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Considering televisions are so expensive, the speaker systems on them are surprisingly poor. The problem is primarily caused by the space available. As TVs become progressively thinner, the speakers themselves have less room to work with, so we end up with a shallow “tinny” sound.
As such, audiophiles and cinephiles have taken to external sound bars. In many cases, they provide fuller and richer sounds than TV sets are capable of. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on top-end models like Sonos! Mid-range models are more than excellent.
However, if you use a media streaming box like Roku, not being able to control the volume with your remote is annoying. Here’s how to get your Roku remote working with a sound bar.
ARC Over HDMI
Audio Return Channel (ARC) is an infrequently mentioned audio protocol. Today, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent in HD televisions.
If you use ARC over HDMI to connect your sound bar to your TV, Roku TV can use Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) to control the sound bar’s volume. Unfortunately, if you use optical cables to connect, you’re out of luck.
No ARC? No Worries
Even if the sound bar doesn’t have ARC support, the Roku TV remote could still work as long as the speaker supports HDMI. Navigate to Settings > System > Control other devices and turn on System Audio Control. If ARC isn’t being used on either end, the remote might still work.
If neither of these two methods works for you, you might be forced to buy a universal remote. The Logitech Harmony Ultimate is one of the best.
On a related note, make sure you know how to troubleshoot your Roku remote if it stops working.