Father of four, husband of one, and 5th-grade teacher. I love reading, learning new things, playing games, and working around the house.
Cheap Solution to Tinny Sound
After two years of saving and watching LCD TV prices drop, I finally sprung and purchased an LED TV. I had read the reviews on my particular model and found the only complaint to be "tinny speakers".
I saw this complaint in several reviews, and it made me wonder, why don't these people use an external speaker system? Then I realized not everyone wants to spend another couple of hundred to buy a new sound system. So then I thought, why don't we all just use computer speakers?
Needless to say, I purchased the TV and after two minutes of listening to a TV that sounded like it was in the next county, I hooked up a pair of 5.1 computer speakers that I had purchased several years ago for fifty bucks.
If you are one of those who are experiencing this faraway sound (tinny speakers) or are hesitant to purchase a new TV because of it, there is an easy and cheap solution to allow you to enjoy a good-quality sound.
Why Do Newer TVs Have Bad Sound Quality?
The answer is pretty simple. As more features are added and the desire to make televisions more compact, the speakers become the low item on the totem pole. Newer LED and LCD models use speakers that rival that of cheap laptops, and thus you get a very tin can sound. My set also had the speakers facing behind the TV, which gave it the faraway sound. What we gain in visual and compactness we lose out in sound, probably because many who invest in a higher end set will have a speaker alternative.
Choosing the Right PC Speakers
PC speakers are becoming more intense in that they can provide a cinematic quality sound. If you are on a budget, you can grab a cheap pair of speakers (just two speakers) to use. Most likely if you are experiencing the tin can sound, almost all computer speakers will result in a better sound, especially if it means you can face them forward instead of the behind the TV built-in speakers.
Check out some of the PC speakers to the right to fit your budget and your desires. You may want a 5.1 to get a sub to pick up the deeper sounds as well as experience some basic surround sound.
Hooking Up Your Speakers to the TV
All PC speakers will have a 1/8" male jack, that typically hooks into the PC's 1/8" female jack. There will be a few ways that you can make the PC speakers 1/8" male jack hook into your TV, really depending on your TV.
Your TV may have one of the following:
- 1/8" audio out
- Red & White (right and left) audio out
Using the 1/8" audio out, if you have one, will be easy, as you simply put the male end of the PC speakers into the female 1/8" audio out. If you do not have a 1/8" audio out on your TV, then it is only slightly more complicated. Follow the instructions below if you have a red/white audio out.
What If Your TV Doesn't Have a 1/8" Audio Out
In the event your TV does not have an audio out, you may find something that looks like the red and white audio outs (the red and white from RCA cables for left and right audio). See picture above.
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There are two ways that you can get your 1/8" PC speaker jack to hook up to a red/white audio-out, both of which ultimately are the same thing.
The first and easiest way is to purchase one of these cables: 3.5mm Stereo Female to Two RCA Stereo Male Y-Cable.
The rest is simple.
- Hook up 1/8" audio jack from PC speakers to the female end of the Y-cable
- Hook up red/white RCA ends to the TV's red/white audio-out.
The neat thing about this setup is that on quite a few of the newer TVs this will allow you to turn up your speakers using the remote for the TV. You will first have to gauge where you want the speakers volume baseline to be. I typically will put the TV volume in the middle and manually turn my PC speakers to what I would consider a medium sound setting. They are now synced to be able to use your remote control to change volume on your PC speakers.
The second way is in the event you have a Y-cable that has a male end instead of a female end, meaning a 1/8" male jack instead of a 1/8" hole (it should match the 1/8" jack from your PC speakers). If this is the case, all you need is to get a cup-link to turn the male end of the Y-cable into a female end.
Follow the above steps to complete, using the cup-link between the Y-cable and the 1/8" PC speaker jack.
Once again, depending on your TV you can also use your remote control to change the volume on the speakers.
There you have it! Now you have the ability to use any PC speaker set as external speakers for your television.
Jacedotcom on September 04, 2020:
Thank you for this I have faith that my frustration will resolve but how to find the adapters during COVID 19 is going to be a challenge
Joe on November 03, 2019:
Doesn't work - this is possibly the most annoying issue that electronics people can't seem to explain to non-electronics people.
Dawn B on June 02, 2018:
Thank you so much for the helpful answer. I was switching from hdmi on my desktop and 32" hdtv since the drivers are no longer being updated for my graphics card. So I switched from hdmi cable to VGA with these 2 black ends that look like headphone cables.
I didn't know how to hook them up so I seen your explanation and new I had one of these weird cables laying around in the kitchen and now no more black flickering screen and I still have good audio. Thank you.
Rahul on November 07, 2017:
I Have a 50 inch Sony LCD TV. iam using a multimedia speaker. Now, when iam connecting the speaker to my TV sound is not coming. i’ve tried to connect the audio directly to DTH receiver and the sound is coming.
i found the problem is my speakers are not supporting the HDMI . is there any supporting plugs for getting the sound to my speakers using without connecting to the DTH receiver ?. paste your link here if anything you can find it online
Ken on October 11, 2017:
I have a Sony Bravia tv and have been trying to connect my Dell pc speakers unsuccessfully with the y connectors you recommended. The speakers play when connected to my smart phone. I have tried all options on the tv sound setting. Hen connect the Y to the pc cable there is a loud buzzing noise as I insert the male connector. Any suggestions please.
