Using an Amazon Fire TV Stick with a projector is, at first glance, a pretty straightforward operation. It’s even deceptively simple: no wires to run, no cables to manage, just a simple install and you’re ready to start streaming to your 100in+ screen.
To connect an Amazon Fire TV Stick to a projector:
- Plug the Stick into the projector’s HDMI in, and a power source (USB)
- Make sure the projector’s speakers are on or set up a separate audio solution (e.g. an HDMI Audio extractor or wireless HDMI Kit)
The problem, which you probably realized as you read through those setup steps, is that the HDMI signal from the Fire Stick carries the audio signal too. This is a great example of home theater technology that solves one problem for you, but in doing so creates another.
Rest assured, though, that by the end of this article you’ll have all the information you need to solve this problem and run your projector off of an Amazon Fire TV Stick if you’d like to.
The Main Issue With Connecting a Fire Stick to a Projector
The Fire Stick might seem like the perfect solution. After all, you get the power of Amazon’s content library, streaming at 4k, and the product page even advertises Dolby Atmos audio.
The unit is tiny, about the size of a small candy bar, which means it’s easy to mount with the projector. This means you don’t have to run wires. And Fire Stick even comes with its own remote control. What’s not to like?
Getting the Sound to an External Audio System
Well, the problem here is one that isn’t caused by the Fire Stick itself, it’s caused by the fact that you’re using a projector. Projector audio comes in two flavors: the projector will either have onboard speakers, serving as its own audio solution, or it will have no on-board speakers meaning you need to create the audio solution yourself.
This means you instantly have a much larger problem to solve. If you want to actually use that Dolby Atmos sound that the Fire Stick pumps out, you’ll need surround sound speakers, and those speakers need to somehow get they’re sound from the projector.
This is already starting to sound like a lot of work and, more worrisome, a lot of wires that will need to be run. There’s no getting around that: a proper surround setup that isn’t powered by a wireless speaker solution is going to require wires, but specifically, to accommodate the Fire Stick and a projector, we do have a few options to solve the speaker issue.
How to Work Around Sound Not Outputting Through the Speaker System
Broadly, there are two options here. One allows you to fix the Fire Stick problem at the projector, minimizing wires and extra components, while the other involves adding a little complexity but, maybe more options for your system overall.
Using and HDMI Audio Extractor
The first solution solves the problem right at the projector itself, using a tool called an HDMI Audio Extractor. These units are pretty straight forward. Take the Tenson HDMI to HDMI + Optical Toslink, for example. It has HDMI in, HDMI out, and also options for SPDIF/Optical out and a simple 3.5mm jack.
The HDMI piece is simple: plug the Fire Stick into the HDMI in, and run a short HDMI cord from the HDMI out to the projector. There is some added complexity around running power to the extractor itself and the Fire Stick, but nothing too crazy.
So, now that you have your audio extracted, what do you do with it? This is where things might get a little more complicated. If you’re trying to run the Dolby Atmos sound to your surround sound system, you’ll need to use the Optical cable, and that optical cable will need to be run to a receiver allowing you to split the audio channels up to your speakers.
If the whiz-bang of Dolby Atmos isn’t your goal, if you just need to get the sound somewhere you can hear it like a playbar, you can easily run a 3.5mm jack cable wherever you need to, although that might require some extensive cable management.
You can see the theme here: an audio extractor will allow you to solve this problem in a specific way, but that solution gives you a new problem in that you now need to have a plan for the 3.5mm jack cable or the SPDIF/Optical cable that now needs to be managed to the right place.
So if you now have to run a 3.5mm or optical cable, then it doesn’t That new problem isn’t true for the next solution on our list.
Using a Wireless HDMI Kit
If you own a projector, a wireless HDMI kit is a truly swiss-army-knife like tool you can use to solve all sorts of problems. That’s true for the Fire Stick speaker problem as well. A Wireless HDMI Kit allows you to do just what the name implies: you can take an HDMI signal and throw it somewhere else without wires, with units like the Iogear GWHDKIT11 (on Amazon) even able to handle 4k signals.
Wireless HDMI Kit Setup with a Projector
So now we’re in a different position: with the HDMI receiver mounted at the projector, we can put the Fire Stick wherever we want, so long as it’s plugged into the HDMI Transmitter.
This solves the speaker issue in a different way: you’ll still need the HDMI Audio Extractor to get the audio in a usable form, but, you’ve now solved the main problem caused by using only the extractor: you don’t have to run the cable somewhere crazy, because you get to pick where the cable starts.
In fact, once assembled, this setup has an interesting feature: if the transmitter is set up so that the HDMI is transmitted to the projector, and if you’re using an audio extractor off that HDMI line that feeds an audio receiver or some other audio solution nearby, you’ve now developed infrastructure to support any HDMI source you plug into it.
For this reason, if you’re going this far to simply support a Fire Stick setup running your projector, it might be worth your time to consider upgrading that component of your home theater and running a more robust content box.
While the Fire Stick is a robust home theater solution, providing a huge library of streaming content and access to apps that can deliver you video in 4k and some audio at Dolby Atmos levels, it also gives you this new speaker problem to solve. You know from reading this piece that there are ways to solve this problem, but the level of complexity involved is just enough to make you hesitate, I’m sure.
It will go a long way, then, for you to first think about the sound quality of your home theater system. You need to decide if what you’re going to be using your home theater for requires really high quality surround sound (movies, prestige TV shows, video games, etc.) or if you’ll simply be streaming cable channels, sports shows, and your favorite shows on Netflix. If the system can get away with being simple, there’s no need to complicate it, so don’t feel like your only option here is to go off the deep end into surround sound that’s going to require wires piped all through the walls.
As always, then, plan before you act, figure out what you’ll be using your home theater for and let that drive the decisions.