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How to Hook Older Speakers to a TV

Updated July 20, 2017

Cheap speakers and tinny sound quality may be a weak feature of a digital TV. Simply hooking up old stereo speakers can make the TV sound fuller and balanced. Unfortunately, no universal method works with all TVs and speaker systems. However, as long as you correctly match the type of TV audio outputs with the stereo speakers you already have, the speakers should recast the TV sound.

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  1. Turn off the TV. Locate the audio output jacks on the TV. Red and white paired jacks (female) that accept RCA plugs or a headphone jack (3.5mm) will do the trick. Check the back and side panels, and consult the owner's manual to learn which options you have. If you have both jack types, choose whichever is easier.

  2. Attach the red and white RCA plugs of an audio cable, matching white-to-white and red-to-red, if you are connecting to the paired audio "Out" jacks on the TV. If you are connecting to the headphone jack, you will also need a short Y-shaped adaptor cable that is called "3.5mm to RCA stereo female." Connect the 3.5mm end of the adaptor cable to the headphone jack on the TV, and attach the RCA plugs of the audio cable to the other ends of the Y cable, white-to-white and red-to-red.

  3. Turn off the stereo to the speakers. Connect the other ends of the audio cable to the inputs marked "aux" or "video" on the stereo receiver or amplifier. Set the selector knob for the appropriate input, aux or video.

  4. Turn on the TV and stereo. If you connected to the headphone jack, the TV remote will control the volume and the TV mute button will work as before. Typically, connecting via the headphone jack automatically mutes the TVs internal speakers.

  5. Adjust the volume control on the stereo to a comfortable level if you connected to the red and white audio out jacks on the TV. Then using the volume control on the TV remote, turn the TV volume down to a low level. You will need to use the stereo remote to control the TV sound.

  6. Tip

    After hooking up better speakers, you may want to turn off the TV internal speakers. This can be done via the "sound" sub-menu in the TV main menu on the remote. A comparable way to improve TV sound is to connect gaming speakers instead. Because gaming speakers are amplified, no separate stereo receiver or amplifier is required. Gaming speakers can be hooked up to a headphone jack or TV audio out jacks. If the sound volume from the stereo speakers decreased when you decreased the TV volume, use the TV remote to control the sound, provided the volume control on the stereo is set high enough for your loudest listening level.

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Things You'll Need

  • Stereo speakers
  • Adaptor cables
  • Stereo receiver or amplifier

About the Author

Tim Otter

Living in the high desert of southwest Idaho, Tim Otter began writing about animals, nature and outdoor education in 1999. His work has appeared in "Science," "Whole Terrain" and several professional journals. Otter holds a Doctor of Philosophy in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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