The Speaker Wiring Diagram And Connection Guide – The Basics You Need To Know

We all enjoy music and speakers make that possible – but it’s confusing if you’re not sure how to connect them the right way.

In this post, you’ll find clear and detailed speaker wiring diagrams to help (and that you can print out if you like, too!).

I’ll go into detail about the right and wrong way to wire speakers and connect them properly to your stereo or amplifier. It’s actually pretty simple once you learn the basics.

Printable speaker wiring diagram

Click on the image to enlarge it or click here for the Adobe .pdf version you can download and print.

Image of illustrated speaker wiring diagram

Speaker basics and speaker wiring explained

1.  What is speaker impedance? (the “Ohms” rating)

Speakers, much like other electromechanical devices, all have an electrical resistance to the flow of electrical current, much like a standard resistor, a light bulb, or many common items you’re familiar with.

The difference is how they behave when music is present when they’re connected to a musical amplifier of some sort.

The resistance value comes from a long coil of wire inside each speaker called a voice coil. A voice coil is a coil of wire that, when placed inside a magnetic field, makes the speaker move and produce sound when driven by an amplifier.

Example of a speaker voice coil close up

Speakers contain a long wound loop of wire called a voice coil. Loops of wire have a property called inductance which affects a speaker’s resistance value depending on the frequency (sound range) being played.

As they have electrical properties that include inductance and capacitance, their “total resistance” can actually change with the music slightly. Because of this, there’s some extra math needed to figure out the total resistance.

The word used to describe this is called impedance.

Speaker impedance is just a more advanced way of finding the total resistance, and by tradition is measured in units called “Ohms.”

The good news is that you don’t have to worry too much about the details – it doesn’t matter for basic speaker use, and long as you understand the basic rules you’ll be fine!

2. Stereo and amplifier minimum impedance ratings

All amplifiers of any type – where it’s a car stereo amplifier, home stereo receiver, home theater amplifier, and so on, have a minimum Ohms (impedance) rating. It’s important that you pay attention and don’t exceed the minimum speaker impedance rating.

This is because as the impedance is lowered, the electrical current increases and the stereo has to do more work. This increases the amount of stress and heat it has to handle.

If your stereo is labeled by the manufacturer as being “8 ohm speaker compatible” or similar, that means connecting lower impedance speakers can cause excessive heat and possible damage very quickly.

For example, connecting a 4 ohm speaker to an amplifier that is labeled as working with 8 ohm speakers would mean it would have to produce double the electrical current to the speaker!

Image of the rear of a stereo receiver and speaker impedance terminals

Image of the rear of a home stereo receiver/amplifier. The recommended speaker impedance ratings are usually listed above the speaker wire posts. A home stereo, for example, may often list 6-16 ohms as being ok for use.

Also, attempting to wire two 8 ohm speakers in parallel to an 8 ohm stereo would have the same effect. (Two 8 ohm speakers in parallel is equal to 4 ohms total that the amp will see)

I’ve seen many attempts by people who had friends who claimed they could “boost the power” or “get more power” by some claimed trick, but it doesn’t work. They ended up with a burned-out amplifier.

An amplifier can only handle so much heat and stress before it fails, so be sure to observe these rules. Be sure you wire speakers to meet the minimum Ohm rating you need.

Remember: don’t use a speaker impedance below the rating given by the manufacturer. Overheating or permanent damage can result. I’ve seen it happen!

3. What is speaker polarity?

Speakers are different than other devices in that they work using alternating current (AC) instead of direct current (DC). This is good news! It means you can’t harm your speakers in most cases by having the positive (“+”) and negative (“-“) wiring reversed.

Unfortunately, it gets just a little bit more complicated when we use more than 1 speaker.

Speak polarity and why you should match speaker connections

As I mentioned, speakers work by moving a cone back and forth in order to produce sound. If you wire 2 speakers in a stereo with different polarities (for example, one has positive and negative wired as labeled, and the 2nd speaker has the opposite) an interesting thing occurs: they’re out of phase and some sound cancels out.

The result is a strange and poor sounding stereo. In most cases, you’ll notice a lack of bass sound and it won’t sound pleasing to the ear as expected.

