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How to connect a soundbar to a TV without HDMI | TechHive

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Although most modern sound bars rely on HDMI to connect to HDTV and 4K TVs, there are still many sound bars on the market that have traditional audio inputs that can be used with older TVs-yes, including CRT (also known as " Tube") TV. Dozens of years old.

By connecting an aging TV to a soundbar, you can provide a huge audio enhancement effect for older TV sets, accompanied by heavy bass and virtual 3D sound. And, if your old flat-screen TV or tube TV has the correct output, it will be very easy to connect it to the new soundbar.

The first step is to check the back of the old TV to see which audio output is available. If your aging TV lacks HDMI, then the best option is an optical (or Toslink) audio port, which has a square opening and a small notch on each side. Optical audio connections can not only handle compressed (but lossless) 5.1-channel or even 7.1-channel Dolby Digital and DTS sound, but they are also widely supported by the latest sound bars.

Many older TVs have at least an analog stereo RCA audio output, and even a multi-channel optical digital audio output.

No sign of light output? Then look for a pair of stereo RCA audio outputs, one for the left channel (usually white and labeled "L"), and the second for the right channel (usually red and labeled "R"). Many older TVs, even dating back to the 1980s, will have these familiar-looking RCA plugs on the input/output panel behind them, which can transmit analog stereo audio signals.

Once you are sure that your old TV has optical or RCA analog audio output, you can start buying sound bars, and, if we are bold, your first stop should be

, We will evaluate the best sound bar at different prices.

When shopping, please note that the audio input of the soundbar matches the output of the TV. If your device has an optical audio output, this is good news: sound bars with optical input are easy to find (as we mentioned earlier). In other words, more and more sound bars (especially newer sound bars) have

HDMI port, so be sure to look carefully.

You will find a large number of sound bars on the market with optical and 3.5 mm analog audio inputs that can be used with older TVs.

You will see that there are fewer current sound bars with analog audio inputs than sound bars with optical connectors, but they are still fairly easy to find, especially when the budget is less than $200. What you are looking for is a 3.5mm audio jack (usually labeled "AUX input") that connects to the dual RCA connector on the TV via a Y-shaped adapter cable (please read on for the correct cable help).

In addition to having the correct connectors, you should also consider a soundbar with virtual surround sound or 3D mode. Many of the latest sound bars are very good at calling up surround sound and 3D audio from 5.1 or even 2.0 channel audio sources. In particular, DTS Virtual:X can effectively deceive your ears, making you think that the sound they hear is from behind or even above your head, even if the original audio is only stereo (if your TV only has RCA, this is the case in this way). Style analog audio output). This is really good news: you can find DTS Virtual: X processing in the soundbar, which costs around $200.

After matching the optical and/or RCA style audio output on the TV with the matching input on the soundbar, all you have to do is to connect them with the appropriate cables. Most soundbar manufacturers will include the appropriate fiber optic cable (the fiber optic cable that comes with the soundbar is usually short and thin) and a Y-cable from RCA to 3.5mm.

No cables in the box? Don't worry; both


It is easily available through Amazon and other online retailers. It is estimated that the optical cable will cost about US$15, while the price of RCA to 3.5mm optical cable is less than US$10.

Audio audio cables and RCA to 3.5mm Y-cables (shown in the picture) are easily available on Amazon, usually less than $10 each.

You may also need to make some adjustments to the TV’s audio settings. Some TVs may automatically transmit sound through their audio output ports, while other TVs may require you to modify their audio settings (just tap from the main menu).

You should also pay attention to the setting to switch the TV from a "fixed" audio output (which will allow the soundbar to control the volume) to a "variable" output (the volume is controlled by the TV). If this option exists, consider a “variable” setting, which means you don’t need to switch back and forth between the soundbar and the TV remote every time you want to adjust the volume.

Ben has been in the technology and consumer electronics industry for more than 20 years. Ben has been a PCWorld contributor since 2014. He joined TechHive in 2019 and is responsible for smart home and home entertainment products.

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