How to Add External Speakers to a TV

Updated February 21, 2017

The built-in speakers on a TV may not provide the best audio to go with the picture, compared with free-standing speakers with greater frequency range. Hooking up external speakers means the units can be separated for better stereo sound rather than the fixed position of a TV's built-in speakers. If space is an issue, self-powered speakers such those as used for a desktop computer or laptop can be hooked up with an audio adaptor for good sound, where floor speakers may not be practical. When room-rattling volume is the goal, hook up the TV to an amplifier or receiver.

Plug the stereo cable into the white and red audio output jacks on the rear panel of the TV. Be sure the jacks are labelled "output" when matching the plug colours to the jacks.

Insert the two plugs on the other end of the cable to a set of audio inputs on the amp or receiver with connected speakers.

Turn on the TV and the amp or receiver. Set the component selection knob on the amp or receiver to the pair of audio jacks hooked up to the television. For example, if the AUX (auxiliary) jacks are used, set the selector knob to AUX.

Adjust the volume knob on the amp or receiver to hear audio from the TV.

Place the speakers labelled L and R on the left and right of the TV. Many self-powered speaker sets come with permanently attached audio cables, so the separation distance may be limited.

Run the wire from the left speaker around the back of the TV to connect the plug on the end to the jack on the back of the right speaker. Insert the small plug on the end of the right speaker cable into the corresponding hole on the audio jack.

Hook up the white and red plugs on the stereo cable to the L and R labelled jacks on the Y-adaptor. White connects to L. Plug the other ends of the cable into the white and red audio output jacks on the back of the TV.

Plug the power cord for the speakers into the jack on the back of the right speake. Connect the other end to a wall outlet. Turn on the television and the external speakers.


Connect speakers to the TV before turning on the power.

Things You'll Need

  • Self-powered speakers
  • Audio Y-adaptor with 1/8-inch jack and two 1/4-inch jacks
  • Stereo cable
  • Amplifier or receiver connected to full-size speakers
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About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.