Learning how to connect speaker wire can save you lots of time and money. You don’t want to be paying someone to perform menial tasks that you can do yourself in 20 minutes. And you’ve already spent more than enough money building an impressive home theater system. It’s time to do it yourself.
Don’t be daunted by the task at hand because it’s not that difficult. But first, let’s explore the different types of wiring, the steps you need to follow, and the things you need to remember to get the job done properly.
Connecting Speakers with Speaker Wire
Let’s start with the basics for anyone unfamiliar with this subject. A speaker wire is made up of two separate wires that you connect to the negative and positive connections ports on your amp and speakers.
It doesn’t matter which way round you connect the wires, even if they are labeled with a minus or a plus. Just ensure that the same wire is connected to the positive and negative ports on the amp and speakers.
Finding Connection Ports
If you look at the rear of your amp or AVR, you will see binding posts for the speaker wires. Each speaker has two posts that are labeled positive and negative. These are usually color-coded with red for positive and black for negative.
But the model you’re using might not be color-coded, so keep an eye on that. One of the speaker wires will connect to both charges on the amp while the other end is connected to the same post on your speaker.
Common Issues When Reversing Wires
What happens if you reverse the wires and get them the wrong way around? Will you blow up your entire system? Highly unlikely. But numerous things can happen when you accidentally reverse speaker wires. Here are some of the most common issues that occur when you don’t know how to connect speaker wire.
Connecting Stereo Speakers with the Wrong Channel
One of the most common speaker wire connection mistakes. It’s when you accidentally connect the right speaker to the left terminal on your amp, and vice versa.
Don’t worry; you won’t hear any explosions. But you will hear the sound coming out of the opposite speaker for which you intended. It’s just a minor problem that can be fixed in 20 seconds by rearranging the wires to their correct position.
Wrongly Connecting Positive to Negative Terminals
What would happen if you connect the amp’s negative terminal to a speaker’s positive connection and the speaker’s negative connect to the amp’s positive terminal on a single speaker channel? If you are using just a single speaker, this won’t cause any issue. It would also be fine if you had two speakers that were wired in the same way.
But if you are using two speakers that are wired differently, the wiring would be out of phase. This causes an issue with the diaphragm, where one speaker moves outwards while the second speaker moves inwards.
You will hear sound coming from your speakers, but it will lack depth and body, and just doesn’t sound right. The poor sound quality is caused by the lower frequencies canceling each other out.
Most Common Speaker Wire Connections Types
There are two different speaker wire connection types that you need to know about. To determine which type you should use, you need to look at the connections on your amp and speakers.
Bear in mind that your amp might have one connection type while your speakers could have the other. To properly understand how to connect speaker wire, let’s discuss the two connection options to see which one you need to use.
Binding Posts are the most common speaker wire connection type that you will find on amplifiers and speakers of all models and price ranges. There are mainly two ways to connect your speaker wire on binding posts.
- The first way is to unscrew the black or red cap from the binding post, insert your speaker wire into the hole, and screw the cap back on.
- You can also insert wires into the ends of the binding post and attach them with banana plugs. Just remember that binding posts on some amp models have protective caps that will need to be removed.
To connect with this type, you can use bare speaker wire, banana plugs, or connect spades. Some amplifiers have binding posts with openings at the bottom as opposed to at the ends. In this case, you will have to unscrew the cap, insert the wire into the hole and then screw it back tightly.
Another common connection type is spring clips. You will more commonly find this type on cheaper speaker and amplifier models. But they are not only used on budget models and can be found on numerous types of all-in-one systems.
The spring clip method is also the easiest way to connect speaker wire. Simply push down the bottom part of the spring clip and insert your speaker wire in the slot. You will ideally use bare speaker wires or pin connectors with this connection type.
Choosing Speaker Wire Termination Types
Now you have chosen your connection types; you have to decide which method you will use to terminate the ends of your wires. The action of positioning a connector on the end of your speaker wire is commonly known as “terminating a wire.” But if you are using a bare wire, you won’t have to attach any connectors. Let’s discuss these termination types in greater detail.
Using Bare Wires to Connect Speakers
The best part about using bare speaker wire is that it’s compatible with all connection types. And it’s also the easiest and least expensive way to hook up your amp and speakers without the need for accessories. Check out our simple step-by-step guide to connecting speakers with bare wires.
- Physically part the two positive and negative wires by an inch or two. You might need a sharp knife to split the central insulation, or you can pull it apart with your fingers if possible. Make sure you don’t accidentally cut and expose the bare wire. You should be left with a speaker wire with the bare wire at the end.
- Use a sharp knife or dedicated wire strippers to remove a half-inch of insulation from each wire.
- You can now twist the bare copper ends to limit loose strands.
- Take the bare wire end and insert it into both the speaker and amplifier connectors.
