How to Connect External Speakers to a PC

By James Clark

External speakers connected to a PC can dramatically expand your audio quality while enjoying web content, digital music and other sound sources. Most external speakers for computer use are equipped with built-in amplifiers to drive the speakers without drawing power from the PC itself. Audio systems for a PC range from a basic pair of stereo speakers, to 5.1 surround sound systems with front, rear and center channel speakers, plus a subwoofer for deep bass to add realism to movies and video games. Regardless of the number of speakers, all connect essentially the same way.

Things You'll Need

  • External speakers
  • Audio cables with 3.5mm mini-plugs
  • PC

Step 1

Place a speaker on each side of the computer monitor for a stereo effect when using a pair of external speakers. For surround sound systems, in addition to the front left and right speakers, place the center channel above or below the monitor and the back surround channels to each side of the seating area or immediately behind the user's chair. Place the subwoofer on or beneath the work station or desk for the computer.

Step 2

Connect the speaker cables to the jacks labeled for each on the back of the subwoofer. For example, the left front speaker cable connects to the left front audio jack on the subwoofer by inserting the mini-plug on the end of the cable. For a single pair of speakers, plug the cable from the front left speakers into the audio jack on the front right speaker.

Step 3

Connect the Audio OUT cable from the subwoofer (when using surround sound systems) or the cable from the right channel speaker (when using a single pair) to the Aux IN jack on the PC. Use the headphones jack when connecting speakers to a laptop.

Step 4

Plug the power adapter into the back of the right channel speaker or the subwoofer power jack, depending on the setup, and connect the electrical plug to a surge protector power strip. Plug the power strip into a wall outlet.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place the center channel speaker in a surround sound package either above or below the computer monitor. The center channel delivers dialog in movies and computer games, so placing it close to the monitor anchors the conversations to the images for added realism.
  • Do not plug the speakers into an electrical outlet until all audio connections are complete.