How Do I Convert Speaker Wires to an RCA Jack?

By Finn McCuhil

Speaker wires can be connected directly to the speaker's terminals. Doing this severely limits the portability of the system. It also complicates maintenance. Substituting RCA jacks and plugs for direct connections takes more time during initial installation but reduces the amount of labor needed for future maintenance on a stereo or sound system. RCA connecters provide simple, reliable connection between speakers and a sound source. The installation process is simple and the investment in tools and supplies is minimal for this project.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire strippers
  • Soldering iron
  • Rosin core solder

Step 1

Use wire strippers to remove 1 inch of insulation from the ends of both speaker wire conductors.

Step 2

Plug the soldering iron into an electrical outlet and allow it to heat to operating temperature.

Step 3

Tin both speaker wire leads. Heat each lead individually with the soldering iron. Apply a small amount of solder to each lead. When properly heated, the solder will flow into and over the copper leads turning the bare ends of the wire silver. Use only enough solder to lightly cover the exposed wiring.

Step 4

Tin both terminals on the RCA jack. Heat each terminal individually and apply a light coat of solder as in Step 3.

Step 5

Insert the positive speaker wire lead into the jack's positive terminal. In the case of a slotted terminal post, insert the lead through the slot and twist the wire around the terminal to hold it in position. The positive terminal on an RCA jack is the one connected to the center post. The negative terminal is connected to the collar fitting.

Step 6

Solder the speaker wire in position. Heat the terminal and wire with the soldering iron and apply a small amount of solder to the connection.

Step 7

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 to connect the negative lead to the negative speaker terminal.

Tips & Warnings

  • RCA jacks are available with solder-less terminal connections. These offer convenient installation but may have reduced reliability and longevity when compared to soldered connections.
  • Wear eye protection while soldering.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling solder. Avoid any hand-to-mouth contact while working with solder and related compounds.