Connecting your TV to a soundbar is an excellent idea to improve your home theater system. However, if you have an older TV, it may not use HDMI or optical and so you can only use a red and white cable (RCA cable).
To connect your soundbar to your TV with a red and white RCA cable, simply connect one end of the RCA cable into the RCA red and white out ports on the TV and the other end of the RCA cable into the red and white RCA in ports on the soundbar. However, a better option is to use HDMI or optical digital if possible.
Let’s get into further details.
What is the Red and White Cable?
The red and white cable is what we refer to as an RCA cable. It has been used for many years to connect old analog audio devices such as stereos and amplifiers.
RCA cables transmit stereo signals meaning left and right audio so they cannot transmit surround sound or more than 2 channels (left and right).
Please note that not all soundbars use RCA and so you won’t be able to connect those using this method. As an example, you can connect the Bose Soundbar 700 to your TV using HDMI, optical or Bluetooth. Most modern soundbars can be connected via HDMI, optical or Bluetooth.
Should I Connect My Soundbar To My TV Using RCA?
The RCA red and white cable should be your last resort for connecting your TV to your soundbar.
RCA Cables Only Transmit Analog Audio: RCA cables only transmit analog signals. Analog signals are not very good at maintaining audio quality due to interference and other issues.
RCA Cables Only Transmit Stereo Audio: Another reason you should avoid RCA cable is if your soundbar has more than two channels or stereo audio. For example, there are many 5.1 surround sound soundbars out there. Many of them won’t even have RCA ports but if you do, and you use it, you won’t get surround d sound.
Now if you have an older TV that only uses RCA, then there are some advantages to using it. For one, RCA cables are very popular and so are easily sourced and cheap. They are also quite durable.
The better option is to use a modern digital cable connection like HDMI or digital optical. To learn more, check out our article on digital cables.
In some cases, you may need to connect your TV and soundbar with RCA because there is no HDMI nor remote available. For example, check out our article on how to connect a soundbar to your Vizio TV without a remote.
How Do I Connect My Red And White Soundbar To My TV?
Connecting your red and white soundbar to TV works best if both the television and the soundbars support RCA audio connections.
RCA uses an analog audio signal between both units, bringing to the fore a better audio experience than TV speakers. However, these cables cannot receive audio formats like Dolby and DTS.
It is worth noting that RCA audio output is usually found in older generation devices. New generation equipment such as Roku, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV is not compatible with analog audio connections like RCA anymore.
They are being phased out and replaced by HDMI. This implies, therefore, that that red and white RCA cable method is only used as the last option when the HDMI ARC or Optical is not accessible.
Here is a step-by-step method you can follow to successfully connect your soundbar to a TV with red and white RCA cables.
Step 1: Assemble The Devices
Assemble the TV and soundbar on a table closer together. The soundbar is the best place under the TV to the front for a better sound experience. Also, ensure they are adjacent to a powered wall socket.
Also, ensure that the devices are turned off before attempting to make any connection. This avoids unnecessary minor accidents that may occur as a result of shocks.
Step 2: Connect The TV To RCA
In the back of the TV, locate the RCA “Audio Output” connector, (red and white plugs).
Take one side of the RCA cable and connect the red plug to the red connector, while connecting the white plug to the white connector to the back of the TV.
Step 3: Connect The Soundbar To RCA
On the backside of the speaker bar, locate the RCA “Audio Input” connectors.
Now take the other side of the RCA cable and connect the red plug to the red connector, connect the white plug to the white connector as well.
Step 4: Turn On The Devices
Once the RCA is securely connected to the TV and Soundbar, turn them on. Begin by switching on the power sockets, and then the TV and soundbar.
Step 5: Configure The TV
When you configure the TV, the internal speakers will be disabled and sound signals routed to the RCA output.
Note that when you are connecting your soundbar to the TV using the red and white RCA cables, the BLACK cable should always be ignored. This is because the BLACK cable is for video inputs only.
