How To Connect a Laptop to a Sound System

Laptop computers are increasingly gaining popularity as audio devices of choice for DJs. You might be familiar with the club scene, where DJs not only spin turntables and mix CDs. DJs also tend to prefer digital audio, and they do this by connecting their laptops to the facility’s sound system.

What you need:

  • Your laptop computer
  • Interface cables. This should have 3.5 mm stereo TRS jacks as input, and should output to either a 6.35 mm stereo connector or split into RCA jacks.
  • Sound system
  • Your power adapter

How to do it:

  • First, you will need to determine the kind of interface that the sound system will accept. Most of the time, if this is a HiFi component system, it will accept AUX inputs. This means the input will be RCA. Some mixers at clubs and bars will take in stereo TRS inputs, which can take microphones and other such equipment. Some mixers might even require more specialized connections. Still, RCA and TRS will usually be your best bets.
  • Acquire or build an interface cable. Your laptop computer will usually have a 3.5 mm stereo output. An interface cable that connects to your 3.5 mm jack should be easy enough to build or buy. If you often find yourself connecting your laptop to sound systems, it’s best that you have three kinds of outputs. One should be the same 3.5 mm jack. Another should be a 6.35 mm jack. Finally, you should get an RCA jack. Be sure to have the left channel connect to the white or black jack, and the right channel to the red one.
  • Connect your laptop to the sound system using your interface cables. Most laptops will have different volume levels for the internal speakers and the line-out or headphone output. When you plug in your cable, the computer will automatically switch the primary volume settings to that of the headphones. To be safe, set this to the lowest level possible when you first plug into the sound system. Do the same for the sound system’s input and output volume.
  • Turn on the sound system and select your computer as the source. If you are using a HiFi or component system, you should choose AUX or CD IN. Turn up the volumes gradually until you reach the ideal level.
  • You can do tweaks on how your audio sounds by adjusting the equalizer. Depending on the kind of audio you will be outputting, you would want to increase the bass and treble channels.
  • If you hear a humming or buzzing sound, your computer might be grounded. Check if your power brick is plugged into a grounded wall outlet. Otherwise, you might have to manually ground it. Or, you can output the sound with the computer unplugged.
  • If you are planning to do this professionally, you might want to consider specialized hardware that let you connect your audio to studio or other sound systems using your computer’s USB port.

Whether you’re an aspiring DJ wanting to blast out your mixes from your computer, or if you simply need to connect your audio to your home or office’s sound system, this can be done easily with a bit of know how, the right equipment, and some common sense.


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