can a sound bar work with your receiver?

Sound bars are extremely popular because they are a simple way to take your TV sound to a new level. They are easy to set up, don’t take up much space, and are generally not pricey. Most are designed to connect directly to your TV so you don’t need to worry about a receiver, but what if you want to hook it up to your existing setup anyway?  Can you? The answer to that question is not totally straightforward, so I will try to simplify it since it doesn’t have to be complicated.

But first, I have to ask you a question.

Why are you connecting a sound bar to a receiver?

why would you connect a soundbar to a receiver?

The thing to understand about sound bars is that most of them have a built-in amplifier to independently power their speakers. That is what keeps them simple to set up. They are essentially self-contained units that just need sound input from the TV. So, the most important point would be that normally you would not connect a sound bar to a receiver.

The main issue is double amplifiers

Your main issue with hooking a sound bar to a receiver is that the receiver also has an amplifier. Since both the sound bar and the receiver have amps, you’ll find they will interfere with each other. If you already have a good amplifier in your receiver, why buy a sound bar with yet another amplifier? This is somewhat redundant and you would be better off spending your money on getting some better speakers for your receiver.

Add speakers to your receiver for better sound

Bose sound bar

Adding extra speakers to your receiver is a better solution for a few reasons.

1. Typically the amplifier in your receiver is better than what you will find in a sound bar. This is not always the case but probably true 90% of the time or more.

2. Connecting your TV to the receiver and getting a pair of great speakers will typically give you better sound because you can get true separation between the speakers. Sound bar speakers are closer together and rely on electronics to create a separation effect.

If you are looking at a sound bar because you are tight on space, you can get awesome-sounding smaller bookshelf speakers that won’t take up any more space than a sound bar. For instance, Klipsch makes great speakers and will have excellent options that can meet whatever your space and budget requirements are.

What about passive sound bars?

bookshelf speakers

If you insist on using a sound bar with your receiver one option would be to use a “passive” sound bar. Passive sound bars don’t have an amplifier so they need to be connected to one – alas, a receiver. You can learn more about passive sound bars in the sound bar buying guide.

Interestingly, passive sound bars, even though they don’t have an amplifier, tend to be at the higher end of the price range for sound bars. The reason is they tend to focus on the quality of the speakers and other electronics. They are positioned as the higher-fidelity side of sound bars, but I still think that if you have a receiver and spent the same money as you would on a sound bar, you would get high quality speakers and would be better off because the sound separation will fill the room.

Can a sound bar work with a receiver? 

I’ll give you the short answer – yes, you can connect a sound bar to a receiver. But, you need to be prepared for unexpected complications. You’re going outside the box with your home audio solution, and there may be frustrating surprises along the way. You should consider if your money and time could be better spent upgrading your existing receiver and speakers.

Whichever way you decide to go, you can find sound bars, receivers, and more at Best Buy.

Best Buy
Best Buy is one of Canada’s largest and most successful retailers, operating the Best Buy (, Best Buy Mobile, and Geek Squad ( brands.


  1. I have a question. I have a Vizio M-series 5.1 soundbar that has both Dobly Atmos and DTS HD. I also have an LG C1 OLED, but here is the kicker. MY Bluray player and my gaming console, PS5, can not send the best audio quality out to the soundbar because the C1 cannot pass through audio Lossless audio from the Bluray Player/PS5 player to the soundbar. Is there anything I can do to fix the problem? I have been thinking about buying an A/V receiver, but I’m not really sure which one to buy if I needed to buy one? Which one would introduce the least amount of lag as well?
    Any help would be appreciated seeing that I am not an expert in this subject. Thank you in advance.

  2. Have a question. Have the receiver hooked up to 2 Onkyo speakers for the radio stations only,as have the TV hooked up
    to a soundbar that was given to me. Was trying to hooks up the Sony CD/DVD player to the soundbar,then push the button on the receiver to play the DVS it is running but no sound,what am I doing wrong,as would like to hook up the players to the soundbar and the TV?

