How To Identify Positive And Negative Speaker Wires With Multimeter

Numerous specialists keep multimeters in their tool stash. However, most individuals ask the question, “How to identify positive and negative speaker wires with a multimeter?”

This article will serve as a guide to address this question and teach you a couple of significant hints. So, continue reading to learn more.

A multimeter is the best hardware while testing speaker wires. Multimeters are of two principal types; the advanced and simple multimeter. It is desirable to use a computerized multimeter for its additional benefits.

Why Do We Need To Identify Positive And Negative Speaker Wires?

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You’ll need to look for two different colors on the speaker wires to identify which is positive and negative. The silver wire is usually used as positive, while the copper wire is negative.

Making sure you’ve identified both the positive and negative cables will make the procedure of installing speakers a lot easier.

Swapping the positive and negative speaker cables at the speaker or amplifier end will change the polarity of the speaker inside the system. Simply put, inverting the positive and negative speaker wires causes the speaker to push instead of pull, and vice versa.

How to Identify Positive and Negative Speaker Wires with a Multimeter?

Before Testing The Wires

Understand your Audio System Set-Up

You should dive deeper into the essential setup of a sound framework. The vehicle battery runs capacity to the enhancer in the least difficult frameworks.

This speaker can be exceptionally extravagant in custom frameworks and covered anyplace in the vehicle, yet most standard vehicles have the enhancer appended to the radio head unit. Aside from the incoming power cable, the amplifier runs a phono/RCA cable to the radio head unit, a ground cable away from the system, and wires to each speaker.

Measure DC Voltage

While you’re estimating voltage in a vehicle, you generally utilize the DC voltage setting on your multimeter. Batteries are consistently gauged in DC, and because your vehicle’s power is battery-worked, this is the one setting you’ll require.

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Since estimating DC voltage is one of the center elements of a multimeter, there is no chance your advanced multimeter doesn’t have this setting.

Steps in identifying positive and negative speaker wires with a multimeter

You can begin testing the negative and positive speaker wires since you presently understand the vehicle’s sound framework arrangement and utilize the multimeter while testing DC voltage. In this manner, here are the means you want to follow to guarantee your tests are effective.

Step 1: Unplug your speakers

This step is critical since it safeguards both your safety and practicality. To begin, make sure that the cords from the outlet have been unplugged from your workstation. You can also take a picture of everything before you start unplugging things to make reconnecting everything easier.

Step 2: Connect it to the Battery

Bring out your 9V battery after you’ve unplugged everything. After that, disconnect one of the speakers’ speaker cables from the speaker and the receiver. Wrap each wire around one of the receiver’s battery ends.

Step 3: Use your Multimeter

Rotate the large knob in the center of the multimeter, which serves as the selector switch, until it reaches the symbol marked with a capital “V” and a straight line on top. This is the DC voltage setting on your digital multimeter. However, you should never use a digital multimeter to check for polarity because even a minor misunderstanding when connecting the leads can cause it to be destroyed.

Step 4: Mark your Wires

By using a piece of tape, mark the wires. Then, connect the positive wire to the speaker. Connect the negative wire now and reassemble everything. Your sound should now be clear once you turn on your car’s audio system.

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Other Ways to Find Out Positive and Negative Speaker Wires

Both of these choices will typically give you the data you want to conclude which wire is negative or positive. There are different techniques. Here are two unique ways of deciding the extremity of speaker wires.

Testing Polarity with 9 Volt Battery

A nine-volt battery with positive and negative red and black wires is required. If you’re using the wire you think is negative, connect one end to the speaker. Connect the positive wire to the second speaker for a few seconds.

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Generally, a scraping sound will be heard if the negative speaker wire you choose is accurate and is indeed negative. However, note the negative wire so you know which is which in the future. A quick and simple method for determining the polarity of your speaker wires.

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Certain hints can help you distinguish between negative and positive speaker cables. A stripe can be found on one wire of some speaker wires. It’s frequently a sign that the wire is negative when this happens.

Look at the connecting points on the back of your speakers for a moment. Each wire may have a different connection that will assist you in distinguishing between the positive and negative.

There could be differences in other visual aspects as well. One wire may be ridged, while the other is smooth. This won’t tell you which is which, but it will help you recognize them in the future once you’ve established the polarity.

How Do You Know If You Installed The Wires Back Properly?


Color-coding speaker cables can aid in determining which is positive and which is negative, as well as whether they are properly installed.

Because of a color system already in place, you may be able to tell that the speaker cables are proper if you acquired a full speaker system.

The red and black speaker wires are commonly labeled as positive and negative, respectively. This isn’t always the case, and it’s worth remembering that things could go the other way.

