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)

2,392 Reviews
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)

566 Reviews
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
2,833 Reviews
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
SaleBestseller No. 2
186 Reviews
SAMSUNG HW-S50B/ZA 3.0ch All-in-One Soundbar w/Dolby 5.1, DTS Virtual:X, Q Symphony, Built in Center...
  • ALL-IN-ONE: Everything you need in a single soundbar with two woofers and tweeters built in, so you can enjoy rich sound that will fill your room
  • DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 / DTS VIRTUAL:X: Dolby Digital 5.1 capable creates realistic surround sound by projecting it from all around you, while DTS Virtual: X expands your listening experience without having to add extra speakers
  • Q-SYMPHONY: Perfectly synchronized, fully immersive audio floods your room all at once, using every speaker in compatible Samsung TV and soundbars*
  • BUILT-IN CENTER SPEAKER: The built-in center speaker is dedicated to delivering enhanced dialogue, so you won't miss a word, no matter how faint the conversation or how intense the background music or action is
  • ADAPTIVE SOUND LITE: Enjoy dynamically optimized audio with enhanced voice clarity so you can follow along with action-packed games and blockbuster films
SaleBestseller No. 3
1,103 Reviews
VIZIO 2.0 Home Theater Sound Bar with DTS Virtual:X, Bluetooth, Voice Assistant Compatible, Includes...
  • America's #1 Sound Bar* - VIZIO has been filling homes with truly immersive audio for over 10 years, and our sound bars just keep getting better. We are proud to provide our customers with top-tier audio products that bring movies, shows, podcasts, music, and more to life like never before. (*#1 Sound Bar Brand in 1H 2022 Source: The NPD Group/Retail Tracking Service, U.S., based on units, Jan. - June 2022 combined.).Mounting Type:Sound Bar.Speakers maximum output power:10 watts.Total hdmi ports:1
  • 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.
SaleBestseller No. 4
1,960 Reviews
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
Bestseller No. 5
129 Reviews
Larksound Sound Bar for TV, 35 Inch TV Speaker, Surround Sound System, TV Soundbar with...
  • Exclusively Soundbar for TV - 70W maximum output power. Powerful drivers deliver high-end acoustic sound effect with built-in reflex tubes for left and right channels, which greatly enhances the bass effect to bring sound to life for a fantastically dynamic audio experience
  • Multi Connection - Supports optical fiber, HDMI(ARC), AUX, and USB, compatible with TV, projector, computer, blu-ray player, tablet, XBOX, PS5, MP3 player, etc. (The package contains high-quality HDMI(ARC) cable, Optical cable, and AUX cable) Multiple connections to play music freely
  • Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Connection - Bluetooth 5.0, more stable and faster transmission, and the latest technology greatly increases the transmission range up to 33 feet. Easily connect with most devices, such as iPhone, iPad, tablet, computer, TV, laptop, etc. Powerful anti-interference lossless transmission technology ensures perfect sound quality, enjoy music anytime, anywhere
  • Home Theater System - The exclusive left and right channel independent cavity design improves the separation of the left and right channels compared with the ordinary design, and sound field positioning is more excellent. Spacious and dynamic sound effects give you an immersive 3D surround experience
  • Easy to set Up - Soundbar: 35.4*2.36* 3.54 inch. The slim form factor of this soundbar allows it to subtly tuck under your TV. No matter it is placed flat on the table or mounted on any wall; it will not take up your precious space
SaleBestseller No. 6
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.
SaleBestseller No. 7
10,621 Reviews
BESTISAN Soundbar, TV Sound Bar with Dual Bass Ports Wired HDMI and Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Home...
  • Room-filling sound: powerful speakers deliver a round, high-end audio experience for bed room and apartment.
  • Enhanced bass: 3 inches full range drivers and dual bass ports that bring the richer and deeper bass, boost A loud sound that fills the room without distortion.
  • Multiple wireless and wired connections: easily connect to the sound bar via Bluetooth 5. 0 or standard audio cable Connection, RCA, HDMI(ARC) and optical input.
  • 3 different equalizer modes: fine tune your sound bar with 3 distinct equalizer modes (movie, music, dialogue) via the remote control to match your favorite sound.
  • Multiple Setups, multiple options: sits flat below the TV screen or securely mounts on the wall for a sleek, elegant home theater setup
SaleBestseller No. 8
516 Reviews
SAMSUNG HW-B450 2.1ch Soundbar w/Dolby Audio, Subwoofer Included, Bass Boosted, Wireless Bluetooth...
  • SUBWOOFER INCLUDED: Experience the intensity of action movies or the excitement of sports with the rich, powerful bass coming from the included subwoofer*.Speakers maximum output power:2 watts.Total usb ports:1
  • BASS BOOST: Feel the rumble of distant thunder as your listening experience is taken to another level; Give your bass an instant boost with the push of a button
  • BLUETOOTH TV CONNECTION: Set up is a breeze; Easily connect your soundbar to your TV wirelessly**
  • ADAPTIVE SOUND LITE: Enjoy dynamically optimized audio with enhanced voice clarity so you can follow along with action-packed games and blockbuster films
  • GAME MODE: Game Mode optimizes your gaming experience with synced, directional audio that moves with the onscreen action***
SaleBestseller No. 9
17,558 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. 10
20,534 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.Mounting Type: Tv Sound Bar,Bar Mount
  • 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 2022-11-17

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