How to Connect TVs to Speakers or Stereo Systems

Norvan Martin
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Though most TV comes with inbuilt speakers, the sound quality doesn’t necessarily match your desire to enjoy high-quality surround sound.

That’s because most modern TVs are very slim and therefore have limited space to include powerful speakers.

This is where your TV falls short in giving superior sound quality to match the high-definition video.

Your best bet is to purchase an external audio system and connect your speakers to your TV. These external audio systems may include home theater receivers, soundbars, and many others.

If you want to get a great sound experience, an external audio system is a much better alternative to regular internal speakers.

Below, we explore several options that you can use to connect your TV to your speaker or stereo system.


OPTION 1: RCA Connections

Besides being easy to connect, RCA connections are the most common way of sending sound to your external audio system.

tv audio out to speakers

These analog stereo outputs are available in most television sets and they don’t require any specialized training or skill in order to set it up. Here are a few pointers to help set up everything perfectly:

  • Firstly, while you could always use regular RCA cables, its best to get good RCA cables that deliver audio properly such as the Mediabridge ULTRA Series Subwoofer Cable or this iXCC 6ft Gold-Plated Cable.
  • Locate the RCA audio outputs (probably labeled TV audio out) on your TV set and connect the audio cables. The other side of the cables should also be inserted into the corresponding audio inputs of your home theater receivers, stereo receivers, powered speakers, or soundbar. However, your external sound system needs to include an inbuilt amplifier, since regular speakers will rarely give you nice audio performance.
  • Since these analog connection outputs are dependent on your TV, they send a two-channel stereo and allow you to enhance your listening experience. This means you can use the external audio system to enjoy a total surround sound experience.
  • If you are using a home theater, you should be able to get a surround sound signal from this system, by using additional audio settings. To get this, you should look for features such as llx or Dolby Prologic II and use them to enhance your listening experience.
  • If connected to a soundbar, look for any sound enhancement capabilities and tweak them to your satisfaction. Such capabilities may include virtual surround sound that allows you to get a surround sound experience, by expanding the soundstage.
  • Some TVs may have a 3.5mm mini-jack instead of an RCA audio output, requiring you to use an adapter cable. However, many high-tech television sets don’t have analog audio output options, leaving you to explore the other two options when trying to improve your sound quality.

OPTION 2: The HDMI-ARC Connection

Formally known as an Audio Return Channel connection, it’s a nice way of connecting your TV with external speakers.

This option requires your TV to have an inbuilt HDMI connection port that’s indicated as HMDI-ARC. Keep in mind that not all HDMI ports have ARC capabilities and you need to check before you start to connect.

Your external sound unit also needs to have the same capability, for you to successfully connect them.

The HDMI ARC connection allows you to smoothly send the sound signals to your home theater or soundbar, without having to separate analog and digital audio connections.

It’s physically done by connecting an HDMI cable to your TV set and using the same cable to connect your audio output unit. The cable not only receives audio signals from your TV, but it also outputs video signals.

connect digital tv to analog stereo

Since ARC-enabled HDMI connections don’t need you to separate the audio signals, you can highly cut down on the cables connecting to your TV set.

That means you can quickly avoid having a clutter of wires around your house while enjoying an amazing audio output.

It simplifies your audio system setup and is very convenient when it comes to controlling the sound output. However, you may need individual HDMI cables if you need better sound quality.

When connecting your TV using this option, you need to ensure that the ARC output is active. Keep in mind that though TVS can automatically detect ARC-enabled devices, some units may require you to manually turn on this feature.

Luckily, you can easily activate this feature from the menu, under audio settings. You can also check the user manuals to know how you can turn on this feature on a television set. So, purchase a good HDMI cable such as this 6 ft 4K HDMI Cable 6 ft Cable and get going!

OPTION 3: Digital Optical Connections

Digital optical audio connections are a better way of connecting your TV to an external audio system, compared to RCA connections.

tv audio out to speakers digital

This connection uses fiber optics to digitally transfer audio signals from your TV to a compatible sound system. Here are a few tips to help you use this option and enjoy an improved listening experience:

  • Firstly, you will need optical cables if your TV does not come with one. An excellent choice is the Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable.
  • Just as with the RCA audio connection, connect your digital optical cable from your TV to your home theater or soundbar. This cable will be coming from the TV digital audio out. You need to ensure that you connect to the corresponding digital input, to ensure that you successfully transfer the sound to your external audio system.
  • Depending on the type of TV that you have, digital optical connections can give you a 5.1 channel audio output or a 2-channel sound signal. You can enjoy programs and movies broadcasted in Dolby Digital sound or DTS 2.0+ signals.
  • If you don’t get any sound after connecting your TV to an external sound system using this option, you should check your television’s audio settings. Check for PCM in your sound settings and adjust it to see if it solves the problem for you. This will mostly happen if your soundbar has a digital optical connection feature, but lacks the capability to decode Dolby Digital or DTS 2.0+ sound.
  • If everything is well set up, the sound output should be great. However, you should note that Digital Optical Connections are not suitable for transferring video signals. This means that you need a different connection option if you want to enjoy a fantastic listening experience while enjoying your videos. Luckily, the audio connection is awesome.


OPTION 4: Analog 3.5 mm Connection

Most stereo speakers have 3.5 mm connectors. These connections can be connected to the analog headphone output on your TV. 

Please note that this does not work for surround sound. For example, while you can connect a 5.1 speaker with a 3.5 mm jack to your TV, you won’t get surround sound. 


If your TV does not have or does not support RCA connectors for audio output, it may have the 3.5 mm headphone out port.

You can use this port to connect the TV to the speakers since they are the same connectors used on laptops, tablets, phones, etc. Therefore, you will need a 3.5 mm audio jack to connect to the TV and an RCA jack to the speaker.


How To Connect Speakers To TV Without a Receiver

Connecting speakers to the TV without a receiver can be done using the 3.5 to 3.5 mm audio cable. To do this, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Switch the audio source back to source number one. 

Step 2: Take the first end of the cable and plug it into the auxiliary port. 

Step 3: Connect the other end of the cable to the headset input. You will find this on the side of the TV.

Step 4: Adjust your sound system’s settings when it pops up on the TV. You can also go to the audio settings and adjust the mute option on the TV. 

This connection ensures that the TV is muted and the sound comes from the speaker system instead. As a result, all the music you play using the 3.5 to 3.5 mm will come out from the speaker instead of the TV. 

How To Connect TV Sound To Home Theater

Connect a Coaxial Digital Cable, Optical Digital Cable, or Audio cable to the Audio Output jack on your TV. Proceed by connecting the other end of the line to the corresponding jacks on the home theater system. Depending on your device, the audio input may be labeled TV INPUT or VIDEO INPUT. 


So there you have it, the answer to ‘how do I connect speakers to my TV’. Now, hooking up speakers to your TV should be a breeze. Enjoy that surround sound!

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin