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Old 02-03-2009, 07:32 PM   #1
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Default Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

Hello

I recently bought some nice stereo speakers from a thrift store for $6 that I was intending to hook up to my PC (somehow). Since getting them home, though, I've been stumped on a way to power them enough to produce a decent volume. At this stage I can only ever get them to play music that's loud enough to hear if you press your ear up to the speaker.

I have practically no stats on what the speakers are, apart from text on the back suggesting their impedence is 8 ohms. The wiring is almost as confusing, but please, bear with me:

There are 2 sets of wires coming from each speaker:

1st set: traditional positive/negative set of wires
2nd set: power cables that end in a jumper-type connection (imagine the small wires that connect into a motherboard - the small plastic, square plug at the end? That's what they look like), however the holes at the end are too small for me to force onto a motherboard jumper

The way I originally had my speakers hooked up to the computer were:

1. Both positive wires and both negative wires from each speaker twisted together
2. Two individual male RCA cables with bare wires on the other end

1+2 were connected together appropriately (aka: positive twisted with one RCA cable and the negative to the other RCA cable).

The two male RCA cables were then connected via a 'male to male' adapter to an RCA cable with a 3.5mm jack on the other end (suitable for PCs obviously).

This results in next to no volume and everything on the PC is turned up. I reiterate that when plugged into a stereo system, these speakers played extremely loud and clear - there is no possibility that the speakers are broken or damaged in any way.

Figuring that I should find a way to power the speakers independently to the PC I cut the ends off the jumper type cables (left a lot of wire on there in case I need to reattach later, however), and thought of a plan.

I then twisted the negative/positive wires of those cables together (as I had done with the traditional sets of wires above), and took a normal, power adaptor I found for my electric screwdriver. I then placed one of the coupled cables into the cylinder of the power adaptor (negative?) and wrapped the other coupled cable around the outside of the cylinder (positive?).

The result offered no difference in volume but did do something else.

I discovered my speakers have LED lights on the front of them.

So this is where I stand now.

Without using the weird "plug the power into an adaptor" type of setup, my speakers have no fancy lights on the front and no volume either. And if I take away that separate power source, there's no dip in volume too.

Any ideas on what I can do to make these stereo speakers blast?

I can provide a diagram if necessary, in case my long-winded descriptions are too much - and if ImageShack lets me host.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

I'm not sure what you're exactly trying to do, but your best bet would be to purchase a cheap amplifier that you can hook up to your computer. This will make whatever you're doing much easier.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

Well, indeed, you made your post way more confusing than I think it is. Judging from my experience with hooking up and rewiring sound systems and PA systems, those speakers are going to need an amplifier like 01001010 suggested. Your computer just doesn't not have the juice to produce any output. It's obvious the speakers need a power source if they have LEDs...so I'm guessing some sort of a 12v DC source. Because the speakers need to be "juiced" (amplified) before they produce audible sound, this is why they worked with a stereo and not the computer. For the price of an amplifier that would work for those speakers, it's probably just cheaper to get a new set that will work with your PC.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

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Originally Posted by dude_56013 View Post
Judging from my experience with hooking up and rewiring sound systems and PA systems, those speakers are going to need an amplifier like 01001010 suggested.
Don't you mean home stereos? Public address systems are a whole other beast to deal with.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:47 PM   #5
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

Well stereos and PA's are the same "basic" concept. The line input needs to be 'amplified' before going to the speakers because the line itself doesn't have enough just to produce audible sound (which is why he has to hold his ear up to the speaker to hear it). Haha and sorry by sound systems I meant home stereos..I live in Minneeesoooota so we use different terms for everything

Cmedina,
You'd be looking at something like this..
You'd have to convert both input and output to RCA jacks, and even then you have to have this baby connected to a 12v power source (which you could potentially use a molex connector in your computer for this). But it's just expensive and not guaranteed to work. I'd just get some new speakers, bud.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

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Originally Posted by dude_56013 View Post
Well stereos and PA's are the same "basic" concept. The line input needs to be 'amplified' before going to the speakers because the line itself doesn't have enough just to produce audible sound (which is why he has to hold his ear up to the speaker to hear it).
All speakers have the same basic concept. Based on my small knowledge of audio, public address can be an umbrella term regarding numerous setups and installations. PA can refer to live sound using powered speakers, or installed sound requiring speakers that be used in harsh environments. There is a difference between a stereo system and a public address regardless what similarities they may have.

Most stereo and surround systems can support up to eight speakers, while some public address systems can support twenty or more speakers using a 70 volt distributed audio system. Like I said earlier, it's another beast to do with. Now the debate is whether or not to use PA equipment in a home environment.
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

Oh I know...they ARE totally different in their inner workings and set-up, but I'm just trying to let the OP know that in any case, it seems the speakers he's dealing with (like PA speakers or home stereo speakers) need to be powered (amplified).

As for whether to use PA equipment in a home environment, I do some DJing on the side (very little...haha maybe a few times a year for friends and parties and school events) so I have my 500W PA system setup in my room for movies and music. 700W Peavey amp and 2-500W Peavery 12" PA speakers w/ horn. It's got great sound and wouldn't trade it in any day for that complicated (not really, though) surround sound crap ...but anyways...back on topic.
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:04 AM   #8
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

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Originally Posted by dude_56013 View Post
Oh I know...they ARE totally different in their inner workings and set-up, but I'm just trying to let the OP know that in any case, it seems the speakers he's dealing with (like PA speakers or home stereo speakers) need to be powered (amplified).

As for whether to use PA equipment in a home environment, I do some DJing on the side (very little...haha maybe a few times a year for friends and parties and school events) so I have my 500W PA system setup in my room for movies and music. 700W Peavey amp and 2-500W Peavery 12" PA speakers w/ horn. It's got great sound and wouldn't trade it in any day for that complicated (not really, though) surround sound crap ...but anyways...back on topic.
You can continue this discussion in this thread if you wish...

http://computerforums.org/showthread.php?t=80726

I'd like to see some pictures of that setup.
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:04 AM   #9
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

Quote:
Now the debate is whether or not to use PA equipment in a home environment.
Now that is a debate for a whole other thread that would be great to discuss. I might even start it just for the heck of it.

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Old 02-04-2009, 12:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: Setting up Unpowered Speakers for PC use.

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Originally Posted by 01001010 View Post
You can continue this discussion in this thread if you wish...

http://computerforums.org/showthread.php?t=80726

I'd like to see some pictures of that setup.
Done. I just snapped some pics. When I edit them down to 1024x768 I'll post them in that thread. Be prepared to be envious. I'm not bragging though. It's taken a lot of time and money, but it should last for a long time. I'm very humble about it. Although, I did lie. My Peavey amp is 1500W. Shows how much I use it for DJing..haha.
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