Speaker wire polarity? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 01-09-2014, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
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(Problem solved)

I know this is a car audio question but, since I respect many of you here on this forum, I was hoping someone could help me out.

Many years ago I had aftermarket speakers and receiver put in my vehicle. It had been stolen many years ago and I have just recently gotten around to replacing the speakers and head unit. My problem is they car audio shop did a horrible job wiring and I have no idea what they did. The speaker wire colors and stripes are now meaningless. My passenger side door, to even get the new speaker to work, I have to use the negative green and negative orange wires to get the speaker to work.

I know how to test the speaker itself.
I know what the color codes are supposed to be.
I would just like to know if there is a way to test the polarity of the wire current. I do have a multimeter but cannot get a reading on the wires for some reason.

Please help,
Josh
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post #2 of 13 Old 01-09-2014, 03:10 PM
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Let me get this straight - you are replacing both speakers and head unit - so you should have access to both ends of every wire, correct? I mean, if you get to a particular speaker terminals (which are marked) you should see what color wire is connected to which terminal.
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post #3 of 13 Old 01-09-2014, 09:53 PM
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Save yourself a headache and run new wire.
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post #4 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
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MandM I'm thinking you're on the right track here. Thanks.
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post #5 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 10:28 AM
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The audio signal is AC, which has no "polarity"

When you set your multimeter to measure AC voltage, you will measure a signal voltage across the speaker wires, which will vary with the instantaneous volume.

If the wiring is the original factory wiring, the colors will be shown on the wiring diagrams that the dealer service department can supply.
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post #6 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
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My apologies. I used improper terminology. I meant is there a way to test the phase. Like I posted above, the wire colors no longer have any meaning.
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post #7 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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OK, right after posting I devised and tested an idea.

1 Get extra HT wires
2 Get extra speaker
3 Set speaker in center of vehicle
4 Use HT wiring to extend one wire (doesnt matter which) from driver side speaker wire to the + terminal of speaker sitting in the center of the car
5 Use HT wiring to extend one wire (again doesnt matter which) from passenger side speaker wire to the - terminal of the speaker sitting in the center of the car
6 Play music and listen for distortion
7 Keep everything the same but switch which door speaker wire the HT wire is touching on only the driver's side.
8 Again listen for distortion

If there is distortion then both wires are either + or both wires are -

If there is no distortion then one wire is + and one wire is -
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post #8 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 11:54 AM
 
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Why don't you just use a multimeter to trace the wires...or, as suggested, look at the colour at each end.
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post #9 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
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As I said in my very first post and again in post #6 the wire color no longer has any meaning. I know you guys are trying to help but apparently only half of you actually read what is posted.

Furthermore, like commsysman said and I overlooked, AC has no polarity therefore a meter is useless.

Thank you commsysman and MandM for actually reading my post and answering. I ran the test I devised and figured out what was what. Everything sounds great.
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post #10 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 01:04 PM
 
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Quote:
As I said in my very first post and again in post #6 the wire color no longer has any meaning.

What does that mean? The colour is a way of identifying both ends of a wire, that's all.
Quote:
If there is distortion then both wires are either + or both wires are -

If there is no distortion then one wire is + and one wire is -

Again , you're not very clear on anything.
Do you mean both wires are connected to the - terminal on the amp? this would typically result in no sound at all.
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post #11 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohiojosh78 View Post

AC has no polarity therefore a meter is useless.
Test it using a multimeter on the resistance setting.
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post #12 of 13 Old 01-10-2014, 09:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohiojosh78 View Post

My apologies. I used improper terminology. I meant is there a way to test the phase. Like I posted above, the wire colors no longer have any meaning.

Polarity is fine, and actually more correct in this context.

That said, better yet, is testing continuity using the meter as A9X-308 suggests to identify which wire is which, then you can connect them appropriately.

Just because you get sound out of the speakers doesn't mean they're connected in correct polarity. You still need to ensure + and - from the amp are connected to + and - of the speakers, respectively.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #13 of 13 Old 01-12-2014, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohiojosh78 View Post

My apologies. I used improper terminology. I meant is there a way to test the phase. Like I posted above, the wire colors no longer have any meaning.
Put a AA battery across the speaker cables and note whether the speaker moves out or in. A AA battery won't hurt speakers and gives you an easy way to measure phase. As long as all speakers are phased the same way you are probably OK.

Mike
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