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How to Connect Speakers to an Audio Receiver

by Paul Sanders

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Woman listening to two cabinet speakers

Things You Need:

  • Speakers
  • Audio receiver
  • Speaker wire
  • Wire strippers

Great home audio starts with great speakers. Once you've decided on the perfect home audio speakers for your home stereo or home theater, you'll be ready to connect them to your audio receiver. When properly installed, high-quality speakers will make your music, movies and games sound incredible. Follow the detailed steps below to properly connect your surround-sound or stereo speakers to your audio receiver.

Installing Stereo Speakers:

  1. Place your speakers. Surround-sound systems will have between five and seven audio channels, not including the subwoofer. Where you place the front, side and rear audio speakers will depend largely on the shape of the room and the seating arrangement. Your audio arrangement will determine the length of wire you need.

  2. Measure and cut speaker wire. Determine how you'll be running the wire from the audio receiver to each speaker.

  3. Whether you're running wire through walls, under carpet or along the baseboards, be sure to consider all the twists and turns into your measurements.

  4. Cut the wire and label each length so you'll know which audio channel it belongs to. Split the ends of the wire and strip off the insulation to expose an inch or so of bare wire.

  5. Connect wires to your receiver. The wire terminals on the back of your receiver will be labeled for the front, rear and side audio channels. Left and right audio channels will be labeled as well. Each channel will have both a positive and negative terminal, typically labeled with plus and minus signs. Make sure that you connect the same side of the wire to the positive and negative terminals on both the receiver and the speaker. Choosing wire with multiple colors or striping can help you differentiate between the split ends.

  6. Connect your speakers. For each audio channel, connect the other end of the wire to the wire terminal on the corresponding speaker, positive to positive and negative to negative. An incorrect connection will not produce the proper sound from your speakers, especially low bass sounds.

  7. Test the speakers. If your audio receiver has a built-in setup program, you can use that to test the placement and audio quality of your speakers. Otherwise, play a CD or DVD in the receiver and make any needed adjustments to your wire connections or speaker placement.

Speaker Wire Tip:

  1. Speaker wire is rated by gauge, which is related to the impedance of the wire itself. Look for wire with impedance that closely matches your speakers and you'll receive the best audio quality.

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