A quality soundbar can really enhance your TV or movie viewing experience. And few companies make higher quality soundbars than Bose. In fact, the new Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is one of our favorite soundbars under $1,000.
But between a “smart” TV and a “smart” soundbar, sometimes it feels like our devices are outsmarting us. Many of the guides you see are overly complicated and only make sense to a tech guru. Very rarely does the owner’s manual help, and troubleshooting a technical issue over the internet can be hit-or-miss.
Here, we have assembled a guide to help you connect your Bose soundbar to a TV. The preferred connection methods are listed first, and the least-preferred methods are listed at the bottom. So let’s get started with the #1 way to connect a Bose soundbar to a TV for maximum audio quality!
(1) Connect Bose Soundbar via HDMI-ARC or HDMI-eARC
Connection via an HDMI-ARC or HDMI-eARC input is the preferred method of running audio from your television to a Bose soundbar. This is considered the “latest and greatest” audio connection, so you should use this method if your television is compatible.
Note also that the HDMI-ARC or HDMI-eARC isn’t the same as a standard HDMI port. This input should be labeled as ARC. Although the HDMI cable is the same, the input itself is different. So, for example, if you have a TV that was made in ~2010, it will likely have an HDMI jack but not an HDMI-eARC jack.
If your television has the appropriate inputs to support HDMI ARC, you can connect Bose 500, Bose 700, or Bose 900 soundbars using this connection. This will provide you with the highest sound quality possible.
The process is simple for connecting a Bose soundbar to a TV with ARC port:
(1) Connect an HDMI cable from the HDMI ARC jack on the television to the HDMI ARC jack on the soundbar.
(2) Access audio output settings on your TV.
(3) Change the TV’s audio output to the Bose soundbar
This process is plug-and-play, and you will be guided through any remaining steps on the device.
One final point: You may need to manually enable the ARC or CEC settings on your TV. If you connect your soundbar to the TV and still can’t hear any sound, this is the first thing to check.
(2) Connect Bose Soundbar via Optical
If your television does not support ARC/eARC, optical audio is the next best option. Not all televisions have an optical audio output, but the vast majority of modern TVs do.
Again, this process is very simple:
(1) Connect an optical cable from your TV to the soundbar. (Note that many optical cables have a protective plastic cap on the end. So, if you are struggling to connect the cable into the jack on the TV or soundbar, check to be sure that this plug has been removed.)
(2) Access audio output settings on your TV.
(3) Change the TV’s audio output to the Bose soundbar.
Some TVs may automatically select the optical output once you have connected the cable. In other words, steps 2 and 3 may be unnecessary.
Audio quality is still high using an optical connection, it just isn’t as high as the eARC connection discussed above. There will be some audio compression, but sound quality should still be superb using a Bose soundbar.
(3) Connect Bose Soundbar via Bluetooth
Although bluetooth technology is an excellent innovation, a wireless connection still has its drawbacks. Simply put, even with the newest Bluetooth 5.1 technology, audio quality will still be significantly higher (and with less compression) via a wired connection.
The largest concern with a soundbar using bluetooth connection isn’t audio quality — instead, the issue is audio lag. When you watch movies or shows, even a slight latency is noticeable (and distracting) to most viewers. In other words, you will first see a person speaking in a movie, and then the audio will be delayed.
Another issue here is that not all TVs have bluetooth. Only a modern television will even have this technology. So, chances are that any TV with bluetooth will also have a better audio output option (such as ARC, eARC, or optical).
If your TV is bluetooth-enabled but doesn’t have the eARC or optical output, follow these steps to connect a soundbar to the TV:
(1) Activate the Bluetooth setting on your soundbar.
(2) Access the “Bluetooth” menu from your TV’s settings.
(3) Select Bose soundbar from the devices list on your TV’s menu.
Bluetooth connections can sometimes be finicky and unreliable. If you can’t hear any audio on your soundbar, start by verifying that the volume is turned up. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, disconnect and then reconnect your Bose soundbar from the Bluetooth devices displayed on your TV’s menu screen.
(4) Connect Bose Soundbar via Coaxial/RCA/Aux audio input
If you aren’t able to use any of the above methods for connecting your Bose soundbar to a TV, you will have to rely on one of the “old school” hard-wired technologies. This would either be a coaxial input, RCA inputs, or a 3.5 mm aux input.
Depending on the model of soundbar and model of television you have, you may be able to use one of these methods. However, sound quality will be compressed significantly, so you shouldn’t use one of these connections unless you can’t connect your soundbar in any other way.
