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View Full Version : How to hook a 3 jack 5.1 stereo speaker system to a 1 jack output source (mp3 player, etc)


Wesley Clark
01-19-2011, 03:01 PM
I found a decent deal on a 5.1 stereo system, but I don't know much about stereos or speakers. It comes with 3 wires (light green, pink and black) for different speakers.

My laptop has 3 jacks in the front, but only the headphone jack works on the speakers (the other is a mic, I don't know what the 3rd is for). I don't think I have 5.1 output on my laptop since it is a basic model I got in 2007.

So how do you convert signals from a source with only one 3.5mm jack like an mp3 player or a laptop into 5.1 signals that will go to all 6 speakers in a 5.1 system?

I have heard of using a USB 5.1 external sound card, but the reviews on those are mixed.

I've heard there are also cheap adapters that will combine the 3 jacks into 1 that you can then plug into an mp3 player. But I've heard the sound quality isn't as good.

Minnie Luna
01-19-2011, 03:14 PM
We have a Bose system. The Bose is hooked up to a receiver through which we hook up to anything we want to hear (iPod, TV, DVD player, etc).

Harmonious Discord
01-19-2011, 03:20 PM
Using the analog output jack, you will only get right and left front speaker output unless the amplifier unit has settings where it will also do it's best to simulate the center speaker and sub woofer. I've never seen a system that will take analog stereo input and output 5.1 surround.

For the laptop you can use an external USB sound adapter that has it's own sound processor and can output 5.1 surround sound. Your quality will vary by the quality of the device. I can't tell you which to buy for a quality one. A little research on tech sites should help you there.

Random Design
01-20-2011, 04:45 AM
I've got a similar set-up at home. What you want is something like this (http://shoptronics.com/duhejaspst3y.html); of the three jacks you've got, one should feed front right/left, one should feed rear r/l, one the centre speaker. Experiment a bit and figure out which are the front and rear, and plug those into the converter - this is what I do. Great for music, I suppose if you wanted it setup for watching TV or DVD then you'd use the front and centre feeds instead.

BigT
01-20-2011, 10:28 AM
My laptop has 3 jacks in the front, but only the headphone jack works on the speakers (the other is a mic, I don't know what the 3rd is for).

Seeing as you say that only the headphone jack outputs sound, the third jack is probably Line In, a stereo jack that will allow you input sound into the laptop from another stereo device. While the microphone jack appears to be stereo, it takes a mono mic, using the extra input for powering it. Do not plug, say, an MP3 player into the mic port. At best you'll get a bad mono recording, at worst you'll damage the MP3 player.

Wesley Clark
01-20-2011, 08:41 PM
I've got a similar set-up at home. What you want is something like this (http://shoptronics.com/duhejaspst3y.html); of the three jacks you've got, one should feed front right/left, one should feed rear r/l, one the centre speaker. Experiment a bit and figure out which are the front and rear, and plug those into the converter - this is what I do. Great for music, I suppose if you wanted it setup for watching TV or DVD then you'd use the front and centre feeds instead.

My setup is one is front l/r, the other is rear l/r, and the third is center speaker/subwoofer. I'm using this model (logitech X530), and the black line is for the subwoofer and middle speaker.

http://amazon.com/Logitech-X-530-5-1-Speaker-System/dp/B0002WPSCG

I've heard others recommend that idea (use a 2 way splitter), but why would you pick the front and rear speakers out of curiousity and not the subwoofer/middle speaker? I haven't set mine up, but I'd assume it would sound better with the front l/r in one plug and the subwoofer/middle speaker in the other and neglect the rear speakers.

I know I'm a novice and that this is a pretty inexpensive system, but the sound quality in music is much much better than what I'm used to with headphones or a 2.0 computer speaker system, even though I can only use 2 speakers at a time on the 5.1 system at the moment.


Have you ever looked into something like this? It is a belkin 5 way splitter, you could hook all the speakers up to one source, or turn it into a 7.1 system if you wanted by using 4 plugs.

http://amazon.com/Belkin-RockStar-3-5-mm-Headphone-Splitter/dp/B0017PG8KS

Personally I ended up finding a refurbished external 5.1 sound card at a decent price, but it hasn't arrived yet. If that fails I'll probably try the belkin 5 way splitter.

JKilez
01-21-2011, 11:12 AM
Have you ever looked into something like this? It is a belkin 5 way splitter, you could hook all the speakers up to one source, or turn it into a 7.1 system if you wanted by using 4 plugs.

http://amazon.com/Belkin-RockStar-3-5-mm-Headphone-Splitter/dp/B0017PG8KS

Personally I ended up finding a refurbished external 5.1 sound card at a decent price, but it hasn't arrived yet. If that fails I'll probably try the belkin 5 way splitter.
I have used this: http://amazon.com/Logitech-Console-Adapter-Convert-Single-Pc/dp/B0006U3ACY/ which is similar to the Belkin, but specifically made to convert a stereo source to 5.1 out. It works great. If you look around, you can often find it as cheap as $5 online.

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