    • Hi Roger, as explained a bit in the article above, connecting a sound bar to a receiver will introduce complications, and more often than not, won’t work. They aren’t configured to perform like that in most cases. If you give me a bit more information about how you have this wired, I’ll send the info to the experts at Geek Squad for advice.

      best regards,

  3. I have pre-existing in wall and in ceiling speakers. I also have a Klipsch Bar 48 soundbar and wireless sub which is connected directly to my TV currently, but I’d like to try and use all of them together if possible (even though not advisable as mentioned in the article) via a receiver. I connected the in wall and in ceiling speakers to the receiver and they are working fine. I then tried to connect the soundbar/sub to the receiver via optical but cannot get them working at the same time.

    • Hi Nick

      I sent your question to Geek Squad hoping they might be able to help with this problem. I’ll let you know when I get their answer.

      best regards,


    • Hi Nick

      One of the product specialists from Geek Squad sent this response:

      Most soundbar packages are designed as self-contained audio systems. This means that they handle audio processing and amplification internally. The challenge that the customer is experiencing is that his AV receiver is handling is own processing and amplification and then sending out a signal to the sound bar which is then doing the same, resulting in the slight delay/echo.

      Solution: Although not as popular, there are some sound bars on the market that can be connected to a receiver. These are called “passive”, because they require an amplifier and are typically connected using speaker wire. Otherwise, the solution is to use the system that sounds better or has the feature you need, but not both at the same time.

      Best regards,

      • I have the same situation…I bought a house that has 4 pre-existing ceiling speakers that I hate to see go un-used, but I really like my Samsung soundbar and woofer as the volume can all be controlled through the TV remote. The last reply discussed linking a receiver and soundbar in series causing a slightly delayed signal…I’m curious if both a soundbar and receiver could work concurrently using an in-line HDMI splitter from the ARC on the TV to transmit signal to both the soundbar & receiver for ceiling speakers at the same time. Would there be issues using an HDMI splitter for ARC/eARC? Thanks!

        • Hi Kevin, this is likely something that requires testing on your system to see if your receiver or soundbar introduces a delay in broadcasting the audio due to its own processing. I’ll ask the Geek Squad expert if he has experience using a splitter for the ARC signal and let you know.

          take care,

  4. Hi,

    I’ve been looking around and stumbled across the site and maybe the BestBuy team can help here. We have an old (about 6 years or so) Onkyo Receiver (HT-R393) that came as part of the Onkyo home theater bundle (HT-S3700) and I know it’s not really recommended per this article however instead of using the speakers included in the bundle was thinking of getting just a soundbar (looking at the Samsung HW-N850, HW-N650 and the Sony HT-Z9F) to get better sound and more dialogue clarity along with Atmos on 2 of the bars.
    The plan is to use the receiver as just an HDMI switch to we can hook up all of our devices (i.e. xbox, blu-ray, etc.). Would there be any issues? Thanks.


    • Hi Rahul,

      I sent your question to the home audio team at Best Buy Canada’s head office and will let you know when they reply.

      Best regards,

      • Hi Martin,

        Just wanted to follow up on this to see you received a response from the team. Please let me know when you have a moment. Thanks Martin.


        • Hi Rahul,

          I just received a couple answers to this question from the home theatre team at Best Buy.
          One person, Thomas, replied, “my concern would be that the old AVR (even if it can work as a switch) does not support the current HDMI spec creating issues with the connectivity to the new bar/gaming console, etc.”

          A Geek Squad agent, Elliot, offered this response, “I agree with Thomas, in that this HT-S3700 receiver unit (HT-R393) does not support current HDMI spec and no firmware updates are available for it.
          Another issue, is the client’s wish to have Dolby Atmos, since this receiver does not support this Dolby format, it will not work, unless just the Atmos sound-bar system is used, which defeats the purpose of the receiver, as the HDMI output from the receiver will not pass through the Dolby Atmos signal.
          From what I gather from the client’s issue, sound clarity seems to be the issue, which can be resolved by replacing the HT-S3700 speakers, with better quality speakers, such as the Polk Audio packages SKU B0005710, or 10077799, paying specific attention to a good quality center speaker, to allow for clear dialog.
          If Dolby Atmos is the issue, than a new Dolby Atmos receiver would be required, along with the appropriate speakers.”

