Learning, Wiring,

Which is Positive on Speaker Wire? (Colors and Signs)

Ever found yourself staring at a bundle of speaker wires, totally clueless about which one’s positive and which one’s negative?

Key Takeaways: Identifying speaker wire polarity involves observing color codes, texture, or text markings. Typically, red or gold represents positive, while black or silver is negative. If no indicators exist, look for a textured, usually positive side. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guide or use a multimeter for accuracy.

In this article, we’ll go in-depth into everything you need to know about distinguishing your positive speaker wire from the negative one. Let’s dive right in!

Identifying the Positive Side of Your Speaker Wire

First, most speaker wires have some indicators to help you identify the positive and negative sides.

This could be a colored line, a ridge, or text printed onto the wire. The marker, whatever form it takes, usually denotes the positive side.

The color coding scheme varies between manufacturers, but generally, red or gold represents positive, while black or silver typically stands for negative.

However, don’t just take my word for it! Always check out the manufacturer’s guide because there can be exceptions.

But what if there’s no color coding at all? Sometimes wires are completely clear without any indicators. Well, never fear! There’s still hope:

  • Look closely at one end of your speaker wire.
  • You’ll often find that one side has writing or some texture.
  • The other side will typically be smooth.

The textured or marked side is commonly considered positive, while the unmarked side is deemed negative.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if you mix up your wires once in a blue moon; we’re all human!

But regularly reversing them can degrade sound quality over time – and nobody wants that when they’re jamming to their favorite tunes!

So go ahead and make sure those wires are correctly hooked up. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re enjoying crystal clear sound from your speakers!

Common Symbols for Positive Terminal in Speaker Wires

As mentioned, some companies prefer using text markings, stripes, or even raised ridges on one side of the wire to distinguish between positive and negative terminals.

Trust me; those little indicators can be lifesavers!

Here’s a handy-dandy list for ya:

  • Red color coding
  • Text markings
  • Stripes
  • Raised ridges

What if there aren’t any visible indications, though? Don’t sweat! You can always use a multimeter to determine which terminal is positive (don’t worry, they’re super easy to use!).

a multimeter to test wires
Video | patrickikis

Using a Multimeter to Identify Speaker Wire Polarity

2. Set Up a MultimeterTurn on your multimeter and set it to measure DC voltage (usually represented by a solid and a dotted line or ‘VDC’).
3. Identify Multimeter ProbesThe multimeter has two probes: red (positive) and black (negative).
4. Test Speaker WiresConnect the multimeter’s probes to the speaker wires – red to the wire you think is positive, black to the other. Ensure the speakers are playing sound, such as a frequency sweep, during this test.
5. Interpret ResultsLook at the multimeter’s reading. If it shows a positive voltage, your initial assumption was correct – the wire connected to the red probe is positive. If it shows a negative voltage, you have the wires swapped.

One important safety note: be sure to turn off and disconnect any equipment before connecting or disconnecting wires to prevent any electric shocks or damage to your equipment.

That said, always keep an eye open for exceptions because manufacturers love throwing curveballs occasionally. As my grandpa used to say – “Always expect the unexpected!”

Understanding Speaker Wire Polarity

Let’s dive into the world of speaker wire polarity. You’ve probably noticed those two distinct colors on your wires. Yep, that’s not just for decoration.

Those colors tell you about the wire’s polarity, which is important when setting up your sound system.

Regarding speaker wires, polarity refers to the direction current flows through a circuit. Each wire has a positive (+) and negative (-) end.

“Why does this matter?” Well, it comes down to sound quality! When speakers are wired correctly—positive to positive and negative to negative—the speakers work in harmony, creating crystal clear sounds.

But if they’re out of phase (meaning positives and negatives mixed up), it can lead to distorted sound or even damage your sweet setup!

So how do you tell which is positive on speaker wire?

  • Look at the wire itself – one side might have text or a stripe.
  • Check for color differences – typically, red means positive, and black (or white) is negative.

But remember: these aren’t hard-and-fast rules. It depends on who made your wires, so always check their guidelines too!

In short, getting the right polarity matters greatly when setting up audio equipment.

It may seem like small potatoes but trust me—it makes all the difference between having an okay sound system and being that house everyone wants to come over for movie night!

So next time you see those colored wires, remember – it’s not just about looking pretty; it’s also about making sure everything works perfectly in sync!




  • “The Complete Guide to High-End Audio” by Robert Harley
  • “Introductory Circuit Analysis” by Robert L. Boylestad


Video References

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About Alex Robertson

AvatarCertifications: B.M.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Mechanical Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a co-founder, content strategist, and writer and a close friend of our co-owner, Sam Orlovsky. I received my Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Denver, where we studied together. My passion for technical and creative writing has led me to help Sam with this project.

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