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How to connect and set up your sound bar

For better TV sound and music

In a nutshell: Connecting a basic sound bar to your TV is easy. But what if you want to connect your cable box, Blu-ray player, and game console to your sound bar? We'll answer the following questions:

  • What cables do you need?
  • Which jacks should you plug them into?
  • Which settings will you have to change in your TV's audio menu?
  • Which sound bar settings will help you make the most of your new purchase? 

The last time I hooked up a sound bar, about five years ago, there was practically nothing to it. I had it up and going in under five minutes.

When I went down to the Crutchfield Lab to set up one of the latest models, it was a different story. This thing worked like a home theater receiver, with connections for several A/V components and lots of different ways to play music. It took a bit longer to set up, but it was worth every minute.

You can still find a no-frills sound bar you can hook up and have working in no time flat—I'll cover those here, too—but having more options is a good thing.

Intro image

Now that I've gotten this sound bar hooked up, it's fun to see what it can do. Here I am taking advantage of the sound bar's Bluetooth connection to stream music from my phone.

The easy way: components connect to the TV

Are you connecting your cable box, Blu-ray player, game console, or other components to your TV? Then it’s a snap to connect and set up a sound bar. The sound bar's role in this scenario is simply to sound better than your TV speakers. An optical digital audio cable transfers the audio signal from your TV to the sound bar. You continue to use your TV remote to switch sources.


In this example, your TV has control of your input selection, and passes the audio signal to your sound bar.

Setup tips for optical digital connections

  • Deactivate your TV's speakers. From the TV audio menu, you'll either turn off the built-in speakers, or select "external speaker."
  • If your TV can send digital surround sound formats through the optical output, but your sound bar doesn't decode them, set the TV's digital audio output to PCM.

Scenario 2: components connect to the sound bar

Wall mounted TV with sound bar on cabinet below

If your TV is wall-mounted and your sound bar sits on the furniture below, it makes sense to use your sound bar as the hub for your A/V components. You'll only have to run one cable to the TV.

If you choose to connect your components to your sound bar, installation will take a bit longer. The HDMI soundbar connections guarantee you the best sound quality from Blu-ray soundtracks and other multi-channel formats. (That's because many TVs can't send digital surround sound formats through the optical output.)


Here, your HDMI sound bar keeps control of your system's inputs, and passes the video signal to your TV.

Sound bar menu

An HDMI connection carries both audio and video signals. It lets you view the sound bar's onscreen display

Setup tips for HDMI connections


ARC (Audio Return Channel) lets you connect a sound bar to your TV with a single HDMI cable

If your TV and sound bar both have an HDMI jack marked ARC (for audio return channel), a single HDMI cable (version 1.4 or higher) is all you'll need. If your TV doesn't have an HDMI/ARC input, you'll need both optical and HDMI connections between the TV and the sound bar. You may have to activate ARC on your TV.

Setup menu

Some sound bars, like the Sony HT-ST9 I hooked up, offer an onscreen display to walk you through the setup process.

You're not quite done yet

Once you've connected the sound bar to your TV, it's time to complete the setup. Learn how to take advantage of all the features a sound bar offers. Let's start with the subwoofer.

Sound bar with subwoofer

If your room setup is flexible, try placing the subwoofer in different locations to find the sound that's right for you.

Many sound bars include a wireless subwoofer to round out the sound. You just need to make sure the subwoofer is plugged into the wall and switched on. In most cases, the sound bar and its subwoofer are preset at the factory to work together, so the connection is automatic. With higher-end sound bar models, you may need to activate the subwoofer through the onscreen setup menu.

Wireless subwoofers can be placed just about anywhere in the room, within about 30 feet of the sound bar. You'll get more bass if you place the subwoofer against a wall or in a corner.

Soundbar app

Some of today's sound bars offer a variety of useful listening modes and other settings to fine-tune the sound. You can use a remote control app on your mobile device to make the adjustments.

Cool tweaks for better sound

Sound bars don't just make your TV sound louder — they also add some adjustment options. These features help you get the most out of your sound bar.

  • You may find specialized processing modes for movies, music, games, and sports. These can really make the sound more engaging. Give them a try.
  • Do you have trouble hearing dialog over background sounds? Dialog enhancement makes spoken words easier to understand.
  • Sync settings remove any delay between the action onscreen and the accompanying sound.
  • Night mode keeps the volume from getting loud enough to disturb neighbors or family members when you're watching late night TV.
  • Compressed music enhancement makes MP3s and streaming music sound more full and natural.

Sound enhancements like these go by different names depending on the sound bar model. You can access them with the remote control that comes with the sound bar, or possibly from an onscreen menu or remote app.

