XBOX 360 setup help: Using a monitor & getting audio
February 3, 2011 12:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting an XBOX 360 shortly, but I have a few questions about setting it up. For one, my television is very bad, so I'd like to use my computer monitor for it - should picking up a VGA cable be fine? Secondly, I'm not sure how the XBOX's audio ports are set up - can I just plug my headset with a standard headphone and microphone plug into it, or do I need adapters?

Additional information: My monitor is ACER brand and only has VGA and DVI-D ports; my PC doesn't have room to stick a TV tuner in or I'd definitely go that route.
posted by flatluigi to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My SDTV CRT is not operational so I have been playing on an old 4:3 CRT computer monitor with a VGA cable (my only option) and I don't think I'll ever go back, it looks stunning compared to my old setup. Progressive scan makes a world of difference, and the increased resolution is not that bad either (and unfortunately is almost required for a few games because of stupid small text). The official Microsoft one has both optical audio out for Dolby Digital (you don't see it in the picture but it's in the plug that connects to the back of the console) and RCA red/white connectors for analogue stereo.
There are HDMI to DVI converters but I don't know if any allow audio output (the 360 doesn't have any audio out, at least my model doesn't, so you'd have picture but no sound) and I think you couldn't watch protected content with one.

Regarding the headset, it connects to the controller via a proprietary connection, and unless things have changed, it comes bundled with the console. Apparently there are adapters to allow connceting your equipment but I have no idea how well they would work.
posted by Bangaioh at 1:57 AM on February 3, 2011

HDMI will feed the DVI-D port directly on your monitor (use something like this). As for audio, you CAN use the red/white/optical plug at the same time, you just have to strip the plastic outer casing from the cable.
You then have a couple of male rca plugs, Connect them with this (you want stereo, sorry link in mono) You may be able to control the volume with an in-line resistive volume control, but it may not be loud enough, you may have to feed it into a headphone amp first.

Also, feeding your XBOX into your computer through a TV Tuner is a bad idea, there is usually an significant amount of lag, making it hard to play games!
posted by defcom1 at 2:55 AM on February 3, 2011

The XBox VGA cable has RCA audio outs, but you can use an adapter to plug them into computer speakers. Get a splitter, and you can run both XBox and PC audio into the same set.

I've done this, and it worked just fine.
posted by valkyryn at 4:50 AM on February 3, 2011

I have done the same thing for years, HDMI to DVI for the picture, then use the Audio Adapter to get sound. If you have to use VGA, you can get the VGA adapter for Xbox, or try a DVI to VGA and hope your monitor does not get angry about it.
posted by token-ring at 6:06 AM on February 3, 2011

I run my xbox through a vga cable into a 22" computer monitor, and it's more than fine, great even. The adapter from monoprice etc + computer speakers works fine, but i personally run it through a mixer with all my other audio sources. for your headphone needs, it might be easiest to plug into computer speakers that provide a headphone jack.
posted by thedaniel at 8:58 AM on February 3, 2011

The easiest way will probably to use the VGA port. This adapter from Monoprice is considerably less espensive than the official Microsoft one and should work just as well.

I've also done what valkyryn describes above for the audio, works great.
posted by crosbyh at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

When we bought our youngest son a 360 two Christmases ago, we purchased everything we needed to make it "portable" between a TV and a computer monitor. The Xbox VGA adaptor works perfectly, and our son is perfectly happy playing on the 22 inch computer monitor, while occasionally connecting to the 40" TV (usually when mom and dad aren't home).
posted by lhauser at 9:15 AM on February 3, 2011

Response by poster: I unfortunately don't have any computer speakers with headphone jacks -- or computer speakers at all, for that matter. Should I buy some? What's my best option if I only want to stick with my headphones?

This is my headset, for that matter. Searching around I've heard that the in-line audio control is basically an amplifier, so am I fine in that way?
posted by flatluigi at 12:08 PM on February 3, 2011

There's one thing in need of clarification: are you intending to play on Xbox Live and communicating using your headset?

Because game audio and internet chatter are separate, you can set the console to output (through the RCA or optical outs on the VGA cable) either:
1) both "offline" game audio and internet players' voices, or
2) game audio only.

However, the headset (that must be connected to the controller) can ONLY output the Live players' voices, and never the game's sound effects. So, if you also want to talk to other players with your headset (which involves using the mic), you won't be able to hear nothing but their voices because you must connect it to the controller, meaning you'd still need another set of speakers connected to the console's audio output to listen to the actual game sound. Unless I'm utterly mistaken (don't play much on Live so I may be remembering it all backwards), in which case I'm sure someone will correct me in a minute.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:09 PM on February 3, 2011

Gah, what a mess of a comment!

the headset (that must be connected to the controller)

This is only true if you want to use the mic, otherwise you may connect your headset to the the console's audio output as people have suggested, and still listen to what Live players are saying.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:17 PM on February 3, 2011

Response by poster: It isn't necessary for me to use the microphone, no. I'm looking primarily for an audio solution.
posted by flatluigi at 7:08 PM on February 3, 2011

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