If you recently got a soundbar, or you're simply wanting to streamline your current soundbar/TV connection, controlling both your TV and soundbar with one remote is ideal. Luckily, there is a way to avoid fiddling with multiple remotes and simplify your whole entertainment system.
How to control a soundbar with a TV remote:
While each TV brand's method of connecting to and controlling your soundbar is slightly different, it's fairly straightforward to connect the two. Here's a breakdown of what you need to do to control a soundbar with your TV remote.
Check out your TV and soundbar to see the type of inputs you have available. Many soundbars and TVs have HDMI ARC available, and that is the best connection. However, a digital optical cable is a good alternative.
If your TV and soundbar have both options, you may be wondering which one you should be using. If so, there's some more discussion about that in another one of our articles. Once you've decided which on to use, keep working through the directions below.
Using HDMI ARC, you will connect your soundbar's 'HDMI OUT' or 'HDMI OUT (ARC)' to the 'HDMI IN (ARC)' on your TV.
Using a Digital Fiber Optical Cable (which I'll just refer to as "optical cable" in the rest of the article), you will want to locate the 'DIGITAL AUDIO OUT (OPTICAL)' or 'DIGITAL OPTICAL OUT' on the back of your TV and the 'DIGITAL AUDIO IN (OPTICAL)' or 'OPTICAL IN' on the back of your soundbar.
Whether you are using an optical or HDMI ARC connection, you should have been provided the correct cable with your soundbar from the soundbar manufacturer. Plug in the cable to your soundbar and your TV.
And if you're wondering if you have to have an HDMI Arc cable (as opposed to any old HDMI cable you have lying around like directional cables) the answer is yes! (more on directional cables in our guide). Luckily any HDMI cable sporting the 2.0 standard or further will work, but some listings on Amazon reassuringly call out the ARC capability right in the listing, like the AmazonBasics Premium HDMI Cable.
When using an optical cable, be sure to take off the small plastic caps on the ends and push each side into the TV and soundbar tightly, until you feel a click. And if you either don't have an optical cable or, if the fiber optics in yours have been damaged, a replacement cable like the iVANKY Optical Cable Digital Audio Cable for Home Theater (on Amazon) can be had for a pretty reasonable price.
Now that you've made the connection from your soundbar to your TV via an HDMI ARC or optical connection, make sure that both of your devices are turned on. You can do this by their separate remotes or on using the buttons on the devices themselves.
An HDMI ARC connection makes controlling your soundbar from your TV remote simple, and after your connection is made through the cable, you should immediately be able to hear your TV's sound coming through your soundbar.
If you don't immediately hear the TV's sound, then you need to go to your TV's sound or audio settings and turn off your TV speaker. It should be under 'TV speaker', 'speaker list', or something similar. On this same list, you should see an option for "HDMI Arc" or something similar. Select this option to tell your TV to route the audio channel through the soundbar.
When using an optical cable, there's a small chance that the Television will know to use the soundbar automatically, but it's more likely that you'll have to go find the Televisions speaker selection menu and change it as described above.
Now, using your soundbar's remote (or on the soundbar itself), find the 'Source' or 'Input' button. Look at the display on your soundbar to adjust the input to 'OPTICAL' or an abbreviated version – i.e. 'OPT'.
After connections have been made and settings have been adjusted, you may need to adjust the soundbar's volume to optimize the sound now that it is controlled through the TV.
Start by turning the volume of the soundbar all the way down, using your soundbar remote. Then play around with the volume settings to find the optimal volumes on each device to produce the best sound for your system.
You want to find a range that allows you to use the TV remote for the volume most of the time, and this usually means setting the soundbar at somewhere between 50-80% of its maximum volume output.
While the instructions above are a general way to go about connecting and controlling your soundbar with your TV, many TV manufacturers (and computer makers - our guide) have slightly different ways of going about it. Based on your TV manufacturer, find your listed brand and follow the instructions below.
You can connect your Samsung TV with your soundbar either through a digital optical connection or an HDMI ARC connection. With both methods, use the respective cables to connect the TV and soundbar, and change your soundbar's source to 'D.IN'.
With a digital optical connection to the soundbar from your Samsung TV, hold the left direction on the Samsung TV remote's direction pad to activate or deactivate Auto Power Link, which only works with an optical connection. Be sure to also change the TV's audio output settings, so the soundbar will be controlled by your TV remote.
