Have you ever wondered what the functions are of the different motherboard audio ports that you can find on the back of your computer motherboard?
Most of us only use one or two ports for our speakers and microphone, but what do all the other ports do?
Well, the audio ports do vary from motherboard to motherboard, but most setups can be classified into simple categories. Let’s go through the different audio ports and their functions.
What are the different Motherboard Audio Ports?
Motherboard audio ports are used to connect all the audio devices such as speakers, headphones, microphones, and other devices of this nature to the computer. One can find various different ports on the rear I/O of a PC motherboard that is dedicated to different functions.
There are two types of audio ports on a motherboard, analog and digital. Commonly found analog motherboard audio ports include the Line Out port (Green), the Mic In Port (Pink), and the Line In Port (Blue). This configuration is found in most basic motherboards.
High end motherboards may offer more audio ports as well, such as the Black, Orange, and Grey Audio Ports as well as the Digital Audio Port which uses an optical audio cable. The black, orange and grey ports are used for stereo speakers. In addition, there may be a 6.3mm Audio Jack present as well.
Functions of Motherboard Audio Ports
If you want to connect your audio devices to your computer, you first have to know which port you have to use for this purpose. All of the audio ports on the rear I/O look similar, so it can be quite confusing to decide which port is best suited to which audio device.
The ports are color-coded and often numbered as well for convenience. Knowing the functions of the ports is crucial in order to make the correct connections.
Line Out Port (Green)
This is the most basic audio port that all motherboards have. It is coded by the green color and is found in devices such as laptops as well.
The main task of the Green Line Out port is to connect the headphones or speakers. It is basically a port for audio output devices, as we can judge by the name.
It uses two ring plugs, each of which is divided into three sections i.e. Right, Sleeve, and Left.
Mic In Port (Pink)
This port is coded with a pink color and is used to connect a microphone. It acts as an audio input port and has an amplifier built-in.
You can often find this port in older laptops as well.
Line In Port (Blue)
The Blue 3.5mm port is a Line In port that is used to listen to the audio or the music in external audio devices such as home theater systems, amplifiers, speakers, woofers, etc.
It is for connecting additional audio devices to your computer.
The Green, Blue, and Pink ports collectively are known as the audio jacks. All of these use 3.5mm wide sockets. These three are the basic ports that are found in most motherboards, no matter how value-oriented they are.
Black Audio Port (Rear Speakers)
If you want to connect multiple speakers or a surround sound setup, then you will have to make use of additional ports such as the black audio port. This one is used for rear speakers and rear audio sound signals.
This port controls the rear signals and therefore sends the correct signals to the right speaker based on the frequency required. This port is ideally paired with a Dolby Atmos sound system for a more dynamic effect.
Orange Audio Port
The orange audio port is used for central signals in the stereo speakers of your audio systems. You can hear or feel the sound coming from the center of the room with this channel.
Subwoofers are mostly connected using this channel. It gives a lot of clarity to character conversations in movies and other media.
Grey/Silver Audio Port (Stereo Speakers)
Depending on the motherboard manufacturer, you may also see a grey or silver audio port on the rear I/O. This setup is usually reserved for motherboards with 6 audio jacks, which are mostly premium boards.
The grey or silver audio port is used for side speakers in the surround system. You will require at least 5.1 channels for the proper functioning of these ports.
In order to use the Orange, Black, or Silver audio ports, your audio system must be compatible with either 5.1 or 7.1 channels.
Digital Audio Ports (S/PDIF)
Some motherboards may also have a digital audio port in addition to the aforementioned analog audio jacks. These digital ports may also be present in place of a side or rear jack.
The Sony/Phillips Digital Interface or S/PDIF is the most common digital audio port. These digital ports allow us to send the sound without the interruption of background noise.
The digital ports are considered better than their analog counterparts because they do not have to convert the digital audio signals to an analog signals, therefore providing better audio quality.
6.3mm Audio Jacks
Certain (premium) motherboards may also include a 6.3mm audio jack, which is roughly twice as wide as the normal 3.5mm jacks that we have discussed. This audio jack is designed for high-quality professional audio equipment, which is why it is rare to see it on consumer motherboards.
The 6.3mm (or quarter-inch) connections are only necessary if the system needs more audio power. You will also need a thick, quarter-inch cable to connect your professional-grade audio equipment to the computer in order to get higher-quality audio output.
Laptop Audio Ports
The audio ports you find on laptops are typically quite different from the audio ports that are baked into desktop motherboards, and for good reason. Saving space is one of the main targets when designing a laptop, and unnecessary audio ports are counter-productive to that target.
Therefore, most laptops only have a single audio port by which you can listen and record audio. This port is a multi-functional port that can support both speakers/headphones and microphones.
Are SPDIF ports better than analog audio ports?
Generally, SPDIF digital ports are considered better than analog audio ports due to their higher quality audio output. There is no signal degradation or background noise in the output of a SPDIF port.
Why do different motherboards have a different number of audio ports?
Different motherboards have a different number of audio ports because they are designed for different price brackets. Usually, value-oriented or basic motherboards only have the 3 main audio ports (green, pink, and blue), while the premium motherboards may contain all 6 ports.
Which audio port is used for microphones?
The Mic In (Pink) port is used to connect microphones as it is the one responsible for audio input.
Which audio port is used for computer speakers?
Computer speakers can be connected using the Line Out (Green) port, as it is the one responsible for general audio output.