How To Get Sound From A Monitor Without Speakers

So you got a new monitor, and you’re excited to fire up a video game or just youtube. You hear zero sound. You look up the monitor again and find that your monitor actually doesn’t have speakers at all.

You’re not alone! I purchased this monitor below and forgot to check if there were built-in speakers. It doesn’t even have ANY audio outputs either! Just power and display inputs.

HP Pavilion 22cwa 21.5-Inch IPS Monitor

This monitor has a unique stand that adds a touch of style to your workspace. With its Full HD 1080p resolution, you get clear visuals at an affordable price, making it a great option for those looking for a nice monitor without breaking the bank.

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I’m going to show you exactly how I got my audio going with this monitor. In addition, we’ll add a bunch of different ways you can get your audio set up if your monitor doesn’t have speakers. 

Key Takeaways

You can get sound from a monitor without speakers by using an HDMI audio extractor, a 3.5mm auxiliary audio output, an optical audio output, a Thunderbolt docking station, or by connecting your speakers via Bluetooth.

First, you must see what audio outputs are available on your monitor or your computer. Afterward, you must check what audio inputs are available on your external speakers.

Quick Facts You Should Know

Before we get deep into all the solutions, let’s get some technical information out of the way.

Today’s monitors primarily use HDMI ports or DisplayPorts as connections. These two connection types can carry both video and audio. Older display connectors like VGA or DVI ports do not carry audio.

We will still cover solutions that can work with any display connection type, this is just helpful to know.

If you don’t know what any of this means, here are some visuals of what these various cable connections look like.

display connection table with description and images of male and female display connection types

How To Get Sound From Monitors Without Speakers

Here is how you connect to your monitor and also get sound from a set of external speakers at the same time.

1) Use an HDMI Audio Extractor

HDMI audio extractors are simple devices that split up your HDMI cable’s video and audio signals and give you useable output connections for both.

This is perfect for those that don’t have audio outputs on their monitor.

Instead of your computer’s HDMI connection going straight to your monitor. We are going to insert an HDMI audio extractor right in the middle.

This device takes the HDMI connection (which has audio as well) and separates it into two outputs, an HDMI output, and an audio output.

HDMI 4K Audio Extractor

Extract audio from a digital HDMI signal with this audio extractor. The extractor supports high resolutions and multiple video color formats. Plus, with low power consumption and no external power adapter required, it's a cost-effective solution for your monitor without speakers.

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This first image is what a normal cable does without an extractor. Your laptop just plugs into your monitor, and your speakers are left so alone. 

An extractor does what is shown in the image on the right. It takes an HDMI input (from your computer) and creates an HDMI output and an audio output. This audio output can go directly into some speakers.

No Extractor diagram
Extractor Diagram

HDMI Audio Extractor Inputs & Outputs

The HDMI audio extractor comes with everything you need to get your audio going. Here’s what’s inside the box:

  • HDMI Audio Extractor
  • Instruction Manual
  • 3.5mm jack to composite audio cable
  • Micro USB to USB type A power cable
  • HDMI Cable

Installing an HDMI audio extractor to get sound from your monitor is fairly simple. There are only two inputs

  • HDMI input – the display from your computer.
  • 5V USB input – USB power from the monitor’s USB port or other USB power source.

On the other side of the HDMI audio extractor, you have three outputs.

  • HDMI output – this continues the display to your monitor
  • Optical (S/PDIF) output – audio to external speakers
  • 3.5mm AUX output – audio to external speakers

You only need to choose one audio output from the audio extractor: optical or 3.5mm aux.

How To Install HDMI Audio Extractor

Here are the steps you need to actually install your HDMI audio extractor.

First, disconnect your HDMI cable from your monitor. Insert that cable into the audio extractor’s “HDMI IN” connection as shown below.

Then connect the USB 5V power input cable to the audio extractor. This will be on the same side as the HDMI IN connection. Plug the other end of the USB cable into a USB power source.

You should see a small power LED light up.

Next, connect the included HDMI cable to the “HDMI OUT” connection of the extractor, and plug the other end into your monitor.

I like to keep my cables tidy using the included cable ties. No need to create a spaghetti monster by adding this accessory! Here’s a link to our guide to cable management specifically for monitor cables.

The last step here is to use one of the audio outputs on the HDMI audio extractor and connect that to some external speakers!

Here I hook up a 3.5mm aux cable because that’s what my external speaker has as an input. Once you connect your speakers, via this audio connection, you will have sound!

Remember you can also use the optical output connection if your external speakers support this. Or use the 3.5mm composite cable adapter that came with the HDMI audio extractor.

2) Use 3.5mm Output From Your Monitor or Computer

If your monitor or computer has a 3.5mm audio output connection, that will be a very simple way to connect some external speakers.

Using The 3.5mm Output From Your Monitor

An auxiliary jack looks like a typical headphone jack. Here’s an image behind my Dell Ultrawide monitor. the 3.5mm jack is the small female circular connection seen here.

If you have this port, you are in luck.  Simply plug in some speakers using that auxiliary output port. A majority of external speakers on the market have this as an input.

To use the audio output from your monitor, you must be using an HDMI or DisplayPort cable with your monitor. As we mentioned, those are the only two display cables that carry sound. 

If you are a laptop user and your monitor has this audio output connection, it can be very clean from a cable management perspective. You simply plug in your display cable from your laptop to your monitor, and it displays your screen while carrying out audio to your speakers. 

Using The 3.5mm Output From Your Computer

For users with desktop computers, there are usually audio ports on the back side of your computer. This is a very simple way of connecting speakers without relying on your monitor at all. 

If you look behind your monitor and there is no jack to be found, check behind your desktop computer instead. For laptop users, if your computer has a headphone jack, you can simply plug in some speakers to that connection. 

