How to Connect an Optical Cable to Your TV, Soundbar, or Home Theater

Your TV’s built-in speakers may work in smaller spaces, but the truth is, without external speakers, you’re missing out on the best audio experience.

One of the easiest ways to achieve high-quality sound is to connect your TV to a home theater system or soundbar.

There are many ways to do this, but optical cables remain an industry standard.

Optical cables transmit audio signals by transmitting light. Light pulses are converted into electrical pulses that carry audio data.

And since optical cables form a physical connection, they reduce transmission loss compared to traditional copper-based cables.

If you’re interested in setting up your audio system with optical cables, read ahead to follow our easy step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Remove Your Optical Cable Cover

To start, remove your optical cable cover.

Since optical cables tend to be more fragile than copper-based cables, handling (and storing) them with care is essential. Cables that are damaged cannot transmit light.

Most optical cables come with covers designed to protect them against damage (in storage or transport).

Step 2. Locate Your Optical Input Connection

Next, take a closer look at your optical input connection on your soundbar (or amplifier).

Do you see a plastic plug?

If so, just remove it and then plug in your cable.

Step 3. Plug Your Optical Audio Cable into Your TV

Then, simply connect your optical audio cable to your TV’s optical output (on the back).

Be sure to line up the shape of your cable’s connector with your device’s input, but don’t force it! Once the two line up correctly, inserting your cable should be seamless.

Step 4. Connect Your Optical Audio Cable to Your Soundbar or Amplifier

Next, locate the optical audio input on your soundbar or amplifier. You might have more than one connection option (AV1, AV4, for example), so make a note of which one you plug into.

This step will ensure you select the correct audio source on your TV’s audio menu later on.

Don’t forget to line up your port and cord shape correctly (and avoid tangling your optical audio cable with other wires in your system).

Step 5. Turn on Your TV

Go to your TV’s audio menu and select your audio output on the ‘optical out’ option.

On some TV models, the optical output may still function (without selecting it in the audio menu). For this scenario, disable your TV speaker from your audio menu.

Need a cable box connection instead?

Many times, a cable box will also have an optical port already enabled. But, if you’re still not hearing any sound, check your audio menu on your cable box (to see if you need to switch on your digital output).

Step 6. Turn on Your Soundbar or Amplifier

For an amplifier, pick the correct audio input source (this will be the same optical port you connected to before).

Some systems contain multiple digital inputs, so if you have more than one, just be sure to select the right one.

But, a soundbar will usually only have one optical input (and should work without selecting any inputs).

What about HDMI cables?

Either an optical or HDMI cable connection will give you good sound. Both also can send multi-channel audio. The main difference between the two, however, is:

HDMI cables can support:
– 5.1 Dolby Digital
– DTS audio
– Dolby Digital Plus
– Dolby True HD
– DTS-HD Master Audio
– Dolby Atmos

But, optical cables can only support:
– 5.1 Dolby Digital
– DTS audio

Level Up Your Home Theater Set Up!

Need help getting your home theater or audio set up? Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our audiovisual specialists today!