iPod – Hooking Up to a Hi-Fi

The iPod does an excellent job of putting your music collection in your pocket. But when you want to listen at home, a pair of earphones is not ideal. Neither, for that matter, are tinny little computer speakers. there are various special iPod-speaker options available, though the ideal solution is to hook up your iPod, your computer, or both, to a decent hi-fi – something that can be done in a number of ways. besides the obvious advantages in sound quality, marrying your computer and hi-fi also allows you to get music from vinyl, cassette and radio into your iTunes Library and onto your iPod.

Playing through a hi-fi

To get the sound from your Pod or computer into your hi-fi, the latter should ideally have an available line-in channel – look on the back for an unused pair of red and white RCA sockets. they may be labelled Aux or Line-in, though any input other than Phono (which will have a built-in preamp) should be fine.

If your hi-fi doesn’t have a line-in, but it does have a radio, you could consider an FM transmitter (have a search for these there are loads available). If it does have a line-in, you have a number of options.

Connection with cables

Computer to hi-fi

Nearly all computers have a line-out and/or headphone capabilities – usually in the form of a single 3.5mm minijack socket. so if your computer and stereo share a desk or are only a few feet apart, you can easily pick up an RCA-to-minijack cable and run it straight from the computer to the hi-fi’s line in. (Some computers have RCA line-outs as well as a minijack, in which case you can use a standard RCA-to-RCA cable.)

When buying a cable, check all the plugs are male not female (they probably will be) and, if you can, spend a little extra to get gold-plated jacks – they deliver a far cleaner sound.

If your computer and hi-fi are further apart or in different rooms, you could buy a long cable and get the drill out, but you might prefer to investigate Airport Express (do a search for this).

iPod to hi-fi

One problem with running your computer through your hi-fi is that you need to have your computer on to hear anything, which can be a pain if your machine takes ages to boot up or has a noisy cooling fan. You might find it more convenient to attach your iPod instead. A Pod doesn’t give you quite the ease of use and flexibility of iTunes, but it’s small, silent and doesn’t require you to run a cable across your room.

Simply run an RCA-to-minijack cable between your hi-fi’s line-in and your Pod’s headphone socket or, much better, the Line Out on the back of the Dock. the Dock solution can be made all the more convenient when combined with a wireless remote control.

Connecting wirelessly


If your hi-fi has a line-in socket, but you don’t want to be limited by cables – perhaps you have a laptop or your computer is in a different room from your stereo – investigate Apple’s Airport Express wireless base station with its so-called AirTunes feature.

Attach one of these to a power point near to your hi-fi and connect it to the stereo with a standard RCA-to-minijack cable. then, any computer with Wi-Fi capability – known as AirPort on a Mac – can beam music straight from iTunes to the hi-fi, even from the other side of the house. If your computer doesn’t have Wi-Fi you can add it inexpensively with the appropriate internal, external or PCMCIA device. Once everything’s in place, you can simply open iTunes Preferences and check look for remote speakers connected with AirTunes in the Audio tab. your hi-fi will automatically appear in a dropdown menu on the bottom of the iTunes window.

AirPort Express can also beam an Internet connection around your house, and allow you to connect to printers wirelessly.

FM transmitters

An FM transmitter plugs into the headphone socket on you iPod (many will also plug into a computer) and beams the sound around the room as an FM radio signal. then your stereo can tune in just as it would any other radio station. though you won’t get CD fidelity and your stereo or iPod will need to be relatively close to your radio, this is a very convenient solution, allowing you to walk around the house zapping music from your iPod to any nearby radio. It’s also the only easy way to connect to a hi-fi that lacks a line-in socket. this can also be used in the car

iPod – Hooking Up to a Hi-Fi

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