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Do I need some sort of Converter Cable for my Sound Bar?

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[OP]
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Dec 16, 2012
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Do I need some sort of Converter Cable for my Sound Bar?

Hi

My gf bought me a LG soundbar(forgot the model number) and it came with a optical output cable but I can't find where to plug it into my TV(Haier 55E3500). Do I need some converter or is it just hidden well on my TV and I am not seeing it?
25 replies
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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Your TV may not have an optical output. It may have a coaxial output which would need conversion to optical, if it even has that. Otherwise it should work okay over HDMI ARC, assuming both the TV and soundbar have that.
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
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Your TV doesn't have an optical output - only coaxial. Also, I don't think the TV supports HDMI ARC.

To connect your sound bar you have two options:

1. Use the analog outputs
2. Get a coaxial to optical converter: https://www.amazon.ca/Monoprice-102947- ... to+optical

The convert is <$20.00, so it won't break the bank :)
[OP]
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coolspot wrote: Your TV doesn't have an optical output - only coaxial. Also, I don't think the TV supports HDMI ARC.

To connect your sound bar you have two options:

1. Use the analog outputs
2. Get a coaxial to optical converter: https://www.amazon.ca/Monoprice-102947- ... to+optical

The convert is <$20.00, so it won't break the bank :)

Do you lose much quality with your 2 options?

Yea it is not that bad priced, wondering if I can find at NCIX or something as don't want to wait for shipping.

Do most soundbars only come with optical ? wondering if I should return and get a different one?
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
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xiaobao wrote: Do you lose much quality with your 2 options?
With analog you will lose DD/DTS (meaning stereo only); and on low end devices like these, you will be losing quality with an analog connection as well.

There is essentially no quality loss with the converter. It merely changes coaxial S/PDIF to optical S/PDIF--if your TV had optical output it would be doing the exact same thing, internally.
xiaobao wrote: Yea it is not that bad priced, wondering if I can find at NCIX or something as don't want to wait for shipping.
Possibly though it will probably only take a few days to get to you (though granted the weekend is coming up).
xiaobao wrote: Do most soundbars only come with optical ? wondering if I should return and get a different one?
Just depends on what you buy. I would have thought the majority would use HDMI these days. But yeah you can have any combination of analog, HDMI, optical and coaxial. HDMI would be easiest provided your TV has HDMI 1.4 w/ARC. HDMI also helps you connect more devices easily--like say a game console, BD player, cable box, etc.
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
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xiaobao wrote: Do you lose much quality with your 2 options?
You won't lose any quality with the converter - it is digital optical to digital coax.

As for analog, it'll probably sound very good, likely you won't notice.
[OP]
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coolspot wrote: Your TV doesn't have an optical output - only coaxial. Also, I don't think the TV supports HDMI ARC.

To connect your sound bar you have two options:

1. Use the analog outputs
2. Get a coaxial to optical converter: https://www.amazon.ca/Monoprice-102947- ... to+optical

The convert is <$20.00, so it won't break the bank :)
I don't know if I can do option 1. I think this is the one I have: http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/lg- ... cb9139en02

Also how is that soundbar I don't know much about soundbars(never really thought of getting on).

I am looking at like other ones(see what kind of outputs they have) and not sure if they are better, worse.

http://www.costco.ca/Samsung-HW-J250-So ... 70903.html
http://www.costco.ca/Samsung-HW-J355-So ... 70901.html


Also found this converter: http://www.ncix.com/products/?sku=DH888899148

What everyone think? They sell it at walmart too but not sure if I could price match with NCIX as that would be best since walmart has a way better return policy.
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Mar 23, 2004
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xiaobao wrote: I don't know if I can do option 1. I think this is the one I have: http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/lg- ... cb9139en02
It does have analog input but it's 3.5mm stereo--the "portable audio" input. You could use that but really I'd advise getting the converter instead.
xiaobao wrote: Also how is that soundbar I don't know much about soundbars(never really thought of getting on).
Doesn't seem like anything too great. Just two inputs, no HDMI, Bluetooth enabled--typical low end soundbar I guess.
xiaobao wrote: I am looking at like other ones(see what kind of outputs they have) and not sure if they are better, worse.
I think you mean inputs?

Both of those Samsungs have one analog and one optical digital (basically the same as yours has now); plus USB. As for whether they are better or worse in terms of sound quality, you'd have to listen to them to find out.
Yeah that's the same one just black case--typically these converters are always the same generic mass-produced model under a variety of brands/oackages.
xiaobao wrote: What everyone think? They sell it at walmart too but not sure if I could price match with NCIX as that would be best since walmart has a way better return policy.
I'm guessing that must be online only at Walmart? Never seen them carry stuff like that in-store. You could try to PM but not sure if Walmart will PM NCIX.
[OP]
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ES_Revenge wrote: It does have analog input but it's 3.5mm stereo--the "portable audio" input. You could use that but really I'd advise getting the converter instead.


Doesn't seem like anything too great. Just two inputs, no HDMI, Bluetooth enabled--typical low end soundbar I guess.


I think you mean inputs?

Both of those Samsungs have one analog and one optical digital (basically the same as yours has now); plus USB. As for whether they are better or worse in terms of sound quality, you'd have to listen to them to find out.


Yeah that's the same one just black case--typically these converters are always the same generic mass-produced model under a variety of brands/oackages.


I'm guessing that must be online only at Walmart? Never seen them carry stuff like that in-store. You could try to PM but not sure if Walmart will PM NCIX.
Yea the walmart one is order online, apparently can be here by Monday. If they don't price match I guess I could return and get it somewhere else but I got the advantage of if it sucks then I am not stuck with it like I would be with ncix.
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Mar 20, 2009
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If it's a 2.1 ch soundbar, there's no advantage to using digital. Don't go to any expense with converters, just use analog (there an Aux 3.5mm analog stereo input on the LG soundbar you referenced).
Penalty Box
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Apr 25, 2013
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xiaobao wrote: Do you lose much quality with your 2 options?

Yea it is not that bad priced, wondering if I can find at NCIX or something as don't want to wait for shipping.

Do most soundbars only come with optical ? wondering if I should return and get a different one?
Digital coaxial is the better platform of the two; less conversion, more rugged, less expensive and less complicated to manufacturer and to operate for the end user.
If you are going to get a converter, get a new sound bar with a dual S/PDIF Toslink/RCA inputs instead and return or sell the old one.
I don't know if soundbars these days have HDMI inputs nowadays, that would be even a better solution.
I am a purist, always use the least amount of connections or conversions in any setup !
Banned
Jun 20, 2016
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...Or just get a new TV lol that's what I did because of my newer audio connections were not sounding good on kind of old plasma TV. Got a new 4K Sony TV and it works GREAT!!!
[OP]
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JamesA1 wrote: If it's a 2.1 ch soundbar, there's no advantage to using digital. Don't go to any expense with converters, just use analog (there an Aux 3.5mm analog stereo input on the LG soundbar you referenced).
Well I orderd it already got it but now I have to get coaxial cable but trying to figure if I have one or not. From the images I saw on google almost looks like cable wirte.
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Oct 6, 2005
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You can use an RCA cable as your coax cable. Or a 3.5MM cable if it is a mini jack.
[OP]
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coolspot wrote: You can use an RCA cable as your coax cable. Or a 3.5MM cable if it is a mini jack.
which color for RCA?

I ended up buying the cable(but could return if I want to). however I have no clue how to setup my tv to switch to the sound bar. I plugged in the optical cable into the sound bar into the converter and used the coxial output cable into my tv. However tv is still using the tv sound.
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Oct 6, 2005
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xiaobao wrote: which color for RCA?
You can use any RCA type cable (audio cable, component, composite, etc.) if the digital run is short - the connectors and impedance is all compatible. A real coaxial cable just has better shielding to provide a more reliable digital connection.
[OP]
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I can't figure out how to use it. I don't know why it does not work. I don't have cable so I have a hp stream mini connected to my tv. It only recognizes the T.Vs internal sound.

I found out I can pair my hp stream mini with bluetooth from my hp stream, but it bugs me that the cable connection does not work. I see no options to tell my TV to use the sound bar.
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Mar 23, 2004
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xiaobao wrote: I can't figure out how to use it. I don't know why it does not work. I don't have cable so I have a hp stream mini connected to my tv. It only recognizes the T.Vs internal sound.

I found out I can pair my hp stream mini with bluetooth from my hp stream, but it bugs me that the cable connection does not work. I see no options to tell my TV to use the sound bar.
Okay hold on here. How is the Stream Mini connected to the TV? I'm assuming HDMI since it only has HDMI and DP. Make sure you have selected HDMI audio output in Windows, by right clicking on the volume icon, selecting "Playback devices", find the HDMI output that's connected to the TV and right click and "Set as default". All supported formats should automatically be determined with HDMI handshaking--you should get 2ch PCM and DD; DTS may or may not work depending on the TV (most don't allow DTS pass-through)*.

Then on to the TV connections:
Apparently Haier doesn't have the manual for this TV online but going off some pictures I found on Consumer Reports, it looks like the coax S/PDIF output is along the bottom of the TV, directly beside the RF (cable) input. Connect up your RCA cable to that and then to the converter you got. Be sure the converter is plugged in. You should see a red light coming out of the other side. Connect your Toslink (optical S/PDIF) cable to the converter and then to the soundbar; be sure to select the correct input on the soundbar.

*NOTE: Some TVs don't pass through audio from HDMI input to the optical output, regardless! Since I can't see the manual for this set there is no way for me to tell. This is typically true of older sets but it's possible a newer set doesn't do it either--all depends on manufacturer. If this is the case you will not get audio output from the TV's coax port in this fashion (you would only get audio from the TV's tuner, not the inputs). In this scenario I would return the converter box you bought and then instead get a low-cost USB "soundcard" that has optical output on it, and connect that to the Stream Mini. Either that or use an analog connection.
[OP]
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ES_Revenge wrote: Okay hold on here. How is the Stream Mini connected to the TV? I'm assuming HDMI since it only has HDMI and DP. Make sure you have selected HDMI audio output in Windows, by right clicking on the volume icon, selecting "Playback devices", find the HDMI output that's connected to the TV and right click and "Set as default". All supported formats should automatically be determined with HDMI handshaking--you should get 2ch PCM and DD; DTS may or may not work depending on the TV (most don't allow DTS pass-through)*.

Then on to the TV connections:
Apparently Haier doesn't have the manual for this TV online but going off some pictures I found on Consumer Reports, it looks like the coax S/PDIF output is along the bottom of the TV, directly beside the RF (cable) input. Connect up your RCA cable to that and then to the converter you got. Be sure the converter is plugged in. You should see a red light coming out of the other side. Connect your Toslink (optical S/PDIF) cable to the converter and then to the soundbar; be sure to select the correct input on the soundbar.

*NOTE: Some TVs don't pass through audio from HDMI input to the optical output, regardless! Since I can't see the manual for this set there is no way for me to tell. This is typically true of older sets but it's possible a newer set doesn't do it either--all depends on manufacturer. If this is the case you will not get audio output from the TV's coax port in this fashion (you would only get audio from the TV's tuner, not the inputs). In this scenario I would return the converter box you bought and then instead get a low-cost USB "soundcard" that has optical output on it, and connect that to the Stream Mini. Either that or use an analog connection.
Ok

I will try that. Right now my stream mini only sees the internal speaks from the TV. I will see if it can pick anything up doing your way. Do you lose alot of quality with bluetooth? Also I do think the stream mini does have a headphone jack so maybe I could hook it up that way?
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Mar 23, 2004
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xiaobao wrote: Ok

I will try that. Right now my stream mini only sees the internal speaks from the TV. I will see if it can pick anything up doing your way.
The internal speakers on the TV should still show up as an HDMI device, unless you've connected an analog cable to the TV?
xiaobao wrote: Do you lose alot of quality with bluetooth?
It depends on what the BT stack/device is capable of sending and what the soundbar is capable of receiving. Quality can go from just as good as the source (native streaming) to terrible (SBC), it's very hard to determine what is actually being sent/received though which is why BT is a crapshoot for the most part. But one thing is for sure, you won't get multi-channel (DD, DTS) over BT, you're only getting stereo that way. That's not a huge deal since the soundbar is probably only 2.1 (?) anyway but a lot of them can make a surround effect from a DD/DTS signal, as well as benefitting from the discrete sub channel.
xiaobao wrote: Also I do think the stream mini does have a headphone jack so maybe I could hook it up that way?
Okay so you haven't connected an analog cable, so that's good. But yes you could connect that to the analog input on the soundbar, if worse comes to worse. However I would try the other methods first.

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