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#198958 - 03/04/08 12:06 AM speaker polarity
mthome07 Offline

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 2
How can you check the polarity on speaker wires when they are not color coded and hidden behind molding or in the walls? I have a couple of Axiom speakers coming and would really like to hook them up right. Dumb question but maybe someone can indulge me.


#198960 - 03/04/08 12:09 AM Re: speaker polarity [Re: mthome07]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 18044
Loc: NoVA
If you get a test disc (such as Digital Video Essentials) it runs a polarity test (you can hear the difference with their test) to check that. Alternately, you get the speakers, put them face to face, and hook 'em up. then switch the wires on one of them. Whichever way has louder bass is the correct polarity.
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#198966 - 03/04/08 01:33 AM Re: speaker polarity [Re: mthome07]
JohnK Offline
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Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10621
07, welcome. Yes, without a special disc or instruments the bass test Ken described is about the simplest method. Also, even if they're not color coded, you should check carefully for some more subtle indicator, such as a rib or pattern on one wire, which is often the case.

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.

#198976 - 03/04/08 05:13 AM Re: speaker polarity [Re: JohnK]
jakewash Offline
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Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10415
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
Some of the newer avr's will test the polarity for you as well when going through the speaker setup routine. I hooked one of my speakers up crossed on purpose to see if it actually would catch it and it did.


#198984 - 03/04/08 08:34 AM Re: speaker polarity [Re: jakewash]
SirQuack Offline
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Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13567
Loc: Iowa
Can you see the wire strands, normally one side is tin coated and the other side will look like copper. Can't you temporarily remove the wall cover plate?
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#198986 - 03/04/08 08:39 AM Re: speaker polarity [Re: SirQuack]
Murph Offline

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 6955
Loc: PEI, Canada
Some have hard to spot gauge numbers and other codings written on only one wire of the pair. My Home Depot stuff forced me to get my glasses out.

I bought Monoprice for the new room because everyone here recommends it and the price beats the heck out of anything local. It just arrived on Sat. I'm sure it will sound no better but it sure will be easier to work with. Home Depot has all the flexibility of rebar.

Edited by Murph (03/04/08 08:40 AM)
Edit Reason: spelling
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#199037 - 03/04/08 02:52 PM Re: speaker polarity [Re: mthome07]
alan Offline


Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 3258
Loc: Toronto/New York/parry Sound

If you can see the ends of the wire, look for a colored thread on one side of the conductor. The rubber or plastic insulation may have have a ribbed pattern on one side to indicate polarity.


Alan Lofft,
Axiom Resident Expert (Retired)

#199089 - 03/04/08 10:26 PM Re: speaker polarity [Re: alan]
Haoleb Offline

Registered: 09/25/02
Posts: 1488
Loc: Maine
an easy way to do it is to just clip on a 9v battery on one and and mark polarity. Then test the other end with a DMM and mark the polarity.

(Dont have the wires plugged into your speakers when you do this!)
Haoleb's Audio/DIY Website

#199581 - 03/08/08 06:50 PM Re: speaker polarity [Re: Haoleb]
mthome07 Offline

Registered: 03/04/08
Posts: 2
Thanks to all for the sound advice. With the help of an electron microscope I was able to find a small white stripe down one side of the speaker wire so I'm in business.

Thanks again


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