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?

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

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

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

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
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar | Works with 4K & HD TVs | Wireless Subwoofer | Includes...
14,405 Reviews
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar | Works with 4K & HD TVs | Wireless Subwoofer | Includes...
  • A PREMIUM ULTRA-SLIM SOUND BAR WITH INCLUDED WIRELESS SUBWOOFER – 5 powerful full-range drivers deliver BEAUTFUL RICH SOUND WITH DEEP BASS. POLK’S EXCLUSIVE VOICE ADJUST TECHNOLOGY & Dolby Digital Decoding maximizes sound clarity & reduces voice delays
  • EXCELLENT SOUND AND VALUE on par with any mid- to high-range sound bars available in the market. At just over 2" tall, it fits most spaces — easily wall-mount it or place in front of your TV. It won’t block your TV’s bottom edge or IR remote sensor
  • UPGRADE YOUR HOME THEATER EXPERIENCE – Watch your favorite shows on your 4K HD Smart TV with exceptional picture quality & crystal clear sound. With numerous connection possibilities, plug in any audio source via HDMI ARC, optical input & AUX
  • WIRELESSLY STREAM MUSIC from your favorite streaming apps like Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and others directly from your smartphone, tablet or other compatible device through the built-in Bluetooth technology
  • SET UP YOUR SOUND BAR IN MINUTES — With the included subwoofer, HDMI and optical cables quickly connect your TV to the sound bar. Get set up and listening in minutes
SaleBestseller No. 2
Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio (2021) , Black
2,923 Reviews
Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio (2021) , Black
  • SUBWOOFER INCLUDED - Wireless subwoofer is included so you can enjoy deep bass right out of the box All-in-one
  • BASS BOOST - Give your bass an instant boost with the push of a button on the soundbar
  • ADAPTIVE SOUND LITE - Enhanced audio tracking for your content in real time, with technology that equalizes background music and consistent volume control
  • BLUETOOTH TV CONNECTION - Set up is a breeze. Easily connect your soundbar to your TV by connecting wirelessly
  • GAME MODE - Boost your gaming experience with perfectly synced directional audio that moves with the action on-screen and crosstalk cancellation that minimizes distractions
Bestseller No. 3
RE6214-1 Universal Soundbar Remote Control Replacement for Polk Audio Signa S1, Signa S2, Signa S3...
  • ⭐【Product name】Remote Control RE6214-1 with Battery for Polk Audio Surroundbar Soundbar
  • ⭐【Compatible models】Polk Audio Signa S1 , Signa S2 , Signa S3 Soundbar
  • ⭐【Easy to use】No programming required. You just need to Remove the gasket before use.
  • ⭐【Package includes】A remote control with the battery
  • ⭐【180 Days Service Guarantee】: We promise to provide you with quality products and services. If you have any questions during use, please feel free to contact us.
Bestseller No. 4
Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System with Universal Remote Control, Black
16,813 Reviews
Bose Solo 5 TV Soundbar Sound System with Universal Remote Control, Black
  • Single sound bar provides better sound quality compared to your TV.The Solo 5 TV sound system is an easy solution, with advanced technologies that deliver the clear audio your TV can’t.
  • Dialogue mode to make every word and detail stand out
  • Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly stream music from any of your devices
  • One connection to your TV. Optical audio input (digital); Coaxial audio input (digital); 3.5 mm aux input (analog)
  • Universal remote controls TV, bass, Bluetooth connections and more
SaleBestseller No. 5
Roku Streambar Pro | 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Cinematic Sound, All In One, includes Roku...
512 Reviews
Roku Streambar Pro | 4K/HD/HDR Streaming Media Player & Cinematic Sound, All In One, includes Roku...
  • Cinematic sound: Enjoy a cinematic sound experience with expanded frequency range and dynamic bass featuring Dolby Audio, plus listen as spacious sound moves around your room with virtual surround
  • Brilliant 4K picture quality: Stream in HD, 4K, and HDR with sharp resolution and vivid color optimized for your TV
  • Upgrade to America’s #1 TV streaming platform: Enjoy an easy, fast interface with the most popular channels, like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Prime Video, and more, plus automatic feature updates
