How to Connect Stereo Speakers to a Television

By Jeff Grundy

Many modern televisions have audio-out ports for connecting to Hi-Fi or home theater systems.
i Tomislav Pinter/iStock/Getty Images

Adding stereo sound to your television can add realism to movies, sports events, concerts and other broadcasts simply not available from the stock speakers on your set. Even the speakers in high-end TVs produce only modest sound when compared to true stereo speakers. Some TVs have ample outputs that make it relatively simple to add speakers, while others have no connections at all. Nevertheless, there is usually at least one method available to connect your TV to a pair of stereo speakers.

Connecting to Receivers/Amplifiers

If you have a Hi-Fi or home theater system, it may provide the most direct method of connecting your TV to a pair of stereo speakers. Many modern televisions have RCA audio output ports that you can use to connect to a receiver or amplifier, which results in routing sound to the speakers. To connect a TV to the system, first connect a set of RCA audio cables to the "Audio Out" or other similar port on the rear or side of the television, and then connect the other end of the cable set to the "Auxiliary," or "TV" input port on the amplifier or receiver. If the amp or receiver does not have an Auxiliary or TV input, you can use an unused "CD" or "DVD" port if available. After making the connection, simply press the appropriate source button on the amp or receiver to route sound from the TV to the speakers connected to the stereo. Some high-end receivers or amplifiers even include HDMI ports you can use to route sound to speakers as well as video to other TVs or displays connected to the system.

Using Active Speakers

Many stereo speakers require amplification to produce adequate volume levels. However, some stereo monitor speakers and sets designed for use with computer or MP3 players include their own integrated amplifiers. If your TV does not have an Audio Out port but has a headphone jack, you can connect a set of computer or MP3 speakers to it directly to produce better sound from televisions with mini speakers or those that produce only mono sound. If your TV has a newer 3.5mm headphone jack, you can connect many computer or MP3 speaker systems directly. If the TV has the older 1.4-inch type headphone jack, you can purchase an adapter to connect the smaller 3.5mm jack at your local electronics store.

Routing Sound from Cable Box

While TVs without at least one audio-out or headphone jack are rare, some lower-end or budget sets do not have a port for connecting speakers directly. If your television does not have a set of audio-out ports or a headphone jack, you may be able to route sound from broadcasts to a set of stereo speakers using the cable box. Many modern digital cable boxes include RCA jacks for connecting to a home theater system or receiver. If your cable box has an "Audio Out" port, connect a set of RCA audio cables to the amplifier or receiver just as you would with a TV that does have such ports. The audio stream from broadcasts will still play on the television speakers if you use the standard coaxial cable to connect the TV to the cable box. If you select the appropriate source on the amplifier or receiver, though, you can enhance sound for movies and other programming with the speakers connected to the stereo system.

Computer/MP3 Speakers to TV RCA Ports

In many cases, a simple RCA audio cable set will suffice for connecting your TV to speakers that are connected to an amplifier or receiver. However, if you want to connect the TV to computer or MP3 speakers using the Audio Out RCA port -- and not the headphone jack -- you must use an adapter. Most computer or MP3 speaker systems connect to a PC or player using a 3.5mm cable. To connect the TV, first visit your local electronics retailer and purchase an adapter cable with a female 3.5mm port on one end and standard male RCA plugs on the other. Once you have the adapter cable, plug the speaker cable into the female 3.5mm end, and then connect the RCA plugs to the TV as you normally would. This method works well for speakers with integrated amplifiers. However, if the computer or MP3 speakers don’t have an integrated amp, volume from this type of setup may be too low for normal viewing and listening.