Projector Blog : How to connect a Sound Bar to a Projector

Are Sound Bars worth it?

Sound Bars have become increasingly popular in the home to provide premium quality audio with minimal intrusiveness. They take up less space than traditional tower speakers, tend to be cheaper, and have improved so much over the years they truly are a good option to consider for small to medium sized rooms.

Can a Sound bar be used with my projector?

Yes! A Sound Bar can most definitely be used with a projector. Unfortunately, many sound bar manufacturers have focused on simplicity and sometimes only include a single HDMI-ARC port. This HDMI-ARC port is a really useful feature when connecting to a modern TV, but not overly useful when connecting to most projectors.

sound bar with projector

What is HDMI-ARC?

ARC is a “Audio Return Channel”. A HDMI-ARC port allows the device to not only send audio signals but receive them as well. It is particularly handy to use HDMI-ARC with a TV and Sound Bar, as the TV can “return” the audio back to the soundbar through the HDMI cable.

Projectors usually do not feature a HDMI-ARC port since they generally do not have any audio signals to ‘return’. They do not receive TV broadcast signals like TV’s would. A projectors HDMI port is usually a normal HDMI IN port (there are some exceptions to this with the release of some ‘Smart’ projectors).

arc port projector

What is the best Sound Bar to use with a projector?

The best sound bar to use with a projector is one that features multiple HDMI ports. We suggest avoiding the more basic sound bars that only feature 1 HDMI port.

Ideally your new Sound Bar should feature at least the below connections if you plan on pairing it with your projector.

  • At Least 1 HDMI IN connection. This lets you plug in the player you are using into the sound bar.
  • A HDMI OUT connection. This is the port you would plug the projector into. The sound bar outputs the video to the projector through this port.

Connecting this ways gives you the best audio quality possible with access to digital quality audio such as Dolby Digital and DTS, should your sound bar be compatible.

How do I connect a sound bar to my projector?

1. For Sound Bars featuring both a HDMI IN and separate HDMI OUT port.

Sound Bars that feature a HDMI OUT port and at least 1 HDMI IN port are by far the easiest to connect to a projector. Simply run a good quality HDMI cable from the Sound Bar’s HDMI OUT port to your projectors HDMI connection. Next, plug in the player you wish to use into the Sound Bar’s HDMI IN connection. This could be your DVD player, computer, or a Smart player like Apple TV, Chromecast, or GoogleTV. If your Sound Bar features several HDMI IN ports, you can connect all your players at once and use the Sound Bars ‘Source’ button/s to switch between which player you wish to use.

sound bar connections

2. Using the projectors Audio Out port.

If both your projector and Sound Bar feature an Auxiliary audio port you can run a separate audio cable from the projector to the sound bar. Ideally use the S/PDIF Optical port if your devices feature it, otherwise the 3.5mm Audio port can be used. The 3.5mm Audio port is only capable of Stereo Audio at best, this is perfectly fine for most people but unfortunately you won’t get higher quality Dolby Digital or DTS encoded audio.

sound bar audio

3. For Sound Bars only featuring a single HDMI-ARC port.

The HDMI-ARC port is quite rare on projectors, but if your new projector features it, simply run a HDMI cable from the projector’s HDMI connection to the HDMI-ARC port on your Sound Bar. You would then need to plug in your player into your projectors alternate HDMI port (if it has one).

If your projector does not have the ARC port (and most don’t) unfortunately it becomes quite difficult to connect. We recommend purchasing a Sound Bar with multiple connections. If your Sound Bar also features an Aux audio input then you could use a HDMI AUDIO EXTRACTOR adapter. These adapters essentially split the HDMI’s Video and Audio signals into individual connections, changing a single HDMI into a HDMI and separate AUDIO port. This Audio Port can then be connected to your Sound Bar’s AUX port while running the main HDMI cable up to the projector.

Just Projectors only advertises Sound Bars that feature both HDMI OUT and HDMI In ports, these are the easiest type to use with most projectors.