How To Connect Tv Sound To Home Theater Without Hdmi

by Matthew David | Updated: 09/14/2023

How To Connect Tv Sound To Home Theater Without Hdmi

Have you ever wanted to connect your TV’s audio to your home theater system but realized you don’t have an HDMI port available? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Plenty of people run into this issue when trying to get better sound from their TV without upgrading their equipment.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the various ways you can transmit sound from your TV to speakers or a home theater receiver without needing HDMI. Some methods use analog cables while others use digital conversions. Read on to find the best option for your setup!

What Is HDMI and Why Does Everyone Use It?

First, let’s quickly cover what HDMI is and why it’s become the standard for AV connections.

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is a digital audio/video cable interface that can transmit both high-quality uncompressed video and audio data. It provides a simple one-cable solution for home theater connection needs.

HDMI has become ubiquitous because it offers many advantages over analog connections:

However, HDMI does require that both your TV and audio system have HDMI ports. If one or both are missing HDMI, then you’ll need an alternative setup.

Luckily, with the right cables and converters, you can still get your TV’s sound into your home theater speakers or receiver.

Transmitting Audio Digitally Without HDMI

If your TV and audio equipment have digital audio connections but lack HDMI, you can use either a digital coaxial cable or optical/Toslink cable to maintain a digital signal between the devices.

Digital Coaxial Cable

A digital coaxial cable provides a direct digital pipeline between your TV and home theater gear. It uses an RCA-style connector rather than HDMI.

How to connect:

  1. Connect one end of the digital coaxial cable to your TV’s “Digital Audio Out” port, which is often colored orange.
  2. Connect the other end to the matching “Digital Coaxial In” port on your receiver or speakers.
  3. In your TV’s audio settings, change the audio output to “External Speakers” and select the digital coaxial port.
  4. Enjoy digital audio without HDMI!

Pro Tip: Make sure to get a high quality shielded coaxial cable to prevent interference.

Optical/Toslink Cable

Optical cables, also called Toslink, use light to transmit digital audio signals. Just like coaxial cables, they can carry uncompressed digital sound between components.

To connect an optical cable:

  1. Plug one end of the optical cable into the “Optical Out” port on your TV. This port is normally covered by a small plastic cap that pops off.
  2. Connect the other end to the “Optical In” port on your home theater receiver or powered speakers.
  3. Switch your TV’s audio output to “External Speakers”, choosing the optical port.
  4. Enjoy dazzling digital optical sound!

Handy Hint: Optical cables use light to transmit data so be sure the ends are cleaned and connected securely.

Hooking Up With Analog RCA Cables

If your equipment only has analog RCA connections, don’t worry. You can still transmit sound from your TV using either stereo audio cables, composite video cables, or component video cables.

Stereo Audio Cables

The most basic connection uses a stereo audio cable with red and white RCA plugs. The red connector carries the right audio channel while white carries the left channel.

To hook up an RCA stereo audio cable:

  1. Find the “Audio Out” RCA ports on your TV, often colored red and white.
  2. Connect the red plug to the matching red “Audio In” port on your receiver/speakers.
  3. Connect the white plug to the white “Audio In” on your gear.
  4. Select “External Speakers” for audio output on your TV.
  5. Enjoy stereo sound powered by analog RCA!

Insider Tip: Make sure to push the RCA plugs in all the way to ensure a clean analog signal.

Composite Video Cables

A composite video cable adds a yellow RCA connector for video alongside the red and white audio cables. This allows you to transmit both video and audio from your TV to home theater system.

To connect using composite video:

  1. Connect the yellow cable to the yellow “Video Out” port on your TV.
  2. Connect the yellow cable to the yellow “Video In” port on your receiver/display.
  3. Connect the red and white audio cables to the matching inputs on your gear.
  4. On your TV, choose “External Speakers” and select the composite video input.
  5. Enjoy synced video and audio without HDMI!

Handy Hint: Make sure to match up each colored connector with the same colored input port.

Component Video Cables

For the best analog video quality, component video cables split the video signal across three RCA cables. This maintains the crispest picture compared to composite video cables.

To hook up component video cables:

  1. Connect the green cable to your TV’s “Component Video Out” green port.
  2. Connect the green cable to the green “Component Video In” on your home theater gear.
  3. Repeat with the blue and red video cables.
  4. Connect the red and white audio cables to the matching audio inputs.
  5. On your TV, enable “External Speakers” and select the component input.
  6. Enjoy the best analog video and audio without HDMI!

Pro Tip: Keep the component video and audio cables neatly bundled to avoid confusion.

Converting Signals With an HDMI Converter

If only your TV or only your audio system lacks HDMI, you can use an HDMI converter to transition between connection types.

These devices allow you to send an HDMI signal on one end while converting it to analog RCA cables on the other end. There are also HDMI to optical or coaxial converters available.

To connect using an HDMI converter:

  1. Connect an HDMI cable from your TV to the “HDMI In” port on the converter box.
  2. Connect the analog RCA cables from the converter’s “RCA Out” ports to the matching inputs on your home theater gear.
  3. In your TV’s settings, select “External Speakers” and choose the HDMI port connected to the converter.
  4. Power on the HDMI converter box.
  5. Enjoy digital HDMI to analog RCA conversion!

Insider Tip: Place the converter box near your gear so the analog cables don’t need to run long distances.

Following Best Practices for Seamless Audio

Connecting your TV audio to home speakers or receivers is fairly straightforward. But here are some top tips for setting up your system and troubleshooting any issues:

Following this advice will help you avoid headaches and quickly resolve any missing-sound mysteries.

Connecting Game Consoles, Streaming Devices, and More

The connection methods described above focus on getting audio directly from your TV to home audio equipment. But you may also want to transmit sound from other devices like:

Luckily, the process is very similar when hooking up these devices:

With the right cables, you can feed sound from virtually any video source into your home theater or speakers, no HDMI needed!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about getting TV audio into your home theater without HDMI:

Do I need an AV receiver?

You don’t need a full-blown home theater receiver for these connection methods. Many powered speakers and soundbars have the various digital and analog audio inputs required. Just check your equipment to ensure compatibility.

However, a receiver does allow you to expand your system and provides video switching between sources. So they are recommended if building out a robust home theater.

Will I lose sound quality without HDMI?

It depends on the cables used:

So in many situations, non-HDMI audio can sound just as good!

Is analog or digital audio better?

Digital audio is better for long cable runs since it’s immune to interference. It also allows for uncompressed surround sound formats.

But for short distances, high-quality analog can deliver excellent stereo sound. So it comes down to your needs and equipment capabilities.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this guide has shown that you have options for connecting your TV’s audio to external home theater speakers and receivers even if you lack HDMI ports.

With the right cables like digital coaxial, optical Toslink, or even just basic RCA stereo cables, you can transmit great sound without HDMI. And converters allow you to bridge connections between HDMI and analog gear.

While HDMI is certainly the most convenient AV interface, it’s not absolutely necessary to build an immersive home theater. With a little effort, you can enjoy surround sound and enhancing TV audio without breaking the bank on new equipment.

So don’t despair if you hit an HDMI roadblock. Just follow this advice and you’ll be set up in no time!

Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m always happy to chat more about home audio and customizing your ideal listening experience. Enjoy your new wireless sound!