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How To Connect A Soundbar To A TV Without HDMI Or Optical

So, for various reasons, you’re considering not linking your soundbar to your TV via HDMI or optical cables in your home theater. It could be due to equipment limitations, and while you recognize the benefits of these connections, such as immersive surround sound and high-definition audio, you’ve deliberately opted to steer clear. Whether you own an older TV or simply prefer a different audio experience, it’s entirely your choice.

There are many ways to avoid using HDMI or optical connections. You can connect wirelessly with Bluetooth, or use a 3.5 mm AUX cable, RCA cables, or even an auxiliary device that converts coaxial cable to another kind of connection.

In this article, we will cover various methods for connecting a soundbar to a TV without HDMI cable or Optical cables, from newer to older TVs.

Ways To Connect A Soundbar To A TV Without HDMI Or Optical Cable

If you’ve opted to steer clear of HDMI or optical audio cables when connecting your soundbar to your TV, don’t worry – there are several alternative methods available.

Whether you prefer a wireless sound system using Bluetooth, a simple 3.5mm AUX cable (commonly also known as auxiliary), RCA cables for older TVs, or even coaxial connections for even older setups, there’s a solution for every scenario (note that using a USB is not an available option).

If you’re interested in learning everything about the different connection methods for soundbars, then check this video:

Different Methods For Connecting A Soundbar to a TV

Ditch the Cables: Connecting Wirelessly

Connect a Soundbar to a TV via Bluetooth

The best way to connect without DMI or optical is a wireless connection like Bluetooth or WiFi. These will preserve the surround sound and high-definition experience you can expect from HDMI or optical. This solution may be preferable since it avoids the mess of wires that collect dust behind your TV console.

Several TV and soundbar configurations impact exactly how connecting happens. Some TVs are built with Bluetooth and/or WiFi capability. Others will require adapters. We’ve already gone through the technical details here: (how to connect your soundbar to TV wirelessly). Just follow your TV and soundbar instructions, and you’re good to go.

Going Mini: Aux Cables

Aux or 3.5mm Cable

Maybe you don’t have a TV with wireless capability. Generally, some TVs come with a 3.5 mm output jack, allowing you to use an Aux cable. This is the same kind of connection that is used in headphones. Simply plug one end into the TV and the other into the soundbar.

If your soundbar doesn’t have a 3.5 mm input, you can get an AUX to RCA cable (on Amazon). These cables are typically pretty inexpensive and simply split the stereo signal between two RCA cables.

The drawback to this method is that you would only get the left and right sounds. Thus, if you have a 3.0 soundbar or higher the sound quality may not be exactly as it’s intended.

Older TV’s: RCA Cables

RCA cable

Most TVs that have either 3.5 mm or wireless capability have HDMI or optical ports. However, older TVs will only have RCA and coaxial inputs. In the case of RCA cables, soundbars can usually handle a two-channel RCA configuration.

Make sure, however, that the RCA ports on your TV are output ports and not input ports. If you only have input ports, you may need to split the signal before it gets to the TV. One way of doing this is to pair the yellow video cable to the TV and the white and red audio cables to the soundbar.

Unlike modern TVs which are meant to be the central connecting hub between the input to the TV and the output to speakers, older TVs were designed to be receivers only. Adding speakers often meant getting another piece of equipment to split the signal before it reached the TV.

Just like with 3.5 mm cables, RCA cables largely only have left and right outputs. Thus you’ll need to get creative with the center channel of a 3.0 or 3.1 soundbar.

In some instances, there will be a 5-channel RCA output which allows you to hook up the front left right, and center jacks to your soundbar. Unfortunately, while soundbars are so good that there’s no point in having your TV’s default speakers enabled (as we explained in our guide), most soundbars that are three speaker channels or higher only connect with HDMI, optical, and wireless.

You can often get around this problem with an adapter that converts RCA to HDMI, but you won’t be getting a true high-definition signal since the signal is ultimately designed for standard-definition RCA and not HDMI.

Even Older TV’s: What to Do with Coaxial Cables

Coax TV Cable

Older TVs may not even have RCA connections. This is because older TVs were meant to play cable TV, and that’s it. Back then, you had to get an auxiliary piece of equipment that went between your cable service and your TV.

The connection on these TVs is known as a coaxial connection. The jack looks like a raised cylinder with a hole in it, and the cable plug looks like a nut with a piece of wire sticking out the middle.

Using such a connection will require a piece of equipment such as a VCR or a DVD player to split the signal. A VCR is an outdated piece of equipment used to play videotapes. A DVD player is a slightly less outdated piece of equipment that is meant to play video discs.

When using a coaxial cable, connect it from the VCR or DVD player’s output to the TV’s input. Then, link the audio output (typically RCA jacks) to the soundbar. Given this setup, you’ll use the VCR or DVD player’s remote to switch inputs, treating the TV more like a computer monitor than a contemporary television.

You can achieve this using splitters and adapters, but the setup might be more cumbersome than it’s worth. For example, if you’re transitioning from HDMI to coaxial, all you need is an HDMI splitter (available on Amazon).

Connect one end to the HDMI-to-coaxial converter for the TV and the other directly to the soundbar. Keep in mind that an external power source is needed for many converters, adding more cables and using up plugs on your power strip.