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How To Connect A Soundbar To A PC – 4 Easy Methods!

If you spend a lot of time-consuming media on your computer, you might have realized how tinny and low-quality the speakers built into monitors are. Computer speakers are one solution, but they often leave you with cables everywhere. You might be surprised to know that in a few quick steps, you can connect a soundbar to your computer:

  1. Figure out if your computer has a 3.5mm AUX out port, an optical port, an HDMI port, and/or Bluetooth
  2. For systems with a 3.5mm, HDMI, or optical ports, connect the applicable cable to the soundbar
  3. For systems with Bluetooth, pair the soundbar
  4. Set the computer’s audio-out option to the soundbar

In this article, we will guide you through every one of these four connection methods, enhancing your audio experience. Additionally, we will cover soundbar placement tips and give you some top-recommended soundbars for this purpose.

Key Takeaways

  • Soundbars for PC Use: Soundbars offer a significant improvement in sound quality over built-in PC speakers, ideal for an immersive experience in gaming, music, and video streaming.
  • Connection Methods: You can connect a soundbar to your PC using HDMI, Bluetooth, AUX (via the 3.5mm jack), or Optical Audio (SPDIF), with the method depending on your PC’s ports and your preference for wired or wireless setup.
  • The best method: Using HDMI is probably the best method, as it can carry high-quality audio. Simply connect one end of the HDMI cable to the HDMI output on your PC and the other end to the HDMI input on your soundbar.

Suitability Of Soundbars For PC Use

Are PC soundbars a good choice for computers? Absolutely. Soundbars provide a sleek, space-saving audio solution, perfect for enhancing your PC’s sound for gaming, music, or video streaming.

Despite their compact form, soundbars offer superior sound quality compared to built-in monitor speakers. While they may not match the stereo separation of dedicated speakers, they significantly improve the overall audio experience and are a great option for an easy audio upgrade.

Methods for Connecting a Soundbar to a Computer

The good news is, you have a few options here (as we have mentioned in this guide). And the installation is pretty straightforward. If you can find a good spot for the sound bar itself (maybe under the monitor if it’s a “base” style soundbar or even hung under the desk), then connecting to the computer will be a breeze.

Here are the main methods in a quick summary table, and we’ll go into them in more detail below:

MethodDescription
1) HDMIHigh-quality sound, including surround sound. Best for computers with HDMI ARC for advanced control. Requires setting audio output to HDMI in computer settings.
2) BluetoothWireless connection, convenient for laptops or computers with Bluetooth capability. Involves pairing and selecting the soundbar as audio output.
3) AUX Out (3.5mm Jack)Simple, common method, supports 2.1 channels. Requires a 3.5mm cable and setting the soundbar as the default playback device. Suitable for most laptops and PCs.
4) Digital Optical AudioFor high-end or custom PCs with SPDIF/optical out port. Requires an optical cable and checking computer’s audio output settings. Better for enhanced sound quality.
4 Methods of Connecting a Soundbar to a Computer

If you want to get a little more punch out of your system you might want to consider adding a Subwoofer to the soundbar (our guide), but that’s another topic for you to consider after you get your soundbar hooked up.

1) HDMI

HDMI Connector

Using HDMI is probably your best option, as HDMI cables can support high-quality sound including surround sound formats. If your soundbar supports HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel), it’s even better, as it allows for more advanced control features, like Dolby Atmos.

This is really helpful in a situation like this, in which you’ll likely still want to use the screen that your computer is hooked up to for watching things. Once you have the soundbar placed, simply connect it to the computer via HDMI, and then open up your computer’s audio settings.

Because your computer probably isn’t expecting you to want to split things this way, it may take a few clicks to make sure the audio is routed to the soundbar. Don’t be surprised if there’s an audio option that doesn’t reference a speaker at all, and is just described as “HDMI.”

2) Bluetooth

When Can You Connect a Soundbar to a TV via Bluetooth

While some computers already have built-in Bluetooth, others may require an external Bluetooth adapter. Laptops, though, have Bluetooth almost as a standard at this point. It’s hard to find one that doesn’t have Bluetooth that “just works” pre-installed.

Nonetheless, connecting your soundbar via Bluetooth allows for a quick and easy setup without the hassle of cables.

