Last Updated on January 4, 2023 by Norvan Martin
Let’s face it, built-in TV speakers just aren’t good enough to create an immersive cinematic experience.
To really enjoy your system’s audio, you need external speakers. However, to connect external speakers, many people will tell you that you need a receiver.
While receivers are great to have, they are expensive and you may not have the funds for that, or you may have one but it’s broken.
So, the question is, how can you connect your TV to external speakers without a receiver? In other words, how can you connect your TV directly to external speakers?
If you are looking for an example of how to connect a TV to an external speaker, you can check out our article on how to connect a Sony Bravia TV to external speakers.
Why Is A Receiver So Important?
So what is a receiver really? A receiver also connects to your audio and video sources, routing audio, and visual data to the respective devices. It is the nerve center of your home theater system.
For example, your receiver connects your TV with your home theater system by receiving audio data from the TV and sending it to external speakers. TVs generally don’t have direct speaker outputs to drive your speakers directly, which requires that you have a receiver.
This is because your receiver can also work as an amplifier (preamp) when connecting external speakers. This means the receiver boosts the signal from the input device to the level of power necessary for the external speakers.
The other great benefit of receivers is that they are normally able to connect to multiple speakers.
That means you can pair your receiver with a complete set of speakers. Most receivers also come with a remote for easier control of video and audio input and output options.
But What If You Don’t Have A Receiver?
Although a receiver is an important component in your home theater system, not having one doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy solid audio performance.
On the other hand, you may have a receiver but it’s not working. For example, many of our readers have recently asked why would the HDMI output on my receiver stop working? That can be due to several factors and it’s just one of the faults your receiver might develop.
That’s because a receiver isn’t the only way you can connect your TV to your speakers. Here are other ways to connect your speakers directly to the TV without a receiver:
1. Use Wireless Connectivity or Bluetooth
Wireless connectivity is among the most convenient ways to pair your TV with your audio system.
However, most TV owners overlook wireless connections like Bluetooth, while others choose wired connections for better audio quality.
- When you don’t have a receiver or connecting cables, Bluetooth connections come in handy if your TV and speakers have the option. Here’s how to connect your TV to your speakers via Bluetooth:
- Turn your TV along with the compatible Bluetooth-enabled speaker. Put the speaker into Bluetooth pairing mode and make sure it is discoverable. See the product’s user manual for how to do this, if needed.
- Go into your TV’s menu and find the audio setup menu. Navigate to the Bluetooth audio device list on your TV and select the speaker to pair with. A typical menu structure will look like this: Settings > Sound > Sound Output > Bluetooth Speaker List. It may be somewhat different depending on your TV, you can check the user manual.
- Select Bluetooth and start the pairing process. Wait for confirmation that the TV and sound system are paired.
Keep in mind that not all TV and speakers support Bluetooth connection, so it’s worth checking when buying.
2. Use a Two-Channel Amplifier
If your speaker doesn’t support Bluetooth connectivity, you needn’t worry because two-channel amplifiers are a great alternative.
In this case, a two-channel amplifier works similarly to a receiver, linking your TV with the speakers.
Two-channel amplifiers are relatively more affordable than receivers, and they drive enough power to your speakers to enjoy an excellent audio performance. Unfortunately, most two-channel amplifiers don’t pack a lot of power, so it’s always good to check your speaker’s power rating and TV output power before connecting.
Connecting your speakers to the TV through an amplifier is pretty straightforward, especially if you already know how to connect a receiver.
One of the quickest ways to connect speakers to your TV using a stereo amp is through a cable box. We illustrate the connection below:
If you don’t have a cable box, here’s how to connect your TV and speakers using an amplifier:
- Place the amplifier close as possible to your TV, ideally within 4-6 feet, for easier connection without a long cable.
- Turn off all your equipment before connecting any cables.
- Locate your TV’s analog or digital connections. Analog connections are usually labeled “Audio Out” and might be available as a single 3.5 mm mini-jack or two RCA ports. An HDMI out port or optical digital output will be available for digital sound. Most TVs will at least have at least RCA audio outputs (sometimes called phono jacks).
- Locate the analog/digital audio input on your amplifier. A typical amplifier will likely have several input options, depending on the type of amplifier. However, most amplifiers will offer at least RCA audio inputs.
- Using a cable with the right speaker connectors on each end, connect the audio output from your TV to the amplifier’s audio input. Of course, this will depend on the type of connection you are making. For example, if your TV only has a stereo headphone output (called a 1/8 stereo jack) and your amplifier only has RCA audio inputs, you will need to use a “1/8 stereo to RCA” cable. Remember, not all inputs and outputs are compatible, so be careful when choosing cables.
- After plugging in everything, turn on your TV and amplifier. Make sure you’ve set a low volume setting before you start testing your audio system.
What If The Speakers Don’t Produce Any Sound?
If there’s no sound coming from your speakers after switching on your TV and amplifier, ensure your speaker’s A/B switch is active.
Another thing to check is your TV’s audio menu and especially if the TV has inbuilt speakers. You’ll need to switch off its internal speakers and turn on the TV’s audio output in some cases.
3. Using a Hub
While most people aren’t familiar with hubs, they’re a great option for connecting your TV to the speakers without the need for a receiver.
A hub is a type of repeater often used for regenerating weak signals and creating local area networks and connecting your computers and a server. However, it works similarly to a receiver, making it an excellent alternative.
Hubs are generally smaller than receivers and they are a lot cheaper, thus making it great for people on a budget. There are two main types of hubs:
- Active Hub – Also known as an Intelligent hub since it checks the data’s algorithm before transmitting it.
