How To Connect Speaker Wires To RCA

By Glen / July 17, 2019

Last Updated on

Everyone’s been there. You’re trying to connect your new sound system then you realize you’re missing a connection. The problem is that the speaker wires don’t connect to the RCA plugs. T

hat’s when you check the internet only to find there is no such thing as an adaptor that connects speaker wires to RCA. Then you must get creative, which is why you’re here.

Well, there’s good news. It’s not that hard; it’s probably one of the simpler changes to make when looking at rewiring your sound system. There are a few simple steps to follow and a few parts to buy. With that, anyone should be able to connect their speaker wires to their RCA plugs.


Step 1: Figure Out What You Have

What part are you missing? The RCA connection? The wires? Once you know what you have you will need to get the other. A few important things to consider when going to buy the other half are:

What size wire do you have/will you need?

The wires are measured in gauge with 16 and 20 being the most common sizes. If you get the wrong size of wire or plug the wire won’t fit into the plug and you will have to buy another.

What quality do you have/do you want?

If the wire is high quality then you need to buy a high-quality plug. The same goes the other way around. If you’re buying both you can decide how much you want to spend and what kind of quality you want.


Step 2: Polarity. What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

There will be two speaker wires: Each wire needs to be connected into a specific place when plugging the RCA into your device. One will be the ground and will need to be connected to the black RCA input on your device.

If you don’t connect your wires correctly your sound quality will be poor. On the one wire there will be a ridge on the plastic, or a stripe or the wires will be two different colors.

When connecting the wires to the RCA plugs you must decide if you connect the marked wire to the rim or the pin, and then connect the unmarked wire to the other one.

It doesn’t matter which wire you connect to the rim or the pin. But the wire you connect to the rim will become the ground and will need to be plugged into the black port. You must be consistent with your decision if you’re converting multiple speaker wires to RCA.

Step 3: To Solder or Not to Solder

It’s very simple to decide whether or not to solder; you simply have to ask yourself one question: Do you have a soldering iron? If yes then you can decide whether or not to solder.

If you decide to solder, the connection will be more stable. You can buy the equipment if you want but it can be difficult to use if you have never used it before. A soldering iron is also dangerous because of how hot it becomes.

When buying your RCA plug, there will be two types: the type you solder and the type you don’t. The type you don’t solder has small screws on the rim and the pin that you can tighten to secure the correct wire to the correct surface. If you pick the solder option it’s a bit more complicated.

Connecting the Wire to the RCA plug

After you’ve checked what size your wire is, gone to the hardware store to get the correct RCA plug and arrived home, there are a few steps you need to follow:

Get a clean, private work area. You don’t want small animals or kids messing with wires, especially if you’re soldering.

Strip a small section of your wire, about 1”. This means take the plastic coating off with a knife or wire stripper. When using a knife, you gently run the knife along the circumference of the wire and then pull off the piece of plastic on the end. Now you should have some exposed copper wires.

Look at the covered part of each of the two wires. The one has markings—ridged, stripe or a different color—and the other doesn’t. You must decide which gets connected to the rim and which gets connected to the pin.

It doesn’t matter which wire connects to the rim or the pin, but the plug with the wire connected to the rim becomes the ground and must be connected to the black port.

If you’re not going to solder,  loosen the screw, put the exposed wire in contact with the chosen rim or pin, then tighten the screw. Repeat with the other wire to the opposite terminal.

If you’re using the solder type, heat up your soldering iron. Use the resin solder or silver. Put the wires against the chosen rim or pin. Then put a small amount of melted solder onto the surface to glue the wire to the surface. Be careful of the solder and soldering iron as they can get extremely hot and can burn through most surfaces.

From there you can connect your speaker wires to your device via an RCA plug. Congratulations!


Troubleshooting

If you’ve converted your speaker wires to RCA plugs and it doesn’t work, you may have a few concerns. Some frequent concerns include the following.

My sound is poor and sounds crackly

The most likely option is that your polarity is reversed. Try switching your cables and see if that helps.

There’s no sound at all

Check to see if your screws are tight enough or that your solder work is complete.

Check that the one wire has a complete connection to the rim and that one wire has a complete connection to the pin. If either has a partial connection the audio may not come through.

Check to see that the wires aren’t crossed and that the same wire isn’t connecting to both the rim and the pole. 


Conclusion

Converting your speakers to RCA is no easy feat — it’s something you can be proud of. Have you ever done any other rewiring? Comment below and help others learn a few tips.

About the author

Glen

My name is Glen Parry. I've been in the audio world for over 15 years. This includes guitar, keyboard, ukulele, speakers, headphones and everything else that comes with it. I spend all my free time on music production and jamming with friends. I hope to use this site to share my experience and help anyone looking for solutions to audio related problems.