Learning how to connect speaker wire can save you a lot of time and money. you don’t want to pay someone to do menial tasks that you can do yourself in 20 minutes. And you’ve already spent more than enough money building an impressive home theater system. it’s time to do it yourself.
Don’t be discouraged by the task at hand because it’s not that difficult. But first, let’s explore the different types of cabling, the steps you need to take, and the things you need to remember to get the job done right.
Reading: How to connect bare speaker wire
connecting speakers with speaker cable
Let’s start with the basics for anyone who is not familiar with this topic. A speaker cable is made up of two separate wires that connect to the negative and positive connection ports on your amplifier and speakers.
It doesn’t matter which way you connect the wires, even if they are labeled with a minus or plus sign. just make sure the same cable is connected to the positive and negative ports on the amp and speakers.
find connection ports
if you look at the back of your amp or avr, you will see binding posts for the speaker wires. each speaker has two posts labeled positive and negative. these are generally color coded with red for positive and black for negative.
but the model you’re using may not be color coded, so keep an eye out. one of the speaker wires will connect to both amplifier loads, while the other end will connect to the same speaker post.
common problems when reversing cables
what happens if you reverse the wires and put them backwards? Will you blow up your whole system? highly unlikely. but a lot can happen when you accidentally reverse speaker cables. These are some of the most common problems that occur when you don’t know how to connect the speaker cable.
connect stereo speakers to the wrong channel
one of the most common speaker cable connection mistakes is when you accidentally connect the right speaker to the left terminal of your amplifier and vice versa.
don’t worry; you will not hear any explosion. but you will hear the sound coming out of the opposite speaker than the one you intended. it’s just a minor problem that can be fixed in 20 seconds by rearranging the cables in their correct position.
incorrect connection of positive to negative terminals
What would happen if you connected the negative terminal of the amplifier to the positive connection of a speaker and the negative of the speaker was connected to the positive terminal of the amplifier on only one speaker channel? if you’re using a single speaker, this won’t cause a problem. it would also be nice if you had two speakers connected in the same way.
but if you’re using two speakers that are wired differently, the wiring would be out of phase. this causes a problem with the diaphragm, where one speaker moves out while the second speaker moves in.
You will hear the sound coming from your speakers, but it will lack depth and body, and it just doesn’t sound right. poor sound quality is due to lower frequencies canceling each other out.
common types of speaker cable connections
There are two different speaker cable connection types that you should be aware of. To determine which type to use, you need to look at the connections on your amp and speakers.
Note that your amplifier may have one type of connection while your speakers may have another. To properly understand how to connect your speaker cable, let’s take a look at the two connection options to see which one you need to use.
binding posts are the most common type of speaker wire connection you’ll find on amplifiers and speakers of all models and price ranges. There are mainly two ways to connect the speaker wire to the binding posts.
- The first way is to unscrew the black or red cap on the binding post, insert the speaker wire into the hole and screw the cap back on.
- You can also insert wires into the ends from the binding post and secure with banana plugs. just remember that the connections on some amp models have protective caps that will need to be removed.
To connect with this type, you can use bare speaker wire, banana plugs, or connect spades. some amplifiers have binding posts with openings at the bottom instead of at the ends. in this case, you will need to unscrew the cap, insert the cable into the hole, and then screw it back on tightly.
Another common type of connection is spring clips. You’ll most commonly find this type on cheaper speaker models and amplifiers. but they are not only used in budget models and can be found in numerous types of all-in-one systems.
The spring clip method is also the easiest way to connect the speaker wire. simply push down on the bottom of the spring clip and insert the speaker wire into the slot. Ideally, you’ll use bare speaker wire or pin connectors with this type of connection.
choice of speaker cable termination types
You have now chosen your connection types; you have to decide which method you will use to terminate the ends of your cables. The action of putting a connector on the end of your speaker cable is commonly known as “terminating a cable”. but if you’re using a bare wire, you won’t have to connect any connectors. Let’s discuss these types of termination in more detail.
use of bare wires to connect speakers
The great thing about using bare speaker wire is that it’s compatible with all connection types. and it’s also the easiest and most affordable way to connect your amp and speakers without the need for accessories. check out our simple step-by-step guide to connecting speakers with bare wires.
- Physically separate the two positive and negative wires an inch or two. you may need a sharp knife to split the core insulation, or you can pry it apart with your fingers if possible. be sure not to accidentally cut and expose the bare wire. you should be left with a speaker wire with the bare wire at the end.
- use a sharp knife or special wire strippers to strip half an inch of insulation from each wire.
