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How to Connect a Pair of Hi-Fi Speakers to a Computer

On a computer it is often best to lop off the little speakers and use them as fashion-accessories, and instead to wire up a pair of big hi-fi speakers of the type found on a 1970s music centre. These sound much better, especially on the bass response. Even if the little computer speakers say "turbo" on them or have go-faster stripes, fins, or mean-looking grills, the chances are that the sound will be much better through old hi-fi speakers off a radiogram or other bygone equipment.

There are two main ways of doing this; a "proper" way and a less refined way which still works. Both achieve the same results - better quality sound, but one method is more neat.

The neat method is to buy a 3.5mm stereo jackplug from somewhere like Maplin and to carefully remove the plugs from the hi-fi speakers and solder the wires onto the plug. The speakers should each have their ground-lead connected to the common (outer) on the plug, and the remaining two wires go to the two channels (left and right) on the plug.

The less neat method is to lop the plug off a pair of cheap headphones leaving a few inches of wire, and to lop the plugs off the speakers. The rest of the method is the same electrically, with the ground lead of each speaker going to the outer braid of the cable that was part of the headphones, and the loose signal wire from each speaker going to a loose wire on the severed headphone lead. Finally, some insulating tape is applied to the joins to stop the wires shorting out.

(The advantage of this method is that no soldering is required).

Points of note: It doesn't matter much which way round the speakers go, but they should both go the *Same* way round. Also, make sure the plug is compatible with the "output" socket on your soundcard before mutilating any headphones. Plus, you can prove how much better hi fi speakers are as computer speakers than computer speakers are, by playing back the bassy sound of a tv tube being smashed

Not loud enough? See connecting the computer to a hi fi amplifier

Other things: If you are adapting a pair of computer speakers which include a power supply, it's best NOT to wire the power supply up to the new arrangement with the big speakers. Such speaker power supplies are for powering an internal amplifier in the diddy speakers and have no appropriate place in the HiFi speaker arrangement. Much better to keep the power supply and use it for something else later.

More advanced use: How to make a speaker into a microphone!

And furthermore: You can use a computer CD drive to play CDs Without a Computer!