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How to Connect Speakers or Headphones to a Dell Computer

Summary: This article provides information about how to connect external speakers, headphones, or sound bar to a Dell computer. Find information about audio ports, connecting speakers,See more

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Article Content


Symptoms

External speakers or headphones that are connected to a computer improves the audio quality while enjoying web content, digital music, and other sound sources.

Cause

Connecting the speakers or headphones correctly and setting the correct audio playback device in Windows sound settings are important. Speakers or headphones for computers come in two variants:

  • Wired speakers or headphones - can be connected to a desktop or laptop using a 3.5mm audio connector or a USB cable.
  • Wireless speakers or headphones - can be connected to a Bluetooth-capable computer using Bluetooth.

Resolution

Expand the sections below for detailed information.

Desktop computers have three or more audio connectors at the back (Figure 1) and some desktops also have a headphone and microphone, or a headphone/microphone combo connector on the front panel. Audio connectors on desktops and plugs on the sound card are color-coded to help connect the speaker correctly. On a Dell all-in-one computer, the speaker, headphone, or line-out connector are located at the back or the side of the computer. To learn model-specific information about the location of the audio connectors, see the User Manual of your Dell computer.

NOTE: The front panel audio and USB connectors can be enabled or disabled in the BIOS or System Setup. See the User Manual of your Dell computer to learn how to navigate to the BIOS and enable or disable the front panel audio port(s).

Most laptop computers have one headphone/microphone combo connector (Figure 2).

  1. Verify that the speakers are powered on.
    NOTE: Depending on the type or model, the speaker may use an AC adapter, USB cable, or batteries to provide power. See the user manual of the device to learn more.
  2. Connect the speaker or headphone jack to the 'line-out' or 'speaker-out' (green) connector on the computer.
    NOTE: To learn more about the different type of audio connectors on a desktop computer, see the User Manual of your Dell desktop.
  3. Set the volume using the volume knob on the external speaker. For headphones, volume control is either through the application (media players like Windows Media Player or VLC, online video players like YouTube, Facebook video players and so on, or communication apps like Skype, Zoom, Discord and so on) that is being used or the main Windows volume control in the system tray.
  4. Set the volume on the computer.
  5. Proceed to the next step to set the default audio playback device in Windows.
Illustration of audio ports on the back of a desktop computer
Figure 1: Illustration of color-coded audio ports on the back of a desktop computer. For model-specific information, see the User Manual of your Dell computer.

Illustration of a combo audio port on a laptop
Figure 2: Illustration of a combo audio port on a laptop computer. For model-specific information, see the User Manual of your Dell computer.

Wireless speakers or headphones can be connected to a computer using Bluetooth. Some wireless headphones may come with a pre-paired USB dongle, which can be used to connect to a computer.

  1. Turn on the Bluetooth speaker, and make it discoverable. See the user manual of the Bluetooth speaker to learn how to put the Bluetooth device in discoverable mode.
  2. Turn on Bluetooth on the computer.
  3. Connect and pair the Bluetooth speaker or headphone with the computer.
    NOTE: Some Bluetooth speakers or headphones may require a passcode to connect and pair, see the user manual of the Bluetooth device for device-specific instructions.
     
    NOTE: The Bluetooth speaker or headphone and the computer automatically connect anytime the two devices are in the range of each other when Bluetooth is turned on. The range of Bluetooth signal may vary between different Bluetooth devices.
    1. How to Pair Dell Bluetooth Devices in Windows 10
    2. Connect to a Bluetooth Device From Your Dell Computer in Windows 8(8.1)
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the pairing process.
  5. Proceed to the next step to set the default audio playback device in Windows.

Setting the correct playback device is important. This ensures that the sound or audio is available from the correct speaker or headphone. If some devices like Bluetooth speakers or headsets are not listed, verify that the Bluetooth device is paired with the computer.

NOTE: Only one device can be set as a default playback device.

To change the default sound playback device in Windows 10

  1. Click Start, and then click Settings (gear icon).
  2. Click System.
  3. On the left menu, click Sound.
  4. Under choose your output device, select the audio device that you want to use.

