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

While connecting an HDMI cable from your TV to your soundbar, you need to use the TV’s HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) input. It sends the audio signal from the TV to your soundbar. You can use an HDMI ARC input as a regular HDMI input, but it doubles as an audio output.

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
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. 2
Soundbar, TaoTronics Three Equalizer Mode Audio Speaker for TV, 32-Inch Wired & Wireless Bluetooth...
  • Room-filling sound: powerful speakers deliver a round, high-end audio experience
  • Multiple wireless and wired connections: easily connect to the sound bar via Bluetooth 5.0 or standard audio cable Connection, RCA, and optical input
  • 3 different equalizer modes: fine tune your sound bar with 3 distinct equalizer modes (games mode, music mode, movie mode) via the remote control to match your favorite sound
  • Control your sound bar Remotely: handle your sound bar from the comfort of your couch or directly on the device; a repeat click of the power button switches through the functions, the LED screen will show the current function
  • Slim to save space: slick 32-Inch design pleases the eye and slim Dimensions save valuable space
Bestseller No. 3
TOPVISION 50W Soundbar, 16-Inch Small Sound Bars for TV, 3 Equalizer Modes, Wireless Bluetooth 5.0,...
  • 🔊[50W Power & 2 Full-range drivers]This small soundbar is equipped with 50W output power. Paired with your TV, the sound bar creates a louder, more immersive listening experience than through your TV speakers alone. Dual powerful full-range speakers provide hifi audio, making comfortable bedrooms and compact spaces full of extensive stereo effects.
  • 🔊[Built-in DSP & 3 EQ modes]Soundbar built-in DSP technology ensured sound output is more stable and accurate. 3 Equalizer modes (Music, Movie, News) to match your favorite voice. Movie Mode: You’ll hear every rip and rumble from your favorite action film, with deeper bass and loud, room-filling sound; Music mode Add clarity and pleasant sound; while it’s News mode pulls out every word and expression from movies or commentary, to ensure that conversations sound crisp and clean.
  • 🔊[Wireless Bluetooth 5.0]Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 can realize fast connection between mobile phone and sound bar, efficient and stable transmission, and strong anti-interference. Pair the sound bar to your phone via Bluetooth to soundtrack your next party, or to set the mood for when you want to relax with a good album in rich, audiophile quality.
  • 🔊[EASY TO SET UP]The Soundbar supports 3.5mm (AUX&RCA) and optical wired audio input, support for use with mobile phones, tablets, TVs, computers, projectors, set-top boxes, etc. Please make sure your TV audio setting to PCM for ARC/optical input before use.
  • 🔊[Stylish appearance & service]This 16-Inch mini soundbar is stylish and compact, and their more compact form makes them easier to travel with or set up wherever you'd like.At the same time we provide lifetime technical support. If you have any problems with your tv soundbar, you can contact us via Amazon, We will offer you a replacement or refund.
Bestseller No. 4
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.
SaleBestseller No. 5
VIZIO Sound Bar for TV, 29” Surround Sound System for TV, Home Audio Sound Bar, 2.0 Channel Home...
8,222 Reviews
VIZIO Sound Bar for TV, 29” Surround Sound System for TV, Home Audio Sound Bar, 2.0 Channel Home...
  • 2.0 Premium Audio The VIZIO 2.0 Sound Bar is an easy way to enhance your audio experience when watching your favorite content on the TV. The full-range stereo speakers boost your audio, while DTS technologies simulate incredible surround sound
  • Bluetooth Streaming Lose the wires and listen to your music with a tap of a finger from anywhere in the room. (Performance and compatibility among Bluetooth devices may vary.)
  • Easy Setup With everything you need for a quick and easy setup, upgrading to a powerful audio experience has never been easier. Connect the Sound Bar to your TV using one of the included cables, sit back and enjoy
  • Features DTS Studio Sound, DTS TruVolume and DTS TruSurround
  • Ergonomic Remote for convenient access to volume, input and audio controls
Bestseller No. 6
Bose TV Speaker- Small Soundbar 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.
SaleBestseller No. 7
JBL Bar 2.1 - Channel Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
  • Designed with a slimmer profile, the full–featured, easy–to–use JBL bar 2. 1 features Dolby digital, JBL Surround sound, 300W system power and a wireless 6. 5” subwoofer to provide balanced sound and deep bass for your movies, music and even video games
  • Full featured in every sense of the word, it has an HDMI input as well as aux and USB wired connections that enable you to round out your home entertainment options even more
  • You can Moreover control the soundbar with your existing TV remote control, The JBL bar 2. 1 clearly raises the bar for Soundbars
  • The 300W of power output ensures great audio performance for your movies and music
  • Enjoy rich, Deep bass from the 6. 5" (165mm) wireless subwoofer, as well as the convenience of flexible placement without the hassle of wires
Bestseller No. 8
BOMAKER Sound Bars for TV, 9 EQ Modes Soundbar with 10 Adjustable Deep Bass, CEC Remote, 100W 3D...
  • 360° Soundstage: The TV sound bar pumps out 100W from 4 full-range drivers, covering bass, mid-range, treble frequency well, clearly restore sounds in different height and depth, providing a more realistic multi-dimensional home theater audio system experience. Hear every nuance and word with acoustic technologies.
  • Adjustable Surging Bass: 1.5L, 2.6inch tall ultra-large speaker cavity and built-in subwoofer makes the tv speakers create rich, powerful bass. The seperate left and right two channel sound systems can achieve obvious sound image positioning and open sound effect with less than 0.5% total harmonic distortion, without hissing noise.
  • 9 Equalizer Modes: With specialized 9 sound modes, you can fine adjust your home theater audio on the fly for varying sound. Set it between Hifi, Dynamic, Music, Movies, News, Game or 3D surround sound to hear every note, dialogue, explosion and detail with crystal-clear precision, designed as DSP technology to achieve a room-filling home theater experience.
  • Set Free From Two Remotes: CEC makes you manage your entertainment with one remote. All cables included, connect to your TV via HDMI ARC, Optical, AUX, USB cables easily. Bluetooth 5.0 with up to 33 feet range so you can stream with your devices anywhere in the room with just a tap of a finger without lags.
  • Stable Connection and User-friendly: Boost your gaming experience with perfectly synced directional audio that moves with the action on-screen and crosstalk cancellation that minimizes distractions. The led display can be turned off or model switched by wireless remote control, adding more convenience for you at night. Plus: to connect roku, samsung other model tvs, please turn on PCM Stereo.
SaleBestseller No. 9
Samsung | HW-Q700A | 3.1.2ch | Soundbar | w/Dolby Atmos/DTS:X | 2021
  • DOLBY ATMOS / DTS:X - Theater-quality sound that fires from the front, side and above for true audio immersion.
  • TRUE 3.1.2CH SOUND - The complete audio entertainment experience with 3 channels, 1 subwoofer and 2 up-firing channels.
  • Q-SYMPHONY - Perfectly synchronized, fully immersive QLED TV and soundbar audio.
  • SPACEFIT SOUND - Automatically calibrated sound and enhanced clarity to adapt to your space.
  • WORKS WITH - Enjoy your Soundbar hands-free using voice control through your Alexa-enabled device.
Bestseller No. 10
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar Works with 4K and 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

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Last update on 2021-06-10

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