Use Bluetooth for near-limitless listening options

Bluetooth® lets you stream any music you listen to on your phone or tablet to your sound bar. If you watch a video on your device, you can stream the audio to your sound bar.

Follow these steps to stream audio to your sound bar using Bluetooth:

  • Activate Bluetooth on your phone or tablet.
  • Select the sound bar as the device you want to stream to.
  • Select what you want to hear, and press play.

Some sound bars, like the Sony HT-ST5000, even let you transmit TV sound to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, or to a Bluetooth speaker in a nearby room.

Bluetooth transmitter screen

Screenshot of a sound bar's onscreen display showing Bluetooth transmitter option.

Follow these steps to transmit TV sound from a compatible sound bar to another Bluetooth device:

  • From the sound bar menu, designate the sound bar as a Bluetooth transmitter.
  • Select your Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speaker as the device to stream to.

Depending on the model, the sound bar may be muted when you transmit sound via Bluetooth to another device, or it may continue to play.

What does networking capability add?

With the sound bar connected to your network, you can stream from different online music services, and even your own PC. You'll also have access to quick firmware updates for your sound bar. Another cool aspect of networking capability is that some sound bars can work as part of a wireless multi-room music system.

Sound bars may offer both wired and wireless connections to your home network. The network connection setup will vary across models, but as long as the sound bar is connected to your router, the process is more or less automatic. Consult your sound bar's manual for specific setup information.

How do I control this thing?

For a basic sound bar without many advanced features, it makes sense to keep using your TV remote. With the sound bar connected via HDMI, you should automatically be able to use your TV remote to control volume. If you use the optical digital connection, just follow the instructions in the owner's manual to teach your TV remote to control your sound bar's volume.


Here are three different examples of sound bar remotes, to give you an idea of the wide variance between models.

Since some sound bars have more advanced features than others, the remote controls that come with them are all different. A sound bar's remote control might let you adjust subwoofer volume, for example, along with other available sound tweaks. It may be as advanced as a receiver remote, with controls for source-switching.

SB app

The menu screen on the Sony HT-ST9 remote app mirrors the options on the sound bar's onscreen display menu.

You may even be able to use an app on your phone or tablet to control your sound. Remote apps and sound bar remotes let you access settings you can't get to from your TV remote.

Last updated 7/17/2019
  • Lance from Cool

    Posted on 10/8/2019

    I just picked up a sound bar and sub I just want to use it for I need to have it hooked up through a optical cable to get it to work through bluetooth?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 10/9/2019
    Hi Lance! I strongly suspect you'll only need it plugged into power in order to play music via Bluetooth. Happy listening!
  • Steve from Rocklin

    Posted on 9/6/2019

    What's the best way to hook up my TIVO Roamio to the Sony soundbar. I really want to just use the TIVO remote for on/off, volume , mute. The TIVO has optical and HDMI but not ARC. The LG TV and Sony soundbar have optical and ARC.

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 9/10/2019
    Hello Steve! I would probably hook the TIVO up to your Sony sound bar and then use the ARC connection between the sound bar and your LG TV. You should be able to program the TIVO remote to control volume and on/off, but TIVO support should be able to help you with that if you have trouble. Thanks, and good luck!
  • Warren from North Plympton

    Posted on 8/17/2019

    Hi Emily. I am about to buy a Sony 65 inch tv X95G 4kTv and an LG 5.1.2 soundbar 570W and the guys at the tv store said that i wont be able to maximze the capability of the dolby atmos due to different brands. According to them the HDMI ARC will not be communicatiing well due to being different brands.

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 9/10/2019

    Hi Warren!

    It's not necessarily the different brands that might cause trouble for you. If both the TV and sound bar have eARC capabilities, you'll probably be fine regardless of brand. But from your description, I'm guessing you are looking at the LG SL10YG sound bar. It's an otherwise great choice, but it doesn't actually have eARC.

    You could still be okay for Atmos content if you are running your sources into the sound bar. But if you want to watch anything streaming from a smart TV back to your sound bar, then the regular old ARC unfortunately isn't going to pass that Atmos sound.

    I hope that helps a little! If you need more assistance, feel free to call, chat, or email with one of our Advisors.

