Great sound is important to a cord cutter’s home entertainment setup, whether you’re streaming movies, TV shows, or your favorite music. As modern TVs get slimmer, speakers tend to get weaker and less satisfying to listen to. So, most people who want better sound are forced to find a solution outside of their TV. More often than not, that involves a soundbar. But with so many different products and manufacturers today, we’re sometimes left asking, “Do soundbars work with any TV?”
The short answer is no. While it’s often easy to connect a soundbar to a TV, not every soundbar and TV will be compatible. Try these tips:
- Find the connection types on your TV and soundbar
- Find a good location for your soundbar
- Research possible brand issues
- Install necessary adapters for compatibility
Once you know which available connections you have to work with between your TV and soundbar, you can then work out whether you simply need a cable of one type, such as HDMI, or if you need some adapters to get the two working together. The availability of almost any type of adapter these days makes connecting TVs and soundbars very easy in most cases.
It’s important to factor in where you want to put your soundbar and any peripherals it comes with, such as satellite speakers or a subwoofer because this will help to determine whether you’ll need to hard-wire everything together or if you’ll be connecting things wirelessly.
Make sure to check for any possible compatibility issues between the manufacturers of your TV and soundbar. For example, some Roku TVs require a Roku-specific soundbar if you’re going to be setting your system up wirelessly. More on that later.
Once you’ve gathered this info, grab any adapters you might need and enjoy your new sound system.
What types of connections should I look for on my soundbar and TV?
The main types of connections you are likely to run into are:
The first five options in this list are hardware connections. You can easily check for them by looking at the back of your TV set and the back of your soundbar. (Each connection in the list above is linked to an image or article where you can easily see what each one looks like if you’re not familiar with them.)
The last two on the list aren’t hardware connections, and you’ll most likely need to check the manufacturer’s specifications to see if your devices support them. Bluetooth and WiFi support are normally found on newer devices, so if your TV or soundbar is quite old, they probably won’t support either one. However, it never hurts to check.
With this number of possible connection types, it’s no surprise that you’ll be able to hook up a soundbar to nearly every type of TV. You may also need to utilize adapters along the way, but between Amazon and your local big-box store, you should be able to find everything you need.
Connecting a soundbar to an older TV
Since older TVs utilize older technology, obviously, this is the situation where you’ll have the biggest challenge. This is even more true if you’re trying to incorporate a new soundbar that uses newer connection types than your TV does.
As long as your TV isn’t one of the earliest prototypes from back in the 1900s, you should be fine. RCA connectors and cables were designed in the 1930s, so you should at least have those available. They’re solid technology, and they’re still available in stores and online too. You can also very easily find adapters to go from RCA to HDMI or 3.5mm Aux cables.
Connecting your soundbar to a newer TV
The fact that newer TVs are packed with newer types of connections means that it’s a lot easier to get a soundbar talking to a TV built recently. This is especially true if your soundbar is new as well. Even if your soundbar is an older model, however, you should still have more options for getting them to work together if your TV was built within the last few years.
One of the nicest things about newer technology is that you have the option to either connect your soundbar with cables or to set up your sound system wirelessly. Bluetooth and WiFi are both options available on many newer devices.
Connecting your system wirelessly provides the most flexibility with where you can put your soundbar, subwoofer, and satellites.
There are issues to consider when connecting wirelessly though. Even if you can get your system set up without wires, you may still be dealing with performance problems and spotty connectivity. So, make sure to do a bit of research before you opt to ditch the wires.
Even though this article is about connecting a soundbar to a TV, we have to remember that some of us will be connecting at times through our streaming devices. The best streaming devices will also allow you to connect a soundbar wirelessly. But be careful of some issues and gotchas.
Issues with Fire TV Stick and 2.4Ghz networks
One of the possible issues you could run into has to do with the Amazon Fire TV Stick running over a 2.4Ghz WiFi network. If you do have an older router, and you’re running your Fire TV Stick over an older network, you may see a warning message pop up when you connect your soundbar over Bluetooth.
We had this happen for a while until we upgraded our home network. The annoying thing was that until the connection settled in, the sound would skip and lag. It took about five minutes before the soundbar and TV would sync properly. Since we’ve upgraded our router, we haven’t had that problem at all.
This is important to consider because both our TV and soundbar are both pretty new. It shows how important a well set up home network is to your overall entertainment system.
Connecting a soundbar to a Roku
Another issue to be aware of is with connecting a soundbar to a Roku. For some reason, this is harder than it should be. Roku devices are, for the most part, quite good. However, in order to connect a soundbar to a Roku TV, you need to have a specific Roku-compatible soundbar.
It’s easy to find a soundbar that will be compatible with a Roku TV. Many manufacturers are providing these types of devices. However, it can be really frustrating to settle on a great choice, get it home, and be unable to connect it because it isn’t a Roku-enabled soundbar.
Do your homework.
Placing your soundbar in your room
Where you decide to place your sound system in your room can have massive effects on the quality of your overall sound.
One option is to simply keep the soundbar right at the bottom of your TV. Placing it on the stand or table along with your TV typically means that it’s going to be at the proper angle and distance from where you’ll be watching. This also gives you the option of connecting your device either directly into the TV with cables, or wirelessly if both of your devices support that.
If your TV is mounted on a wall, however, you may have to get creative with where you place your soundbar. A small console table underneath your wall-mounted TV can be a great solution. If you have one, go ahead and use that location just like you would if your TV was sitting on the stand as well. If you don’t have a table under your TV, you’ll have to either pick one up or possibly mount your soundbar to the wall as well.
What to do with subwoofers and satellites
Since subwoofers don’t need to be visible to work, you can much more easily place them where you want them. Hidden in a closed entertainment system is a decent idea, but you may lose storage space that way. If you have room behind a couch or some other furniture, you’ll still most likely feel the bass just fine.
If your soundbar system comes with satellite speakers as well, you’ll want to do some experimentation. It’s important to think carefully about how your room is constructed and what’s in it. Corners can act like funnels, pushing sound out in all directions. Mounting satellite speakers in corners near the ceiling can be a great way to fill the entire room with sound.
The key is to listen to your system with each piece placed near where you think you want to fix it permanently before screwing in any hardware. It’s much easier to make changes this way, and you won’t need to patch and paint any holes.
Choosing the right soundbar – the wrap-up
So, do soundbars work with any TV on the market? As we’ve seen, there can be some hurdles to overcome in choosing the right soundbar for your specific home entertainment setup. And, not all soundbars will work with every TV. However, with the number of adapters available, and the vast array of connection types available, you can almost always get a soundbar to play well with a TV.
If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments.