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Can You Connect a Soundbar to a TV with USB?

Although TVs often flaunt decent audio on their own, connecting a soundbar can exponentially enhance the viewing experience. There are multiple ways to connect a soundbar to a TV, but what’s the easiest? You might think that the most common port, USB, would be the one.

Unfortunately, you can’t connect your soundbar to a TV using a USB port because USB fails to support the transmission of audio and video signals between devices. However, you can use an HDMI, digital optical, Aux, or RCA cable (along with an adapter, if needed) to form a connection.

Thankfully, there are a handful of options for connecting your TV to a soundbar. Many of the most common cables can be used to quickly and easily facilitate the setup. Even if you’ve got two devices that share no common connector types, adapters can help you make the connection.

Why Can’t I Connect a Soundbar to a TV With USB?

USB ports on TVs access files from a storage device. However, they are not capable of connecting a soundbar to your TV.

If you have movies, photos, or songs saved on your flash drives, you can typically browse these files on the TV using the USB port. Just connect the flash drive to the USB port then use the TV’s remote control to select the USB input.

Similarly, if you’d like to play music from a flash drive on the soundbar, you can use the USB port on the soundbar to do so. Most of the latest audio systems host a USB port, so you shouldn’t have any issues accessing files from external storage devices.

When it comes to transferring audio or video signals between devices such as a TV and a soundbar, USB ports are not sufficient.

In order to listen to the TV’s sound through a soundbar, you need either an optical, AUX, or RCA cable. Alternatively, you can also use an HDMI cable. Depending on the type of ports your devices offer, you can choose between these various choices.

How Can Soundbars Receive Audio From a TV?

You’re in luck because there are a few different ways to connect your soundbars to the TV.


HDMI cables can transfer audio digitally while supporting high-end devices with ease. The latest TVs normally have multiple HDMI input ports.

However, to output your audio to a sound system, you will need an HDMI ARC port on both devices.

Digital Optical

Digital Optical Cable on a Desk

TVs without an HDMI ARC port often have the next best option to support audio signals, which is a digital optical cable. This type of cable can also handle typical surround sound systems.

Digital Coaxial Cable

Gold-pated Digital COAX audio cable

This isn’t the most common connection used these days. However, if your devices support digital coaxial cable, you can go for it.

AUX (3.5mm)

Black Aux Cable

Featuring a 3.5 mm jack on both ends, Aux cables are one of the most portable options out there. All you need to do is connect one end to the TV and the other to the soundbar. Ta-da!


Red and White RCA cable on a white background

Use the audio out port on the TV to connect the red and white jack of the cable. Similarly, use the IN port on the soundbar to match the colors of the jacks with the ports.

Will a Soundbar Definitely Work With My TV?

A soundbar should work with your TV, given that you have matching ports on both devices. The majority of recent TVs host almost all or at least a few connection options. It’s a similar case with soundbars.

Typically, you will find an AUX or Digital Optical connection on the soundbar if you do not have an HDMI ARC port. Otherwise, you might find RCA jacks.

However, if you own a Tube (CRT) TV, it may lack the necessary ports. Thankfully, you can still enjoy the amplified sound coming through your soundbars with a little help from an adapter.

Can You Use an Adapter to Connect a Soundbar?

As we already mentioned, older TVs can also be connected to a soundbar using an adapter. So, what do the adapters do? And, how do they enable the connection between TVs that lack the necessary ports and a soundbar?

What is an Adapter?

Adapters are devices used for making one type of hardware compatible with another in the case that they cannot communicate natively.

Therefore, in situations where you find no common connection type between your TV and a soundbar, adapters can come in handy.

For instance, older TVs often have RCA ports, but the latest soundbars often replace these ports with AUX ports.

In such a case, you will need an adapter to convert the signal to a supported format. Luckily, there are a number of adapters you can use.

Adapter Types

Depending on the ports on your TV and the soundbar you wish to use, you can choose from various adapter types. Among the many choices, here are some of the most common options:

RCA to HDMI Adapter

If your TV has the RCA port while the soundbar hosts an HDMI port, you must get the RCA to HDMI adapter, such as this one from ABLEWE (on Amazon). Additionally, you will of course, need RCA and HDMI cables.

These adapters require power, so you must connect the adapter to the power outlet using the included USB cable to make it work.

HDMI to Digital Optical Adapter

TVs often have an HDMI connector, while a soundbar hosts an optical port. In this scenario, you can benefit by using an HDMI to digital optical adapter. Try the HDMI Audio Extractor from VPFET (on Amazon).


These adapters are the cheapest option out there. You get a cable with one end that connects to the TV’s Aux while the other end goes into the RCA port on the soundbar. It’s that simple.

This 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter (on Amazon) is exactly what you need to get this working. Just make sure you get a cable long enough to make the connection!