What Happens If Speaker Wires Touch?

Norvan Martin
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website.

A concern you might have handling a speaker wire might particularly be the fear of getting shocked by the speaker wire. Many users doubt if speaker wires can shock since they only carry sound signals. Read on to understand how speaker wire works and if they can spark or shock.

Let’s see what happens if you hook up your speaker wrong: 

If Your Speaker Wires Touch: If speaker wires touch, this will short-circuit the source that is driving the speakers (e.g. a receiver or amplifier). This will cause a fairly large current to flow which can damage the source or blow the fuse if one is within the source device.

If You Reverse The Polarity Of The Wires: Reversing the polarity of speaker wires simply means the positive and negative terminals are accidentally swapped. This can happen if the wires are not properly labeled with polarity and can cause the speaker to be “out of phase,” which results in strange audio behavior.

Can Speaker Wires Electrocute You? Most speaker wires don’t carry enough current to electrocute you. However, it is possible if the amplifier is powerful enough or there is a short, you could easily be electrocuted.

Does It Matter Where Which Speaker Wire Goes: With speaker wires, normally the positive wire is red and the ground, or negative, is black. You should always connect the positive wire from the source to the positive terminal of the speaker and the negative terminal of the source to the negative terminal of the speaker. However, some speaker wires do not use colors because it doesn’t matter which color you use for positive or negative as long as the source terminals and speaker terminals are matched in terms of polarity (+ve to +ve and -ve to -ve).

What Happens If Positive And Negative Speaker Wires Touch?

First off, it is important to know that all speaker wires can carry current. Also, you must note that current moves from the positively charged portion of a wire to the negatively charged end.

speaker wires touch

Therefore, when speaker wires touch each other, what simply happens is the transfer of electric current down the wrong path i.e. the positive charge current that was supposed to be moving in the positive speaker wire is now moving in the negative speaker wire.

The result of this phenomenon is a condition known as a ‘short-circuiting’ or simply ‘cutting of the current from its source.’

Can You Short A Speaker?

Yes, you can. Shorting a speaker is as simple as simply touching one wire to the other. The current coming out from the amplifier powering the speaker travels down separate wires – the positive and the negative wire – to supply the speaker with power.

This is because the current carries different charges that are required for powering the speaker. When these wires touch each other, the current is cut out from the amplifier i.e., the current immediately stops flowing through the wire.

This condition is a self-protecting condition that protects the speaker from receiving an electrical surge that could damage the major components of the speaker.

Shorting of speaker wires often happens with you have a large number of wires in a small circuit or you are running speaker wires over long distances (e.g 20 feet).

Are Speaker Wires Low Voltage?

The amount of voltage coming from a speaker wire is entirely dependent on how powerful the amplifier is. What this simply means is that the more the watts power of the amp in relation to the impedance of the speaker, the more volts that will be carried in the wire.

Speaker wire voltage

However, because speaker wires are not directly connected to a direct electric power source, no matter the power of the amplifier, the voltage produced in the wire is considerably low when you compare it to the electric wire in your house or to other electrical appliances such as a pressing iron.

This is because of the electrical distribution in the amp before the voltage gets to the speaker wire.

The speaker wire only carries a considerably low voltage transferred from the amplifier. This travels as an electric current which ultimately gets transmitted as a sound wave to the speakers.

Do Speaker Wires Carry Electricity

As earlier stated at the beginning of this article, all wires carry electrical current. This is because wires are primarily designed to carry electrical current in one form or another.

speaker wires electricity

However, this electric current is not always the type that can cause a strong electric shock. In the case of some electronic appliances, just at the terminating point of the wire, the electric current gets converted to different forms which could be sound, visual, and other signal types.

Therefore, when it comes to the amount of electrical current the speaker wire carries, it can barely be regarded as an electric current due to the considerably low amount of voltage it possesses.

What Current Do Speaker Wires Carry?

The current in your speaker wire is a low-voltage electric current that is carried from the amplifier.

The amplifier as the name implies is the component of the speaker that receives the signal from outside and expands it large enough to project through the speaker. It receives the information as an electric signal which is then converted to sound that gets transmitted through the speaker wires to the speaker coil.

Most amps come in different power sizes with varying degrees of capacity. The capacity of the amplifier is measured in watts which are expected to be almost twice the size in relation to the resistance capacity of the speaker.

The higher the watts these amplifiers carry, the more the amount of current they will be able to produce to amplify the signal they are receiving.

Can You Be Shocked By A Speaker Wire?

When dealing with a speaker wire, the least of your concerns should be getting shocked.  And this is simply because speaker wires cannot shock you.

This can probably be a little unbelievable but it shouldn’t be so surprising based on all the previous information already discussed in this article. Handling the speaker requires dealing with a lot of wires because you might need to connect a lot of speakers and even at times, you may need more than one wire to connect just two speakers.

Since handling a lot of speakers’ wires is already looking like an inevitability, one thing you might need to watch out for is avoiding the wires that may be trailing on the floor.

When handling speaker wires and you feel a shock sensation, you might need to check the following;

A thorough examination to check any or all of the above-listed steps can solve the case of shock around the speaker wire.

On a concluding note, you need to understand that speaker wires are essentially transmitters of low current, which eventually get converted to sound upon getting into the speaker.

These wires only get their current from the amplifier which is a low-voltage transmission that is not capable of causing you to shock in any way.

Therefore, when next you feel a shocking sensation, be quick to check around the other surrounding components to be able to effectively diagnose the cause of the electric shock.

Share This Article
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin