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Why Won’t My Soundbar Work with My TV

Why Won’t My Soundbar Work with My TV

If you have connected your soundbar with your TV and there is no sound or they do not work properly, a number of things could be the issue. Your TV may be incompatible with the soundbar, your settings could be wrong, or it may be due to several other reasons. By knowing the common causes for such a problem, you will not where to look or where to start when troubleshooting.

At A Glance

Most soundbars hook up to your TV via HDMI ARC, Optical cable (TosLink), or analog coax cables. Coax and Optical connections rarely have problems. HDMI ARC can sometimes be finicky especially if you don’t have the right cable or one of your devices isn’t ARC compatible.

If you use an older TV, opt for coax or optical. Otherwise, HDMI ARC is the best option.

Note that all TVs will need you to set the audio channel to ARC, Optical or Coax otherwise you won’t get sound on your soundbar. Consult your TV’s user manual for detailed guides.

Your soundbar may not work with your TV for various reasons:

  • Your TV only has analog outputs and your soundbar has Optical and HDMI inputs
  • Your soundbar only has analog outputs and your TV only has Optical and HDMI outputs
  • Your TV and Soundbar have incompatible HDMI ARC implementation (common in first years of HDMI ARC, not so common now)

The first thing to do when having such a problem is to confirm your connections are okay. Soundbars come with a number of connection options to connect to your TV and other devices. Depending on your type and model of a soundbar, you can connect your devices through the following:

Wireless connection

Some soundbars feature Bluetooth technology for wireless connectivity to external devices. To connect using wireless, both your TV and soundbar should support Bluetooth.

Before starting the pairing procedure, make sure the Bluetooth feature is turned on in your devices.

  1. Select the input source to BLUETOOTH by pressing the source button on your TV remote.
  2. Operate the Bluetooth TV and perform the pairing operation. When searching for the soundbar with the TV, a list of devices found may appear in the TV display. Find the name of your soundbar (or model) from the list and click on it to pair.
  3. Your TV should then connect to your soundbar.

When using Bluetooth, you need to make a connection between the soundbar and the TV as close as possible and keep the distance. The soundbar may not work well in the following cases:

  • There is an obstacle between the soundbar and the Bluetooth TV.
  • There is a device using the same frequency with Bluetooth technology such as a wireless LAN device, microwave or medical equipment.

If you are having problems connecting via Bluetooth:

  • Make sure both your TV and soundbar support the feature.
  • Make sure Bluetooth is turned on both devices to start the Bluetooth pairing procedure.

Wired Connections

Issues with your wired connection could be the reasons why your soundbar is not working when connected to your TV.  It may be that the wired connections are not correct, and would need to be inserted in the right ports for the devices to work. The wires may also be damaged or they may not be inserted properly.

There are 3 main audio cables that are used to connect a soundbar to a TV. You can use an HDMI cable, digital optical cable, or RCA TV cables.

Digital Optical Cable

The optical jack is designed to output sound when the content you are watching contains digital audio (PCM or Dolby Digital technology). This feature is available on select digital broadcasts and streaming video and is not supported on standard cable or analog stations.

Through this option, you can connect your soundbar and TV through an optical cable. Check your TV and soundbar to find a small square port, usually labeled OPT (or optical) to confirm both the devices support this connection.

  1. Connect the OPT IN jack on the back of the soundbar to the OPTICAL OUT jack of your TV.
  2. Select the input source to OPTICAL.
  3. In some TV models, you must also select the external speaker option from the TV menu to be able to listen to the TV audio through the speakers. The TV setting menu will vary depending on the manufacturer but generally, you can change this by going to TV setting menu> Sound> TV Sound output> External speaker (optical).

If your TV does not output sound through the digital audio (optical) out jack, it may be because of the following possible causes:

  • The soundbar is not set to properly decode the digital signal.
  • The TV is not tuned to a digital channel.
  • The optical cable is not securely connected.
  • Faulty optical cable.
  • The TV may require a firmware update.
  • The soundbar may not be compatible with the TV.

To troubleshoot problems with the optical connection, try the following tips to see if the issue will be resolved:

  1. Make sure the soundbar is set to the appropriate input and mode for the optical connection.
  2. Make sure the optical cable is connected firmly to both the TV and the soundbar.
  3. Try changing the TV channel to another digital broadcast.
  4. Some TVs require that the internal speaker be turned off before outputting the audio signal to another device. If you have such a TV, make sure you turn off the TVs internal speaker in order to hear sound from the soundbar.
  5. Make sure your TV has the latest system software update.
  6. Replace the optical cable.
  7. Factory reset the TV.


The Audio Return Channel (ARC) feature eliminates the need to use an additional composite audio cable or an optical cable when connecting a soundbar to a TV. Connecting an HDMI cable from an ARC-compatible receiver to an ARC-compatible TV will allow you to send audio to the receiver from the TV.

To know if you can use ARC, check the HDMI connections on the back of your TV or soundbar. If the HDMI port has ARC, It will be labeled as such. Both your TV and the soundbar must have ARC for them to work.

