How to Connect to a Soundbar with a TCL TV

When it comes to budget smart TVs, TCL is near the top of the pile. It also offers a ton of variety, with everything from basic 720p models up to the latest 8K TVs. However, these being budget TVs means that their sound quality isn’t always as good as you’d like it to be. To get a better audio experience (and give the TV some much-needed bass), you may want to connect it to a soundbar.

How to Connect to a Soundbar with a TCL TV

The specifics of setting up your particular soundbar may vary depending on its make and model. Still, the steps presented here help you to get the device set up with most TCL TVs using a variety of methods.

Connecting a Soundbar to Your TCL TV Using ARC

Audio Return Channel (ARC) is a feature present in most TCL TVs. It allows you to connect your TV to Consumer Electronics Control (CEC)-compatible devices, which may include your soundbar. You’ll use an HDMI cable to connect the soundbar to your TCL TV, creating one of the simpler ways to get the device up and running.

Start with these basic steps:

  1. Check the back of your TCL TV to find a port labeled “HDMI ARC.”
  2. Plug a high-speed CEC-compatible HDMI cable into the “HDMI ARC” port in your TV, connecting the other end to your soundbar.
  3. Turn on your TV and soundbar and press either the “Input” or “Source” button on your remote.
  4. Play anything that has audio and listen to your soundbar.

In some cases, your soundbar will work perfectly as soon as you’ve plugged it in. But if no audio comes out, you may have to help your TV discover the CEC devices attached to it (i.e., your soundbar) and enable the HDMI ARC setting so the soundbar can play audio.

Discovering CEC Devices

To ensure your TCL TV recognizes a CEC-compatible soundbar, work through the following steps:

  1. Press the “Home” button on your remote to access your TV’s main menu.
  2. Use the arrow keys to scroll down to “Settings” and click the “OK” button.
  3. Select “System,” press “OK,” and scroll down to “Control other devices (CEC).”
  4. With “Control other Devices (CEC)” highlighted, press the right arrow button and choose “Search for CEC Devices.”
  5. Press “OK.”

Your TV should start automatically searching for any CEC devices connected to it, which results in it presenting a list that should include the name of your soundbar. You may also see the names of other CEC devices previously connected to the TV. Press the “*” button to see the full list, which you may need to do if you’ve connected so many CEC devices that your soundbar ends up so far down the list that it’s not present in the provided space.

As a side note, some manufacturers use their own branding rather than calling their products CEC devices. Read your soundbar user’s manual if you’re unsure whether it’s CEC compatible.


Even if your TV recognizes your CEC soundbar, you may still be unable to hear any audio if it’s not set up to use the HDMI ARC functionality. That’s often the case with TCL TVs, as they’re set up to have HDMI ARC disabled by default. Enable the feature using these steps:

  1. Press the “Home” button on your remote to open the main menu and select “Settings.”
  2. Highlight “Control Other Devices (CEC)” and press the right arrow button on your remote.
  3. Choose “ARC HDMI” and press the “OK” button to enable the feature.

With both HDMI ARC enabled, and your CEC device recognized, your soundbar should be able to play audio for an HDMI connection.

Connecting a Soundbar to Your TCL TV Using an Optical Cable

Some TCL TVs (especially many low-cost 720p models) don’t offer audio-split HDMI via HDMI ARC. If that’s the case for your TV, you’ll likely need to use an optical cable to connect the TV to a soundbar.

Few things could be simpler, as optical cables have input and output ends. Slide the input end into the TCL TV’s optical cable receiver (this will be in different places depending on the TV model) and slip the output end into your soundbar. Turn both devices on, and you should be able to hear audio from your TV through your soundbar.

Connecting a Soundbar to Your TCL TV Using a 3.5mm Jack

Many TCL TVs come with 3.5mm audio jacks that you can use to connect a range of devices, including earphones, headphones, and soundbars that also have 3.5mm audio jacks. If you have a double-ended 3.5mm audio cable (you can find them in most electronics stores), you can use this jack to connect your soundbar.

Simply locate the 3.5mm ports in both your TCL TV and soundbar and plug an end of your cable into each one. You shouldn’t have to worry about specific input and output ends of the cable. Once connected, turn on both devices and play some audio.

Connecting a Soundbar to Your TCL TV Using Bluetooth

Some soundbars feature Bluetooth, allowing you to do away with pesky wires entirely as long as your soundbar is in range of your TCL TV. The soundbar’s manual should come with instructions on how to activate its Bluetooth mode. Follow the instructions for your device before doing the below to activate Bluetooth on your TCL TV:

  1. Press the “Home” button on your remote and select “Settings.”
  2. Scroll down to “Remote and Accessories” in the “Settings” menu and press the “OK” button.
  3. Select “Add Accessory” to bring up a list of nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices.
  4. Choose your soundbar from the list and click the “OK” button on your remote.

Getting the Ideal Performance

Once you’ve connected your soundbar, you may be able to tweak the audio performance based on what you’re watching. For example, many soundbars come with remotes that have buttons that set the audio for ideal playback for movies, gaming, and even speech.

Get Perfect Sound by Combining a TCL TV With a Soundbar

Soundbars are ideal if your TCL TV’s built-in speakers produce a tinnier sound than you’d like or if they simply don’t have the “oomph” needed to get the most out of your films and games. Thankfully, you have several options for connecting a soundbar to a TCL TV, though each soundbar differs. So, you may find that you’re limited in the methods you can use.

Now that you have your soundbar hooked up and blasting out audio, we want to hear from you. Why did you decide to buy a soundbar for your TCL TV? What soundbar did you go for, and would you recommend it to other people? Let us know in the comments section below.

One thought on “How to Connect to a Soundbar with a TCL TV”

John says:
Phew, not a trivial exercise. The cable supplied with the soundbar was not going to work, luckily we had a spare HDMI cable. Then the nested menus to negotiate, including a sneaky double press of the button somewhere along the way. Finally BIG sound. Time will tell whether it is better and clearer than the native sound.

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