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Connect a Soundbar to a Receiver

A receiver is the hub of your home entertainment system. Connecting your soundbar to one can potentially elevate your entire experience. Let’s take a closer look at how to properly connect a soundbar to a receiver and the benefits it provides.

close-up picture of receiver

Which Soundbar Can Connect to a Receiver?

There are two types of soundbars (no matter the brand), and those are active and passive soundbars. They can both connect to a receiver, but a passive soundbar will be more compatible as active soundbars were not meant to be used this way.

This is because active soundbars are meant to be all you need in one device. Passive soundbars, however, were meant to be integrated into a larger system. 

Let’s take a look at the two types in further detail. Passive soundbars do not have an internal amplifier system, which means they need an external source to produce the best sound.

Active soundbars, on the other hand, have everything you need in one little package including digital decoders, surround sound capabilities, and internal amps. Passive soundbars can be on the higher end in terms of price, but this is also due to their impeccable quality.

To get the best sound out of a passive soundbar, each channel will need to be connected to an external amplifier or receiver. 

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 is to fulfill audio experience TV speakers just cannot 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. 

Soundbar speakers can be very close together, as you can imagine, and this 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. 

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.

woman standing up while watching TV

How to Connect a Soundbar to an AV Receiver?

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

However many speaker cables you need or have will depend on the number of channels your soundbar has [1]. If your soundbar has three channels (left, right, and center) then 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 would 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.

If you want to use your soundbar as the center channel speaker, all you need is an optical cable for connection (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. 

If optical cables aren’t an option, you can try 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. 

You can also use RCA and auxiliary cables if those are the connections that your devices provide. It is again 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. If your soundbar 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 the more likely ones to be capable of this. Connecting a soundbar this way just makes the receiver act as an audio switcher.

couple playing video games

Connecting a Passive Soundbar to a Receiver

As mentioned, a passive soundbar needs external devices to amplify the sound. This is what a receiver does. However 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., with the first number as the signifier for the channels your soundbar has. If it has 2, you need two wires. 

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.

FAQ

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 and 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.

TV on a table beside a console controller

Conclusion

A receiver has more device inputs which allows you to connect more devices all passing through at once. 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.

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.

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.
Willie Greer

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