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How to Get Sound from a Projector to Speakers

Well, nobody said a projector setup would be easy, did they? The projector in the ceiling, the mounted projector screen, figuring out some wired or wireless solution for the projector’s actual video source…at this point, you may be wondering when all the “fun” will end and you can simply kick back and enjoy your setup. But not so fast, there’s one big problem left to solve–getting the video sound from your projector to your speakers. There are two main methods of accomplishing this:

To get the sound from your projector to the speakers using an A/V receiver:

  1. Power off all the equipment and plan the arrangement
  2. Using an HDMI cord, connect your audio source to an A/V receiver
  3. Connect the A/V Receiver to the speakers
  4. Power on and test

Click or tap here to jump to the in-depth descriptions of this method.

To get the sound from your projector to the speakers directly:

  1. Power off all the equipment and plan the arrangement
  2. Connect the speakers to the projector’s audio port (a 3.5mm jack, a set of RCA jacks, or Bluetooth)
  3. Connect the speakers using the audio cable, or by Bluetooth pairing
  4. Power on and test

Click or tap here to jump to the in-depth descriptions of this method.

It seems pretty simple, right? It can be if you have the right equipment, and the right cables, and you already know what type of sound system you’d like to set up (how many channels). If you have all that sorted then you know everything you need to move forward. Now, all you need is the details. Let’s get started:

Method 1: Connect your Projector to Speakers using an A/V Receiver

Step 1: Power off all the equipment and plan the arrangement

This step might seem to speak for itself. It’s easy to unplug things, after all, and even easier to move it all around. Well, except for the fact that the projector may be already mounted. So planning the arrangement of your equipment ahead of time will save you tons of time and effort on the back end.

At its best, planning the system will help make the setup clean and reliable. At its worst, the lack of planning will leave you needing to redo the job from scratch. 

As far as placement goes, you no doubt know where you’d like the projector to go (and probably already have it there). You probably have at least an idea of the potential screen position in mind, as well as the general area you’ll be sitting in.

Now, you need to aim the sound at that spot, and your speaker choice will be majorly determined by this decision. If you’re really trying to get your money’s worth and pump out 7.1 channels of sound through an A/V receiver, it’s critical to plan where there the A/V receiver and speakers will live permanently.

Step 2: Connect your audio source to the A/V Receiver

A/V Receivers can be intimidating. Without fail, they’re bigger than most house-pets and likely have more I/O ports than the rest of your setup combined. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about making the right connections.

Run your audio source to the A/V receiver, typically by way of an HDMI cord directly from the video source or maybe a SPDIF cable from the projector itself.

Step 3: Connect the A/V Receiver to the Speakers

With the receiver input handled, you can turn your attention to the speakers. Connect the correct speaker channels on the receiver up to the appropriate speakers.

I would definitely consider doing this before everything’s mounted so that you can test the speakers and connections before installing them. If you’ve already gone to the effort and expense of a installing surround sound setup, this troubleshooting step will definitely be worth it.

Step 4: Power On and Test

Assuming that the power cables for all of this (the projector, A/V Receiver, the speakers themselves, etc.) are all taken care of and plugged in, you’re now ready to test your A/V Receiver setup. Go ahead and power it all on and start streaming something.

If you don’t immediately hear anything, don’t panic. Your projector may be muted, or the cables might not be in all the way. Troubleshoot these things first, finding the projector remote or getting a step-ladder out to reach its physical volume buttons if you have to. Then go around to the speakers and take the audio jacks in and then out again. Do this with the projector too.

If the system still doesn’t work, check the video source: it should be sending the audio file along the HDMI cable, so, if you have any reason to suspect that is the issue, start looking into it next. It could be as simple as the video source’s audio volume is low, like in the case of projecting from a computer.

Method 2: Connect your Projector to Speakers Directly using Audio Cables or Bluetooth

Step 1: Power off all the equipment and plan the arrangement

Compared to the A/V Receiver method, this step may seem easier at first glance. There will be far fewer speakers to manage since most projectors under a 4-digit price tag will only really support the typical 2-sound-channel options via their RCA and 3.5mm jacks.

However, if you’re using the direct connection method with these cables, you still have to think through the placement of the speakers and cable management ahead of time.

Even in the case of a very simplified setup, like using a single soundbar that can live just below the screen, there will still be at least one cable to plan and hide. The alternative here is to skip the middle man entirely and use a Bluetooth speaker.

There will be no connection cables to hide (though you might still have to use a power cord) but the wireless connection will really help simplify this step for you.