Diagram showing speakers in and out of phase

When speakers are wired the opposite of each other sound waves cancel out. When wired the same, sound waves add together for more sound.

Speakers that are wired differently sound poor because much of the sound is canceled out. Basically, it’s simply because sound waves from one speaker are moving in the opposite direction of the other speaker – and if they’re close to the same time and frequency range, often they cancel out.

This is why when 2 woofers are placed in a box and are wired in parallel but with opposite connections to each other, they are “out of phase” and have almost no bass! It’s because they are doing the opposite work rather than working together to produce more sound.

While one is moving up, the other is moving the opposite direction, and so on.

So the most important thing here to remember is to wire speakers consistently the same way as each other.

4. Wiring 2-way and 3-way speakers

2-way speakers, such as home stereo or car audio component speakers, are those which come as a pre-designed speaker set and use a crossover. The job of a crossover (also called a passive crossover, because it use basic capacitors and inductors rather than electronics) is to restrict the music production each speaker tries to produce.

For example, tweeters can’t reproduce bass frequencies (and can in fact be damaged by them) so a 2-way speaker crossover is used to prevent this. Similarly, a woofer can’t produce high pitch sounds well and is prevented from doing so.

Unlike standard separate speakers, 2-way and 3-way speakers that have a crossover can only be used in parallel and not in series.

This is because unlike separate speakers with no crossovers, in this case, many sounds will be filtered out. What this means is that little to no sound would be produced if another 2-way speaker is connected in series.

Image for 2-way speaker diagram examples

Therefore if you have a home stereo or car stereo in which 2-way speakers are used, you’ll have to add more 2-way speakers (if the total impedance can be supported by the amplifier) or add more amplifier channels for more sound.

5. Doubling the number of speakers or amount of power does not double the volume

In some cases, more speakers can be added to increase the amount of volume you can get or to place speakers in more rooms, more locations in your vehicle, and so on. You also may have wondered what would happen if you bought an amplifier with twice the power of your present one.

There’s one important thing to understand, however: having 2 or 3 speakers instead of one does not double or triple the sound. It increases a few decibels (dB) for each speaker added.

Doubling the power does not double the volume either.

This is because of how the human ear works and the physics of sound, along with how speakers work and how much volume they can produce for a given amount of power.

Generally speaking, the human ear will hear a very small amount of volume increase for each doubling of acoustic power: about 3 decibels (dB). For most people, the small amount of volume increase you notice when turning up a volume knob 1 notch is somewhere around 3dB.

Example volume produced by a typical speaker at different power levels:

  • 1W = 89 dB
  • 2W = 92 dB
  • 4W = 95 dB
  • 8W = 98 dB
  • 16W = 101 dB
  • 32W = 104 dB
  • 64W = 107 dB
  • 128W = 110 dB

So as you can see, doubling the amount of power you can drive a speaker at does not mean you’ll double the volume. It increases it a very small amount (as far as your ears are concerned).

You can also see from above that really cranking the volume takes a lot of power!

How to get more volume from speakers

The best ways to get more volume  in most cases are:

  • Use more efficient speakers (speakers that produce a higher dB volume at 1W of power – higher is better)
  • Add more speakers if you have an amplifier that can support it
  • Use higher-power rated speakers and a larger power amplifier if a lot more volume is your goal

Most people need an amplifier that can produce enough volume to fill a room or vehicle and turn up the volume from time to time. I like to use 50W or higher per channel as a good rule of thumb when buying an amplifier.

How to read speaker positive and negative labels (+ and -)

Home stereo and car speaker wiring typically use a red or plus sign “+” to indicate the positive polarity for the speaker wiring terminals to connect your wiring to.

Here are a few things to know there as well:

  • In some cases, a black dot or a red or black stripe is used to mark the positive terminal
  • If a speaker has terminals of 2 different sizes, the larger of the 2 is normally the positive one
  • For speakers with wire already attached, typically the brass or golden-colored wire is the positive one
  • For speakers with wire attached but the same colored wires, most have some small printing on the positive wire – be sure to check closely

About the author

Marty is an experienced electrical, electronics, and embedded firmware design engineer passionate about audio and DIY. He worked professionally as an MECP-certified mobile installer for years before moving into the engineering field. Read more »

Your comments are welcome.
  1. Hello, my Cruthfield A/V design person suggested summing the stereo output of the external source with a “RCA Y adapter” b/c I ‘m using mono. 125w 8 ohm ceiling speakers. “ you can then split the dignsl into fuel-mono w/another for connection to A-Zeus shun . Whet the hall is he writing about. Can you draw a m/line diagram for me . Thsnks much Mike

    • Hello Mike. Unfortunately, I could not fully understand what you wrote. Perhaps it’s better to contact me directly. See my contact page in the top menu for 2 ways to reach out.

