Whether starting a new speaker-wiring project or simply rearranging your audio system, it's important to know how to properly separate speaker wires to ensure the best audio connection. Speaker wire is available in an easily-separated "zip" style with two internal wire bundles, or as an indoor/outdoor style which features an external plastic coating over two individually-coated wires. Both styles require only a few tools to separate the wires.
Examine the back of your speaker components to see where the speaker wires connect. Measure the distance between the posts (or jacks, as is the case on some models) for the left and right channels. Triple that amount and write it down on paper.
Grab the speaker wire end. If using the zip-style speaker wire (the type that's transparent and has a thin plastic barrier between the two wire strands), snip the plastic at the end, parallel to the two strands, using the wire cutter. Gently tug until there are two separate lengths of wire matching the length written down in step 1. If the wire is difficult to tug, carefully use the craft knife to score the inner plastic (flat) area, or use the wire cutters to snip through the plastic. Slice the plastic to the length determined in step 1.
If using the indoor/outdoor style of wire, strip 1/4 inch from the end of the outer plastic tubing, revealing the two coated wire strands inside. Using a craft knife, carefully score and cut the outermost plastic housing to the length written down in step one.
Strip 1/4-inch of plastic coating from the two strands of wire using the wire stripper. If necessary, cut off any jagged ends from the wire strands so the pieces are of uniform length. Strip off a longer section of plastic housing if necessary for connecting to the speakers.
Twist one strand of the bare wire end until it is rope-like in appearance. Repeat with the other strand of bare wire. Trim any stray wires as necessary.
Connect the new left and right wires to the speaker terminals or insert them into the jacks. If the bare wires are too long for the terminals or jacks, trim with wire cutters. If the exposed metal is not long enough, cut a little more of the plastic coating off, using the wire cutters.
Repeat steps two through five, if necessary, for the opposite end of the speaker wire.
Turn on the sound system and listen for clean, clear audio.
If the wire has a slight break in it, trim the wire below the break to start fresh, otherwise the audio may not reproduce cleanly.
Tips and warnings
- If the wire has a slight break in it, trim the wire below the break to start fresh, otherwise the audio may not reproduce cleanly.