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HP Desktop PCs - Connecting Speakers or Headphones (Windows 8)

This document pertains to HP and Compaq desktop computers with Windows 8.
Connect headphones or speakers to your computer, configure the audio settings, determine the correct connection port, to begin using speakers or headphones with your computer.
note:
This is not a troubleshooting document. If you have problems with sound coming from your speakers or headphones, see No Sound from the Speakers (Windows 8).

Connecting headphones

This section describes the connectors and ports needed to use headphones with your computer.

Connector

Your headphones have a three-segmented or four-segmented connector plug. Both produce sound when plugged into a headphone connector. The three-segmented plug is for headphones only. The four-segmented plug supports a headphone and an attached microphone.
Figure : Three-segmented connector plug
Image: Three-segment plug
Figure : Four-segmented connector plug
Image: Four-segment  plug

Ports

Insert the headphone plug into the port on the front of the computer. The port marked with a diagram of the headphones supports sound only. The port marked with a headphone with a microphone attached supports sound and a microphone, but will work with the three-segmented plug to produce sound in the headphones.
Figure : Headphone connector
Headphone port diagram
Figure : Headphone with microphone connector
Headphone and microphone port diagram
Insert the headphone plug into the computer's port. The connecter on the computer is marked with a small diagram of a headphone.

Connecting external speakers

This section describes the connectors and ports needed to use your speakers with your computer.

Connectors

There are different plugs for each speaker, depending on where they are located. Each three-segmented plug is color-coded to match a specific port on the back of the computer.
Figure : Three-segmented connector plug
Image: Three connector plug

Ports

This section gives examples of the various connector types found on the back and front of the computer.
    Figure : Motherboards with three rear audio connectors
    Image: Motherboards with three rear audio connectors
  1. Microphone
  2. Line-out
  3. Line-in
    Figure : Motherboards with six rear audio connectors
    Image: Motherboards with six rear audio connectors
  1. Side speaker out
  2. Rear speaker out
  3. Center and subwoofer out
  4. Microphone
  5. Line-out (to front powered speakers)
  6. Line-in

Speakers

Choose your speaker configuration from the following list for information on how to position your speakers.
note:
Use powered speakers. Do not use older, non-powered speakers with your computer as they are not amplified and do not produce enough volume.

Two desktop computer speakers

Follow these steps to connect a pair of front desktop speakers to the computer.
  1. Position one speaker on each side of the monitor.
    Figure : Positioning the speakers
    Positioning the speakers
  2. Connect the audio cable to the Speaker Out connection on the back of the computer.
    Figure : Speaker out port
    Speaker out port
  3. Plug the speaker's AC adapter into the electrical outlet and turn on the speakers.

Stereo speakers built into a monitor

Use one of the following sections, depending on your type of connection, to connect sound cables to the monitor. Depending on your monitor, you might need to connect an audio cable or both an audio cable and a video cable.
Audio cable (when used with a VGA or DVI cable)
Connect the audio cable to the green audio port on the back of the monitor, and then connect the other end to the green audio-out port on the computer.
note:
This section only applies to systems with a VGA or DVI connection and when an audio plug is available on the back of the monitor.
Figure : Connecting the audio cable
Connecting the audio cable
HDMI cable
Follow these steps to connect the monitor speakers using an HDMI connection:
Figure : HDMI cable
HDMI cable
Connect the HDMI cable to the HDMI port on the back of the monitor. Then connect the other end to the HDMI port on the back of the computer.
Figure : Connecting the HDMI cable
Connecting the HDMI cable

Four speakers (a front pair and a rear pair)

Follow these steps to connect four speakers to the computer:
  1. Position the speakers. Place the front speakers on each side of the monitor and the rear speakers behind the computer.
    Figure : Positioning the speakers
    Positioning the speakers
  2. Connect the cable for the front speakers to the green Speaker Out connection on the back of the computer.
    Figure : Speaker out port
    Speaker out port
  3. Connect the cable for the rear speakers to the black Rear Speaker Out connection on the back of the computer.
    Figure : Rear speaker port
    Rear speaker port
  4. Insert the power cord from the speakers into an electrical outlet, and then turn on the speakers.

5.1 and 7.1 surround speakers

Follow these steps to connect 5.1 and 7.1 surround speaker systems to the computer:
note:
If your speaker system supports SPDIF through a coaxial connection, connect an RCA-style coaxial cable to the orange SPDIF port on the back of the computer and to the main speaker and refer to SPDIF digital settings.
  1. Unpack the speakers and assemble each component following the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Position the speakers, placing all the speakers an equal distance from the center of the listening area.
    • Place the subwoofer (the large cube) on the floor near the computer. Make sure that the connectors on the back of the subwoofer are easily accessible and the round speaker faces forward.
    • Place the center speaker on top of or in front of the monitor.
    • Place the front left and front right desktop speakers on either side of the monitor.
    • Place the rear left and rear right speakers behind the listening area.
    • For 7.1 surround, place the left side and right side speakers as close to the sides as possible, usually toward the front of the desk.
    5.1 surround speaker placement
    7.1 surround speaker placement
    5.1 speaker connections
    7.1 speaker connections
  3. Connect the speaker wires for each speaker to the subwoofer, making sure to connect each speaker wire into its matching connector.
    note:
    Use speakers that have the longest wires for the rear speakers.
  4. Place the control tower (the volume control component) near the listening area where it is easily accessible, and plug the cable from the control tower into its matching connector on the back of the subwoofer.
  5. Connect the sound cable with green connectors into the Primary Front Speaker Out connector on the back of the computer. Plug the other end of the cable into the green connector on the subwoofer.
    Figure : Speaker out port
    Speaker out port
  6. Connect the sound cable with black connectors into Rear Speaker Out connector on the back of the computer. Plug the other end of the cable into the black connector on the subwoofer next to the green connector.
    Figure : Rear speaker
    Rear speaker port
  7. Connect the sound cable with orange connectors into the Center or Digital Out connector on the back of the computer. Plug the other end of the cable into the orange connector on the subwoofer.
    Figure : Center and subwoofer
    Center and subwoofer speaker port
  8. Plug the speaker's AC adapter into the electrical outlet, and then turn on the speaker system.

