So you’re thinking of ditching that tangle of wires and connecting your soundbar to your TV with Bluetooth. You haven’t used Bluetooth before and don’t really understand how it works. But understanding Bluetooth technology isn’t that hard once you understand the basics.
You can almost always connect a soundbar to your TV with Bluetooth, even if one or both devices are not Bluetooth ready.
Those instances of lacking Bluetooth capability are tricky, but with a little ingenuity (and a little money) you can get rid of those wires gathering dust behind your TV.
Enabling Bluetooth can be a little complicated, but it doesn’t have to be a headache. We’re going to take you through the basics of Bluetooth technology, how to prepare your devices for Bluetooth, and what to do if your device doesn’t have Bluetooth!
If you're interested in learning everything about the different connection methods for soundbars, then checkout this video:
Bluetooth is a wireless protocol that allows devices to transmit audio using a process called “pairing.” To understand why any TV can be hooked up to any soundbar, we have to understand how Bluetooth works.
Bluetooth connects a source device–in this case, your TV–to a receiver device–your soundbar. While Bluetooth is usually used to transmit and broadcast audio, it can be used for a variety of transmission purposes. For instance, it can be used as an alternative to SMS to send and receive text messages.
To use Bluetooth, your device must first be put in “discoverable mode.” This allows other Bluetooth enabled devices also in discoverable mode to receive the following information from your device:
Unless you’re a tech genius, you’re not going to see any of this information. Instead, you will see a list of user-friendly device names. Some may be descriptions of the device identifying the brand and the type of device. Others may simply be the model number. None will be the crazy 48-bit address that your device actually sees.
With both devices discoverable, you need to use one of the devices to connect–usually the source for the audio. When the connection is established, your TV can broadcast its audio to the soundbar.
There are a number of ways that various soundbars and various televisions can be made discoverable. We’re going to review the process for the 5 best-selling TV and soundbar brands on Amazon to help you make those wires a thing of the past.
Usually, you have to establish the connection between the TV and your soundbar with the TV. This means that the soundbar must be in discoverable mode first. Doing so is usually fairly intuitive, but it varies from device to device.
Vizio soundbars come equipped with a special Bluetooth button on both the remote and the soundbar itself. Press and hold either of these buttons for five seconds. While in discoverable mode, the LED indicator lights will flash in a pattern. When you connect your TV to the soundbar, the led lights will stop flashing.
Bose soundbars vary from model to model - (which you'd know if you read our comparison guide between the 300 and 700) - but will either require you to press or press and hold the Bluetooth button until the LED indicator light flashes blue. This shows that the soundbar is in discoverable mode. When you connect your TV to the soundbar, the light will glow white and may or may not fade to black depending on your model. Consult your manual for specifics.
Yamaha soundbars have a Bluetooth key located on the device’s remote. The Bluetooth indicator light on the device will flash. When you connect a device, the Bluetooth indicator device will glow.
TaoTronics only has one soundbar for TVs. To put this device in discoverable mode, simply press the Bluetooth button on the remote. When the TV is connected, the Bluetooth indicator light will glow blue.
Sonos has one soundbar model called the PlayBar. Unfortunately, Sonos products don’t support Bluetooth. Not to fear, however. As previously mentioned, with the right tools, any device can be connected via Bluetooth.
Once you have your soundbar in discoverable mode, it’s up to your TV to find it. Usually, this requires a bit of navigating through menus using your remote. This part is not as intuitive as enabling the soundbar, so here are the instructions for the top five best selling brands.
TCL TV’s are not universally Bluetooth compatible. Of those that are, press the home button on the remote control, scroll, and select settings. Highlight the Remote and Accessories menu option, and select Add Accessory. At this point, the TV will automatically search for Bluetooth devices. Select your soundbar from the list, and you’re good to go!
Insignia TV’s do not support Bluetooth connection. That said, you can refer to the following section to figure out some workarounds.
Samsung TV’s do not universally support Bluetooth, though there are plenty of models that do. Of the ones that do, click the home button, select settings, sound, sound output, and then Bluetooth speaker list. Select your soundbar, and you’re ready to listen to your favorite movies and shows.
Toshiba TV’s are a little complicated as their menus are not all the same. Press the Menu button on your remote and select either Setup or System. Select Sound and then select Audio Link. There may be other menu options than these. Consult your manual for specific instructions.
Element TV’s don’t all come Bluetooth enabled. Of the ones that do, press the Home button and select Settings and then Controllers & Bluetooth devices. Just find your soundbar, and listen to that quality sound.
Just because your device doesn’t have Bluetooth functionality doesn’t mean you can’t use a Bluetooth connection! There are a number of adaptors that allow you to connect an audio signal source or receiver to a Bluetooth signal, something you probably would already know if you've read our guide on connecting receivers via Bluetooth.
The TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver (on Amazon) is a great device to use with a TV or even a soundbar, that is not natively Bluetooth compatible. Connect this device to your TV via an AUX cable. Set this device's mode to "TX" for "Transmit", then connect it to the soundbar. If your TV doesn't have an Aux output, it may have an RCA output. You can then use an RCA to Aux cable to achieve the same result.
If the TV only has a digital optical out, but not an AUX out or RCA out, then you can use the TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver, Digital Optical TOSLINK and 3.5mm Wireless Audio Adapter (on Amazon). Connect this device to your TV via the Digital Optical out port and set it to "TX".
There are many 2-in-1 Bluetooth/audio adaptors that allow transmission in either direction (as input or output). However, there are many that only go one way.
If you do choose to get a one-way Bluetooth transmitter, you must be sure that you’re getting the right one. If your TV is not Bluetooth compatible, you can hook up a 3.5mm to Bluetooth transmitter to your audio out jack of your TV. Make sure your TV is set to emit sound through the audio jack rather than the TV’s built-in speakers.
If the transmitter hangs off the back of the TV because it has a cable, you can adhere the transmitter to a smooth spot on the back of your TV with a mark-free adhesive such as a 3M Command strip (on Amazon).
You can do something similar for a Bluetoothless soundbar. Simply get a Bluetooth to 3.5mm receiver and hook it up to the soundbar’s audio jack. If you decided on the TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver (on Amazon), simply set the switch to "RX" for "receive". Again, if the device hangs, simply get an adhesive and stick it on a blank spot on the soundbar.
And that’s it! That’s all you need to know about hooking up your soundbar to your TV. You just have to make your soundbar discoverable and find the soundbar with your TV in its Bluetooth device menu. If one of your devices doesn’t support Bluetooth, you can get an adaptor to convert between Bluetooth and audio signals. Now you can finally get rid of those pesky wires.
To learn more about the compatibility between soundbars and televisions, checkout our article discussing if soundbars and TVs need to be the same brand for an ideal home entertainment setup.