You’re very happy with your purchase of a new soundbar to go along with your awesome TV. The overall listening experience and immersion levels are now sure to be increased along with the levels of enjoyment you’ll receive.
Except for one part, that is. Now you have an extra remote to lose and get frustrated over finding. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tuck the soundbar remote away somewhere safe and just adjust the volume using the existing TV remote?
Well, guess what? That is possible, and I’m about to show you how it’s done in this handy guide on How to Control a Soundbar With a TV Remote.
A Basic Understanding
I will start with some helpful background knowledge that will help you better understand how your equipment works. There is a huge variety of equipment available, and it doesn’t all operate the same way.
While most of the steps will be very similar, you might need to make some slight changes to make it work for you. Having a basic understanding of how each component operates will give you a better chance of success.
So, what’s the plan?
The first step is deciding on the best connection method for your soundbar and TV. Both your soundbar and TV will require either HDMI ARC ports or digital fiber optical ports (which we’ll just call optical from now on).
Once you’ve made sure these ports are available; you’ll need to make sure you have the correct cables available. Check that you have either an HDMI ARC compatible cable or an optical cable available for making the connection.
I have included an example of each type of cable used to connect a soundbar and TV, both of which I highly recommend.
This HDMI cable with ARC compatibility from iBirdie is well constructed and offers reliable performance. The fully-shielded 26-gauge cable has a PVC and cotton mesh jacket for protection. The connectors are constructed from zinc alloy and are 24K gold-plated.
Superior sound quality can be achieved when using the Suplong optical cable. It supports uncompressed PCM audio along with compressed 5.1 and 7.1 sound systems, including Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD, and LPCM.
Adjusting your TV settings…
Once you have everything connected, the settings on your TV will likely need adjusting. Some TVs will automatically make these adjustments, but most will require making some changes through the menu system.
This is where the most variances will occur, as every TV’s menu system differs slightly. The process is rather straightforward, and I will include step-by-step instructions for major brands. If your brand isn’t listed, don’t worry; the process will be very similar.
HDMI ARC or Optical?
The first step is ensuring that you connect your soundbar to your TV using an HDMI ARC or optical connection. Check to see what’s available on both of your devices, usually located at the rear or side of each.
HDMI is capable of providing a higher resolution audio signal than optical. This is useful when connecting larger 7.2 channel home theater systems. However, since we are connecting a soundbar, it doesn’t matter which option you choose.
Connecting using HDMI…
Your TV is likely to have multiple HDMI ports available. However, they are usually inputs, and your soundbar requires an output. This is what an ARC (Audio Return Channel) provides, enabling the signal to travel in both directions as both an input and output simultaneously.
While your TV may have three, four, or more HDMI ports, only one or two of them will be ARC compatible. Once identified, plug one end of your HDMI cable into your TV. The other end plugs into the HDMI input port on your soundbar.
Connecting using optical…
If your TV or soundbar doesn’t have an HDMI ARC port, you can still use an optical port. This is a small port that could be labeled Optical, OPT, Digital, or even DGT. Take a look at both your TV and soundbar. There is usually a plug that requires removal in the port.
On your TV, you’re looking for an output, and on the soundbar, locate the input port. Once identified, don’t forget to remove the plastic caps from the optical cable. The cable can only be inserted in one direction. Press firmly until you hear and feel it click into place.
Testing the Connection
Now that you have your soundbar connected to your TV using either HDMI ARC or optical, it’s time to test the connection. Start by turning on both devices using their own remotes, or you can turn them on from the device directly.
There is a chance you will hear audio coming from your soundbar immediately. If this is the case, then great, you know a successful connection has been made. If you can’t hear any audio just yet, don’t panic.
Check the source on your soundbar…
Most soundbars have multiple source options that can be selected. These can include Bluetooth, auxiliary, HDMI, optical, digital input, or D.IN, and are sometimes even labeled TV. You will need to ensure the source is set to the connection method you have used.
Using either the soundbar remote or using the controls on the soundbar itself, press the source or input button. Depending on the soundbar model, the exact label given could differ slightly, and you may need to refer to the instruction manual if unsure.
Adjusting the source on your TV…
With most TVs, once you make a connection using either HDMI ARC or optical, it will default to that audio output. This isn’t always the case, though, and you may need to manually change the output through your TV’s settings menu.
While every TV is going to be slightly different, the process should be fairly simple. Press either settings or home on your TV remote. Once the settings are open, look for the audio section. Within the audio menu, look for something like “TV Speaker” or “Speaker List.” You should then be able to adjust the TV’s audio output method.
Setting up Your TV’s Remote Control
Now that you have your TV’s audio coming out from the soundbar, it’s time to figure out how to control a soundbar with a TV remote. I have included instructions for the most popular TV models on how to set volume adjustment to your TV’s remote control.
If you’ve used an HDMI ARC connection, the TV’s audio output will have already automatically been detected. On your TV remote, press and hold the right button on the directional pad. This will activate the Anynet+ feature.
For an optical connection, you will need to manually change the audio output settings. This can be done via Home > Settings > Sound > Sound Output. You can then press and hold the left button on the directional pad to deactivate Auto Power Link.
For LG TVs, both the HDMI ARC and optical connections will be set up using the same method. Using the TV remote control go to TV Settings > Sound > Sound Out and then select either HDMI or optical depending on your connection method.
You can connect Sony TVs to soundbars using both the HDMI ARC and optical methods. If you wish to use your TV remote to control volume, though, only HDMI ARC offers that function. The TV will automatically recognize either connection type.
ARC for Panasonic TVs is always located on their HDMI 2 port. They will also have an optical out port available. Once the connection is made, enter the settings menu on the TV followed by sound. You can then turn off the TV speaker and select the output method.
Only HDMI ARC supports using your TV remote to adjust the soundbar’s volume. Once connected, use the TV remote to navigate to Home > Settings > System > Control Other Devices (CEC) > HDMI ARC. You will also need to uncheck the box labeled “System Audio.”
The ARC channel on VIZIO TVs is always the HDMI 1 port. For the optical port, it might be labeled S/PDIF. If the TV doesn’t automatically initialize, follow these steps. Using the TV remote navigate to System > CEC > and then select “ARC Only.”
Looking for a Great Soundbar?
We can help you get what you need. Check out our comprehensive Sony HT-S350 Soundbar Review, our VIZIO SB3821-C6 Review, our Samsung HW-R650 Review, our Yamaha YAS-207BL Review, our Yamaha Audio YAS-109 Review, and our Klipsch R-10B Review for awesome soundbars you can buy in 2021.
You may also enjoy our helpful guides on How to Connect a Soundbar to a TV Using Bluetooth, How to Connect a Soundbar to a Computer, How to Program an Xfinity Remote to a Soundbar, Can you Connect a Soundbar to a Receiver, and Connect a Soundbar to TV Without HDMI or Optical for more useful information.
How to Control a Soundbar With a TV Remote – Final Thoughts
As you can probably tell by now, the steps are fairly easy. Menu systems on tech gadgets have come a long way from needing an engineering degree to program the old VCR. Although all the menus differ, they all follow the same basic principles.
Your remote control will have directional buttons and an OK or Select button. It’s simply a process of navigating the on-screen menu and making the correct adjustments. Don’t be afraid to explore, and if you get stuck, use the back or home button. Now you can tuck that spare remote safely away in a drawer.
Until next time, happy listening.