Are you interested in learning more about what wire colors are used for speakers? The colors give you information that will be valuable if you’re trying to get the speakers connected, so it’s important to know what the different options mean.
Speaker wire colors are often red, black, green, and then either white or yellow and the colors tell you what the wire’s job is. Being able to identify the different colors is helpful if you want to wire up speakers or check that yours have been wired correctly.
In this article, we’re going to cover what the different wire colors mean and how you can use them to make sure that your speakers have been wired up as they should be.
What Speaker Wire Colors Are There?
There are many different wire colors, which is frustrating if you want a quick and easy answer to connecting your speakers – some manufacturers use non-standard colors for their equipment. However, some are moving toward standardization because this makes it easier and faster for users to get connected and reduces the risk of errors. The speaker wire colors are usually:
- White or yellow
There is some scope for differences, but these are generally the standard colors you will see whenever you are wiring up speakers, and recognizing them and what they mean increases your chances of being able to wire speakers up correctly.
You may see the corresponding colors on the ports that the wires are supposed to go into – the red wire, for example, may slot into a red port, while the black wire will go into a black port. This is again intended to make it very easy to wire speakers up correctly and see immediately if something has gone wrong.
If you don’t wire them correctly, the speakers will not work well, so it’s important for manufacturers to make this as easy as possible. By using different colors and making sure the ports correspond with the wire color, they have ensured that most people can wire their own speakers without too much scope for error.
What Do The Speaker Wire Colors Mean?
So, if there are generally four wire colors to deal with, it’s worth knowing what these different colors mean, and what happens if you get them wrong. You might find the table below useful.
|Right||Positive||Yellow or white|
As you can see, the different speakers will have different colored wires, which ensures that you can plug them in correctly and avoid any mix up between the two; you will not get black or red wires on the right speaker, or yellow, white, or green wires on the left one. This makes it easy to wire the speakers up properly.
You might be wondering why those colors were chosen, but there isn’t really any clear reason (and indeed, many manufacturers use different colors). It makes sense that black should be negative, because it is a neutral color, and green is the standard earth color, so this is also logical. However, there is no apparent explanation for using yellow or white as positive. You will simply need to memorize these.
Does It Matter Where The Wires Go?
Getting the right wires into the right places is very important, which is why you should use the color-coding to help you. If you put the wrong wire in place, your speakers may not work, or may not work well. Not working well is almost the worst outcome because you may not realize there’s a mistake – you might just think the speakers are bad.
It is always worth checking that speakers have been wired up correctly any time you use them. It might seem simple, but it’s very easy to get wires crossed and end up with the positive and negative mixed up. This will spoil your sound quality, and you’ll need to fix it if you want the speakers to work again.
To fix this, simply swap the wires around so that they are in the holes with the corresponding colors. If the unit doesn’t have colored connection points, this may be more difficult. You might have to consult the manual or find information about your unit online to make sure that your speakers end up “in phase” (wired up correctly so that everything works).
Do All Manufacturers Use The Same Colors?
Of course, you might have a more difficult time working out where the wires go if the manufacturers of your speakers have not used the standard wire colors, and have instead chosen other colors. This is a surprisingly common issue to run into, so don’t be surprised if you see orange, yellow, gray, or other colors.
If this happens, look for the + and – symbols, which denote positive and negative, and which should be universally used. If you can’t find them, you may wish to consult your user manual for information on how to wire it up correctly; it should tell you which wires are the positives and which are the negatives.
In general, green wires will be ground wires, and therefore used as negative, but if that isn’t enough of a hint, try researching the speaker to get guidance on the setup.
At some point in the future, hopefully manufacturers will all begin using a standardized setup with the red, black, green, and white/yellow wires, but until that happens, wiring a speaker up is always going to be a little bit tricky. Use the terminal colors to guide you if they are available, or look the information for the model up online.
The most commonly used speaker wire colors are red (positive) and black (negative) for the left-hand speaker, and yellow or white (positive) and green (negative) for the right-hand speaker. Use this information to guide you when wiring up your speakers, because if you get it wrong, your speakers will be out of phase and won’t work properly.