Soundbars can effortlessly enhance the TV’s sound without the need for a hefty speaker installation. These audio devices can turn your boring video streaming sessions into a true home theater experience. And the fun doubles when you can ditch the cables and connect your TV to a soundbar wirelessly. But how do you do that?
You can connect a soundbar to a TV over WiFi as long as both devices are compatible and connected to the same WiFi network. However, it is an uncommon feature as of right now. Bluetooth is more common amongst soundbars and TVs. But HDMI cables offer the best and most consistent audio experience.
If your TV does not support WiFi or Bluetooth, you can always use a Bluetooth adapter to achieve a wireless connection. Read the article to learn about all the different ways to connect your TV and soundbar wirelessly and to find out which option is better: wired or wireless.
How to Connect a Soundbar to a TV Wirelessly (without HDMI, Optical, or AUX)?
It is possible to dodge the extra effort of connecting an HDMI cable to the back of the TV in order to enjoy the audio effects of your soundbar.
Instead of getting into clumsy cable installations, you can opt for simpler ways. Here are two different ways to use soundbars without an HDMI connection to a TV:
How to Connect a Soundbar to a TV Through WiFi
This is the simplest way to connect your soundbars to a TV. However, before you proceed, you must check if the devices are compatible to connect over WiFi.
However, it’s extremely uncommon for a TV to have the ability to transmit audio over WiFi to a soundbar. As of right now, the TV and soundbar will most likely need to be made by the same manufacturer and both be relatively new.
For instance, if you own a Samsung TV, its release must not date before 2014. If it does, it probably won’t support WiFi. At the same time, you must consider buying a soundbar compatible with a WiFi connection.
And while the end goal of bringing both the TV and a soundbar onto the same WiFi network remains the same across almost every model, the steps to get there may differ significantly. This article has taken the examples of this Samsung Smart TV (on Amazon) and the Samsung Soundbar 3.0 (on Amazon).
Steps to Connect a Samsung TV and a Samsung Soundbar Over WiFi
Follow these steps to connect the Samsung Soundbar to the TV:
- Connect Your TV to Your WiFi: If you’re using a Samsung smart TV, locate the network settings option. It is usually under Home > Settings > General > Network. However, the choice may differ depending on the TV’s exact model. Select ‘Wireless’ under ‘Network Settings’ and choose your WiFi name. When prompted, enter the password. You will be connected to your home’s WiFi network.
- Connect the Soundbar to Your WiFi : Make sure to connect the soundbar to the same WiFi network as your TV. You can choose it using the soundbar remote’s Source button. Alternatively, there is a control on the back of the soundbar to make the selection.
- Get the Samsung SmartThings App: Download and install the app on your mobile phone.
- Configure the Setup: Once completed, open the app and choose ‘Device’ by tapping the plus icon. Click on the AV button to choose your soundbar model. Simply tap ‘Start’. Following this, you must select your location in order to allow your phone to search for your soundbar.
This will complete the setup, connecting your TV and soundbar over the same WiFi. However, you might disconnect from your WiFi occasionally. In such a case, use the sound setting on your Samsung smart TV to connect to the network. Make sure to select the correct soundbar model.
How to Connect a Soundbar to a TV Through Bluetooth
Apart from the WiFi connectivity, another option to sync up your TV with a soundbar is using Bluetooth.
Thankfully, most of the latest soundbars and TVs support Bluetooth. If not, you can still use Bluetooth adapters (discussed later in the article) to complete the connection between your TV and a soundbar.
So, if your TV and soundbar are Bluetooth compatible, let’s jump to the connection process:
- Set the Soundbar to Bluetooth Mode: In order to make the soundbar discoverable by other devices, you must set it to Bluetooth mode. Just use the source button on the soundbar’s remote to switch to Bluetooth mode. Alternatively, press the Bluetooth button on the soundbar itself.
Once set to Bluetooth, make sure to click the ‘Pair’ button on the remote to bring the soundbar into the pairing mode.
- Pair the Soundbar With Your TV: After turning on the TV, jump to its Bluetooth settings. Typically, this is available under the audio settings. However, the settings may differ according to the TV’s make and model. In case you find it difficult to locate, check the TV’s manual. Otherwise, if the manual isn’t handy, a quick Google search will provide the answer.
When inside the Bluetooth settings, locate your soundbar’s name. Use the TV’s remote to select ‘Pair and Connect’. In a few seconds, the TV will connect to the soundbar through Bluetooth.
If you get a message confirming this, just press okay to get back to the Home screen.
- Confirm the Success of the Bluetooth Connection: To check the success of the connection, you can play any video on the TV and see if the audio comes from the soundbar.
If the audio is not coming from the soundbar, check the audio output setting and make sure this is set to Bluetooth.
What If a TV Doesn’t Have Bluetooth?
