What Is A Wireless TV Speaker And How Does It Work?

Need better sound while watching TV or just want speakers you can connect without troublesome wires? Wireless speakers are a great option in some cases.

But what is a wireless TV speaker and how do they work? In this article I’ll cover everything you need to know.

Did you know? You don’t need a smart TV to enjoy great sound wirelessly. Read on to learn more.

What is a wireless TV speaker and how does it work?

what is a wireless tv speaker diagram

What is a wireless TV speaker?

A wireless TV speaker is a self-contained speaker system that can receive television audio using wireless signals instead of cables. They also have some other features in common:

  • Their own volume control, either using a knob, buttons, or an included remote control.
  • Portability: some models use a rechargeable battery for optional use without any wires at all.
  • The ability to connect to non-wireless enabled TVs. (this is normally done with the Bluetooth wireless protocol).

They’re especially helpful for people who are hearing impaired or who would enjoy listening to their television but can’t be close to it at that moment. Some wireless TV speakers also offer a headphone jack for private listening as well.

While some wireless speakers have an internal rechargeable battery, not all do. It depends on the particular model. Likewise, many have very similar audio inputs but the particular set of inputs each has can be slightly different too.

Although they’re very similar in what they do and how they work, there are some basic differences between the different styles available as you’ll see.

Wireless TV speaker examples

wireless TV speaker examples image

When it comes to wireless TV speakers, most have similar functionality and feature but their overall design can be different. For example, models with an internal rechargeable battery may have a charging base they rest on which also contains the wireless signal transmitter.

Others use a separate transmitter module with audio inputs for your television. Popular TV speakers like soundbars are very similar but are almost always self-contained and don’t have any separate parts you’ll need to use.

In nearly all cases wireless speakers today use the Bluetooth audio wireless protocol to transmit and receive audio from your TV or smartphone.

How does a wireless TV speaker work?

how does a wireless TV speaker work diagram

Diagram showing how a wireless TV speaker works. In the case of soundbars, no external transmitter box is needed to send the wireless signal to the speaker. Soundbars usually have a built-in Bluetooth receiver already. However, general-purpose wireless TV speakers use a transmitter to convert the TV sound inputs to a wireless signal and send it to the speaker system.

Wireless speakers work essentially the same way regardless of their design: a wireless digital Bluetooth signal is transmitted to the speaker assembly where it is converted back to an analog audio signal, amplified, and sent to the speakers. For speakers that work with TVs without Bluetooth already available, a separate transmitter is necessary.

What about TVs without Bluetooth?

Since not all TVs have a Bluetooth output feature like many smart TVs do, the solution is to connect a digital or analog output from the TV to a transmitter that can do the same. These transmitters connect to a TV’s output by one of several ways – usually RCA jacks, a 3.5mm size headphone style jack, or a TOSLINK (optical) digital output port.

The audio signal from the TVs is converted to a digital Bluetooth signal which is transmitted to the wireless speaker’s internal receiver board. A wireless speaker’s receiver is paired, or locked into communication with, just the one transmitter to establish a reliable connection that won’t change.

As the transmitted digital signal is received the speaker’s integrated circuit (IC) Bluetooth receiver board decodes the signal, converts it back to its original audio signal. It’s then amplified enough to drive the speakers inside the speaker housing and produce the sound you enjoy.

How far can you use a wireless TV speaker away from TVs?

The distance you can use with a wireless TV speaker depends on the particular model. Typical distances are around 30 feet (9.1 meters) to as much as 100 feet (30.5 meters).

One important thing to know is that you’ll get less distance between the TV and the speaker if there are large objects, furniture, and walls nearby – especially between them. Wireless range is an estimate and is always influenced by anything blocking the wireless signal because it reduces the broadcast signal strength.

What type of wireless adapter to buy for my wireless TV speaker?

bluetooth transmitter for wireless TV speaker example

Shown here is one of many wireless audio transmitters you can use to connect to a wireless speaker if your TV doesn’t have the ability built-in. A transmitter converts standard audio inputs to a Bluetooth signal and sends them to the wireless speaker.

Whether or not you need a wireless adapter – and what kind – depends on the wireless TV speaker you own. You may also need an audio signal converter if you get a wireless adapter that’s not compatible with your TV’s outputs.

You’ll need the following adapter or adapters depending on what you’re dealing with:

  • Wireless speakers that do not include a transmitter (receive Bluetooth only) and you have a TV without Bluetooth output: you’ll need a Bluetooth transmitter.
  • Your TV’s digital output is different than that of your transmitter’s inputs (or the transmitter has no digital inputs at all): you’ll need a digital to analog converter.

If your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth built in, you can use any standard Bluetooth transmitter with audio inputs supported by your TV’s outputs.

How to connect digital audio outputs to other inputs

Digital to analog audio converter box example labeled

As I mentioned earlier, not all wireless transmitters will have the same digital inputs as your TV’s outputs, if they have any at all! In that case, you can use a digital to analog converter box.

Digital to analog converters change a coaxial or optical (TOSLINK) audio input to 3.5mm or RCA stereo audio outputs that can work with nearly any transmitter. They’re affordable, too, as they sell for $20-$25 or so these days.

Can you connect a soundbar to a TV wirelessly?

can you connect a soundbar to a tv wirelessly section image

Yes, absolutely! Many soundbar speaker systems sold today have a Bluetooth audio feature in addition to additional audio inputs. These can be connected to your smartphone, TV, or other Bluetooth audio sources.

Don’t worry, though: even if your soundbar doesn’t have a Bluetooth receiver feature built in there’s still a way to do it! To connect a soundbar without Bluetooth built in you’ll need to:

  1. Get a Bluetooth transmitter and receiver pair.
  2. Connect the transmitter to the TV’s audio out connection.
  3. Connect the receiver outputs to the soundbar’s standard audio inputs.
  4. Pair the transmitter and receiver.

Using a non-wireless soundbar with a TV wirelessly

how to connect a soundbar to a tv without bluetooth diagram

If your TV doesn’t have a wireless option built in you can use a transmitter and receiver Bluetooth set to do the same. To do so, you’ll connect the television audio out to the transmitter, pair it to the receiver, and connect the receiver’s output to the soundbar’s 3.5mm or RCA stereo audio inputs.

The good news is this is affordable, too! A wireless transmitter set can be found for around $35 and will deliver pretty good sound quality. Additionally, you can use your smartphone or home stereo with your soundbar to enjoy music or videos.

Are Bluetooth Speakers good for TV?

are bluetooth speakers good for tv section image

Yes, Bluetooth speakers are often a good option to use as wireless TV speakers. However, don’t expect the same quality of sound you’ll get from a good soundbar although still get pretty decent sound depending on the speaker.

For the best results, you’ll want a stereo wireless speaker if possible. If you’re only wanting some type of wireless speaker it likely won’t matter, though. The quality of the sound depends on the quality & design of your speaker (lower cost models tend to be mediocre at best).

Very small portable speakers are a compromise between size, portability, and sound output.

How to use a portable Bluetooth speaker with a TV

You’ll need a television with a Bluetooth option. If yours doesn’t include one, you’ll need to use a Bluetooth wireless transmitter as I’ve mentioned further above in my article. 

The good news is that some of these types of Bluetooth speakers can be paired with a second speaker for even more speakers & sound if you like. How cool is that?


About the author

Marty is an experienced electrical, electronics, and embedded firmware design engineer passionate about audio and DIY. He worked professionally as an MECP-certified mobile installer for years before moving into the engineering field. Read more »

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