Speaker wire connections (+ / -) - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews

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post #1 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys,

I've mounted surround speakers yesterday with wall runners attached with speaker wire running to the front of the room, ready for hookup.

The problem is, I wasn't paying attention to which wire is left or which is right.

I now know that one of the wires has writing on it, the other wire does not. So I can identify one surround speaker setup because I see the writing on a wire at the back of the speaker.

The other side, I can't tell, without pulling more wire back to find the writing which is near impossible without dislodging the runners off the walls.
Is this going to be a problem? I really don't want to take off the runners and start again.
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post #2 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 03:15 PM
 
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Might also check to see if is textured for fingertip decoding....one side will usually have a smooth surface, the other ridged. Sometimes a slight coloration difference, too. You do need to keep the wiring to your speakers in phase so it is important.
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post #3 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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It's red plastic that feels pretty uniform throughout. No colouration changes either. I will have a closer look though to see if there's a thread or something else inside one of the wires.

If the sound is off kilter (out of phase) would I be able to tell? I know it's the right rear which may be a guesswork connection on the receiver.
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post #4 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 03:46 PM
 
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Some avrs can help detect it. What particular wire is it?
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post #5 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 03:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason3022 View Post

Hi guys,

I've mounted surround speakers yesterday with wall runners attached with speaker wire running to the front of the room, ready for hookup.

The problem is, I wasn't paying attention to which wire is left or which is right.

I now know that one of the wires has writing on it, the other wire does not. So I can identify one surround speaker setup because I see the writing on a wire at the back of the speaker.

The other side, I can't tell, without pulling more wire back to find the writing which is near impossible without dislodging the runners off the walls.
Is this going to be a problem? I really don't want to take off the runners and start again.

If you have a vol/ohm tmeter or a continuity light you can use that to identify different pairs of wire.

You can get continuity testers for about $10

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-Continuity-Tester-GCT-3304/202867880#.Uj9jqYabNqA



As little as $5 with shipping @ eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Leviton-Electrical-Continuity-Tester-49661-/231046036927

Probably the easiest way to use these for your purpose is to short one of the speaker cables at the speaker end, and then check to see which wires have continuity at the other at the receiver end.

You can do the same thing with an ohm meter which is one of the components of a multimeter. Multimeters that will do the job run from from about $5 on eBay and at places like Harbor Freight, to about $25, at home improvement stores.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/DIGITAL-HANDHELD-LCD-DVM-VOM-MULTIMETER-VOLTMETER-VOLT-AMP-AMMETER-TEST-METER-/261072065190

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-Tools-Manual-Ranging-Multimeter-MM100/202565780#.Uj9lyIabNqA

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post #6 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 03:57 PM
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And while you're at it, to determine polarity with a meter, make sure the cable is disconnected at both ends, then hook a battery across one end and measure at the other.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #7 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Some avrs can help detect it. What particular wire is it?

Receiver: Denon AVR-1713

Speaker cable: iCan 14AWG premium oxygen free copper. It was ~ $45 / 100 feet @ one of my local computer stores: Canada Computers.

The tv hasn't arrived yet, so it and the receiver will be hooked up this coming Friday. I was just trying to prepare the speaker set up first.
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post #8 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

And while you're at it, to determine polarity with a meter, make sure the cable is disconnected at both ends, then hook a battery across one end and measure at the other.

Interesting, I've never used one of those. Will look into it.
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post #9 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Excuse my ignorance, but is this how I could check polarity?:

1) Attach one end of speaker wires to a 9-volt battery. +/-

2) Use multimeter probes to touch other end. +/-

-If negative number appears on screen, that tells me that I need to reverse the wires, for polarity?
-If positive number appears on screen, then I can mark them +/- and I'm good to go.


Do I set the multimeter to the lowest OHMS it can go? It turns out I had one in the garage, never used it before.
Speakers are 8 ohms, and lowest setting is 200 ohms on multimeter.
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post #10 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 05:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason3022 View Post

Excuse my ignorance, but is this how I could check polarity?:

1) Attach one end of speaker wires to a 9-volt battery. +/-

2) Use multimeter probes to touch other end. +/-

-If negative number appears on screen, that tells me that I need to reverse the wires, for polarity?
-If positive number appears on screen, then I can mark them +/- and I'm good to go.


Do I set the multimeter to the lowest OHMS it can go? It turns out I had one in the garage, never used it before.
Speakers are 8 ohms, and lowest setting is 200 ohms on multimeter.