The back of my desktop computer exposes available audio output connections.
The side of my laptop has a 3.5mm audio output connection.

This is admittedly not the cleanest solution for laptop users. You have both a display cable and an audio cable connecting to your computer. It kinda seems redundant because your display cable is already carrying audio. 

It can also become a hassle with your laptop. At a minimum, you would now need to connect the display cable, power cable, and audio cable.

Every time you carry it back to your desk, you have to plug in a bunch of cables to get going. That’s a lot of effort if you move to and from your desk often. 

Because of this downside, I would recommend that laptop users move on to the next solution. It is a quicker connection experience and gets the job done just as well. 

3) Use The Optical S/PDIF Connection

If you have a computer that has an optical S/PDIF audio output connection, that will give you the best audio quality by far.

This is another audio connection that allows you to now rely on your monitor and connect to speakers at the computer level.

Keep in mind that your speaker also needs to have this as an audio input.

Above is an image of the back of my desktop computer. Can you spot the optical S/PDIF connection?

The top left connection in the image below is the optical SPDIF connection. If your computer and your speakers have this connection, you can use an optical audio cable and get great audio regardless of your monitor.

4) Use A Thunderbolt Docking Station

If you’re a laptop user that doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio output, but you do have Thunderbolt capable connections, a Thunderbolt dock is the next best solution.

Thunderbolt docks are a great way to get multiple output connections (including audio) from just one port.

Hide Docking Station (3)
docking station on desk

I currently use a Dell TB16 with my XPS 15 laptop. It has four display output connections, three USB ports, an ethernet port, a USB C port, a headphone output, and a 3.5mm speaker output. Oh and did I mention it also charges my laptop?

The best part is that all of these connections become available with just one Thunderbolt connection to my laptop. It’s so convenient to go to and from my desk and only hook up and remove a single cable!

Most Thunderbolt docks come with an audio output port so you don’t have to rely on your monitor having speakers. Here is a great Thunderbolt dock by CalDigit worth considering:

CalDigit TS4 Thunderbolt 4 Dock
4.2

Connect up to 18 devices with a single cable with the TS4's expansive connectivity. This supports powerful 98W charging and the ability to connect a single 8K or dual 6K 60Hz displays.

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Check if your computer has Thunderbolt connections to see if you can use a super functional dock like the one shown above to extract audio from your computer.

5) Connect To Speakers Using Bluetooth

If you didn’t like any of the solutions above yet, or you just plain hate cables, we have one more solution for your audio problems. 

Almost all computers these days come equipped with Bluetooth. If you have a set of wireless speakers, you will be able to get a completely wire-free audio connection!

This is a very simple solution if you have both Bluetooth-compatible devices. If you are not sure if your speakers are Bluetooth compatible, look on the backside for a little Bluetooth logo.

Below is the backside of my

Audioengine A2+ Speakers

The Audioengine A2+ Bluetooth Speakers have extended-range Bluetooth connectivity, delivering high-fidelity true stereo sound that connects to any app or device. They have a compact design that packs a big punch with a variety of connection options. They come with a 6.5ft speaker wire, power supply, 5ft USB cable, 5ft mini-jack audio cable, microfiber speaker/cable bags, and setup guide.

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. If you look closely you can see the little Bluetooth icon.

This means I can have these wirelessly connect to my PC, again not relying on our monitor.

How To Connect Bluetooth Speakers To Your Computer

Follow these steps to connect your PC to Bluetooth speakers:

  • Turn on Bluetooth on your computer
  • Turn on your Bluetooth-compatible speakers
  • Put your speakers in pairing mode (search for your speaker’s user manual on how to do this).
  • Search for Bluetooth devices on your computer.

Here’s how I connected my Audioengine speakers to my computer. I am currently using a Windows 11 machine, but the steps will be very similar on a Mac. Just go to similar Bluetooth devices/settings.

Step 1: Add Bluetooth speaker via settings:
Step 2: Send speakers into pairing mode

I simply held down the Bluetooth pairing button on the back of my Audioengine speakers to have it enter pairing mode. That way it tells nearby devices that it is available to pair to.

Step 3: Look for speakers on the pairable device list

Below you can see that the speakers show up as the second pairable option. Click on them to connect!

Step 4: Connect!

It should connect after you click on the speakers and show up as the actual model of your Bluetooth speakers!

We successfully connected to audio without relying on a monitor that came with speakers!

Monitors Without Speakers Are A Blessing

With all this effort to use external speakers because our monitor didn’t come with any, let’s look on the bright side. Speakers that come built into monitors are typical of very low quality. 

Manufacturers do the bare minimum when adding speakers to their monitors. Their main focus is making a great display. They are not really concerned about audio quality. 

With the methods we covered, you use dedicated speakers to get sound from your computer, as your monitor doesn’t have speakers. Even a super affordable set of external speakers like the ones below will sound much better than built-in monitor speakers.

Logitech Z207 2.0 Bluetooth Speaker

Get a versatile audio setup with these Bluetooth or 3.5mm cable-connected speakers. With an on-speaker headphone jack and convenient controls, enjoy high-quality audio anytime.

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This will force you to have far better audio quality than built-in monitor speakers could provide. You now get a monitor from a monitor manufacturer and speakers from a proper speaker manufacturer.

So the glass is definitely half full in this case!

Conclusion

Monitors that come without speakers are not a huge surprise – not all monitors come with speakers. Especially gaming monitors, here’s why gaming monitors don’t usually have speakers.)

With those various ways to get sound from your monitor without speakers, as long as you have a set of external speakers available, you can make this work! 

Set it up and enjoy your audio experience! 

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Dasun

I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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