  • Kay P. from Waycross

    Posted on 8/2/2019

    I have a soundbar (RCA) and a Sony tv that only has a Firestick we use to watch movies. I have used the red and white cables, an audio cord, and an digital optical cord and still no sound! I turned off tv speakers and no sound!! Help please

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 8/29/2019
    Hello Kay! It's hard to walk through possible solutions in a comment reply since that requires a bit of back and forth. Fortunately, every Crutchfield purchase comes with a lifetime of tech support! I bet our tech support team can help you resolve that sound issue in no time. Good luck!
  • Lori Kepple from Post Falls

    Posted on 7/16/2019

    We had to connect our sound bar to our TV with a red, white cable with a headphone plug in the back of the tv. It's the only way it would work. The sound isn't as great as I hoped but it's better than the tv speakers were.

  • Dee dee from Seattle

    Posted on 6/10/2019

    My Sony soundbar goes to mute when I switch inputs. I have a Sonos connect plugged into Sony soundbar hdmi ( via a component to hdmi adapter) in HDMI 3 for music, and tv plugged in using optical and hdmi in soundbar hdmi port 1 . It seems like the tv and soundbar are fighting for control of the ports. So when I switch to tv screen, the sound bar keeps playing music, then when I try to Select the soundbar to tv, it mutes. Then I have to select the correct port on tv again. Thoughts?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 7/15/2019

    Hey Dee Dee!

    I'm sorry you're having trouble getting everything to work together. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the Connect. Have you tried using optical for that instead of the adapter to HDMI? If you can make an ARC connection between the TV and soundbar, you won't need the extra optical cable there (but I guess that's a big "if!").

    I'm afraid it's a little hard to walk through possible solutions in a comment reply since that requires a bit of back and forth. Fortunately, we offer free tech support with every purchase. Reach out to our team, and I bet they can help you get that port problem resolved in no time!

    Thanks and have a great day!

  • Ken Holloway from Oklahoma City, OK

    Posted on 5/27/2019

    I have a Bose Soundbar 700, Bose Base 700 unit and the 700 wireless surround speakers. I need to connect a SAT box, DVD player, and PS3 to individual TV (Samsung model 6300 series) HDMI inputs. I am uncertain the best way to interface the soundbar with the TV. The soundbar has a HDMI (ARC) (doesn't state input or output) and optical audio output jacks. The TV's HDMI ARC is the HDMI2 input as well. Am I correct in thinking I can use either the TV HDMI ARC jack via HDMI to the soundbar's HDMI ARC jack, or must I use the TV's optical output to the soundbar's Optical input?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 7/15/2019
    Hi Ken! So sorry for the delayed reply. That ARC connection should be all you need between the TV and sound bar, but give us a call if you have any more questions.
  • E from cincinnati

    Posted on 5/16/2019

    I would like to use a soundbar to complement my TV speakers. Is it possible to play audio through both the soundbar and the tv speakers together at the same time or does using the sound bar prevent you from using TV speaker and vice versa?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 7/15/2019
    Hello E! That might be possible, but I'm not sure you'll enjoy the results that much. The sound bar alone should be worlds better than your TV speakers. But if it's still not getting it done for you, try digging into the manual to see if there are other sound modes or settings you might try. And if you have any more questions, don't hesitate to get in touch. Thanks!
  • Nancy G from LARGO

    Posted on 4/12/2019

    Hi! Love this article! I have an issue tho... I have a Samsung TV without an ARC channel, a cable box with HDMI and a Samsung Soundbar with HDMI in and out and also other formats like optical, usb, etc... I have the Cable out HDMI connected to the HDMI in on the sound bar and then the HDMI out from Soundbar connected to the TV. This set up does not allow me to use the soundbar for Smarthub content. To fix this, I also connected the TV to the soundbar via the optical cable. My issue is, when I turn on the TV with the cable remote, all is well, the tv goes on, the cable goes on and the sound bar goes on, the problem is, the soundbar for some reason, goes to the D. In channel. So i have to hit source, and then the "idiot proofing" on the tv wants to search for a different output. I ignore this and have to manually select HDMI on the soundbar. How can I turn it all on and have the soundbar default to HDMI? Im thinking this is because the tv doesn't have the ARC channel? Should I just connect the tv directly to the cable box via HDMI and remove the HDMI from the equation? or something else?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 7/15/2019
    Hi Nancy! I think I would definitely try your idea of connecting the cable box directly to the TV via HDMI to see if that resolves the problem. If you have any more questions, please get in touch. Thanks and have a great day!
  • Teri Merchant from Hemet

    Posted on 3/30/2019

    So frustrated! We have a RCA television connected to dish network cable box, a sound bar and we just bought a Blu-ray player. Everything we believe is plugged in properly, but when we put a movie into the Blu-ray we're not getting the sound on the sound bar. We had to buy a small cable That goes from the sound bar to the television we don't have an optic cable on the television. Not sure how to be able to use our Blu-ray and watch a movie with the sound bar is the problem Maybe settings on the television? We've tried changing them and no

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 4/2/2019
    Hi Teri! That does sound frustrating. And I'm afraid I can't solve the problem in a comment reply since it really requires a bit of back and forth. Fortunately, we offer free lifetime tech support with every purchase. I have no doubt our tech support team can help you fix that sound issue in no time. Good luck!
  • Gary from Oklahoma City

    Posted on 3/11/2019

    There is a Scenario 3 that you didn't really address. What if you have a BluRay, Cable box, Sound Bar and TV and you want to connect with a receiver?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 3/12/2019

    Fair point, Gary! This setup guide is really only about powered sound bars — those self-contained, self-powered speaker systems that don't require a separate receiver.