All of these inputs allow for “plug and play” connection between a TV and a soundbar. So if you have ever plugged speakers into a television, you should be able to use coaxial/RCA/aux inputs the same way. Just plug in the cable and select the sound output on your TV.
If your TV and soundbar don’t have any compatible jacks (for example, your TV has RCA only while your soundbar has coaxial only), there are adapters and converters that can be purchased for almost any situation imaginable.
How Do I Connect a Bose Soundbar to Cable? Or PS5? Or Xbox?
Bose soundbars must receive audio input through the television. This means that all audio sources must be connected to the TV, and then the TV sends the audio to the Bose soundbar.
So, your cable box will not be connected directly to a Bose soundbar. Likewise for a Playstation or Xbox. Instead, connect these devices to your television as you normally would. Then, follow the above steps to connect your TV to the soundbar (via HDMI, optical, or bluetooth).
Essentially, the TV functions as a gatekeeper or pass-through for all audio that will be played over a Bose soundbar.
Connecting your TV is only part of the soundbar setup process. It is also important to properly position the soundbar to maximize acoustics.
Many newer Bose soundbars use ADAPTiQ technology, which “reads” the acoustics of your room and adjusts the audio to accommodate the particular room. If you want to achieve the highest performance from a Bose soundbar, it will be necessary to run ADAPTiQ as part of the setup process. This can be run via the Bose Music app.
Also remember that, even with ADAPTiQ adjustments, the positioning of your soundbar still impacts sound quality. For example, you want the soundbar to be centered to the viewer and with minimal obstructions. So, you shouldn’t set the soundbar within a cabinet or recessed area.
Leaving the ends and top of your soundbar exposed also help improve sound quality. This is especially true for the newest soundbar, the Bose 900, which has ceiling-firing speakers that provide a surround sound audio.
Of course, even if you follow the above directions, there are bound to be times when your soundbar doesn’t function properly. While we hope this guide provides you with the information needed to connect your Bose soundbar to a TV, here are some troubleshooting steps in case you run into issues:
(1) Verify that the source audio is playing and that the volume is sufficiently high.
The easiest way to do this is to disconnect the soundbar and play audio over the television’s speakers. This way you know that it isn’t a programming issue.
Assuming you get sound over the TV’s speakers but not the soundbar, be sure that the volume is turned up on the soundbar. Sometimes a volume setting will change when you connect or disconnect a new device.
(2) Disconnect and reconnect the HDMI cable.
This seems obvious, also, but sometimes you simply need to disconnect and reconnect the cable and the problem resolves itself. Also be sure that the cable is correctly inserted into the port on both the television and the soundbar.
(3) Reboot the TV and/or soundbar.
Turning the power off and then back on may resolve a connection issue. If this doesn’t work, your TV should have an option to “restart” the device, which is more likely to help than a simple off/on button.
If neither of these work, simply unplug the TV and soundbar from all power sources. Wait for a minute to be sure that the devices are entirely powered off. Then plug the devices back in, reconnect the cables, and try again.
(4) Try optical instead of HDMI.
Bose actually admits that their soundbars have occasional audio issues via HDMI. This is attributed to the fact that there are so many different brands and models of televisions available that a few may experience CEC and/or ARC compatibility problems with a Bose soundbar. In this case, you should test the soundbar with an optical cable rather than HDMI.
(5) Update software on your TV.
Some newer smart TVs are prone to bugs and compatibility issues that require a software update to resolve. If you are having compatibility issues between a soundbar and a smart TV, be sure to update to the most recent software.
(6) Verify that your cable is working.
Sometimes, a faulty cable is the culprit. It is unlikely that this is the reason for a bad connection, but it does occur on occasion. If a bad HDMI cable is the problem, switching to an optical cable should fix it. If your optical cable is bad and you don’t have an ARC compatible TV, you will need to try a bluetooth connection or else get creative with RCA jacks and/or an adapter.
Connecting a Bose soundbar to a TV doesn’t have to be hard.
If you have both a soundbar and a new model TV which supports it, the eARC (or ARC) connection provides the best possible audio.
If your television doesn’t have an eARC or ARC jack, an optical cable can still provide excellent sound quality.
And lastly, if your TV doesn’t have eARC, ARC, or optical jacks, you may have to use bluetooth connection. Your only other option after this would be to use RCA, aux, or coaxial cables (if compatible) or else get creative with adapters.