A Bose soundbar can greatly enhance your TV watching experience by providing high-quality audio to complement the visuals. That said, they sure do seem to have a lot of ports on the back, and you may be wondering how to connect your device and get that higher quality audio. You have several options, but all of them are pretty straight forward.
To connect a Bose soundbar to your TV, start by trying an HDMI-ARC connection from the soundbar to the HDMI-ARC or eARC port on your TV. You can also use an optical cable or auxiliary cables, or Blueooth. After connecting, you’ll need to set the audio-out channel on your TV to the soundbar.
A Bose soundbar can greatly enhance your TV watching experience by providing high-quality audio to complement the visuals. We’ll start by covering the four main connection methods as well as how you should think about which one to pick before going right into the setup instructions, so, let’s get started!
First, Consider Your Connection Options
When connecting a Bose soundbar to your TV, there are several connection options to consider. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the soundbar and TV you own. Your soundbar likely has all of these options, with even the most budget Bose soundbars like this one (example on Amazon) offering the four main connection types: Auxiliary, HDMI-ARC, SPDIF/Optical, and Bluetooth.
Auxiliary ports are the simplest connection type and use audio-specific cables like red/yellow AV cables or a 3.5mm jack. This option is quick and easy, but it may have some limitations on audio quality, especially for more advanced sound systems. This is great for a 2.1 channel soundbar like the exmple given above.
An HDMI-ARC connection provides better audio quality and uses an HDMI-ARC port on your TV and soundbar. The HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel) allows audio data to flow in both directions, which further enhances the sound experience. We’ll discuss this option more in-depth later in the article. You don’t need a special HDMI cable for it, but you do need an HDMI-ARC port on your TV. You can examine the ports on your TV and look for one labelled “ARC” or check your TV’s manual or product page to see if you have one of these HDMI ports available.
SPDIF/Optical is another wired option where you connect an optical or SPDIF cable between your TV and soundbar. This digital audio connection delivers high-quality sound but may have some compatibility limitations depending on your devices. Again, you need an optical port on your TV to do this too, so have a look for the odd, square port.
Lastly, the Bluetooth connection is a wireless option that minimizes cable clutter. However, it may introduce some interference or latency issues, especially in areas with multiple wireless devices.
With all this in mind, how do you know which one to pick? Let’s figure that out next.
Picking A Connection Option (Which Is Best?)
Pro Tip: For most people, an HDMI-ARC connection is the quickest and easiest option, followed by using an Optical port connection. Auxiliary will be OK, but is limited to 2.1 channels of audio, and Bluetooth should be used as a last resort.
We recommend the easiest way for most users to connect a Bose soundbar to their TV is using the HDMI ARC port. This method delivers the best audio quality that’s as good as the optical method, but also allows you to control the soundbar using your TV remote. If your TV has an HDMI-ARC or an HDMI-eARC connection, it’s the ideal option. Have a look at our separate article on HDMI-ARC if you need to know more before you pick this option.
However, if your TV doesn’t support HDMI ARC or eARC, don’t worry. Next, we’d recommend an optical connection for the highest audio quality and most stable connection. It will offer up to 5.1 channel sound, instead of the 2.1 that the auxiliary option will be limited to. We have an article comparing optical vs. HDMI audio connections you can look at if you need more help making a call here.
This brings us to auxiliary and bluetooth. Auxiliary ports have the advantage if you already have the cables on hand and you’ve ruled out HDMI or Optical connections as options (maybe because your TV lacks the ports). Use auxiliary if you can, and then Bluetooth as a last resort due to the limited audio channels and possible introduction of wireless stability issues.
How to Connect Bose Soundbar to a TV (Step-By-Step)
Before we begin, make sure you have the necessary cables and your Bose Soundbar and TV are powered off. You’ll see in step two where the steps change slightly depending on how you’d like to connect.
- Choose a connection method: Depending on the available ports on your soundbar and TV, and which cables you have on hand, you can use the information above in the article to pick a connection method.
- Connect the cables (or pair via Bluetooth):
- HDMI ARC: Plug one end of the HDMI cable into your Bose soundbar’s HDMI port, and plug the other one into an HDMI ARC or eARC enabled port on your TV.
- Optical: Plug one end of the optical cable into your Bose soundbar’s audio input and the other end into your TV’s audio output. Be careful not to bend and snap the fiber-optic cable.|
- Auxiliary: Connect an the red and white A/V cables to both your Bose soundbar and the TV. You may also be use a male/male 3.5mm cable, or an AV/3.5mm conversion cable (examples on Amazon), depending on which ports you have available.
- Bluetooth: Turn on the Bluetooth pairing mode on your Bose soundbar by pressing and holding the Bluetooth button on the soundbar or the remote control. An indicator should start flashing. Now, go to the Bluetooth pairing menu on your TV and locate your soundbar in the list of available devices.
- Power on the devices: Plug in the power cords for both your TV and soundbar and turn them on by using their respective power buttons or remote controls. (If you did the Bluetooth connection, they’ll already be on.)
- Adjust TV audio output settings: Go to your TV’s audio settings and make sure the output is set to use the external speaker (your Bose Soundbar) as the primary audio source. This ensures that the sound from your TV will be played through the soundbar.
Now you can test the connection and, if it’s working, you’re all set! If you’re still having some issues, try a different connection method, and have a look at our troubleshooting steps below.
Troubleshooting Common Bose Soundbar Connection Issues
So, if you still have some issues, let’s talk about what they might be and how to fix them. First, always make sure your connections are correct. Ensure both the TV and Bose soundbar are turned on, plugged in, and the TV is set to the correct audio output as described above.
If your soundbar seems glitchy, quiet, or noisy, check for software updates on your TV and soundbar. If you connected via Bluetooth, have a look at this external resource that can help you understand Bluetooth/WiFi interference issues.
In case the audio and video are out of sync, adjust the audio delay settings on your TV or soundbar. Different TVs have different settings, so check your TV’s manual for detailed instructions on adjusting audio delay.
Lastly, if your soundbar randomly disconnects from the TV or won’t pair with a wireless subwoofer, make sure there are no physical obstacles or electronic devices interfering with the signal. Restart both devices and try reconnecting. If you still have issues, go ahead and get in touch with Bose support.
Beyond Connecting: Benefits of Using a Bose Soundbar in Your Home Theater
If you want to step up the audio experience from your TV’s built-in speakers, investing in an external soundbar like the Bose can be an excellent decision. These sleek, compact devices can dramatically improve your home theater experience.
So if you’re looking to upgrade your audio experience while keeping things simple and avoiding clutter, a Bose Soundbar is definitely worth considering, but be sure to look at some more advanced options, like the Nakamichi Shockwafe (our review) for a bigger and beefier system you may want to upgrade to later!