If you're checking polarity with a 9 VOLT battery then the meter must be set to measure voltage, not resistance.
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post #11 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 06:12 PM
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This is simple, when you connect the 9v battery, + to + and - to -, if the cone moves toward you, i.e. away from the speaker frame , it's wired correctly, if it moves away from you, into the speaker frame, its reverse polarity.
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post #12 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 06:13 PM
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haha. backwater method works like this: attach one end of wire to 9v battery +. attach tongue to other terminal of 9v battery. attach opposite end of wire to tongue. when you get a buzz, you got the wire pair. :-)~

no it won't kill you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFednlEYAaQ

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post #13 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 06:17 PM
 
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Have to be a hell of a tongue to reach from one end of the room to the other! LOL!
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post #14 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason3022 View Post

Excuse my ignorance, but is this how I could check polarity?:

1) Attach one end of speaker wires to a 9-volt battery. +/-

2) Use multimeter probes to touch other end. +/-

-If negative number appears on screen, that tells me that I need to reverse the wires, for polarity?
-If positive number appears on screen, then I can mark them +/- and I'm good to go.


Do I set the multimeter to the lowest OHMS it can go? It turns out I had one in the garage, never used it before.
Speakers are 8 ohms, and lowest setting is 200 ohms on multimeter.

1. Yes. Put a piece of tape around the + wire so you can keep track.
2. Yes. Use the voltage scale appropriate for the battery (may by something like 10V for a 1.5 to 9 V battery). If the reading is positive, put a piece of tape on the wire to which the + meter lead is attached; otherwise, put the tape on the negative wire.

HTH - Don

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #15 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 06:30 PM
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that or connect the wire ends for the return trip one at a time and retest. :-)~

Listen. It's All Good.
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post #16 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 06:36 PM
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Looks like you are having polarity and wire ID problems. Disconnect the wires at the amp end and leave the other ends connected to your surround speakers. Make sure your mulitimeter leads are in the correct holes. ( + and - ) and set it to it's lowest ohms range. Find a friend. Grab one of the speaker wires and connect the meter - lead to one wire. Have you or friend at speaker end. Now touch the + meter lead to the other wire. You will hear the speaker make a pop sound and looking closely at the cone, it will move in or out. If it moves out , the - speaker lead is where you now have - lead of your multimeter. If the cone moves in, the polarity is reversed. Some times it is hard to see the cone move. Just keep tapping the + lead of your multimeter to the speaker wire and observe.

Using a multimeter this way is the same as the battery method. A multimeter on the ohms scale puts out a small DC voltage to it's probes.

You will have no + or- indication on your meter screen.

You should measure around 8 ohms on your meter.

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post #17 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skytrooper View Post

Looks like you are having polarity and wire ID problems. Disconnect the wires at the amp end and leave the other ends connected to your surround speakers. Make sure your mulitimeter leads are in the correct holes. ( + and - ) and set it to it's lowest ohms range. Find a friend. Grab one of the speaker wires and connect the meter - lead to one wire. Have you or friend at speaker end. Now touch the + meter lead to the other wire. You will hear the speaker make a pop sound and looking closely at the cone, it will move in or out. If it moves out , the - speaker lead is where you now have - lead of your multimeter. If the cone moves in, the polarity is reversed. Some times it is hard to see the cone move. Just keep tapping the + lead of your multimeter to the speaker wire and observe.

Using a multimeter this way is the same as the battery method. A multimeter on the ohms scale puts out a small DC voltage to it's probes.

You will have no + or- indication on your meter screen.

You should measure around 8 ohms on your meter.

Thanks for detailed reply.
I'm a little confused though because I watched a video where the guy had either a positive or negative readout on his multimeter, indicated in polarity or not.
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post #18 of 35 Old 09-22-2013, 08:08 PM
 
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Resistance (Ohms) and voltage are not the same thing.
Resistance has no polarity.

Are the speakers connected to the wires?
If so, use the Ohmeter to identify which cable is connected to which speaker by listening for the one that makes noise when to connect the probes to the cable.
Watch the woofer cone and see which way it moves when you do this, that will also indicate its polarity.
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post #19 of 35 Old 09-23-2013, 07:30 AM
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The only time you will see + or - on your digital meter is when you are measuring DC voltage. In your case, you are measuring resistance ( Ohms ) . When you touch your meter probes to the speaker wires using the Ohms Scale, you are putting a small DC Voltage thru your meter probes, it's how meters work when using the Ohms scale. A small current will now flow thru your speaker pushing the cone in or out. Which way the cone moves ( in or out ) depends on how you have your meter connected to your speaker wire. This is basic electronics. ( Ohms Law ) Keep trying and it will hit you.

If that meter was sitting in a garage for a while, you might want to check the battery's.

If you want to see + or - on your meter, put your meter on the DC Scale, go out to your car and touch the probes to the car battery. Touch the posts one way and then the opposite.

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post #20 of 35 Old 09-23-2013, 10:25 AM
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OP Jason3022 - have you solved your issue? What method did you use?
Were they wired correctly?
Quote:
Originally Posted by LTD02 View Post

haha. backwater method works like this: attach one end of wire to 9v battery +. attach tongue to other terminal of 9v battery. attach opposite end of wire to tongue. when you get a buzz, you got the wire pair. :-)~

no it won't kill you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFednlEYAaQ

LOL! I've tested 9v batteries this way for 43 years now as a quick method, since I was 7....though my wife frowns on me teaching my kids this method.

