If you’re like us, you’ll want to enjoy the ultimate movie experience in the comforts of your home, but sadly, our TVs just don’t cut it. Don’t get us wrong, the picture looks fine, the same can’t be said of the sound. The speakers on our TVs are tiny, squeaky in comparison to the ones ideal for music and movie listening. The same goes for laptops. The good news is that you can move to a superior listening experience using speakers you already own, or by investing in a new sound setup. They’re worth it, we assure you. Even an affordable set of multimedia speakers under Rs. 2,000 can do a lot for your setup, more than what the tiny speakers on your TV can, no matter how premium the TV model might be.
If you’ve bought a sound setup or are planning on it, we hope to give you a glimpse of how easy it is connect your TV to your speakers. TVs can connect to speakers using a number of connectivity options, and we tell you the best way to set up yours.
What to know before you start
It’s a good idea to keep your TV and sound system’s manuals handy. If you can’t find them, download them from the manufacturer’s web site. Remember that we’re talking about connecting the output connectors on the TV, to the input connectors on the speakers. The manuals can tell you where to find these ports and what options your TV has. Other things to keep in mind are that you may need to configure some settings on the TV to tell it to use the external speakers, not the tiny ones we’re trying to escape. If you have no such option, you could turn down the volume on the TV entirely, and use the volume control for your external speakers.
Using RCA cables
RCA cables are one of the simplest ways of connecting your TV to your speaker system. They only carry stereo sound (2 channels – left and right), not surround sound. If you’re using a basic set of stereo or 2.1 speakers, this is usable. If you’re using surround speakers, they’ll only play stereo sound. The pair of cables and connectors are a pair, usually marked as red and white. These cables go from the red and white ports at the back of your TV (RCA output ports) to the input ports placed one of your speakers, or the subwoofer unit, in the case of the 2.1 speakers. You should refer to the manual for the TV and the speakers to know exactly where these ports are located.
Using 3.5mm analogue cables
If your TV doesn’t use RCA connectors for audio output, it may have a headphone out port (3.5mm port). You can use this to connect your TV to the speakers. They’re the same connector used on phones, tablets, laptops, etc. For this, you’ll need to use a 3.5mm audio jack on the TV end and a RCA jack on the speaker end. If your speakers also use 3.5mm for input connectivity (instead of RCA connectors), you can use a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. This method too is ideal for basic multimedia speakers but you can’t get surround sound using this cable.
Using an HDMI (ARC) cable to connect the TV to an receiver or soundbar
HDMI is one of the more preferable methods because it can transmit surround sound, without any quality loss, something RCA or 3.5mm connector methods suffer from. Surround sound speaker setups, receivers and soundbars without HDMI inputs are likely to support this. Your TV too needs to have an HDMI output port, sometimes marked HDMI-ARC. Connect a cable between the two devices using an HDMI cable.
Using an HDMI cable via your receiver or soundbar through to the TV
HDMI cables can also be used if you’re using a receiver or amplifier setup that has HDMI input ports. If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI output port, you can channel your sources (laptop, gaming console, set-top box) using an HDMI cable, through to the receiver/amplifier or soundbar then use a second HDMI cable from that device’s output port to your TV. That way, you can use the receiver or soundbar’s remote control to switch between inputs, not the TV. You’ll still hear all the audio through the speaker setup used. This is handy if HDMI-ARC isn’t an option or if you want to play music on your receiver/amplifier-powered speakers, without having your TV powered on all the time.
Using an optical cable
Optical cables are rarely used but they offer the same performance as HDMI. If your TV has an optical output, connect it from the TV to the receiver or soundbar if it supports it. You’ll be able to transmit surround sound by doing so. These cables tend to be thinner and more discrete than thicker HDMI or complicated RCA cable setups. You may need to make tweaks to your TVs or source’s settings to ensure audio is sent via the optical cable.
Those were some of the simplest ways to connect your TV to your speakers. We recommend opting for a good soundbar or a surround sound speaker, amplifier-receiver setup. And if you haven’t yet tweaked your TV’s picture quality yet, we think you should. Don’t forget to read our feature articles on tweaking your TV’s picture quality in minutes, and also a more advanced calibration method. If you’re looking for more assistance, or help on purchasing speakers or TVs, you can drop us a query here or on our social media accounts.