      Have a good day.

  2. Let me that over again…
    “You can then split the signal into dual-mono with another RCA Y adapter gor connection to stereo source input on the Russound A-Bus hub.

      • Hi Marty 😊I’m building a curved array of 10 -3 inch full range drivers per side . in a home system I’m building with other separate amps for my base and tweeters , and using digital crossover , my question is there a way I can wire the 10- 3 inch drivers and come out with between a 6 to 8 ohm load ? Or as low as 4 ohm I guess ? I don’t mind if the top and bottom of my curved array are shaded slightly lower volume. Then the centre of the array. , ? Any input would be greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

    • Hi David that’s a fairly vague question so I’ll need to know specifically what stereo/amp/receiver/speakers/etc. you want to connect in order to help.

      If you can let me know what you’re working with I’ll certainly be happy to try and help! Best regards.

  3. Marty,
    Enjoy your articles..most helpful. Speaker impedance ?. Need to replace 2007 Denon AVR-1906 and/or DVD-2910 no longer play SACD signal from left surround speaker…completed all external setup and physical tests could find (Denon, other sites) with no luck. Given where live, no local repair and looking at $240 pack+S/H to start then if can find parts. So, thinking to purchase AVR Sony Str-DH 790 (speaker impedance rated 6 to 16 ohms, from manual +Sony support) to play sound out of Definitive Technology ProCinema 60 System (speaker impedance rated 4 to 8 ohms from manual +DT website). Latter is old but still sound great. Budget, due to surprise of Denon issue, not able to purchase new speakers. Not able to get response DT (little disappointed). Sony says will burn up receiver, not sure if able to change impedance, and to buy new speakers MUST have ohm rating 6 to 16 (search but find very few). What are your thoughts on using the DTs hooked to the Sony AVR?

      • Hi Marty,

        Wanted to reach out to you on my wiring problem. Need to wire a Rockville subwoofer to older Yamaha monitors with banana connectors. The woofer is 8 ohms and the Yamahas are 4 ohms each so a total of 8 ohms for the pair. How do I piggyback the subwoofer on the Yamahas? They are powered by an older Denon receiver rated at 200 watts.


        • Hi, I need a bit more info as I don’t know the min. Ohms rating for the Denon receiver.

          Note: If it’s a simple subwoofer, you’ll usually want a low-pass crossover for good sounding bass, otherwise you’ll hear mids and etc. from it.

  4. I have a 3 way stereo cabinet with all 3 components at 8ohms, I would like to buy a dividing network also rated 8 ohms to make it sound better and bought a replacement woofer for the old one, the new woofer is 8 ohms dual impedance. How will I proceed with the wiring? Thank you.

    • Hi John there’s not a great way to wire a dual voice coil speaker of the same impedance in place of a single voice coil model of that impedance. The simplest solution is to simply use only one voice coil.

  5. Hello,
    I have one wire (one + and one -) from mixer.
    1. There are five connections on speaker (white, black, red, yellow and green). How to connect that one wire to this speaker?
    2. That speaker is 8 omh impedance. Is it possible to connect it with another one 8 omh (with only two connections) in parallel?
    Thank you

    • Hi Giovanni.

      1. I would need to know what type of speaker it is, as it’s not typical to have that many wires from a speaker. It definitely depends a lot on the particular design.

      2. It may be possible to connect it in parallel, however that’s for amps or stereos that can handle a load down to 4 Ohms.

      • There is no switch. Inside speaker is connector with 5 connections green 30w yellow40w red 80w black com white 8 omh. I want to use 8omh.

        • Hi, if you’re wanting to use two 8Ω speakers and get 8Ω total, you’ll need to either 1) use a series 4Ω power resistor (not the best way), or 2) use a speaker impedance adapter.