Step 2: Connect the Speakers to the Projector’s Audio Port (3.5mm Jack, Set of RCA Jacks, or Bluetooth)

Again, this is simple enough. The speaker location and projector location are set, and you’ve figured out how to get the cable from one to the other in a kind of visually tolerable way. So now you just need to plug them in. What could go wrong?

At about this point, or toward the end of the last step, you may have realized that while most speakers and audio equipment ship with audio cables that are in the 3-6 ft range, you’ll likely need something that is more than 10-20 ft to do the job right. This is OK. There are cables made to solve this exact problem, like the 50 ft Ruaeoda 3.5mm cable, (on Amazon) or this 25 ft CabelDirekt RCA cable (also on Amazon).

Finally, if you’ve opted for a Bluetooth connection, there are two options. First, you may go for the most simple/elegant solution of having a projector that has Bluetooth built-in, which will streamline the process.

If your projector doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in, there are more options here to add the connectivity you need. You can refer to this article [INSERT LINK] for more details about how to do that.

Step 3: Connect the speakers to the other end of the audio cable, or pair your Bluetooth Speaker

If you’re using some kind of centralized audio bar like the Vizio SB3821 (on Amazon), this step will be a cinch. You don’t have any cable management to do except A to B, so once you’re plugged into the soundbar, you’re good to go.

The variation on this occurs if you have a dual speaker setup, but it’s still as straightforward as you’d expect. Take your 2 RCA cables and manage them separately however it makes sense, connect to each speaker in a way that works for the aesthetics of your room.

For Bluetooth, the setup should be a breeze. For a projector with built-in Bluetooth, navigate to its pairing menu, then put your speaker in pairing mode, and the rest should be more or less automatic. If your projector doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in and you’ve added an aftermarket option, reference the instruction booklet for the steps on how to connect it to your speaker.

When you get everything installed and in the right place, and the actual audio cables hooked up or speaker paired, you’re finally ready for the final step: to power, it all up and test it.

Step 4: Power On and Test

Once you have all the cords plugged in or the Bluetooth speaker paired, go ahead and power everything on and see what happens. Reference the steps above, for the A/V method, to do some quick troubleshooting if you don’t hear anything through the speakers immediately.

As mentioned before, check all the cables and projector/source volume settings. If you’re using a Bluetooth speaker, consider un-pairing and re-pairing the speaker to another source to test it before worrying if how the projector is broken.

Non-Bluetooth Wireless Options

You should always be open to considering something different. Projectors almost always have audio jacks, and that will almost always be the least expensive, most direct solution to the audio issue; using those existing ports. But, as discussed above, there are potential problems with cable management to be dealt with that may naturally deter you.

If you suspect there’s something simpler, you’re right: there are ways to simply wirelessly project your projector to a set of speakers. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this, except stripping the audio off of the HDMI source projector with a dedicated extractor like this one (on Amazon).

Some projectors might have Bluetooth already built-in. Others might have advanced internals that can stream directly to Sonos speakers, or which can be made wireless by using an aftermarket option like this wireless RCA transmitter/receiver kit (on Amazon)

Those things do exist, but at best they simply introduce another subsystem to manage, and at worst they introduce another system that can fail. All of the wireless transmitter/receiver options require their own power source, for instance, and will likely complicate your already taxed power outlets.

Your best option for “going wireless”, then, is to avoid complicated wireless options that introduce new equipment, but to force the system to be wireless by requiring fewer wires: connecting the video source itself (the Xbox, the computer, etc.) directly to the speakers. This allows you to minimize what needs to make it to the projector and back.

Why You Might Want To Use An Audio/Video Receiver

And finally, I know you’re out there; people whose home theater projectors cost as much as a used sedan, who plan to use it for 4k content that has matching sound quality (something like Dolby Atmos, or a 7.1 channel stream). If this is you, then you almost certainly need to skip the projector audio question entirely: your streaming box, whatever it is delivering content, should absolutely connect directly to an audio/video receiver.

As you’ve read about the two methods above, you might think that using an A/V receiver adds nothing more than extra steps and another point of failure, not to mention extra expense. However, there’s no getting around the fact that, at best, a projector will have two-channel sound output because, in the end, a projector is designed to project.

If you run an HDMI cord to it and expect it to manage the sound file on that HDMI cord into 7.1 channels of surround sound, not only are you going to be dealing with cable management hell, you’ll be asking your projector to carry all the weight of a receiver–the device that is designed to do that audio management–without any of the dedicated hardware for it.

So if you want the highest quality possible, although it might require more time and money to set up, the A/V receiver method is the one for you.


So, there you have it. The final step in the projector setup process is yours for the taking. If you can deal with cable management, speaker arrangement, and testing it to find out if it’s all working, you’re finally ready to kick back and enjoy the home theater setup you’ve been working toward.