Is polarity standardized across brands of speakers and amps?

Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
I'm setting up my rebuilt theater. I've embedded 12 gauge speaker wires with banana jacks that are color-coded red and black.

But I'm going to be using different brands of speakers: Paradigm for the main 5.1 array, Boston Acoustics for my rears, and Onkyo silver tubes on the ceiling - and an Onkyo as a second sub.

And I'm going to power the ceiling speakers with an old Denon AVR fed by the pre-outs for this from my Yamaha AVR, with the rest driven by the Yamaha.

Can I have confidence that for the 11 conventional speakers that simply following the Red and Black color coding - which all the speakers and amplifier terminals have - will mean they'll all play in phase, or are there brand-do-brand variations of phase?

And will the subs - which are RCA-to-RCA wired - also be in phase with the other speakers?

Can I simply trust the Yamaha's YPAO automated room correction to take care of phase differences?

In my old theater, I only had the seven ordinary speakers listed above and the one Paradigm subwoofer.

I'm wondering if the second brand of amp, third brand of ceiling speakers, and second brand of sub may trip me up on channel phasing if each company interprets the phasing of the red and black terminals differently.
 
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Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Some audiophile amps and pre-amps invert polarity, but I highly doubt that any mainstream products do unless they are hand-wired and mistakes happen during assembly. Speaker systems are usually hand-built and assembly mistakes happen. Some people also make mistakes during cable assembly, and I know mistakes are made in home in-wall wiring.

I think YPAO only applies phase correction to the sub outputs, but I'm not a YPAO expert.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm setting up my rebuilt theater. I've embedded 12 gauge speaker wires with banana jacks that are color-coded red and black.

But I'm going to be using different brands of speakers: Paradigm for the main 5.1 array, Boston Acoustics for my rears, and Onkyo silver tubes on the ceiling - and an Onkyo as a second sub.

And I'm going to power the ceiling speakers with an old Denon AVR fed by the pre-outs for this from my Yamaha AVR, with the rest driven by the Yamaha.

Can I have confidence that for the 11 conventional speakers that simply following the Red and Black color coding - which all the speakers and amplifier terminals have - will mean they'll all play in phase, or are there brand-do-brand variations of phase?

And will the subs - which are RCA-to-RCA wired - also be in phase with the other speakers?

Can I simply trust the Yamaha's YPAO automated room correction to take care of phase differences?

In my old theater, I only had the seven ordinary speakers listed above and the one Paradigm subwoofer.

I'm wondering if the second brand of amp, third brand of ceiling speakers, and second brand of sub may trip me up on channel phasing if each company interprets the phasing of the red and black terminals differently.
No you can not take this for granted. Speakers you can, amps no. Actually quite a few amps have the output out of phase with the input. This happens with a lot of output stage designs. In my experience amps just about never state if they are phase inverting. So it is my practice to ALWAYS do a phase check between input and output on the scope when putting an amp I don't know into service. You would be surprised what you find. The only thing that is standard is that the neg. terminal of an amp is ground. Phase is not standard.

The most reliable way to tell is to use Lessajous curves. In the case above you connect the input to x and output to y or vice versa.



The in phase curve which is actually a line is at the 3 o'clock position above and the out of phase curve at the 9 o'clock position.
 
Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
Is it enough to do this test on the secondary AVR? It would be tricky to test the primary one, since it would be uncertain whether the stuff decoded from HDMI and the line input (which isn't what I would be using for Atmos) are treated the same.

Perhaps the simplest would be to play a mono source through all channels and compare the outputs of the 2 amps.

At the Yamaha, I could Y a signal into a stereo line input and set it to "all channel stereo." Then I'd X/Y into the scope the red terminals of one speaker output from each AVR to see if they are in phase.

PS Very informative graph, by the way. I remember putting a discarded scope I'd found on campus across the two channels of my stereo, nearly 50 years ago, and watching the patterns made by music. Fascinating, when in the right state of mind!

PPS I also have a SmugMug gallery, but it's of my landscape photography, at Photos.PhilOlenick.com. It's quite small so far - only two dozen shots.
 