- you can now twist the bare ends to limit stray strands.
- take the bare end of the cable and insert it into the speaker and amplifier connectors.
- make sure the cable is firmly seated by gently pulling on the side to side.
If you can use bare wire to connect the speakers and amplifier, the job should be completed in less than 10 minutes. but if not, you will have to attach connectors.
use of banana plugs to terminate speaker cables
Banana plugs are a very popular connection method, but you will need to purchase them separately. and always remember that you will need four banana plugs for each cable. this results in two for each end of your cable, assuming you need banana plugs for both your speakers and your amp.
There are different ways to attach banana plugs, but most are simple screw connections. all you need to do is use a screwdriver to secure the cable. self-adjusting banana plugs are also a viable option because you can simply clamp the cable in place when you tighten the cap. make sure you use the best banana plugs like the examples below.
- 24k gold plated open screw banana plugs
- 5 monoprice gold plated speaker banana plugs
- amazon basic speaker connector banana plugs
We recommend that you follow these simple steps to connect banana plugs with a screw clamp.
- use a knife or wire strippers to strip a half inch from the ends of each wire.
- twist the ends of the copper wire to remove any loose strands.
- unscrew each banana plug cap and screw it onto each wire.
- Insert the stripped wire into the plug hole and screw it on securely.
- Screw the cap back onto the plug.
Once you’ve completed that process, insert the banana plugs into the binding posts on your amplifier and speakers. Banana plugs eliminate the hassle of fiddling with wires and trying to thread binding posts with bare wires. some types of banana plugs may be connected in a slightly different way, but the general principles remain the same.
connect the speaker cables with spade connectors
Spade connectors are a popular alternative to banana plugs and share many similarities. for example, you will also need four spade connectors for each cable. You can purchase spade connectors with straight or angled connections that create a better fit in some circumstances. you can connect these types by soldering, crimping, or screwing them into place.
These hold the cable firmly and are the most popular alternative to soldering. you may be tempted to use pliers, but a crimping tool is the best way to make the join and get a firm connection. and if done correctly, there should be no need to solder.
After you’ve attached the cable to the paddles, unscrew the binding posts and snap them into place. screw on the lid to hold everything securely. these are some of the most reliable spade connectors available on the market.
- ticonn 100pc nylon spade connectors kit
- baomain red insulated spade connectors for crimp terminal
- zoostliss nylon connector crimp terminal set 280-piece mixed shovel
Spade connectors are preferable to bare wires because they are more secure and ensure a strong, reliable connection. they are ideally used for connecting speakers that are close to walls because you get more flexibility to connect at 45 or 90 degree angles.
using pin connectors to terminate speaker cable
Pin connectors and banana plugs look very similar and are sometimes even considered the same thing. but you can tell the difference by the protruding pin which is 2mm in diameter on a pin connector. These pins can be straight or angled, giving you the flexibility of a spade connector but the appearance of a banana clip.
Strip some insulation off the ends of the wire and connect the pins directly by crimping or soldering. your pin connectors may have a threaded connection, and if so, unscrew the cap, insert the bare wire, and then screw it into place.
This is a viable termination method for spring clip connections. insert the pin into the hole while pushing down on the clip. but if you want to use them with binding posts, you will need to insert the wire through the center hole and tighten the cap.
connect your speakers and amplifier with speaker cables
Now you have decided which connection works for you; It’s time to connect your amp and speakers with your cables. If you’re using a stereo amplifier and speakers, you need to be careful about your connections. make sure you neatly connect your amp’s left speaker output to the actual left speaker, and vice versa.
You should also make sure that the same end of the cable connects directly from the positive terminal of your amplifier and speakers. repeat this process with the negative terminals.
If you’re connecting a multi-channel home theater, the process is similar but a bit more complicated. you can use the same concept as the stereo amplifier, but it is important to connect the correct speaker to each output terminal.
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and don’t miss our handy guides on how to connect a subwoofer to an amplifier, how to connect a sound bar to a computer, how to make regular speakers wireless, and how to connect a sound bar to a tv without hdmi u optician for more useful information.
how to connect speaker wire: final thoughts
Connecting speaker wire can seem like a daunting task if you’re new to electronics. but if you have access to connector types like banana plugs, spade connectors, and pin connectors, you’ll just need a wire stripper, crimping tool, or possibly a soldering kit.
Ideally, you can use bare wire to make the connections without the need for additional accessories. though using one of the recommended connector types is the easiest way to get the job done right. hooking up your amp and speakers is the easy part.
Until next time, happy to hear.