How To Connect a Sony MP3 to a Receiver

By Jeff Grundy

Most receivers include an auxiliary input you can use to connect a Sony MP3 player.
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Sony produces an extensive line of Walkman MP3 and music players that enable you to listen to your favorite music while exercising, traveling or just hanging out at the house. Using the earbuds or headphones included with a Sony Walkman MP3 player, you can listen to your favorite tunes and enjoy reasonably high fidelity and sound levels. However, if you want to share music from your Walkman with others, or if you don’t want to be tied to your headphones, you can connect the device to a stereo receiver and stream music from the music player over your home speakers just as you would from your CD player or television.

Receiver Requirements

Before connecting your Sony Walkman music player to your home stereo system, you must first verify that the receiver has an available input for the MP3 player. In most cases, the receiver should have an "Aux" or "Auxiliary" input you can use, but you can connect the MP3 player to other ports if you're not using them for other devices. For instance, if your receiver has an unused "CD" port, you can connect the Walkman to it instead. Other ports you could use for connecting the MP3 player are "DVD," "VCR," "Tape In," or "TV In." Some high-end receivers might even have a small port that resembles a mini-headphone jack made just for the purpose of connecting an MP3 player or portable phone. Of course, if your receiver has a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) "Portable" or "MP3" jack on the front, then using this port is the easiest way to connect your Sony Walkman to the system.

Cable Options

If your receiver has a mini-stereo-plug "Portable" or "MP3" jack, you need to purchase a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) male-to-male stereo plug cable (link in Resources). The male plug on the wire used to connect the ear buds or headphones to your Sony Walkman is 1/8-inch.Therefore, you must purchase a stereo cable that at least one end that will fit the player. If your receiver does not have an appropriate 1/8-inch input, you must purchase a 1/8-inch-to-RCA audio adapter "Y" cable (link in Resources). The adapter cable comes with a 3.5mm connector you can plug into the headphone jack on your Sony MP3 player and two RCA jacks you can use to connect the Walkman into the left and right channels of an "Auxiliary," "CD" or other unused input on the back of the receiver.

Connecting the Cables

Before connecting the Sony Walkman to the receiver, ensure that you first power off both devices. This can help you avoid tripping the protective circuitry in the receiver or possibly blowing an internal fuse. Only minute amounts of current travel over the adapter cable, and a short circuit is not likely, but it's still a good idea to power off the devices just in case there is a frayed wire or faulty connection to another device in your home theater system. After you turn off the devices, you can then connect the adapter cable to the headphone jack on the Sony MP3 player and the appropriate 1/8-inch or RCA port on the receiver.

Testing and Adjusting

Before powering on the devices, ensure that the volume on the receiver is not set too high. Use the volume control on the receiver to adjust the sound level to no more than approximately 1/4 of its highest setting then power on the devices. If your receiver does not have a volume knob, disconnect the MP3 player, turn on the receiver, adjust the volume and then turn unit off again before reconnecting the Walkman. Power on the receiver first, then press the appropriate source button to select the port used to connect the Sony Walkman (i.e. CD or Auxiliary), then turn on the Sony MP3 player. Select an audio track on the Walkman and press "Play" to play music from the device as you normally would. After you press Play, you should hear the music start to play over the speakers connected to the receiver. You can then adjust the volume of music from the Walkman just as you would from any other component connected to the receiver.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you can hear music from the Walkman after pressing "Play" -- and ensuring you selected the correct source button on the receiver -- check the cable connections. Push in on the cable connectors to ensure it's seated fully into the headphone jack on the MP3 player and the 1/8-inch or RCA port on the receiver. If you still cannot hear sound, or if there is a loud hum instead of music, ensure that you did not connect the cable from the Walkman to the "Phono In" or "Tape Out" ports on the receiver. If you connect the Walkman to either of these ports, sound will not play through the receiver. Finally, if sound from the Sony MP3 player sounds distorted, lower the volume on the MP3 until it is no higher than one-half of its maximum setting. Use the receiver to amplify sound from the Walkman. The amplifier in the receiver is much larger and able to produce higher sound levels without distortion.