          Best regards,

          • Hi Martin,

            One follow-up question if you don’t mind, is there an HDMI switch you could recommend that would work and provide Dolby Atmos (without ARC as my tv does not support it – Samsung UN58H5202AF)? Thanks Martin.

            Proposed Layout: Devices to HDMI Switch, HDMI Switch out to Soundbar, Soundbar out to TV


  5. I have a Samsung Soundbar with wireless satellite speakers/sub for a 5.1 system and was looking at purchasing the Denon AVR-S940. I know that this is not the ideal setup and probably a waste of money for this system and use but wanted all the features for possible upgrade at a later time. I bought the soundbar because I wanted no wires running across the room but I have always wanted to use a receiver for my system. My previous receiver is not an AV receiver so sitting in cabinet doing nothing. I looked at your solution do not get the connections.
    1. Optical cable from receiver to soundbar – No output for optical from receiver, just input. TV has optical out and soundbar has optical in but receiver has optical in as well so based on what is said here. There is both and in on receiver and soundbar so that appears to not be possible.
    2. Second option is HDMI between receiver and soundbar and that one is just as bad because sure, I can connect soundbar to receiver but soundbar states HDMI would go directly to the TV (ARC) connection, not back into receiver so lose the TV being connected to receiver.

    • Hi,

      I sent your question to the home audio team at Best Buy Canada’s head office and will let you know when they send a response.

      Best regards,

    • Hi,

      The home audio team advised that the section of the article that you refer to is no longer relevant to the selection of soundbars available. As stated at the top of the article, this piece was written several years ago. The products and functionality have since changed. The most important aspect of the article is more relevant today: it is not advisable to connect a soundbar to a receiver since you would have an amp powering an amp.

      I have removed the section of the article that you referred to (the one that talks of optical cable/hdmi ARC) as the author’s proposals are no longer viable options.

      best regards,

  6. Hi
    I have a soundbar, I want all my devices audio to be played on the soundbar, my tv only has 3 HDMI ports, but I have 7 devices in total, so I have no choice but to use a Receiver. What is the best connection to make it work? The optical out from AV to IN (soundbar) where all other devices uses HDMI for video/audio is simply not working.

  7. I don’t have the space for my speakers anymore and I have all of my devices(ruku,Xbox, switch) running through the amp. Can I simply hook up the soundbar to the optical out on the amplifier?

    • From the reading I’ve done, it doesn’t seem like it. I’m going to try an HDMI splitter & go directly into the tv.

  8. Your rationale was spot on as to why I would want to add a soundbar and powered sub.

    Im a 2 channel stereo junkie, ( hence my reply. No one in the house including myself wants to utilize my 2 channel receiver and tower speakers because, well, sound!!

    In my not expert opinion…I was fixing to spend $145 on a Dayton 12″ powered sub ( 120w x 12″) as well as add up to another hundred or more for a for a polk I S-Series center channel, as we all know tv is dumb with dialogue halfway around the room.

    I’ve since, after buying a set of Polk t15 ( great sounding for 100 speakers. ). I’ve decided to do away with my ever-present shitty ea tower speakers (although id love to find a set of replacement 10″ sins for the bottom of the towers for a den)

