If you just bought a new soundbar, congratulations! But before you can use it, you need to connect it to your TV in the proper way.
It’s possible to connect a soundbar to your TCL TV using a digital optical cable. In fact, according to the TCL manual, the second best way to hook up a soundbar to your TV is with this cable.
Further reading: How to Connect Soundbar to TCL TV with HDMI
Steps to Connect a Soundbar to a TCL TV Using Optical Cable
Soundbars and TCL TVs normally come with an optical cable so you don’t have to buy one. It’s important to note though that if it’s a new optical cable, the ends may still be covered by tiny protective caps, and you have to remove them before plugging either end into a device.
The next step is to locate the optical output at the back of your TV. It is normally labeled as Optical Out or Audio Out. Once you find it, plug one end of the optical cable into it.
Here’s the tricky part. There’s only one way that the cable will fit correctly so make sure to plug it the correct way. You may have to push it a little bit so that the plug will snap into place.
Once that’s in, plug the other end of the cable to your soundbar’s optical connection which is generally labeled as Digital Audio Input or Optical Input. It will look just like the plug at the back of your TV.
While connecting the optical cable to your devices, it’s important to make sure that you do not kink or bend the optical cable. It is very fragile and can easily get damaged.
When you have connected the two devices, plug in the soundbar to a power outlet, and switch it on. Do the same to your TV.
You may also like: How to Connect Soundbar to TV (9 ways)
Adjusting the Settings on your TV and Soundbar
Now, after you have connected the optical cable to both devices, it’s time to adjust the settings on your TV’s menu.
Go to your TV’s menu and navigate to the Audio settings. You should see an option to turn off the TV’s speakers, this way it will send the sound to the soundbar.
The menu may vary from one TCL TV model to another but this option should be available under the audio or sound settings. You could also check your TV’s manual for the correct steps in transferring the audio to a soundbar.
After adjusting the settings on your TV, you would want to make sure that you also have the correct input on your soundbar. There’s normally a button on the soundbar’s remote control that allows you to choose the source or input. When you see the options, you should choose the input for optical or its equivalent abbreviation or term. Again, this varies from one soundbar to another so we recommend checking your manual for the specific steps.
Once you are done adjusting the settings on your TV and soundbar, you can now enjoy better audio when listening to your favorite music or movie on your TV. The soundbar makes a big difference in terms of sound quality.
Since most soundbars come with their own remote control, you will have full control of the audio coming from the soundbar.
If you are interested in checking the general steps in connecting a soundbar to a TV, you could watch this video:
Optical Cable vs HDMI: Which One is Better?
We have mentioned earlier that based on order of preference, optical cable is second to HDMI. In reality, there are pros and cons to using either.
HDMI ARC is the best choice if you want the best sound quality possible. This technology supports the latest audio formats and it also allows you to use one remote for both devices. Also, HDMI ARC reduces tangled cables.
The main drawback of HDMI is that it is primarily made of copper which is susceptible to interference.
On the other hand, optical cables are made of fiber optic strands which transmit signal by light, making them impervious to interference. They offer decent sound quality, but not as good as when you’re using HDMI.
The main drawback of optical cables is their fragility since the inner part is made of glass, so extra care must be taken not to bend it too much during installation or maintenance. Also, they are not as widely available as HDMI cables.
I connected my TV and soundbar using an optical cable but there’s no sound output. What should I do?
If you are not hearing any audio from the soundbar while connected to your TV via the optical cable, follow the steps below to resolve this concern:
If you are not hearing any sound from the soundbar and you can see the LED flashing rapidly, try activating the PCM signal output on the TV. PCM is one of the most common digital audio formats, and activating it ensures compatibility. To do this, on your TV menu, go to Audio Settings and from there, make sure that the S/PDIF and ARC are set to PCM-Stereo.
Connecting your soundbar to a TCL TV shouldn’t be rocket science. But your success depends on how correctly you have connected the cable to your devices and if you have selected the right settings for your soundbar and TV.
It’s also worth mentioning again that since optic cables are made of optic strands which are basically glass, utmost care is needed when handling the cable.
Just in case you are having a hard time getting the audio output on your soundbar, it’s always a good idea to consult the user’s manual for your soundbar and TV so you can troubleshoot what might have caused the issue.