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Tips for Hooking Up Speakers

2 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Connecting a Home Theater

Hooking up speakers is prettyeasy after you've carefully positioned the speakers in your surround-sound home theater. To hook up speakers, you just connect the speaker wires to the appropriate outlets on the A/V receiver. Before you plug and play, though, there are a few points to remember.

  • Keep your speakers in phase. Each speaker wire consists of two conductors, a positive and a negative. If you connect these out of phase (that is, the positive on the receiver to the negative on the speaker, and vice versa), you’ll hear a definite effect on your sound. Specifically, your speakers can’t create the appropriate soundstage, so sounds that are supposed to clearly come from the right or the left won’t. (By the way, right in this context means to the listener’s right when facing the display or the front of the room.)

    Most speaker cables are color-coded red and black to make this job easier (or you may have a white stripe on the jacket of one of the conductors in the speaker wire).

  • Make sure you have a tight connection. For the best sound quality and for a connection that won’t stop working over time, make sure your speaker connections are solid. You may prefer banana plugs or spade lugs on five-way binding posts because you can get these connectors nice and tight. A bare wire can be just fine however, and many smaller surround speakers don’t have enough physical space to fit larger connectors.

    Make a good connection the first time, and you won’t need to touch it again for years.

  • Don’t forget to connect the subwoofer. Most subwoofers are active speakers (they have their own built-in amplifiers), so you don’t use speaker wires to connect them. You need a long analog audio interconnect cable, which runs between the Subwoofer Out or LFE output on the back of your receiver and the input on the subwoofer itself.

    Make sure you get a cable that’s long enough to let you move the subwoofer around because you may need to reposition your subwoofer as you discover how it interacts with your home theater’s room.

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The Essentials of Connecting a Home Theater

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