What are the audio out options for TCL TV?

TCL TVs are a popular and affordable smart TV option known for offering great value. While TCL has models ranging from basic HD to premium 4K HDR, most of their televisions feature solid audio capabilities for the price. Understanding your different audio out options with a TCL TV can help you get the most out of the built-in audio or select the ideal external speakers or soundbar setup.

Most TCL TVs come with basic stereo speakers built-in, though higher-end models may include improved audio systems and Dolby technologies for better sound quality. The audio out ports allow you to connect external audio solutions for a more immersive home theater experience.

In this guide, we’ll take a detailed look at the different audio output options on TCL smart TVs and how to use them for better audio performance.


HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) allows audio from the TV to be sent to an external audio device, like a sound bar or AV receiver, through a single HDMI cable. This eliminates the need for a separate optical or RCA audio cable between the TV and audio device.

HDMI ARC uses the HDMI cable that is already connected between the TV and audio device for sending audio in both directions. Older versions of HDMI only allowed one-way audio transmission, from device to TV. But with ARC, the audio signal can now be transmitted back from the TV to an external audio system. This bi-directional audio functionality is the main benefit of HDMI ARC [1].

To use ARC, both the TV and the audio device need to support HDMI ARC. It requires an HDMI 1.4 cable or higher. ARC typically connects to the HDMI port on the TV labeled “ARC” but can also work on other HDMI ports in some cases. Overall, HDMI ARC provides a simpler and cleaner audio setup by reducing cable clutter.

Optical Audio Out

Optical audio (also known as TOSLINK) is a common digital audio connection available on most TCL TVs. It allows you to output digital stereo or 5.1 surround sound from the TV to an external audio system like a soundbar, AV receiver, or speakers with optical input.

The benefits of using the optical output include:

  • High quality lossless digital audio signal output.
  • Supports 2-channel stereo or 5.1 surround sound.
  • Not impacted by electrical interference like analog connections.
  • Allows separation of audio/video components for better sound.
  • Optical cables are less expensive than HDMI.

To use the optical audio out, connect a TOSLINK optical cable from the Optical or Digital Audio Out port on the TCL TV to the Optical In port on your sound system. You may need to change the TV’s audio output settings to Optical and make sure the sound system is set to use the Optical input.

Overall, optical audio provides an easy way to get clear digital audio from your TCL TV to an external speaker system with fidelity equal to the source.

RCA Audio Out

Many TCL TV models come with RCA audio outputs, also known as analog audio outputs. RCA outputs use the red and white colored ports on the back of the TV to connect analog audio devices. The red RCA port carries the right audio channel and the white port carries the left audio channel.

RCA audio out allows you to connect older audio equipment that only has analog inputs, such as some soundbars, receivers, and speakers. This makes TCL TVs compatible with a wide range of audio devices.

One benefit of using RCA audio out is that it carries uncompressed stereo audio signals. HDMI ARC and optical audio are digital outputs, so the audio is compressed. RCA analog audio maintains the full quality of the source audio.

RCA connections are also easy to set up. You simply plug the red and white RCA cables from your audio device into the matching ports on the TV. No special settings are required to start sending audio through the RCA outputs.

The main limitation of RCA audio is that it does not support surround sound formats like Dolby Digital. It is limited to standard 2-channel stereo audio. So those looking for a full home theater setup would need to use a different audio connection method on a TCL TV.

Bluetooth Audio

Bluetooth audio pairing allows you to wirelessly stream audio from your TCL TV to compatible Bluetooth headphones, speakers, soundbars, and other audio devices. This gives you an easy, cable-free way to listen to your TV’s sound without disturbing others.

Some of the key benefits of using Bluetooth audio with your TCL TV include:

  • Freedom of movement – You can place your Bluetooth headphones or speakers anywhere within range of the TV instead of being tethered by wires.
  • Less clutter – No audio cables are needed so your space stays neat and organized.
  • Flexibility – Bluetooth lets you easily switch between different audio devices for private listening or room-filling sound.
  • Convenience – Setup is quick and easy compared to a wired connection.
  • Compatibility – Most modern wireless headphones, speakers, and soundbars support Bluetooth so you have many options.

With just a few taps in your TV’s settings, you can start streaming high-quality audio wirelessly over Bluetooth. It provides an easy and convenient way to enjoy your favorite movies, shows, and music from the comfort of your couch or anywhere around your home.

Headphone Jack

Most TCL TVs come equipped with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, typically located on the back or side panel of the TV. The headphone jack allows you to listen to the TV’s audio privately through headphones or earbuds. This is useful if you want to watch TV late at night or don’t want to disturb others in your household.

