How to Connect Optical Audio Cable from TV to Home Theater

You can connect an optical audio cable from your TV to your home theater by putting one end in the optical audio output on your TV and the other end into the input of your home theater receiver or speaker system. 

I’m Donovan, a longtime musician and home studio enthusiast. I’ve built several recording studios over the years and have a lot of other experience with home audio. I know through direct application how to use optical audio cables. 

This post will show you how to connect an optical audio cable from your TV to your home theater. I’ll give you step-by-step directions for making this happen quickly and easily and will highlight some other relevant information along the way. 

Let’s get to it. 

Key Takeaways

  • Connecting an optical audio cable from your TV to your home theater is simple, and is just like many other connections you might be familiar with. 
  • You can use the optical audio output from your TV connected to the corresponding input on your home theater receiver or speaker system. 
  • Ensure that your TV and home theater both have optical audio inputs/outputs, otherwise you won’t be able to connect the two with this type of cable. 
  • Optical audio outputs don’t have that much different audio quality than other types of connections, but they do allow you to use surround sound formats easily. 

How to Connect Optical Audio Cable from TV to Home Theater

You have a few options when you want to connect your TV to an audio source. All of these are easy to set up if you are familiar with basic audio equipment and understand how to run these connections. 

But even if you’ve never set up a theater or sound system, you can still make it happen quickly and easily. Using an optical audio cable for this has some advantages, which we’ll look at in the section below. 

Before we get started with the instructions, it’s important to touch on how modern home theater systems can be set up and how you can use optical audio inputs in the first place. 

You’ll more than likely be using one of two setups for your audio system with your TV. A more traditional setup will use your TV, a receiver, and speakers. A more modern system can connect the speakers directly to the TV without a receiver. 

Either way, the process of connecting an optical audio cable is essentially the same, you just change where those connections are made depending on the type of equipment you have. I’ll explain all of that as we go through the instructions. 

Follow these steps to connect an optical audio cable from a TV to home theater

1. Set up your TV and home theater as you want them in your viewing room. Get the speakers set up and powered on, and plug them into a receiver if you are using one. 

You don’t need to do this step if you are using an existing theater setup. But if you are starting with all new equipment, you’ll want to get some things in place before connecting the optical audio cable. 

2. Locate your optical audio cable. 

3. Take the covers off each end of the optical audio cable. Most optical audio cables will have covers because the ends of the cables are small and delicate. The covers are usually attached to the cable so you don’t use them. 

4. Locate the optical audio output on your TV. This will usually be on the back or side of the television, near where all other outputs are found. The exact location can vary based on the model of the TV. 

5. Plug one end of the optical audio cable into the corresponding output of your TV. 

6. Now locate the optical audio input on either your receiver or speakers system. If you use an older setup, you’ll likely have a monitor where your speakers are plugged in. If you use a speaker bar or wireless setup, this input will be on the speakers. 

7. Ensure your input and output are close enough for the optical audio cable to reach. These cables are typically smaller than other types of connections because there is signal loss the longer the cable gets. 

8. Make any adjustments to your speaker or receiver location if the cable doesn’t reach. 

9. Plug the loose end of the optical audio cable into the corresponding input on your receiver or speakers. 

10. Power on your TV, speakers, and/or receiver. 

11. Select optical audio as your output source on either your receiver or speaker system. You can typically change the input source on a remote controller or with the buttons on the receiver face or speakers. 

12. Play something on the TV and check for audio.

13. Adjust the volume as necessary. 

Additional Tips: 

  • Since optical audio cables are shorter than other connections, you’ll want your TV and input source close to one another. You might need to get an entertainment center type of shelf to help with this. 
  • Keep the volume set very low or muted when doing connection tests to prevent getting blasted or blowing out a speaker. 
  • You can keep an optical audio cable plugged in and still use other types of connections like HDMI or AUX. You just need to cycle through the various input sources to choose which one you want to use.  

Benefits of Optical Audio Cable

There are some benefits of using an optical audio cable that you should be aware of to help you know if you want to use this type of connection over another. Optical audio isn’t always a standard connection, but it is good to use in certain situations.  

