How to connect your TV to a Hi-Fi

As TVs get thinner, sound quality can often suffer. One way of getting around this is by hooking your TV up to your Hi-Fi, but this isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

If you need help setting up your TV try out our interactive TV connection toolbut if you’re just looking to connect up your Hi-Fi carry on reading.

How to connect your TV to your Hi-Fi

Phono cable

A phono cable

1. Phono cable

If you have an older TV the easiest way to connect it to a Hi-Fi is with a phono cable. This will connect to your TV from an audio out socket and connect to your Hi-Fi with the double stereo end of the cable.

2. Toslink cable

A Toslink cable

A Toslink cable

However, newer TVs are now starting to come without phono cables so if you don’t have a phono socket the next thing to check is if you can connect it using a Toslink cable. This is a digital optical cable so may not be compatible with older stereos as it will need a digital optical socket to connect to.

To check if your products are compatible with a Toslink cable, check for sockets that will fit the distinctive squarish end of the cable (shown on the right).

3. Scart lead

A Scart lead

A Scart lead

If you don’t have a phono socket on your TV and don’t have a Toslink cable on your stereo another option would be to use a Scart lead. This probably won’t give you the best sound source but it is an option if you’re lacking the right connections. You’ll need a Scart to phono adaptor like this one, a Scart lead to attach to the TV and a phono lead to connect the adaptor to the stereo.

4. If you don’t have enough Scart sockets

Newer TVs can sometimes only come with a few Scart leads and if you’ve got other things like DVD players, games consoles and set-top boxes attached you’ll need them for other things. An option here would be to take advantage of an HDMI slot using a Scart to HDMI adaptor (although this will result in quite a few different adaptors piling up behind your TV).

Another option would be to use a Toslink cable from your TV and a phono cable from your stereo, joining them up with a digital to analogue adaptor like this one. This should work although the quality of the sound you get out is not guaranteed.

Do you have a better way on connecting a TV to a Hi-Fi?

These are some of our tips for connecting up your TV to your Hi-Fi but can you do better? And what works best for you? Let us know in the comments below.

More on this…


Categories: Televisions

32 replies

  1. Can I use the headphone socket on the tv to connect a simple speaker and would this improve the sound quality from the thin, tinny sound we have at present?

    1. I have solved this problem by connecting a pair of high quality computer speakers to the standard mini jack plug on my Sky box. The sound quality is much improved – the down side is that the speakers have to be controlled manually as they do not respond to the remote control.

  2. There is surely no reason why tv sets shouldn’t be equipped with external speaker sockets as was once normal. The hardware would add pennies to the cost of the set. Any pair of speaker boxes would solve the problem and would mute the internal squeakers and leave the remote volume control working as usual …..but then, you would probably not buy a separate system at greater expense. Come on Which ! Start a campaign for them like you argue for camera viewfinders.

    1. Agree with this posting

      My new TV has appalling sound quality.
      Could it be due to the digital processing that different TV companies use as it seems to change with change of channel ???
      Am going to go for a phono connection from headphone socket (taking care of the headphone voltage levels).

  3. If you have a Sky box or something similar them the best audio will be via the HDMI connection and if a broadcast I’d using HD Audio even better. I’m surprised that this wasn’t mentioned in the article.

  4. I you have a separate set top box, it’s best to connect that to the amp rather than the TV. Also Sky+ boxes do output Dolby Digital but only through coax or optical and not through HDMI. So if you have Sky+HD you’re best connecting the HDMI to your TV for picture and coax/optical to your amp for the sound.

  5. Here we go again …. set top boxes abound ….I am happy enough to accommodate a couple of boxes to get decent sound …. but why oh why are pvr hard drives not integrated in the set itself ? We duplicate so many bits if we buy a new set and then use a pvr with it. By the time we have a sound bar and a pvr, we have three or more separate boxes, three supply cables and probably three remotes to lose and an absolute rat’s nest of connecting wires to go with it. Drives me mad !! Please could we have some integration.
    I may be wrong, but I don’t think there is a one box, one remote, one plug solution anywhere, irrespective of price ?

  6. I have connected via a scart to phonos adaptor plugged into one of the tv scart sockets and a phono to jack in to the hi-fi, this gives sound from whatever is on the tv. The speakers at the back of the room are still on but the internal speakers are switched off, so that the tv remote controls the rear sound and the hi-fi remote controls the main volume.
    This gives great music stereo and good sound on some dramas eg Downton Abbey but others are muffled (radio mics with the microphone buried in clothes?). There is an edgy sound to the lapel mics commonly used eg. news readers, with better sound from the remote reporters using ordinary microphones.

  7. I’m so confused, perhaps someone can help? We will shortly be upgrading our tv and plan to buy a LCD HD ready, built in wi-fi. We will also be upgrading to Sky+HD (currently just have Sky+). We have DVD player. My first question is: do we buy separate speakers for the tv? I think yes. So if that’s the case, should we go for a (1) 5.1 set of speakers or (2) any speakers? Do we need anything other equipment to connect the TV through to these speakers (can we use the Sky+HD box). Finally, whilst I’m in question mode, what’s the view on wireless speakers, is it worth considering something like Sonus, not sure how this would connect to the TV, my limited research makes me question whether Sonus is even capable of connecting to the TV!

    Grateful for any info, ideas!

  8. Like Ali D I find the sound situation confusing. I have already bought the new TV and have upgraded the sound by temporarily feeding the headphone output to my old stereo. Unfortunately the speakers are fixed in different positions to the TV producing a somewhat disembodied sound. So to further improve I could buy a surround 5.1 system as Ali D is considering but how often is 5.1 used on broadcast TV. From what I can gather only BBC sporadically transmit it and only on their HD channels – ITV not at all – not sure Sky do either. So Mr WHICH could you elaborate on this on and give some guidance if connecting up for a new surround system is worth the expenditure.