    If you want to use a receiver with a sound bar, you'd be connecting a passive sound bar to your receiver with speaker wire (making it more like a three-in-one home theater speaker than it is like a typical sound bar).

    Then your BluRay player, cable box, and TV would all connect to your receiver, much like they connect to the powered sound bar in scenario 2 (since the sound bar in that case is acting almost like a mini-receiver).

    Thanks for the note!

  • oneoldbmwguy from Stafford

    Posted on 3/2/2019

    Will the Bose 700 soundbar complete system (w/bass module and rear surround speakers) work with a Yamaha TSR-7850 A/V? If so, is there any special connection sequence? Thanks for any assistance!

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 3/12/2019

    Hi there!

    The Bose Soundbar 700 is a powered bar with its own built-in amplification, so there's no need to use a separate receiver.

    But if you already have a Yamaha TSR-7850 you want to use, you might want to consider a passive sound bar. It would allow you to use your receiver for its processing power and connections, but you'd still get the streamlined footprint of a bar.

    I believe that receiver also allows you to add a pair of MusicCast 20s or MusicCast 50s as surround speakers.

    Still not sure what to do? One of our Advisors would be happy to help you find the right fit for you.

  • Jeff K from Chandler AZ

    Posted on 1/30/2019

    I have my Directv 4K mini Genie, LG OLED TV, DVD player and Samsung soundbar connected via the "easy way" you described. However, I have noticed some Audio - Video lip sync issues. Using sync adjustments on the TV and soundbar do not solve the problem. However, when I go to the "Standard Audio" on the Directv box, instead of "Dolby Audio", the lipsync issues go away. How do you suggest I proceed?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 1/31/2019

    Hey Jeff!

    Man, that sounds really annoying. It's hard to walk through possible solutions in a comment reply since that requires a bit of back and forth.

    Fortunately, we offer free tech support with every purchase. So get in touch with our tech support team — I bet they can help you get that lip sync problem resolved in no time!

  • Lonnie Parmenter from Forsyth, Mo

    Posted on 7/28/2018

    I purchased a Soundbar speaker from Amazon. We have set it up for the volume to be controlled by the TV remote. We also have the charger hooked up to the speaker to charge continousily. We have to reset the speaker every 2 hours because it shuts itself off. Has anyone got any ideas on how to solve our problem??

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 7/31/2018 Hi Lonnie! Your best bet is to contact either Amazon or the manufacturer of your sound bar to resolve this issue. They should be able to help you out (especially if it's still under warranty)!
  • Sharon from Roseburg

    Posted on 7/13/2018

    All I want to say is thank you so much. After 1 hour 50 minutes my boyfriend and I finally got the new sound bar (Yamaha YAS-107) to work with our Roku 3. For us it was all solved by your simple diagram above. You may have saved a relationship here. Lol

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 8/6/2018 I'm so glad that ended happily Sharon! I'm going to pass your comments along to the writer and the designer for the article. I'm sure they will be pleased — it's not every day you get to save a relationship!
  • Arun from Walnut Creek

    Posted on 7/5/2018

    Like every other Smart TV, mine too came pre-installed with Netflix, amazon etc. and I have a sound bar connected to the TV using the optical cable. My questions is, if i play everything directly though smart content on the TV and have nothing else attached (like Blu-ray, direct TV or any sort of receiver etc.), should I use HDMI for connecting to the sound bar or the normal optical cable will work fine, since nothing else is connected?

    Emily S. from Crutchfield on 7/10/2018 Hi Arun! That optical digital cable should be all you need. If it's not working, you may just need to deactivate your TV's speakers. From the TV audio menu, you'll either turn off the built-in speakers, or select "external speaker." We also offer free tech support with every order, so if you run into any trouble you can call us at 1.800.955.9091 to get some help.
  • rich

    Posted on 2/27/2018

    good article...i've found that having a sound bar from the same mfg as the tv generally makes he connections and operations in point, i have a samsung tv with a visio bar (had good reviews) in the bedroom, but i have to use the bar remote to turn the bar on and control volume...with my new lg tv and lg sound bar they connect automatically and i control everything with the tv remote...much easier for my wife to deal with??

