How to Connect a PC to an Audio Receiver

by J.T. Barett

Standard computer speakers deliver only a fair listening experience for PC gamers, audiophiles and movie buffs. A stereo receiver's greater audio power and larger, better-quality speakers offer a marked improvement over a typical computer setup; this is especially true for laptops, whose speakers are tiny. By connecting an adapter cable to your PC and a stereo receiver, you will unleash the computer's full audio potential. A cable is all you need to accomplish this and costs only a few dollars.

Turn the PC and audio receiver off.

Move the receiver's speakers so they won't be so close that listening becomes uncomfortable. For "bookshelf" speakers, this may be 3 to 10 feet. For floor-standing speakers, you may need 10 feet or more, depending on the loudness of the sound. Make sure they are both equally distant from you. Avoid stretching your speaker cables; replace them with longer ones if the current ones do not reach.

Connect the stereo plug on the cable to your computer's sound output jack, which has a lime green color.

Locate the two "aux" or "line in" RCA input jacks on the back of your receiver. They should be grouped side by side in a vertical column or horizontal row. Note that one is red and the other black or white. Connect the red RCA plug on the cable to the red RCA input. Connect the remaining RCA plug to the other input jack.

Adjust the receiver's volume control to about 30 percent of maximum. Turn the receiver on and set the input selector switch to "aux" or "line in."

Turn your computer on. When Windows is ready, click the "Volume Control" icon in the system tray. The icon looks like a speaker. Adjust the volume to about half of maximum.

Start your favorite media player program, select a music file and click the "Play" button. You should hear music through the speakers. To adjust the volume, click the "Volume Control" icon and increase or decrease its setting.


  • If you hear no sound coming from your speakers, turn the receiver's input selector to "FM" and tune in a station. If you hear sound, check the connections to the computer and the receiver. If you hear no sound, check the receiver's speaker switch settings and the connections to the speakers.
  • Some notebook computers have a separate thumbwheel to adjust loudness. Adjust this control if the sound from the speakers is too loud or soft.
  • Mushy, distorted sound may be due to an improperly seated adapter plug. Check to ensure that the plugs are firmly connected. A connection to the receiver's turntable input will also distort the sound. Check that the RCA plugs connect to a line-level input on the receiver.


  • Do not plug the cable into the receiver with the receiver turned on; loud pops or buzzing from electrical noise may damage your speakers, especially if the receiver's volume is set high.

Items you will need

  • 1/8" stereo to dual phono (RCA) plug Y-cable

About the Author

Chicago native J.T. Barett has a Bachelor of Science in physics from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."

Photo Credits

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