If you have a soundbar and projector, you may be wondering if you can connect them. And even though there are several methods to do so, there’s another discussion to be had about whether or not you should.
When connecting a soundbar to a projector, use HDMI/HDMI ARC for the best sound quality. You can also use analog, digital optical or wireless connection. Be sure to turn off devices before connecting to avoid damage. Some of the best soundbars for this purpose are Klipsch Cinema 600 and JBL Bar 2.1.
In this article, we guide you through the steps to connect a soundbar to your projector. Discover various methods like HDMI, Analog, and Wireless, and explore top soundbar choices, ensuring the best audio for your space.
Options for Connecting a Soundbar to a Projector
Projectors usually aren’t ideal for handling advanced sound formats, often limited to basic audio output. Sometimes, however, it’s your only option. Take a look at the table below presenting 4 methods for connecting a soundbar to a projector and what is the method best for:
|HDMI or HDMI ARC
|High-quality audio streams, including advanced digital formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
|Analog Connections (RCA, Aux)
|Basic audio needs, compatibility with older devices, and setups where digital connections are absent.
|Digital Optical (SPDIF)
|Good quality digital audio; an alternative when HDMI isn’t available.
|Wireless (Bluetooth, WiFi)
|Flexible, cable-free setups, ideal for portable or minimalist setups.
Connecting your projector and soundbar is typically as simple as using a correct cable, so you can ensure synchronization. If you’re using cables, remember that it’s necessary to turn off devices to ensure safety and sound quality.
Connecting via HDMI/HDMI ARC
HDMI is the best option when it comes to connecting audiovisual devices. As far as digital sound, HDMI will give you the widest range of options. In addition to supporting surround sound, HDMI cables are also capable of transmitting advanced digital formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X when using the right connections and source.
Connecting HDMI with the Projector as the Source
Connecting a soundbar to a projector is easy: just plug an HDMI cable into the projector’s HDMI port. Your projector may or may not have an HDMI ARC or eARC (our guide) port to allow improved audio quality, but, unfortunately, HDMI ARC ports are rare with projectors. Here’s how you should hook them up:
- With the devices off, connect your HDMI cable to the HDMI/HDMI ARC port on your projector.
- Plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI/HDMI ARC port on your soundbar.
- Turn both devices on.
- Ensure both devices are set to the HDMI channels that you’re connected to.
While many projectors lack an HDMI ARC port, this method will still work effectively, although you might not access some high-quality audio streams like Dolby Atmos. That said, there are some great options like the LG HF65LA Ultra Short Throw LED Projector (on Amazon) and the XGIMI MOGO Pro (also on Amazon) do have ARC ports.
If you’re using a streaming service, the Dolby Atmos should be fed across an ARC or eARC connection just fine. However, using a Blu-ray player or a regular HDMI connection will limit the output to 5.1 channel sound.
Connecting HDMI with an Auxiliary Source
This will require your soundbar to have an HDMI out and an audiovisual input channel that matches an output channel on your auxiliary source. For this setup, do the following:
- With all devices off, connect an input channel on your soundbar to a matching output channel on your external device with a compatible cable.
- Connect the HDMI output on your soundbar to the HDMI input on your projector with an HDMI cable.
- Turn on all of your devices, and turn the source of your soundbar to correspond to the one your external device is connected to.
- Turn the source of the projector to the HDMI channel the soundbar is plugged into.
Although these general instructions are usually sufficient, consult your manual if you aren’t able to get sound on your soundbar or video on your projector.
If you’ve connected all of your devices with HDMI ARC or eARC, you can use a Consumer Electronic Control or CEC (our guide). This feature allows your HDMI-connected devices to send media between themselves and find control for audio levels and quality.
This feature also allows you to use one of your devices’ remote controls for all of your devices. It also allows you to have a master volume control, rather than having to calibrate the volume between your devices.
If your devices support HDMI ARC or eARC, it’s often labeled on the HDMI port. Setup involves accessing the system or audio settings for HDMI ARC and CEC; HDMI eARC features may enable automatically.
Connecting via Analog Connections
Analog connections require more cables but are often more straightforward than digital, as each cable is designated for a specific audio or video component.
Analog’s main advantage is its universal compatibility as long as the port types match, with RCA and Aux being the most common types.
