How To Connect your Computer to your Home Stereo

Audiophiles often abhor the sound reproduction of low quality speakers. This includes inexpensive headphones and so-called multimedia speakers that come as standard accessories with computers. These produce tinny sound and don’t have enough dynamic range to produce good fidelity music.

Some laptops come marketed with expensive Harman-Kardon speakers, and you can also purchase separate speakers for your computer from reputable brands like Altec-Lansing, Harman-Kardon and Bose. With these, you can already play music from iTunes or watch movies with good quality sound.

However, if you already have an excellent quality sound system such as your home stereo, component system or home entertainment system, you can easily attach your computer to these devices for better sound output. You don’t even have to spend much on your modification. You will only need a cable that will interface the two devices.

In most cases, your computer will have 3.5 mm TRS jacks as output. This is the standard that comes with most earphones and multimedia speakers. Your home stereo, meanwhile, will likely have AUX inputs, which come in RCA format.

  • Purchase cables that will be long enough for connecting your computer to your stereo system. One end should have a stereo TRS mini connector (3.5 mm diameter). One end should be split into two RCA jacks. The left channel should be colored white. The right channel should be colored red.
  • Note that the longer your cable, the less signal-to-noise ratio. This means that you will lose audio quality the longer you go. Generally, your connection should not be longer than 30 feet.
  • Connect the stereo jack to the line-out of your computer’s sound card. If you are using a desktop computer, this will be located at the rear of your CPU. It will be marked green or blue. If you are using a laptop computer, the line-out will be either at the front, sides or back of the computer.
  • Some computers have separate jacks for “headphones” and “line out.” You can choose which jack to connect to, and you can manipulate the levels on each in your sound mixer.
  • Connect the other end to the AUX IN or CD IN jacks on your stereo system.
  • Normalize the sound levels by going to your OS’ volume control and setting the volume midway from zero to the highest level.
  • Turn on your stereo system. Make sure that the input source is AUX IN or CD IN.
  • Play sounds or music on your computer. The sound should now output to your stereo. Adjust the volume levels on both devices according to your preference. You can also adjust the equalizer, to help improve the quality of the sound output.

Connecting your computer to your home stereo is a useful and easy way of getting better audio out of your computer without spending a lot of money on specialized speakers. It’s easy enough, and as long as the distance between the stereo and computer is not too great, you will have good-sounding quality audio from your computer.


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