Three ways to connect your setup
Connecting your soundbar and TV is not complicated at all – you just need to know what type of technology your devices support. From there we’ll get you set up quickly so you can start enjoying entertainment in Dolby.
The first thing we need to talk about is HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface). This versatile and widely used technology passes high-definition audiovisual data between multimedia devices (like a TV and a soundbar). You are probably already familiar with HDMI cables or “ultra-high-speed” HDMI cables as they are sometimes called.
In this article, we’ll be referring for the most part to HDMI 2.0 which is more than ample for most people’s needs. We’ll also discuss HDMI 2.1 when talking specifically about eARC setups because of the increased bandwidth capacity — perfect for gaming in the lifelike spatial audio of Dolby Atmos.
Option 1: ARC/eARC port
HDMI 2.0 can handle high data transfer rates allowing you to take advantage of a feature called ARC (Audio Return Channel). The new and improved version eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) (learn more about ARC/eARC in our dedicated article) requires an even higher data transfer rate, leveraging the new HDMI 2.1 standard which can handle up to 48 Gigabytes per second (Gbps).
If both your TV and soundbar support ARC, or both ARC and eARC, it will allow you to pass high-definition audio between your devices using just one cable — just make sure to use the appropriate high-speed HDMI cable for your setup.
First, look on the back and sides of your TV for an HDMI port. Is one of them labeled “ARC/eARC”? If so, read on.
If not, skip down to the section labeled “HDMI passthrough”.
You’re in luck — all you need is a single HDMI cable to connect your TV and soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos (HDMI 2.0 for ARC should do the trick while HDMI 2.1 is necessary for eARC setups). This is the simplest option and will send audio directly from your TV to your soundbar.
Connecting your soundbar and TV to your ARC/eARC port
Find the HDMI port labelled “ARC/eARC” on the back or side of your TV. Then connect one end of your HDMI cable to your TV and the other end to the port labeled “eARC/HDMI input” on your soundbar. You’re all done, now all the devices connected to your TV, and most of its native apps, will playback stunning audio over your soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos.
For the best results we recommend using eARC whenever possible. It’s also always good to use devices that have confirmed compatibility. Be sure to consult your specific product manufacturer for more information.
Option 2: HDMI passthrough
If your TV doesn’t support ARC/eARC — don’t worry — you can still enjoy the crystal-clear audio of your soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos. To get started just make sure your soundbar has at least one HDMI input, and a dedicated HDMI output.
Connecting your streaming device and soundbar
For this scenario you will need to use an external streaming device that supports Dolby Atmos such as an Apple TV, Fire TV, Nvidia Shield, or selected Roku devices.
Simply connect the HDMI output of your streaming device into the HDMI input of your soundbar using either an HDMI 2.0 (or HDMI 2.1 cable if both your streaming device and soundbar support the new format).
Connecting your soundbar and TV
Locate the port labelled “HDMI output” on the back or side of your soundbar. Then connect one end of your HDMI cable from your soundbar to the “HDMI input” port located on the back or side of your TV.
Connecting multiple devices to your soundbar
Many soundbars have multiple HDMI inputs (for your devices) and an HDMI output to send picture to your TV.
If you are using an external streaming device such as an Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield, Blu-ray player, or gaming console, connect those directly to the HDMI inputs on your soundbar, and the HDMI output of the soundbar to an HDMI input on your TV.
Your soundbar remote should have all the controls necessary for changing between any connected devices.
Some things to watch out for when using HDMI passthrough
Connecting your devices via an HDMI passthrough has some potential pitfalls you’ll want to watch out for.
We recommend double-checking that your soundbar supports HDMI 2.1 (learn more about HDMI 2.1 in our dedicated article). To ensure complete compatibility with Dolby technologies be sure to always to use devices that have confirmed compatibility. Consult your specific product manufacturer for more information.
For a more in-depth look at how to set up your sound system, check out our soundbar setup guide.
How to find entertainment in Dolby
To get the full Dolby experience, brought to you in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, you need to first make sure you are engaging with content created in Dolby. You can find entertainment in Dolby on any number of popular streaming services such as Apple TV+, Netflix, HBO Max (US), Paramount+ (US), Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. As well as cable services such as Sky and BT Sport in the UK and Comcast in the US. Be sure to look for the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos badge on the title pages of your favorite entertainment.
Many services will offer Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos as part of their standard subscription. If not available, check with your service provider as you may need to upgrade to a different subscription plan.