Speaker Wire Color Codes

Speaker Wire Color Codes

Speaker wire’s primary function is to transmit an electrical signal (voltage and current) from the amplifier (or the amplifier part of a receiver) to the speakers.

Speaker wire consists of equal numbers of electrical conductors insulated from each other and enclosed by a protective jacket, normally PVC material. One wire conductor is referred to as the Positive conductor (+ red), while the other is referred to as the Negative conductor ( – black).


Copper is the most commonly used metal conductor. Typically, conductors are made up of numerous tiny strands of copper. Stranded wires are far more flexible and therefore much easier to run through the walls of a house. PVC is commonly used in insulators and jackets.

The color codes for the four-conductor wire for speaker one are Red (positive), Black (negative), and White or Yellow (positive), Green (negative).

The first two conductors are used for the first speaker because two-conductor speaker wire typically contains a black and red conductor, with the Black being Negative (-) and the Red as Positive (+).  People normally do a lot of things from left to right, therefore the left is typically chosen as the Left side. This leaves the right speaker with the green and white (or yellow) conductors. Green (sometimes with a Yellow stripe) is the color of an earth ground in AC wiring, so we use this green color wire as Negative, which leaves White or Yellow color wire for the Positive connection.

Four-conductor wire is commonly used for whole-house wiring (multi-room audio) to reduce both the amount of cable and labor that will be required.

Quality equipment and cabling perform a much better job of transmitting audio signals from the source to the destination without signal degradation. Less noise and distortion result in better sound. Cables can add a great deal of noise and distortion to the sound in how they’re designed (type of copper, gauge, lengths) and how well they are shielded (designed to reject noise from outside interference.) Reducing noise anywhere inside the system will improve overall system performance.

Inexpensive speaker cables are manufactured by connecting one + and one – conductors in parallel. This is commonly referred to as zip-cord. Premium in-wall speaker cables are seldom built in this manner. Instead, the conductors are twisted. Twisted conductors are much less susceptible to noise reception. 

Higher purity coppers such as OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) are used in higher quality in-wall speaker cables; coppers that are contaminated with other metals are manufactured in a method that minimizes the quantity of oxygen present in the metal. Because it contains less oxygen, this reduced oxygen cable is more stable over time and is naturally resistant to corrosion.

Because cables are less expensive than main components, investing in higher-quality cables is the most cost-effective performance upgrade available.


Alpha Cable offers Premium OFC Audio cable in 12, 14, and 16 gauge with 2 or 4 conductors for Riser-rated, Plenum-rated, and Direct Burial application.


Please visit our website for cable options and specifications.


Next article Choosing the Right Gauge Wire Size for Your Audio Speakers

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