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Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
Just noticed that the silver Onkyo tube speakers have Black and White instead of Black and Red wiring terminals. I assume that White corresponds to Red in terms of polarity.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
Just noticed that the silver Onkyo tube speakers have Black and White instead of Black and Red wiring terminals. I assume that White corresponds to Red in terms of polarity.
I would assume the opposite. The Black terminal would be the hot lug and the white the return, same as for AC line wiring, but don't do the dangerous mistake of using AC plugs to connect your speakers.
One of my friends had his speaker wires connected with AC plugs, and the cleaning lady, after disconnecting the speakers from the amplifiers as part of her work, plugged them back but in an AC outlet! :eek: She must have got off with quite a fright and burnt voice coils.
 
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highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
One of my friends had his speaker wires connected with AC plugs, and the cleaning lady, after disconnecting the speakers from the amplifiers as part of her cleaning work, plugged them back but in an AC outlet! :eek: She must have got off with quite a fright and burnt voice coils.
Why the hell would your friend do that?
 
Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
TLS Guy: From what you wrote, I would assume that Black is ground and thus Red or White would be signal - or do you agree with Verdinut that White would be ground on the Onkyo speakers?
 
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j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
TLS Guy: From what you wrote, I would assume that Black is ground and thus Red or White would be signal - or do you agree with Verdinut that White would be ground on the Onkyo speakers?
It does not matter which one you assign as pos and neg as long as you are consistent across speakers. I personally keep black as neg as it is almost always easiest to identify.
 
H

Hobbit

Full Audioholic
I know Audyssey will warn you if a speaker polarity is wrong. I had mis-wired a speaker and when I ran the correction it warned me the speaker's polarity was inverted. I checked, and low and behold, I got my wires crossed. It does not correct for it. I had to manually swap the polarity for that speaker and rerun the correction.

I don't know about Yamaha's YPAO and how it would handle this situation. If I were to guess I would think it would do the same thing? But I would look it up to be sure.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
TLS Guy: From what you wrote, I would assume that Black is ground and thus Red or White would be signal - or do you agree with Verdinut that White would be ground on the Onkyo speakers?
I don't know. But there is probably an easy way to tell which is ground. The terminal labelled -ve is almost always connected to chassis ground. However that will not tell you if the amp inverts phase from input to output. That takes instruments or a very careful listen. I don't think Verdinut's advice is better then flipping a coin. Over 30 years I have found speaker terminal appearance tells you nothing about signal polarity except that the -ve is almost always chassis ground.

In the 2.0 era this did not matter at all. Now in multi channel audio and bi-amped systems it matters a lot.
 
Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
The terminals on the Onkyo cylinders are not labeled - they're not even banana jacks but spring-loaded for inserting a wire. These are old cheap "SKC-240F" HTIB units that I'm repurposing the front pair of as my overheads (with a second set bought on eBay for that purpose).

I'm assuming that if I treat their black terminals like the black terminals of the other speakers, it won't matter that their other terminals are white instead of red.

Alternatively, I could put one of them next to one of the Boston Acoustics, playing the same mono signal, I could determine which way they were in and out of phase.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
The terminals on the Onkyo cylinders are not labeled - they're not even banana jacks but spring-loaded for inserting a wire. These are old cheap "SKC-240F" HTIB units that I'm repurposing the front pair of as my overheads (with a second set bought on eBay for that purpose).

I'm assuming that if I treat their black terminals like the black terminals of the other speakers, it won't matter that their other terminals are white instead of red.

Alternatively, I could put one of them next to one of the Boston Acoustics, playing the same mono signal, I could determine which way they were in and out of phase.
Let us know which is the polarity of the Onkyo terminals after your testing. I'm curious! :)
 
Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
It'll be another week or two. The theater rebuild is still in progress.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Speakers that need to be reconed.
I was thinking more of the fire that could result- 120VAC across 8 Ohms works out to 1800W. Well, and people reaching their target heart rate when the sound starts.
 

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