Quite often, I get asked about remote controls and users’ options to consolidate and de-clutter their coffee tables.

Due to the many variables involved, simplifying our users’ experience requires diving in deeper—what devices are in use, what are their expectations, how are devices hooked up, etc. But I thought it would help to take a minute and go over a few items here in the event you are someone looking to streamline their streaming life!

Essential Connections

More often than not, one of the “big goals” a user has is to have one remote to “watch” (e.g. choose a streaming channel, operate their cable box) as well as control the volume on their TV or external audio source, such as a sound bar or receiver.

If there is no external audio, and you are using the TV  speakers, usually its as simple as using the TV remote for everything (streaming and volume), or in most cases, you can program the remote that came with your TV/Satellite box to operate the power/volume/input of your TCL TV (look Here for Google TVs and Here for TCL Roku TVs).

Once you have an external audio source (which you’ll want for better sound!), there are a few more options, depending on your needs and your connections.  Let’s quickly look at ways to get the audio from your TV to an external audio source and how to control it. Starting with the best way:

  • HDMI-ARC:  Every TCL TV has HDM-ARC. In addition to being a cool, all-digital way to send/receive quality video, it allows you to send audio to a compatible sound system, then automatically use the TV remote to adjust the volume of the connected sound bar/receiver.  An accompanying feature, called CEC, may also allow you to power the external device on/off, switch inputs, etc. Additionally, this is the only way to enjoy the best audio, like Dolby Atmos on an external audio system. Note that setting this up may require toggling certain settings “on” both the TV and your audio system, so be sure to check your User Guides for exact steps.

  • Digital Optical: One step down the performance wrung is an optical connection, found on all our TVs. This allows you to send a digital signal – limited to Dolby Digital+, but still awesome – from the TV to a compatible sound system.  The challenge here is that this is a “fixed output,” meaning that the TV cannot control the volume being sent out. That is dependent on the sound system volume. You would therefore need to program your remote that came with the cable/satellite box to operate the sound system, or invest in a universal remote to control all of your devices.  

More Ways to Control

Going to take a quick left-turn here to clear up how TCL TV remotes operate our TVs. All TCL TVs have an infrared sensor (under the TCL logo in the middle, bottom of the TV) that can be controlled by nearly any programmable remote (see above).  Additionally, TCL Roku TVs can be controlled via an Advanced remote, which connects using WiFi direct to the TV, and eliminates line-of-sight operation, plus adds cool voice control capabilities. Depending on the model, that remote either comes with the TV or is available for purchase. For TCL TVs with Google TV, in addition to infrared, the sets can connect with the supplied remote using Bluetooth®. The pairing is part of the simple setup process. Additionally, all TCL TVs can be controlled using your smart phone or tablet, using the Roku Mobile app or the Google TV app. You should check them out, they’re both include many fun features to help you control your TV and find what to watch.

  • Analog audio is one last way to connect you TV to your system. While lacking in performance, as the best you will get is 2-channel stereo, without surround sound, it’s simple and flexible. Our 3.5 mm audio out port (aka headphone jack), can send sound to you external audio system. Noted that a system will have traditional left/right RCA inputs and you’ll need to shell out a couple bucks for an adapter. Also, this is what is called a “variable output,” meaning that while you can change the volume using the TV remote control, turning it down simply lowers the signal going out to the audio system.  This means that if you have your system at a low volume and the TV at a low volume, there will barely be any sound coming out. You’d want to set your audio system up louder than normal—I’d start about halfway—then tamper the volume using the TV remote and dial it in from there. Keep in mind that your system volume will be louder than normal if you switch to another input, so be mindful!

Home Theater. Made Simple.

So the simplest thing I can say is to cut the cable, use your TV’s built-in apps, and get a sound bar with HDMI-ARC (TCL has many great options, you knew that was coming 😊 ), and you’ll have full system control in minutes. From there, integrating an awesome new TCL TV into your existing system is bound to yield great results. It just takes a little learning and understanding how everything will work together.  But soon enough, your coffee table will have enough room on it for your popcorn and movie night snacks!