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Connecting 4.1 speakers to Dell Inspiron 1525?

Hey all --
Did a couple searches and couldn't find this exact issue (was a bit difficult since keywords which are numbers, notable 4.1 and 3.5 don't come up exactly right), so I apologize if this has been addressed.

Anyway, I just got a set of 4.1 speakers (IE 5.1 but without the center channel speaker) on sale for 31 bucks -- gotta love Newegg. My Inspiron 1525 has three 3.5mm ports up front, I believe they are headphone, line in/out (or another headphone? same thing?) and mic in. It also has an hdmi port, but no spdif. I've been playing around with different combinations of the three ports and various settings on the computer trying to get the best sound. I have all 4 speakers working, but the sub seems really quiet compared to them -- I have both the front and rear speakers set to about 3/10 volume on the knobs (they get really loud and sound great for the price), and the sub up to 8 or 9, and it just doesn' feel like it has the kick that it should. I'm wondering if perhaps it's getting the sound channel the center speaker in a 5.1 setup would get? Or if I'm not getting surround sound at all, just stereo, and so it's not getting the proper output because of that?

So I'm wondering:
1. Is it possible to have surround sound output from this setup without needing an external sound card or other converter?

2. This thread talks about a similar issue, and one poster says it's possible and one says it is not. I remember upgrading to HD audio or some sort when I configured the laptop, but it's been a long time so I can't remember for sure.

3. One of the reviews on Amazon said to use the RealTek driver, which I downloaded and installed, but can't find out how to actually do anything with it; simply installing it didn't seem to make a difference on its own.

4. If I do need to buy something, is there a converter of HDMI to surround sound output (not sure what that would be called), and would this be any cheaper or better than an external sound card?

5. Am I just expecting too much from the modest subwoofer? It is definitely working, just doesn't have nearly the oompf I expected.

As always thanks for any and all help.

Edit: Update, just found this page which talks about the RealTek driver and how to use it. I'm at work right now so I can't try it out, but does that seem like that will help my issue? I'll update once I get home tonight.
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  1. Best answer
    i dont know how you are getting audio from the subwoofer at all considering there is no place to plug it in.

    the front two outputs are 'dual headphone jacks'
    thats what the service manual says.
    if you hookup the subwoofer wire to either one of those, you are probably only sending one channel of bass to the sub and not both, which could be a real good reason why the output isnt up to par.. because its like having the amplifier turned up only halfway when you dont send both left and right signals.

    hdmi audio is digital.. so if you plug it into anything, it will have to decode the digital signal.
    you can probably get a product in your hands cheaper if you buy an external soundcard.

    seriously.. because hdmi is ment to send dolby digital and all of its various formats.. so you are gonna pay some money if you want a decoder that can decode all that stuff.

    BUT

    you do have expresscard slots.
    why dont you stick a soundcard in there so you dont have a box flapping around that might crack your screen or get lost in some couch cushions??
  2. Ok I've never used expresscard before, didn't even know what it was to be honest. That does sound preferable to a USB sound card. Any particular brand or recommendation?

    I guess I didn't explain the input properly; there are two RCA to 3.5mm plugs used to connect to the source, one for front and one for back, there's no dedicated plug for the sub.

    Thanks for the response, you really seem to know your stuff when it comes to home audio/visual.
  3. Best answer selected by mynameismolotov.
  4. The Inspiron 1525 actually supports 5.1 surround sound right out of the box. I've been running a 75 Watt 5.1 channel Logitech system off my Inspiron for years. It rocks! First, plug the front speakers into the left-most headphone jack. Connect the center-channel/subwoofer (just subwoofer in your 4.1 case) plug into the middle jack. Lastly, plug the rear speakers into the microphone/line-in jack. I know it sounds crazy but this jack can actually be configured for either input or output. As soon as I plugged in my rear speakers SIGMATEL popped up and allowed me to configure all 3 ports.
  5. Holy necropost. I'm still thinking it's 2011.
  6. g_squared said:
    The Inspiron 1525 actually supports 5.1 surround sound right out of the box. I've been running a 75 Watt 5.1 channel Logitech system off my Inspiron for years. It rocks! First, plug the front speakers into the left-most headphone jack. Connect the center-channel/subwoofer (just subwoofer in your 4.1 case) plug into the middle jack. Lastly, plug the rear speakers into the microphone/line-in jack. I know it sounds crazy but this jack can actually be configured for either input or output. As soon as I plugged in my rear speakers SIGMATEL popped up and allowed me to configure all 3 ports.



    Holy cow, G! I've had the 1420 for YEARS and sitting here with my 5.1 system unused! Now I'm rocking it. Man, even my tykes Arthur video sounds AMAZING! Hello! I love the internet.
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