Connecting to a home stereo system

The type of connection that you can make depends on your computer and stereo receiver, you can use either an analog (RCA style) or digital (SPDIF or HDMI) connection.
  • An analog connection uses an adapter cable to connect the audio out ports on the computer to the RCA-style connections on the receiver.
  • A digital connection uses a SPDIF or HDMI cable to connect between the computer and the receiver.
RCA style analog connection
Use the following steps to connect a computer to a home stereo receiver or amplifier with an analog connection.
  1. Buy the necessary number of Y adapter audio cables as described in the following list.
    Make sure that the cables are long enough to reach from the back of the computer to the back of the receiver or amplifier. These adapter cables have one 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) stereo miniplug on one end and two RCA style connections on the other end.
    Figure : Y adapter cable
    • If the home stereo system has two speakers, buy one Y adapter cable.
    • If the home stereo system has four speakers, buy two Y adapter cables.
    • If the home stereo system has a 5.1 or greater speaker system, buy three Y adapter cables, plus one more cable for each extra set of speakers beyond the initial 6. For example, buy three cables for a 5.1 system, and four cables for a 7.1 system.
  2. Turn off the stereo receiver or amplifier, and then connect the stereo miniplug on the Y adapter cable into its respective port on the back of the computer.
    Front speakers
    Rear speakers
    Center and subwoofer speakers for 5.1 or higher system
    Figure : Speaker out port
    Speaker out port
    Figure : Rear speaker port
    Rear speaker port
    Figure : Center and subwoofer
    Center and subwoofer speaker port
  3. Connect the other ends of the Y adapter cables from the Front and Rear speakers into the Left and Right In and Rear Left and Right inputs respectively on the back of the stereo receiver or amplifier (usually CD or DVD in).
    Figure : Audio In on the receiver
    Audio In on the receiver
    note:
    If your stereo is a 5.1 or higher system, use the front left and right inputs labeled DVD, Surround, 5.1, or 6 Channel inputs.
  4. Connect the other end of the Y adapter cable that is connected to the Center and subwoofer port into the Center and Subwoofer inputs on the back of the stereo receiver or amplifier in the section labeled DVD, Surround, 5.1, or 6 Channel inputs.
    note:
    Plug the Y adapter cable into the Subwoofer connecter on the back of the receiver or amplifier even if the stereo system does not have a subwoofer.
  5. Turn on the stereo, and then select the music source on the front panel of the stereo. This is the component that the Y adapter cable is plugged into (usually CD, DVD, or 5.1) as the source.
    note:
    Check the stereo's user manual for instructions on setting the music source.
SPDIF digital connection
Turn off the stereo receiver or amplifier and connect the cable between the stereo receiver and the computer using the following steps.
note:
You can use a standard RCA style audio cable for a SPDIF connection.
  1. Connect the cable into the Digital Out connector on the back of the computer.
    Figure : Connecting the SPDIF cable
    Connecting the SPDIF cable
  2. Plug the other end of the cable into the receiver. This is usually labeled SPDIF, COAXIAL, or Digital In connector on the receiver.
  3. Turn on the stereo and select the music source on the front panel.
    note:
    Check the stereo's user manual for instructions on setting the music source.
HDMI digital connection
Turn off the stereo receiver or amplifier and connect the HDMI cable between the stereo receiver and the computer using the following steps.
  1. Connect one end of the HDMI cable to the HDMI output on the back of the computer.
    note:
    The HDMI connector is located on the graphics adapter.
    Figure : HDMI connector on a graphics card
    HDMI connector on an example graphics adapter
  2. Connect the other end of the HDMI cable to the HDMI input on the stereo receiver.
    Figure : HDMI input on receiver
  3. Turn on the stereo and select the music source on the front panel.
    note:
    Check the stereo's user manual for instructions on setting the music source, and then continue to the next step Setting Speakers and Headphones in the Sound Properties.

Setting Speakers and Headphones as Default in the Sound Properties

Windows 8 outputs sound to only one device at a time. You can choose which audio device to use by setting the default device in Sound properties. With Speakers / Headphones selected as the default, Windows automatically switches to the headphones or external speakers when properly connected.
Use the following steps to set Speakers / Headphones as default in the Sound Properties.
  1. Search for HP Support Assistant.
    • Windows 8
      Press the Windows + Q keys, and then type Sound. Windows automatically searches for Sound under Settings.
    • Windows 7
      Click Start and then type Sound in the search field.
  2. From the list of results, click Sound.
  3. Select Speakers / Headphones.
    Figure : Select Speakers / Headphones
    Image: Select Speakers / Headphones
  4. Click Set Default, and then click OK.
    Figure : Set default
    Image: Set default

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