If you have a laptop, you've probably noticed that the built-in speakers (or speakers) leave a lot to be desired. If you watch movies or listen to music through your computer, you can greatly enhance the experience by purchasing a pair of computer speakers. Regardless of whether you connect them wirelessly, via USB, or via a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) connector, the speakers are easy to install on a regular laptop or Mac.
Method 1 of 2: Connect Wired Speakers
Step 1. Choose a pair of computer speakers
If your computer has a USB port or a headphone / speaker jack, then it is compatible with most wired computer speakers.
- Most speakers have a 3.5mm (1/8-inch) audio-out jack which is that little jack that fits into the most common headphone jack. Speakers must also be connected to a power source.
- USB speakers are powered by computer power, so there is no need to plug them into the wall. If you have USB ports available, this may be the most convenient option.
Step 2. Arrange the speakers in your workspace
Most speakers are clearly marked on the back or base of the unit, such as left (L) or right (R). If your speakers came with a subwoofer, you could place it behind the equipment or on the floor. Make sure that where you put them, the cord is long enough to reach the input of the computer and that the power cord (if it has one) reaches the outlet without putting too much strain on it.
Step 3. Turn the speaker volume all the way down
You can do this by turning the volume control of the speakers (there is only one) to the left.
Step 4. Adjust the volume of the laptop by approximately 75%
To do this, select the sound icon in the taskbar (lower-right corner on Windows) or menu bar (upper-right corner on Mac) and slide the control up until you reach ¾ of the maximum volume. If you use Windows, you will probably see two different sliders. Use the one that says "Applications" at the top.
Step 5. Plug the connector into the laptop
With the computer turned on, plug the audio connector cable (the USB connector or 3.5 mm [1/8 inch]) into the corresponding port on the computer.
- If you're using the 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) jack, look on the sides of the laptop for a small jack that has headphones drawn on it. Do not plug the speakers into the input that has a microphone drawn.
- If you use the USB port, it is possible that when you connect the speakers, the system will automatically start the installation of the drivers. If you are asked to insert a disc, insert the disc that came with the speakers and follow the instructions on the speaker box.
Step 6. Turn on the speakers
The power button is usually located on the back of the speakers. If your speakers have a power cord, plug in that cord so you can turn them on.
Step 7. Play some sound on your laptop
Play any sound with your computer: an online song, a CD, a YouTube video, etc.
- Select the volume that is most comfortable for you. Slowly turn the volume control on the speakers until you reach the desired volume.
- If you don't hear anything, make sure the speakers are properly connected and plugged in.
- If you are using Windows and you hear sound, but it is coming from the computer and not from the speakers, you may need to manually modify the audio settings. Press ⊞ Win + S and type "control". When the "Control Panel" option appears, select it and then click "Sound." Two devices will appear under "Playback": your laptop's sound card and your new speakers. Double click on the speakers to change the default playback device. Click "OK" and you will start to hear the sound through your new speakers.
Method 2 of 2: Connect Wireless Speakers (Bluetooth)
Step 1. Make sure your laptop has a Bluetooth connection
You can check it as follows:
- If you're using a Mac, open the Apple menu and click "About this Mac." Click "More Information," then select "Bluetooth" from the list on the left side of the screen. If some kind of device information appears on the right side of the "Hardware" screen (for example "Apple Bluetooth Software Version 4"), then your computer has a Bluetooth connection.
- In Windows, press ⊞ Win + X and select "Device Manager". Click on the name of your computer. If there is an option under the name called "Bluetooth Radios", click on it to expand the list of Bluetooth devices. If any option appears in that list, then your computer has a Bluetooth connection.
Step 2. Find a location for your Bluetooth speakers
Find a location in your home or office where you can place the Bluetooth speakers. Please note the following:
- You will need to connect the speakers to a power source.
- A wall between the laptop and the speaker does not affect the connection much, but it could decrease the sound quality.
- If you want to be able to easily turn your speakers on and off, it would be nice not to leave them in a hard-to-reach location.
- Consult the user manual for your speakers to determine how close the speakers should be to the computer. Typically the speakers can be 30 feet away from the computer, but some devices may have a shorter range.
Step 3. Turn on your Bluetooth speakers and make them visible
The process for doing this may vary depending on the speaker manufacturer. There is usually a button on the speakers that you have to hold down for a few seconds for the device to enter "discovery" mode (that is, to be visible to other devices). Check your manual to be sure.
Step 4. Synchronize your laptop with the Bluetooth speakers
The process depends on the operating system:
- If you're using Windows 8 or 10, open the "Action Center" by clicking the notifications icon on the taskbar (near the clock). Select "Bluetooth," then "On" to start searching for devices. When the speakers appear, select them to sync with your computer.
- If you are using Windows 7, you must open the Start menu and click on "Devices and Printers." Click "Add a device" to start searching for Bluetooth devices. When the speakers appear, select them and click "Next" to start syncing.
- If you're using a Mac, select "System Preferences" from the Apple menu and click "Bluetooth." Make sure the Bluetooth connection is activated and wait for the speakers to appear in the device list. Select them and click "Synchronize".
Step 5. Set up your computer to play audio through the speakers
The process may vary depending on the operating system you are going to use (Windows or Mac):
- If you are using Windows, press ⊞ Win + S and type "control". When you see "Control Panel", click on that option. Then select "Sound". In the "Playback" tab, select the Bluetooth speakers and click "Set as default". Click "OK".
- If you're using a Mac, open the Apple menu and click "System Preferences." Click on "Sound" and select the "Output" tab. Under "Select a device for sound output," choose your Bluetooth speakers.
Step 6. Adjust the volume of the computer to 75%
You can do this by clicking the speaker in the menu or on the taskbar, then moving the volume slider until it reaches a level of 75%. If you're using Windows, click on the speaker icon near the clock and then select "Open Sound Mixer." You must adjust the slider under "Applications".
Step 7. Minimize the volume of the Bluetooth speakers
If your Bluetooth speakers have a physical volume control, turn it counterclockwise until the volume is turned all the way down. If you don't have a physical control, click the "Sound" icon on the menu bar or taskbar and drag the volume slider down.
Step 8. Test the audio
Play a song, video, or sound file as you normally would. Slowly slide the volume up on the Bluetooth speakers until you reach the volume level you want.
Step 9. Done
- Some speakers come with an MP3 dock where you can put your MP3 player or iPod to use with your speakers.
- If you want to listen to free music, you can use online music sites like Spotify or Pandora.
- You can also use your new speakers to listen to music from your MP3 player or iPod. Installation is the same as for wired speakers, but changes for Bluetooth devices.