Steven Spielberg once said, “I’ve always been of the belief that our ears lead our eyes to where the story lives.” 

Home theater enthusiasts know this to be true, as some of the best experiences in your home come from the audio that accompanies the movie. From an emotional soundtrack to an explosive car chase, right down to getting up to answer your home phone, only to realize that the phone ringing is a sound effect from the movie you’re watching and is not actually in your house. All those experiences contribute to making a great home set up even more entertaining.

Another famous Hollywood director, when talking about the sound you get with today’s flat-panel TVs, was quoted as saying, “It’s called ‘Tele-VISION,’ not ‘Tele-HEARING” ... (OK…that quote was actually me😊). 

Today’s super thin TVs deliver a truly AMAZING picture while looking equally stylish on a stand or mounted on the wall. Still, they present a limited performance envelope if you wish to truly get an immersive audio experience.

Often, I get asked the big picture question, “Can my TCL TV hook up to such-and-such model sound bar/receiver?” To summarize, I have never had a scenario where a customer had a piece of audio equipment that didn’t have some type of connection to which our TVs can connect and improve the experience. That being said, there is a difference between connecting something so that it works and getting something to get the best experience you can get.

For this next section, let’s assume that we are buying a new TCL TV and we need some new audio gear to go with it. I’ll go over the connections available on your TCL Smart TV that will get you enveloped in sound in no time. In ascending order of performance:

Analog Audio Output

All TCL TVs have an ANALOG AUDIO OUTPUT in the form of a 3.5 mm jack.  With this, you can send analog audio to headphones, a sound bar, or a home receiver. Note you may need an adapter cable to go from 3.5mm to RCA L/R audio…only a couple of bucks. The limitations here are that you will only get stereo sound and it being analog instead of digital.

Digital Optical Out

Next up the performance ladder is a DIGITAL OPTICAL OUT, again, available on all TCL TVs.  With this, you will not only get digital audio quality but if you have a compatible sound bar or home theater set up, you’ll get true surround sound – up to Dolby Digital Plus. This means you’ll get sound in front, alongside, and behind you! With proper speaker placement, nearly everything you watch, including TV shows, movies, and video games, can take advantage of this added level of performance.


When it comes to your home audio setup, our most recommended option is also the simplest – HDMI ARC/eARC. Connecting your sound bar to your TCL TV via the Audio Return Channel (the “e” stands for “enhanced”) allows one remote to rule them (couldn’t resist). With an ARC/eARC connection, your TCL TV remote or any programmed universal remote will control the volume and TV seamlessly. And let’s be honest, using only one wire will help clean up that tragedy you call “cable management.” Our new 5-Series and 6-Series could help there too thanks to built-in cable management… just sayin’.

In addition to getting Dolby Digital Plus from our 3- and 4-Series of TVs using HDMI ARC, our award-winning 5-Series and 6-Series TVs will pass through the most exciting innovation in home theater since Dolby Stereo: Dolby Atmos! 

Cue up a movie on Vudu or Netflix or pop in a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, and buckle up.  Among the many benefits that Dolby Atmos offers, my favorite is object-based tracking. But, Bruce, what is object-based tracking? Good question, Bruce! Object-based tracking is the ability to identify and track an object as it moves across the screen. It’s like the system says, “Hey! Follow the sound of that bullet as it ricochets around the room. Even above you!” It’s awesome!  

Well, there you have it, the full rundown of audio connections on your TCL TV. We are proud that we have a solution for nearly every conceivable home system set up, from the very basic to the most discerning home theater enthusiast’s systems.

There is still more information out there to learn about audio-visual setups, but that’s for a different day. But now, the AMAZING picture your TCL delivers will be complemented by great sound, allowing you to get the full cinema-like experience you deserve!*


*Popcorn and sticky floors not included.