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12 July 2021

How to connect audio and video devices to your TV

From sound bars to set-top boxes, we show what inputs and cables to use to easily connect all your devices to your TV.
Martin Pratt
Plugging cable into tv

We don't spend a lot of time looking at the back of our TVs, but invest in a new sound bar or Blu-ray player and you're going to need to brave the inputs, outputs and acronyms that adorn your TVs less attractive side.

Most of the audio and video devices you buy for a TV plug in to an HDMI connector, but if your TV only has two HDMI inputs then it will be at capacity with just a Sky box and a Blu-ray player. 

Nobody likes leaning over the TV to shift around connections, unplugging the PVR to connect a Blu-ray player all while trying desperately not to knock it over. But, once you understand what the less familiar connections on your TV do, you may find you can fit everything in with inputs to spare.

How to connect PVRs and set-top boxes

To display channels and recorded shows from your PVR, you'll need to connect it to your TV with an HDMI cable.

If your TV has an HDMI ARC input then you should leave that one free for audio devices, such as sound bars and home cinema systems, if you can, and use one of the other HDMI inputs instead.

You will usually need to connect an aerial or cable wire to the set-top box, too.

Head to our best PVR and set-top boxes page to see all our favourite TV boxes.

How to connect a Blu-ray or DVD player

Blu-ray player

Blu-ray players need to be connected with an HDMI cable to one of the HDMI inputs on your TV. 

Some DVD players connect the same way despite not displaying an HD signal. If the DVD player is older then it may not have an HDMI output and use Scart instead. TVs aren't made with Scart inputs any more, so you'll need to invest in a Blu-ray player or buy a Scart to HDMI adaptor.

If you buy a Blu-ray player you will still be able to watch your standard DVDs on it.

Whether you need a 4K Blu-ray player or just a HD one you'll find our top scoring players in the top five best Blu-ray DVD players guide.

How to connect a sound bar

Since the TV is sending audio to the sound bar you need to connect the sound bar to an output on your TV. Most HDMI ports on TV are inputs, but newer sets have HDMI ARC ports, which is the ideal connection for your sound bar.

Blu-ray player

The difference between standard HDMI and HDMI ARC is how it sends the audio and video signal. HDMI ARC acts as an input and output sending the audio and video to and from the device it's connected to. Standard HDMI on the other hand only sends those signals one way. There's also HDMI eARC, whick works the same as HDMI ARC, but can send higher quality audio signals.

If your TV doesn't have HDMI ARC or a port marked HDMI output then you'll need to use the digital audio output. This will either be an optical or co-axial port, so make sure your sound bar has the matching input.

Upgrade your TV with a Best Buy sound bar.

How to connect a TV streamer

Blu-ray player

These handy little streaming devices are simple to connect. They all connect via HDMI and you won't need a cable for some of the most popular models, including the Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire Stick, since the HDMI connector is built in.

Some streamers will also use one of the TV's USB ports for power.

You can spend as little as £30 on a TV streamer or as much as £180. Our guide to the best TV streamers will have a good choice for you whatever your budget.

How to connect a home cinema system

As with a sound bar, the best connection for a home cinema system is HDMI ARC, since it can send the audio and video signals both ways. This is even more useful with home cinema systems since many of them include a Blu-ray or DVD player.

If you don't have HDMI ARC on your TV then you'll need to use two cables. An HDMI cable will send the video signal from the Blu-ray player to your TV and an optical or co-axial cable will send the audio to and from your home cinema system.

The benefit of using an optical or co-axial cable is that the other devices connected to your TV, such as PVRs, TV streamers and games consoles, will use your home cinema system's speakers rather than those on your TV. This will also be the case if you connect via the HDMI ARC port.

How to connect a games console

Games console

The latest consoles, such as the Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch all connect to your TV via HDMI. This is all you need to get the video and audio from your console onto your TV.

What about older devices?

Scart to HDMI adapter

If you still have a VCR or older DVD player then it will more than likely connect to your TV with a Scart cable.

Modern TVs no longer have Scart inputs, so you'll need to buy a Scart to HDMI adapter to use them with your TV.