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How to connect 5.1 speakers to a laptop

Updated July 20, 2017

5.1 speakers are commonly used for surround sound. They come with six speakers: left front, centre front, right front, left rear, right rear and a subwoofer. Not all sound cards that come standard on a computer use 5.1 speakers to their full potential. Compatible external sound cards can be purchased and connected to your computer through a USB port. This external sound card will allow you to connect 5.1 speakers and use them through your computer.

Plug the cables to the volume-control unit--or to the subwoofer, if there is no volume-control unit. The wires are usually colour coded, so plug each colour of wire to the port of the same colour.

Plug your power cable, which is already connected to the volume-control unit--or to the subwoofer, into an electrical socket.

Plug the other ends of your speaker cables into the speaker and subwoofer port of the same colour.

Place your 5.1 compatible external sound card to your computer in a USB port.

Install drivers after the external sound card's hardware has been recognised by the computer. The drivers will installed automatically through the USB connection.

Connect your speakers to the external sound card. Refer to your external sound card's and speakers' instructions to determine which wire connects to which port.

Click on the new "Sound Effect Management" icon created in "Control Panel" when the new audio drivers were installed, to open your audio driver properties.

Click the "Speaker Configuration" tab and select "6 channel mode for 5.1 speaker output."

Things You'll Need

  • 5.1 compatible external sound card
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About the Author

Ziggy Thomas started writing professionally in 2010, specializing in fitness, business and technology, among other topics of interest. He works as a financial analyst in Austin. Thomas holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in finance and economics from the University of Nevada, Reno.