If you’ve bought a new TV recently (after years and years with an old TV) you might have been horrified to find that modern TVs come with terrible built-in audio. I’m guessing there’s some kind of industry-wide assumption that you’ve got killer audio equipment to hook that fancy new TV up to, but if you don’t, you might be looking for a way to re-purpose a Bluetooth (or similar) speaker you already own as a speaker for your television. Hey, at least you’ll use something you already own instead of running out and buying a full-fledged sound bar (possibly with separate subwoofer to find space for in your possibly tiny living room).
Anyway, I had a Bose SoundLink Mini not quite laying around but not doing much of anything while I was watching TV, so I gave it a second job with the addition of an RCA Y-cable. The cable has a 3.5mm audio plug on one end and two (white and red) bigger plugs on the other end.
I use a ridiculously cheap Y-cable, but if you’re feeling fancy they actually do make a gold-plated version that still costs less than a sandwich in most cities. (Just make sure your cable is long enough.)
Full list of things you’d need to get a setup like mine:
- Bose SoundLink Mini speaker (but any speaker with AUX in should work)
- 6′ stereo 3.5mm to RCA cable like this
- a TV with available RCA audio out ports (this is my exact 55″ Vizio 4k TV, it is spectacular and I love it)
Simple guide to using your Bluetooth speaker as a sound bar for your TV
Step 1: Find a good place for your speaker and its charge cradle
I put my Bose Mini right in front of my Vizio television. My TV is elevated on little feet, so there’s a bit of space below the screen for my SoundLink to sit. If your TV isn’t elevated, you might have to get creative. Try to keep it centered in relation to the TV, though, for best results.
Get it set up with electricity, either on a cradle or directly plugged into the speaker. (I don’t run mine off battery when I’m using it as a TV sound bar.)
Step 2: Connect it to your TV using the RCA Y-cable
My 2015-vintage Vizio TV has a couple of RCA ports on the back. Plug the red/white RCA ends into those ports.
Plug the 3.5mm into the side of the SoundLink Mini.
Step 3: Turn the SoundLink Mini on and set it to AUX mode.
Step 4: Turn your TV’s own audio to zero so you don’t get sound out of the TV speakers
Your TV will probably output sound out of both its own speakers and the external speaker you just hooked up. Just turn your TV’s own volume down to 0. Your TV might be fancy enough to know that it’s outputting to an external speaker and not produce the overlap, but in any case, this fix has worked for the two televisions I’ve used this Mini with now.
Step 5: Enjoy!
There’s only one major drawback to this setup, and that’s that you probably don’t have a remote for your speaker. This hasn’t bothered me too much, since my apartment is small and the speaker isn’t that far away and I tend to adjust volume pretty rarely, but it’s a thing to keep in mind.
I’ve done this exact setup with two TVs now (a 2013-era Sharp and a 2015-era Vizio) and it’s pretty awesome not having had to waste money on a dedicated sound bar when my other speakers are just sitting around doing nothing while I’m watching TV.
fiber optics cables says
Howdy woulpd you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
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The reason I ask is bescause your design seems diffferent then most blogs and I’m lookming for something completely unique.
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M.B. Grant says
It’s WordPress. Best advice I can give is pick something and dive in!
Sorry if this an old thread.
I have done the above steps, I’m linking to an LG TV, and all I get is a buzzzzzzz.
Do you experience any audio delay from the bose soundlink mini when it is hooked up to the tv? Does the tv and the soundlink output the audio at the same time if the volume of the tv is also turned up?
M.B. Grant says
No noticeable audio delay, and yes, the TV and the SoundLink will output audio simultaneously if the TV’s volume is also up.
Nice article . I need a good speaker for music, something which give out quality loud music. For house party and the rest. I’m currently torn between a 120W (tallboy) speaker system (2x60W) and a 330W 5.1 Channel Home theater (not sure of speaker output of each). Which one would produce louder, quality music
I’m looking to buy a Klipsch setup specifically for my TV, I’d like to spend 800 or less. And I read somewhere that some people had problems with the IR remotes for the soundbars and/or the subwoofer not pairing easily. Anyways, what’s a good start? If you tell me that I can spend 1000 bucks and a substantially better set-up then that’s also an option.
Thank you for this information. I have an older Vizio E320i-AO which I was hoping I could hook up a Bose mini sound link to and this was just the information I was looking for. Can you tell me will I still be able to use the bluetooth option from my phone or Mac Pro to listen to music?
I’ve got the same speaker but I’m trying to figure out how it can remain a bluetooth speaker that picks up the sound from the TV so I can carry it outside by the pool and hear the TV I can watch through a big window.
Any idea how to do this?
M.B. Grant says
Does your TV have Bluetooth pairing as a feature? Your TV will have to act like a source and pair with the speaker over Bluetooth. My TV does not have Bluetooth support, but if yours does, perhaps there’s something in the menus for pairing it with a Bluetooth speaker. Good luck!
I couldn’t find any bluetooth controls on my tv
I bought the Logitech bluetooth device thinking that might work but no luck there either
No audio out on my Samsung, now what?
M.B. Grant says
Can you share a photo or a link to your TV model? Your TV must have some sort of audio out capability, unless it’s really small or meant to be portable?
I have the same issue… no sound out of the bose follwing these insturctions with the exact hardware… I have a 4K 40inch TV
Hi, I have JBL rumble which I am trying to connect but having a hard time connecting it. The RCA ones which you are connecting, are they input or output audio on TV? I have 2012 Panasonic viera .
