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Is there a difference between "line out" jacks and "speaker out" jacks on motherboards?

Ecnob

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Some motherboards, such as the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus @amirm reviewed, have dedicated speaker out and line out jacks. Others, such as my AsRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac only have a speaker out. I've done some googling and some sources say that line out and speaker out are the same on PC motherboards and others say that speaker out outputs a higher voltage signal, but no real consensus or testing that I could find.

Is it an entirely case by case bases, and is there any real difference between the two, for example, when plugging into a headphone amp?
 

Doodski

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Some motherboards, such as the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus @amirm reviewed, have dedicated speaker out and line out jacks. Others, such as my AsRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac only have a speaker out. I've done some googling and some sources say that line out and speaker out are the same on PC motherboards and others say that speaker out outputs a higher voltage signal, but no real consensus or testing that I could find.

Is it an entirely case by case bases, and is there any real difference between the two, for example, when plugging into a headphone amp?
I see a headphone line level output but not a speaker output.
aurus.png

Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming-ITXac(L5).png
 

PierreV

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You simply retask connectors to what you want them to do. Line out/Front speaker out seems to be static though, but I am not sure as it may depend on detection and my setup just uses digital out to an external DAC and my headset.

1598442282952.png
 
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Ecnob

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In this case it would be the difference between line out and rear speaker and c/sub. I'm more so speaking in general rather than this specific motherboard, but I'm using this one as an example.
 

mansr

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In the old days, sound cards had only two channels. Connectors were labelled Line Out, Line In, Headphone, or Microphone. The Line connectors used signal levels and drive strengths suitable for interfacing with similarly marked connectors on hi-fi equipment while the Headphone output (probably) had a lower output impedance capable of driving typical headphones. The Microphone input could be used with cheap electret mics as found on headsets and the like.

Then came surround sound and with it two additional outputs with two channels each. The Line Out label was retained for the front left/right channels, perhaps to avoid confusing people used to the existing names. The new outputs were given the more descriptive labels Rear and Centre/LFE (or some equivalent). All three (and more on later 8-channel cards) outputs have the same signal levels.

Outputs designated Speaker are line-level and intended for connection to a preamp or powered speakers (this is aimed at people who regard Logitech as high-end). This is to differentiate them from headphone outputs as described above, which may or may not be present on a given device.

To save space (and the cost of a few connectors), some boards allow configuring (some) jacks for different functions.
 
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