While wireless speakers are currently all the rage, old school sound systems are still favored by audiophiles and those who are looking for a retro vibe. Traditional amp and speaker systems are great for music and home theater purposes. Plus, it’s easier to find older speaker-receiver systems and amps with high-quality audio on the used market. Depending on the brand, they could be much cheaper than new wireless systems.
But setting up traditional speaker systems is not as quick compared to wireless and Bluetooth devices, and some mistakes could harm the audio. There are some steps involved, but anyone can learn how to connect speaker wire.
So keep reading to learn all about connecting speaker wires to your stereo receiver!
Speaker Terminals and Wire
It’s simple to connect an amplifier or stereo receiver with speakers. There are only a few things you need to watch out for.
Namely, you will need to cut and connect the cables properly and ensure that the polarity is correct. If the polarity of the wiring is reversed, it could cause a phasing issue which could harm the audio. Nevertheless, if you follow some simple steps, you won’t go wrong.
Step 1. Choose the Space for Your Speakers
Think about where you’ll be sitting as you listen to music. The ideal seat placement is near a wall but not too close to it. What’s more, you could add some fabric behind the seating area, which will absorb some of the reflected sound. It will improve the listening experience.
Step 2. Position the Speakers
The most typical placement for speakers is at a 60-degree angle facing the listening spot.
It’s better if they are a foot or two away from any walls. Additionally, the speakers should be placed at an equal distance away from each other and from the listening spot. An equilateral triangle formed between the two speakers and the listener will provide the optimal audio experience.
Depending on your space, you can set your speakers and then connect the wires, but if you don’t have enough space, simply move them over to a roomier area to complete the process.
Step 3. Measure the Length
The last step before you hook up the wires is to measure how much length you’ll need from the stereo to the speakers.
You can use a string or a measuring tape to determine the length of your wires.
Step 4. Choose the Wire
Since the amp and speakers share a room, a basic 6-gauge wire will be enough.
If you plan to use longer distances of let’s say 80–150 feet, it would be better to choose 14-gauge cables. Anything longer than that requires 12-gauge wire. But you can use higher gauges for shorter distances as well to get more durability and better sound quality, however, it will come with a higher price.
Additionally, it takes some research to find the proper impedance of the speaker’s that matches your amp. If the speakers are too weak for the amplifier, the power of the amp will damage them. Conversely, if the speakers draw too much current, the amp could get damaged.
Moreover, always get a bit more wire than you need since you could make a mistake.
Step 5: Prep Time!
Depending on how you see it, prepping the cables is actually a highly entertaining activity and tons of audiophiles are extremely sentimental about it. Firstly, ensure that everything is unplugged. The stereo should not be on while you connect the wires. Then, take a look at them and determine which half is red and which is black.
With some wire strippers or scissors, you’ll need to cut the insulation cable around the wires. Measure an inch or so from the beginning of the wire and gently squeeze the cable with your cutters.
Then, take a look at the wires and determine which half is red and which is black. Be careful not to cut the metal. When you remove the cable, slightly twist the bare wire ends but do not tie them together. Since each wire will have a positive and negative end, make sure that they are separated. They should not touch or join together. You should end up with one long cable with two ends on each side for one speaker.
Step 6: Inspect the Connections
Look at the back of your amplifier or stereo. Most will have small red and black sockets where you need to insert the wires. When inserted, the sockets will click and lock the wire into place.
Step 7: Connect to the Stereo
When you look at the small terminals, you’ll see “R” and “L” sockets which indicate the right and left speakers. You should wire the speaker on the left side into the “L” sockets and vice-versa.
Now comes the tricky part that confuses most people. The sockets will include – and + symbols and you need to match the wires accordingly so that you end up with the proper speaker polarity.
The Red + wire should be connected to the positive terminal on the speaker. Then, the Black – wire should go to the – socket on the speaker. Connect the left speaker to the sockets marked “L” on the stereo and the right speaker to the ones marked “R.” Additionally, you can wire the speaker cables to banana plugs before connecting them to a stereo.
Step 8: Connect to the Speakers
For most speakers, you simply need to turn them around, locate the wire terminals or binding posts.
Most will have a metal terminal with a screw. Simply wrap the + and – wires around each terminal so that they match the polarity pattern on the stereo (e.g. + on the speakers connects to + on the stereo). Make sure that the two wires (+ and -) never touch each other.
After this step, the L and R speakers will be correctly connected to your stereo via the speaker wire! When you match the polarity, you will eliminate any phasing issues.
Now, you can turn your receiver, amp, or stereo on and test the speakers. As you’ve seen, it’s not difficult to connect speaker wire. You simply need to be patient and follow the steps we’ve outlined above.
Our guide will help you set up the speakers with the correct polarity so that you will get a complete audio experience. So get some speakers, connect the wires, and rock out!