Ever since the decline of analog video and audio, we’ve witnessed the rapid expansion of modern smart TVs that come in all shapes and sizes. With a plethora of options, a cosmic crystal color palette, and incredible resolutions all at reasonable prices, now is the perfect time to build your home theater setup.
However, the one thing most of today’s powerful TVs are missing is an excellent set of speakers. Most get the job done, but if you want that additional oomph when you’re watching a movie or enjoying an album, you’ll need to know how to connect speakers to TV setups.
You’ll find powerful speakers at affordable prices, but connecting them to TV can be a hassle. That’s why we’ve written this article – to provide you with some helpful advice and guidance. Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll know how to set up your very own home IMAX so that your gaming desk can remain free for video games.
Establishing Your Battle Ground
Before you confront the nightmare task of dealing with a mess of cables, make sure you have everything ready for this delicate digital operation. Get your TV manual ready, or if you can’t find it, download it in PDF form from the manufacturer’s website. Make sure you have at least one UPS ready in case of power issues.
Have a look at the TV access panel with outputs, as you’ll need to get to them when you connect an external speaker to the TV. If you have a mounted TV, the access panel might be located on the back. In that case, remove it from the wall and place it down onto a clean carpet or blanket.
The Big Question
Let’s get straight to it: can you connect speakers to your TV? The answer is no, you can’t attach them directly in most cases, but there are handy workarounds. You cannot plug in speakers directly because most TVs don’t have speaker outputs.
However, you can connect computer speakers, external amplifiers, or a home stereo audio receiver via analog or low-level digital outputs on the TV. If you’re wondering how to connect stereo speakers to TV, it’s the TV signal from which audio is extracted, copied, and sent to the internal speakers and audio output jacks.
Connecting external speakers depends on what kind of output jacks your TV has. Your TV will most likely have RCA stereo jacks, digital optical/coaxial jacks, or a 3.5 mm jack. If you have a TV with an HDMI output jack, you’ll use an HDMI audio extractor with RCA output jacks.
Analog Versus Digital
Digital connections generally offer noiseless signal transfer and superior audio processing for your external speakers. On the other hand, analog outputs are much more common; they don’t need converters and can be plugged in everywhere.
When people talk about adding speakers to a TV, it’s imperative to know what kind of outputs are available and when to use them. Outputs for analog audio include 3.5 mm TRS or “aux out/headphone out” and RCA or “line out.” Digital audio receivers use optical, HDMI, or SPDIF/single coaxial RCA.
3.5 mm TRS jacks are usually labeled as headphone out ports. They have left, right, and ground signal connectors. You can insert a 3.5 mm audio jack into the TV and an RCA jack into the speakers. With speakers that have a 3.5 mm input, you use a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable. Most multimedia speakers work fine with 3.5 mm jacks, but unfortunately that won’t give you a surround sound setup.
RCA stereo jacks are great for connecting analog speakers to digital TV. They have left and right stereo signal outputs that you plug into powered speakers or AUX input RCA, making them the easiest to use. Due to their design, they support stereo, not surround sound. While it’s true that 2.1 surround speakers will work fine with these jacks, you’ll only get stereo sound out of them. The red and white cables go from the color-matched ports at the back of your TV to the input ports on the speaker. If you have 2.1 speakers, one cable should be plugged into the subwoofer as well.
Fiber-optic jacks have a TOSLINK connector only that uses a fiber-optic cable. They’re a great option if you’re wondering how to connect speakers to TV to get a clean sound. Fiber-optic cables have limits, though. These cables connect to the AV cord receiver, which plays two channels of uncompressed lossless PM audio or compressed 5.1 and 7.1 surround audio. TOSLINK connectors cannot reproduce the lossless versions of Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio due to their bandwidth limitation.
The coaxial/RCA jack is a substitute for a TOSLINK connector that is most often plugged into the home subwoofer signal output. It sends audio signals electronically and has a broader bandwidth frequency, since these cables are shielded by aluminum foil wrap. During sound playback, the electrical signal oscillates through the copper wire at the center of the coaxial wire.
One of the more popular ways to hook up speakers to TV is with HDMI for speakers, since there’s no sound quality degradation as the signal travels. Surround speakers, soundbars, and receivers are usually HDMI-compatible. To use this method, your TV should have an HDMI or HDMI-ARC output port. If your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, you can use a set-top box, laptop, or gaming console as your sound source, then send the sound to your TV through a soundbar or audio receiver/amplifier.