Don’t worry if your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth. Luckily, there are devices that can help you complete the connection without having to switch to a new TV with Bluetooth capabilities. Using a Bluetooth adapter, you can connect your TV to the soundbar, regardless of whether the TV supports Bluetooth functionality.
Here are some Bluetooth adapter recommendations for various port compatibilities:
Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver
This Bluetooth 5.0 adapter (on Amazon) is ideal for a number of devices that do not natively support Bluetooth functionality. It is also one of the best choices for TVs that host an AUX port.
Make sure the device’s mode is set to “TX” (Transmit). Once confirmed, connect the adapter to the soundbar. In between, use the AUX output to connect the device to your TV.
If your TV has an RCA output instead of AUX output, get the RCA to AUX cable. This will allow you to use the same adapter connected to a TV without an AUX output.
Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver With a 3.5 mm Wireless Audio Adapter
If your TV is missing the RCA or AUX out and only has the digital optical out, you will need more than just a Bluetooth adapter.
Hence, you must look for a device such as the Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver with a Digital Optical Input (on Amazon). Connect one end of the digital optical cable to the SPDIF In or Digital Optical In on the adapter and the other end to the TV’s digital optical out port.
Once again, make sure to set the device to “TX.”
Two-In-One Bluetooth/Audio Adaptors vs. One-Way Bluetooth Transmitter
The two-in-one Bluetooth/audio adapters are capable of transmitting for input as well as output. However, there are others that only allow one-way transmission.
Hence, if you want to buy a one-way Bluetooth transmitter, choose the one that’s right for you. In other words, for a TV that is incompatible with Bluetooth, choose the transmitter that can hook up to your TV’s audio-out jack.
Just be sure that the TV sound setting is selected to go through your audio jack and not the built-in speakers.
Is It Better to Connect a Soundbar With HDMI or Bluetooth?
While pairing your Soundbar wirelessly to the TV sounds like overkill, you may want to find out if it is a better choice than the standard HDMI connection.
So, let’s compare the two connectors in terms of various parameters, one by one, to understand which option will suit you the best.
Support for Audio Formats
HDMI is capable of supporting a variety of audio channels, ranging from 2.1 to 7.1 and all the way up to higher channels. This means that using an HDMI cable can provide you with the best sound quality.
The same isn’t true for Bluetooth. Depending on the model, the support for audio formats differs widely. And, it still isn’t as capable as HDMI.
Bluetooth is only capable of playing mono or stereo (2.0 channels) audio. It does not support any surround sound audio formats and typically can’t play audio in a lossless format.
Control Signal Support
Another major perk of the HDMI connection is its support for the control signals. That said, you can use your TV remote to control the soundbar as well. Hence, you can stream videos using just one rather than toggling between different remotes.
With an HDMI cable, you can use the volume control button on the TV’s remote to access soundbar settings. And the rest of the buttons will work for the TV as intended.
It is essential to bring this up. After all, we connect soundbars to enhance the audio experience. If the audio device isn’t able to do that, then what’s the point of having it in the first place?
When it comes to HDMI cables, there is no room for discrepancies. This is the most stable choice of connecting the TV to the soundbar. On the other hand, you may experience a few notable issues with the Bluetooth connection.
For instance, you may experience latency issues, occasional pairing-offs in between videos, and issues syncing with the video. This results in the constant need to check the connection and redo the setup.
Flexibility to Move the Soundbar
This is the only parameter where Bluetooth takes the lead over every other connection choice, including HDMI.
Connecting your TV to a soundbar through Bluetooth eliminates the need to use clumsy cables. Instead of trying to reach the difficult-to-locate HDMI ports on the TV, all you have to do is use the remote to complete the connection settings.
Plus, because of the wireless connection, you can even change the location of your soundbar from time to time in order to achieve a better audio experience.
So, Should I Use Bluetooth or HDMI Cables?
If you want to experience great audio quality, choose an HDMI cable. Not only does it support higher channels and bitstreams, but it also offers the highest connection stability.
However, that does not mean Bluetooth isn’t good. You can consider this option to play music instead of videos. That way, the audio out sync won’t matter at all.
You can also depend on the Bluetooth connection to watch standard YouTube videos that use simple stereo sound anyways, which is supported by Bluetooth.
Overall, stability will still be an issue with Bluetooth. The connection is easily disturbed by the presence of any radio device, such as a wireless mic. The unstable nature is too frustrating to deal with for many people.
Simply put, if your preference is a stable home theater setup with the highest sound quality effects, choose HDMI. Otherwise, if you like to move your audio device often and prefer a tidy setup that doesn’t involve cables, go for Bluetooth.
Tuesday 8th of November 2022
Hello Mr. Matthes, your writing style made my shopping for speakers so much more pleasant. You are informative while easy to read and understand. I like your common sense approach to this subject and I appreciate your article. Finally, I am able, at 66 yrs. old to shop for speakers a bit wiser. Thank you, Sir!