How to Convert Speaker Wires to RCA Plugs (Complete Guide)

Do you want to upgrade your home audio system, but don’t know how to convert speaker wires to RCA plugs? You can change your wires to connect to RCA inputs in just a few simple steps without hiring an expensive expert. All you need are a few basic tools, some RCA connectors.

Converting speaker wires to RCA connectors can provide you more connectivity options without requiring a major redesign, whether you want to connect an amplifier to passive speakers, add a subwoofer to your system, or simply want more flexibility in your setup.

Why & How to Convert Speaker Wires to RCA Plugs?

Converting speaker wires to RCA plugs has many of advantages for your audio system. RCA connectors are standardized, allowing for more device compatibility. They also give a more secure connection than unclothed speaker wires.

Most amplifiers, receivers, and other audio devices accept RCA plugs, often known as phono plugs or cinch connectors.

You can use these devices by adding RCA plugs to the ends of your speaker lines. In contrast, bare speaker wires require binding posts or spring clips to connect, restricting your options.

RCA plugs reduce the risk of crossed connections or short circuits. Their insulated design keeps the positive and negative wires from coming into contact, avoiding the possibility of incorrect polarity.

To overcome this problem, bare speaker cables must have matching colours or designated polarity.

What You’ll Need to Convert Speaker Wires to RCA

To convert your speaker wires to RCA plugs, you will need the following materials:

1. RCA Plugs

Get a set of male RCA plugs, commonly known as RCA jacks or phono connections. For each speaker wire you want to convert, you’ll need two RCA plugs. Select plugs that are appropriate for the gauge of your speaker wire.

2. Strippers and wire cutters

Before connecting the RCA connectors, use wire cutters to cut the speaker wire to the desired length. Wire strippers are used to remove the insulation from wire ends that have been cut.

3. Solder and Soldering Iron (Optional)

If it is not necessary, soldering the wire connections inside the RCA plugs gives the most secure connection. You’ll need solder, which is a fusible metal alloy, and a soldering iron to melt it.

4. Heat Shrink Tubing (Optional)

To provide insulation and protection, heat shrink tubing can be set over wire connections and shrunk using heat. This is suggested to avoid accidental shorts, especially if the connections are not connected.

5. Labeling Tape (Optional)

To keep note of the polarity of the speaker wires, mark the positive (+) and negative (-) wires before connecting them to the RCA connectors. Labeling tape or simple electrical tape and a permanent marker are enough.

Step 1: Cut and Strip the Speaker Wires

To convert your speaker wires to RCA plugs, you’ll need to cut and strip the ends of the wires to expose the inner copper core.

A) Using wire cutters or scissors, carefully cut the speaker wire to the necessary length. Keep the wires as short as possible, while giving enough slack to comfortably reach your device for the best signal.

B) Remove about 1/2 inch of insulation from the ends of each wire with a wire remover. Take extra care not to cut the inner copper wire.

If you don’t have a wire stripper, carefully cut through the insulation using a knife with a razor blade, or sharp knife. Then, grab the cut end of the insulation with pliers and peel it away from the wire.

C) On both ends of the speaker wire, the copper wire cores should now be visible. Twist the strands of each wire together gently to keep them in place.

Check that no copper strands are protruding or broken, as this might cause signal interference or shorting.

D) Check your previous work for any errors. It is vital to ensure that the wires are cut and stripped correctly, as any errors now may affect performance later.

After you’ve confirmed that the ends are ready, you can attach the RCA plugs.

Step 2: Attach the RCA Plugs

To attach the RCA plugs to your speaker wires, you will need the following supplies:

  • RCA plugs (also called RCA connectors or jacks)
  • Wire stripper or pliers
  • Soldering iron
  • Rosin-core solder

1. Strip the Wire

Use the wire stripper or pliers to strip 1/2 inch of insulation off the ends of the speaker wire. Be careful not to damage the internal wire strands. Expose both the positive (+) and negative (-) wires.

2. Tin the Wires

Avoid the wires fraying and to make soldering to the RCA plug easier, apply just a small amount of solder to the exposed wire strands.

This is known to as “tinning” the wires. Apply just enough solder to coat the strands,avoid creating a huge solder blob.

3. Solder the Wires to the RCA Plugs

  • Insert the tinned positive (+) wire into the centre post of an RCA plug and the negative (-) wire into the outside shield. Remove the soldering iron after the solder has melted. Hold the wires in place until the solder cures to form a solid junction.
  • Rep with the other RCA plug and speaker cord. