Soundbar HDMI vs. Optical: Which One is Better and Why?

Many people use their family room for all kinds of recreation. They stream the latest show on Netflix and watch Blu-ray movies. They also play Call of Duty battles with their PS4 or play PUBG on their PCs. Their sound system gets a lot of use. So, they need a better sound system for their home theater system.

While building my home theater system, I invested in a soundbar. So, while researching which soundbar would be best for my busy home theater system, It came with an HDMI and an Optical soundbar. While buying, you need to choose one between these two soundbars. So, which one should you choose? Which one would be the best one for your home theater system? What are the differences between these two soundbars?

Both the soundbars provide quality sound. HDMI soundbars come with audio and video usage, making them a nice option when used in conjunction with your TV, Blu-ray player, etc. Let’s found out which one would be the best one for you.

What Is Soundbar?

RIF6 Soundbar

Many of you don’t know what a soundbar is. A soundbar is a centrally located speaker system that doesn’t take too much space and provides high-quality sound. Soundbars are often renowned for their high-quality sound.

You can use a soundbar as a part of a full surround sound system or as a stand-alone speaker. When you use it as a stand-alone, you will get high-quality sound without taking up much space. But when you use it as a full surround sound system, it will take more space than a stand-alone. You can easily set them up.

HDMI (ARC) vs. Optical – What is the Difference?

Now, let’s come to the differences. Though the differences between these two soundbars are subtle, they are worth considering. Let’s discuss them in detail.

HDMI Soundbars

HDMI

The full meaning of HDMI is “High-Definition Multimedia Interface.” Nowadays, this is one of the most common types of cable. They provide quality sound and video quality. They also provide reliable and consistent video and sound quality.

You can easily use them because these types of cables relay both video and audio signals between devices. It will take fewer cables to connect your devices.

You Must Use HDMI ARC to Connect from TV to Soundbar

Connect your TV to your soundbar with an HDMI cable. You will need to use the TV’s HDMI ARC input. This sends the sound from the TV to the soundbar. You can also use an HDMI ARC input as a regular HDMI input, but it doubles as an audio output too.

Optical Soundbars

Optical

An optical cable can produce consistent and reliable sound. Many have said that Digital Optical cables provide better sound than an HDMI cable. If you have a home theater system, you would like to buy the optical cables for the quality sound. Optical cables only relay audio, not video. So, if you want a relay video, then you will need to buy an additional cable.

Comparing the Specs

When you come to choose between these two soundbars, you need to consider some factors. It would be best if you gave priority to your input options and the placement of your soundbar. Let’s check it out.

Input Options

When it comes to input options, you need to consider what types of inputs and ports your devices have. Many devices will give a permit to use HDMI cables. If your device doesn’t allow the use of HDMI cables, you need to make sure you have the right video cables needed to relay pictures between your device and TV.

Many people buy except a proper connection type to find out their device does not allow for that cable. How surprising it is!

The Bottom Line: If you are looking only to relay sound, A Digital Optical is the best choice for you. A Digital Optical provides the same sound quality as an HDMI does. If you want to watch Blu-ray, Netflix series, game consoles, you should purchase an HDMI cable. 

Soundbar Placement

Now, you need to place your soundbar perfectly. If you want to put it behind your TV, it is going to be a bad decision. Why do you use a soundbar? Usually, you use a soundbar to minimize the footprint of your home theater system. 

A soundbar provides you a minimalistic approach to sound. An HDMI cable offers you this minimalistic approach with only one cable to relay sound and video quality. But using a Digital Optical cable will mean you need more wires to relay video quality.  

The Bottom Line: An HDMI won’t take much space. It keeps your space wire requirement minimum. But a Digital Optical cable needs much space and wire requirement if you want to relay video quality. If you don’t like the wiring mess, you wouldn’t like to go with a Digital Optical.

Recommended HDMI and Optical Soundbars

So, which HDMI or Optical soundbar should you buy? Well, there are many HDMI and Optical soundbar in the market. You need to find out the best quality for your entertainment system. You can buy Yamaha Soundbar System, YAS-207BL which is an HDMI soundbar. You can also buy Sony 2.1-Channel Soundbar System, Model HT-CT290, a Digital Optical model.

Yamaha YAS-207BL Soundbar (HDMI Model)

YAMAHA YAS-207BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer Bluetooth & DTS Virtual: X Black
  • World's first sound bar with DTS Virtual: X Virtual 3D surround sound (available via a firmware update available now)
  • Slim, understated design perfectly complements your TV
  • Wireless subwoofer for powerful bass with flexible placement
  • Bluetooth wireless music streaming; Dimensions (W x H x D)(subwoofer): 7 1/8 x 17 1/4 x 15 3/4 inches; Drivers (Center Unit) 4 1 3/4 inch woofers, Dual 1 inch tweeters, (Subwoofer) 6 1/4 inch cone woofer; Dimensions (W x H x D) (Center Unit) 36 5/8 x 2 3/8 x 4 1/4 inches; ARC Yes
  • Simple setup with HDMI, optical or analog connection

The Yamaha Soundbar System, YAS-207BL, comes with many features. This model provides 100 watts of power. You can connect it wirelessly to the included subwoofer, which gives you a true and crystal-clear sound. This soundbar allows analog, HDMI, and optical audio inputs. This quality helps you to use almost all of your home theater devices.

This soundbar is 36-5/8 inches long, 2-3/8 inches tall, and 3.25 inches deep. Many positive reviews make it one of the most highly regarded HDMI soundbars.

Sony 2.1-Channel Soundbar System (Digital Optical Model)

Sony CT290 Ultra-slim 300W Sound bar, (HT-CT290)
  • 300W power, plus 2.1ch S-Force PRO Front Surround sound
  • Connect and stream music easily with Bluetooth; Slot-in design
  • Save space with the ultra-slim, wall-mountable design
  • Hear clearer voices with Voice Mode and clearer sound at low volumes with Night Mode
  • Control your TV and sound bar with a single remote via HDMI ARC

The Sony 2.1-Channel HT-CT290 is one of the best optical model soundbars. It is budget-friendly for those who are audio lovers. This soundbar provides 300 watts of power. It is 35.5 inches long, 2.1inches high, and 3.4 inches deep. This soundbar is also wall-mountable.

This HT-CT290 optical soundbar has both USB ports and an optical cable. It also supports different audio formats. Many reviewers gave great and positive reviews about this soundbar.

Related Questions

Question

What type of cable do I need for Dolby Digital sound?

Both Optical and HDMI cables can relay Dolby Digital sound between your source and receiver device. So, in that case, you don’t compare these two soundbars. But if you want to play DTS-HD caliber audio, Dolby TrueHD, both the soundbars won’t support those. An HDMI has the capability to do those, but an Optical hasn’t.

-our editorial board has reviewed this article and has been approved for publication according to our editorial policy.

