Ok, so as most of us know, audio can be a pain in the butt to get working on a lot of hacks. If you don’t have a custom DSDT that has audio edits (my motherboard audio headers were being troublesome) or you don’t feel comfortable editing your DSDT for HDMI audio over Gfx card, then this is for you!
Now I will be honest, this is the purist approach. You could simply buy the USB audio card listed below and have it hanging out of your case, which would be fine, but since I am working on a custom case project, I wanted front panel audio that plugged in to the motherboard. This tutorial will vary depending on your end goal, so keep that in mind while planning your drill holes.
[color=#BF0000]*Disclaimer* You are poking around in your computer case for this tutorial, and while I have presented knowledge to the best of my ability, things can always go wrong. You are responsible for taking the proper precautions while working inside this sensitive hub of electronics! Anti-static gloves/wristband and work area recommended! Also, crucial notes are in red, don’t skip them![/color]
[url=http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103452]2 x 3.5mm Female Audio Jacks[/color][/url]
1 x USB Audio Card Found [url=http://www.ebay.com/itm/150657778065?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649#ht_1501wt_1002][color=#0080BF]here[/color][/url] (cheapest), [url=http://www.amazon.com/Syba-SD-CM-UAUD-Adapter-C-Media-Chipset/dp/B001MSS6CS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327085782&sr=8-1][color=#0080BF]here[/color][/url] and [url=http://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-USB-SBCV-External-Surround-Adapter/dp/B002R33VWW/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1327085782&sr=8-4][color=#0080BF]here[/color][/url]
[url=http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Unlimited-AUD-1100-06-6-Feet-Stereo/dp/B000SE6IV8/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1327085881&sr=1-2][color=#0080BF]1 x 3.5mm audio cable[/color][/url]
[url=http://www.amazon.com/StarTech-Motherboard-4-Pin-Header-USBMBADAPT/dp/B000IV6S9S/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327086058&sr=8-2][color=#0080BF]USB female to motherboard header adapter[/color][/url]
A drill bit (I used 3/8th)
Soldering iron and solder.
[b]Total cost (excluding tools): Under $12[/b]
[u]Step 1: Testing[/u]
The first thing you want to do is [u]test that your audio card works[/u]. We are dealing with cheap Chinese electronics here, so it’s always good to test! Plug it in to a spare USB port, test with headphones and mic, now plug it into the motherboard header via the adapter, and test both again. All should be good. These cards are “driverless” (no such thing) so they are supposed to work with any OSX version as well as any version of Windows.
[u]Step 2: Placement[/u]
Now that everything is working (hopefully), it’s time to make things interesting. Figure out where you want these jacks. I wanted them right on my front panel, so out comes the drill! With baited breath I drilled two holes in the front panel of my BRAND NEW Lian Li. Put yours where you want. It is important to do this first as you will see below! More than likely this will void some case warranties (user modification) so do so at your own risk!
[u]Step 3: Cable Prep[/u]
[color=#BF0000]Before doing ANYTHING else, make sure that the cable is long enough to reach from wherever you are placing the jacks to the USB audio card which will be by your motherboard!! The next step will void any chance of returning it for a longer cable! [/color]
Take the 3.5mm audio cable you just bought and cut with scissors. Yup, bye bye shiny new cable. I had this laying around, so it wasn’t as difficult for me!
Strip the outer plastic and shielding down until you have the coloured wires exposed.
At this point I decided to put sleeving and heatshrink onto the cable, I would suggest doing it now although you might be able to get it over the 3.5mm jack depending on your sleeving.
[u]Step 4: Solder them wires girlfriend![/u]
Our next step is to solder the correct cable wires to the correct terminals on each 3.5mm female jack. [color=#BF0000]Don’t forget to put heatshrink on the unsoldered wires first![/color] Audio cables are pretty standard so it should be the same for all of them, although sticking with the above part list will reduce the possibility of errors. Just remember, red is right, white is left, and whatever you have left (in this case yellow) is ground!
[i][size=12]*side note: Why didn’t I just buy a 3.5mm male to female cable you ask? Glad you did. Most pre-made cables do not come with a female end with a screw on it, they all seem to be incorporated into a stress-reducing cover. Really handy, but not right for this project.*[/size][/i]
Now that everything is nice and soldered, it is time to screw in the audio jacks. This should be self-explanatory.
Now you will want to plug the USB header adapter into your motherboard and then plug the audio card into the motherboard header adapter. Finally plug in the 3.5mm male jack (attached to front female jack) into the USB audio card. I have added the diagram below so that you see what is going on here.
[u]Step 5: Final Test[/u]
Plug in the headphones/microphone of your choice into your new front jacks and take a look at your sound preferences. It should be enabled, recognized and playing audio!!
This is a simple fix, but should give you decent enough sound for a reasonable price. Of course, getting a compatible motherboard is always preferable, but if you have a motherboard that doesn’t have sound compatibility, this is a quick and dirty way to listen to some good music while you wait for your budget to increase!