- Ensure the wire is firmly placed by gently pulling it to and fro.
If you can get away with using bare wires to connect your speakers and amp, the job should be completed in less than 10 minutes. But if not, you will have to attach connectors.
Using Banana Plugs to Terminate Speaker Wires
Banana plugs are a very popular connection method, but you will need to buy them separately. And always remember that you will need four banana plugs for each wire. This results in two for each end of your cable, assuming that you need banana plugs for both your speakers and amplifier.
There are different ways to attached banana plugs, but most are simple screw-in connections. All you need to do is use a screwdriver to secure the cable. Self-crimping banana plugs are also a viable option because you can simply clamp the cable in place when you tighten the cap. Make sure you use the best banana plugs like the below examples.
- Gold Plated 24K Open Screw Banana Plugs
- MonoPrice Gold Plated Speaker Banana Plugs x5
- Amazon Basics Speaker Connector Banana Plugs
We recommend that you follow these simple steps for connecting banana plugs with a screw clamp.
- Use a knife or wire strippers to strip away a half-inch from the ends of each wire.
- Twist the copper wire ends to eliminate any loose strands.
- Unscrew each banana plug cap and thread it onto each wire.
- Insert the bare wire into the plug’s hole and screw it securely.
- Screw the cap back onto the plug.
Once you’ve completed that process, insert the banana plugs into the binding posts on your amp and speakers. Banana plugs eliminate the hassles of fiddling about with wires and painstakingly attempting to thread the binding posts with bare wires. Some banana plug types might connect in a slightly different manner, but the general principles remain the same.
Connecting Speaker Wires with Spade Connectors
Spade connectors are a popular alternative to banana plugs and share many similarities. For instance, you will also need four spade connectors for each wire. You can buy spade connectors with either straight or angled connections that create a better fit in some circumstances. You can connect these types by either soldering, crimping, or screwing them in place.
These tightly clasp the wire and are the more popular alternative to soldering. You might be tempted to use pliers, but a crimping tool is the best way to make the join and get a tight connection. And if done properly, there shouldn’t be any need for soldering.
After you’ve attached the wire to the spades, unscrew the binding posts and put them in place. Screw the cap to securely attach everything. Here are some of the most reliable spade connectors available in the marketplace.
- TICONN 100 Pcs Nylon Spade Connectors Kit
- Baomain Red Insulated Spade Connectors for Crimp Terminal
- Zoostliss 280Pcs Mixed Spade Connector Crimp Terminal Set
Spade connectors are preferable to bare wires because they are safer and ensure a reliable and tight connection. They are ideally utilized for connecting speakers that are close to walls because you get more flexibility for connecting at 45 or 90-degree angles.
Using Pin Connectors for Terminating Speaker Wire
Pin connectors and banana plugs look very similar and are sometimes even regarded as the same thing. But you can tell the difference by the protruding pin that is 2mm in diameter on a pin connector. These pins can be either straight or angled, which gives you the flexibility of a spade connector yet the appearance of a banana clip.
Strip away some insulation from the ends of your wire and attached the pins directly by crimping or soldering. Your pin connectors may have a screw-in connection, and if so, unscrew the cap, insert the bare wire and then screw back in place.
This is a viable termination method for spring clip connections. Insert the pin into the hole while pushing down on the clip. But if you want to use them with binding posts, you’ll need to insert the wire through the central hole and tighten the cap.
Connecting Your Speakers and Amp with Speaker Wires
Now you’ve decided which connection works for you; it’s time to connect your amplifier and speakers with your wires. If you’re using a stereo amplifier and speakers, you need to be careful with your connections. Make sure that you orderly connect your amplifier’s left speaker output to the actual left speaker, and vice versa.
You must also ensure that the same end of the wire links directly from the positive terminal of your amp and speakers. Repeat this process with the negative terminals.
If you are connecting a multichannel home theater system, the process is similar but slightly more complicated. You can use the same concept as the stereo amp, but it’s important to connect the correct speaker to each output terminal.
Looking for Great Speakers?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $500, the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Studio Monitors Under $500, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, and the Best Computer Speakers Under $100 you can buy in 2023.
And don’t miss our handy guides on How to Connect a Subwoofer to an Amplifier, How to Connect a Soundbar to a Computer, How to Make Regular Speakers Wireless, and Connect a Soundbar to TV Without HDMI or Optical for more useful information.
How to Connect Speaker Wire – Final Thoughts
Connecting speaker wire can seem like a daunting task if you don’t have much experience with electronics. But if you have access to connector types like banana plugs, spade connectors, and pin connectors, you will only need wire strippers, a crimping tool, or possibly a soldering kit.
Ideally, you can use a bare wire to make the connections without the need for any extra accessories. Although using one of the recommended connector types is the hassle-free way to get the job done properly. Connecting your amp and speakers is the easy part.
Until next time, happy listening.