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How To Determine Whether The Speaker Wire Is Positive or Negative?

High-end speakers are often favoured due to their advanced and premium sound quality. To keep these speakers effective and in perfect condition, take care of the wires. Any speaker has a range of wires to connect to its designated ports. 

Do you need clarification about which are the positive and negative wires? Or how to identify the different wires? This article offers you all the details related to the speaker wires.

On most speakers, the white wires or wire with a white marking is the positive wire. The entirely black wire or unmarked wire is usually the negative wire. But that can also change depending on the manufacturer’s design. Some manufacturers use different markings as well. 

What are the Signs to Determine Which Wire is Positive & Which is Dangerous in Speakers?

As you already know, the wire markings can differ depending on the speaker or installer brand. Some speakers come with manuals that clearly state the negative and positive wires. 

In many cases, the manual may need to tell how to identify the wires explicitly. So, let’s know about the methods that can help you to identify the wires from your speaker- 

1. Using Colour Codes

Most speakers come with a designated colour code that is used for identifying the wires-

a. Silver & Copper Speaker Wire

Some speakers come with copper and silver wire with clear coverings. In this case, the silver one is positive. That means the copper one is negative. 

b. Black & White Speaker Wire

Sometimes speaker wires are colour coded as per their polarity. Such speakers have black and white wires. Here the black wires are negative, and the white ones are usually positive. 

c. Red Or Black Speaker Wire, Which One is Positive?

A few speaker models also come with red and black coloured wires. The red wire is positive and the black wire is negative. 

d. Blue & Grey, Which Wire is Positive?

Not all speakers come with red-black or black-white color markings. Some speakers also have grey and blue speaker wires. Here, the grey wire is usually negative and the blue one is positive. But not all models have the same markings. Some manufacturers use grey-colored wires as negative and blue as positive wires. 

e. Green & Blue Speaker Wire

Experts have also said about the green-blue wire system where the green one is negative and the blue one is positive. But, you may find speakers with blue(negative) and green(positive) wires. 

2. Stripes on Wires

As you can see, often, the wire colors can be confusing. In this case, you need to check out the stripes present on the wires. You may find a wire is completely black while the other is white-striped or red-striped. In this case, the black one is negative and the other one with markings is positive. 

a. The Signs on the Wires

A few speaker models have wires with markings. Wires with red or white markings are usually positive wires. The markings can be present at the end of the wire. 

b. Writings on Wires

There are speaker wires that come with writing or symbols. A positive wire can have a symbol of ‘+’ or the word ‘positive’ engraved on it. Similarly, the negative wire can come with either the ‘’ symbol or the word ‘Negative’ written on it. 

c. Ridges & Bumps

Sometimes, the speaker wires come in different textures to denote their polarity. You will find a wire with a smoother texture and another with bumps, ridges, or bands. In most cases, these wires with textured surfaces are positive. 

3. Checking to the Audio Quality of Each Speaker

If unsure, try listening by connecting the wires to different ports. If the wires are not connected to their designated port, the sound quality will become crappy and bad. Sometimes, the sound can be dim or come with strange noises. In some cases, distortions are also heard.

Just connect the wires randomly to a port. Then turn the soaker and listen. If the sound quality is different than expected, try rearranging the wires and listen again. You will only need to listen for a few seconds to understand the right wire arrangement. 

Please note that this method is a trial-and-error method. Hence, it will take some time to understand the proper arrangement of wires. 

4. Check with the User Manual

As we have already said, the user manual can be crucial in understanding the positive and negative speaker wires. So, take the user manual with your speaker and check the wire arrangement section to find the wire polarity. But, there are chances that your speaker does not come with a manual or the manual does not have the needed information.  

5. Test with a 9-Volt Battery 

 If you are still determining the wire polarity, you can perform a 9-volt battery test at your home to find the positive and negative cables. Here is how to do this-

  • First, take a 9-volt AAA battery and a battery clip with positive(red) and negative(black) wires. 
  • Next, take a speaker wire that you think is negative. Connect one end to the speaker and connect the positive wire of the battery clip to the speaker.
  • The wire is harmful if you hear a scratching sound from the speaker. If not, the wire you picked up is likely positive. Then the other one will be negative. 

 After finding the wires, make sure to mark these for your future convenience. 

