How to Identify Positive and Negative Speaker Wires?

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It’s not easy to work with speaker wires and detect which one is meant for the negative and which one is for the positive terminal. Luckily, we are experts at identifying the polarity of the wires, and we are more than happy to share the knowledge with you! So, if you want to learn how to identify positive and negative speaker wires, keep reading this article.

How to Identify Positive and Negative Speaker Wires [Best Way]

Some cables will be marked, while others will be colored differently. When it comes to wire markings, the wire attached to the negative terminal will normally have some form of a stripe, whilst the one without a mark is for the positive terminal. You can also remember which is positive and which is negative with color coding. The most prevalent color coding is red and black, with red representing positive and black representing negative.

Other Ways to Identify Positive and Negative Speaker Wires

There is also a chance that you won’t have any way of determining whether your wires are positive or negative. Moreover, the manual your speakers came with might not be specific. But you shouldn’t give up just yet! We will try to help you to determine the polarity of your wires by assisting you with running a couple of tests.

Download a Polarity Testing App on your Phone

Did you know that there are apps that can tell you whether you connected the speaker wires of the right polarity to the terminals? If not, we’re glad that we were able to help you with that one. There are many apps of this kind for both iOS and Android operating systems. You can check out a few of them with the best reviews. In most cases, you will have to connect your phone to the audio output and then move it closer to your speaker. Your phone’s microphone should be able to detect the polarity of the system by measuring the impulses.

How to test polarity with the Speaker Pop polarity testing app

Buy a Polarity Tester

You can find a speaker tester for under $40 that will help you test the polarity of your speakers. A lot of testers also come with a tone generator, which can transform an electrical signal into an audio signal. So, if you need a signal generator as well, investing in a polarity tester with both of these functions will come in handy.

Speaker polarity tester is a useful tool

Speaker polarity tester is a useful tool

Use a 9V Battery

If you don’t want to spend money on a polarity tester, you probably have a 9 Volt battery somewhere in the house that you can use to check the polarity of your speaker wires. The battery is a cheaper option than the tester. Thus, you can run to the nearest store and buy one.

Identify the Polarity of the Wires by Carefully Looking at Them

In most cases, it won’t be hard to find out which speaker wires are positive and which are negative. That’s because a lot of manufacturers use some kind of distinction that helps you make a difference between the two. Some wires will have a mark, while others will be in different colors. When it comes to the marks on the wires, the wire that you attach to the negative terminal will usually have some kind of stripe, while the one without any mark is for the positive one. But, not all manufacturers differentiate between the two wires the same way. So, be careful when connecting the wires to the terminals.

On the other hand, many speaker wires have a silver wire which is the positive one, while the copper wire is negative. In case the insulation is not see-through, you can peel a bit of insulation to see the colors of the actual wires. In addition, wires, or parts of them, can be black and red. Red wires are for positive terminals, and black ones should be connected to the negative terminal.

Check the Manual

Almost every speaker comes with a manual! So, you should check the instructions to see whether the manufacturer indicated how to differentiate the wires that go into positive and negative terminals.

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Once you have the battery with you, you should take one of the speaker wires and put them in the negative terminal of the battery. Then, take another one and place it on the positive terminal. Now it’s time to test your observation abilities. Your speaker will move as soon as you connect the wires to the battery. In case the speaker moves inward, the wire that you connected to the negative terminal is positive. On the other hand, if a speaker moves outward, you connected the positive wire to the positive battery terminal. It is pretty easy, isn’t it?

How to check speaker polarity with a battery

Can Connecting Speaker Wires of a Wrong Polarity Harm My Devices?

Is it important to connect your wires correctly? Yes! Can connecting speaker wires of a wrong polarity harm your devices? Not really. Generally, connecting the wrong wires cannot ruin your speaker or the amplifier you connected the speaker to. However, making a mistake with the polarity of the wires can disrupt the sound and cause many issues that will result in weird noises. So, you must identify which wire goes into the negative terminal and which one is for the positive port. Here are some of the things that can happen in case you make this kind of mistake.

Your Speaker May Not Produce Any Bass

The correct polarity is really important for the low-pitched tones. Connecting wrong wires can affect the pressure of the air that the bass needs. As a result, the sound will come out of your subwoofer, but it will be bland and bassless.

The Speaker Might Produce Weird Treble

Besides the low-pitched tones, you might encounter issues with higher frequencies as well. They can lose focus, which will lead to a sort of undefined, airy treble. It will not make much of a difference to most listeners. But you certainly did not buy your speakers to get a mediocre sound, did you? So, you should fix that by connecting the wires to the correct terminals.

Bad Sound in General

One speaker that you did not connect properly can affect the overall performance, even if you connected those correctly. Furthermore, issues with lousy imaging and distorted mid-range frequencies are also pretty common. Therefore, you should always ensure that you plugged the right wires into the positive and negative terminals if you want your speakers to produce the best possible sound.

Check out our detail article on ‘How to Connect Speaker Wire to TV?’

Final Thoughts

Congrats! You’ve reached the end of the article and can now identify the positive and negative speaker wires. We tried to give you as many options as we could to achieve that. Moreover, we made sure to inform you of many things that can happen when you incorrectly identify the polarity of the wires.

Hopefully, this article helped you with your issue. If it did, we have many others on similar topics that we believe you will find interesting. Don’t forget to check them out!