    In my infinitie wisdom, I thought it may be cheaper ( mind you I have a very cheap insignia nstr14 2 channel by 100 watts I cannot afford to replace with a yamaha 5.1 (model # escapes me, 100w/channel).
    I thought id kill two birds with one stone by integrating a soundbar (my center channel so to speak, and get the powered sub at the same time, meaning id be all set to listen to tv through soundbar, and music (90 percent) through r, l and sub. Since I intend to upgrade to Polk t50 tower speakers ( they require 150w to max out, and since I only have a total of 200w from receiver…..simikiar to adding a powered sub to a 2.0 system, i thought i could get my center (soubdbar) and sub to power themselvesthus enabling me to use the 100w*2 to push t50’s. It’ll still be a year until i can get a home video/audio receiver. It may not be possible ( or maybe it can?) To do this, any suggestions?
    Also, if i went big on real 5.1 speakers…when did a good soundbar or powered sub ever get wasted with multiple tv’s. Two issues in one really. I Dont have an arc receiver nor do i know what that is….but if not the powered S/b/sub combo def cannot be done, what do you think of powered land rights, with my pol t15s run in parallel as a center channel through receiver ( would using the towers crossovers allow me to get correct center signal, the highs, and high mids seem like dialogue in movies…a better way? along with the powered sub you guys recommended ( said i should go wit the Dayton 120wx 12″ ( I’m a care audio guy, so i know they arent, but 120w pushing a 12 doesn’t seem like enough oomph. Save money and go with 80w pushing 8″ or 150w pushing 15″??? Any questions including is it cheaper to make a powered sub with plate amplifier. You’ve got a 250w one should push a 12, no? Handy, but never built one. Budget is real concern. Too many audio vices!! What frequency range and what is a under $125 center channel gonna really give me on the music side. I also would like to add a powered amp to my receiver to push center channel (how many rms watts do centers need?), but no preamp outputs. Is it true that the headphonejack withe red and whites opposite the 3.5mm would work as preouts. in couple with red and whites on the other end would give me the preouts for an additional amp, any other way.

  9. I have a Samsung (UN75JU641DF) 75″ TV with a Samsung (HW-J8500) Soundbar and Samsung (HT-E5400) BluRay Theater system with four Samsung R1 speakers. I’m trying to connect all these together to have the best theater sound I can, however, I can not get them to play at the same time. I understand the R1 speakers have to be used with Samsung Multi-Room app, but even without them, I can’t get the Soundbar and BluRay to connect together with the tv. I also have a PS3, PS4, and Firestick hooked up to the tv.
    My set-up is:
    BluRay Receiver OUT (HDMI-ARC) to TV (HDMI-IN 3 ARC)
    PS4 OUT to TV (HDMI-IN 1 STB/DVI) and Optical Out from PS4 to Optical In on Soundbar
    PS3 OUT to TV (HDMI-IN 2 MHL)
    Firestick to TV (HDMI-IN 4)

    When Surround Setting is selected on the Multi-Room App, I can pair two R1 speakers with the Soundbar and listen to the speakers (Grouped) with the BluRay player speakers on the PS4 only.

    (Haven’t tried PS3 yet)

    When watching a movie, it’s either or. I can either listen to the BluRay speakers or the Soundbar. Not both at the same time. And this is without being Grouped together with the R1 speakers because the App won’t allow me to connect to the BluRay player.

    Soundbar (Source) is set to D-IN and BluRay set to D-IN. What do I need to do in order to listen to both the Soundbar and the Home Theater System at the same time through any of my devices?

    • If your soundbar has Bluetooth and if your TV also has Bluetooth, you can use blue ray player and soundbar together. I just got success doing that. It’s still a work in progress but I am able to use blue ray 5.1 speakers system and 7.2 sound bar system together.

  10. Hi, I have an NR1504 connect to a YAS-107 soundbar both support HDMI (ARC) , Can be connect the HDMI (ARC) output from the receiver into the soundbar HDMI (ARC) In, from the soundbar HDMI (ARC) to TV’s HDMI (ARC) input. Thanks

    • Hi Eric,

      I sent your question to the Home Theatre team at Best Buy’s head office and they suggested that you just connect the soundbar to the HDMI ARC port; they were not sure why you wanted to have the receiver connected when it appears to be unnecessary. Perhaps you could clarify the reasoning for the setup you proposed.

      take care,

  11. This is great information, thank you! I have an Yamaha Soundbar (YAS 207) and an Yamaha receiver (RX-V681). All my three equipment’s (which includes my LG TV) have ARC capability. I really love the Soundbar and I am not looking to hook up additional speakers, etc. for a variety of reasons . How would I connect the three so I can get my sound through the soundbar all the time regardless of what input or devices I am using (Roku vs cable) ? Thanks, in advance.