Navigate to your computer’s Bluetooth settings, where you can see a list of devices that the computer can see broadcasting a Bluetooth signal. Then, put your soundbar in pairing mode, and select it from the list.

Once the soundbar chimes to indicate a connection, if the audio isn’t routed automatically, click the speaker icon in the bottom right corner to select the soundbar as the audio output.

3) AUX Out (Using a 3.5mm Jack)

Black Aux Cable

Though this is by far the simplest and most common way to connect your computer interface with a soundbar, you should be aware of its limitations, as AUX can only support 2.1 channels.

Most modern laptops still have a 3.5mm AUX out jack, and custom-built computer rigs usually have a 3.5mm port on the case even if there isn’t a sound card installed.

For rigs with a 3.5mm jack, connect it to the soundbar using a 3.5mm cable. If there’s no sound, ensure the computer’s volume is up, set the soundbar as the default playback device, and select AUX input on the soundbar.

If the only AUX cable you have on hand came with a set of headphones, it’s likely a little short for your purposes. So, rest assured that there are plenty of long, reliable 3.5mm cables that you can get like the DuKabel 26 Foot Audio Cable (on Amazon). And if your laptop only has a USB-C port, there are plenty of USB-C to 3.5mm cable options as well (on Amazon).

4) Digital Optical Audio (“Optical” or “SPDIF” Cables)

Optical Connector

This is the rarest option, but you may indeed have a SPDIF or “optical out” port on your computer. High-end PCs that cost more than a few grand, or custom units with expensive sound cards are more likely to have this option.

However, the details here are the same as the AUX out 3.5mm option: simply get an optical cable that can reach from the soundbar to the computer and plug them both in. Verify the computer’s audio output settings if there’s no sound.

Also, if you are having various issues with digital optical, you should check if the sound card’s drivers are properly installed.

Again, don’t worry too much if you don’t have an optical cable that’s long enough. There are plenty of options online like the KabelDirekt 20 Ft Optical Digital Audio Cable (on Amazon) that won’t hit your budget too hard.

Why Use a Soundbar with a Computer?

Maybe you’re wondering why you’d use a soundbar with a computer at all. It seems like an awful hassle, especially if you have to get an extra-long 3.5mm or optical cable that, ultimately, will be dangling across the room.

Well, the answer is that computers just have a lot more options than any streaming service. Cable, streaming sticks like Fire TV and Roku, and even smart TVs with all your favorite streaming apps built-in all have a fundamental limitation: they’re closed ecosystems that limit your options to what they think you need.

Computers provide a flexible, multi-functional platform allowing for varied activities like streaming, playing files, and video calling, all on a high-quality screen.

But laptop and computer speakers typically lack the power to fill a room, making them unsuitable for a home theater setup. A soundbar offers a simple, effective solution to enhance audio when using a computer for home theater purposes. Alternatively, there’s nothing wrong with using an Echo Dot either (our set-up tutorial).

Where Would You Place It?

Within the compact design of a soundbar, various speakers are strategically arranged inside a single cabinet, effectively generating both stereo sound and a surround sound experience. But, where do you put the thing?

The soundbar should be at the base of the screen, or maybe on a coffee table in the middle of the room if your setup is a little more compact, so place your soundbar based on the manufacturer’s recommendation here.

Use long cables for greater distances to the computer (see our guide on extending HDMI cables), and based on your usage frequency and method, decide if you want to conceal the cables behind walls or under rugs.

Recommended Soundbars to Use with a Computer

If you’re running your home theater off a computer that is fixed in place somewhere, then you’re probably willing to pick the best soundbar and route the audio cables back to the computer, wherever it is. If you’re in a smaller room, be sure to check out our guide on the 11 Best Soundbars for Apartments or Smaller Rooms. Here are a couple of good go-to options.

Therefore, we recommend the Yamaha YAS-109 (on Amazon) because it’s a good, solid pick that will complement any home theater, regardless of where the video is coming from. It has a 3.5mm port, as well as Bluetooth, so you should be able to make it work with almost any computer.

As one of the pricier options, consider the Sonos Playbase (on Amazon). We like this one for its overall sound quality, but note that the only input it accepts is optical, which means you’ll likely need a computer with optical out, or a converter.