6. Check with a Multimeter

Using a multimeter can help you effectively determine the speaker wires’ polarity effectively. It can be easily bought from your local electric hardwire shop or online shops. A multimeter is a machine that can help you to find electrical values like amperage, resistance, voltage etc. Here is how to use the multimeter-

  • First, unplug the wires from the speaker. 
  • Next, take a 9-volt battery and connect the speaker wires to the battery. 
  • After that, take a multimeter and fix it to the DC voltage. 
  • Now, Connect the wire to the multimeter. 
  • After that, check the wire reading. If the multimeter reading is positive, the wire is positive. Similarly, negative reading on a multimeter means a negative wire is connected.

7. Use a Polarity Testing App

One of the easiest ways is to check the polarity through a polarity app. It is easy, and you don’t need any technical knowledge either. 

  • First, search for any polarity testing app on the Google play store or app store. Install it and launch the app.
  • Take a speaker wire and arrange them as you feel is the best. Now, take a headphone and connect it to the audio output point of your phone.
  • Now, check the app rating. The polarity app will use the phone’s microphone to check the sound and state the polarity. 

What Would Happen If You Combine Positive & Negative Speaker Wires?

Well, many people often mix up positive and negative speaker wires. Thankfully, there is no danger resulting from this mix-up. 

The speaker transmits sound waves in negative and positive pressure fluctuations. The human ear drums or tympanic membranes take the sound differences and send them to the brain as electric signals. 

If you connect the positive wire to the negative part of the speaker, the sound wave reverses and travels as an inverted or reversed polarity. 

It creates destructive interfaces where sound waves often cancel each other and weaken the waves. Hence, some sound frequencies will not be heard in between the audio. 

This creates a disorganized image, which prevents proper mixing of the sound effects. It is more prominent if you place the speakers close to each other.

As a result, the sound seems dim or lower, with distortions or wired interruptions in between the music or audio. The distortion or poor sound quality becomes more noticeable at lower frequencies as the wavelengths are longer and not much affected by the physical medium or air. 

On top of that, reverse polarity results in phase cancellation if more than one speaker is present. 

Please remember that if you tend to do this in the long term, the speaker can get damaged. It includes wire damage, amplifier damage, etc. 

In short, the speakers may be protected if you mix up the wires occasionally. But, the sound quality will be poor. Hence, to get the best audio experience, you will have to connect the wires to their designated ports. 

Does Polarity Matter When It Comes To Speakers?

Well, polarity does matter with speakers. But, if the polarity changes once in a while, there will not be any danger. It’s because the speakers do not come with rear popularity. But, if you have more than one speaker, the polarity starts to matter.

If you want the best audio experience with only one speaker, it will work with both straight or even reverse polarity. But, if you have multiple ones, make sure to keep these in the same polarity with the wires properly arranged. 

In case you arrange positive wires with negative ports for two or more speakers, the reverse polarity results in phase cancellation. Hence, some frequencies get cancelled, and you will not hear the sounds lying in between those frequencies. It often appears as if the sound stops or gets interrupted abruptly between the audio streaming session. 

Changing polarity does not mean that the speaker has adverse effects. As you already know, the speakers do not have any required polarity. But,  with two or more speakers, issues can degrade the audio quality. If you want the best audio experience, always fix the polarity issues. 

How Should You Connect Speaker Wires Properly?

Here is the step-by-step guide:

  • First, turn off the amplifier. 
  • Take the wires and cut the insulation coat to bring out the wires. Only a half inch cut is enough. Twist the stands of wire to create a proper arrangement. If the wires already have port connectors, you do not need to cut them. 
  • After that, take the negative wire and connect that with the negative ports of the speakers to amplifier. 
  • Follow the same step with the positive wire. 
  • Connect the speaker to electricity, and you are ready to go. 

Signs That If You’ve Wired Speaker Wires Properly

Well, there are many ways to know if you have wired the speaker properly. The easiest way is to turn on the speaker and listen to the audio. If the sound is normal and is good without distortion, you have wired the speaker correctly. 

Check if the sound quality is poor, seems weak, and the sound often gets interrupted. Sometimes, you may also hear small pauses in between the audio. The speaker wires are not appropriately connected if such issues are present in the audio. 

Is Speaker Wire Harmful?

No, speaker wires are not dangerous to humans. Even though these transmit current, the voltage is way lower and will not shock you. 

What Would Happen If a Positive & Negative Speaker Wires Come In Contact?

Even if the positive and negative wires touch each other, they will not cause serious issues. The wires have very low voltage and do not create any spark when touched. Hence, you will not be in danger. 

The wires touching each other can cause serious issues with the speaker. Hence, be careful. 


Confusion can arise with speaker wires as it can be challenging to determine positive and negative. But you now know how to determine the positive and negative speaker wires. So, if you are still looking for the wire polarity, you can now use this article as a guide to solving the issue. 

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