What do blue silver black and red colored speaker wires mean?

Written by andrew tennyson
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What do blue silver black and red colored speaker wires mean?
Red and black are the two most common colours used for speaker wire. (speaker connector image by jovica antoski from Fotolia.com)

Not all speaker and electronic device manufacturers use the same colours to identify wires. That said, there are some general guidelines that can help you to identify which wire goes where when hooking up your speakers.

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Warning

If possible, always check your manufacturer's manual before hooking up your speaker wires. Incorrectly attached wires can prevent your speakers from working properly. If you're working with live wires that send power, always be sure to take the necessary safety precautions.

CEA Color Codes Identification

Depending on when your speakers were manufactured, they may or may not conform to the relatively new Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) colour codes. According to professionals at Axiom Audio, if you are wiring a system for 5.1 surround sound, the CEA colour codes are as follows:

Red: Front right speaker

White: Front left speaker

Green: Center channel

Blue: Left surround (side)

Gray: Right surround (side)

Brown: Left back surround

Tan: Right back surround

Purple: Subwoofer

Older Wiring Identification

Devices more than a few years old don't necessarily follow universal colour coding. Manufacturers often assigned colours differently. That said, as a rule of thumb, red usually meant right and white usually meant left. If power was involved, red meant power and black meant ground. Blue, silver, yellow and other colours varied. If you're working with speaker wiring in a car, you might find some help from the folks at Custom Car Stereo, whose reference guide for car stereo wiring--arranged by car manufacturer--is available in the Resources section.

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