Can You Use Soundbar And TV Speakers At The Same Time

The integration of hi-fi audio into the domestic living space has revolutionized the audiovisual experience of consuming media. A home ...

By Dewayne

The integration of hi-fi audio into the domestic living space has revolutionized the audiovisual experience of consuming media. A home theater setup promises to immerse viewers not only in ultra high definition visuals but also in high-fidelity sound that rivals the cinematic experience. Paramount to this setup is the soundbar – a compact, yet powerful device designed to deliver superior sound. Understanding the capabilities and connectivity options of soundbars is essential for those looking to enhance their home theater audio.

For numerous individuals, the question of whether a soundbar can be utilized simultaneously with a TV’s built-in speakers is a point of intrigue. The reasoning behind this inquiry often stems from a desire to enrich the audio output without completely sidelining the TV’s native capabilities. Navigating through the sea of connectivity options and audio settings can be daunting for those unversed in home theater technology. Consequently, gaining insights into the compatibilities and techniques for synchronization is crucial for achieving an optimal audio setup.

To directly address the query, yes, it is possible to use a soundbar and TV speakers at the same time. This can be achieved by employing specific connection methods and audio settings that allow for dual audio output. By understanding how to properly connect and configure the devices, users can take advantage of both the soundbar and TV speakers to create a more enveloping and layered auditory experience for their home theater system.

What’s a Soundbar

A soundbar is an elongated, bar-shaped audio device that houses multiple speakers within a single enclosure. It is specifically designed to enhance the sound quality of a home theater without the complexity or clutter of a traditional surround sound system. Soundbars typically include speakers that output various audio channels, subsequently creating a richer and wider sound field that greatly improves upon the limited capabilities of standard TV speakers.

The typical build of a soundbar allows for it to be placed either above or below a television screen, ensuring it does not disrupt the visual aspect of the home theater experience. Modern soundbars often include advanced audio technologies such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. These features facilitate an immersive audio environment by simulating sounds that appear to come from all around the viewer, including above.

Connectivity is another hallmark of the contemporary soundbar, providing users with a multitude of options to transmit audio from their TV. The most common interfaces for connecting soundbars include HDMI ARC, optical cables, and Bluetooth. The design often prioritizes ease of use, with soundbars automatically recognizing input signals and adjusting settings accordingly to deliver optimal audio performance for the home theater.

In addition to these technical aspects, soundbars are often lauded for their sleek and unobtrusive design that complements modern home decor. While they are designed to stand alone as a significant audio upgrade for home theater systems, they can also function alongside other audio outputs, such as TV speakers, to provide a layered sound experience.

Can Soundbar and TV Speakers Sync

Synchronizing a soundbar with TV speakers is indeed feasible, albeit with certain limitations and considerations. This process involves coordinating the audio output so that sound is played through both devices simultaneously, with minimal delay or echo. Achieving this synchronization can create a more expansive sound stage and fill larger rooms more effectively as part of a home theater setup.

To initiate synchronization, the TV’s audio settings must often be configured to enable dual audio output. This setting permits the TV to output sound through both its internal speakers and an externally connected audio device, such as a soundbar. However, due to varying manufacturer implementations, some TVs may not support such a feature or may require specific model pairings to activate it.

It is critical to be aware of potential latency issues that can emerge when syncing soundbar and TV speakers. Latency or lag can occur when there is a misalignment between the audio from the soundbar and the TV speakers. Such discrepancies can lead to an echo effect, detracting from the home theater experience. Hence, some soundbars include features to adjust the timing of the audio output to address this concern.

Moreover, it is imperative to consider that combining the soundbar and TV speakers may require balancing the volume levels to ensure one does not overpower the other. This balance is vital for maintaining audio clarity and preventing a muddled sound mix. With proper synchronization, the soundbar can complement the TV speakers by filling in audio gaps, thereby enhancing the overall home theater experience.

How to Connect Soundbar with TV

Connecting a soundbar to a TV is a pivotal step in creating an integrated audio experience for a home theater. The process usually involves a simple plug-and-play approach, with several connection methods available to suit different preferences and equipment capabilities. Two of the most common connectivity options are HDMI ARC and optical cables, each having its own advantages.



HDMI ARC, which stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface Audio Return Channel, has become the de facto standard for connecting soundbars to modern TVs. This technology allows for both video and audio signals to travel through a single HDMI cable, simplifying the connection process. When using HDMI ARC, control functions such as volume adjustment can also be passed between the TV and the soundbar, allowing the TV’s remote to manage the soundbar’s volume.

To connect via HDMI ARC, one must first locate the port on the TV labeled “ARC,” connect an HDMI cable to this port and then to the corresponding ARC port on the soundbar. Upon connection, the TV and soundbar should recognize each other, facilitating a smooth setup. It is paramount to ensure the HDMI cable is compatible with ARC, as not all HDMI cables support this feature.

One of the prominent benefits of HDMI ARC is the ability to relay advanced audio codecs, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, which are essential for enjoying high-resolution audio formats available on Blu-ray discs and some streaming services. Hence, HDMI ARC is not only about convenience but also about maximizing the potential of the home theater’s sound quality.

Furthermore, HDMI ARC often works in tandem with CEC (Consumer Electronics Control), enabling consumers to control multiple connected devices using a single remote. This integration can extend to include synchronization of the soundbar and TV speakers, provided the corresponding settings are correctly adjusted on the home theater equipment.