  6. Hi Marty!
    I am curious if you can enlighten me how nor possible to attach a soundbar, removed from damaged Sony Vaio SVL241B16M All In One PC, to a headphone/single 3.5 PC audio output.In my view this PC in fact is a Sony Bravia TV with a laptop bundle and a nice compact soundbar with 5 speakers. As i guess sets of 2 small on each channel and 1 single wide-sized central or as a woofer role?I can’t find a wiring diagram for this model and if i remem they were not connected directly to the motherboard. Unfortunately all already trashed, but soundbar, and I decide to try use it now to attach under shelf with a PC project which have only headphone/single audio output ports. This 5 speakers soundbar has 6 wires coming out. Set of 4 attached to 4 way mini jack, think it is connecting left and right channels as parallel or series They separated by colors :2 black (-) and 1 white(+) 1 red (+) And there another 2 wire mini connector what has black and red color, i guess it for a central maybe woofer speaker. I can solder L/R sets to a 3.5 phone jack, but what about the central one? How to attach it right? I think they all fed from the motherboard audio chip-set but somehow separated there. I desire to use it as well, attached to a PC, powerful but it has only a single audio output (green) and headphones ports. Is there a way around to resolve it? Thank you in advance. It may help: there are Sony parts numbers. It may help if you wanna see what a soundbar is, 1-858-759-11, Sony Vaio Internal Speaker Bar DN103001001 3A

    • Hi Viktor. Unfortunately this may not work out as that doesn’t appear to be a “true” (powered) soundbar as we normally see. From what I see it appears to be a passive (non-amplified) type so you’d need an amplifier to power the speakers.

      You could use a mini amp to connect to it once you sort out which speaker/wiring is which on it, using a 1.5V AA, AAA, etc. battery, across the leads to slightly pop the speakers and see which wire is for what.

      You could then use the mini amp which can then connect to any stereo audio outputs you like. Best regards!

  7. I need a speaker wiring diagram for two speaker columns with 10” speakers in them. I want to be able access the four ohms output from a bass head through the four speakers. Like the amp says on the output jack in the back as an example 8 ohms = 350 watts and 4 ohms =500 watts. How can I wire the two 10” columns? Hope this question is understandable.

    • Hi, if they’re simply stereo speakers, with an 8 Ohm rating, you can just wire them in parallel (if I am understanding what you’re wanting to accomplish).

      That would be done by connecting the positive speaker leads and negative speaker leads to the same points at the amplifier, giving 4 Ohms total. Best regards.

  8. I have two Yamaha NS-AW190BL speakers mounted way up in a ceiling that I can’t get to very well. They are rated a 6 ohm each based on my online search. I have a Pyramid PA-305 amp which has three speaker output options (4 ohm, 8 ohm, and 16 ohm. I assume in parallel, I should use 4 ohm, but will the 3 ohm combined impedance be too much for the PA-305?
    Second, is there a trick to know which speaker wire is positive to the speaker without getting a scissor lift to go up and look?

    • Hi Troy. The PA-305 would *probably* be ok with those wired in parallel, but personally I’d avoid any issues by being sure to prevent a problem.

      – You could use a single 1Ω 25W (or higher) resistor in series with the parallel pair, a 2Ω in series with each speaker, or a speaker impedance adapter like this one here set to 2x to avoid any potential issues.
      – Hmm, unfortunately as those speakers have grills, there’s not an easy way to check the polarity if you can’t see the woofer. Depending on how far they are from each other, some sound will get canceled out if one is reversed, a.k.a, “out of phase” with the other. This is typically a loss in bass.

      Also if one is reversed, when you play a song you’re familiar with the stereo sound will be “off” and won’t sound right since one will be messing up the stereo effect. You can probably check with an audio test track also.

      Hope all this helps a little! Best regards.

      • Thank you for the information. Things are currently working as-is, so I think I will leave it. The cell phone is plugged into the phono input. I leave the master volume at about 1/4. Much higher and it starts to ‘clip’. The phone knob is fairly low as well for the volume needed. The cell phone volume is at 50%.

