Which Side Of Speaker Wire Is Positive

Understanding the difference between positive and negative speaker wires is vital when setting up your audio system. This knowledge ensures a proper connection, leading to optimal performance and avoiding any potential damage to the equipment. In this article, we will discuss how to determine which side of the speaker wire is positive and provide an important outline of the subject matter.

Important Outline

1. Wire identification

Before starting any wiring connections, it is essential to identify the positive and negative sides of the speaker wires. In most cases, speaker wires will have some type of distinguishing mark, color, or other identifier to help you differentiate between the two.

2. Color coding

Speaker wires are commonly color-coded to make it easier to identify the positive and negative wires. Generally, the positive wire is colored red, while the negative wire is black, white, or another color. However, color coding can vary between manufacturers, so it’s important to check your specific wire’s documentation for accurate information.

3. Cable markings

If your speaker wire isn’t color-coded, it may have other markings to help you identify the positive and negative sides. These markings can include text or symbols, ridges, or stripes on the wire insulation. The marked or ridged side is usually the positive, while the smooth or unmarked side is the negative.

4. Connecting speakers

When you connect speakers to an amplifier or a receiver, make sure you identify the positive and negative terminals on both the speakers and the amplifier. The positive terminal on the speaker should connect to the positive terminal on the amplifier, and the negative terminal should connect to the negative terminal. Following this guideline ensures your speakers are in phase, leading to better sound quality.

5. Testing with a battery

If you’re still unsure which side of the speaker wire is positive or negative, you can use a 1.5-volt AA battery to test the wires. Attach the ends of the speaker wires to the battery terminals, being careful not to let the wires touch each other. When the cone of the speaker pushes outward, the wire connected to the positive battery terminal is the positive speaker wire.

6. Importance of proper connections

Connecting speaker wires correctly is crucial for the best possible sound quality and to protect your audio equipment. If speakers are wired out of phase (with positive connected to negative and vice versa), it can result in poor sound quality, a decrease in bass response, and even potential damage to your audio system.

In conclusion, while there isn’t a universal way to determine which side of speaker wire is positive, using the color coding, cable markings, or battery testing method can aid in making the correct connections. Ensuring proper speaker wire connections will reward you with optimal audio performance and a satisfying listening experience.

Step by Step Guide

To ensure a successful speaker installation and avoid potential damage, follow the step-by-step guide below:

1. Identify the speaker wires: Determine the positive and negative wires through the color coding, markings, or using a 1.5-volt AA battery test.
2. Gather necessary tools: Acquire wire strippers, connectors (if needed), and a screwdriver or pliers, depending on the type of terminals on your speakers and amplifier.
3. Strip the wire ends: Remove approximately half an inch of insulation from the ends of the speaker wires.
4. Connect the wires to the speakers: Attach the positive wire to the positive terminal, and the negative wire to the negative terminal. Ensure a secure connection by tightening the terminal screws or clamping down on the connectors.
5. Route the wires to the amplifier: Properly organize the wires, preventing any physical damage or interference.
6. Connect the wires to the amplifier: Follow the same pattern as before—attach the positive speaker wire to the positive amplifier terminal and the negative wire to the negative terminal.

Step by Step Guide with Bullet Points

– Identify speaker wires (positive and negative)
– Gather necessary tools (wire strippers, connectors, screwdriver or pliers)
– Strip wire ends to expose the conductor
– Attach speaker wires to speaker terminals (positive-to-positive, negative-to-negative)
– Route and organize wires from speakers to amplifier
– Connect speaker wires to amplifier (positive-to-positive, negative-to-negative)

Pros and Cons

– Proper speaker wire connections result in optimal sound quality and bass response.
– Correct connections protect your audio gear from potential damage.
– Proper wire organization prevents tangles and accidents.

– Different manufacturers may use varying color codes or wire markings, potentially causing confusion.
– Inappropriate connections can result in inferior audio performance and potential harm to your equipment.


Q: Can I use any type of wire for my speaker connections?
A: Although general-purpose wires can be used in some scenarios, using dedicated speaker wire is highly recommended due to the specific construction that minimizes signal loss and delivers better audio performance.

Q: What happens if I mix up the positive and negative speaker wire connections?
A: Connecting the wires incorrectly (known as “out-of-phase”) can cause poor sound quality, reduced bass response, and potential damage to your audio equipment.

Q: Can I use connectors on my speaker wires?
A: Yes, connectors such as banana plugs, spade terminals, and pin connectors can be used for a secure and professional-looking connection. However, make sure the connectors are compatible with your specific speaker and amplifier terminals.


Identifying and connecting speaker wires correctly is essential for achieving optimal audio performance and protecting your investment in audio equipment. Paying attention to wire identification, using appropriate tools, and following a step-by-step guide can help ensure your speaker installation is a success. Remember to refer to your specific equipment’s documentation for accurate guidelines, and do not hesitate to seek professional assistance if needed.

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