Optical audio can be the best digital signal option if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI output. While most modern TVs have HDMI, you’ll want to use the optical audio output, if yours does not, to get the best-sounding audio from your home theater. 

In a similar sense, optical audio can also help you make the most use out of older home theater equipment. For example, if your monitor does not have an HDMI input but your TV does, you can still connect the two and get great audio with an optical audio cable. 

Optical audio is also one of the best options to use with surround sound systems. Optical audio can easily support 5.1 and 7.1 audio signals well, giving you the home theater sound many consumers want. 

I like having my home theater set up with several connections for various purposes. You may not use it often, but it’s still good to have optical audio around if and when needed. 


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to how to connect an optical audio cable from a TV to home theater. 

Is sound better with HDMI or optical?

Audio quality is fairly similar between HDMI and optical, although HDMI will be better for some audio formats. The average person probably won’t be able to tell the difference between these two audio connections, but an experienced audiophile will. 

Is optical audio better than AUX? 

Optical audio is typically better than AUX connections because optical can transmit more information. This leads to more responsive audio and optical also works better with most digital audio formats. 

Is digital audio the same as optical? 

Digital audio and optical audio are not technically the same thing. Optical audio cables transmit digital information through pulses of light, while digital audio, otherwise known as AUX, can utilize a different audio bandwidth frequency. 

Is optical good for audio? 

Optical audio outputs can be a good connection for audio and offer a simple and reliable way to connect your TV to an audio source. These are especially good for surround sound formats like 5.1 or 7.1. 

What is the disadvantage of optical audio? 

The main disadvantage of optical audio cables is that you will experience some signal quality loss for long connections. Because of this, you typically don’t want to use a long optical audio cable for a TV or home theater set up. 

Final Thoughts

Connecting an optical cable from your TV to home theater is as easy as plugging one end into the input on your TV and the other into the output on your receiver or speaker system. You just need to ensure those two connection points are close enough to get good audio quality. 

HDMI connections are much more common these days because they send digital audio and video signals at the same time. Optical audio cannot do this, but it’s still a little better at carrying 7.1 surround sound signals. 

Do you use optical audio in your home theater setup? Do you have it connected to a speaker system or receiver? Let me know in the comments below.

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  • sarah

    Hi I wonder if you could help me? I have a Toshiba smart TV and have just bought a 100W 1.5 surround bar Model no DS6402 SAKOBS. I have sound coming through my sound bar but even on max volume the volume is quiet? I have seen many different posts saying to go to TV settings and change to PCR however this hasn’t made a difference. Surely the volume should be higher than it is you can only just hear it. I do however keep seeing posts that say you have to have tv settings on the right output but my TV has so many different ones and I’ve tried most of them. Am I doing something wrong? Many thanks

    • Donovan

      Hey Sarah,

      It sounds like you’re on the right track to troubleshooting the problem, and I’m not familiar with your particular TV so can’t be of much direct help. Getting the proper output is sure to help, and run through all of those if you haven’t already. There’s also a chance that you might have issues with your cables or speaker being faulty if none of that works. Sorry I can’t help much but good luck figuring it out!

  • Mike Pindel

    I had to pair optical with receiver and tv because I could not run the cord behind wall with that said I’m only getting sound out of one speaker the other 4 not playing any suggestions?

    • Donovan

      Hi Mike,

      Are you sure all of your speakers are connected to the receiver? If you have the optical running from the TV to receiver, you still need to have all your cables running to your speakers. It’s likely a problem with those and not the optical cable. If you give me some more info on your setup, I might be able to help you navigate the problem better.

  • David Webster

    I’m trying to listen to my TV via my samsung surround sound and bluray player. Is the optical cable all I need?

    • Donovan

      Hi David,

      You can set up your surround sound with an optical cable for your specific setup. Optical cables can support up to 5.1 surround, so you should be good to go as long as you have a setup with that number of speakers or fewer. You’ll get higher quality audio overall from an HDMI setup, but many people use optical without any noticeable issues. It just kind of depends on your preferences. Hope that helps!