        This setup is background music on Spotify for a coffee shop. The room has with very high walls and celings with open beams and concrete floor, so there is lots of echoes. Do you give advice for reducing echo in a room?

        • Hi, unfortunately for echos I think you’d need to add noise padding/foam/material like the square you can add to walls and ceilings to absorb reflections and noise. I think there may be a spray version of that too, but I’m not 100% sure.

          Other than that, having speakers more closely located near the listener(s) and pointed towards them, although I realize you probably can’t do it in this case unfortunately.

    • Hi, which thing were you referring to? In one of the pictures there are speaker wiring terminals called binding posts. Those often have a center hole for banana plug speaker wire connectors.

  9. I want to connect two mono speakers to my audio interface output without connect a amplifier. This is for very small home studio. I have 3″ speakers 8,ohms and no amplifier. Those speakers are not powered. Can I do this or not. Please help me.

    • Hello Jay. If you only have a audio output that’s non-amplified, you’ll have to have an amplifier of some sort to power them. A low-level output doesn’t have the power or voltage needed to produce enough sound from speakers usually.

      Best regards.

  10. Dear Marty, i have bought full range speakers and I would like to know how to connect these properly. The speakers have connections for the tweeter and woofer , plus and minus. Do i have to connect the minus with each other or ?? Many thanks kr rudi

    • Hello, it depends on the particular speakers. Some speakers with separate tweeter and woofer terminals allow optionally “bi-amping” them (powering the tweeters and woofers separately).

      In many cases those type include jumpers to allow wiring them like standard speakers. Did yours include jumpers? If so you can just use those and it should be ok to wire both + and – sides together.

      The speaker enclosures usually have crossovers built in to handle the filtering for correct sound.

      Best regards.

  11. Hello Marty, I am a research scholar from India, currently I am working on effect of acoustic on combustion. I have two speakers (company name B&S speaker 18PS76) with continuous power rating of 1200 watt each with 8 ohm impedance. I want to vibrate air in a chamber through these speakers. Now I have a signal generator which will generate signal. I have to connect it to an amplifier which will power the speakers. What type of amplifier do I need? What will be the specification of that amplifier? Pls help me. If you want the picture of the speakers, I can send you that also.

    • Hi, you can use any amplifier you like that supports 8Ω speakers. It depends on what amount of power you’re wanting to drive them with. Your question/use case was very vague so I’m not able to answer your questions very well without more specific details.

      The best thing to do would be to establish the specific parameters you’re after then go from there for choosing a suitable amplifier(s). Best regards.

  12. We currently have an old Onkyo receiver with A/B Speaker connections. We have 2 front speakers @ A and using B for 2 add’l front speakers next to us on the couch. We don’t want surround sound. Thinking of upgrading receiver to get some HDMI inputs but having hard time finding A/B Speaker connections without paying over $500. We tried to set up just a center speaker on current receiver to see if we could get by with a Center rather than 2 fronts, it wouldn’t give any sound.
    Can I get a new receiver with just 1 set of Front Connections and wire 2 sets of speakers to them – I’ve read about parallel and series – is this an option? What do I need to watch for?
    Ideally, we need the 2 speakers by us on the couch as the priority, but 1-2 up front would be nice is feasible.

    • Hello there. You can get a newer receiver and simply not use the rear speaker outputs if it’s a surround-sound capable receiver. The amount of speakers you can connect will depend on 1) the receiver’s minimum Ohms rating and 2) the impedance of the speakers you’d like to use.

      If a receiver doesn’t support the total Ohms load of your 2 sets of speakers, you can use a speaker volume control with impedance adapter to do it safely. They’re affordable and simple to use. Best regards.

  13. I have definitive b 2004 speakers at 4 ohms hooked up to main channel on yamaha rx-av6 reciever
    could I run two klipsch 8 ohm 500 sa atmos speakers and just wire them in with the mains?

    • Hello Darran, do you mean the YAMAHA RX-V6A? And you’re asking about wiring the pair of 8Ω speakers in parallel with the existing 4Ω ones?

      In that case you’ll need to use a speaker volume control with impedance adapter built in. It will allow you to do that safely, as otherwise the total Ohms load would be too low (below 3 Ohms, even closer to 2Ω possibly). A speaker impedance adapter set to “x2” or “2:1” should do it.

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