How To Test A Speaker And The Cables Properly
To get the best possible sound from your systems, you should properly connect the cables in their appropriate plugs.
That is why we will talk about how to test a speaker wire for polarity, so you can connect them in their appropriate place. We will also talk about other tips in setting up speakers in your home theater system.
To start things off, we will talk about speaker wires, different types of connectors, and how to use them. Then we will talk about how to test the speaker wire polarity. Finally, we will give you other tips to get the best possible sound from your components.
What Are Speaker Wires?
Speaker wires or cables are what you use to connect speakers to the audio source. Most speaker wires use copper because it's cheap and has low resistance. They come in different thickness, from gauge 12 to gauge 18.
Not all speakers include speaker wires so you have to get them separately. It's up to you what gauge to use, but consider how long the wire will be and how much resistance you want.
As a general rule, the longer the wire run is, the thicker the wire should be (12 or 14 gauge). Thick wire is also better for high power applications and low-impedance speakers. However, you should ask the retailer about what works best for your speakers.
Speaker Wire Connectors
You can get your speaker wires with connectors or you can keep them bare. We do suggest you get them with connectors because connecting a bare wire can be very frustrating.
There are different types of connectors or connection tips. These are pin connectors, spade connectors, single banana connectors and dual banana connectors.
- Pin connectors
- Spade lugs
- Banana plugs
Pin connectors have straight or an angle pin at the wire end. They work with spring clip terminals but also with 5-way binding posts.
Spade lugs have a U-shape end and they work with 5-way binding posts. To connect it, slide the open part of the U over the binding post. Spade lugs are the most reliable connection because they secure tightly.
Banana plugs are like pin connectors but with a fat part in the middle of the pin. This round part fits tightly into a binding post, giving a secure connection. Banana plugs are either single or dual. The different is that the dual banana plugs are connected together in the same housing.
Speaker Wire Terminals
There are two types of speaker wire terminals: binding posts and spring clips. You need to check which one your speaker has so you can get the right type of connectors too.
Spring clips are easy to work with. You simply have to press the clip down, insert the wire, then release the clip to lock the wire in. This type of terminal only works with bare wires or pin connectors.
Binding posts give a solid connection for speaker wires. It works well with all four types of connectors and even with bare wire. If your component uses a binding post for their terminals, you can simply choose what connector tip to use for the wires.
If not, you to unscrew the collar to show the hole where bare wires or pin connectors enter. Plug in a five-way binding post and secure the screw tightly.
Connecting Speaker Wires
Each speaker wire has a positive and a negative conductor. Connect the positive conductor to the positive receiver and negative conductor on the negative receiver. That's what it means to keep the speakers in phase.
But how will you know which is positive or which is negative if there are no labels? Check using a 9-volt battery.
Test a Speaker Wire For Polarity
- First, unplug the stereo system from the outlet. Remove any connections to the television or other devices and disconnect one speaker from the receiver.
- Second, you should take off the front cover of the speaker so you can see the speaker cone in side. If the cover is not removable, just adjust or position it so the speaker cones are visible.
- Third, get a fully-charged battery or a new nine-volt battery and wrap the speaker wires around the terminals (positive or negative). To know if they are in the right place, you need to observe how the speaker cone reacts when the current from the battery goes to the speaker.
- If the cone moves upwards, then it is the phase is correct. If it moves downwards, then the phasing is wrong and you simply just need to swap the wires.
- To avoid future problems, mark the wires so you will know which is the positive and which is negative.
Connect Them Properly
- Before you start working with the cables, arrange your speakers properly first. Remember, your arrangement affects the sound quality, so make sure you are maximizing the space and arrangement for great sounds. After placing them accordingly, you will have an idea with how long your cables need to be.
- You might want to check what terminals your components have so you can decide on what connector tip to use.
- Always mind the polarity (positive or negative) and the channels. Match positive cable to positive input/output, and negative to negative. With RCA cables, match the colors of the terminal to the color of the RCA tip.
- There should also be labels for left or right speakers. This is not a major problem because sound will still come out of the speakers. However, what should be coming out of the left is coming out of the right, and vice versa. To fix this, just detach and reattach the cables in their right places.
If One Speaker Isn’t Working
- Check if the speaker channel doesn't work with all sources. If a speaker channel doesn't play in any other input, the problem might be the speaker itself.
- You should also check for a faulty cable connection.
- If it does work in one source, but not in another, then there may be something wrong with that source.
- Check if the source works with another speaker. If it doesn’t, have it checked to see what’s wrong with it.
If The Whole Stereo System Isn’t Giving A Sound
- Check the power source.
- Check the cables and connections. Look for any loose connections or faulty cables that’s causing the problem.
- Check the audio levels. If you’re sound system is connected to a computer or another device, check the audio levels on that as well.
For safety and beauty purposes, you want to conceal your cables properly. Ideally, you want to run them inside walls but that's not the only option.
Wire Ties, Adhesive Pads And Cable Clamps
You can keep wires together by using a wire tie. It helps keep them from tangling and looking like a huge spaghetti mess. However, it doesn't conceal the wiring and can still look disturbing.
WIth your wire ties, you can also use adhesive pads. You can attach these on the wall and secure the cable onto it for a neater appearance.
Another way to bundle up your cables is using cable clamps. To secure the cable clamps, opt for screws rather than tacks because it's more secure. You can also easily unscrew the clamp if you need to rearrange your cables.
Raceways Or Wire Ducts
Raceways are plastic or wooden channels that can conceal and keep wires in bundles. They are easy to attach on walls or baseboards and you can even paint them so it blends into the room. It functions as protection for the cables and to conceal them.
While most components come with manuals, setting up speakers or a home theater system can still be overwhelming.
A common problem is that there might be many cables and connections that you have to use. The more cables, the more risk for mistakes or faulty connections.
To get the possible sound from your speakers or sound system, you need to connect them properly. First test the wiring for polarity so you will know where to put them. Then connect them securely to the source. Finally, test it out and listen if the sound is right.
If you are still having trouble with your speakers, you may want to contact the retailer or technical support.