How to connect a PC to surround sound

Written by james clark
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How to connect a PC to surround sound
Surround sound systems connect quickly to a PC's Line OUT jack. (Multimedia speaker system 2.1 image by diter from

Connecting a personal computer to surround sound taps into the full audio potential of the digital music and multimedia content stored on the PC or accessible through an internet connection. There are two main ways to hook up a PC with surround sound, either with a full-size home theatre system connecting to an AV receiver, or with a computer speaker package designed for a direct connection to the PC. The connection is the same; only the surround sound equipment is different.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Audio cables with mini-plug on each end
  • Y-adaptor with 1/4-inch jacks and one 3.5mm mini-plug for connection to full-size surround systems
  • Standard stereo cable with 1/4-inch plugs on both ends

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    Connect to Desktop Surround Sound System

  1. 1

    Set up the five speakers with two speakers flanking the computer monitor, two speakers behind the main seating area and a centre speaker above or below the monitor. The largest speaker in the set, which is the subwoofer, can be placed on or below the desk.

  2. 2

    Insert the plug on the end of each speaker cable to the labelled jack for that speaker on the back of the subwoofer--for example, the left front speaker connects to the left front audio jack on the sub.

  3. 3

    Plug the audio cable from the subwoofer into the computer's Line OUT jack, typically on the back of the tower, or use the headphone jack on a laptop.

  4. 4

    Connect the subwoofer's power cord to an electrical socket.

    Connecting to a Home Theater Surround System

  1. 1

    Insert the mini-plug on the Y-adaptor into the computer's Line OUT (or headphone) jack.

  2. 2

    Connect the two plugs on one end of the stereo cable to the pair of jacks on the Y-adaptor.

  3. 3

    Insert the plugs on the other end into any available set of stereo jacks on the back of the home theatre surround sound receiver, such as the AUX (auxiliary) jacks or a spare set of jacks for a tape deck.

  4. 4

    Turn on the receiver and dial the selector knob to the set of jacks connecting it with the computer--for example, the "AUX" setting.

Tips and warnings

  • Turn off the surround sound receiver before connecting the audio system to the computer.

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