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How to Connect Speakers to Your TV in 5 Easy Steps

Speaker system connected to a TV

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The best way to improve your movie experience at home is to connect your TV to a speaker system. But how do you do it? Learn how to connect speakers to your TV.

One of the best ways to improve your watching experience at home is to upgrade the sound in your room.

While every TV has built-in speakers, they aren’t the best way to really enjoy a movie or TV show.

The question is, how do you connect better speakers to your TV?

Unless you are pretty knowledgeable about technology, it might seem a difficult task. But, once you understand your options, you’ll find it’s not so complicated.

Follow this step-by-step guide to connecting speakers to your TV.

Connecting a TV to a Speaker System

TV with a speaker system

In this article, we will learn how to connect your TV to a speaker system.

Because there are several different ways of achieving this, it can appear complicated, but it’s not difficult once you think it through.

How you wire it up depends on the type of speaker system you want to use and the connection types on your TV.

Let’s take it one step at a time and look at the options.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Step 1: Choose the Type of Speakers

Stereo speaker system with tv remote

Firstly, you should understand the options for adding speakers to your TV. There are a few ways to do this, and you may find one is better for you than another.

The main methods of adding speakers to your TV are a soundbar system or a separate amplifier and speakers.

For stereo speakers, you can use a 2-channel hi-fi amplifier – or you should buy an AV receiver if you want surround sound.

Whichever one you choose, the methods of connecting them to your TV are similar.

Step 2: Check Your TV’s Audio Output

Audio outputs on the rear of a TV

To get the sound to a speaker system, you need to use your TV’s audio output.

Most modern TVs have an audio output of some description, and this will allow you to send the sound that you usually hear on your television speakers to a speaker system.

In modern televisions, the audio output is usually a digital optical out or an HDMI ARC connection. Many TVs will have both, and you can choose which is the most convenient to use.

If you have an older TV, other standard output connections are coaxial digital audio or stereo analog audio – either RCA or 3.5mm.

Look on the back of your TV and identify the audio output type. If you are not sure, it will tell you in your TVs manual.

Step 3: Identify a Matching Audio Input on Your Speaker System

Now that you know which audio output your TV has, you can consider how to connect it to your speaker system.

The easiest method is to use the same connection type as your television’s audio output. So, if your TV has a digital optical output, you should connect it to an optical input on your soundbar or amplifier.

Using an HDMI ARC connection from your TV is convenient, but your soundbar or amplifier will need to support HDMI ARC for this to work.

A coaxial digital audio output should connect to a coaxial input – and a stereo analog output connects to a matching stereo analog input on your amplifier or soundbar.

If you haven’t yet purchased your speaker system, you should ensure the one you buy has the correct audio inputs for your TV.

If you already have a speaker system and don’t have the right audio inputs, there are several converter cables and interfaces that allow you to change the connection type.

Step 4: Connect the Cables

Now you know which audio connections you will use, you need to connect them with a cable.

For optical connections, plug an optical cable from the TV’s output into the optical input on your soundbar or amplifier.

If you are using HDMI ARC, you need to make sure that you connect the cable into the TV’s HDMI port labeled ARC – the other end of the HDMI cable will go into the HDMI connector on your speaker system.

Check your manuals if you are not sure which HDMI ports support ARC.

You will need a coaxial digital audio cable to connect the TV’s coaxial output to the input on your amplifier.

If you are using stereo analog audio, a simple stereo RCA cable is required to connect your devices.

Step 5: Test the Audio

Now you have connected your TV to the speaker system; you can test if everything is working.

Turn on your TV and speaker system. Play some content on your TV and see if you can hear the sound on your speaker system – you may need to turn down the volume on your TV speakers to avoid having the sound from two different places.

If you have a smart TV, using an app like Netflix can be a good way of testing movie audio.

In most cases, you will now hear the TV’s sound on the speaker system. If not, check you have selected the correct audio input on the amplifier.

Also, some TVs require you to choose the audio output that you want to use. Go into the televisions audio settings menu and see if there is an option to select the output.

You may have to change this from the TV speaker option to the output you are using – like optical, coaxial or HDMI ARC.

Alternatively, there may simply be a menu option to turn off the TV speakers. This is a good idea if you are using external speakers.

Supply:

  • 1x audio connection cable – either HDMI, optical, coaxial or stereo RCA depending on your connections

Tools:

  • No tools required – maybe some cable ties to tidy the wires after

Frequently Asked Questions

I have covered the standard methods of connecting your TV to a speaker system. However, many issues can arise when considering this subject.

Here are a few more answers to common questions.

Can I Connect Speakers Directly to My TV?

Generally, no. The only speakers that can connect directly to a television are active speakers with a built-in amplifier.

For example, most soundbars are active, and so you can connect these directly to a TV via optical or HDMI ARC.

You can’t connect passive speakers directly, and you will need to wire these to an amplifier.

How to Connect Speakers to My TV with Speaker Wire?

You can’t connect speakers directly to a TV with speaker wire.

We use speaker wire to connect passive speakers to an amplifier, and they won’t work if you try to connect them directly to a TV.

To connect passive speakers to a television, you need to first send the TV audio output to an amplifier.

The only speakers that you can connect straight to a TV are active speakers, like soundbars.

How to Connect External Speakers to a TV Without an Audio Output?

It is unusual for a TV not to have an audio output.

If you are looking for the old-style stereo analog audio output, these have been replaced in recent years by digital audio outputs like optical and coaxial connections. You can use these to send the audio to a speaker system.

However, if you have a very old television with no audio outputs at all, you will have to be more creative.

The best solution will be to use an external box to get content to the TV, like a cable box or media streamer.

Before sending the picture to your TV, you can use the audio outputs from these boxes to send to your speaker system.

How to Connect Speakers to My TV Without a Receiver?

You don’t have to use an AV receiver to send your TV’s audio to a speaker system.

While an AV receiver makes connecting a speaker system to your TV much easier – and gives you surround sound – you can use a simple stereo amplifier or soundbar instead.

With coaxial, optical or stereo analog connections, you can connect a stereo amplifier to your TV’s audio output.

Or, you can wire an active soundbar directly to the digital audio output from your television.

If your TV supports Bluetooth, another option is to connect your TV to a Bluetooth speaker.

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How to Connect Speakers to Your TV in 5 Easy Steps

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About Home Cinema Guide

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.

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