inputs on an OLED LG Smart TV.
Look for the different audio outputs on your TV.


Before you start shopping, it is a good idea to take a look at your TV’s outputs. You can either look at the back of your TV to visually check what connections are available or look in your manual. Look specifically for audio outputs, which may come in the form of two RCA outputs, a single optical RCA port, a TOSLINK fiber optic connector, or even HDMI ARC. Write down which outputs your TV has.

Step 2: Determine What You Want in a Soundbar

Next, you will need to decide what soundbar features are important. Think about wattage, Bluetooth connectivity, and size. It is also a good idea to get a soundbar with a wireless subwoofer for added dimension. Some soundbars, like Samsung’s Q-Series, have optional rear speakers for surround sound. Finally, you should look for a soundbar roughly the same width as your TV.

Step 3: Shop for Soundbars

Popular soundbars available for purchase on Amazon.
Search online for the best soundbar selection.


Now it is time to start searching for the right soundbar. You can browse at a local retailer, but it may be easier to search for one online. Amazon is always a great place to start when looking for soundbars because they have a large selection. Try to narrow your search by filtering important features as well as brands and your budget.

Step 4: Check Soundbar and TV Compatibility

TOSLINK and 3.5mm audio inputs on backside of soundbar.
Verify that the soundbar has a compatible input.


Once you have a couple of options, confirm that they have the same ports as your TV. For instance, look for a TOSLINK port if your TV has one or RCA connectors if your TV uses those. If you have a matching port, then you are good to go. TOSLINK is often the best way to connect your TV to a soundbar, followed by RCA optical and, finally, RCA stereo.

You will likely find that many soundbars also have an HDMI port. These ports are not always compatible with the one on your TV. Your TV must have an HDMI ARC port to use this type of connection. ARC stands for audio return channel, which allows the TV to output an audio signal over HDMI. Most soundbars that use ARC also have a TOSLINK connector, making them pretty versatile.

Step 5: Adapt if Necessary

Soundbar connections with a 3.5mm to RCA cable.
You can use an adapter to connect the soundbar to your TV.


In the event that you have an older TV that does not have a TOSLINK port or even RCA audio out, then you may need to get creative. Older TVs often have a 3.5mm audio jack that can connect to RCA with an adapter. The downside of using adapters is that the audio quality will drop significantly. Once you’ve made a decision, all that is left is to connect the soundbar and change the TV’s audio settings.

Setting Up Your Soundbar and TV

After verifying compatibility and purchasing a new soundbar, you still have to connect it to your TV. This is pretty straightforward, but you need to decide which audio connection is the best if you have a choice. The best connection type is HDMI ARC, followed by TOSLINK. You will also need to plug in the soundbar to an electrical outlet.

Don’t forget to plug in the subwoofer and rear speakers if equipped. Now turn on the TV and go to its settings menu. You must go to the audio section, choose to use an external speaker, and disable the TV’s internal speakers. To finish, exit the menu and ensure that the soundbar is working and that the TV speakers are silent.

Wrapping Up

Now that you have a new soundbar, it is time to sit back and enjoy it. Be sure to check out all of the things your new soundbar can do. For instance, you may be able to connect your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to listen to music. If you are still struggling with whether a soundbar is right for you, consider a complete surround sound system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you connect a TV to a soundbar with Bluetooth?

TVs usually cannot connect to a speaker via Bluetooth. Instead, they use RCA, HDMI, or TOSLINK. The Bluetooth capabilities of a soundbar are designed to connect your phone or tablet to play music.

Do the soundbar and TV brands have to match?

No, you do not have to buy a soundbar that is the same brand as your TV. All that matters is that both devices have matching connections.

What is the best connection type for a Soundbar?

HDMI ARC is considered the best option for connecting your soundbar and TV. However, TOSLINK optical audio is also an excellent choice if your TV or speaker does not support HDMI ARC.

Do soundbars provide surround sound?

Some soundbars do come with rear speakers or a subwoofer for a full surround sound experience. However, the majority of soundbars do not come close to the room-filling audio that surround sound systems provide.

Should you get a soundbar with a wireless subwoofer?

A subwoofer is a must when purchasing a soundbar, but keep an eye out for soundbars that use a wired subwoofer. While wireless subwoofers are not perfect, you don’t have to worry about placement and running wires around the room.

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