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What is The Best Way to Connect an MP3 Player to Stereo Speakers?

written by: Rochelle Connery•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/6/2010

The best way to connect an MP3 player to stereo speakers is with a cable. Once you connect your MP3 player to the stereo speakers, you can amplify the music coming from your MP3 player for all to hear. No fancy MP3 player dock necessary!

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    MP3 Player Output

    MP3 players and Apple iPod devices connect to external speakers through the headphone jack. This is also known as the audio output. Since most headphone jacks are universal, listeners can use universal equipment for an MP3 player to stereo speakers connection.

    What some listeners don't know is that listening to the MP3 player or iPod through stereo speakers can drain the battery just as if they were listening to music through headphones directly from the MP3 player. Since the MP3 player still must be turned on and pumping audio out the headphone jack as usual, the battery is still working at its usual capacity. So before you connect an MP3 player to stereo speakers for long listening periods, make sure you fully charge the battery.

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    Stereo Input

    Many stereos have auxiliary input ports in the back or side of the device. These are often labeled "Aux In" or "Phono In." This is where users can attach the MP3 player with a cable.

    However, not all stereos with speakers have auxiliary input ports. If your stereo speakers don't have auxiliary inputs, you won't be able to play the MP3 player through those particular speakers.

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    Auxiliary Cable Options

    There are different cable types users can choose from that provide the best way to connect an MP3 player to stereo speakers. The one that works well with most stereos is a dual RCA cable with one line out jack and two line in jacks, one white and one red.

    If you choose the dual RCA cable, plug the single line out jack, usually colored black, into the headphone jack of the MP3 player. Set the MP3 player in a safe location near the stereo where no one will step on it or crush it. Then plug the white end into the white auxiliary port and the red end into the red auxiliary port in the stereo. Turn the volume all the way up on the MP3 player and turn on the stereo.

    However, many manufacturers produce stereo cables with only one jack on each end, also called a stereo mini-plug. These are ideal for car stereos with stereo input capability as well as home speaker systems with a single stereo input port. Users simply plug one end into the headphone jack and the other end into the stereo auxiliary input. This is one of the best ways to connect an MP3 player to stereo speakers because there's no guesswork involved in determining which end goes where.

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    Cable Length

    Determining the necessary cable length is important before attempting to connect an MP3 player to a stereo. Depending on the location of the stereo, you might not be able to keep the MP3 player sitting right next to it. Thus, you'll need long enough cables to reach from the MP3 player to the stereo speakers.

    Some cables, especially dual RCA cables, come in three or six-foot lengths. This allows users more flexibility in arranging their speaker systems. Some companies also offer coiled cords that stretch to fit the desired length. Pick the one that best suits your stereo arrangement needs.