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How To Connect Home Theater To TV Without HDMI [Step By Step Guide]

So you got yourself a new home theater. However, you're having trouble connecting it to your TV because it does not support HDMI output, or your current HDMI cable is broken. Don't worry—you can still connect the home theater to your TV without HDMI. After conducting research, we've rounded up some of the best solutions for this issue and compiled them for you in this article.

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To connect your home theater to your TV without using HDMI, you can go the traditional route which includes using RCA audio cables, composite video cables, digital optical cables, or an HDMI converter for the input supported by your TV. You can also utilize the wireless option if both systems support Bluetooth.

Before buying any cables, check the ports at the back of your TV to see which of them are supported. RCA audio cables are commonly used with TVs, so it's probably the best choice.

There are a few more things you need to know about HDMI, and we've broken them down for you in this article. We'll also answer some additional questions that you might have along the way, so keep reading to find out.

Connecting Your Home Theater Without HDMI

The entire process of setting up your home theater is no easy feat, especially if you don't have any knowledge on how to do it and the user manual isn't helping. Here's a quick tutorial on how to get your home theater ready for your non-HDMI TV.

Using RCA And composite video cables

RCA connectors for video and stereo sound

  1. Ensure your TV is properly powered on.
  2. RCA and composite cables commonly come in two colors (white and red), so plug them into their corresponding ports: the red wire goes into the red port, and the white wire goes into the white port. Be sure to do the same on the TV and all the other components.
  3. Turn on the receiver and all other audio components in the system.
  4. Wait until a setup menu appears on the screen and follow the instructions.
  5. Choose the correct input for the audio system on your TV to make sure the audio plays well.

Check out these RCA cables on Amazon.

Using Bluetooth

If your home theater and TV support Bluetooth wireless technology, you should it, as it frees you from the need to buy audio cables and working with tangled wires.

The pairing steps may vary per device, but you can follow these general steps in setting up your home theater.

  1. Turn on your TV and your home theater's Bluetooth connectivity. Make sure both devices are visible.
  2. If a setup menu appears on your TV screen for pairing, follow the steps that appear and pair your TV with the home theater by selecting the correct device on the list. Bluetooth-powered devices often come labeled with the unit's name or serial code. Check the manual or the box to be sure that you're pairing with the right device.
  3. Once the pairing is done, select Bluetooth as the TV's preferred audio device and you're all set.

Using digital optical cables

TV audio video input panel

  1. Power on your TV.
  2. Find the digital optical (some TVs only label this as optical) label at the back of your TV. This should look like a small square-shaped port with a tiny needle-like outlet.
  3. Connect the digital optical cable to the correct ports on your TV and home theater system.
  4. Follow the setup instructions that will appear on your TV and select the digital optical input on the menu as your sound device.

You can buy optical cables on Amazon here.

Using HDMI converters

  1. Have your HDMI converter ready. For this option, it's best to use a converter that is all-in-one, so you can choose which one works best for you.
  2. Plug in your preferred cable to the converter and connect it to your TV's USB port.
  3. Follow the setup instructions that will appear on the screen, if there are any.
  4. Select your home theater system as the audio device.

Purchase this HDMI converter on Amazon.

Quick Troubleshooting Guides

Evolution of video cables, hdmi, component, and rca cables, How To Connect Home Theater To TV Without HDMI [Step By Step Guide]

It's pretty common for TVs and home theater systems to not work as planned. We've rounded up some basic troubleshooting methods for you to try if you encounter any connectivity issues with your devices.

If none of these tips work, you should contact the manufacturer who should be able to provide you with additional steps.

No sound coming out

If no sound comes out of your home theater even though the volume is turned up, check that the AV receivers are connected properly. They may have come loose without you knowing it. If that's the case, ensure that the wires fit snugly into the outlet.

If there's still no sound, check your audio output and input and make sure you've selected the correct devices.

You hear static

Extreme close-up of a subwoofer pulsating produced static noise through it

Hearing static over your speakers is likely caused by some faulty or loose wires. Check your speakers' connectivity with your TV and position the wires properly, making sure all connectors fit like a glove.

If the static persists, it's likely a case of amp mismatch. It's best to call a professional if that's the case.

Sound or picture lag

Home theater speakers with a flat screen tv with a delay in audio

A delay between the sound and the picture often happens over wireless connections. While this can depend on the device's delay in input, it can still be fixed.

To sync your soundbar's sound with the video playing on your TV, pull up the settings menu of your soundbar and modify the audio delay until you hit the right setting.

Can TV Audio Work Through USB?

Unfortunately, USB ports do not support the transferring of audio and video signals between TVs and home theater systems. As a result, you can't use a USB port to connect your soundbar to a TV.

Note that USB-C cables and ports are able to transmit audio between devices. You can connect devices using an HDMI dongle, digital optical cable, RCA cable, or use an HDMI converter. 

Do I Need A Special HDMI Cable For Audio Input?

A regular HDMI cable alone won't be enough to play audio between your TV and home theater. To be able to play audio, you will need to have your entertainment system support ARC.

ARC stands for Audio Return Channel. ARC is capable of transmitting both audio and video using the same HDMI cable. Most TVs only have one HDMI ARC port.

Is HDMI ARC Better Than Optical Cable?

HDMI ARC is the better option between the two, as it is able to deliver high-definition sound quality, such as Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos, and other technology dedicated to providing uncompressed audio quality.

Which Audio Format Is Best For Television?

The best audio codec for a TV is AAC. A wide selection of hardware and operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS, Android, support AAC. AAC is also supported by other gadgets like Smart TVs and set-top boxes.

What Is The Best Sound Setting For Home Theater?

According to Dolby, a company that's well known for creating excellent sound engineering for media consumption, you can get complete surround sound with a 5.1-channel system, making it the best choice for home theaters.

Several streaming services are in the 5.1 channel format, including broadcast TV, most DVD and Blu-ray media, and some Super Audio CDs. Additionally, 7.1 channels can boost sound effects and help you get the most out of your media.

Some Final Thoughts

Evolution of video cables, hdmi, component, and rca cables

Don't let a lack of HDMI hinder you from upgrading your home entertainment. Thanks to advances in technology, there are a ton of ways for you to set up your home theater system without HDMI using different cables and wireless systems.

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