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How to connect a soundbar to your Xbox Series X

Stock TV speakers are bad. It’s time for an upgrade. Here’s how to get started.

xbox series s and series s on white background
Image: Microsoft

If you have a new Microsoft console and want to take your gaming experience to the next level, setting up a soundbar for Xbox Series X and Series S is a great first step.

Your TV speakers are passable at best, they’re not going to blow you away.

Adding a soundbar to your system will take your audio experience to the next level.

Additionally, the best gaming experience is enhanced by a soundbar, especially if you get one that supports the Xbox Series’ best audio feature – Dolby Atmos.

When coupled to your TV and console, a soundbar that supports HDMI ARC, or eARC, will turn your battlestation into a cinematic masterpiece.

How to set up your Xbox Series X with a soundbar

nebula soundbar
Image: Ste Knight / KnowTechie

To start, you’ll need an HDMI ARC-enabled soundbar and TV and your Xbox Series X or Series S:

When Microsoft designed the Xbox Series X and Series S, they removed the optical port that the prior consoles had.

According to the company, gamers weren’t using the port, which helped save space on the new consoles.

How to connect Xbox series X to a soundbar

  1. Connect the HDMI output from your console to one of the HDMI input ports on the soundbar

  2. Take a second HDMI cable, and connect the soundbar to the TV using ARC- or eARC-enabled ports on both

  3. If you only have one HDMI port on your soundbar

    Connect the Xbox Series X or Series S to your TV’s HDMI input using one of the eARC ports

  4. Take a second HDMI cable, and connect the soundbar to the TV using ARC- or eARC-enabled ports on both

  5. If you don’t have ARC-enabled ports but optical ports on your soundbar and TV:

    Connect the Xbox Series X or Series S to your TV’s HDMI input

  6. Use an optical cable to connect your TV to the soundbar

Now it’s time to set up surround sound.

How to set up Dolby Atmos surround sound on Xbox Series S

Setup varies depending on your connection method and which types of surround sound your soundbar can support.

Dolby Atmos only works over HDMI, so you can’t get this over optical.

xbox dashboard showing speaker audio settings
Image: KnowTechie

For a non-Dolby Atmos soundbar, open Settings on your Xbox.

Then, navigate to General > Volume & audio output.

Then choose your audio format based on your hardware configuration:

  • Soundbar without surround: Choose Stereo Uncompressed
  • Soundbar with surround and HDMI: Select either 5.1 Uncompressed or 7.1 Uncompressed
  • Soundbar with surround and optical: Select Bitstream Out, then choose either DTS Digital Surround or Dolby Digital as the format

About Dolby Atmos

xbox dashboard showing dolby access app
Image: KnowTechie

You’ll need the Dolby Access app from the Microsoft store installed on your Xbox to get Dolby Atmos working.

Once installed, ignore any prompts to buy a license – that’s only for some Atmos-enabled headphones.

xbox dashboard showing speaker audio settings
Image: KnowTechie

Go back into Settings > Volume & audio output and look for Speaker audio.

Select Bitstream out, then choose Dolby Atmos for Home Theater as the format.

Add a soundbar to take your Xbox gaming experience to the next level

If you value your entertainment and want to get the most out of your nice TV and game console, a soundbar is a relatively affordable way to improve the experience.

It gets even better when your soundbar is connected and working with Dolby Atmos.

So if this is an option, don’t hesitate to set up a soundbar with your Xbox Series X or Series S.

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