How To Connect Your TV To Your Soundbar Using A 3.5 mm to RCA Cable
Another option is to use a 3.5 mm to RCA cable to connect your TV to your soundbar. This can be a good option if your TV doesn’t have RCA out or the RCA out ports are not working. All you need to do is to connect the 3.5mm male plug into the TV and the RCA male plug into the soundbar.
Are Soundbars Worth It?
Soundbars are an affordable, stylish choice offering great sound for home entertainment. They are easy to set up and to use. Besides, they are designed to work with all of the latest technology. Therefore, yes, they are worth it.
Are Soundbars Compatible With All TVs?
When buying any piece of technology, it is common to ask whether it will work with the previous technology and the future ones. That is why many people will ask if soundbars are compatible with all TVs.
Ideally, soundbars are built to work with both older and newer TVs. This is because they are designed with new technologies in mind and will connect through Optical cables, HDMI, RCA, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi.
Furthermore, if for some reasons like solitary remote syncing, corresponding sound features, and design compatibility, matching the technologies by buying similar devices is worth looking into.
Also, whereas many manufacturers recommend buying more of their products so as to make more sales, keep in mind that many of the best soundbars aren’t always affiliated with brands that produce TVs. Besides, all soundbars should work pretty well with any TV brand.
How Do I Connect A Soundbar To My TV?
Connecting an external speaker to a TV can be done in a couple of ways. If you intend to connect your soundbar to augment the sound your TV produces, here are some of the methods you can use to successfully achieve the connection.
- HDMI cable – it carries the most uncompressed digital data for higher sound systems from 1.5 to Dolby Atmos.
- Digital Optical/Coaxial cable – this one transfers digital audio up to 5.1 surround sound.
- RCA cables – they carry only analog audio NOT digital audio. RCA cables cannot be used to deliver 100% digital surround sound.
- Wireless connection – there are a number of wireless methods to connect soundbars to TV today. Some of the most common ones include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
My Soundbar Is Not Working, What Should I Do?
If your soundbar does not work properly after the RCA connection is complete and the devices are on, you can troubleshoot the device by doing the following.
- Select the correct input on the soundbar then try adjusting the volume using the Soundbar’s remote.
- Make sure the TV’s analog audio output is set to “variable” and you should adjust the volume up. Please note that even if the soundbar is set to full volume if the TV’s volume is at zero; then expect no sound.
In fact, as the case may be, always make good use of the user’s manual containing instructions on how to troubleshoot such problems. Sometimes it may even force you to return the unit to the company or vendor for an exchange.
Also, always insist on device pre-testing before buying to mitigate post-purchase dissatisfaction arising from the malfunctioning of the devices.
What Soundbars Can I Connect To My TV?
Here are some of the best soundbars to connect to your TV using red and white RCA cable.
This is hailed to offer the best way to create a truly immersive, high-quality sound experience, with just about every feature and connection option you could want.
It supports Dolby Atmos technology coming with a pair of motorized front speakers, the standard soundtrack of 5.1 with easy-to-use remote, 4K HDR-compatible HDMI inputs, Bluetooth, and Chromecast music streaming.
2. Sonos Arc
It is an elegant all-in-one soundbar that works seamlessly with other Sonos gear and integrates Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. It supports Dolby Atmos, HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) port for easy connection and control through your TV. However, it lacks a remote and HDMI input to directly connect to a source.
This soundbar delivers deep bass and is exceptionally clear with little adjustment needed. It has HDMI ARC, one HDMI input, one optical digital audio input, and built-in Bluetooth that offers good connectivity.
How To Connect Soundbar To TV Without Optical Cable Or HDMI
HDMI and optical connections are the two most commonly used connection modes today. They transmit audio signals without compromising their quality and could even enhance your listening experience.
However, if your device does not support the two or doesn’t want to use them for one reason or another, you have two more options to choose from: go mid-tech with 3.5 mm AUX or go high-tech with a wireless option.
Besides, you can also convert coaxial cables to another type of connection using an auxiliary device.
Sometimes, the process of connecting your soundbar to the TV will require a bit of creativity, adjustments, and a bit of mix and match. Consider the connectivity options offered by your devices to choose the best connection mode.
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