I have two computers right next to each other. Two complete setups, no KVM switches, so two monitors, two keyboards, two mice, etc. I don’t want to have two sets of speakers nor do I have the desk space to support them. The easiest solution would be to have the speakers plugged into one and headphones plugged into the other one, but again this isn’t ideal. When swapping the speakers between machines, particularly with the HD audio drivers that try to detect what has been plugged in, it is one great annoyance that either requires manual intervention or even rebooting along with the physical cable changing.
This hassle was somewhat defeating the purpose of having two computers next to each other. I like to work in parallel and sometimes playing things in the background of one computer is easier than accessing them all through the same computer. I’ve also had instances of playing games (with sound effects being necessary) on one computer and having a video going on the second, so I can glance over and watch while respawning or what not. To accommodate this, I rigged up something through the principle “A wire is a wire.”
The only downside and I do mean ONLY downside with this solution is that if both computers are on, the volume is halved. Simple work-around to this is to turn the volume up at the speaker level. If you shut one computer down, the volume will become much louder suddenly too, a small and short-lived downside, at that. It’s been pretty much the perfect solution to my inquiry.
You can see this diagram for my solution. I’m currently using the method on the left, but the right one should work as well and save you from purchasing some gadgetry.
- 3.5 mm gender changer (female on both sides)
- Headphone splitter (one male, two female ends – normally for two headphones from one device)
- 3.5 mm audio extension cable (male on both ends)
- Computer #1
- Computer #2
The gender changer will cost ~$2 at Radio Shack, the headphone splitter ~$10 at a bigbox retailer and you can find the extension cables at the same place for ~$8, if you don’t have them lying around.