How to connect a hifi to a pc

Written by david secor
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The average computer speakers may be fine for playing the occasional music track, listening to the music and effects from computer video games or for hearing the alert sounds certain programs make. Most computer speakers, however, fall short when compared to the quality of a separate, HiFi stereo system. If you have your collection of music located on your computer and you would like to hear the music as it was meant to be heard, this guide will explain how to connect a HiFi to a PC.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Shut down your computer, and look at the rear of the case to determine the types of audio ports that are available on your sound card. In most cases, there will be a series of 1/8-inch (3.5mm) output and input ports, which are the same size as standard headphone ports. Computers with stereo output will use one of these jacks to deliver stereo sound. If your computer supports analogue surround sound output, three of these jacks will be used to deliver the sound from the right channel, left channel, centre channel, right surround, left surround and subwoofer in a 5.1 configuration. In addition, you may also find a digital output on your computer, which will either be optical or coaxial. It is capable of sending both stereo and surround signals to your stereo. The coaxial output may be either a standard RCA jack or a 1/8-inch mono-style jack.

  2. 2

    Purchase the appropriate adaptor to convert the output jack of your PC to the same type as your HiFi Stereo. Computers using 1/8-inch output jacks will need a stereo 1/8-inch to RCA adaptor for each 1/8-inch jack used in the configuration. If you will be using the optical output, no adaptor will be needed. A computer using a 1/8-inch jack for the coaxial output will need a mono 1/8-inch to RCA adaptor to convert the jack into the standard RCA coaxial format.

  3. 3

    Connect the appropriate cable or cables from your PC to your HiFi stereo. For short distances, ten feet or less, almost any quality of cable will work. If your HiFi stereo is more than ten feet away from your PC, however, you may want to invest in higher-quality cables with larger-diameter wires to ensure that the signal makes it from point A to point B with a minimum of degradation. If you are using optical cables, keep in mind that they are rated for a maximum distance of 10 meters, or a bit more than 30 feet.

  4. 4

    Tweak the audio settings on your computer and your HiFi Stereo and enjoy the music.

Tips and warnings

  • Many built-in audio cards in computers are not made of the highest-quality components. If you notice poor sound after connecting your PC to your HiFi and tweaking the audio settings has not helped, you may consider upgrading to a high-quality audio card.
  • The instructions for 6.1 or 7.1 systems are similar to the 5.1 system. Simply use the appropriate adaptors and cables to connect the extra channels.

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