While soundbars are usually paired with TVs, you can also use them as regular speakers with your computer. The audio quality on soundbars is usually much better than the speakers on HDMI monitors and laptops, so it makes sense to use a soundbar with a computer.
It adds an extra level of bass that is much more immersive. What’s great about computers is you have access to the traditional connection options and you can also use all kinds of adapters.
If you recently bought a soundbar and you’re not sure how to connect it to your computer, this article is for you. I’ll walk you through the most common connection methods.
Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
Let’s dive in.
How Do You Connect a Soundbar to a Computer?
Here are your options:
- Pair the computer and soundbar via Bluetooth
- Use a male to male 3.5mm cable
- Connect the soundbar to the computer with HDMI
- Use an optical cable (rare)
Bear in mind, every soundbar has its own connection options. Take a look at the device to see which one of these options it supports.
If you’re planning to buy a soundbar, I recommend buying one that has multiple connections, so if the main option fails, you have an alternative.
Ways to Connect a Soundbar to a Computer:
Pair via Bluetooth
Most computers, especially laptops, have built-in Bluetooth. Connecting a soundbar to a computer via Bluetooth is probably the easiest method. Simply enable pairing mode on the soundbar, open the Bluetooth options on your computer, click on the soundbar, and wait for the connection to complete.
Once it’s done, the audio from your computer will be sent to the soundbar over Bluetooth. I wouldn’t recommend this option for watching HD movies because there’s a chance of a slight audio delay.
For most other media, like listening to music, it should perform as expected. For laptops, connecting a soundbar via Bluetooth is the best option because Bluetooth is already available, no need for additional cords.
Can You Connect a Soundbar to a PC That Does Not Have Bluetooth?
Yes. To connect a soundbar to a computer that does not have Bluetooth either use a 3.5mm cable, HDMI or buy a cheap USB Bluetooth adapter. If you’re using a PC, I recommend buying a USB Bluetooth dongle because you can use it not only for soundbars but gaming controllers and other devices too.
Almost every computer has a 3.5mm port for audio which can be used to connect external speakers and headphones.
Another easy way to connect a soundbar to a computer is to run a male to male 3.5mm cable from the computer to the soundbar. If the soundbar is on, your computer should detect the new audio device.
On PCs, the rear panel will likely have three or more audio ports, the one you want is usually colour coded with green. On laptops, there could be either two audio ports on the front or one multi-functional port with a headset icon.
HDMI may or may not work, it’s not as reliable as the other options. There are two main reasons for that; one, computers expect a monitor to be connected to the HDMI port. Two; computers can’t use the HDMI ARC service.
In other words, if you connect a soundbar via HDMI to your computer, it will likely detect it as a secondary monitor, not an audio device (especially if you plug it directly into your graphics card).
Soundbars that have an HDMI port are designed for the HDMI ARC feature which is only available on TVs. Computers can’t use the HDMI ARC feature.
However, there still might still be a way to use the soundbar as an audio source when connected through HDMI. With some tinkering in Windows settings, you might be able to get it working but it’s not a guarantee.
Now, it might be possible to connect a computer to a TV via HDMI and then connect the TV to the soundbar through the HDMI ARC port.
With that kind of setup, you might be able to channel the audio from your computer to the soundbar through your TV. It’s a bit of a hassle to configure, but it could work.
Optical Toslink SPDIF Cable
Not many modern computers have an optical port, but if you do, it’s another option to connect a soundbar. Take at the ports on your computer, do you see any with the “SPDIF OUT” label? If you do, run an optical cable from it to your soundbar.
Audio Extractors & Adapters:
If none of your devices has matching ports, it might still be possible to connect the soundbar with the help of some handy adapters. I’ll list some below to point you in the right direction.
An HDMI audio extractor will allow you to channel the audio from an HDMI source into a different connection, like 3.5mm, Toslink, or even coaxial. Essentially, it’s like an adapter that allows you to send audio from HDMI to other devices, like our soundbar. These little adapters can work on either PCs or laptops.
Chances are you’re already using all the audio ports on your computer, so one way to add more is to buy a USB sound card. There are lots of different USB sound cards that can do the trick. The one linked above adds lots of extra audio ports, such as; front, back, line-in, optical, 3.5mm, microphone, and much more. One of these should be compatible with the soundbar.
Maybe you have a laptop that only has only one 3.5mm port but you’re using it for headphones. If there are free USB-C ports on your computer, you could buy a simple USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter. These can also be useful for USB-C phones that don’t have a 3.5mm port.
Bear in mind, regular USB works too, it doesn’t have to be USB-C to convert to 3.5mm. Here’s a USB to 3.5mm adapter that can work too.
As you can see, there are multiple ways to connect a soundbar to a computer. I think the easiest would be via Bluetooth followed by a 3.5mm port. These are the most common audio connectors, and most computers and soundbars have them, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Remember, there are always adapters designed to fix mismatched connections. Even if it looks like your devices are not compatible, you can usually use adapters to get them working together again.