Amplifying the Experience
Your TV’s standard audio output signal is too quiet and cannot compare to the signal from purpose-made speakers. To satisfy a true audiophile, you’ll need to connect an amplifier to boost the sound quality. With amplifiers, it’s never really an issue of how to connect computer speakers to your TV, since most computer speakers have a built-in amplifier. Otherwise, you can use an external stereo amplifier or a home theater receiver.
Computer speakers usually have amplifiers, so they are the most affordable solution for connecting with your TV. You can get decent stereo speakers or high-quality PC gaming speakers with a subwoofer. Otherwise, cable connectors or digital-to-analog converters with volume control will do the job.
Connecting the Dots
There are many ways to plug speakers into your TV depending on what output you use.
Computer Speakers to the Rescue
Besides being an inexpensive way of connecting speakers to television, computer speakers use standard and easy-to-find connectors: 3.5 mm or 1/8″ stereo headphone jacks, to be precise. If your TV doesn’t have a headphone jack, an RCA to 3.5 mm adapter cable will do the trick.
Connect the 3.5 mm connector jacks from the speakers directly to the headphones out port at the back of your TV, or use an RCA to 3.5 mm female adapter with the speaker jacks to connect them to the audio out outputs of your TV.
Speakers can provide excellent sound quality for good money, especially with the additional self-powered subwoofer that gives outstanding bass support. Most computer speakers have an amplifier installed and use a 5V USB power connection, just in case you’re wondering how to connect USB speakers to a TV or an AC-DC adapter. With TVs that don’t have a USB power port, a USB phone adapter will solve this problem in a pinch.
External Speakers and Amplifiers
In combination with mini amplifiers, external speakers – more commonly known as bookshelf speakers – offer a rich quality of sound that’s perfect for when you want to watch a movie on your TV. You’ll find decent-quality 15W bookshelf speakers with a mini amplifier starting at around $50. Alternatively, you can opt for excellent wireless outdoor speakers if you want to set up a home theater in your backyard. Still, you might consider investing some more money here to get absolutely top-notch sound quality.
You’re probably wondering how to connect these speakers to a TV. First, plug them into the amplifier, then connect the amplifier to your TV with RCA cables or a 3.5 mm adapter. And don’t forget to hook up the amplifier’s AC-DC power supply to the power source. With a TV that only has a 3.5 mm audio jack, plug an RCA to 3.5 mm adapter into the TV instead.
You can use home theater sound systems and stereo receivers to connect speakers to your TV. However, the process of joining them up is a bit more complex than you might expect. Most stereo systems and receivers have one or more auxiliary RCA inputs you’ll use to connect with your TV.
To attach speakers to a TV with stereo receivers, plug in RCA connectors to one of the receiver’s AUX inputs, which are labeled TV/cable, DVD, Blu-Ray, or CD. Some receivers have auxiliary inputs at the front, and they’re labeled “AUX’ inputs. You’ll use analog audio outputs on your TV to connect RCA or 3.5 mm cables to the receiver and the speaker. If your TV has only digital outputs, you can plug into the receiver using TOSLINK or coaxial cables.
This method is reserved for TVs that only have digital outputs, either optical or coaxial audio outputs. Whichever audio output you decide to use when you’re figuring out how to connect speakers to TV with an optical cable, you’ll need a digital-to-analog audio converter.
Digital-to-analog audio converters are small boxes with power input, digital input (TOSLINK and coaxial), and analog output jacks (3.5 mm and RCA) on either side. You can connect digital-only output TVs to an analog amplifier or audio receiver with these converters. They are relatively cheap and easy to find.
Let There Be Sound
No matter what type of TV you have, finding the best speakers for your TV is relatively easy and inexpensive, which means you can start watching movies from the comfort of your gaming chair. With our guide, you’ll have no problems with cables when working out how to connect a TV to speakers. The more you invest in high-quality speakers, the better the chances you’ll end up with the home theater of your dreams.
Can I connect speakers directly to my TV?
You cannot connect speakers directly to your TV since they typically lack TV speaker system outputs. Still, you can plug in computer speakers, amplifiers, and receivers to your TV with the right cables.
How can I get my TV to play through my speakers?
You’ll need a home theater system or a stereo receiver to play your TV’s sound through speakers. An ARC HDMI connector, optical cable, coaxial digital, or audio cable can connect your TV to a receiver or home stereo system.
How do I connect my wired speakers to my TV?
Please read our article on how to connect speakers to TV setups for more details. In most cases, you can connect wired computer speakers to your TV with 3.5 mm connector jacks.
How do I connect speakers to my smart TV?
There are several ways to connect smart TVs to speakers: you may use HDMI, RCA, or 3.5 mm analog cables to connect your speakers. With a low-latency Bluetooth transmitter, you can connect and try out the very best Bluetooth speakers for a cheap price.