Do Speakers Have Polarity? What You Need To Know

Suppose you play with speakers for a while and learn the mechanics. You might come upon once in a while about polarity, and wonder “do speakers have polarity?” 

Speakers do have polarity. Their polarity is determined by the wire’s connection between the amplifier and the speakers. The speaker has a positive and a negative terminal. It will have the correct polarity when it is connected to the amplifier’s terminal in the correct order (positive in the positive terminal and negative in the negative terminal).

When the wires are connected interchangeably, they will have reverse polarity.

Do speakers have polarity

What is the speaker’s polarity?

The concept of speaker polarity is solely applicable to stereo signals; it has no bearing on mono signals.

It’s beneficial to understand how a speaker works. A speaker is essentially an electromagnet with a cone attached. The cone travels in and out to create sound waves when an alternating current signal is applied to the electromagnet.

As a result, the speaker wire does not have polarity and operates as an alternating current. Polarity isn’t required for any individual speaker. It enters or exits the room. However, when you connect two or more speakers, you want them to move in and out together. This is referred to as the moving-in phase. Signals in phase reinforce each other, while signals out of phase cancel each other out. It can sound weaker if you do this wrong in a stereo system.

A regular speaker* travels outward when it receives a positive voltage swing. It moves inward when it receives a negative voltage. When ensuring that two or more speakers are established appropriately, marking the terminal with the direction that moves outward as positive and the direction that moves inward as negative is useful.

To ensure this “polarity,” the speaker wire is frequently labeled in some fashion – red/black is popular.

What happens when we connect the wires wrong?

Sometimes there may come a time when the speaker’s positive and negative terminals are crossed connect with the amplifier’s positive and negative terminal. If the connection is not made correctly, it can cause your speaker to be out of phase.

OOPS is an audio technique that undoes or manipulates the phase of a stereo file to isolate specific listening components. It depends on the idea that when two inverted sine waves are mixed together, one “cancels out” the other.

You will hear some distorted or very small bass or some oddities in the audio. Sometimes it will not even be that noticeable.

There are many claims on the internet that the inverted polarity by incorrect wiring can cause damage to your speakers or amplifier. This is not true at all! The power they receive is still the same when connected correctly or in inverse.

Different Ways to Test Speaker Polarity?

The different ways to test speaker polarity include using a multimeter, a smartphone, and a 9V battery.

Using a Multimeter

Setting your multimeter to an extremely low Ohms range can operate as a current source. So, set the meter to the lowest Ohm’s range and check the speaker’s ohms.

You’ll notice that the cone of the speaker moves when you do so. When you take the measurement and release it, make a note of the direction it moves. Repeat the process with your next speaker.

The polarity is the same if the cone goes in the same direction as the first when you take the measurement and release it. The polarity is flipped if it moves in the other direction.

Using a Smartphone

Is your audio equipment already connected? Is it possible to send audio from the input to the output? If you answered yes to both questions, you could use a smartphone app to determine the polarity of your speaker.

Google Play and the Apple App Store each have several outstanding apps. The finest solutions connect your mobile device’s audio output to your system’s input.

Place your smartphone’s mic in front of the speaker you want to test once you’ve established a connection. The software will send a positive impulse across the system, allowing you to determine whether or not the polarity is correct.

After checking for cone movement, you can evaluate whether you need to rewire part or all of your audio systems.

Using a 9V Battery

If you have a 9-volt battery at home, you can test the polarity of your speakers quickly and cheaply.

Once you’ve got the battery, you’ll need to make sure the speaker’s wiring is accessible. To expose the bare components beneath, a little piece of the protective covering will need to be removed.

After you’ve gotten all of those things together, test the speaker polarity by following these procedures.

  • Connect one of the speaker wires to the 9-volt battery’s positive terminal.
  • Connect the other wire to the battery’s negative terminal.
  • You’ll notice movement from the speaker cone once both wires are connected.

Please pay special attention to how it moves. If the first movement is outward (toward you), the positive terminal on the speaker is linked to the same one. If it goes inward first, the polarity has been flipped.

The cone’s center motion is quite minor. Disconnect the connections and begin over from the beginning if you missed the initial movement.

Does Polarity Matter in Car Speakers?

Polarity in car speakers is also important. If they are not connected correctly, the audio will be out of phase.

When it is out of phase, the audio track will be manipulated to create a mono sound. The technique works by finding and eliminating specific components that can cause distortion or noise in a stereo mix.

Reverse polarity will damage the stereo image and bass sound you hear because they are out of phase with each other. If your speaker system has reverse polarity, just don’t hook them up that way or switch to standard configuration for better audio quality.


I hope that this article will help you understand the detail of speaker polarity and how they work. 

If you have any questions about the speaker’s polarity, please contact me on the contact page.

In the meantime, please share this article if you find it helpful.

Jacob Miller

Hi, I'm Jacob Miller, and welcome to AudioOver, a platform designed to help aspiring music producers create music from home. With a musical background inspired by my award-winning father, I've been passionate about music since I was young.

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