When I was first interested in getting a projector I already had a soundbar for my old flatscreen TV. But, I wanted to know if I could use it with my new projector. So, I did some extensive research and threw it together in this helpful article to explain whether you can use a soundbar with a projector or not.
So, can you use a soundbar with a projector? Various models of projectors won’t be compatible with certain soundbars. But, you can connect most of them. They are connected using Wireless (Bluetooth and WiFi), Digital optical or SPDIF, HDMI or HDMI ARC, and Auxiliary and RCA.
How they connect needs a bit of explaining, as well as how to get the best sound from your projector. So, read on where I explain my best tips for getting the most out of your projector with a soundbar.
What Projectors Work With a Soundbar?
Most of the soundbars you will come across will be able to connect to a projector. But, it’s worth checking what connections your specific projector has or will have. A soundbar is a multi-purpose speaker device, and they are designed to connect to any device that plays sound. Projectors are also designed so that you can connect additional speakers.
Projectors can be used both in a full home theatre setup and on their own. Because they have an inbuilt speaker.
However, there are rare exceptions so it’s worth checking the individual devices you are planning to use. If you already have both it can be a fast and easy process to connect. I’ll give you some step by step instructions below.
How Do You Connect a Soundbar To a Projector?
The first point of reference for you should be the user manual or a website that has the product specifications. As an example, the user manual for your soundbar AND the user manual for your projector.
That will tell you 100% what types of connections your soundbar and projector can output as well as input. Once you know what cables and connections will work you have two options:
- A projector can output the sound ‘signal’ to the soundbar.
- You can connect your soundbar to your TV, laptop, or other devices directly.
I’ll explain about HDMI cables below a bit because many people find it confusing. And I don’t want you to use more cables than you need to. Or, buy more cables than you need. So here goes…
- An HDMI cable sends BOTH the video and audio signal.
- There are only audio and video signals you need to send and nothing else.
- You need to connect the HDMI cable from the computer or DVD player to the projector.
- Then send an additional sound only cable from the projector to the soundbar.
- An HDMI cable can send sound only as well so you could use this as your second cable.
As with connecting multiple it can get confusing at times. So, don’t worry if it gets a bit frustrating you’ll get there.
Now that you have the general gist. I’ll cover the two ways to connect a projector to a soundbar
Method 1: Connecting the soundbar to the projector (best option)
|When connecting your soundbar to your projector, you can use either a cable, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi. A cable is the best option to use, followed by Bluetooth, then Wi-Fi. |
This is because wireless connections have a tendency to drop their connection from time to time. Although, it doesn’t happen frequently, when it does it’s a major annoyance because you often have to re-pair both devices. And it happens right in the middle of watching your show or movie.
Connecting it via a cable
To connect via cable you have the option of HDMI or AUX. Depending on the capability of your soundbar. For example, some soundbars will have HDMI and AUX, others will have one or the other. But, remember it’s the output we want to send to the soundbar.
The audio input will be coming from your cable, laptop, or TV. And you don’t need to send the video signal to the soundbar. But, sometimes it gets sent regardless because it’s the only option.
Once you plug the audio output AUX or HDMI cable to your soundbar and turn it on, it should immediately start playing whatever video you are watching. So, test it out. If it still isn’t working, recheck you are sending the audio output signal to the soundbar.
If you’re still confused I would do a Google search for your specific soundbar. For example: “how to send audio output to a Sony 1432 Soundbar”, simply write in the name of your soundbar rather than a Sony 1432 soundbar.
Search around the help articles and forums to see if you can find an easy answer. If you still can’t find one then I would suggest creating a support ticket to your manufacturer or calling their support team.
I would also say to ask help from a friend. Sometimes a second pair of eyes will really help you to work it out.
Now, onto connecting it with Bluetooth or WiFi.
Connecting it via a Bluetooth or WiFi
Connecting a soundbar to a projector via Bluetooth is done the same way as other devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets. You first need to enable Bluetooth, and on both devices and then pair them.
Method 2: Connecting your soundbar to your source device (least convenient option)
|Another way to connect a soundbar to a projector is to connect it to your TV, laptop, or phone directly. The projector can play only the video, and not play the sound. Then you need to send your sound output to the soundbar. It gets a bit tricky and is the least preferred option.|
The general process is to connect your projector to your laptop or TV using an HDMI cable. You can use other cables, but an HDMI is the easiest. Then once it’s all connected, connect your soundbar to your TV or laptop.
Send a cable to your soundbar that is audio or HDMI as well. Many laptops have two HDMI cable ports, but others don’t. So, check what outputs you have on your device to decide the cables that will work for you.
That’s the general method so give it a try. If you need help locating the specific ports then it’s best to consult the user manual for your soundbar. However, most of them are labelled ‘audio out’ ‘audio in’ or similar.
Although, you might find images and diagrams in your user manual are good at explaining it, a bit of background information will help you to fix any issues that come up.
Now, soundbars were originally made to replace the speakers on TVs when TVs started to become thinner and thinner. When the TVs became thinner the speakers had to get smaller to fit.
