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How To Connect A CD Player To Speakers?

The rise of digital technology in all its forms has taken place so fast that some inventions have seemingly come and gone without notice. Yet this is not the case, especially with the compact disc.

Many 90s kids can attest to special relationships with a selection of discs that circulated in their multi-changer for years. Thanks to the sentimental attachment some users have to these retro ornaments of audio, it is good to know how to connect a CD Player to speakers.

Understanding the process 

Connecting a CD player to your speakers is quite easy. Two important things are the correct cables and knowing how they should be hooked up. Regardless of the kind of player you use (standalone, multi-changer, or Discman), understanding the connection types and processes involved is critical.

CD players can vary greatly in their capabilities and specifications. Therefore, it’s important to understand the most common ways CD players connect to stereos before you start pulling at wires and pushing buttons.

In this article, I will be outlining the process of connecting your CD player to your speakers so that you can start enjoying your favorite CDs once more. 

What You Need to Connect a CD player to Speakers

What You Need

You may have stumbled across an old CD player and decided to get it hooked up to some proper speakers. In modern times, the average user can just plug a single cable into a single jack or connect via Bluetooth to get good stereo sound. 

Therefore, if you are attempting to hook up a CD player for the first time, it might seem a bit confusing. So, let’s start by listing out the basic equipment that you will need:

  • CD player (source).
  • Stereo receiver (amp).
  • Two speakers
  • Cables (in most cases with RCA connectors).
  • Speaker wire.

Your specific model may require more than these basic things. But, these should cover you in most situations. Now that the who (implying you) and the what (implying your CD player and speakers) are taken care of, let’s get to the how…

How To Connect A CD Player To Speakers

A CD Player

Passive Speakers

If you’ve ever connected a vinyl player to a set of speakers, this process is virtually the same. On the back of the CD player, there ought to be a set of outputs. These will most likely be RCA with red and white sockets indicating left and right, respectively. 

Most CD players do not contain amplifiers. Therefore you will need to use a separate amplifier or receiver to amplify the signal that goes to the speakers. All passive speakers need to receive an amplified signal. 

Start by simply connecting the RCA cables to the relevant outputs on the back of the CD player. Then, run that line to your receiver. If the receiver has RCA inputs, you can simply hook up the connectors. 

In some cases…

The receiver will have only a 3.5mm jack. Therefore, you will need an RCA to 3.5mm cable to connect the speakers to the receiver. After you have successfully established the connection from the CD player to the receiver, you are ready to start running the signal to your speakers. 

This part of the process will require the use of the speaker wire mentioned earlier. There ought to be wire terminals located on the back of the receiver and on the speakers. They have either small clips that can be pushed with thumb pressure or screw-in mechanisms, which are either hand tightened or require a screwdriver. These are used to connect and hold the wire in place. 

Left and right…

There will be left and right terminals on the back of the speakers, so make sure your connections for left and right on the receiver and speaker match up, or you will not have the correct stereo spread and will experience panning issues. 

All good quality speaker cable has an indicator on it, normally a thin line on one of the two wires that make up the speaker wire, or the name and type of cable, which will again only be written on one of the two speaker wires. Make sure that you connect, for example, the side of the wire with the writing on to the left speaker post and the same side to the left speaker input on the amplifier. If not, you will have phasing issues. 

Keep the volume down… initially!

Once the connections have been made securely, it’s time to turn on the CD player and throw in a disc. You must start playback with the volume at a low level so that you can ease it in gently to avoid damaging the speakers and your hearing.

It won’t matter what kind of CD player you’ve got; the above-outlined process should be mostly the same. Depending on the specific device you’ve got, you might have to swap the RCA cables for a jack or mini-jack. In some cases, you will have to make use of converters or multi ended cables to facilitate the connection between the receiver and the speakers. 

Active Speakers

Active Speakers

If you do not have an amp or receiver to amplify the signal, or would like to simplify the chain, you can simply connect the CD player to a set of Active speakers instead. These have built-in amplifiers, which remove the necessity for a receiver in between the CD player and the speakers. 

A passive speaker setup will give you more control over the sound, but many users prefer active speakers because they prefer the simplicity they offer. 

Connecting a CD player to active speakers is quite simple; you just need to get the right cables and check the outputs on the back of the CD player. You will most likely either need a quarter-inch jack or an RCA red and white cable. If you need to convert the sizes of the cables, you can do so with a Y adapter which will allow the quarter-inch cables to be plugged into a 3.5mm jack. 

Music time!

Once you’ve made all these connections, you should be ready to start playing some music. If you have volume controls on both the CD player and the speakers, you can decide which you’d prefer to use and set the level of the other accordingly. 

Hardcore audiophiles will notice a slight loss of quality when switching from passive to active setups; this is because the outputs of the cables are not balanced in an active system. There is also usually a small amount of hiss that comes along with using active speaker setups. 

Bluetooth Adapters

Many folks will ask whether some retrofitting option is available to make the CD player function via Bluetooth. This is rarely available as a stock option as CD players are from the era before Bluetooth. 

You can, however, do some clever retrofitting with nifty little devices called Bluetooth transmitters. These are normally connected to the source device (CD player) via an aux jack and will then transmit the Bluetooth audio signal of whatever audio is being played at the time.  

While this will by no means deliver the same level of quality a wired system will deliver, it’s a quick and easy way to connect a CD player to some speakers.

The upside of Bluetooth is that much less wring is required and, therefore, much less worrying about compatibility. The only thing you need to make sure is compatible is the connection for the transmitter to your source (CD Player). 

Need Help Setting Up a Sound System?

We can help with that. Take a look at our handy guides on Which Speaker Cable Wire Is Positive, And Which Is NegativeHow to Connect Speaker WireBi-Wiring and Bi-Amping Explained, and Difference Between an Active and Passive Subwoofer for more useful information.

How To Connect A CD Player To Speakers – Conclusion

Whether you’re taking a trip down memory lane with a plastic cone filled with Nirvana and Pearl Jam riffs, or perhaps maintaining a state-of-the-art system you’ve had since CDs were all the range, enjoying all your old favorites is still possible with a little know-how.  

Getting your CD player hooked up to a set of speakers is as simple as you want it to be, thanks to all the options available. Just make sure you’ve got the right cabling and adapters should you need any, and you’ll be jamming out in no time!

Until next time, happy listening!

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