Connecting external speakers to a television depends on the type and number of audio jacks of the television, and the number and type of speakers to connect, but a typical configuration involves connecting the speakers to audio input jacks of a receiver or amplifier that connects to a television’s audio output using an RCA or HDMI cable. Most televisions have only one or two audio output jacks, and require an intermediate component for connecting external speakers.
Connecting speakers to a television requires understanding a few audio concepts. Traditional stereo systems have two or four speakers used for reproducing high-fidelity music, while surround sound and home theater systems, usually described is 5.1 or 7.1 systems, contain a center console speaker with either four or six side- or front- and rear-mounted speakers, along with a subwoofer. Each type of system requires a receiver or amplifier to increase the audio signal to a level that is sufficient to drive the speaker and to perform a "crossover" function. The crossover function splits the audio signal into high, mid-range and low frequencies and sends them to the appropriate speaker component or driver, known as tweeters, woofers and subwoofers.
Some receivers contain built-in amplifiers, or preamplifiers, while others require separate amplifier components. Passive speakers require a receiver or amplifier to perform these functions and active speakers contain amplifiers that perform one or both of these functions. Additionally, some speakers do not require a separate electrical source, and are powered by the audio signal sent from the receiver, while others contain electrical components that require individual electrical sources. Along with the audio ports of the television, these factors determine how speakers may connect to a television.