How to Use Computer Speakers on an LCD TV

Updated on April 21, 2016

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". This complaint was constant, 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 TV's 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.


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 at right.

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.

1. Hook up 1/8" audio jack from PC speakers to the female end of the Y-cable

2. 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 TV's 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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Y-cable with male 1/8"Cup-link (female on both ends)Putting y-cable into cup-linkPutting PC speaker into other side of cup-linkPlug in the red/white end of the RCA to the TV's RCA audio-out
Y-cable with male 1/8"
Y-cable with male 1/8" | Source
Cup-link (female on both ends)
Cup-link (female on both ends) | Source
Putting y-cable into cup-link
Putting y-cable into cup-link | Source
Putting PC speaker into other side of cup-link
Putting PC speaker into other side of cup-link | Source
Plug in the red/white end of the RCA to the TV's RCA audio-out
Plug in the red/white end of the RCA to the TV's RCA audio-out | Source

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.


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    • profile image

      Rahul 4 months ago

      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

    • profile image

      Ken 5 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Sue 5 months ago

      If it really is that simple and the tv in my RV has sound using my computer speakers, I will love you forever!!!!

    • profile image

      rudra pratap singh 10 months ago

      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 ??

    • profile image

      Samuel Danillo 10 months ago

      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.

      Best regards.

    • profile image

      Aescleal 11 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Walter 12 months ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Robert 15 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Lorenzo 16 months ago

      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...

    • profile image

      Ronlf 16 months ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Alice Methew 17 months ago

      Nice Post! So Can I use any cheap audio cables also? I have seen at one site, where it can be use in any audio drivers, So I can Buy cheap Audio cables for the connections from this site?

    • profile image

      Linda 17 months ago

      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 profile image

      Jared Zane Kessie 18 months ago from Richland, Washington

      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!

    • profile image

      Shortarms47 18 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Karla 20 months ago

      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 profile image

      Jared Zane Kessie 3 years ago from Richland, Washington

      Hey Ed,

      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.

    • profile image

      ed 3 years ago

      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 profile image

      Jared Zane Kessie 4 years ago from Richland, Washington

      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.

    • profile image

      Buster Martin 4 years ago

      How do you connect if you have a Dish receiver?

    • Jared Zane Kessie profile image

      Jared Zane Kessie 5 years ago from Richland, Washington


      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.

    • profile image

      exton87 5 years ago

      When using pc speakers on a t.v will the quality be exaclty the same as when used on a p.c ?

    • TrahnTheMan profile image

      TrahnTheMan 5 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

      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 profile image

      alisha4u 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Just one word - 'Useful'