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How to use computer speaker on both PC's


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#1
ledszeppelin

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Hello there,

I recently bought a new computer (a friend of mine built it for me) and it has a sound card which is a lot better than the one on my old computer, but I didn't get separate speakers for it because I want to use the ones I had on my old one on both PC's.

So I bought the necessary cables to hook the speakers up to both PC's and it works. I now get sound from both PC's when they're on. But the sound card on my new computer isn't being used when its on. I'm not sure exactly if the sound card on my old one is being used or not, but the new one definitely isn't. I can tell because when I disconnect my old computer from the speakers and only my new computer is attached to the speakers, the sound is way better than when they are both hooked up at the same time. The sound on my old computer stays the same regardless of being hooked up to my new one.

So my conclusion is that I need to turn off the sound card on my old computer for the one on my new computer to work as the main one (oh yeah, by the way, I need both PC's to be on at the same time to listen to music because all my music is on my old PC and I want to keep it that way).

I went to disable the sound card on my old PC, and saw that I had to restart my computer. It's a real pain to have to restart it every time I change the settings for it, so I was wondering if anyone here has a better idea?

Is there some kind of software out there I could use to switch? Is there a way I can set my computers so that the new sound card is used as the default?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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#2
Digerati

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So I bought the necessary cables to hook the speakers up to both PC's and it works.

How?

Is there a way I can set my computers so that the new sound card is used as the default?

I don't think so. That would require the OS on the Old PC to be configured, with drivers, for the new card. And since the new card is not physically installed in the Old PC, it would not see the hardware.

You should, however, be able to use the Line out of the Old PC's and run it to the Line In of the New PC.

Side Note: When connect the two computers in this manner, you establish a common ground between the two systems. If the only common connection is through the speaker wires, that may induce some "noise". I recommend both computers be powered from the same wall outlet to ensure they are on the same ground "potential" and there is no "difference in potential" between them.
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#3
Kemasa

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How EXACTLY are you trying to connect the speakers to both computers? I suspect you are doing it an incorrect way. Some speaker systems have two inputs, most do not. If the speakers do not have two inputs, you need to get a hardware device to take the two inputs into one (not sure of who sells such a device, some KVM switches seem to do it). You could switch the connections, such as an A/V switch.

As was said, you can route the sound from one system into another, but then the second system has to always up on in order for the sound to be heard.

You could also get a cheap speaker switch to select which one is connected (cheaper version of a KVM switch with audio).
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#4
ledszeppelin

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So I bought the necessary cables to hook the speakers up to both PC's and it works.

How?

Is there a way I can set my computers so that the new sound card is used as the default?

I don't think so. That would require the OS on the Old PC to be configured, with drivers, for the new card. And since the new card is not physically installed in the Old PC, it would not see the hardware.

You should, however, be able to use the Line out of the Old PC's and run it to the Line In of the New PC.

Side Note: When connect the two computers in this manner, you establish a common ground between the two systems. If the only common connection is through the speaker wires, that may induce some "noise". I recommend both computers be powered from the same wall outlet to ensure they are on the same ground "potential" and there is no "difference in potential" between them.


Yeah, I heard about this possibility by someone else but I thought there might be an alternative. I mostly have my old PC on and leave the new one off unless I need it for work (or playing games).

How EXACTLY are you trying to connect the speakers to both computers? I suspect you are doing it an incorrect way. Some speaker systems have two inputs, most do not. If the speakers do not have two inputs, you need to get a hardware device to take the two inputs into one (not sure of who sells such a device, some KVM switches seem to do it). You could switch the connections, such as an A/V switch.

As was said, you can route the sound from one system into another, but then the second system has to always up on in order for the sound to be heard.

You could also get a cheap speaker switch to select which one is connected (cheaper version of a KVM switch with audio).


Well, currently the speakers are connected with these cables:

Posted Image

Only I have one cable with two male ends, which goes from one coupler to the other (I actually have two couplers, both on each computer because I also have my TV audio cable hooked up to one of them).

If there's no other way besides getting a switch or a new speaker, I guess I'll try to find a switch.

Thanks for the help!

Edited by ledszeppelin, 17 August 2010 - 05:48 AM.

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#5
Digerati

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When you said above you bought the necessary cables to connect both, I asked, "how?". Kemasa expanded on the question by asking, "How EXACTLY are you trying to connect the speakers to both computers?"

But you responded by showing us pictures of the cables - the EXACT same image file from this site! We need to know EXACTLY how you are connecting these various pieces of hardware together. "From one coupler to the other" doesn't tell us anything. We need to know from which port on which card and connecting it to which port on the other card, and to which port on the speakers? And don't just say green or orange. Even though lime green "normally" means line-level, front speaker (or headphone) out, there is no industry standard that "requires" specific color coding - only recommendations. So we need the labels too.

Tossing the TV into the mix complicates things and should have been mentioned in the beginning. Is that all the audio devices? You may just need to buy a regular audio receiver that supports multiple inputs and use it to drive a regular set of speakers.

What make and model sound cards (or motherboard for on-board sound)?
What make and model speakers?

I guess I'll try to find a switch.

See: http://electronicsusa.com/mk7.html
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#6
Kemasa

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Based on the response and the pictures, he is using a y-cable to connect the two audio outputs into the one audio input, which is a problem.

That switch will work, but it seems expensive to me since I suspect it is just a simple DPDT switch inside which sells for a couple of dollars. Yes, the case and the other connectors add to the cost.

A KVM switch with audio would work. There might be a box which combines the audio signal from both computers into one. You can also see if you can find a speaker system which accepts two inputs, such as the Altec Lansing speakers that I have (not all models have two inputs).
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#7
Digerati

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Based on the response and the pictures, he is using a y-cable to connect the two audio outputs into the one audio input, which is a problem.

You are assuming that is how they are connected - just as I am assuming you meant to say two audio outputs into "the speaker's" audio input. But also, you are assuming he is using the correct audio outputs. Most sound cards and many motherboards support 5.1 or even 7.1 audio out.

Yes, that is expensive but it should provide the necessary shielding and isolation too. A DPDT switch will not work. As its name implies it is "double pole", meaning two wires. There are at least 3, sometimes 4 in every stereo connection. So unless we are talking about two mono sources, a single DPDT switch will not work. But even then, without the necessary shielding, the low level signals through unshielded toggle switches are likely to pick up hum or some other unacceptable interference.

I note too that many 5.1/7.1 cards and motherboards have auto-sensing ports that automatically change thier function, depending on what is plugged into them. For example, if the connector senses a microphone, it will change the function to an input. If it senses a set of speakers, it will change to rear or side channel outputs. Again, since we have no clue as the to specific hardware, we cannot assume these are not auto-sensing, or that odd behavior will not occur when the load on a given port is switched in and out.
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#8
Kemasa

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Yes, I am assuming things, but since there is a y-cable and it is in use, that implies something. A y-cable should not be used for the audio from two systems to one set of speakers in any way that I can think of.

Ground can be common, so that only the signal has to be switched (left and right). Some others can have the signal encoded on one pair of wires.
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