Soundbars and projectors can really enhance your audio and video streaming experience. However, with a projector positioned at the rear of the room and a soundbar in the front, can you use the two in conjunction?
Indeed, it is feasible. You can connect your soundbar to a projector using an HDMI cable, digital audio cable, or any type of compatible cable. Another option is to use wireless connections such as Bluetooth and HDMI.
Also read: Connect Your Vizio Soundbar to Your TV in Just 6 Easy Steps
Issues with Connecting a Projector to Soundbar
Because the Soundbar (front) and projector (rear) placements are on opposite ends of the room, you will need to connect them using cables that are lengthy.
Even if you are using a short-throw projector, you will still need to run an extended cable since the throw distance will likely be farther from the projector screen than a traditional cable will run.
Alternatively, you can opt for a wireless transmitter but unlike wired connections, this will lead to poor audio output unless the transmitter is of very high quality.
A Bluetooth soundbar (wireless soundbar) can also be considered to broadcast sound signals using the pairing mode but that too will have some performance issues.
Ultra short throw projectors are the easiest to connect to. However, it is not practical for one to replace their existing projector with a more expensive one just for this purpose.
So, if you are wanting to connect a Soundbar to your projector, consider the options explained in the latter half of this article.
Be sure to consider the media source, the projector’s audio output (which can sometimes act as the media source), and the Soundbar in terms of compatibility with these options as all of these components need to be connected.
Soundbar & Projector Connections – Important Facts & Tips
Most modern projectors have all connectivity options like HDMI, digital optical channel, analog connections like RCA, and Auxiliary Digital Optical. However, it’s best to use the media source to transmit audio (for better sound quality) and utilize the projector only for video.
Your soundbar can easily connect to a projector using a straightforward HDMI connection.
Just plug one end into the HDMI input of the projector and the other end into the HDMI ARC output port of your soundbar.
Ensure both devices are connected to HDMI channels and you’re good to go.
Select the source of the projector to HDMI channel.
Also read: How to Connect a Soundbar to Your TV with HDMI (in 5 Steps)
Surround Sound and Audio
As I mentioned earlier, it’s best to utilize the media source for audio for the best sound quality by connecting it directly to the audio input of the soundbar. Remember, your soundbar is always the input device.
By connecting directly, you minimize sound degradation and get the optimum quality of surround sound and audio channels through the soundbar. You also have more flexibility in terms of audio settings and audio controls.
The most preferred option is digital connection via HDMI which can handle all advanced digital formats and play all high quality audio streams.
The next best is digital optical connection or SPDIF output followed by analog connection. Unlike digital connections, an analog connection cannot produce high quality audio.
Avoid using your projector as a bluetooth speaker.
What about older projectors?
If you are using an older projector, you will not be able to connect to it directly using HDMI cables. Older projectors usually have some analog connections that do not support advanced digital sound formats.
You will have to use an HDMI adapter in this case to provide the necessary HDMI connection. Plug one end of the HDMI cable into your soundbar’s normal HDMI output port and the other end into the HDMI adapter.
Alternatively, you can use any of the compatible cables for the video provided that your soundbar has the compatible input port (like aux input)
It is important to remember that since your projector will likely be sitting in the rear of the room (especially if using a long throw projector) or at least the middle of your room (using a short throw projector), you will need to find a way to hide the cable that you are using to establish this connection.
If you don’t hide the cable, it will get in the way of your projector screen (if hanging) or could become a tripping hazard (if secured to the floor and run in this direction).
How to Connect Your Soundbar to a Projector Using an Extended HDMI ARC Cable
With the above in mind, consider the following steps for using an extended HDMI cable to connect both your Soundbar and projector (and recognize that the same steps can be applied if using a digital optical cable):
1. Choose the right cable.
If you are using an HDMI ARC cable to connect your soundbar to the projector, you need to ensure that this type of cable is accepted on both of these devices.
You can do a quick check on the specifications of your device to ensure that both accept an HDMI ARC cable connection.
Once this is confirmed, opt for a cable that is long enough to run the distance between where your Soundbar and your projector will be placed.
Try to find an option with a good bit of leeway considering you will need to move the cable out of the way and hide it from view.
2. Plug the HDMI cable into the HDMI connected devices if applicable.
If you are using your projector as the source of media, then you will only need one HDMI cable that will connect your soundbar directly to the projector through its HDMI port. The same cable can be used for both audio and video.
However, if you use an external media source like a laptop or DVD player, you will need another HDMI cable separately for audio if you want the best sound quality. If the media source does not have an HDMI ARC port, use its audiovisual input channel connection.
