How to Connect a CD Player to Speakers

By David Lipscomb

Connect your CD player using a variety of methods.
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While CD players may see slightly less use in many households as people transition to digital music files, they remain an important staple of any home entertainment system. CD players come in price ranges from under $100 to units costing thousands, but they all connect to speakers in a similar fashion.

General Connection Types

CD players offer multiple connection options. Digital connections, such as optical and coaxial, are the most common, alongside standard "red and white" analog jacks. Digital connections are better in most cases, as they avoid interference and noise while letting your receiver do the heavy processing work. Analog connections tend to be used by those investing considerable sums in their machines, since their internal audio processing chips subjectively improve sound quality. Other connection types, such as XLR, are carryovers from mixing boards and professional audio gear, and use three internal wires to carry signal and reject noise. This connection type is found primarily on higher-end players, with matching input jacks needed on the receiver or preamplifier.

Digital Connections

Inspect the back of your receiver or preamplifier, taking stock of your available input jack options. For optical connections, remove the small rubber caps on the cable. Determine the orientation of the keyed input jack in relation to the cable's connector. You may need to remove a small dustcap over the connectors on the devices. Push the cable's connectors into the jacks until you hear and feel a click. Like other RCA-style cables, digital coaxial connections push-fit into a matching orange or black standalone jack.

Analog Outputs

If you choose analog cables, make sure that the red and white color coding matches at the receiver or preamp and player side, ensuring your stereo separation and imaging is as it should be. Some cables require applying a small twisting motion as you insert them into the devices. Portable CD players usually connect to receivers using a small 3.5mm jack at the player end, fanning out into a conventional pair of red and white RCA cables at the other. In this case, the overall volume is determined by adjusting volume at the player and receiver, since 3.5mm cables often use the headphone output on the player.

Go Wireless

Although CD players don't connect wirelessly to receivers and preamps, you may opt to use wireless speaker systems to get sound from your player into previously unreachable spaces. Connect your player to your receiver as you choose. Screw the speaker wires to their matching terminals on your receiver or amplifier. Screw the other end of these wires to the wireless transmitter. Place your speakers within the manufacturer's specified range -- usually 30 to 100 feet -- and then plug each speaker into an AC outlet. These solutions are good for outdoor areas, lofts and homes built on concrete slabs -- spaces not conducive to easily concealing speaker wires.