Calling all cable experts
March 24, 2014 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow I'm hosting a presentation where the speaker would like to hook up a laptop to two decent-sized external speakers. All that's lacking is a cable. I'm hoping to run out to the electronics store tomorrow morning to buy a cable (or two?) to do this, but am completely baffled as to what to get. I plan to call the store in the morning, but simply because I am nervous about the presentation and would like to sleep peacefully tonight, can anyone here recommend exactly what kind of cables I should get?

I'm assuming it would be something like this:, right?

(And I know that the size of the speakers is not really any indication of the cabling needed for them, but sadly all the information I have about them is that they are about a foot and a half or so tall, and that they are fairly new--like, from within the last few years.)

posted by whistle pig to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If these are just your standard powered speakers (they are powered, right? As in, you plug them directly into the wall, with no other equipment in the middle?) that cable will almost definitely be what you need.

If you can get to the speakers before the presentation, just take a photo of the back, where the connectors are, and take that to the store and tell them you need to plug a laptop into that.
posted by griphus at 6:55 PM on March 24, 2014

Def get the cable you posted (called a "stereo male RCA to stereo male 1/8")

It depends on what the inputs on the speakers you're attaching to accept. Stereo female RCA are common. Also, stereo female 1/8" is a strong possibility (so you would need a stereo male 1/8" to stereo male 1/8"). If the speakers are super professional, you might find that they need an XLR connector ( stereo male 1/8" to XLR)
posted by Murray M at 6:56 PM on March 24, 2014

Well, this isn't going to help you sleep any easier tonight, but it depends on what the setup the speakers have.

Most likely (I'd 90% or greater) the plug you linked to is perfect. There is a very small chance the speakers will need a minijack 3.5 end - so just a stereo to stereo plug. There is an even smaller chance the speakers will have an input for only quarter inch stereo plug. The first two cables you will generally find any electronics store. The third probably, but not as common.

The cable you linked should be what you need.
posted by shinynewnick at 6:57 PM on March 24, 2014

Given the uncertainties of what the speaker inputs are, I'd buy one of everything that has been mentioned here, use the one that works, and return the rest unused at your convenience.

I was going to say "except for the 1/8" mini to XLR cable" but then that would end up being the one you needed, so go for broke if they have all of them.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, to clarify for your peace of mind: One speaker should have an input panel with two female RCA jacks. There should be a different cable that connects to the other speaker already in place, and your laptop sound will come out of both speakers.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:22 PM on March 24, 2014

If the speakers are not powered, you will need an amplifier to drive them. A computer can only drive headphones or something really tiny. I think.
posted by nostrada at 7:27 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for these suggestions! I'm glad I was on the general correct path, but think I will hedge my bets and do the "buy one of everything" method. Thanks again!
posted by whistle pig at 7:59 PM on March 24, 2014

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