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Using two computers on one 5.1 speaker system

Last response: in Home Audio
January 26, 2011 7:57:07 PM

I have two computers and one 5.1 speaker system ,is there a way to connect these two ?
January 26, 2011 9:54:06 PM


you need a Y-adapter.

but the adapter needs to have stereo plugs on the ends.
most adapters take a stereo signal and split it (each end is mono)

if you cant buy one.. you will have to make one yourself.
January 31, 2011 4:21:21 PM

I would use extreme caution with a Y-adapter in such a scenario. You have the potential of feeding two audio signals in simultaneously.

Depending on the outputs of your 2 audio cards, then you should patch into an audio switch hub. If you have SPDIF or TOSLINK then you could find the appropriate switch box, and get the best audio reproduction.
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January 31, 2011 4:40:36 PM

they do make audio switches.. but they dont allow you to listen to both computers at once.

if the outputs of both soundcards are relatively the same impedance, it wont matter much.
i thought soundcards have an industrial standard to uphold?
January 31, 2011 7:17:22 PM

anwaypasible said:
they do make audio switches.. but they dont allow you to listen to both computers at once.

if the outputs of both soundcards are relatively the same impedance, it wont matter much.
i thought soundcards have an industrial standard to uphold?

Dual monitors I understand, but dual audio sources? Hmm...Hendrix and Back simultaneously!

I have seen some odd stuff happen with audio over the years, some of which has meant the death of some components.
February 1, 2011 4:03:10 AM


dont ask me why why people would want to listen to two tracks of music at the same time.
doesnt seem like a whole lot of sense would be made listening to both at once.
but operating system sounds might be desired at the same time.

using an audio switch would be the ideal choice if the person doesnt want to hear two things of audio at once.
but i see no shame either way.
February 4, 2011 2:27:03 AM

I would not recommend Y cable as well; potential of damaging both computer boards is higher. Another issue that could occur is ground loop.
February 4, 2011 12:26:45 PM

depends on the resistence and characteristics of the circuit.
look to the FCC to help make such a thing have a greater chance of success.
those electric engineers follow the rules so that there is no disappointment.
February 8, 2011 12:18:36 AM

FCC has nothing to do with such application; you tried to short the wires. Even engineers would not recommend such application.

To Anonymous - Not that I would not recommend Y cable to combine the signal but I will only recommend it if both source is portable MP3 players where its power is no more than 3 volts. Y cable is mostly use for splitting signal not combining it where both end of the split signal goes to two other circuit; You will need a proper combiner such as a mixer where two separate incoming signal goes to proper circuit before combining it. Otherwise, get and A/B switch.
February 8, 2011 8:51:33 PM

perhaps you should have gone into details as to why a mixer is not just an unnecessary organizational tool.

rexter is correct.. a mixer is more than simply fading from one source to the other.
it can connect two sources that wont play well together.

its true that if you try to connect two sources together, you might break one or both because the electrical characteristics were not a proper match.

the FCC might tell you that its your fault that you didnt do the research needed to ensure safety before hooking it all up.

what can also be said is that there was not enough organization and responsibility used to keep general amatuers from destroying electronics and possibly changing their decision to purchase more electronics in the future.
not a very strong case other than embracing the common need/desire for people to use one pair of speakers with more than one source.

doesnt seem very favorable considering the extremely rare need for anybody to use two sources on the same set of speakers at the same exact time.
your need is uncommon.
if your situation can provide proof that there IS a need.. chances are, you are in a professional or studio situation and there are many options available to you.

the biggest question is why a mixer hasnt been mentioned earlier.

you can try to say i was wrong and that i shouldnt have recommended what i did.. but let me assure you that these amplified speakers are intended to be used with a wide range of different products.

therefore the inputs and outputs MUST have some kind of industrial standard so that you can use the same speakers for each device without an embarassing change in volume.
February 10, 2011 1:09:02 AM

Perhaps I should have, but I was lazy to get into details. Thank you for doing that for me though. I understand your reasoning but no one check each equipment to be sold for faults and its actual specs. Most of these came on assembly line that the specs were written before products was assembled. Therefore, the tolerance is marginally slim when considering not all households are not properly grounded, wired and isolated. Nevertheless, whatever the standard is, still point you to use proper equipment.

I can’t say you are wrong as such application can be use but not without adding components. I would do it by adding opto-isolator on one or both source to insure no physical connection between the devices or call the manufacturer ask if the source unit have it already. Then connect an audio distribution unit or a preamp to the output to insure you’ll get the proper amplification back to your line out and make sure you’re not affecting much of the frequency response. Ofcourse, this won't work with SPDI/F. Or, just get something like this.
If the application is for 5.1 then 3 of this unit is needed and with that

As Yoder54 suggested, if the application is optical then
Another option is this.
August 27, 2011 8:00:38 PM

I have two computers and one 5.1 speaker system ,is there a way to connect these two ?

The safest way to do it is have one computer use the speaker systems front speakers and the other use the rear speakers. I am doing that right now and it works fine.

If you want quad sound from both computers then use a mixer or else use isolating resistors and just connect both of them. I recommed at least a 22 ohm isolation resistor on EACH of the connected pairs.