With an HDMI ARC connection, your soundbar's source will automatically change to TV ARC, then you can use the TV remote's right direction on the direction pad to activate/deactivate Anynet+, which only works with an HDMI ARC connection.
For more information, visit Samsung support.
When it comes to LG TVs, there are a few different ways of connecting to soundbars, and LG TVs come with the LG Magic Remote. You can connect your soundbar to your LG TV through Sound Sync via Bluetooth, a digital optical connection, or an HDMI ARC connection.
To use the Bluetooth wireless connection, you'll want to go to TV settings > Sound > Sound Out, then click LG Sound Sync (Wireless). The Device Selection button will appear and search for your soundbar. Make sure your soundbar's Bluetooth is turned on, then pair the two devices. If you want some more instruction on this, we have a special guide put together just for figuring out a Bluetooth to Soundbar connection.
The digital optical and HDMI ARC connections are made just like the instructions above. You'll use the Sound > Sound Out area to change the output to HDMI or optical.
For more information, visit LG support.
VIZIO TVs are connected to soundbars in the same way as the instructions above, through an optical or HDMI connection. For an optical connection on the VIZIO TV, the port may be called 'S/PDIF', and for an HDMI ARC connection, use 'HDMI 1', which is the ARC port.
When connecting through ARC, your TV may automatically recognize your connection after inserting the cable. Otherwise, use the menu on your VIZIO remote and go to System > CEC, then change the setting to 'Disabled', 'Enabled', or 'ARC only', based on your needs.
Find more information from VIZIO support here.
Sony TVs can be connected to a soundbar through the HDMI ARC connection, an optical digital audio cable only, or with both an HDMI and optical digital audio cable. All of the setups are the same as the instructions listed above. When switching the audio output setting, you'll select 'Audio System' for all setups.
However, Sony support notes that when using an optical cable, functions that require an HDMI connection like power interlock and volume can't be controlled with the TV remote.
Check out the Sony support webpage for more information, including helpful setup information, based on each Sony TV model.
Hitachi is known for its low-priced smart TVs, which often come with Roku TV built-in. Connecting your soundbar to a Hitachi Roku TV is the same as if you use your Roku remote (no matter your TV brand) to control all of your TV and media.
When utilizing HDMI ARC to connect to your Hitachi Roku TV remote, you'll want to head to TV settings > Audio > Audio Preferences. Then, set the 'Audio Mode' to 'Auto (DTS)' to connect to your soundbar automatically. Also, select 'Auto-detect' in the S/PDIF and ARC settings.
After doing this, go back to 'System' on the main settings menu, then go to 'CEC'. Click the checkboxes for ARC (HDMI) to give your Roku remote the ability to control your soundbar.
For more information, check out Hitachi support here.
Panasonic TVs can also connect to your soundbar for controls through the HDMI or digital optical connection. When using the HDMI connection, you'll find the 'HDMI2 (ARC)' input on your Panasonic TV. Luckily, when you connect via HDMI, Panasonic has an app that allows you to easily switch between your TV's speakers and soundbar for audio.
When using an optical connection, the setup is the same as the instructions above. After your optical cable is connected to both your soundbar and TV, you will go to the TV settings, turn off the TV speaker, and change the source to 'Optical'.
If you have any trouble, check out Panasonic's support page here.
Most TCL TVs come with HDMI ARC, so this should be your preferred connection for connecting and controlling your soundbar with a TCL TV remote. Make sure to use a high-speed HDMI cable that supports ARC and CEC control.
After connecting via HDMI ARC, use your remote to navigate to: Home > Settings > System > Control other devices (CEC) > HDMI ARC. Select the button to enable 'HDMI ARC'. In addition, you'll need to disable 'System audio' by unchecking the box by this feature.
Get more information from TCL support.
Hisense TVs can also control your soundbar through the HDMI ARC connection. After connecting the two with an HDMI-certified High-Speed 2.0 cable go to your TV Settings > Sound > Speakers > ARC. This turns off your TV speaker and enables HDMI ARC.
For the best audio possible, you can also change the 'Digital Audio Out'. Go to Settings > Sound > Advanced Settings > Digital Audio Out > Dolby Digital Plus, and then connect using an optical cable.
Get more information on the Nakamichi Help Desk.
As you can see, controlling your soundbar with your TV remote is a fairly straightforward process. You only need to make the connection to your TV and adjust your settings and sound as necessary. Although an optical connection is an option, the preferred, easiest way to do it is through an HDMI ARC connection.