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Old November 24th, 2016   #1
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Default Speaker wire polarity test

I have in-ceiling speakers that terminate at a wall plate.
I have a multimeter.
How can I test the polarity?

I bought a new surround receiver and want to make sure those speakers are in correct polarity.
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Old November 24th, 2016   #2
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

I'm dying to know the answer to this. I can't figure any way that doesn't involve looking at the label on the speaker and tracing the connectors . . .
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Old November 24th, 2016   #3
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I did this installing car speakers by just touching the wire terminals with the sound playing using my digital VOM and making sure the sign was positive for each speaker. I don't know if this will work without the speakers connected or not. I just left the connections accessible so I could reverse any backward connections.


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Old November 25th, 2016   #4
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

Quote:
Originally Posted by ligito View Post
I have in-ceiling speakers that terminate at a wall plate.
I have a multimeter.
How can I test the polarity?

I bought a new surround receiver and want to make sure those speakers are in correct polarity.

You cant. They are just a coil and will measure the same both ways. Take one out, they will be marked although the installer will have (probably)used some colour code.
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Old November 25th, 2016   #5
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wjbertrand View Post
I did this installing car speakers by just touching the wire terminals with the sound playing using my digital VOM and making sure the sign was positive for each speaker. I don't know if this will work without the speakers connected or not. I just left the connections accessible so I could reverse any backward connections.


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If you apply voltage to a speaker it will pop connected either way and sound the same.
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Old November 25th, 2016   #6
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

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If you apply voltage to a speaker it will pop connected either way and sound the same.
Winner (sort of, not really). I use a regular battery (of the 1.5v variety, normally an AA), and touch them to the terminals. If you have positive to positive, the speaker cone will push out towards you. Positive to negative, and the cone will pull in. 1.5v won't hurt the electronics (if there is any) for that little pop, but you shouldn't leave it connected for any length of time. Eventually, the DC power will overheat the crossovers.

So, it will "pop either way", true, but for the audiophile, they definitely do not sound the same. You want the sound pushed out towards you, not back into the cabinet (or ceiling/wall/trunk, etc for a speaker without a cabinet).

Also, if the installer is worth a damn, the negative will also have some sort of silver wire within the gold strands (I know, I'm talking color here, they're all just copper). Failing that, a lot of installers are now just using category wire (5, 5e or 6, etc). Those should be the blue pair. Solid blue would be positive, the white would be negative.

Then again, if I didn't do it all, I'll always test. It only takes a second or two, and then you're sure it's correct. It doesn't really matter which wire is which - as long as your connection to the amp drives everything correctly.
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Last edited by chaissos; November 25th, 2016 at 04:06 AM.
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Old November 25th, 2016   #7
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

They are in the ceiling and I can't remove the covers (defective installer syndrome, AKA old fart).
I have both a digital and analog vom and can access the wire at the wall plate.
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Old November 25th, 2016   #8
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With the newer surround system receiver/amps they will tell you if there's a speaker out of phase when you run the set up EQ program, assuming it's so equipped. I know my Denon with Audyssey EQ can do this.


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Old November 25th, 2016   #9
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

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They are in the ceiling and I can't remove the covers (defective installer syndrome, AKA old fart).
I have both a digital and analog vom and can access the wire at the wall plate.
So assume the wires are coded at the end you can get to then, as said earlier, stripes on cable, silver strands etc.
It doesn't matter if the speakers are connected backwards, they just all need to be the same.
You can actually tell with a bit of practice if they are incorrect, what you can hear is less bass if they are wrong, the bass notes are the lowest frequency and therefore move most air, on a bench if you connect them out of phase and face each other maybe a meter apart the bass will almost disappear. That said, on an installation course I did years ago the lecturer hated ceiling speakers, retorting things like, 'that's why you don't have an ear pointing up!'
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Old November 25th, 2016   #10
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Default Re: Speaker wire polarity test

When you have a big window behind you, it sorta limits where you can install them, that is why they went in the ceiling, when I was much younger and more able.

My new receiver is a Yamaha RX-A760BL
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