How to Check the Absolute Polarity of Your Speakers

Written by ashley black
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How to Check the Absolute Polarity of Your Speakers
If your audio doesn't sound quite right, test the polarity of your speakers. (loud speaker image by Eray Haciosmanoglu from

Absolute polarity is an audio concept that describes the way music is heard. Absolute polarity refers to sound heard as a positive wave, or compressed wave, as opposed to reversed polarity -- sound heard as a negative wave, or decompressed wave. Some individuals don't detect differences between positive and negative waves, while others are intensely bothered by reversed polarity. Testing the absolute polarity of your speakers can help you find the source of your frustration if you fall into the latter category.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1.5-volt battery
  • Assistant

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  1. 1

    Unhook the speaker at the amp. You can perform this check by unhooking only one of the wires, but it is generally preferable to unhook both wires.

  2. 2

    Ask an assistant to observe the speaker and tell you whether the speaker pops in or out when you connect the battery to the wires. If the speaker pops in, the polarity is correct. If instead of popping in, the speaker pops out, it means the speaker is out of phase.

  3. 3

    Touch the positive terminal of a 1.5 volt battery to the positive speaker wire. Repeat for the negative speaker wire and battery terminal. You should only connect the wires to the battery for about a second. Disconnect the wires as soon as your assistant has observed whether the speaker popped out or in. If the speakers are out of phase, switch the positive and negative wires when you plug the speaker wires back into the amp to correct the polarity.

Tips and warnings

  • A quicker way to test speaker polarity is by using a commercially produced polarity checker. This device tests polarity by use of a CD. However, these polarity checkers typically cost over £65 as of 2011.
  • Do not use a higher-voltage battery.
  • Only hold the battery and speakers wires together for a second. Connecting the battery and wires for longer than a second can cause damage to the speakers.

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