  • Ashley from Exmouth

    Posted on 12/30/2017

    Good step by step, still can't get mine to work, other than a low hum occasionally. am taking it back to the shop !

  • Dean & Melissa Gegwetch

    Posted on 9/30/2017

    Thank you so very much. We can now here our TV in the 18 wheeler.

  • kw from Salem, OR

    Posted on 7/10/2017

    Wow, shouldn't be this friggen complicated.

  • Rosemary Miner from Colfax

    Posted on 3/9/2017

    When using my Sony HT-St9 with my smart lg tv, the voices and their mouths do not sync together. Using the TVs sound, it resolves the problem. Why does the mouths not sync with the sound bar.

  • Jason from Kenosha Wisconsin

    Posted on 2/20/2017

    I'm looking for all soundbars that can transmit to Bluetooth headphones. My assumption would be the sound would be muted on sound bar then I can listen in the headphones. I know I can do this with a cheap Bluetooth receiver plugged in to the TV, but I really want to do this via the sound bar to reduce complexity. Thanks!

  • lorraine from forster Australia

    Posted on 1/1/2017

    Hi , I have just purchased a LG SOUNDBAR that has all the connection options on it . I have a 3 year old LG TV that has only one HDMI connection and no optical cable connection ans no headphone jack . I want to connect to connect a new Sony Blu-ray player as well ..So I connected all everything with HDMI and nothing worked so I connected the optical cord from the soundbar to the Blu-ray and I have great sound from a CD and DVD but no picture and the TV just sounds the same . Can someone help me, What can I do to get a picture from a DVD and better sound from the TV.

  • Dan from Illinois

    Posted on 12/21/2016

    If you hook up a sound bar through the ARC HDMI on the TV and sound bar do you need to run your cable box, blu-ray, etc back through the sound bar? Or can you leave it connect to the TV? The ARC connection still plays the sound through the sound bar regardless if the accessories are ran through sound bar. If both options work, which is the best?

  • jules from oceansiden ny

    Posted on 12/10/2016

    Thank you You've answered some key questions for me.

  • Cecile from Orting

    Posted on 12/2/2016

    I have a TV with HDMI Arc, HDMI AV In, and another HDMI. I connected a soundbar with HDMI Arc to the TV HDMI Arc. I connected my Panasonic bluray w/ HDMI Arc to TV via HDMI AV In, and cable box to the third HDMI on the TV. All is good except I don't have any sound from my bluray? What did I do wrong?

  • Jonathan Hiott

    Posted on 11/28/2016

    How would I connect a soundbar to my TV with this setup: TV only has one HDMI input, which has the Roku going into it. TV does not have ARC. TV has optical out and coax out. Soundbar has optical in and coax in. My question is how will the TV output sound on the optical or coax if the TV input is selected for HDMI in for the Roku?

  • Lynda from Tenby

    Posted on 11/26/2016

    Sadly, this does not help me to connect my sound bar to my TV. Sound bar has an optical socket only. TV has no optical arrangement. Help please from anyone? I also have a TalkTalk YouView box in the equation.

  • Carol Fehring from Green Lake

    Posted on 10/29/2016

    Any ideas as to where to hide the power brick DC adaptor that goes with the sound bar power cord? It is quite large.

  • Gerry from Redding, CA

    Posted on 8/5/2016

    Awesome step by step instructions. Thank you for taking the time to explain things.

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/12/2016

    Carole, I've forwarded your comment to an Advisor to look for a solution. They'll contact you soon.

  • Carole from New Windsor

    Posted on 5/9/2016

    Can I connect Bluetooth headset to a Bluetooth sound bar to a TV that's not Bluetooth compatible and hear the sound from the Sound bar to the headset

  • Don Hanson

    Posted on 1/12/2016

    You provided some useful comments regarding locating the subwoofer to get good acoustic performance. Any comments on the effect of location on the acoustic performance of a sound bar? How about on a shelf in front of the TV? Is it better on the wall? If I put a 36" bar in a shelf unit (say 42" wide x 12 " high x 15" deep and open in front), will there be any resonance or interaction problems with the enclosure?

  • Carole from Queens , NY

    Posted on 1/6/2016


  • Donald Robertson from Albuquerque

    Posted on 11/14/2015

    Remember the 'good old days' when all we worried about was WHO would GET OUT OF THE CHAIR and go change channels and/or fiddle with the TV volume? Those WERE the days!