Connect a Soundbar to a Receiver

Connect a Soundbar to a Receiver

As the receiver is the hub of your home entertainment system, there might be complications if you don’t know how to properly connect it. For first-timers or newbies, we understand that it can be confusing. So, we’ve created a simple guide to help you connect a soundbar to a receiver, and we’ve discussed the benefits of this as well.

Which Soundbar Can Connect to a Receiver?

No matter the brand, there are two types of soundbars: active and passive. They can both connect to a receiver, but a passive soundbar will be more compatible as active ones were not meant to be used this way. This is because active soundbars are designed to be all you need in one device.

To emphasize, active soundbars have everything in one little package including digital decoders, surround sound capabilities, and internal amps. 

close-up picture of receiver

Passive soundbars, however, were meant to be integrated into a larger system. Because they don’t have an internal amplifier system, they need an external source to produce the best sound.

So, to get the best sound out of a passive soundbar, each channel has to be connected to an external amplifier or receiver. Passive soundbars can be on the higher end compared to other premier soundbars in terms of price, but this is also due to their impeccable quality.

Why Would You Want to Connect a Soundbar to a Receiver?

First of all, if you have a passive soundbar, you may just have to connect it to a receiver. Most, if not all, individuals purchasing a soundbar want to fulfill audio experience that TV speakers just can’t provide. There’s a reason behind soundbars being more compatible with TCL Roku TVs, for example.

If your soundbar has many channels, there may not be a need to connect it to a receiver (active soundbars), but connecting a passive soundbar to a receiver could make all the difference. 

woman standing up while watching TV

Soundbar speakers can be very close together, as you can imagine due to the slim profile most soundbars have. This arrangement could diminish the sound separation. In this case, getting a receiver for your passive soundbar and connecting it to a few external speakers will really elevate the sound. There are AV receivers under 500 which you can choose from in order to connect to your soundbars. These will provide power amplifiers to your soundbars as well. 

Not only that, but with flexible placement, you can customize your experience as well and create more sound separation to really hear the details. If you have an active soundbar, the proper external components critical to immersive sound would be surround sound speakers.

How to Connect a Soundbar to an AV Receiver?

There may be multiple channels that allow you to do this or a single one. This largely depends on the type of soundbar you have. All you need to do to get things up and running is connect the receiver to the soundbar via the speaker wire.

However, the number of speaker cables you need will also depend on the number of channels your soundbar has [1]. For instance, if your soundbar has three channels (left, right, and center) you will have three wires.

Some people have even considered combining all the channels into one output source, but this would diminish sound separation and you would need a lot of power to do that. To avoid the risk of blowing out a speaker, we do suggest connecting each channel separately.

Different Scenarios for Connecting an Active Soundbar to a Receiver

Using the Soundbar as Your Center Channel Speaker

Using the soundbar as a center channel speaker could raise the risks of incompatibility. If your soundbar and the rest of your speakers are different sizes and different brands, there may be some audio discrepancies.

Still, if you want to use your soundbar as the center channel speaker, all you need is an optical cable for connection. Of course, that’s assuming both devices have this form of connection.

To make sure you can enjoy seamless sound and avoid any delays, double-check if both devices have the same digital decoding capabilities. You can then adjust the settings and enjoy your home theater experience. 

couple playing video games

If optical cables aren’t an option, you can use the HDMI Arc, which is recommended for the highest sound standard. The connection via the HDMI is also very simple, just connect the HMDI connection to the soundbar and you’re done. Mid-range AV receivers like Denon and Yamaha have six and five HDMI and non-HDMI ports that can connect sounbars easily. 

If you want, you can also use RCA and auxiliary cables if those are the connections that your devices provide. Again, it’s as simple as connecting the right wires to the right ports.

Using the Soundbar as the Only Speaker

To do it this way, you would need the right form of connection compatible with both devices. The TCL Alto 8i, for example, has multiple channels and comes with a built-in subwoofer, then it’s capable of creating an impressive sound all on its own.

Active soundbars are more likely to be capable of this. Connecting a soundbar this way just makes the receiver act as an audio switcher.

Connecting a Passive Soundbar to a Receiver

As mentioned, a passive soundbar needs external devices to amplify the sound. This is what a receiver like the Yamaha RX-V 685 AV receiver does. The question of how many wires you need to connect the passive soundbar to the receiver depends on the number of speakers.

Speakers, or channels, are labeled in your soundbar info as numbers such as 2.1, 2.0, 3.1, etc.. The first number is the signifier for the channels your soundbar has. If it has 2, you need two wires. 

TV on a table beside a console controller

It’s all just a matter of connecting the wires and setup should be simple with a passive soundbar because they are designed to be paired with a receiver or amplifier.

Having problems with your soundbar that you just can’t seem to fix? See if resetting the soundbar is a solution for you.


How do I connect my soundbar to an Onkyo receiver?

Connect your soundbar to an Onkyo receiver via the compatible connection ports. Most Onkyo receivers have both the HDMI ARC and digital optical connections to provide amazing sound. All you need are the proper wires.

How do I connect my soundbar to a Denon receiver?

Connect your soundbar to a Denon receiver via either the ARC (audio return channel) or optical cable connective ports. Figure out which one is also supported by your soundbar and connect the two together with the right cable.

How to connect a soundbar to a Yamaha receiver?

Connect your soundbar to a Yamaha receiver with the HDMI connection. Most Yamaha soundbars can support this type of connection. Since it’s the one that produces the best sound with minimal lag and distortion, it’s the one we recommend as well.

Do soundbars require a receiver?

No, your soundbar does not require a receiver if you have an active one. Most soundbars on the market are active, which means they have everything they need to simulate a home theater experience built-in. 

Passive soundbars are ones that can benefit from a receiver for sound amplification and  elevating audio potential this way.


Connecting a soundbar to a receiver isn’t too complicated. This is mainly because the receiver has more device inputs which allows you to connect more devices all passing through at once. So, if all devices are compatible, you can potentially experience even more enhanced sound.

Setup and connecting a soundbar to a receiver is also very easy, all you need are the right cables. Once you connect everything to the right ports, you’re good to go.

Have a starter soundbar that won’t make you regret your purchase and give you hard-to-match sound quality! These budget soundbars make for great recommendations.

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Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.