How To Connect A Soundbar To A TV With HDMI Without ARC

I know the feeling – you’ve just purchased that sleek new soundbar to enhance your at-home entertainment experience, only to find that your TV lacks the convenient HDMI ARC port needed to connect them. You might even have found yourself scrolling through countless tech forums in the middle of the night, looking for a way out. I’ve been there, and trust me, it’s not as bleak as it appears.

This guide aims to equip you with straightforward, feasible solutions to get your soundbar and TV to play in harmony, even without the much-touted HDMI ARC. We’ll explore some lesser-known but effective alternatives to establish that crucial link between your devices. So, let’s dive in and conquer the tech together.

Understanding Your Options – HDMI Without ARC

Contrary to popular belief, having no ARC does not mean that your HDMI cable becomes obsolete. An HDMI connection can still be utilized even if your TV lacks an ARC port, especially if your soundbar supports video pass-through or onscreen menus. While you won’t be able to take advantage of the ARC feature in this scenario, you can still transmit sound from your TV to your soundbar. You just need to ensure that the digital optical or analog audio output from your TV is correctly hooked up to your soundbar.

In this context, it’s important to note that while the HDMI ARC simplifies connections and reduces cable clutter, it’s not the only way to get high-quality audio. There are several alternative connectivity options that can help you enjoy great sound from your TV through your soundbar. Let’s look at these options in the following sections.

Going Wireless: Bluetooth Connection

Arguably one of the simplest solutions is to go wireless, particularly if your TV and soundbar both support Bluetooth. This approach enables a quick, reliable, and cable-free connection, providing a neat and hassle-free setup.

To establish this, you’ll need to initiate pairing on both devices. Once they recognize each other and form a bond, you’re all set to enjoy your favorite shows or music with enhanced audio.

However, keep in mind that while most TVs today come with a Bluetooth receiver, what you need in this case is a Bluetooth transmitter. If your TV lacks this feature, don’t worry. You can easily purchase a Bluetooth transmitter at a relatively low cost. This small investment will equip your TV with Bluetooth capability and allow it to send audio to your soundbar.

Just one thing to remember here: if your TV or soundbar doesn’t support aptX Low Latency (LL), you might experience minor audio delays. But for most casual viewers, this delay is typically negligible and doesn’t significantly impact the overall viewing experience.

Embracing Apple: Airplay 2

If you’re embedded in the Apple ecosystem, Airplay 2 provides another wireless alternative to connect your TV and soundbar. This method requires you to have an Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K and an Airplay 2-enabled soundbar. Keep in mind, Airplay 2 provides a highly reliable wireless connection with less audio delay compared to Bluetooth.

Setting up this connection involves incorporating your TV and soundbar into a multiroom system. After that, all you need to do is adjust your Apple TV’s default audio output settings. Now, you can seamlessly stream audio from your Apple TV to your soundbar, providing a wire-free and high-quality audio experience.

Airplay 2 could indeed be the solution you’re looking for, especially if you have other Apple devices at home, adding to your integrated Apple experience.

Traditional Connections: Digital Optical Cable and Analog Connection

Not everyone is keen on going wireless, and that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes, you can’t beat the reliability of a good, old-fashioned cable connection. Here are two more solutions that could serve you well.

Digital Optical Cable: If your devices do not support Bluetooth, a digital optical cable could come to your rescue. This requires you to check the connection panel of your TV and soundbar for a port marked as Digital Audio Output (or simply TOSLINK). If your devices have these ports, plug one end of the cable into the output port of your TV and the other into the input port of your soundbar. A digital optical cable connection is highly appreciated for its reliability and superior audio quality.

Analog Connection: For those with soundbars that support two-channel audio and have at least one RCA or 3.5mm audio input, an RCA/AUX cable can help you establish a connection with your TV. The analog connection could be your last resort, especially if you have an older TV with only analog output ports.

Both the digital optical and analog connection methods offer a stable, wired solution that doesn’t depend on Bluetooth or wireless connectivity. Just remember to adjust your TV’s audio settings to the correct output.

The Adapter Solution

If your TV and soundbar have no matching ports and you can’t establish any of the previously mentioned connections, there’s still one more option at your disposal – using an adapter.

HDMI Audio Splitter: One such device that can solve your problem is an HDMI Audio Splitter. This handy device accepts an HDMI signal and outputs it as HDMI Video, while also passing sound via three different types of ports: Optical Out, Coaxial Out, and Headphone Out. For someone whose TV lacks the necessary HDMI ARC support but has standard HDMI ports, this could be a godsend.
Selecting the right adapter depends on the available output ports on your TV and input ports on your soundbar. The market for adapters is incredibly vast and versatile, so you’re very likely to find a suitable IN/OUT combination for your specific needs. Using an adapter can keep your audio setup functional and high-quality, even if the hardware is not initially compatible.

It’s all about finding the solution that fits your personal setup best. No one should be left struggling to connect their soundbar and TV – there’s always a solution out there that can enhance your listening experience. Remember, a little patience and research can go a long way in your tech journey.

Best Alternative Solutions for Non-ARC TVs

In the realm of technology, problems always come with solutions. For TVs lacking ARC, and possibly other modern features such as Bluetooth and Airplay, the tried-and-true method of using a TOSlink, or a digital optical cable, stands out as the most reliable alternative. This method has withstood the test of time and continues to deliver satisfying audio quality from your TV to your soundbar.

However, if your TV doesn’t even have a TOSlink port, you’re not out of luck. The world of adapters is expansive and there’s likely an effective solution out there for your unique setup. Investing in an HDMI Audio Splitter, for example, could provide the key to unlocking a seamless audio experience from your soundbar.

In conclusion, whether it’s a digital optical cable or an HDMI audio splitter, the right solution for your non-ARC TV is out there. By understanding your TV’s capabilities and exploring the options available, you can still enjoy high-quality audio from your soundbar. Technology may advance, but there’s always a way to make your current setup work for you.

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About S. Santos

👋 I'm a technology columnist and blogger with over 10 years of experience, currently serving as Blue Cine Tech's AV Editor. Specialising in gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology, my work has been featured in top technology blogs. I'm dedicated to breaking down the complexities of the latest tech trends, from explaining the intricacies of Dolby Vision to optimising your streaming experience. This blog serves as a platform for my ongoing exploration of the ever-evolving tech landscape. If you see me at industry events like CES or IFA, feel free to say hello.

2 thoughts on “How To Connect A Soundbar To A TV With HDMI Without ARC”

  1. how do i set up a 5.1 theatre system to hear tv audio through the theatre system
    The tv only has 2 HDMI ports ( in use)
    to media box and theatre system, the tv has the red and white audio in & out.

    • Hi ShaunThe red white audio cable could work, just get one off Amazon or Mapplin. If the home theatre doesn’t have a red and white cable input try an adapter RCA to HDMI, I might say that I never tried this but could work in theory.


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