Which is Better Optical Audio or HDMI ARC For Soundbar

Which is Better Optical Audio or HDMI ARC For Soundbar has been debated for years. Both options offer their advantages and disadvantages.

Optical audio offers superior quality compared to HDMI ARC. Optical audio uses light waves instead of electrical signals to transmit sound from the source device to the receiver. This allows for more transparent sound reproduction and less interference. The downside is that a separate optical cable must be used.

HDMI ARC provides more flexibility in where you can place your soundbar. It doesn’t require an optical connection, making it easier to install. If you have multiple devices connected to your TV, HDMI ARC lets you connect them all at once. You can also use it with older TVs that don’t support optical audio.

Personal Preference

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer one over the other because they feel that each option sounds best in certain movies, while others might find that they perform equally well.

However, if you want to get the most out of your new sound system, there’s no reason not to invest in both options. They are complementary technologies, so having both will maximize flexibility in settings.

For example, you could set up the soundbar as a Bluetooth speaker by connecting through a smartphone app, then pair it with another wireless speaker using its built-in Wi-Fi. Or you could add a third wireless speaker to create a multiroom setup.

If this sounds like something you’d consider, keep reading! We’ll walk you through what each technology is capable of and how you can integrate them into your living room.

Which is Better Optical Audio or HDMI ARC For Soundbar

What Is Optimal Audio Quality?

We should note right away that these two technologies aren’t mutually exclusive. They compliment each other very nicely. So it makes sense to combine them into one soundbar. That way, you get the benefits of both without the drawbacks.

This leads us to our first significant takeaway: Optimum audio quality requires both technologies to work together. That means you need to make sure your soundbar supports optical audio and HDMI ARC. Otherwise, you won’t benefit from the full capabilities of either option.

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So how do you know which type of audio output your soundbar supports? Look for the following features on the packaging or product page:

Support for optical audio (also known as digital coaxial) –

This indicates that the soundbar includes an optical port for transmitting high-quality audio. You will need a dedicated optical cable to connect your soundbar to optical audio equipment, such as audio receivers, players, and speakers. These cables look similar to regular analog audio cables, but they contain a single red/white/green LED to indicate when audio is transmitted.

Support for HDMI ARC

This indicates that the device supports HDMI ARC (high definition multimedia interface). With HDMI ARC, you can send audio to your TV via the same HDMI input that you use to watch TV. When paired with a compatible television, HDMI ARC allows you to playback video content and listen to music simultaneously.

You might be Wondering why you should use optical audio instead of HDMI ARC. While HDMI ARC has many advantages, including compatibility with older televisions, it does require a separate connection between the soundbar and the TV. As a result, if you already own a soundbar that uses HDMI ARC, you cannot easily replace it with a different model. On top of that, adding an optical audio connection to your home theater setup isn’t much more complicated than plugging in an HDMI cable.

Which is Better Optical Audio or HDMI ARC For Soundbar

Support of Dolby Atmos

Both Optical Audio and HDMI ARC support Dolby Atmos. However, only Dolby Atmos certification guarantees the ability to reproduce surround sound effects at their intended height and depth. It also ensures that the soundbar handles all aspects of the technology correctly. If you have any doubt about whether your soundbar will work with Dolby Atmos, check out our guide to Dolby Atmos soundbars.

To sum up, here are some things to remember when shopping for a soundbar with optical audio and HDMI ARC support:

Things To Keep in Mind When Shopping For Soundbar

Optical audio is necessary if you plan to use your soundbar with legacy devices like DVD players and turntables. You can still enjoy movies and music on those types of equipment if you pair them with a Bluetooth speaker or wireless headphones. But if you want to experience optimal sound quality, you must connect your soundbar to a receiver, player, or set of speakers using optical audio.

If you already own a sound system that uses HDMI ARC, then you should consider replacing it with a new soundbar because you’ll lose access to many other great features. For example, HDMI ARC allows you to stream video content to your TV without manually switching inputs. And by connecting your soundbar to your HDTV, you can enjoy Netflix and YouTube videos without interrupting TV viewing time.

