So you want to enjoy all audio experience your PC can provide? Installing a 6-channel surround speakers system is the way to go: playing games and watching videos will never be the same again. In this tutorial we will show you a step-by-step guide on how to connect analog 5.1 speakers to your PC.
What is a 5.1 system anyway? The number “5.1” means that you have six speakers: two on the front, two on the read, one on the front center (also known as “voice” channel) and one subwoofer (a.k.a. “bass”). So you have five similar speakers and one exclusively for bass sounds – the subwoofer –, hence the name “5.1”.
There is also another very hi-end system available, called “7.1”, which has two more speakers, central right and central left.
Nowadays almost all PCs have on-board 6-channel audio, i.e., already integrated on the motherboard, but you will have to check on your motherboard manual if your PC supports it or not. Of course if you have an add-in sound card you should check on its manual if it has 6-channel audio.
There are two kinds of 6-channel surround speakers: analog and digital. Analog speakers can be installed on any PC and are cheaper, while digital speakers are often more expensive and require that you have a SPDIF output on your PC.
In this tutorial we will cover hot to connect analog 6-channel systems. If your PC has SPDIF output and you want to go use a digital system – which provides less noise – read our tutorial on that. The steps described there are just the same, but instead of connecting your PC to a home theater receiver you will be connecting it to a digital 6-channel speakers system.
Besides a lower noise level, digital connection has as main advantage using just one cable to connect the PC to the speaker system. Analog connection uses three sets of wires.
In Figure 1, you can see our 6-channel surround speakers we will be connecting to our PC in this tutorial. As we said, it uses analog connection.