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Many people use their living room for a variety of activities. They enjoy Blu-ray movies and stream the latest Netflix show. They also use their PS4s to fight Call of Duty battles or their PCs to play PUBG. Their sound system is frequently used. As a result, they require an upgrade to their home theater sound system.

I purchased a soundbar as part of my home entertainment setup. So, while looking for the best soundbar for my busy home theater system, I discovered that it comes with both an HDMI and an Optical soundbar. You must select between these two soundbars when purchasing. So, which option should you pick? Which is the best option for your home entertainment system? What is the Difference between Soundbar HDMI vs. Optical?

Both soundbars produce high-quality audio. When used in conjunction with your TV, Blu-ray player, or other audio/video device, HDMI soundbars are a great alternative. Let’s see which one is the most suitable for you.

Let’s look at the differences now. Though the variations between these two soundbars are minor, they should be taken into account. Let’s take a closer look at them.

HDMI Soundbars

HDMI stands for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface” in its full form. This is one of the most prevalent forms of cable nowadays. They deliver excellent audio and visuals. They also deliver consistent and reliable visual and audio quality.

They are simple to use because they transmit both video and audio signals between devices. Your devices will be connected with fewer cords.

To connect your TV to your soundbar, you must use HDMI ARC. With an HDMI cable, connect your TV to your soundbar. You’ll need to use the HDMI ARC input on the TV. The sound from the TV is sent to the soundbar in this way. An HDMI ARC input can be used as a conventional HDMI input, but it also serves as an audio output.

Optical Soundbars

The sound produced by an optical cable is consistent and reliable. Many people believe that Digital Optical cables sound better than HDMI cables. If you have a home theater system, optical cables are necessary for high-quality sound. Optical cables are solely used to transmit audio, not video. If you want a relay video, you’ll need to purchase an extra cable.

Comparing Specifications

When deciding between these two soundbars, there are a few things to consider. It’s great if you prioritize your input options and the location of your soundbar. Let’s have a look.

Input Options

Consider what types of inputs and ports your devices have when it comes to input options. Many devices will allow the use of HDMI cables. If your device doesn’t support HDMI cables, make sure you have the appropriate video cords to send images from your device to your television.

Many consumers purchase cables without considering the connection type, only to discover that their device does not support that cable. What a pleasant surprise!

The Bottom Line: If all you need is to relay sound, a Digital Optical is the way to go. The sound quality of a Digital Optical is comparable to that of an HDMI. An HDMI cable is required to watch Blu-ray discs, Netflix programs, and game consoles.

Soundbar Placement

Now you must precisely position your soundbar. It will be a poor option to place it behind your television. What makes you want to utilize a soundbar? A soundbar is typically used to reduce the size of your home cinema system.

A soundbar offers a straightforward approach to sound. With only one cable to transfer sound and visual quality, an HDMI cable provides this basic approach. However, if you use a Digital Optical cable, you’ll need additional wires to transmit video quality. 

The Bottom Line: An HDMI doesn’t take up a lot of room. It reduces the amount of space wire required. However, if you want to relay video quality, a Digital Optical cable requires a lot of room and wire. A Digital Optical is not for you if you don’t like the clutter of wires.

HDMI vs. optical for connecting a soundbar to a TV

So that’s how you connect a soundbar to a television. Simply follow these instructions to connect a soundbar to a TV (for simplicity’s sake, this example is between two eARC devices):

  1. Turn off the TV as well as the soundbar. Disconnect the power cords from both the TV and the soundbar for further safety.
  2. Use an Ultra-High-Speed HDMI cable to connect the TV’s HDMI port to the soundbar’s HDMI port. Connect the HDMI cable from the soundbar’s HDMI TV port to any HDMI port on the TV if your TV does not have an HDMI port labeled. The video will be handled by that connection (and possibly basic audio). To handle the sound, you’ll also need to attach an optical digital audio connection to both devices. Connect an optical audio cable (no more than 5 meters) from the soundbar’s Optical Into the TV’s Optical Out (or OPT-OUT) (or OPT-IN). 
  3. Connect any other video devices with HDMI outputs to the TV’s other ports, such as Blu-ray players or video gaming consoles. Connect them to the soundbar’s other HDMI inputs instead. If you use ARC/eARC, the TV or soundbar can serve as the hub/source selection for all external devices, passing audio and visual signals through. It all comes down to where you have the most available ports and how you want to select inputs.
  4. Reconnect the TV and soundbar power wires and turn on both devices.
  5. Go to the TV’s menu settings to activate full soundbar functionality. To ensure full compatibility with your soundbar, you may need to alter one or more settings in your TV’s menu. Depending on the brand and type of your television, the steps for altering the audio settings may differ.

In general, go to the TV menu’s Sound Settings or Audio Settings and set the HDMI Audio Out, Optical Out, or Digital Audio settings to Auto/Bypass/Pass-Through, PCM, or Digital/Bitstream, respectively.

You may also need to enable the HDMI eARC, ARC, and/or CEC modes in the TV’s System, Sound, or Expert settings. Consult your TV’s manual or perhaps the manufacturer’s website for more detailed instructions on how to connect a soundbar to your TV.


Dolby Digital sound can be transmitted between your source and receiver device using optical and HDMI lines. So you don’t compare these Differences between Soundbar HDMI vs. Optical in such circumstances. However, if you want to listen to DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD, neither soundbar will work. An HDMI can perform these things, but an optical cable can’t. 

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