Connect speakers to the tv

Connect speakers to the tv

The internal speakers of TVs are often significantly worse than the TV's picture. But there are many ways to connect external boxes. We'll show you how it works below.

What systems are available?
What are the connection options?

What systems are there?

Before you get into the actual connection of speakers, you first need to consider what different types of speakers there are for TVs at all. On the one hand there are systems designed for televisions. These are essentially
Soundbars and surround systems. Soundbars are flat, often almost TV-wide active speakers that are placed under or directly in front of the TV base. Surround systems usually consist of six (5.1) or eight (7.1) Speakers, either as an active system for direct connection to the TV or as a passive variant for connection via an amplifier. Surround systems, however, require a lot of space and either quite a few meters of cable or a wallet that can afford a decent wireless system.

On the other hand, there are speakers not explicitly designed for TVs: again, there are active boxes with their own power supply and amplification and the classic hi-fi boxes for connection to the amplifier.

What connection options are there?

HDMI: The High Definition Multimedia Interface has long been the standard connection for TVs, computers, recorders and all kinds of screens. However, since HDMI can also transmit audio signals, it is now also increasingly used for connecting speakers, especially for soundbars and modern surround systems. The big advantage over the digital competition S/PDIF: HDMI has more bandwidth – S/PDIF can not transmit Dolby True HD, for example, without first down-calculating the amount of data by software.


S/PDIF: This is an interface from Sony and Philips, which allows the transmission of digital audio signals. Here you will find two different types of connection: On the one hand, there is the optical transmission with TOSLINK cables – you can often recognize the sockets on the TV by the glimmer of a light behind a cover. On the other hand, there are cables with RCA plugs, but unlike the old-fashioned analog cables, they are not red or white, but usually orange. The disadvantage: devices must match each other, otherwise the connection will not work – so only certain soundbars and surround systems, occasionally stereo active boxes come into question. The good old RCA plug is still the standard for hi-fi systems. Tvs also offer such outputs. RCA plugs always come in pairs for the left and right audio signal – in other words: More than stereo does not work via an analog RCA plug. RCA-based surround systems require a correspondingly large number of outputs on the TV set.

Jack: Jack plugs also process analog stereo signals like their RCA counterparts, but in a single plug. This has two disadvantages: First, the plugs are more susceptible to physical damage. On the other hand: If boxes are hardwired and you put left and right boxes the wrong way around, with RCA you can just flip the two plugs on the TV – with jack you'd actually have to move the boxes around.

Bluetooth: Of course, modern smart TVs also offer Bluetooth signals, which can be forwarded to soundbars or very ordinary Bluetooth speakers. This has two advantages: On the one hand – logically – you do not need a cumbersome cable. On the other hand, the soundbar or speaker system can also be coupled easily and quickly with other devices, such as the smartphone.

How and which boxes you connect depends on the outputs of your TV and other hardware. For example, if you have a hi-fi system with really good speakers in your living room, a simple analog RCA cable is the fastest, cheapest and often the best solution in terms of sound quality. For soundbars and surround systems, HDMI is the best choice, since it is widely used and will probably still work on the next TV set.

Less important than the TV outputs are the speaker/amplifier inputs: In electronics stores, you can get adapters for pretty much everything, for example from HDMI to jack, to pass on only the audio signal analog and via a jack cable.

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