How to Wire Speakers to an Amp

Just got some new speakers and an amp and wondering how to connect them to each other correctly? Here’s a quick run through of what you need to do.
Pieces of the Puzzle
  1. Speaker Terminals
  2. Speaker Wire
  3. Connector Types
  • Wiring Speakers to Amplifiers 
    1. Series or Parallel?
  • Check out our quick guide of how to wire speakers to an amp to get you turning it up to 11 as quickly as possible!

    Pieces of the Puzzle

    Speaker Terminals

    The majority of receivers, amps and speakers will have terminals on the back of them for connecting speaker wires. These connections will, generally speaking, usually be of a spring clip or binding post type.

    Images courtesy of Teknistore

    These terminals will come in a pair too – one for the positive connection; and the other for the negative. These are often colour coded:

    • Red = Positive (+)
    • Black or White = Negative (-)

    Speaker Wire

    Excluding RCA and Optical/TOSLINK wires, speaker wire is split into 2 parts at each end. Some speaker wire is split into positive and negative at each end (if this is the case you should be able to see either a positive or negative sign to indicate the wiring on each side.

    In my experience, speaker wire is usually split and one of the wires at each end will be denoted with a dash or line on one of the sides, or they will be colour coded) – this can be used to help you identify which part of the wire you are using at each end. 

    Here is a great video from Erin’s Audio Corner explaining this test

    Connector Types

    Most speaker wires come bare, and you normally need to strip the end of the wire to expose the wire strands at the end. Whether you choose to add a connector or not, it is always good practice to twist the bare wire strandy so that they stay together.

    You can find speaker wire with their own connectors already attached, which can be useful. If you choose to add your own, these are the 3 common connectors that are used:

    • Pin Connectors: these are firm and easy to insert and can only be used with spring clip terminals. 
    • Banana Plug Connectors: these can be inserted into a connector hole and are used with binding posts. 
    • Spade connectors: similar to Banana plug connectors, these are used with binding posts and are secured in place once you tighten down the post. 

    Wiring Speakers to Amplifiers

    When connecting the speaker wire to the terminals on speakers and amplifiers they MUST line up – aka the positive terminal on the speaker must be connected to the positive terminal on the Amplifier.

    When the wiring is done in this way, the equipment is “in phase” and if not, they are “out of phase”. 

    If the speaker and amplifier are “out of phase” then this can lead not only to sound quality issues, but also damage the equipment.

    Series or Parallel?

    There are two main ways to wire your speakers to your amp, in series or in parallel. On a very simple level, the way this is done is either you wire all the speaker cables directly to the amplifier (parallel); or you join two of the speaker wires (a positive and negative) together separate to the amp to wire them in series.

    The primary reason for choosing which is right for you is around the ohm capacity of the speakers and what the amplifier can handle. In my experience, most amplifiers cannot handle more than 16 ohms and most speakers have an impedance of up to 8 ohms, meaning for a set of 2 speakers it is generally okay to wire in series (which would bring the impedance to 16 ohms), or in parallel (which would bring the impedance to 4 ohms). It is possible to wire your speakers in a series-parallel combination if you have more than 2 speakers that you’re wiring to your amp.

    Generally, wiring in parallel means that the sound output is increased because the power output rises due to the decreases load impedance, and vice versa for speakers connected in series.

    Thomas Allman

    Thomas Allman

    Tom has loved music his whole life, starting from when he went through his parents record collection as a child (and has now accrued quite the collection himself!). Whilst completing his masters in engineering at university he began his journey working in he music industry. To date he has experience in Radio, Events, Label Management, Distribution, and Analytics.

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