  12. I have a new Sony TV, and I’ve hooked it up to our existing 5.1 amplifier set-up via the optical out of the TV. It works
    As of now, we listen sometimes to the TV’s sound, others to the 5.1 set-up.
    What I’m wondering is whether I can get a soundbar that will be our sound for normal TV watching, then go to the 5.1 set-up for movies or higher-quality sound reproduction.
    I think what I’d need is a soundbar with an optical out – one that would then send signal to the amplifier.
    Am I thinking crazy? Does this sound possible?

    • Hi Bob,

      I sent your question to the Home theatre team at Best Buy’s head office and received this reply:

      We would need to know a bit more information about the set up to the receiver, and what type of receiver the customer has.

      However, usually it would not make sense for the customer to buy a sound bar when they already have a 5.1 system. Realistically, they would be able to adjust the sound settings on the receiver for each component ( ie. TV cable box, Blu-ray player..etc).

      • Understood it doesn’t make huge amount of sense – idea is to use the 5.1 receiver speaker set up for movies and such, but add a soundbar for daily listening to make the TV sound better than it does now – again, without going to all the trouble of going to the surround sound system.
        Trouble is, the TV has only two settings: TV itself, and external.
        The receiver is a Pioneer from 5-6 years back.

        • this is exactly the setup i’m interested in achieving!
          using the tv as the single source of audio, going to both the soundbar and receiver. that way i can listen through the soundbar for news and basic vanilla tv shows, and then turn on the receiver for more immersive football, music, or movies when i want it.
          so, send everything through an hdmi switcher to the tv, and then split the tv audio out between soundbar and receiver?
          thanks in advance

  13. I have a 2009 Samsung Tv model
    PN50B430P2D. I have a wireless crystal sound surround model HW -C450 with sub woofer both purchased at same time.
    It was working great until my satellite reciever model DSR505 died so I brought the identical one same model same age from another TV connecting it exactly the same. What no one can answer is why no sound on sound bar or TV but picture???
    Other is why does my satellite receiver shut off on its own along with sound bar??? It never did that before. I want to use my satellite remote to get satillite signal and My TV remote only to power up the TV and use my small Samsung remote to turn on power bar.
    Can ANY ONE HELP ME get a simple answer since I’m not techie.
    Thanks in advance for all those who want and can answe my question .

    • Hi Jo

      I consulted with the home theatre team here at Best Buy’s head office and they did not have an answer to your problem. One person responded:

      I can’t explain why the satellite receiver shuts off on its own. However, the reason the sound bar may also shut off is possibly because the satellite remote may be connected to the sound bar through set up? Also, the reason that the sound bar may not be providing sound is possibly related to the input settings on the sound bar?

      It’s hard to diagnose such issues without information on how the components are hooked up. You should reach out to the service provide of your satellite signal (shaw?). You could also request a home visit from Geek Squad: Home membership covers every device in your home.

  14. What if you have a Sony receiver from the 80’s (STR-VX5) and want to use your Bose 301 system? Can you hook the receiver to a bluetooth transmitter and send the signal to your Sound bar? Why? So I can play cd’s and cassettes through the speakers instead of wiring more speakers into the living room.

  15. My Samsung HW-J8500R wireless subwoofer is broken. Can I just buy any sumsung wireless subwoofer and connect it to the soundbar? Or it has to be the same HW-j800r subwoofer?

    • Hi Eric,

      Samsung doesn’t sell that subwoofer separately but if you call their customer service (I believe the number is at the back of the manual for the soundbar that you have or try online) they may be able to offer a solution to your problem.

      take care,

  16. Another reason for thinking in a sound bar is the wireless subwoofer. This way you don’t need wire for rear speakers.

  17. I have a soundbar that I want to connect to my receiver mainly for when I’m playing music from the receiver. The receiver is connected to speakers in other rooms of the house. All 3 components (TV, receiver, soundbar) are ARC compatible. Can I just connect the cable box to the TV’s HDMI input with HDMI cord. Then connect the TV’s ARC HDMI socket to the HDMI input of the receiver with HDMI cord. Then connect the receivers HDMI output to the soundbars HDMI input with an HDMI cord?