But, speakers sound the best when they are the biggest size they can be. Eventually, the speakers became so small that the sound quality needed drastic improvement. Enter, soundbars. Soundbars were specifically made to replace the small, and not very good sounding TV speakers that you find on flatscreen TVs today.
Are The Speakers On a Projector Any Good?
Firstly, most modern projectors include speakers that are adequate. Some reviews of customers who have bought projectors say that the sound quality is excellent. Even without external speakers. So, my opinion is that they are adequate.
Some projectors don’t come with speakers at all. But, these are generally older projectors. Nearly all modern projectors I have seen have inbuilt speakers.
Soundbars on the other hand have a bigger speaker and will produce better quality sound that the inbuilt speakers of most projectors.
Size is what controls the sound quality of a speaker. The bigger the speaker the more range of sound it can produce. But, some speakers are specifically designed for each purpose.
But, sound engineers have found splitting up different wavelengths of sound into bigger and smaller speakers gets the best sound quality.
That is why you have subwoofers, tweeters, and mid-range speakers. A soundbar is a special type of tweeter speaker that is a row of small speakers closely packed next to each other.
Because of that, they give a 3d like experience to the sound because of how wide they are. So, they generally provide a better sound experience than the speakers that come with a projector.
For these reasons, a soundbar will give you a better listening experience which means you will enjoy your TV, shows, and movies more.
What Kind of Speakers Should You Get For a Projector?
A projector can get used without any external speakers. But, these are generally reserved for projectors that have quality speakers. So, it is best to do your research into the sound quality for each projector, and read customer reviews. Some projectors, even budget ones have really good quality speakers.
I have compiled a list of the best budget projectors in an article I put together. You can read it by clicking [here: link best budget projector], to go to the article. It explains those that have really good speakers, and all of them are in the budget price range.
Overall, I have found that budget projectors work just as well as really expensive ones, like in the $10,000 price range. And, they have a screen resolution of 1080p, which suits pretty much everyone. At the high price range of projectors, you can expect to get 4k definition.
But, in my experience that amount of definition only makes a difference for photographers where they may need to zoom in to crop an image. At the size of a normal screen you can’t really tell the difference. And if you use a soundbar, you can make up for any sound difference. Even then, though the sound a projector produces is really good.
You can go as big as you want in regards to speakers for a projector. You can plug it into an entire home theatre system. But, this is more a luxury item and not a requirement. A home theatre system has a subwoofer, soundbar, column speakers, and mid-range speakers.
One of these gives you an immersive sound experience that is truly amazing. I would say at a minimum you can use the speakers that come with a projector, then upgrade to a soundbar if you want to improve it further. And then upgrade it to a full home theatre system after that.
For a projector that you use for your children such as games or cartoons and movies, just the projector is sufficient. I would suggest going with a budget projector, that way if they spill a drink on it.
Or, trip over it and break the connection ports then it’s not a major. It’s surprising how to budget projectors are. Again, for the link to the article about the best budget projectors for the money, you should click here: the best budget projectors for the money to give it a read.
Should You Get a Soundbar if You Have a Projector?
A soundbar is the least expensive option for getting better sound quality on your home entertainment system. The other options to upgrade your sound quality include a Bluetooth speaker. But, Bluetooth speakers are generally the same quality as the inbuilt speakers that come with a projector.
Unless you have or get a really high-quality one. These are usually much larger and about the same size and price as a soundbar. So, whether you get a really high-quality Bluetooth speaker or a soundbar has it’s benefits and drawbacks.
A soundbar is designed specifically for playing sound from a TV or projector. But, it can play music from a phone, iPod, or tablet just as well as a Bluetooth speaker. A Bluetooth speaker, though, is designed for playing music for the most part. So, it will not perform as well as a soundbar for watching movies, or TV shows.
A Bluetooth speaker though is portable and you can take it with you anywhere. Though, it’s generally not recommended because of how expensive a quality one is and how nice they look. It is an easy target at the beach, BBQ in the park, or at a party.
A soundbar though is generally not considered to be cool to have as a music speaker just because of how it looks. They are mostly bigger and wider. So, I would say it depends on your specific preferences.
But, to get the best soundbar for the money, you should definitely read an article I put together about them by clicking [here: best soundbar for the money] to go to the article. In it, I give a breakdown of their features, based on the number and quality of the reviews they got, and sort the top ones from best to worst.
You can connect a soundbar with a projector on most projectors. But, you should check the individual speaker and projector to see if each does. You can find this information by looking at your user manual for each or looking at the manual online.
If none of those give you the answer then try a Google search for how to connect a soundbar to a projector. With most soundbars and projectors you can simply plug them in and they work straight away.
Where they are Bluetooth or Wi-Fi compatible you can simply pair them in the settings and they will work straight away as well. If you run into any issues send an email to the customer support team for the relevant device. Also, you can ask a friend for help.
- Techopedia.com: Auxiliary Port (AUX)
- Wikipedia: HDMI
- Cnet.com: TV resolution confusion: 1080p, 2K, UHD, 4K, 8K, and what they all mean