Ever have terminated speaker wires crossed/mislabeled from manufacturer?

Hi All,

So I recently came across a very weird scenario. One that I have never encountered before. I just put together a second, smaller HT system (5 channels). So I bought 5 XLR and 3 speaker cables all from SKW on Amazon. I got their high end cables. I have a few of the power cables on my subs and their stuff looks/feels/performs quite well. So I decided to go all in on speaker cables and IC's. I ran my Audyssey room correction through my Marantz AV8802A (purchased used on Ebay-very clean unit). But for some reason it kept saying my left front speaker had wires out of phase and had the red X showing on the speaker. I double checked and had red/red, black/black. So ran it again and same same. So I changed the speaker end (bananas all around) and put the black to red, vice versa. Ran calibration and no error...and as these cables are already terminated there's no way to determine for sure if indeed they put the wrong color on the wrong wire...


I have never ever even thought or considered that the Manufacturer could get this wrong, but I guess like everything else, mistakes can be made. But it really threw me for a loop and let's just say I will no longer buy SKW. Once that trust is broken, it's gone😯. I have started the return on Amazon and am sending the speaker cables back. I already ordered up the Blue Jeans Ten White Speaker Cable which even though terminated allows you to see the red and black wires so you know...


Very very disappointed in SKW, because I really liked their cables. They even provide screw on bananas and spades with all of their cables...


Anyone ever have this happen?


I never had that problem, but I do check any new cables (particularly XLR) with a continuity meter to make sure it was put together properly to check for shorts or reversed polarity before hooking them up.  Don't want to damage any equipment due to someone else's incompetency!

You do need a continuity tester to know what’s happening for sure. One way to tell is to swap the cables with another speaker or input.

There’s a lot that can go wrong, speaker cables, XLR or even having a speaker with drivers reversed.

Another safe test, in case you want to try, using a 1.5V or 9V battery, hook up + to red and - to black. The convention (but not enforced) is that this should cause the woofer to move towards the listener. Test it on your two front speakers and make sure it goes the right way for both. Like I said, it’s convention, so possible you’ll find the rare manufacturer who doesn’t do this. The reason is multi-way speakers may invert one driver or another, but the usual habit is that the woofers are in-phase but smaller drivers may be inverted.

erik_squires: Yes! I used that battery method when I started building speakers as a teenager. Works great, although not useful for checking cables without a speaker driver unless you have a battery on one end and a DC voltmeter on the other end.

Thanks for the info @erik_squires ​​​​@ellajeanelle ! What's weird is that I know if the wires are crossed it's supposed to be audible (lack of bass), but I didn't notice that when I played them before I did the Audyssey setup. 


I also read that crossing the wires won't damage the speakers or amp, is this true?

@ellajeanelle -  Hmmm? It's very useful.  If the OP is concerned his speaker cables have 1 end swapped, just put the battery on one end of the cable and the speaker at the other. :)


@kingbr  Reversing ( + to - ) is usually safe, except in some cases when bi-wired speakers where the black cables are internally connected.  Otherwise, if not bi-wiring, it is perfectly safe to swap one end or the other.

The other case where things get wonky is with balanced amps when a user attempts to bridge the (-) terminals. 

So long as you have 1 pair of outputs going to 1 pair of speaker inputs you can swap either or and the most you'll suffer, as you've discovered, is poor bass and weird phase effects. :)

kingbr OP

1: Set the voltmeter to continuity. (multimeter)

2: Touch one of the positive ends of the speaker wire to the positive (red) lead of the meter.

3: Touch the opposite end of the speaker wire with the negative (black) lead of your meter. Depending on the meter it will beep, or the analog needle will move to zero, or near.

The meter is basically telling you what end of the wire is touching (continuity/ closed circuit).

It will do the same if you touch the leads together. This will familiarize you on how it works.

Which color lead goes where doesn’t matter. You just want to know if there is an electrical connection there and that the wires are not reversed.

You can also make your own simple continuity meter with a battery, a piece of wire and a low voltage bulb. The concept is the same. The bulb will light when there is continuity/ closed circuit.

If you don’t have a voltmeter I recommend buying the brand Fluke. The cheap meters just don’t last or have much accuracy for other purposes. Once you learn to use one it has endless possibilities.