Best Seller List Of Soundbars:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Sony S100F 2.0ch Soundbar with Bass Reflex Speaker, Integrated Tweeter and Bluetooth, (HTS100F),...
  • Straight from the theater to your home: easy set-up, built-in tweeter, 2-ch speaker with simple Bluetooth connection
  • Deep sound with Bass Reflex speaker
  • High power with a slim design that matches any room and is perfect for small living spaces
  • Voice enhancement feature is great for TV content with hushed dialogue, or to make conference call participants easier to hear
  • Easy TV set up with HDMI ARC
Bestseller No. 2
Sonos Playbar - The Mountable Sound Bar for TV, Movies, Music, and More - Black
  • The mountable soundbar for TV, movies, music, and more
  • Enjoy crisp dialogue and impressive bass from wall to wall with Playbar. Control it with the Sonos app, your remote, and more
  • Whether you mount it on the wall or place it below your TV on a stand or console, Playbar automatically tunes itself for the best possible sound
  • Playbar was specially tuned by Oscar-winning sound engineers to emphasize the sound of the human voice so you can always follow the story
  • Easily connect Sonos speakers in different rooms over WiFi to create a home sound system that brings every room and everyone together
SaleBestseller No. 3
Sound Bar, Soundbar 32-inch TV Speaker Home Theater Surround Sound System Bluetooth 5.0 TV Sound...
  • Sound Bar Upgrade Your Home Theater Experience: Powerful full-range drivers (total 40-watt output) deliver a more realistic, richer sound from a compact soundbar. It is a perfect TV speaker that optimizes sound clarity and creates incredible room-filling virtual surround sound.
  • Easy Setup Wireless or Wired Connection: The sound bar can be connected to the most types of your devices via Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 connection , Optical, or RCA/Coaxial connection (Optical, RCA/Coaxial audio cables are included), Easily connect to your TV, PC, phone, projector, DVDs, laptop, desktop, tablets, computer monitor and so on. It can also connect to older style devices with AUX port.
  • 3 Sound Modes via Remote Control: This compact soundbar comes with 3 equalizer modes : Music, Movie and News modes. Use remote control to select your favorite specialized mode for providing you a wide stereo effect throughout the room, allowing you to enjoy cinematic surround sound at home.
  • What You Get: TV Sound Bar, Remote Control, Power Adaptor, Optical Cable, RCA Audio Cable, 3.5mm to RCA Cable, User Manual and Wall Mount Kit are included. If you have any question, please feel free to contact us immediately.
  • An Ideal Soundbar for TVs or Gaming. It works well with all TVs sizes. For optical connection, please set your TV audio output to "Optical" and set the digital audio format to "PCM" (PCM is a digital recording of analog audio, and is an optional audio format in many televisions), and make sure the protective caps at the ends of the optical cable are removed before plugging it in.
SaleBestseller No. 4
VIZIO V-Series 2.1 Compact Home Theater Sound Bar with DTS Virtual:X, Bluetooth, Wireless Subwoofer,...
  • Compact, versatile design – Sleek, rounded all-black finish with easy-to-clean textured surface, optimized for small-med rooms.
  • DTS Virtual:X – Sound Enhancement for room-filling, floor-to-ceiling virtualized Sound
  • 2.1-Channel Sound – Experience a powerful room-filling, true stereo experience ideal for movies, music, and gaming.
  • Full-Range Speakers – 2 full-range speakers in the sound bar provide coherent sound and brilliant clarity.
  • 50Hz – 20kHz Frequency Response – Wide, natural frequency response means you can hear what the artist intended.
Bestseller No. 5
VIZIO 2.0 Home Theater Sound Bar with DTS Virtual:X, Bluetooth, Includes Remote Control - SB3620n-H6
  • Low-Profile 36” Design - Provides a wider soundstage and fills the space beneath larger screen sizes.
  • Room-Filling Performance - Experience rich, clear sound with up to 91dB of total SPL output for performance that is beyond its size.
  • Essential Connectivity & Control - Get setup and listening in seconds with the included cables plus Bluetooth connectivity for wireless streaming of your favorite music and podcasts.
  • 2.0-Channel Sound - Experience a powerful room-filling, true stereo experience ideal for movies, music, and gaming.
  • Full-Range Speakers - 2 full-range speakers in the sound bar provide rich, clear sound.
Bestseller No. 6
Samsung HW-Q950A 11.1.4ch Soundbar w/Dolby Atmos/DTS:X (2021) - (Renewed)
  • This Certified Refurbished product is manufacturer refurbished it shows limited or no wear
  • Includes all original accessories plus a 90 day warranty
  • Samsung HW-Q950A 11.1.4ch Soundbar w/ Dolby Atmos / DTS:X (2021)
  • 3D home cinematic experience with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X | Enthralling sound with wireless up-firing rear speakers included
  • INCLUDED IN THE BOX: Soundbar Wireless Subwoofer Wireless Rear Speaker Kit (SWA-9500S) | Remote Control | Wall Mount Kit | Battery for Remote Controller | HDMI Cable | Authorized Samsung USA Warranty
SaleBestseller No. 7
TCL Alto 6+ 2.1 Channel Dolby Audio Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer, Bluetooth – TS6110, 240W,...
  • DOLBY DIGITAL: Dolby Digital decoding maximizes sound clarity and creates incredible room-filling virtual surround sound.
  • DEEP BASS WITH WIRELESS SUBWOOFER: Experience deep, rich bass to make movies and music truly come to life.
  • STREAM MUSIC WIRELESSLY: You can use your Bluetooth-enabled device to wirelessly stream music on your sound bar.
  • SPECIALIZED SOUND MODES: Specialized sound modes bring Movies, Music, and News to life.
  • QUICK AND HASSLE-FREE SETUP: With HDMI, optical, or Bluetooth connections, you can go from unboxing to listening in minutes.
Bestseller No. 8
Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System with HDMI-ARC for Easy Set-Up, Black
  • 45 inches 3.1 Soundbar With 10 inches Wireless Subwoofer
  • Best-In-Class 600W Peak Power
  • HDMI-ARC: Single Cable, Single Remote Control
  • 5.1 Decoding for Virtualized Surround Sound
  • Powerful audio performance with deep, theater-like sub-bass and crisp high-end definition
Bestseller No. 9
VIZIO V-Series 2.1 Channel Soundbar System with 5-inch Wireless Subwoofer - Black (Renewed)
  • Turn your living room into a captivating home theater. DTS Virtual:X sound enhancement adds room-filling, floor-to-ceiling virtualized 3D sound.
  • 3 full-range speakers in the sound-bar create brilliant clarity. Place the 5" wireless subwoofer anywhere in the room to add deep booming bass.
  • With HDMI cable, use the highest-quality audio available and allows you to control the soundbar with your TV remote.
  • Connect Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant devices. Pair with any device via Bluetooth.
  • US Warranty. Package Includes: SoundBar, Subwoofer, HDMI Cable, Digital Optical Cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm, Stereo RCA to 3.5mm, Power Cable, Subwoofer Power Cable, Remote Control, User Manual, Wall Mounting Screws, Wall Mounting Template.
SaleBestseller No. 10
Sony HT-S400 2.1ch Soundbar with Powerful Wireless subwoofer, S-Force PRO Front Surround Sound, and...
44 Reviews
Sony HT-S400 2.1ch Soundbar with Powerful Wireless subwoofer, S-Force PRO Front Surround Sound, and...
  • S-Force PRO Front Surround and Dolby Digital create cinematic style surround sound
  • 2.1ch front surround sound with X-Balanced speaker delivers clear, rich dialogue
  • Wireless subwoofer delivers deeper, richer bass sound
  • Powerful 330W of total output brings your content to life
  • Simple and easy operation with compact remote and convenient OLED display window

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Last update on 2022-07-05

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