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7 Easy Steps To Connect 5.1 Speakers To PC (2023 How-To)

How To Connect 5.1 Speakers To PC

A decade ago, setting up a surround sound system cost a fortune.

Today, it’s not just affordable…

It’s also easy to do.

That’s why connecting 5.1 speakers to your PC should only take a few minutes.

And I’d be happy to walk you through the steps.

Keep reading to learn:

  • Whether it’s possible to connect 5.1 speakers to all PC models.
  • 7 easy-to-follow steps on how to hook up 5.1 speakers to a PC.
  • What 5.1 speakers actually are and what those digits represent.
  • And a lot more…

How to connect 5.1 speakers to PC – 7 steps

Just a heads up before we dive into the steps:

This guide will only work if your PC is actually 5.1 speaker-compatible.

And the fastest way to know is by checking the back of your computer.

Can you see at least 3 3.5 mm audio ports?

If you can’t, and there are only 2 of them…

Then the steps below won’t work. 

However, if you can see 3 or more audio ports… 

That means your device can support 5.1 speakers.

You’ll just need 3 3.5 mm to RCA cables as well to complete your setup.

Already have those?

Good. Let’s get started.

#1: Connect the satellite speakers to the back of the subwoofer

The 5 satellite speakers are:

  • Center.
  • Rear Left.
  • Front Left.
  • Rear Right.
  • Front Right.

Use the cables that came with your 5.1 speakers to connect all of those to the subwoofer. 

You should find labels on the back of the subwoofer. Use it as a guide so you’ll know where each speaker goes.

#2: Plug the subwoofer into a power source and turn it on

#3: Connect one end of the 3.5 mm to RCA cable to the subwoofer

Grab your 3 3.5 mm to RCA cables. 

Now, one end of the cable only has 1 plug. That’s the 3.5 mm connector. 

The other tip has 2 plugs. Those are the RCA connectors. And you need to link them to the subwoofer.

At the back of the subwoofer, look for DVD input. 

You should see 6 audio jacks there, separated into 3 rows:

  • Center speaker and subwoofer.
  • Front left and right.
  • Rear left and right.

Just attach one pair of RCA plugs to each row of audio jacks.

#4: Connect the other end of the 3.5 mm to RCA cable to your PC

The back of your PC should have audio ports that come in different colors.

And on most computers, the pink one is where the front left and right speaker should go.

The green is for the rear left and right. 

And the blue is for the subwoofer and center speaker.

So connect the 3.5 mm plugs of the 3 cables to their corresponding audio jack.

Now, if your PC’s audio jacks have colors other than pink, green, and blue…

Check your computer’s manual to know which speakers should connect to a particular port.

#5: Change your 5.1 speakers’ input to DVD mode

Since you connected your PC to the subwoofer via the DVD input…

You also have to switch the input source to DVD mode. 

Note: The steps on how to do it vary per speaker brand.

But you should look for the Input button on the speaker’s remote or the subwoofer itself. And just click it to switch to the correct mode.

#6: Configure your PC’s audio settings

Configure Your PC's Audio Settings

At this point, you’re all set with your connections. 

You now have to ensure that your PC recognizes the 5.1 speakers you just plugged. To do that, just follow the steps below:

Step #1: Open your PC’s Control Panel. A quick way to do it would be to press the Windows key + R on your keyboard. Then type “control panel” and hit Enter.

Step #2: Select Hardware and Sound.

Step #3: Choose the Sound option.

Step #4: Click Speakers and then tap the Configure button.

Step #5: Under Choose your configuration, pick the 5.1 Surround option.

Step #6: Select the Test button to see if all speakers are working. You may also tap on each speaker icon to test individually.

If everything’s working, click the Next button. 

But if not, check all 3 3.5 to RCA cables. And ensure that they’re all plugged firmly and securely.

Step #7: Tick the checkboxes beside the Center, Subwoofer, and Rear pair. Then click Next.

Step #8: Check the boxes next to the Front left and Right and Surround speakers. Click the Next button followed by Finish.

Step #7: Open a media file to test your 5.1 speakers

By now, everything should be good to go.

So as a final test, launch a video or audio to check if your 5.1 speakers are actually working.

You may use a media player like VLC. Or you can also open an app like Netflix.

Note: Just refrain from using a web browser for playing media files. This is because browsers don’t support 5.1 surround sound.

“What if the audio is only playing on the front speakers?”

If that’s the case, go to your app or media player’s settings to enable 5.1 surround sound. 

The steps would vary depending on the application you’re using.

But let me provide an example. 

If you’re using Netflix…

Select Audio. And then choose any language with the label 5.1 beside it. The sound should then come out on all of your speakers.

And this process should be similar for other streaming apps. But you may reach out to their tech support if you can’t find the option to enable 5.1 surround sound.

What are 5.1 speakers?

5.1 speakers are audio devices for surround sound. 3 of the loudspeakers go to the front. The other 2 to the back. And remaining one is a subwoofer that you can place on either side of your room.

Don’t confuse 5.1 with a 5-way speaker. The 2 are different.

The former refers to a system with 6 separate audio devices. The latter is just one listening gadget with 5 drivers.

Now, the number 5 in 5.1 refers to the following speakers:

  • 2 rear.
  • 2 front.
  • 1 center.

The middle speaker is the most important of the 5. It’s the biggest and most powerful. And this is where the dialogue of the videos you watch comes out.

The other 4 speakers are for the sound effects or musical scores. And they’re also crucial in achieving surround sound

This means the audio is crisp and clear, regardless of your location in a room.

As for the “.1” in 5.1…

It refers to the subwoofer.

Now, technically, it’s also an audio device. 

But if you’re wondering why they didn’t just call it 6 speakers instead of 5.1…

This is because a subwoofer is different from others.

Its function is to reproduce low-pitched sounds. And it’s something other listening devices aren’t capable of doing.

If you’d like to learn more about 5.1 speakers, check out this video:

Can you connect 5.1 speakers to any PC?

You can connect 5.1 speakers to any PC that supports surround sound. An easy way to tell is by checking the audio jacks at the back of your computer. It can support 5.1 speakers if you see at least 3 3.5 mm jacks. These ports are usually colored pink, green, and blue.

Now, if your PC only has 2 of those jacks… 

It’d be impossible to hook up 5.1 speakers to it.

That’s because you can connect only 2 devices at a time per jack. And the 5.1 system has 6 in total.

“So what options do I have if my PC can’t connect to 5.1?”

Your best option is to go with 2.1 speakers.

Under this setup, you’ll be using 2 front speakers plus a subwoofer. 

You just need to connect the 2 listening devices to 1 of your audio jacks. And the subwoofer to the other.

It’s not quite surround sound. 

But 2.1 speakers are still much better and more powerful than using your computer’s built-in sound system.