How to Attach RCA Plugs to Speaker Wire

By Jonra Springs

RCA plugs are used for audio and video cable connections on contemporary electronic entertainment equipment. The plug accommodates two wires such as those used for speaker wire connections to RCA jacks on stereo receivers. Manufacturers observe uniform polarity for the signal and ground connections when wiring RCA speaker jacks and plugs. Follow the same polarity configuration to make the best sounding speaker connection with an RCA plug.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Wire cutters
  • Solder
  • Solder gun or iron

Step 1

Remove the sleeve or jacket from the plug connector. Unscrew precious metal and plastic shell sleeves to remove them. Simply pull rubbery plastic jackets away from connectors to expose plug wire connection terminals.

Step 2

Cut speaker wire across one end and split the two wires apart. Use thumbnails to separate small gauge wires and pinch with forefingers to tear down the center seam. Use a utility knife to divide at least the first inch of heavy gauge speaker wire before pinching and tearing apart. Separate at least 2 inches of wire lengths for easy stripping and connecting.

Step 3

Strip the wires to expose 1/2 inch of freshly bare wire. Bite the insulators 1/2 inch from the ends with wire cutter blades and spin the blades around the outsides to cut off the outer shielding. Pinch the wire strands between a thumb and forefinger and twist them to collect the wire into a unit. Push the wires up through the plug jacket or sleeve.

Step 4

Observe the correct polarity to determine which wire connects to the pin and which goes on the sleeve. The uniform polarity used for speakers has the signal or positive wire connected to the center pin and the ground or neutral wire connected to the sleeve. The wire with a stripe, a dot or a raised rib on the shielding is the positive wire. See the tips section to determine the polarity of speaker terminals if you are wiring those as well.

Step 5

Press the end of the positive wire against the central pin terminal. Older RCA plugs require pushing the wire all the way through the center pin and folding the wire ends over the outside of a hole in the tip of the pin. Hold solder over the wire and melt a drop onto the wire and terminal, or pin hole with a solder gun or soldering iron.

Step 6

Lay the exposed end of the neutral wire on the sleeve. Melt enough solder over the wire and sleeve to cover the bare wire.

Step 7

Fold the sleeve wings over the wire shielding and press firmly to hold insulated wire to the plug. Push the plug jacket or sleeve up the connected wire and slip on or screw together.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a red RCA plug for the right channel and a white or black one for the left if available. These colors are used to mark the left and right channel jacks on stereo equipment.
  • Speaker terminals may be marked with positive and negative polarity symbols, or color coded with red on the positive anchor and black on the negative. Test unmarked speaker terminals with any 1.5 volt battery. Use a AA, C, or D cell for the test. Connect stripped wires to both speaker terminals. Press one against the plus side of the battery and watch the speaker cone as you touch the other wire to the negative end of the battery. The battery is connected to the corresponding speaker terminals if the cone pushes outward. If the cone recoils inward, the negative side of the battery is touching the positive speaker wire.
  • Molten solder burns skin. Use caution to prevent hot solder from dripping on exposed skin.