Connecting the computer to a HIFI sound system

October 2016

Why connect a computer to a sound system?

These days, computers provide sound quality that is as good as hifi sound systems. It is possible to use them to listen to music, in particular thanks to mp3 files that provide sound quality that is practically equivalent to an audio CD. Additionally, today's games immerse you in a realiztic environment.

However, this sound quality is generally detracted from by low-quality PC speakers. If you have a hifi sound system, you can use it by connecting it to your PC.

Check whether the sound system has an audio input

To know whether it is possible to connect your computer to your hifi sound system, you just need to check whether the latter has an audio input.
An audio input is an RCA plug that looks like this:

In general, it corresponds to an input called line in, aux or CD. This plug allows you to add an element to the hifi sound system. It is possible that the sound system includes several plugs of this type; in this case, you will have to check their name, because that is what determines the type of device that may be connected (avoid, for example phono-type inputs that work at a different impedance).

If a plug called line in, aux or CD is present, you will connect the computer output to that plug.

Type output on the sound card

The computer's sound card must have one or more outputs. Check the sound card manual for the location of the output. This may be of two types:

  • Ordinary jack, in which case a cable such as the one below will be necessary:
  • RCA plug, also known as CINCH (red and white or red and black plugs), in which case you will need to get the following cable:

In both cases, the cables are not very expensive; however, you must take care to obtain cables that are long enough to go from the sound card output to the sound system input!


Once the cable is connected, you only have to set the sound system to the type of input to which the computer was connected (aux, cd or line in).

For better sound, it is a good idea not to set the PC volume too high, or you will get saturated sound. It is therefore preferable to use a medium volume at the output of the sound card, even if this requires increasing the volume of the hi-fi sound system.

It is also necessary to make sure that the sound exiting from the sound system is at the same volume as when you are listening to the radio or a CD on the sound system, so as not to burn it out when you switch from the AUX input to the radio...

Finally, the speakers of hifi sound systems are generally not shielded; therefore, it is possible, if they are too close to the screen, that they will interfere with its operation or even damage it. The solution is to move them farther from the screen.

Background noise (vibrations and crackles) may sometimes occur. This means that there is a problem with the grounding between the computer and the hifi sound system. In that case, all you have to do is place a cable between the computer box and the ground jack of the hifi sound system in order to eliminate it!

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