  • Simple sound settings: Automatically lower loud commercials, boost the volume of voices, and optimize the sound for night listening
  • Private listening: Plug the included headphones into the voice remote to pump up the volume on your shows without disturbing the house
Bestseller No. 6
Bose TV Speaker - Soundbar for TV with Bluetooth and HDMI-ARC Connectivity, Black, Includes Remote...
4,215 Reviews
Bose TV Speaker - Soundbar for TV with Bluetooth and HDMI-ARC Connectivity, Black, Includes Remote...
  • Hear your TV better: Designed with simplicity in mind, the Bose TV Speaker is a small soundbar that clarifies speech and is a simple fix for better TV sound.
  • Wide, natural sound: 2 angled full-range drivers deliver a more realistic, spatial audio experience for overall better TV sound from a small soundbar.
  • Enhanced dialogue: This TV speaker is designed to specifically focus on clarifying and elevating vocals and pronunciation.
  • Bluetooth TV speaker: Pair your device to this Bluetooth soundbar to wirelessly stream your favorite music and podcasts.
  • Simple setup: A single connection from this compact soundbar to the TV via an optical audio cable (included) or an HDMI cable (sold separately) has you up and running in minutes.
Bestseller No. 7
VIZIO 2.0 Home Theater Sound Bar with DTS Virtual:X, Bluetooth, Voice Assistant Compatible, Includes...
  • Ultra-Compact 2.0 Design Experience the performance of larger, more complex home theater systems in a simple, ultra-compact solution designed fit anywhere and blend seamlessly into any environment.
  • Bold Performance Experience rich, clear sound with up to 91dB of total SPL output for performance that belies 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.
SaleBestseller No. 8
SoundBars for TV Speaker 100W, 3D Surround Sound, Enhanced Deep Bass 2.0ch, HDMI-ARC & Bluetooth...
  • 3D Seamless Soundstage: with 4 full-range and 2 tweeter drivers, 6 speakers covering mid-range, treble frequency well, clearly restore sounds in different height and depth, providing a more realistic multi-dimensional audio experience
  • less than 0.5% Distortion: Without the issue of hissing noise at low volume. 1.5L ultra-large speaker cavity and over 2.6inch tall, the soundbar creates rich, powerful bass, the seperate left and right two0channel sound systems can achieve obvious sound image positioning and open sound field effect
  • Distinct Sound Modes: Get Deep, booming bass with built-in subwoofer. You can better fine tune your audio to match your favorite sound with multi equalizer sound. Set it between Hifi, Dynamic, Music, Movies, News, Game or 3D surround sound to hear and feel every instrument, dialogue, explosion, and detail with clear and ear-pleasing loudness
  • 2-In-1 CEC Remote Control: Easier control your TV & soundbar with 1 remote. Included different cables, easily connect to your TV, pc or laptop via HDMI ARC, Optical, AUX, USB. Features 5.0 Bluetooth with up to 33 feet ranges so you can stream with your mobile phone or tablets anywhere in the room with just a tap of a finger
  • Stable Connection & Simplify Setup: No problem of unsynchronized disconnection when using. To connect roku, samsung other model tv, please turn on pcm stereo. The led lights can be turned off or model switched by wireless remote control, making it easier to use at night
SaleBestseller No. 9
ECHOGEAR Sound Bar Mounting Brackets for TVs - Adjust Height & Depth for Maximum Compatibility...
  • Upgrade your soundbar by mounting it directly to your TV. Now the sound will move with your wall mounted screen for a legit viewing experience every time.
  • Works with rear and bottom mounted soundbars up to 15lbs. Your Samsung, Bose, Vizio, LG, & more are all compatible. It can be installed on TVs with rounded or flat backs.
  • Rockin' a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar? This bracket is depth adjustable so your TV won't block ceiling-deflected sound. Fire up Bad Boys For Life and hear Trigger Mike Lowry in all his glory.
  • Setup your soundbar exactly the way you want it. Change speaker height on demand without tools. Using a heavy speaker? Bust out the included hex key to customize the tension even more.
  • All the high-quality mounting hardware you'll need is in the box because last-minute runs to Home Depot suck. Plus, install is a breezy thanks to a manual that's actually useful.
SaleBestseller No. 10
TCL Alto 6+ 2.1 Channel Dolby Audio Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer, Bluetooth – TS6110, 240W,...
5,394 Reviews
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.

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Last update on 2022-01-28

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