How to Connect an Old Stereo Amplifier to a Computer

Written by daniel r. mueller
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How to Connect an Old Stereo Amplifier to a Computer
Older stereo amplifiers can be connected to a computer. (Old Fashioned Amplifier image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com)

Older stereo amplifiers typically use TRS connectors, which are sometimes called phono jacks. Large phono jacks are the most common type of connector for these stereo amplifier devices, which were once a mainstay tool of the electric guitarist and other live musicians. Small TRS connectors are still commonly used in headphone and personal audio equipment applications. Connecting an old-style TRS connector to a computer sound card's audio in jack is a simple procedure that involves the use of analogue adaptor devices to match the smaller port size.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Multitool with knife attachment
  • Speaker wire
  • Double-ended RCA cable
  • RCA to small TRS connector adaptor
  • Computer sound-card with an audio in port

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut the double-ended RCA cable in half with the multitool knife attachment. Strip the wire ends of the speaker wires leading from the stereo and the RCA cable six inches from the RCA jack connector with the multitool knife attachment. Ensure that the raw copper wire is exposed for at least 2 inches on the end of either piece.

  2. 2

    Apply heat to the soldering rod with the soldering iron and use the molten solder to neatly fuse the speaker wires to their corresponding cable below the RCA jack. Allow the solder to cool.

  3. 3

    Wrap any exposed audio wire with electrical tape. Wrap the whole soldering job in electrical tape, creating as neat a finish as possible.

  4. 4

    Plug the two RCA cables leading from the stereo into the RCA to the small TRS connector adaptor.

  5. 5

    Plug the RCA to the TRS adaptor's male TRS connector into the computer's female TRS audio in port.

  6. 6

    Read your sound card's proprietary documentation and follow the steps outlined for playing the line-in signal on the computer.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are trying to connect a typical mono guitar amp into a computer, all you need is a large double-ended TRS cable and a TRS large to small adaptor, which must be inserted into the computer audio in port.
  • To find these rare audio adaptors, either buy them online or check local audio electronics stores and general electronic parts supply or hobby shops.
  • When soldering, wear eye protection and heat resistant gloves.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby whenever soldering.
  • Solder in a well ventilated area, and avoid fume inhalation by using an exhaust fan.

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