There are basically two main ways to connect your soundbar and TV using ARC. Assuming you have a TV, soundbar, a Blu-ray player, and a game console, here is how to connect:

Using the TV as an HDMI switch

Connect the game console and Blu-ray player to the TV, then connect a single HDMI cable from the TV to the soundbar. The TV becomes the central hub of your entertainment system.

This setup allows you to use your TV remote to switch between the game console and blu-ray play, and in most cases, you can use the TV remote to control the volume.

Using the soundbar as an HDMi switch

Connect the game console or Blu-ray player to the soundbar, then a single HDMI cable to the TV.

In this setup, your soundbar is the central hub of the entertainment system. You will switch between your sources and adjust the volume using the soundbar’s remote.

If your TV and soundbar do not work with HDMI ARC, here is how to troubleshoot:

  • Make sure both your TV and soundbar are ARC-compatible to be able to activate the HDMI ARC feature. If only one of your devices is ARC compatible, you will need to connect the soundbar with an optical cable or audio cable to get sound from your TV.
  • Third-party devices may cause the control for HDMI function of the TV and soundbar to stop working. Disconnect any third-party devices like satellite receivers, cable boxes, or game consoles and troubleshoot just with the soundbar connected to the TV.
  • Update the soundbar and TV with the latest firmware version.
  • Turn on HDMI ARC on both devices.
  • Set the ARC or TV audio output mode of the soundbar to ON or AUTO, if this setting is available for your device.
  • Connect a high-speed HDMI cable to HDMI IN (ARC or eARC) port of the TV and to the HDMI OUT (ARC or eARC) of the soundbar.

If the issue stays unresolved, try these other troubleshooting steps:

  1. Disconnect the HDMI cable from both the TV and soundbar and reconnect it.
  2. On your TV, set the speaker settings to Audio System. Your audio system does not automatically produce sound when you connect the cable.
  3. Press INPUT on your audio system or TV button to switch the input to TV.
  4. Turn off the TV and the soundbar. Then turn on the TV first then turn on the soundbar.
  5. On your TV speaker settings, set the digital Audio Output to PCM. If the soundbar connected to the TV does not support DTS or Dolby Digital, It may not output sound depending on the type of broadcast or video.
  6. For Android TV and Google TV, clearing the data and cache of an app may resolve sound issues.

RCA Cable Connection

RCA cables cannot carry true digital audio. If you have a choice, instead use an HDMI or Digital Optical Cable. However, in some instances like when you have an old TV model, it may only have the RCA cables ports.

RCA cables use only the RED wire and the WHITE wire for audio. BLACK cable is for video inputs only. If your soundbar has RCA connections, then here is how to connect the devices:

  • Plug the RED RCA cable into the RED RCA port on your TV, and the WHITE RCA cable to the WHITE RCA port on your TV.
  • Connect the other ends of the RCA cables and connect them to your soundbar. The RED cable into the RED port on your soundbar and the WHITE cable into the WHITE port on the soundbar.
  • Once you have completed the connection, turn on the system and test for proper connection.

If your soundbar and TV are not working when connected through RCA cables, please try the following troubleshooting steps to fix the issue:

  1. Make sure your soundbar is switched on.
  2. Make sure the volume is turned up.
  3. Try cycling through the sources slowly, to make sure you have selected the right source.
  4. Make sure the cables are fully inserted into the RCA ports of your TV and soundbar.
  5. Make sure you have connected the cables to an Audio Output port on your TV and not an Audio Input, as they can look similar.

Compatibility issues

Your soundbar and TV must be compatible with each other for them to work. Sometimes, your soundbar or TV may not have the corresponding ports to connect them together. Older devices or those of a lower price may not support some features.

However, there are several options you can try to connect your devices if they are not compatible. For soundbars that do not have an HDMI port, there should be an optical digital input and analog input you can use instead. Most TVs can send sound both ways. A few soundbars add a coaxial, or RCA input, but this connection is incompatible with most modern TVs.

The optical digital connection can support Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1-channel signals, so it the best option when you have a surround-sound-cable soundbar. But its output level is fixed on most TVs, and in that case you need to adjust the volume using the soundbar’s remote.

An analog audio connection is okay if you have a 2.1 or 2.0 channel model soundbar. In most TVs, you can set the analog audio output to “fixed” or “variable”. Setting to “variable” allows for volume control using the TV’s remote.

Another solution you can’t get your soundbar and TV to work due to compatibility issues is to purchase separate devices (adaptors) that can “bridge the gap” between your devices. If have an old TV, with only RCA ports and are looking to connect it to a Bluetooth-enabled soundbar, you can purchase a Bluetooth adaptor. And if incase it’s the soundbar that is old and you need to connect it to a new, modern TV without RCA output, you can consider getting a digital to analog converter.

Connecting your TV to a soundbar can really give you an experience like never before. Unlike the TV speakers, the soundbar provides true surround sound, making it more enjoyable. Hopefully, with this guide, you should be able to identify and resolve issues that may be preventing your soundbar and TV from working together..