When connecting to several devices, an HDMI splitter can come in handy. There are two output HDMI ports available in the HDMI splitter.
So, if you find yourself short of an HDMI output, you can use the HDMI splitter to provide that extra connection.
3. Ensure that the HDMI ARC Port is selected on your projector.
After you have plugged in the HDMI cable, you will need to ensure that the projector is using the Soundbar (HDMI) as the audio source. Be sure to adjust the settings on your projector to keep the HDMI ARC port as your preferred audio output.
4. Run a performance test.
Before you go through the effort of hiding your cable, you want to make sure that everything is working as it should.
Run a test by streaming a video with audio – a music video of your favorite song, for example. Assuming it all works, you are ready to take it to the next step. If it does not work, then you will need to find the source of the issue.
5. Hide the extended HDMI ARC Cable.
Now that you have connected the Soundbar to your projector (and additional media source if applicable), and you know that all of your equipment works, it is time to hide the HDMI cable.
Leaving the cable out is not only visually distracting and unappealing, but a loose cord could become a safety hazard in your home theater as well.
You can choose how you would like to hide it. There are a few options like hiding it behind the sheetrock in your walls, running it through the ceiling, or using some kind of cable track that can be secured onto the floor or wall.
Either way, you just need to make sure that you do not have loose cords in your home theater room.
Connecting a Soundbar to a Projector Using RCA
Other options to consider when connecting your Soundbar to a projector are through digital optical connection or HDMI ARC analog connections like RCA cables.
Still, connecting a soundbar with a projector in this way is not overly complicated- you will just be using analog connections instead of a digital optical connection.
To use RCA to connect your Soundbar to a projector, consider the following steps:
1. Choose an extended RCA cable.
Just like with an HDMI ARC cable, you will need an extended RCA cable option that can connect your Soundbar (in the front of the room) to your projector (in the back of the room). Be sure to choose a high-quality cable for the best audio and video signal transmission.
2. Plug in the cables.
Again, if you are using an external media source, you will need to make sure that all three devices are connected.
Plug in the left and right channel cables between your Soundbar (using the RCA port) and projector and then a compatible cable between the Soundbar and the media source as well.
3. Ensure that the RCA connection is your preferred option.
Just like you would with the HDMI ARC input, you will need to adjust the settings on your projector to automatically choose the RCA input as the preferred setting so that it begins streaming once plugged in.
4. Run a performance test and Hide the extended RCA cables.
The process of running a performance test is the same. Just stream your favorite video and test it for image and sound quality.
Follow the same methodology explained earlier for hiding cables.
Connecting a Soundbar with a Projector Using a Wireless Transmitter
If you would like to connect your Soundbar to a projector without having to run an extended cable throughout the entire length of your home theater, then you can choose a wireless connection option. Fortunately, this is not overly complicated.
However, you will need to keep in mind that low-quality wireless connections could result in poor-quality video and audio transmission with some serious lag.
This could be highly disruptive to your media experience, so be sure to opt for a high-quality transmitter.
To connect a Soundbar with a projector using a wireless transmitter, consider the following steps:
1. Check the compatibility with your output and input devices.
Before you buy a specific wireless transmitter, you need to see what type of connection port (HDMI ARC ports or RCA port) it will require.
For example, if you plan on using an HDMI wireless transmitter, you need to ensure that you can plug the HDMI ARC port into your projector.
2. Purchase a compatible, high-quality wireless transmitter.
Once you know the right kind of compatibility that you plan on using, it is time to ensure that the audio quality of the wireless connection provides the best sound output.
If possible, try to avoid Bluetooth transmitters as these can tend to be less reliable with high levels of video and audio transmission.
3. Plug your transmitter into your projector.
Now that you have the right transmitter, you will want to plug it into your projector. This should not be too hard since you have already selected the right kind of compatibility.
4. Connect the transmitter to your Soundbar.
Now, you will need to connect the transmitter to the Soundbar according to the instruction steps that come with your unique transmitter.
Using a transmitter is highly preferable considering you will not have to run an extended cable throughout the length of your home theater.
Just be sure it is high-quality and has enough capacity to stream your video and audio without a lag.
5. Adjust the preferred input settings on your projector.
Once you have connected the devices, ensure that the corresponding input port and settings on your projector are selected for whichever source your transmitter is connected to (ex. HDMI port or RCA input port).
Since you will not have to hide any cables, all you need to do is to test out the connection and begin streaming your media. It is now time to begin making fun-filled memories with your family and friends.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.