Dell Soundbar power jack uses

Photo from people (myself included) who own a Dell LCD monitor actually don't have the optional Soundbar accessory which attaches to the bottom of the monitor and provides a pair of basic speakers for audio output. The Soundbar itself isn't anything fancy but it does reduce the need of an additional power brick / outlet to power up speakers and does provide two headphone jacks for private listening if your case does not have them (or is out of reach). Although it is not sanctioned, you can actually power up other speaker sets - just as long as they conform to the specs.

Check speaker power requirementsThe power jack on most Dell LCD monitors output 12V DC 1.5A according to the website details (but check beforehand). Next is to see if your speaker set uses the same voltage/amperage as its input. Also required is that your speaker set has a detachable power source else you will need to do some work to attach a power jack which might involve drilling and soldering. Luckily most branded and higher-end speakers have separate power bricks.

What is needed for the connection is basically a two-ended cord with plugs at both ends to connect the power output jack from the monitor to the input on the speaker. I had a couple commercial connectors lying around as spares in my toolkit (from my part-time job days in school) and used those but you can easily make your own with parts bought from any electronic component dealer (or just gut two unused/broken adaptors for their plugs and join them together). Plug in both ends and on startup, your Dell monitor should have detected the attached speakers and activated the corresponding auadio option in the OSD menu.

Two ended power cord adaptorFrom testing, it seems that for most speaker sets, the voltage does not really matter but you MUST pay careful attention to the input current amperage. With the 12V DC, I've managed to power up a pair of AIWA SC-A55 PC speakers eventhough the required voltage was 13V. Testing with a variable transformer, it turns out the speakers would work even at 6V 500mA!! Turns out a lot of energy is wasted with the original transformer. Second set tested was a Cambridge PC Soundworks 2.1 set which listed a perfect 12V 1.5A requirement in the manual. Those worked fine too except for an annoying hum due to nearby EMI (which reminds me, I need to get some ferrite filter beads).

Another advantage of using the Soundbar jack? When your monitor turns off or goes into standby power save mode, your speakers also turn themselves off - thus saving electricity!! (though this action can be toggled using the above mentioned audio menu)

DISCLAIMER : Any attempts of this hack is at your own risk and I do not take any responsibility. Attempts at changing hardware settings are not approved and may void your warranty if not done properly. All trademarks, tradenames and program names are property of their individual owners.

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