Can a Universal Remote Work on a Soundbar?

Written by Jonah Matthes
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Fumbling around with multiple controllers can be a hassle, so if you are having to keep track of both a TV remote and one that manages your soundbar, you will be delighted to find out you can use one remote with just a little setup. Because manufacturers differ from brand to brand, you might be interested in a couple of solutions. Always do your research on your particular brand of soundbar, TV, and remote to find the best method.

You can use a universal remote to control your soundbar. Several solutions can fix this. Some use IR technology to communicate, while others rely on hardwired connections like HDMI ARC or a Digital Fiber Optical Cable to simplify controls.

Depending on your equipment, the setup could be as easy as plugging in some cables. But there are other methods that will require you to program your remote with special codes specific to your soundbar. Either way, these solutions are not too difficult and can be done with little tech know-how. To find out more and to discover how to use your universal remote to control your soundbar, follow along with the rest of this article.

Controlling Soundbars with Universal Remotes

Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System with Universal Remote Control, Black

Most soundbars (by the way, we have a Top 8 List here) will allow you to control them using a universal remote, but this will depend on the type of soundbar you have. To make this work, your soundbar will need to have an IR (Infrared) sensor equipped. IR uses waves to transfer binary data in pulses over the electromagnetic spectrum. For both devices to communicate, the receiving equipment needs to be able to decode this data.

IR technology is very popular for relaying basic command functions and is used a lot in remote controls. IR has tons of applications from spectroscopy to cooling and heating, but for most consumers, they will find its most useful application is in relaying commands to electronics like TVs. To do this, there needs to be a few different components:

  • IR Sender/Blaster - This will be on the remote itself
  • IR Receiver - Located on the soundbar
  • IR Decoder  - This will use control protocols like RC-5 or SIRC to decode the binary message to command the soundbar to move the volume up or down. 

If your soundbar has an IR receiver, chances are you will be able to control it with a little setup. Here are a few soundbars on Amazon that allow for IR communication: the Sonos Playbar, Samsung HW-Q60T, and the Vizio 2.1 Soundbar.

If your soundbar has a remote control, chances are it is using IR tech to communicate. This means that you should be able to use a universal remote to control the device. This is going to require some setup, though. Most of the time, you will need to pair the remote to the device by programming it with brand-specific pairing codes. 

Universal Remote Control Soundbar Codes

Bose Soundbar Universal Remote Control

Pairing a universal remote with your soundbar or any device is a reasonably straightforward process. The difficulty comes because different brands require slightly different instructions. Overall, though, with a little time and the right pairing codes, you should be able to control your soundbar with your remote control in no time. Let’s first explore some general steps to pairing a remote with a soundbar to get you started.

How to Pair a Universal Remote With a Soundbar

  1. First, you’ll need to find the 3,4, or 5 digit pairing code for your soundbar (common ones listed below)
  2. Make sure you have both your TV and soundbar powered on.
  3. Point your universal remote at the soundbar you want to pair to.
  4. Press the Setup button on your universal remote until the light on the remote flashes (this step will vary depending on the brand), or press the AUX and OK buttons simultaneously, then press the channel up button.

    Hold until the soundbar turns off, press the AUX button again to save (if this works, then you are already set up and don’t need further steps).
  5. Enter the brand-specific pairing code into the universal remote.
  6. You should see the indicator light on the remote start to flash, indicating the pairing has worked.
  7. To make sure everything is working correctly, test your remote by trying to control the volume.

This is a general setup sequence, and since there are many different types of universal remotes, you may want to refer to the user’s manual for more detailed instructions. All in all, though, you will see a similar setup, and if the instructions do differ, they won’t by a whole lot. The most important part is making sure you have the right soundbar pairing codes. These are going to be brand specific. Below you will find some codes from some of the more popular brands.

Soundbar Pairing Codes

BoseInsigniaSamsungSonyLGVizio
400121268326091345326760883
504212002226094029119930660
4017104632101431759319531517
196120045312931144
3162931517
3122911144
3184131975
30639
31253
30674

An Alternative: Control the Soundbar with the Stock TV Remote

Depending on the connections available on the soundbar, you may be able to utilize the stock TV remote to control the volume. This method will require you to have an HDMI ARC port on your soundbar and an HDMI ARC port on your TV. This method is straightforward, and we have another guide on how to control a soundbar with a TV remote that you should check out, but the basic steps are:

  1. Find the HDMI ARC connection on both the soundbar and TV.
  2. Connect an HDMI cable to each.
  3. Turn the TV and soundbar on.
  4. Test and troubleshoot any connection issues.
  5. If it is not working, try enabling the CEC option on your TV.

One thing to keep in mind when using this type of setup is that both the television and soundbar will still have their volume spectrum. This means that you can have the sound all the way up on your TV but not hear much coming from the soundbar because the sound is on low. If you have ever hooked up a device to a Bluetooth speaker, then you may already be familiar with this problem.

To help maximize the amount of sound coming from your soundbar, you will need to adjust these settings to hit the right spot. Too low and you won’t hear much, and too high and you could risk clipping the audio, causing some serious crackling and distortion. You may also need to go into your TV’s setting to establish the correct audio out to get the connection to the soundbar. This is the same for the soundbar as well. 

Why HDMI ARC is Important for Universal Remotes

HDMI ARC is incredibly useful for simplifying the setup process for remotes and soundbars. ARC stands for Audio Return Channel, and this channel communicates the volume commands from your TV to your soundbar without the need for pairing. This technology is not well known, even though it has been around since 2009, but most significant manufacturers of soundbars and TVs will include this connection. 

HDMI ARC is so useful because it allows you to use your regular TV remote without additional communication setup. The return channel is already sending the command data to your soundbar when you are working on the volume controls. It is also great because if your soundbar happens not to have an IR sensor, meaning you can’t set up a universal remote, then you can still use a single remote to control your soundbar and TV.

If you already have a universal remote paired to your TV, then an HDMI ARC connection will also work to control the soundbar. This happens because no matter what type of remote you are using, stock or universal, as long as it can send the volume commands to your TV’s IR receiver, it will also send them to the soundbar without any issue.

Conclusion

Pairing a soundbar with a universal remote can be a simple and easy process as long as you have the right gear. Depending on your equipment, you can follow a few different setup procedures, but they will be reasonably similar. This will require access to brand-specific codes needed to pair the devices.

If your soundbar is not compatible with this process, then you may still simplify your controls by taking advantage of either a Digital Optical connection or an HDMI ARC connection. Whichever way you choose, you can rest assured the days of fishing around for multiple remotes are in the past. 

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About Me

Hi! I’m Jonah. I grew up addicted to different electronics. I began working for an Audio/Video installation company years ago and realized my passion for Home Theaters! The Home Theater DIY is a place for me to share my different findings and experiences about home theaters and home electronics. For more information, check out my about me page!

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