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How to set up a soundbar for your PS5

PS5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Setting up your PS5 console to work with a soundbar is just as worthwhile as doing the same for a TV. Even the cheap soundbars will be a sonic upgrade on the built-in speakers of most TVs, and this will give in-game effects and soundtracks the weight they deserve. Imagine more impactful gunfights with booming explosions, or more dramatic racing with truly roaring engines.

The PS5 supports the 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound formats as well, and the Series X even supports Dolby Atmos in certain games. It’s clear, then, that both consoles are best played with one of the best soundbars, especially one that can produce surround sound. Here’s how to set your console up to get home theater-quality sound on the PS5.

How to set up a soundbar on the PS5

How to set up a soundbar for PS5 and Xbox Series X

(Image credit: JBL)

There are three ways to connect a PS5 to both your TV and a soundbar at the same time. The first requires both a TV and a soundbar with HDMI ARC (audio return channel) support:

1. Connect the PS5 to the soundbar using both devices’ HDMI ports.

2. Using an ARC-compatible HDMI port on the TV, use a second HDMI cable to connect the TV to the soundbar’s HDMI ARC port.

This uses the passthrough capability of ARC to send the video signal from your PS5 through the soundbar and into the TV.

If you don’t have the requisite ARC hardware, you can instead connect the PS5 to your TV:

1. Connect the PS5 to the TV via HDMI.

2. Connect the soundbar to the TV using an optical cable.

Finally, if your soundbar and TV both support the upgraded eARC (enhanced audio return channel), you can use the steps of the second method but connect your TV to your soundbar with an HDMI cable, instead of an optical one. Just make sure you’re plugged into eARC-enabled HDMI ports at both ends.

How to set up a soundbar for PS5 and Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

These two-cable setups will do the basic job of playing game audio through your soundbar. But if you want full surround sound, you’ll need to make a trip into the PS5’s settings.

Navigate to the Sound settings menu and select Audio Output. Select the HDMI Device Type as “AV Amplifier” — this might seem strange when there’s a separate “Sound Bar” option available, but you’ll need the former option for true surround sound.

Making this selection will present you with new options for selecting the number of speakers you have. From there you can use the Adjust Speaker Positions to set the angle of each speaker: you’re more or less making a diagram of your audio hardware setup, so make sure you set each speaker position relative to where they are in the room.

Finally, return to the Audio Output menu and scroll down to Audio Format (Priority). Set this to Dolby or DTS if your PS5 is connected to your TV, or Linear PCM if the console is connected directly to your soundbar. Ta-da: you can now enjoy surround sound in PS5 games.

Enabling surround sound for Blu-ray playback requires one more step, though it does also enable Dolby Atmos — the PS5 doesn’t support this enhanced format for games or streamed video, but it’s available for Blu-rays if you’re connected using HDMI ARC or eARC. Atmos doesn’t work over optical connections.

Start playback of your Blu-ray, then use the Options button on your DualSense controller to open the settings menu. Set the Audio Format option as “Bitstream” and surround sound, including Atmos, should kick in.

James Archer

As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. His favorite musical genre is rock, despite once claiming the guitar is “too complicated” for humans to play. He plays bass instead.