To change the default sound playback device in Windows 8 or 8.1

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Hardware and Sound.
  3. Click Sound.
  4. In the Playback tab, select the audio device that you want to use.
  5. Click Set Default, and then click OK.
NOTE: The correct audio playback device must be set in Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and other audio or video conferencing applications. See the software manufacturer's website for more information about how to set the default audio playback device.

Setting the correct recording device or microphone is important. This ensures that the sound or audio is available from the correct microphone. If some devices like Bluetooth headsets are not listed, verify that the Bluetooth device is paired with the computer.

NOTE: Only one device can be set as a default recording device.

To change the default sound recording device in Windows 10

  1. Click Start, and then click Settings (gear icon).
  2. Click System.
  3. On the left menu, click Sound.
  4. Under choose your input device, select the audio device that you want to use as the primary microphone.

To change the default sound recording device in Windows 8 or 8.1

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Hardware and Sound.
  3. Click Sound.
  4. In the Recording tab, select the default microphone that you want to use.
  5. Click Set Default, and then click OK.
NOTE: The correct microphone or recording device must be set in Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and other audio or video conferencing applications. See the software manufacturer's website for more information about how to set the default microphone.

Additional Information

Helpful resources for troubleshooting audio-related issues on a Dell computer.

Troubleshoot Audio Related Issues

Duration: 02:34
Closed captions: English only

 

Frequently asked questions

The headphone/microphone combo connector is often seen on laptops and on the front panel of desktop computers. This type of connector supports either a headphone, earphone, or a headset with a built-in microphone. The headphone/microphone combo connector is a standard 3.5mm audio connector.

NOTE: Headsets with built-in microphones may either have a single cable or dual cables (one each for headphone and microphone support. The headphone/microphone combo connector supports headsets that uses a single cable only.

On desktop computers, the audio ports on the back panel of the computer are color-coded for easy reference. The color-code may vary between different models. See the User Manual of your Dell computer to learn more about what each color-coded audio port supports.

Certain monitors have built-in speakers. Such monitors support audio transmission over the standard HDMI or DisplayPort connection that supports both audio and video.

  1. Verify that the monitor you are using has a built-in speaker.
  2. Verify that the HDMI or DisplayPort cable is connected between the computer and the monitor.
    NOTE: Audio and video signal transmission is supported on HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB-C (DisplayPort or Thunderbolt-capable) cable only.
  3. Follow the steps below to set the default audio playback device as the monitor.

To change the default sound playback device in Windows 10

  1. Click Start, and then click Settings (gear icon).
  2. Click System.
  3. On the left menu, click Sound.
  4. Under choose your output device, select the audio device that you want to use.

To change the default sound playback device in Windows 8 or 8.1

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Hardware and Sound.
  3. Click Sound.
  4. In the Playback tab, select the audio device that you want to use.
  5. Click Set Default, and then click OK.

To set up the sound bar on a Dell monitor, see the User Guide of the Dell monitor or the sound bar for detailed information.

To set up a non-Dell or third-party sound bar, see the user guide of the device on the device manufacturer's website.

To ensure that the microphone works correctly, set the correct audio recording device in Windows.

  1. Click Start, and then click Settings (gear icon).
  2. Click System.
  3. On the left menu, click Sound.
  4. Under choose your input device, select the audio device that you want to use as the primary microphone.

To change the default sound recording device in Windows 8 or 8.1

  1. Right-click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Hardware and Sound.
  3. Click Sound.
  4. In the Recording tab, select the default microphone that you want to use.
  5. Click Set Default, and then click OK.
NOTE: The correct microphone or recording device must be set in Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and other audio or video conferencing applications. See the software manufacturer's website for more information about how to set the default microphone.

Article Properties


Affected Product

Alienware Aurora, Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10, Chromebox, Alienware, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Fixed WorkstationsAlienware Aurora, Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10, Chromebox, Alienware, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Fixed Workstations, Mobile WorkstationsSee more

Last Published Date

19 May 2021

Version

8

Article Type

Solution

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