How to connect an iPad to a stereo

Part of the iPad's appeal is its versatility, and this extends to the different ways you can connect it up to a stereo. It can be connected via a dedicated audio cable, wireless Bluetooth technology or a proprietary dock connector, depending on the features available on the stereo you are using. These alternative methods mean an iPad can be connected to most modern stereos.

Connect via a 3.5mm stereo or RCA composite audio cable

Plug one end of the audio cable into the 3.5mm audio jack at the top of the iPad.

Plug the other end of the cable into the 3.5mm audio input socket or RCA composite input ports on your stereo. These ports may be labelled "auxiliary port" or "aux in" on some stereos.

Begin playing audio from any iPad application and the sound is automatically routed through the cable rather than the built-in speakers.

Switch to the auxiliary port input on your stereo to hear the audio. This may be done via a remote control or an on-board button depending on the stereo.

Connect via a proprietary dock

Attach the iPad to the proprietary dock connector on the stereo, if available. Older iPads use a 30-pin connector while those released since October 2012 use a smaller Lightning connector. If your stereo does not match, adapter plugs and cables are available.

Begin playing audio from any iPad application and the sound is automatically routed through the Lightning connector or 30-pin connector attached to the dock.

Switch to the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch input on your stereo to hear the audio. Some stereos may switch to this input automatically once a device is detected and connected.

Connect via wireless Bluetooth technology

Tap the "Settings" app on the iPad homescreen and tap "Bluetooth." If the Bluetooth switch is set to Off, tap it once to turn it to On.

Make sure your Bluetooth-enabled speaker is set as discoverable. For precise instructions on doing this, consult the documentation supplied with the device.

Tap the name of your Bluetooth-enabled speaker when it appears on the iPad screen. When the connection has been established the "Connected" message appears.

Begin playing audio from any iPad application and the sound is automatically routed through the Bluetooth connection.


A wide variety of iPad-compatible cables are available to connect the device's 3.5mm audio jack to a 3.5mm audio input or an RCA composite input on your stereo. These must be bought separately and are not included with the iPad. Check the available inputs on your stereo to determine which cable is required.

Apple's AirPlay system can also be used to stream audio wirelessly from an iPad to an Airport Express unit, which must be purchased separately. The Airport Express unit plugs into a stereo using a 3.5mm audio cable.

Things You'll Need

  • 3.5mm audio cable (optional)
  • RCA composite audio cable (optional)
  • Lightning connector adaptor (optional)
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About the Author

An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.