Sue on September 28, 2017:
If it really is that simple and the tv in my RV has sound using my computer speakers, I will love you forever!!!!
rudra pratap singh on May 25, 2017:
hi, can you help me.... I have LG led model 32LX300C and a Philips 5.1 channel speaker model DSP2800. how can I connect my led tv to this speaker ??
Samuel Danillo on May 07, 2017:
I can't believe how helpful your experience is,it is extremely amazing and thanks so much for the greatest solutions you have provided people with.
Aescleal on March 30, 2017:
Hi Jared. Thanks for the tips. My samsung tv has both 1/8" and RCA, HDMI, and Optical. I have appletv via hdmi to tv. If I plug pc speakers (2.1) into the 1/8" headphone jack, will I be able to use volume on my tv remote? Or will that only work if I use a rca splitter?
Walter on March 08, 2017:
If you already have stereo-system under the TV, this is a better option to be connected this way.
If you choose good Pc-speakers, be sure there is a subwoofer connected to the two speakers; usually the volume & tone controls are on the subwoofer. The subwoofer has a filter to send middle en high tones to the spaekers en it deals with Bass only. Perfect!
Robert on December 14, 2016:
I have a toshiba 32c110u and followed step one. No sound. I switched the audio format to rca analog to bypass the internal speakers and hdmi, but I don't get any sound from the speakers. I have the speakers connected by a 1/8 to rca, and plugged into the rca out. Speakers tested with cable box work fine on analog.
Lorenzo on November 21, 2016:
Do you think there is a way to turn the external speakers on and off automatically when the tv turns on and off? Soundbars can do that since they can be connected with a digital audio cable, but I bet it's not possible with this kind of cables...
Ronlf on November 13, 2016:
Same problem as above, new Samsung 32" smart. Off to Radio Shack for the 1/8" Y adapter. Back home - didn't work. Went to menu and switched speakers to audio out. Got message saying to adjust external speaker volume. No sound. Any other suggestions? Thank you!
Linda on October 07, 2016:
This is exactly what I needed to know even told how to use the remote for tv to work speakers thank you very informative
Jared Zane Kessie (author) from Richland, Washington on September 28, 2016:
What make and model of TV are you using? Also, have you gone into the TV menu to switch the audio from using the internal speakers?
Another thing is to test out a different speaker set, like a cheap pair of PC speakers. If you have some readily available, try another set of speakers to help narrow down the problem.
Keep me updated so we can figure it out!
Shortarms47 on September 28, 2016:
Hi Jared, I bought the cable and hooked it up to the RCA white and red, but am getting no sound from the PC speakers. Any ideas? It is a 5.1 system that has 3 cables that converge into 1 that has the 3.5mm male. That male is then connected to the female end of the Y. I left the tv using internal speakers. I get a hum, but nothing else; any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
Karla on July 21, 2016:
I have a flat screen tv and have dish network. A few years back I bought what I thought was surround sound but actually it was only surround sound when you play DVD's in the main power source which is a DVD player. Is there a way I can hook the DVD surround system speakers to my flat screen or my dish system?
Jared Zane Kessie (author) from Richland, Washington on November 20, 2014:
HDMI actually carries sound as well as video, so hooking up your laptop to your TV may result in the laptop picture and sound being seen and heard through the television screen.
However, it depends on your computers configurations whether this will do it automatically or not. You can configure whether or not to have the sound go through the HDMI to your TV speakers, or have the sound continue through the laptop speakers. You can do this on a Windows computer through the sound control panel.
ed on November 20, 2014:
If I where to use the method you described above and then used an hdmi cable to connect my laptop (I don't have cable just movies on my computer) will the sound come from the speakers or the tv? Thank you for your help you have already been very helpful.
Jared Zane Kessie (author) from Richland, Washington on March 05, 2014:
Buster, I imagine it would be similar, as a DISH receiver will most likely have an RCA (red and white audio) outs. You can simply hook the speakers directly up to the Dish receiver if this is the case.
Buster Martin on January 22, 2014:
How do you connect if you have a Dish receiver?
Jared Zane Kessie (author) from Richland, Washington on February 23, 2013:
Yes, the sound quality from your computer speakers will sound the same when hooked up to the TV as when hooked up to a PC.
exton87 on February 21, 2013:
When using pc speakers on a t.v will the quality be exaclty the same as when used on a p.c ?
TrahnTheMan from Asia, Oceania & between on May 29, 2012:
Helpful, useful, concise and accurate. All around good hub! ALso, if you've already got a stereo system you can connect the TV to that too and get the benefits of that sick sub woofa.
alisha4u from New Delhi, India on May 29, 2012:
Just one word - 'Useful'