  18. Hi..I’ve a simple question..I’m having a JBL SB 350 which includes a soundbar and Subwoofer..and JBL control one Bookshelf speaker pair..want to combine this SB 350 set and control one that possible using AV receiver and how???

  19. Hi I want to use my Samsung soundbar as a speaker independently of the tv through my iPad using Bluetooth? Can I do that? Without connecting it to my tv at all?

  20. Hi Thanks for the information.Recently i purchased a soundbar JBL SBS 350,but unfortunately the sub woofer fallen down from my TV stand and spoiled.Now i purchased a Harman Kardon 151 AV receiver and a pair of Boston Accoustics A 26 bookshelf speakers with a BA subwoofer.Now I want to add the soundbar of JBL 350 to this setup.As per your suggestion can i hook the soundbar with AV Receiver via Optical cable? and the BA speakers with speaker out connections of the receiver?

    • Hi Binu , The only way I can see that a soundbar can be connected to the Receiver in conjunction with additional speakers connected to the receiver is as follows; Connect the HDMI (ARC) output from the receiver into the soundbar HDMI (ARC) In, from the soundbar HDMI (ARC) to TV’s HDMI (ARC) input. This will allow the TV to receive audio information, and send it back to the soundbar via the ARC (Audio return Channel), You can then connect the Boston Acoustics A26 to the rear(surround) speaker output of the receiver.
      You will need to configure the HK receiver speaker outputs appropriately, noting that the Front speaker output cannot be turned off, you can turn off the center speaker output, since the soundbar will be connectedand will operate as a stereo unit for Front Left and Right.
      This setup will not provide proper surround sound, because the receiver does not have dedicated pre-amp audio output, such as the Denon AVR-X3300

      • Thank you so much Elliot,sorry for the delay to answer. I did not connect my JBL to the receiver and i am planning to buy M Center Speaker of boston to my setup Thanks!

      • One Quick Question –> you mentioned “Connect the HDMI (ARC) output from the receiver into the soundbar HDMI (ARC) In” now in JBL 5.1 its written HDMI Out( ARC) and HDMI IN…So is HDMI in is equivalent to HDMI In (ARC)…. My Requirement is Simple

        1) I have almost 15 years old AIWA 2000W Speakers, I want them to be connected to a Receiver which I will buy.
        2) I will buy JBL 5.1 Soundbar so that I can have wireless Surround Speakers ( the soundbar has) with a wireless Sub woofer.
        3) Now what ever the TV emits should go out from Soundbar and Receiver.

        So my question is how the Connections will be like. the JBL catalog says HDMI IN , no ARC written. Please help me out as I am on verge of Tearing my hairs out


      • The Answer does not seems Correct Elliot as Soundbars have HDMI ARC Out just like receiver so you cannot connect a Receiver to a Soundbar. What I see is you can operate them seperatly with Receiver connected to TV using Optical and Soundbar using ARC or vice versa which defeats the purpose of using the two simultaneously.


  21. Hi, I have an older AVR-588, thatvI want to connect to a Vizio 2.0 soundbar. I upgrade the 588, and want to put the avr in the garage

    Just wondering if this is possible.

    • Hi Al, the only way to connect a soundbar to the Denon AVR-588 receiver is to use the HDMI output from the receiver, into the Vizio soundbar, You can then connect a TV from the Vizio’s HDMI output to get a picture, You will need to turn off the TV’s internal speakers for proper sound.

      • But all Soundbars have HDMI ARC Out and not IN so you cannot connect them. Please help me out in getting this sorted as connecting them separately will defeat the purpose.


  22. If your analysis the same for 5.1/7.1 surround soundbars (eg Yamaha) as a stereo soundbar?  Would running the signal through a receiver chop off the surround content?  Do you need a special receiver?  Is there enough connections?  Are there passive soundbars for surround?

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