Connecting headphones to your TCL TV is simple. You just need a 3.5mm audio cable to run from your headphones into the TV’s headphone jack input. Once connected, audio will automatically be redirected through the headphones instead of the TV speakers. The volume and other audio controls on your TCL TV remote will adjust the headphone volume.

According to How To Connect Headphones To Your TCL TV And Enjoy Audio, the headphone jack provides a convenient way to enjoy private listening from your TCL TV. Whether you’re trying to watch a movie late at night or prefer the immersive experience of headphones, the standard headphone jack makes it easy to listen to your TV audio the way you want.

Soundbar Compatibility

TCL TVs are compatible with most major soundbar brands and models. There are several audio connection options to hook up a soundbar to a TCL TV, including HDMI ARC, optical, RCA, and Bluetooth.

HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) is the preferred method to connect a soundbar to a TCL TV. This allows audio to be sent from the TV to the soundbar and provides volume control syncing between the two devices. HDMI ARC only requires a single HDMI cable connection between the TV and soundbar. Most modern TCL TVs and soundbars support HDMI ARC (1).

Optical and RCA are older connection standards but provide an alternative if HDMI ARC is not available. Optical can transmit multi-channel digital audio while RCA is limited to analog stereo. Both require a separate cable to send audio from the TV to soundbar. Bluetooth is another wireless option but may have audio sync delays (2).

TCL soundbars like the Alto series are optimized to work seamlessly with TCL Roku TVs but soundbars from other brands like Sony, Samsung, Vizio, and others are compatible as well (3). The key is matching up the appropriate audio outputs between the TV and soundbar.

Audio Settings

TCL TVs allow you to customize the audio settings to get the best sound quality for your preferences and setup. Here are some of the key audio settings you can adjust:

Sound Mode: Allows you to choose from preset modes like Movie, Music, Voice, Stadium, and Custom. Each mode optimizes the sound based on the source content (cite: https://techrt.com/tcl-tv-no-sound/).

Surround Sound: Turns on/off surround sound effects to simulate a multi-channel audio experience. Useful for enjoying TV shows, movies, and gaming in a more immersive way.

Bass/Treble: Lets you adjust the lower and higher frequency levels to get the ideal audio balance. Boost bass for more punch or treble for more clarity based on your preferences.

Balance: Controls the relative volume levels of the left and right speakers. Use this if the sound seems uneven between the two sides.

Digital Audio Out: Changes the digital audio output format between Auto, Dolby Digital, and PCM. Set based on your receiver’s supported formats.

Lip Sync: Delays the audio sync to match up with video lag, which is useful if you notice the audio and video getting out of sync.

Audio Description: Turns on narration features for visually impaired users.

Volume Mode: Lets you choose between variable (using volume buttons), fixed, or night listening modes. Useful for setting limits on max volume.


Some common audio issues and solutions for TCL TVs include:

No sound – First, check that the volume is not muted or set to zero. Use the volume buttons on the remote to adjust the volume. Ensure all cables are securely connected to the correct audio ports (red and white cables for RCA audio). Try connecting headphones or a soundbar to see if audio plays through those devices. Refer to the TV’s audio settings and toggle digital audio output settings. As a last resort, perform a factory reset on the TV to restore default audio settings (source).

Audio delay – Go to the audio settings and look for an option to enable or disable audio sync. Try adjusting the audio delay slider until the timing matches the video. For other sync issues, toggle Dolby Audio processing settings like Dolby Digital Plus and try using a different audio format like PCM (source).

No audio from HDMI – Make sure the source device (like Blu-ray player) is outputting an audio signal. Swap HDMI cables and ports on the TV and source device. Enable HDMI-CEC if available. As a workaround, use optical audio out from the source into the TV.

Headphone issues – Ensure headphones are fully plugged into the jack. Adjust headphone volume using TV settings. Make sure TV speakers are disabled when using headphones.


When it comes to audio output options on TCL TVs, there are several good choices depending on your needs and setup.

For most home theater uses, HDMI ARC is likely the best option. It allows you to send uncompressed audio to an external audio system or soundbar, with the benefit of bidirectional control. This gives you a high quality audio connection that integrates seamlessly with CEC enabled devices.

Optical audio out is also a solid choice, providing a pure digital audio signal to an external audio system. The only downside is it doesn’t support the latest high resolution audio formats.

RCA audio out provides analog stereo audio output, which is convenient for basic setups or connecting to older AV receivers. Just keep in mind it will not transmit surround sound.

The headphone jack gives you private listening for late night viewing. And Bluetooth audio allows you to wirelessly stream audio to speakers, headphones or soundbars.

Overall, TCL TVs provide versatile audio connectivity. HDMI ARC is best for home theater, while optical, RCA and Bluetooth provide options for different audio equipment and needs.

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