When i first brought my Bose mini Soundlink in Dec 2015. I google around and i couldn’t find any result. I knew something it required something with the RCA Y cable. Maybe i wasn’t bother to try since i can’t find any result..
Thanks for the information. I just order mine from amazon. hopefully it work for mine.
unfortunately it doesn’t work on my TV (TCL) 40 inch .
Actually few day later i figured out my Tv (TCL) have the 3mm audio output. So i just brought the 3.5 mm audio cable and it work.
Make sure you press the AUX in your Bose sound link otherwise it won’t produce any sound.
I just used a double ended earphone jack cable and plugged 1 end into the the tv earphone port and the other into the Bose mini, and pressed aux.only get sound through the mini which sounds great, I don’t have a remote with my Bose so I have to manually have to turn it on when I turn the tv on,and you can adjust the volume with your tv remote.
I bought the RCA Y Cable connected it exactly as you said all I get from my Bose mini is a loud buzzing.
Any suggestions ?
What a great article! I’ve been contemplating purchasing a Bose CineMate 15 since they’re on sale for $349 at BB. However, I just purchased a Samsung 55″ 4k and going to be purchasing a PS4 on Black Friday so I happened to think what about using my Bose Mini Soundlink? Decision is made, thanks for publishing this article and saving me $349 for the time being 🙂
M.B. Grant says
Congrats on the TV and PS4! We use our PS4 for everything nowadays – have fun with it! You can always grab a full-fledged soundbar later, anyway.
We just bought a Vizio Sound Stand for under the TV: http://amzn.to/2fVifTg because we wanted to use the Mini SoundLink as a dedicated white noise machine / music player (via Spotify) for our new baby (and because I wanted a remote, because baby tends to keep me stuck to the sofa).
That’s the one drawback of using the SoundLink that way – the lack of a remote. But once you’re situated with the sound at the volume you want it, it’s not a huge inconvenience, especially if you sit close to your TV. We got a good 3 years out of the Mini-as-a-TV-sound-bar setup!
David Monroe says
Question…do you have to power it on each time, or since it is in the charge cradle, does it stay on?
M.B. Grant says
You have to press the power button every time to turn it on. It also turns itself off after idling (no sound coming from it) for a while, maybe 30 mins, even if it’s plugged in or docked on its charging station.
It’s not a perfect substitute for a real sound bar. 🙂
I bought the rca cable hooked it up to my Bose mini soundlink. Nothing. I have a 42″ LG and nothing. In all fairness. I’ve tried Yamaha and Sonos sound bars with this tv and nothing seems to be compatible. From here on out this house has seen the last of LG!
I connected chrome cast to cast videos and connected bose with the RCA Y cable according to your directions but still no sound from the soundlink. Please help.
Thank you for this article, i was looking at the exactly same requirement and use of my bose soundlink mini.
I wonder if using Amazon’s Alexa to control the volume on the Bose Soundlink whilst it is being used in AUX mode as a soundbar would work?
Question : what if I don’t have the charge cradle? can I still able to use it? Thank you
Just got this great sound bar for couple of days. It is easy to hook to TV. So enjoyable and I would never switch back. Paired with my phone via Bluetooth, it works perfectly with all my music apps. Its remote control really saves me a lot of time to switch among different sources. The sound bar handles professionally with all different types of music. Astonishing! Be honest, at this price, I did not expect any high quality sound at all. Only one small complain! I can easily connect my phone, but not my laptop, with the sound bar via Bluetooth. I wish it was a user mistake. Will come back to update. (the Bluetooth bug that I mentioned before was my mistake. When you pair the Bluetooth, you need to press the button longer enough until it starts blinking and then find the “Akixno Aye” to connect.
Neal Boocock says
Did you turn off the “auto off” function on the Bose and leave it on all the time? If not, is there some setting that automatically turns it back on when it gets a signal? I guess the other option would be to turn it on manually.
Dhimant Mewada says
Hello Can I do same thing with Bose Mini Bluetooth speaker to Micromax LED TV?
Immanuel Saragih says
Awesome. Nice article, but I’m wondering.. have you ever tried to use 2 speaker instead of one? Since I have the 2 exact bose speaker like you own. I’m thinking about stereo stuff.. I hope you have any ideas? Cheers!
Duncan Brinkley says
I have just connected my Bose mini link to my tv exactly how you describe. It works perfect and saved a fortune on purchasing a quality sound bar! Thank you so much!
I followed the step by step guide on how to connect you TV to your Bose Soundlink mini system using an RCA cable. I did this, but all I get out of the speaker is a buzzing noise!!
Have I done something wrong?!?
Is there something in the TV settings that I need to change over?
Or is my TV not compatible?
I look forward to hearing your solutions ingesting awesome sound (eventually) from my TV.
Simply open one end of a medium size cardboard box 📦 put somewhere around head hight for full effect. Place your Bose Minilink towards the back of the box and press play. Sit back and enjoy the mega bass ))
Todd Ivester says
I would like to have both: audio from the TV (bluetooth) and Bose Mini. How do I make this happen? As soon as the TV recognizes the bluetooth Bose Mini, sounds goes away on the TV. Thank you
Thanks! I’ve been looking for this info.
thank you this looks like a promising start to figuring this out! the back of my tv has 4 ports (2 red and 2 white) for sound input. will this still work if i only put a cable into 2 of them? im not seeing a cable with 4 ends for sale anywhere. thank you!