Does a Soundbar Replace TV Speakers?-Let Find Out

Does a Sound Bar Replace TV Speakers

To create something close to the real movie-theater experience, getting a brand-new, top-of-the-line TV is only half the battle. Even with the best flat-screen TVs, the built-in speakers won’t produce the sound of the same quality as the picture. To get audio that equals your video, your next step is to use a soundbar.

Soundbars help with better sound quality, clear voice, and responsive bass because good sound quality requires large speakers which modern TVs don’t have room for it.

While this seems great, there are a lot of pros and cons to using a soundbar instead of a TV. In this article, I will explain how replacing the TV’s built-in audio works, as well as these advantages and disadvantages.

What Does a Soundbar Do for Your TV?

Using a soundbar instead of the smaller TV speakers will vastly improve the audio quality. This all-in-one system delivers great sound without all the complex setup of a big home theater system.

You’ll save a ton of money and a lot of space getting the home theater experience you’re dreaming of.

How Many Types Of Soundbars Are There?

Soundbars come in several different types and forms, but there are two main types:

Soundbars and Sound Bases.

Both units are long bars, which have at least two speakers and a small subwoofer. However, for soundbars, the subwoofers are usually external, while sound bases have the subwoofer built-in both options will help you feel like you’re part of the show, but here’s a quick comparison:

01. Soundbar 

  • Less thick looks more elegant
  • A long bar with speaker and interconnection hardware
  • Clear and crisp voice, for whispered or low-pitched dialogue
  • Very close to the home theater feeling you can incorporate a separate subwoofer to maximize the audio quality
  • Better stereo channel separation

02. Sound Bases

  • Deeper front-to-back, and not quite as wide
  • Better hardware construction with improved bass drivers
  • As with the soundbar, this will improve the tones and sound quality
  • Maximizes the home theater experience 
  • Use of an external subwoofer is optional
  • Stereo channel separation is worse, because of the size

 Can You Use any Soundbar on Any TV?

There are different ports labeled on your TV, which accept different plugs. HDMI and Optical are the most common options these days.

The best advice is to read the TV and soundbar specifications, to be sure both units have the same connection capabilities beyond the brand similarities

HDMI and Optical TV Audio Output

The brand similarity could be a good factor to consider, but we’re looking for different options, quality, and good prices. The same brand could help on the support side because companies tend to use the same ports between their different products. But, since we have plenty of good options today, there’s no sense in focusing on this too much.

Hook Up Your Soundbar With an HDMI Cable

If both the soundbar and the TV have an HDMI connection there’s one more thing to consider: is the type of connection HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel), or eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel). The objective of these ports is to let HDMI cables output audio which was implemented in the most recent HDMI 2.1 configurations with increased speed and bandwidth, allowing high-quality audio to be sent from a TV to a soundbar.

With the implementation of new media versions like 3D, HDR, 4K, and 8K with high frame rate HDMI 2.1 are the latest interface to get the best support at these platforms since the introduction of HDMI ARC protocol (HDMI 1.4) in 2009. Before these ARC technologies, the way to connect an external audio system to your TV was using an optical input.

Cable usedOptical S/PDIFHDMIHDMI with Ethernet
Stereo SupportYesYesYes
Compressed 5.1YesYesYes
Uncompressed 5.1NoNoYes
Uncompressed 7.1NoNoYes
High Bitrate & object based up to 192 kHz, 24 bit(eg, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X)NoNoYes
Maximum Audio Bandwidth~384 Kbit/second~1Mbits/second37 Mbits/second
DiscoveryNoCECeARC Data Channel
eARC Capability
( Audio EDID, etc)
NoCECeARC Data Channel
Lip Sync CorrectionNo(Optional)(Mandatory)
TV Mutes & Controls VolumeNoYes (CEC)Yes (CEC)
Powering TV Powers Audio DeviceNoYes (CEC)Yes (CEC)
ARC FallbackNon/aYes

What HDMI Cable do I Need for eARC?

The website that you can check here ( has updated information about the compatible HDMI cables that you can use.

A standard or a High-Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet should be fine.

Type of Cable NeededHDMIHDMI with Ethernet
Surround Sound FormatsCompressed 5.1 (standard Dolby Digital & DTS)Uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1 (Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio), and immersive audio (Dolby Atmos & DTS:X)
What HDMI cable do I need for eARC?

How do I Connect my Optical to My Soundbar?

As I mentioned before, another option is an optical digital connection, this uses light to transmit data through fiber-optic cables. This doesn’t allow much interference, making this connection a great solution for connecting a soundbar to a TV. This connection is also used to transmit compressed Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound.

 The main disadvantage in comparison with the HDMI ARC is that it doesn’t have enough bandwidth to be used on other formats like Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD, which are used on most Blu-Ray discs. This type of optical cable could also be damaged easily if it is bent too hard. 

We’ve discussed the two main soundbar-to-TV connections, but there are also two less popular options: the RCA (3.5mm) line and the Headphone Jack. Because these two can’t deliver a full digital surround sound experience I will just briefly mention them here.

How Do I Connect My Soundbar to My TV Using a 3.5mm Line Out?

 It’s important to check the label on your TV when you go to use this type of connection because some TVs have the same connector for headphones. The connector that puts out audio is labeled as the line out; this is the one to connect to the port on the soundbar. 

How Do I Connect My Soundbar to My TV Using RCA?

 This type of connection is easy to recognize. It was one of the first connections to be used, and it stuck around for a long time. Physically, they are circular with distinctive colors: red for the right stereo channel, and white for the left stereo channel. Modern TVs sometimes give them the same color, such as black. You need to connect the TV to the soundbar in the same order, right to right (TV out to Soundbar Input) and left to left (TV out to Soundbar Input).

 In conclusion, we’re confident that a soundbar will replace TV speakers in volume and quality, regardless of the different types out there. We also know that the two main connections are optical and HDMI, and the best option to opt for is the HDMI (eARC).This will be top-notch in home theater technology, at least for now.

 Thanks to soundbars we can have an entire home theater audio experience in just a single bar. This will be the future of audio, as TVs will likely continue to grow thinner. Go ahead and pick the right soundbar for your TV, and remember:

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” – Victor Hugo

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