Hook up 3 headphone jacks into one coax/optical plug?

The audio in my computer handles 5.1 channel sound. This is done through three separate headphone jacks. 1 - front left/right, 2 - rear left/right, 3 - center, subwoofer. So 3 plugs = 5.1 sound.

I assume computer speakers would have this kind of inputs. But I want to hook this into my receiver. My receiver has HDMI, Coaxial (SPDIF), and Optical. It does not have headphone jack style inputs.

Anything I can do here? Any devices? Or can I get creative and splice something somehow?

Are you sure your computer doesn’t have optical out?
Most do, these days.

If not, you can get a USB->Optical dongle.

What kind of PC sound device?

Many cards have a digital out that looks like a headphone jack (on my computer, it’s black). You just need a passive 3.5 mm to RCA mono cable (like this)to connect these.

It may be that one of the analog outputs doubles as a digital out. I haven’t seen this personally, but it’s possible. Check the software.

Standalone converters from analog to digital exist, but they’re going to be on the expensive side. Probably more expensive than a new sound card.

Agree - I’ve seen very few modern sound cards (capable of 5.1) that didn’t have SPDIF or optical outputs. If it’s a desktop, look at the card - it may have an internal connector that needs to be brought out to an external connector.

The typical digital output you see is either a square Toslink connector, or a dual use 3.5mm TRS connector. The cable Dr. Strangelove links to an image of won’t work here however. What you need as a 3.5mm to square Toslink cable. The 3.5mm socket actually has an optical output LED in the back and the optical cable plug is a little longer than a normal 3.5mm TRS and goes right back to meet the LED. There are also adaptors that fit over the square end of a Toslink cable to convert it to a 3.5mm optical.

However you need to see if your PC does actually output optical like this. As noted above, it is pretty common.

Be aware that the Toslink digital link can only support a limited set of 5.1 sound encodings, and won’t support the high resolution (lossless) surround sound that HDMI can (such as True-HD). It will support the lossy compressed sound (up to Dolby Digital Plus), and that is usually fine for most people anyway.

OTOH, if you get at all stuck, you could probably look at even the cheapest of new sound cards to ensure you have what you need.

Ahh, right–I had forgotten about that style. Both types exist, however. My motherboard’s crappy integrated sound uses only an electrical 3.5 mm connector for its digital output. The receiver will have an RCA plug, so a simple passive cable will do. The OP needs to check which outputs are supported.

Another thing you could try is an external USB Sound Card. I’ve got a small USB sound card and it can do USB in, and use the optical port as an output.

You could also get a HDMI converter but they are likely to be expensive!

Oh, and btw, not many laptop sound cards have optical - they still have the standard 3.5mm line out - so I’d need to use the USB input to either optical or 3x3.5mm out to the surround sound system.