Using Optical Cable

An alternative to connecting a soundbar and TV is through the use of an optical cable, also known as a TOSLINK. This method transmits digital audio signals as light pulses, thereby eliminating the risk of electromagnetic interference that may occur with traditional coaxial cables. Optical cables are particularly useful when the TV does not support HDMI ARC or when all HDMI ports are occupied.

Optical connections are simple to establish: one end of the optical cable should be plugged into the optical out port on the TV, and the other end into the optical in port on the soundbar. Unlike HDMI ARC, optical connections do not permit the TV remote to control the soundbar’s volume—instead, the soundbar’s own remote or a universal remote would be necessary for volume adjustments.

Optical cables support most common audio formats used in television broadcasts, DVDs, and many streaming services, including Dolby Digital. However, optical connections do not support the newest high-bitrate audio formats found on Blu-ray discs or some streaming services. Therefore, while optical cables provide a reliable and high-quality audio connection for most home theater needs, they may not be the best fit for audiophiles seeking the highest possible sound fidelity.

It is also worth mentioning that optical cables are not capable of transmitting CEC control signals, and thus they do not offer the convenience of integrated device control that HDMI ARC provides. Still, this connection remains a solid choice for those who require a straightforward, quality audio link between their soundbar and TV within their home theater system.

Sound Settings for Dual Audio Output

Ensuring both the soundbar and TV speakers operate simultaneously necessitates adjustment to the home theater’s audio settings. To streamline the process and provide clarity, consider the following steps:

  • Access the TV’s audio menu and navigate to the speaker settings, which may be labeled differently depending on the brand and model.
  • Identify and select an option that enables output to both the TV speakers and an external sound system if available. This setting might be referred to as “Dual Audio Output,” “Audio Multi-Output,” or a similar designation.
  • Adjust the delay or audio sync settings to minimize any latency between the soundbar and TV speakers, ensuring a cohesive sonic experience.
  • Verify volume balancing options so that the sound levels from both the soundbar and TV speakers blend harmoniously, without one overpowering the other.

Benefits of Using Both Sound Sources

Incorporating a soundbar alongside the TV speakers in a home theater setup can yield substantial benefits:

  • Enhanced audio depth: The combination of direct and ambient sound can create a more layered and dynamic listening environment.
  • Increased volume: Dual sources can produce a louder overall sound, beneficial for large rooms or situations where higher volume levels are needed.
  • Coverage for multiple seating areas: Utilizing both sound sources may improve the audio experience from different listening positions within the space.
  • Incremental upgrade flexibility: Those building their home theater gradually can still rely on their TV speakers while adding the improved performance of a soundbar.

Potential Issues and Solutions

While employing both a soundbar and TV speakers presents several advantages, it is not without its challenges. Here are the most common issues and their corresponding solutions:

  • Latency: Adjust the soundbar or TV’s delay settings to ensure audio from both sources syncs correctly.
  • Volume imbalance: Carefully manage volume levels to prevent one source from dominating the other.
  • Sound quality disparity: Use the soundbar’s equalizer settings to match the TV speaker’s tone as closely as possible to provide a unified sound field.
  • Limited TV settings: If the TV does not support dual audio output, consider using a separate audio mixer or processor capable of combining two audio sources.

Does Dual Output Affect Sound Quality

The use of both a soundbar and TV speakers simultaneously in a home theater has the potential to either enrich or diminish the overall sound quality depending on how it is managed. Careful calibration and synchronization can yield an enhanced audio experience, whereas misalignment might lead to a distracting echo or muddled soundstage.

It’s crucial to consider that the inherent sound quality of a soundbar is typically higher than that of TV speakers due to superior speaker construction and acoustic design. Adding TV speaker output may add volume but could potentially blur the crisper audio detail produced by the soundbar.

Therefore, when both audio outputs are utilized, it is essential to ensure that the soundbar’s advanced capabilities are not compromised by the less refined sound from the TV speakers. Striking the correct balance is key to maintaining high-quality sound within the home theater setup.

Enhancing TV Audio with Soundbars

Soundbars are specifically engineered to substantially uplift the audio performance of TVs, providing a more immersive and satisfying auditory experience as part of a home theater system. Their technology is often tailored to deliver clearer dialogue, deeper bass, and a broader soundstage than the conventional speakers embedded in a television can offer.

Several soundbar models come with an array of features such as built-in subwoofers, satellite speakers, and virtual surround sound technology. These enhancements are designed to expand the sonic landscape and simulate a surround sound environment without the complexity of setting up several separate speakers.

In integration with TV speakers, the key is optimizing the soundbar use to ensure that its full potential is harnessed. This often involves strategic placement, appropriate volume level calibration, and utilizing advanced audio features that the soundbar offers to complement rather than overshadow the TV speakers within the home theater equation.


Employing a soundbar in conjunction with TV speakers can indeed augment the audio dimension of a home theater setting, provided that appropriate steps are taken to ensure harmonious operation and sound quality. This article has illuminated the essentials of connecting and synchronizing a soundbar with TV speakers, addressing potential issues and underscoring the benefits.

To capitalize on both sound sources simultaneously, one must be prepared to delve into audio settings, understand the nuances of connectivity, and harmonize the sound output. While it is possible to enjoy both the soundbar and TV speakers together, it is important not to compromise the superb audio fidelity that the soundbar primarily offers.

In conclusion, the question at hand is not just whether a soundbar and TV speakers can be used at the same time, but also how effectively they are integrated to enhance the home theater experience. With the right approach, the dual use of a soundbar and TV speakers can deliver a compelling and richly augmented sonic experience.

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