  9. I connected my Panasonic TV to a much older Sony HIFI system and all I got was a high pitched sound. On the Hifi i tried all the different things CD radio etc Hasa anyone any thoughts Thanks David

    1. Connected mine where minidisc should go and pressed md button on front of Sony hifi. Yours may be newer than mine though and not have minidisc connection.

  10. What I don’t understand is why this problem exists. Don’t the manufacturers know that television consists of picture + sound? TVs don’t have to be so skinny they flap in the wind, if decent audio requires the TV to be a few inches thicker then do it. The finished article won’t take up any more space than a thinner than thin screen with a hi-fi and speakers shoved behind it.

  11. Recently bought new PANASONIC Full HD 24″ TV. Sound I think must be coming through a couple of empty baked bean tins. It is awful! Why spoil such a good TV with this? Also bought a new top of the range PANASONIC HiFi , tried to connect the two (TV>HiFI) in desperate attempt to give me some SOUND, even this didn’t work. What am I doing wrong? What can I do without going to more expense buying a Soundbar thing?

  12. In response to Ali and Ray. If you’re planning on using a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system, you would need an AV receiver. These are used to process the surround sound signal from the TV broadcast/dvd/bluray etc.

    These also house the amplifier that runs each channel for your speakers. You can connect all manner of configurations of speakers upto these. From two stereo speakers (placed either side of the TV) upto the full 7.1 configuration.

    You can also buy these one box solutions. Some have in built bluray players and come with the full compliment of speakers.

    Even though not every broadcast runs surround sound, the improvement in sound quality even when only running in stereo is worth it. Televisions are getting thinner and obviously the inbuilt speakers suffer from this.

    It’s a pity we don’t have a manufacturer who is willing to build a simple set of active speakers with optical/hdmi inputs and a volume control that can be operated via a remote control. This would provide a great and easy to use upgrade.

  13. Decided last night to try to hook up tv to hifi which is quite old. Found lead with 3 different coloured ends ( think phono) at either end. Plugged 2 into back of hifi where minidisc would go ( I did say it was old) and the other end I tried in the multiple of different red and white sockets on the back until got sound through hifi. As I just want to improve the speech on some films should I turn off sound on tv or use both? It was quite simple to set up just had to rearrange the whole lounge to put hifi next to tv.

    1. Treated myself to a Panasonic Viera 50″ in the sales and was appalled by the awful sound.
      However, problem solved! As I already had cables running from my DVD to my Hi-Fi I connected them to the lead supplied with the TV which converted the ‘two into one’ and then simply plugged that into the single headphone socket on the side of the TV. Had to go to the sound menu on the TV to change the output from ‘Headphones’ to ‘Line-out’ but that was simple when I realised the problem.
      I don’t consider myself to be particularly clever in these kind of situations so if I can do it as they say…
      As I have wharfedale speakers and a 50 watt amp on my system the sound is now amazing!
      Saved a fortune as I was thinking I’d need a soundbar.

  14. Having just bought a black Apple TV I discover the sony digital tv (PDP Wega) dies not have. HDMI slot but Scart links. Is there a gizmo I can get to connect it properly? The Tv was made in 2005 but I love it!

  15. Trying to connect Asus laptop to Samsung 40 inch Smart TV via HDMI and can get picture but no sound (sound still plays on laptop}. Can anyone help?

    1. you need a lead with 2 small jacks, i have also samsung tv. beside where hdmi cable goes is a small jack input { headphone size jack} connect one to there and to headphone on laptop it will bring audio through tv. i used it all the time then i moved the tv in the room and the sound came through the hdmi without using the lead so maybe the tv adjusts itself through time and use i hope this helps..good luck

  16. Have UE48H5500 samsung TV. Want to connect to hi fi. Bought Optical toslink digital cable which fits in back of TV and back of hi fi. But no sound?? Hi if speakers work and I even manually tried with TV sound /speaker setting in Audio Out mode. Please help…

  17. Did you know you can link your TV sound to your hi-fi wirelessly? All you need is a headphone output socket on your TV. Connect that to an Audioengine W3 sender unit. The Audioengine receiver unit can be connected to your hi-fi amplifier in a number of ways- I use the amplifier’s RCA analogue inputs. Although my hi-fi speakers are not directly in line with the TV they are not far away and the sound quality is far better. The Audioengine units are small- not much bigger than a matchbox but they do require power, either via USB or by mains adaptor. I have the now discontinued Audioengine W1, the currently available W3 kit is more expensive but is able to connect more units together. I also have my TV connected to a budget surround sound system for when I wish to watch and listen to material with Dolby surround. Either way the sound is far superior to that of my Panasonic TV, which is otherwise good. I would imagine there are other wireless kits out there but the Audioengine was recommended to me by my hi-fi dealer.

  18. hi
    I’ve got a Panasonic Viera TV model tx -P37C2B. I bought a Denon 39 hifi and have been trying to connect it to my TV. Not having any joy can anyone help?
    At the moment I just got it connected to my DVD player but it’s only coming out of one speaker via analogue.


  20. I have a Dennon Amplifier Mod AVR-1803 and a Hitachi plasma 42PD880TA TV and would like directions on how to connect the TV to the amplifier.
    I have audio speakers Jamo x 5 connected to the amp and the Tuner works on FM.
    But cannot get TV to work.

    Thanks for your help

  21. Have solved my connect problem . . . simples ! . . . HDMI cable from computer and affix a left or right-handed connector (available in Comet etc.) thence connect to TV.

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