Speaker wire connections (+ / -) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-22-2013, 02:09 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 02:15 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 02:22 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 02:46 PM
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Some avrs can help detect it. What particular wire is it?

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post #5 of 23 Old 09-22-2013, 02:51 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 02:57 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 03:01 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 03:02 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 04:32 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 04:41 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 05:12 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 05:13 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 05:17 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 05:30 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 05:30 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 05:36 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.

(LCD - Sony KDL - XBR4) (Receiver - Sony STR-DA4ES)(Blu Ray - Oppo BDP-83) (PS3)( Dish Hopper DVR With Sling) 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 #17 of 23 Old 09-22-2013, 06:13 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 23 Old 09-22-2013, 07:08 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 23 Old 09-23-2013, 06:30 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 23 Old 09-23-2013, 09:25 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 23 Old 09-28-2013, 11:01 AM - 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 23 Old 09-29-2013, 04:11 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 - XBR4) (Receiver - Sony STR-DA4ES)(Blu Ray - Oppo BDP-83) (PS3)( Dish Hopper DVR With Sling) 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 23 Old 09-29-2013, 04:20 PM
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Sometimes you just need a bit more juice, though


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