Projectors aren’t just for cinemas and business presentations any longer! They’re fast becoming a staple in homes as well, with the advent of the home cinema or the home entertainment system. With that said, the sound has indeed become an important part of the home entertainment setup equation. Even when it comes to hooking up your laptop to a projector to present a slideshow full of graphs and tables, it helps to have some sort of sound output available.
How to get sound from the computer to the projector exactly? It depends on your projector’s available ports, the type of appliances or source media you can hook up to it, and whether or not you’ll be using your home cinema’s sound system or a Bluetooth speaker for your audio needs.
Connecting the PC to a Projector with Sound Considerations
When hooking up your desktop or laptop PC to your projector for business or entertainment purposes, the sound might be an important consideration. Audio can add oomph or pizzazz to your 2020 presentation on “How to Survive The Coronavirus Outbreak Using Online Means”. Having no sound when playing the latest Resident Evil installment or remake will cut in half the immersion you can get from such 3D games. There are several things to consider, of course.
- Computer Speakers and Sound System: In order to get sound from your computer to your projector, sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. Use the speakers present in your notebook or workstation PC instead of trying to make sound come out of the speakers of the projector or daisy-chaining a separate sound system to it.
After all, when it comes to PCs, a projector is mainly an alternative display option for your VGA or HDMI computer monitor. Therefore, it’s only prudent to use the available sound system connected to your PC, whether it’s the internal notebook PC speakers or external ones like Sound Blaster and the like.
- Built-In Projector Speakers: You also have the option to depend on the sound system available to your projector itself. More and more modern 21st Century projectors include such speakers. When you hook your computer up to the projector via HDMI, both audio and video signals go from computer to projector.
If you’re using an older computer, then it’s probably best that you use an older projector or a universal projector with a VGA hookup. From there, you have the option to put in audio cables to the projector to have the sound come out from the projector itself. With HDMI, the audio signal travel through the same cable as the video signal.
- Separate Home Cinema Sound System: Many people who use projectors for their home entertainment needs depend on a separate home cinema sound system complete with stereos, subwoofer, base speaker, soundbar amplifier, surround sound audio, and so forth. How you can connect them to your PC or projector depends on their available ports.
If they use VGA connections, then it’s best to invest in coaxial cables and the like to connect your audio to your speakers directly from your PC and its sound card. If it’s HDMI, you might need to use an HDMI splitter to reroute the audio to your home cinema sound system instead when push comes to shove.
- HDMI Splitter or Using The Projector as a Splitter: HDMI combines both video and audio signals in one cable. Therefore, when you hook up a modern PC to a modern projector using one cable, you usually need a separate HDMI cable in order to link up the sound signal to an HDMI-compatible soundbar amp or speaker. Otherwise, you’d need an HDMI splitter to do it for you.
If you only have one HDMI input for your PC, you can make extra HDMI cables for your external speakers using a splitter in case you feel that the native sound system of your PC isn’t enough for your needs. If it’s a vintage sound system using 3.5-millimeter audio jacks, then your splitter should instead be a converter so that it can convert the HDMI signal to something more analog. You can also daisy-chain your projector and link a speaker to it while it’s connected to your PC.
- Bluetooth or Wireless Speakers: You also have the option to use your projector’s sound port in order to link it with a Bluetooth wireless speaker. Whether it’s more prudent to use the Bluetooth speaker with your PC or your projector, the idea remains that it will take the audio signal coming from the PC or going to the projector and play it on its own.
There’s also the option of having your PC speakers work hand-in-hand with your projector built-in speaker and a wireless Bluetooth speaker so that the sound effects, dialog, and music coming from the movie you’re watching, videogame you’re playing, or presentation you’re presenting is heard loud and clear through multiple sources.
- Connecting a PC to a Projector 101: When connecting a PC or laptop to a projector, you need to make sure it’s turned off first. Afterward, connect the VGA or HDMI cable from the video port to the projector’s own port. From there, plug in your projector to a power outlet and turn it on. Now you can turn on your notebook or desktop PC. You can also hook up the audio out of your PC or laptop to a separate sound system.
Vintage PCs or laptops require you to hold the Function or Fn key and press either F4, F5, F7, or F8 to toggle or sync your computer with your projector. Later PCs and projectors have since abandoned that in favor of a more plug-&-play method of playing video and audio, with the projector mostly serving as a computer monitor or HDTV alternative.
- Troubleshooting Low Volume or No Sound Issues: If your PC to projector connection has resulted in no sound or low volume issues then there are multiple ways to go about addressing them. First off, the projector speaker should have its own volume settings. Adjust them until you can hear the audio clearly. In turn, have separate audio playing from your PC instead.
Otherwise, you might have pushed the mute button on either your projector remote control or your laptop/desktop PC. Unmute the audio and see if that works. If you wish to use a connected audio source even when the projector isn’t turn on, you should check if it has a Standby Mode option as in the case of Epson projectors. To be more specific, check the “Communication On” option in Standby Mode then turn on the “Standby Audio” option at the following prompt to enable sound when the projector is turned off.
- Still No Sound? It Might Be a Cable Problem Instead: If turning up the volume on either the computer or the projector isn’t fixing your audio problems, then the audio output might not be set on the correct source. Check with your remote or your computer settings if this is the case. You might even have a loose connection as well. Therefore, make sure that the audio cable connections between the computer and the projector are locked-in tightly with no pins bent or no kinks on the cable itself.
If there’s no sound coming from your HDMI PC source, set your connected device to a PCM output instead. Check your audio cables to make sure they’re labeled “No Resistance”. Otherwise, get some “No Resistance” audio cables instead. Go to your computer’s Display Settings for your projector’s USB display and turn on the “Output Audio” button in case you’re using the USB Display function.
- Apple Macintosh and Windows Audio Issues with Projectors: If you’re using a Macintosh product such as the iMac or MacBook Pro and there’s no sound from your HDMI source you should double-check if your Mac computer supports audio through HDMI. If this isn’t the case, then you should get separate audio cables to connect with the audio output of your projector or use computer speakers to make the audio work.
Aside from manually checking for hardware or software problems with your computer-to-projector audio, you can also run the Sound Troubleshooter if you’re using a Windows machine. You can access it by clicking Start, selecting Settings, clicking on System, then going to the left panel in order to access the Sound tab. Windows will then look for any problems with your Sound devices and help you through the entire process.
Home entertainment systems or setups are places where you put all your video and audio appliances in one central hub of your home so that you won’t have to store away your game consoles, video players, and/or display monitors when you can switch from playing videogames to watching movies at the click of a remote control button.
On that note, regarding getting sound from your projector after hooking it up to a PC, it’s either you connect the computer or the projector to a speaker or depend on the native sound systems present in either the PC’s external speakers or the projector’s built-in speakers. You mostly won’t have to deal with splitters and converters unless you really want your new projector to produce sound on vintage sound systems using 3.5-millimeter phone jacks or something.
- “How to Connect a Laptop to a Projector“, Meeting Tomorrow, Retrieved June 3, 2020
- “Solutions When There is No Sound or Low Volume“, Epson.com, Retrieved June 3, 2020
- Tashreef Shareef, “My projector won’t play sound: Check these 3 solutions“, Windows Report, August 10, 2019