Generally, the colors of the speaker cables should be easy to recognize and comprehend if you buy a speaker system with an owner’s manual.


You’ll have to train your ear if you don’t think you’re very good at distinguishing sound quality. Most of the time, it should just take a few seconds of serious listening to determine whether or not a speaker is working.

Interruptions or interference on the line are examples of what you might hear if the speaker cable is fitted incorrectly.

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The speaker’s quality may sound dimmer, and even with the volume set up, the overall level may still be fairly low.

Listening to the sound your speaker produces will teach you a lot about the world of audio speakers and what has to be done to change or improve them.


These are easy ways to tell if they’re positive or negative, and then you can make sure they’re installed correctly.

It’s a good idea to try one of the tests we’ve mentioned before deciding to replace your speakers due to poor performance or concerns with their functionality.

The tests can provide you with a clear indicator, allowing you to label and decide whether the problem is with your speaker or your wiring.

Overall Look

After you’ve completed all of these other tests, it’s time to take a final look at how your speaker wires are linked.

The speaker wire may be hanging out of its socket, or there may be a clear reason why the speaker isn’t working.

These are the most common problems, and you’ll wonder why you were so concerned about the positive and negative speaker wires crossing.

Take one last look, and you’ll have a lot better idea whether or not your speaker should be working.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What happens if you misplace a positive and negative wire?

Because speaker cables might be difficult to distinguish, there’s always a danger you’ll mix up the positive and negative speaker wires. When these wires cross, they are not nearly as harmful as when electric wires cross.

You can rest certain that, for the most part, the speaker wires crossing will not put you at risk. Additionally, unintentional speaker wire reversal is unlikely to cause damage to the speaker or amplifier.

When working with any type of wiring, the most common concern is generating a short. However, this will not be an issue with speakers. Instead, you’ll notice that the speakers aren’t as good as they used to be.

What are the symptoms of broken speakers?

1. Speakers abruptly stop working

Nothing is more aggravating than attempting to unwind while listening to music only to discover that your speaker is broken. This is the most common sign of faulty speaker cables.

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2. Speakers delivering a buzzing sound

This symptom indicates that your speakers are not the source of the problem; rather, the connections are. Buzzing speakers indicate that they are working, and the issue is usually with the wire connections.

How to connect 2 way speakers?

What are the other uses of Multimeters?

Other uses of multimeter include;

1. Measuring Voltage

What is the significance of measuring voltage with a multimeter?

When an electrical or electronic circuit is formed, the components are chosen to perform within a specific voltage range. This is because every component has a set of minimum and maximum values to function properly.

Operating outside of these limits will lead the component to fail, and this will cause the remainder of the circuit to fail as well. As a result, the ability to verify that the appropriate voltages are present between any two places in a circuit is required.

2. Measuring Current

There are numerous reasons to be able to measure current with a multimeter.

One reason for measuring current is to determine how much current is consumed by a circuit or component. Generally, you want to extend the life of a circuit that runs on a restricted power source (like a battery) as much as feasible while designing it.

While theory and calculations can give you an idea of how much current a circuit or component would consume in the real world, there are many more aspects to consider. You can utilize a multimeter to determine how much current is being utilized, which will provide a more accurate picture than merely using theory.

Does polarity matter to speakers?

It will not harm your amplifier or speakers if you connect the negative and positive wires in the wrong order. However, it will change the speaker’s polarity in the system. With only one speaker in your setup, getting them wrong won’t make a difference.

While it may have a minor influence on a single speaker, it will cause problems if there are several speakers. They will be out of phase if they are wired incorrectly.

The influence of sound waves is canceled out, which is most visible at lower frequencies. In other words, bad connections will degrade the sound quality.

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Can you differentiate the positive and negative wires on a visual aspect?

It is very difficult to know the negative and positive wires just by looking. Assuming you have a wire where the two sides are a similar shading, which is regularly copper, the strand that has a notched surface is the negative wire.

Run your fingers along the wire to figure out which side has the ribbing. Feel the other wire which is smooth. This is your positive wire.

While certain wires will come set apart with more (positive) or less (negative) signs, others aren’t exactly as clear. You can initially attempt to recognize the extremity for those plain wires by taking a gander at actual attributes like tone or surface.


Ensure the multimeter is set to DC voltage. Before connecting the wires, make sure the multimeter is set.

Connect the wires to the multimeter after that. Each connected wire will have a reading that indicates whether it is positive or negative. You can mark both cables to identify them once more.

If you’ve been looking for information on using a multimeter to test the positive and negative speaker wires, this article has equipped you with everything you need to know. As a result, whenever you notice that the sound quality of your audio system isn’t quite right, you should follow the methods outlined above to diagnose the problem.

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