- Passive Hub – Doesn’t check your data’s algorithm before transmitting it. There are some old passive hubs out there in use, but it’s not common.
When using a hub to replace a receiver, you can get a passive hub since it’s more affordable. However, an active hub is better.
4. Use Powered Speakers
As mentioned earlier, TVs don’t have enough power to drive passive speakers without an amplifier or receiver.
For this reason, you need a speaker with an inbuilt amplifier if you’re planning to connect your TV directly without a receiver or an external amp.
Fortunately, there are lots of powered bookshelf and in-ceiling speakers available on the market today.
Most powered speakers can deliver solid audio performance, though they won’t always deliver a thumping bass. Additionally, they need their own power source to work, though most of them also feature wireless connectivity capabilities for easier setup.
You can find cheap powered speakers on the market, though most sophisticated sets feature a self-powered sub for more immersive bass response.
Nonetheless, small powered PC speakers will still work fine, though they often don’t pump out in terms of bass.
5. Use a Soundbar
Most soundbars can deliver an immersive audio experience using only one wire to connect to your television.
When connecting your TV with your soundbar, there are two main approaches worth trying:
- Set up your soundbar as a hub and pass your devices through it. That means you’ll only run a single cable to your TV.
- Set the soundbar as a speaker and connect all other devices to your TV. After that, connect the soundbar to your TV.
These two options highly depend on whether your TV and soundbar are ARC compatible. Here are several connection options available, starting with the option that gives you the best audio quality:
HDMI connections are the best option for connecting your TV to the soundbar. They can transfer huge amounts of uncompressed audio data in digital format, allowing you to enjoy new cinematic audio experiences.
Unfortunately, most TVs only have input-only HDMI ports, so you’ll want a set that supports HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel). To take advantage of this option, ensure you have a TV with an HDMI connection input that is labeled HDMI-ARC.
HDMI-ARC allows you to transfer audio signals originating from the TV to an HDMI-ARC-equipped soundbar.
When connecting your TV through HDMI-ARC, make sure the other end of your cable is plugged into your soundbar’s HDMI Out or HDMI-ARC.
Only use the HDMI-In port while connecting other devices like gaming consoles and Blu-ray players.
- Digital Optical Or Coaxial
Digital optical is a popular and easy way to connect up your TV to your speakers. Digital optical audio connections are a popular way to send high-quality audio between TVs and speakers. They are also known as TOSLINK connections.
Digital optical or coaxial cables are the next best options for soundbars that don’t support HDMI connectors.
Optical cables are different from coaxial in that they have square connectors (TOSLINK) while the latter use some circular connectors, though they are both very easy to connect your TV and soundbar.
- Wireless Connections
With most modern soundbars and TV sets, you can pair them wirelessly through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other technologies. A wireless connection makes the soundbar setup flexible while enjoying a decent musical performance without a receiver.
- Analog Connections
If none of the above modern connection options are present, you can hook up your soundbar using analog connectors. These connectors relay analog audio signals so that you can enjoy a full surround sound experience. They include RCA and 3.5 mm connectors.
Using an RCA connection is the most basic way of connecting your TV, especially for older TVs.
RCA connections are your TV’s analog stereo outputs that provide left and right audio connections. Please however note that this is like a direct connection and so you will need to use power speakers.
Here is how you can complete the RCA connection:
- Connect RCA cables to the analog audio output of the TV.
- Connect the other ends of the RCA cables to the corresponding analog audio inputs on your powered speakers.
- Ensure that the TV is set to output analog audio
6. Direct Connection
While this solution seems like the simplest option for connecting your TV speakers to the TV, it’s not the best option.
A direct means you’ll be connecting the speaker plugs directly to your TV ports. In other words, you will connect your TV’s analog audio outputs to your speaker’s analog inputs (spring clips or binding posts).
This technique might work for some people, though it might not work with most passive speakers as your TV might not satisfy the power demands required by the speakers.
As such, direct connection isn’t the most recommendable course of action when you don’t have a receiver. In fact, be careful because you can damage your TV if the speakers pull too much power.
Please also note that direct connections don’t deliver great audio performance. As such, if your high-quality speakers sound terrible, then that shows the direct connection isn’t working for you. Sure, you can get some audio from the speakers, but the connection might ruin the overall quality.
Of course, a direct connection can’t be achieved if your TV has no audio out. Check out our article on how to connect external speakers to TV without audio output.
Can You Use Surround Sound Speakers Without A Receiver?
So do you need a receiver for surround sound? For traditional speakers, a receiver is highly recommended, and almost always required. However, for active Soundbars with wireless or satellite speakers, a receiver is not unavoidably needed. Passive Soundbars, on the other hand, will require the use of a receiver.
Do I Need A Receiver For TV?
Yes. It is perceptible that A/V receivers act as the nerve center of your home theater system. They perform a horde of essential functions, including decoding your DVD’s surround sound formats, driving your loudspeakers, and switching between audio and video components. So, if you want high-quality surround sound, you need a receiver and a high-quality A/V one.
What Is An Audio Receiver On A Tv?
An audio/video receiver (AVR) is a consumer electronics component used in a home theater. Purposely it is designed to receive audio and video signals from several sources, process them and provide power amplifiers to drive loudspeakers and route the video to displays such as a television, monitor, or video projector.
A receiver is a crucial component of any home theater system and for anyone looking to enjoy a rich and immersive audio experience.
However, if you don’t have a receiver or if it’s not working, for example, if you have blown your receiver channel, you need a different process.
Fortunately, there are several good alternatives to connect your modern TV with speakers even without a receiver. Though most of these methods might work with your TV, we hope you found an option that suits you!
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. 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.