Which is Better Optical Audio or HDMI ARC For Soundbar

If you don’t own a sound system yet, or if you’re looking for something smaller and cheaper, then opt for a soundbar with HDMI ARC. Soundbars with this feature offer excellent performance while costing less money than traditional sound systems.

The best way to choose which soundbar works best for you is to read reviews from real users. The best soundbars tend to receive positive feedback. Here’s what one user had to say about the B&W SB-1300: “I love my B&W SB-1000/SB-1300. I bought it as a replacement for my aging Yamaha RXV-1702ST. Now I’m getting excited about buying another one.”

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As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to buy a soundbar with optical output and HDMI ARC. In addition to providing high-quality sound, these models allow you to connect multiple speakers or receivers to your TV, and they provide easy connections to other AV components. So if you’re in the market for a new sound system, make sure it offers both optical audio and HDMI ARC.


Q: Why do I need a soundbar?

A: A soundbar is a small box plug into your television and adds powerful stereo speakers to your home theater. Today’s TVs come equipped with built-in speakers, but they usually aren’t very good. These speakers are typically mono (“one”), meaning they play only left or right-channel audio. They often lack bass response and volume control so that they won’t fill your room with loud enough sound. That’s where a soundbar comes in. You get stereo speakers that play full-range audio with a soundbar, including low frequencies. This is essential for enjoying music, watching movies, playing games, and listening to sports.

Q: What makes a soundbar different from a powered subwoofer?

A: Most people think of a subwoofer as a stand-alone device that sits under their television. While a subwoofer does have some advantages over a soundbar — such as the ability to play louder sounds at lower volumes — a soundbar provides much more versatility. A soundbar doesn’t just sit under your television; instead, it connects to your existing home entertainment setup and adds powerful speakers to it. It also has an integrated amplifier, allowing you to power your entire system wirelessly. You can use your soundbar to play music throughout your house, watch movies on your big-screen TV, and listen to surround sound audio through your home theater speakers. On the other hand, subwoofers only work when connected to your television and require additional wiring.

Q: Should I get a soundbar with digital input?

A: Yes! Although most soundbars include analog audio outputs, not all support digital audio inputs. Digital inputs allow you to connect your iPod, iPhone, iPad, Android devices, or any compatible device directly to your soundbar without using a separate dongle. And because they share the same power source as your TV, they don’t affect your TV’s picture quality. Plus, many soundbars let you stream media content from smartphones or tablets, eliminating the need to plug in external streaming players.

Q: How should I set up my soundbar?

A1: Many soundbars feature intuitive controls that enable you to adjust volume, change channels, and even skip tracks. However, not every model includes this kind of functionality. If possible, try setting up your soundbar before installing it. Otherwise, look for a soundbar that lets you customize its settings by pressing buttons on the back of the unit.

To add a soundbar to your home theater, first, locate the speaker ports on your TV. Ensure that the soundbar is facing away from the wall behind your TV. Then, find the appropriate port on your TV and connect the soundbar’s provided cable. Finally, turn on the TV, soundbar, and the rest of your equipment. Your soundbar will automatically start working.

Q: How do I hook up my Xbox One?

A: Connect the included HDMI cable from the Xbox One to the front of the soundbar. The cable should be long enough to reach from the console to the center of the soundbar. Then, connect the included Ethernet cable from the Xbox One controller to your router. Turn on the Xbox One, set up your network connection, and open the controller app on your phone or tablet. When prompted, select “Xbox Live.” Once you’re signed in to your Microsoft account, sign out of your current profile and sign in to your new one. Select Xbox Live again and enter the code that shows up in the upper right corner of your Xbox One display. After everything is configured correctly, press OK.

Q: What if I want to play games on my Xbox One while watching videos on my television?

A: Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to play games on your Xbox One and watch videos simultaneously. That said, you can still enjoy both experiences by powering down your Xbox One after playing a game and turning off your home theater system. Or, if you prefer to keep them running simultaneously, check out our guide for connecting two TVs to an Xbox One for a complete gaming experience.