However, unlike digital, analog ports emit sound signals continuously, risking speaker damage if connections are made while devices are on, so it’s crucial to turn off devices before connecting them.
Connecting with RCA
For an RCA connector, the process of connecting a projector to a soundbar involves numerous cables. Although this can seem intimidating, it’s as simple as ensuring you use cables to connect RCA ports of the same color.
For basic 2.x sound, link the red and white RCA ports for the left and right channels. For 3.x channel sound, include the green ports for the center channel.
Some soundbars mimic 5.x surround sound using wall reflections. Connect the left and right surround channels, typically blue and grey, to achieve this.
Typically, a separate subwoofer is included with a soundbar. If your soundbar has one, it may have a subwoofer audio input which is usually purple. Often, if there is nothing plugged into the subwoofer channel, the soundbar will separate the bass from the other channels to be amplified by the sub.
Connecting with Aux
Auxiliary jacks, also known as mini-jacks, 3.5mm jacks, or ⅛ inch jacks, are an analog connection that allows 2. x sound. Generally speaking, AUX cable should be your last option for connecting to a soundbar.
With the appropriate cable, connect to the aux output on your projector and the aux input on your soundbar. You may have to configure your audio settings, but otherwise, it’s really that simple.
Connecting via Digital Optical
Digital optical, once popular before HDMI, is now less common in projectors, especially new ones, though some portable models may still support it.
To set up a digital optical connection:
- With the devices turned off, connect one end of the digital optical cable to the soundbar.
- Plug the other end of the cable to your projector.
- Turn the devices on, and switch the projector to the digital optical channel.
For an auxiliary device like HDMI, it’s ideal to place the soundbar between the device and projector, requiring the soundbar to have a digital optical out and the projector a digital optical in.
Connecting via Bluetooth
Unlike wired connections, pairing wireless connections requires that your devices are turned on. Rather than setting your devices to a particular source or output channel, your devices need to pair.
There are two kinds of wireless connections: Bluetooth and WiFi. As long as both of your devices are enabled for either WiFi or Bluetooth, you can connect wirelessly.
- With both devices on, set your soundbar to pair with Bluetooth according to the instruction manual.
- In your projector’s device settings, find the option to connect with Bluetooth.
- Find your soundbar from the list of devices that are displayed.
- Select your soundbar, and wait for it to pair.
Usually, the soundbar will make a chime or otherwise indicate that the device is paired before broadcasting audio. You can also connect Bluetooth speakers to your projector (our guide).
Best Soundbars For Projectors
This section covers some of the best soundbars for projectors, from high-quality ones to budget-friendly options.
Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System
Klipsch Cinema 600 (on Amazon) offers excellent sound with a 12-inch wireless subwoofer, known for clear dialogues and balanced sound. It’s easy to set up with HDMI-ARC and Bluetooth for streaming. Ideal for those who appreciate clear dialogue and well-balanced sound.
JBL Bar 2.1 – Channel Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
JBL Bar 2.1(on Amazon) is a budget-friendly option that delivers clear, dynamic sound with a wireless subwoofer providing deep bass. It supports Bluetooth and HDMI connectivity and is easy to set up.
Bose Smart Soundbar 300
Compact and elegant, Bose Smart soundbar(on Amazon) adjusts to room acoustics. Features 5 drivers and a tweeter, supporting WiFi, Bluetooth, Alexa, and Google Assistant (in fact, have an article for best soundbars with Google Assistant). Offers clear, spacious sound. Best for users looking for a compact, versatile soundbar with smart features.
Samsung Q700A Soundbar
Samsung Q700A(on Amazon) is a 3.1.2 channel soundbar with clear audio. Includes up-firing channels and a subwoofer, supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. Offers Bluetooth connectivity and Alexa compatibility. It’s well-suited for a diverse range of audio needs, from movies to gaming.
Should You Connect Your Soundbar to Your Projector?
Connecting a soundbar to a projector offers a portable solution for a makeshift home theater, but it has drawbacks. Soundbars and projectors typically aren’t all-in-one devices and may lack advanced features. Using an A/V receiver instead can maximize your devices’ potential.
But! If you just need to get up and running now, without purchasing any more advanced hardware, these are all great options to get the sound out of your projector and into your soundbar. Note that you can even connect speakers to a soundbar (our guide). And once you’re all set up, learn how to watch Netflix on a projector for an amazing home theater experience.