How to Connect My Laptop to My Stereo System

By Todd Bowerman

Laptops enable you to complete work on the go and to browse the web or play games from anywhere in your home but don’t usually pack speakers comparable to a powerful stereo system. If you want to get the most out of your laptop’s movies, games library or music selection, connecting the device to your stereo will give you more flexibility in terms of sound quality and volume. How you connect your laptop depends on the available connections.

Things You'll Need

  • HDMI cable
  • Headphone to RCA cable


Step 1

Connect one end of an HDMI cable to your laptop’s HDMI port. HDMI supports high-quality digital audio and video connections, making it ideal for users with HDMI ports available on both their laptop and stereo.

Step 2

Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the “HDMI In” port on your stereo or surround sound receiver. Use the stereo’s input settings control to set the device to “HDMI.”

Step 3

Right-click the speaker icon on your Windows taskbar. Select the “Playback devices” option. This area of Windows enables you to change how your PC outputs audio.

Step 4

Right-click the HDMI output option and select “Set as default device.” The exact name of the option will depend on your computer’s drivers and hardware components; for example, NVIDIA users will see “NVIDIA HDMI Output.”

Step 5

Start your music or media. If you’ve chosen the right input channel on your stereo and the right output option on your laptop, you’ll hear your music through the stereo.


Step 1

Connect the headphones end of a headphones to RCA cable to the headphones jack on your laptop. Your laptop may automatically change output modes to account for the headphones.

Step 2

Connect the red and white plugs at the other end of the cable to your stereo’s audio in ports. Match the colors to ensure audio comes from the correct direction in stereo mixes.

Step 3

Set the stereo receiver to the appropriate audio channel. The input channel will correspond with the identifier label by the input ports. If you do not hear audio, right-click the volume icon in your Windows taskbar, select “Playback devices” and then set “Headphones” to default.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check your computer’s output volume and the volume settings of your stereo device if you can’t hear any audio. Sometimes audio problems are as simple as changing the volume setting in your media player.
  • Turn your stereo volume down before connecting your laptop to prevent accidental sound overloads.
  • Information in this article applies to Windows 8. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.