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How to connect your TV to an external audio system

Poor sound quality from your TV’s speakers does not


  • RCA/Aux – Connect RCA cables from your TV to its audio output. You can change the TV’s output settings.
  • Digital Optical or HDMI-ARC? Although optical and HDMI have their own connections, they can still be connected using the cable running from the TV to the speaker.
  • Bluetooth Turn on your TV. Next go to Bluetooth settings on the TV.

With the introduction of UHD technology and 4K technology, TVs have seen a dramatic improvement in their picture quality. The sound quality of any home entertainment system is equally important. We will describe five ways to connect your TV with an external audio system. This includes most models made by Sony or LG, Panasonic, Sony, Vizio, and Vizio.

Five ways to connect your television to an external audio system

An external sound system is a better option than the TV’s speakers. Depending on the brand or model of TV, there are up to five options that allow you to send audio from a TV antenna, cable box, or streaming device to an external sound system, such as a soundbar, home-theater-in-a-box system, or a stereo receiver or home theater receiver.


Connecting the TV’s stereo outputs to an external sound system is a simple way to enhance TV listening.

These are the basics of

  1. Connect RCA cables to the TV’s analogue audio output.
  2. Connect the other ends of the RCA cables to a set of available corresponding analog audio inputs on a soundbar, home-theater-in-a-box system, stereo receiver, home theater receiver, or powered speakers.
  3. Once everything is plugged in, turn on the soundbar/receiver. For external audio setup, follow the instructions on your TV.
  4. Select the input from your TV’s sound system to hear the sound.
    Stereo audio with two channels is sent via the RCA connection from the TV to an external system.

To connect a soundbar, use the analog connection option. Make sure the soundbar offers audio enhancement options such as virtual surround sound, which can enhance the listening experience by expanding the soundstage. If connected to a home-theater-in-a-box or home theater receiver, check for additional audio settings, such as Dolby Prologic II/IIx or DTS Neo:6. You will still be capable of extracting surround sound from the stereo input signal if this is the case.

There are no RCA or 3.5mm analog connections on most TVs. A soundbar/audio system may be required to support either the HDMI-ARC or digital audio connection options.

Digital Optical

This digital optical out connection is better for sending audio from your television into an external audio system.

  1. Connect your digital output to your TV using a digital optical cable.
  2. Connect the other end of the cable to a corresponding digital optical input on a soundbar, home-theater-in-a-box system, or home theater receiver.
  3. After you have connected your cable, follow the instructions to set up your TV and/or audio system.
  4. Select the digital optical input to hear the sound.
    This option can provide a stereo or a 5.1 channel audio uncoded signal, depending on the TV model.
  5. If you are using the digital optical cable, it is possible that you won’t hear sound coming from your external audio system. You can fix this by going to your TV’s audio out settings.


Access audio via Audio Return Channel (ARC). A TV with an HDMI input labeled HDMIARC is required.

This feature allows the transfer of the audio signal originating from the TV back to an HDMI-ARC equipped soundbar, home-theater-in-a-box system, or home theater receiver without having to make a separate digital or analog audio connection from the TV to the audio system.

It works like this: One cable connects to your TV’s HDMI input. HDMI-ARC cable transmits and receives audio from your TV to your soundbar, soundbar, or home theatre receiver. It reduces cable clutter.

Illustration of the Audio Return Channel. Image by

Audio Return Channel requires your TV and home theater receiver to be compatible with ARC. You must activate them (check the setup instructions span>).


Bluetooth allows you to send audio from your television into an external audio system.

Only a few TVs have this feature. These TVs are mostly from Samsung (Sound Share), and LG (Sound Sync). The Samsung and LG Bluetooth options cannot be interchangeable. In other words, for Samsung TVs that are Bluetooth-compatible, you may need to have a similarly-equipped Samsung soundbar; the same goes for LG.

Although the set-up and menu steps can vary from model to model, these are the fundamental rules.

  1. Turn on the TV and Bluetooth-enabled soundbars, speakers, or headphones.
    If your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can add a Bluetooth adapter to your TV.
  2. To begin the pairing process, select Bluetooth in your TV’s Sound Setup menu.
  3. Wait till the TV and sound system are confirmed to be paired.

Bluetooth can have sync problems. Correct audio-video sync problems.


LG provides a new way for your TV to be connected to a wireless speaker system via its WiSA-ready LCD and NanoCell LCD/LCD televisions.

WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Association) is now compatible with select LG TVs. The TV’s built-in firmware can communicate with a special USB dongle, which looks like a flash drive. This allows the TV to wirelessly transmit its sound to compatible wireless speakers or audio systems.

WiSA/LG Innotek

WiSA certification must be obtained for speakers to work.

Once the wireless dongle is plugged in and the speaker(s) turned on, navigate to the LG TV’s Audio Set Menu and select Sound Out> WISA speakers.

Roku Wireless speakers can be used in conjunction with Roku TVs.

TV Speakers: The Problem

All TVs have built-in speakers. Plasma, OLED and LCD TVs all come with speakers.

Speakers need space to move enough air to produce high-quality sound. TVs today lack enough space. The audio can sound dull and lifeless.

While some TV manufacturers try to improve the sound quality of their speakers, many fail. When shopping for OLED TVs, make sure you check for Dialog Enhancement or Volume Leveling. Sony’s OLED sets include Acoustic Surface technology. This allows the TV to produce sound without speakers.

The bottom line

A TV’s poor sound quality doesn’t mean that you should.

  • If you have a cable/satellite box, Blu-ray/DVD player, or another external source device, and you have an external audio system, such as soundbar, home-theater-in-a-box system, or home theater receiver, it is best to connect the audio output of those source devices directly to your external audio system.
  • Audio sources that must pass through your TV’s audio system such as broadcasts or over-the-air broadcasts, can be connected to your TV.


  • How do I enable multi-audio output on my TV?
    You are able to play audio from multiple sound systems simultaneously with the Multioutput Audio option in the sound settings.
  • Why does my speaker not work?
    Low power or improper source selection could be the reason your sound system isn’t working. Broken speakers and disconnected wires could be the cause.
  • How do I amplify the dialogue on my TV’s screen?
    The TV model you have will affect how loud you can amplify dialogue.




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