Now, back in the 70's my dad had 30v batteries for remote garage door opener, sorta like these, them I'd NOT do the tounge method....
4131.jpg
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post #21 of 35 Old 09-28-2013, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, thanks I did get it sorted out. I just used a AA battery. Attached wire to negative end, and tapped positive end with other wire, while my dad watched the rear speakers thump in or out.
Neat trick, it works.

System is all up and running now, little Energy speakers are pretty decent
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post #22 of 35 Old 09-29-2013, 05:11 PM
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Dad is always your best friend. smile.gif Glad to see you got everything working and learned a little.

I love the tingle on my tongue of a 9 Volt Battery in the mourning! eek.gif

(LCD - Sony KDL -52 XBR4) (Receiver - Yamaha RX-A1040)(Blu Ray - Oppo BDP-83) (PS3)( Comcast X1) Speakers (L & R - Paradigm Studio 20) (Center -Paradigm CC-470) (Surrounds & Back Surrounds - Paradigm SA-15R in walls) (Subwoofer 1 - Sunfire HRS-12) (Subwoofer 2 - Paradigm PW-2100)
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post #23 of 35 Old 09-29-2013, 05:20 PM
 
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Sometimes you just need a bit more juice, though

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post #24 of 35 Old 11-19-2015, 09:31 PM
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sorry to resurrect such an old thread but i need a bit of clarification... i want to confirm that two pairs of ceiling speakers have been connected correctly, + to +, - to -.... unfortunately the speakers in questions can't be accessed/viewed easily to see if the cone moves in or out when a current is applied, so what is the best alternative assuming i have a multimeter and speaker wires are attached to the speaker?

from my google search it appeared that it could easily be done by setting the multimeter dial to a "v" (volt) position , such as 9v (or is there a better setting?), and then touch the unattached ends of the speaker wire using the multimeter probes - if the display showed a negative number then the speaker was not wired correctly, it's polarity was incorrect, but if the display showed a positive number then the speaker was wired correctly. is this procedure wrong? if so, how can i determine of my ceiling speakers are wired correctly assuming i can't physically get close to them?

also, are polarity and phase the same thing within the context of this of this type of speaker testing? thanks in advance for any help!
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post #25 of 35 Old 11-20-2015, 07:21 AM
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If you cannot get to the wires on the speakers and cannot see the speakers themselves this method will not work. Measuring at one end without being able to see the speaker move does not help. You could measure the impulse response, but I would bite the bullet, get a ladder (or a lift), and pull the speaker grills (if not the entire speaker) so you can see what is happening.

You could also play a tone, maybe the test tone from your AVR or one you can download, or pink noise, or even try with music, into both speakers (use a mono signal or select mono on your AVR/receiver/whatever) and stand centered between the speakers. If they are in phase the sound should be "normal"; if they are out of phase you should hear the sound level drop ("hole in the middle") since the sound waves from each speaker will cancel. You can swap one speaker wire's +/- connection back and forth and listen for the difference. Nice sound centered between the speakers = OK; reduced sound in the middle with a mono signal so it sounds like it comes from two isolated sources to the left and right = out of phase.

Polarity inversion is the same thing as a 180 degree phase shift. More or less.

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post #26 of 35 Old 11-20-2015, 10:01 AM
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DonH50's advice is good if you can't easily get to your speakers. Like he also said I would bite the bullet and take the grills off and look and use the battery method.

You must put your meter on low ohms scale, not volts if your using a meter.

A little note on meters. I have a Fluke 187 Digital and a Simpson 260 Analog Meters. The digital Fluke will not put enough voltage at its probes to move the speaker cone. Useless if trying to use it for polarity checks. Don't know if all digital meters act the same. The analog Simpson works fine. Just tested both on a Paradigm Studio 20 speaker.

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post #27 of 35 Old 11-20-2015, 03:36 PM
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thanks folks, very helpful, gonna fetch a very tall ladder... on the plus side i purchased my very first multimeter, i'm sure i'll find a use for it, always seemed like a tool i should own, albeit i've never needed one....
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post #28 of 35 Old 11-22-2015, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
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thanks folks, very helpful, gonna fetch a very tall ladder... on the plus side i purchased my very first multimeter, i'm sure i'll find a use for it, always seemed like a tool i should own, albeit i've never needed one....
Remember what I said about my digital Fluke meter not moving the speaker cone. You may want to try your new meter on a speaker that is on hand before you start climbing on ladders.

If your your meter don't move the cone, use the battery method.

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post #29 of 35 Old 11-22-2015, 12:44 PM
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This mp3 file will explain and test.
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Attached Files
File Type: zip speakerpolaritycheck.zip (963.5 KB, 10 views)

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post #30 of 35 Old 11-22-2015, 01:04 PM
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thanks for your help folks, i went ahead and borrowed a very tall ladder and made the climb, turns out both speakers were wired correctly, go figure, at least i now KNOW that's the case rather than THINK that's the case...
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