Suppose you have recently bought a new soundbar system for your home cinema setup, just to find out later that your old TV doesn’t have an HDMI port. Then you might wonder whether there are alternative ways to connect a new soundbar to an old TV that misses out on HDMI ports.
If you haven’t bought a new soundbar yet, then you are in luck. Before you plan to buy one, make sure that your TV is at least natively compatible with the soundbar.
Since the introduction of ARC (Audio Return Channel) protocol on HDMI 1.4 standard in 2009, setting up a soundbar with a TV has never been this straightforward. It still is the industry standard for consumer AV devices.
In case you have already bought a soundbar, there are a handful of secondary options for connecting it to your TV. You can learn more about how to connect soundbar to tv without HDMI by going through this guide.
How to Connect Soundbar to TV Without HDMI
Use an RCA Analog Cable
There’s a high chance that both your TV and soundbar have RCA analog connectors. The three ports are always grouped and color-coded across all AV devices, making them easier to identify.
While the yellow port is used for composite video, you will only need the other two ports for the multi-channel audio, which are colored white and red. Whether your TV has an HDMI port or not, you will definitely find the RCA ports at the TV’s rear or bottom portion of the TV.
If your soundbar is compatible with RCA, all you have to is connect both ends of an RCA analog cable to the respective ports on your TV and soundbars. Ensure that each pair of jacks on both ends of the cable are connected to their respective color-coded ports on your devices.
Also, keep the cable away from power sources, as the external electromagnetic interference can cause a loud buzzing noise from your soundbar. RCA connectors are generally susceptible to external noise.
Use Optical Cable for Digital Audio Output
Your TV might not have an HDMI port, but it will definitely have an optical port labeled as “Digital Audio Out.” Although the optical audio port is based on almost three-decade-old technology, it still is implemented on newer soundbars and other audio devices.
In case you find the optical port on both your TV and soundbar, you can connect them using an optical cable. Optical cables are often known as TOSLINK if you are wondering. You might also have to change the audio source on your TV to get audio output from the soundbar.
Optical cables are immune to external electrical noise and other interferences, as it converts audio signals to light pulses. It can also handle up to 5.1 audio channels.
Use an AUX Cable
If there’s an AUX port on your soundbar, check for an AUX port labeled “Audio Out” on your TV. After that, you can buy an AUX cable and plug in both connector ends to your TV and soundbar’s auxiliary port.
Both new and older TVs come with AUX ports, so all you need is a male-to-male AUX cable to connect your soundbar to it. You can also connect your smartphone, Blu-ray player, and computer to your soundbar with the AUX cable.
When buying an AUX cable, confirm that it can carry stereo audio signals. Else, you will be limited to mono audio output from your soundbar instead of multi-channel audio. Also, the connectors on the AUX cable are a little bit bigger than the 3.5mm audio jacks.
Speaking of 3.5mm audio jacks, you might also find it on your TV and soundbar. However, note that the audio output volume might be a bit lower than usual, as the 3.5mm port on your TV is optimized for earphones and headphones only. It’s worth mentioning that a male-to-male 3.5mm stereo audio cable almost looks the same as an AUX cable.
Use RCA to HDMI Converters
If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, you can also rely on RCA to HDMI converters for audio output. An RCA to HDMI converter isn’t bi-directional, which means it can only convert RCA signals to HDMI signals. There are separate converters and adapters for that job.
You can also buy an RCA to 3.5mm audio adapter to connect your soundbar to your TV.
Related – Best SCART to HDMI Converters
Use Bluetooth to Connect Soundbar to TV
If you don’t want to connect the soundbar to your TV just for the sake of cable management, then you can use Bluetooth instead.
Most smart TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung, Hisense, and Vizio offer Bluetooth connectivity. You might also find it on your soundbar, assuming that it’s a recent model.
Simply put your soundbar in Bluetooth pairing mode by pressing the necessary button (check user manual), and go to the Bluetooth settings on your TV to connect to the soundbar over a wireless connection.
Note that you might encounter noticeable audio latency and minor lip-sync issues over a Bluetooth connection, which is something we don’t see over HDMI.
In this guide, we have gone through several solutions to connect soundbar to TV without HDMI. If you have the option to connect them with an optical cable, then we recommend you to go for it over the other options we have listed in this guide. Audio output over Bluetooth would also be fine, albeit with the few minor setbacks of a wireless connection.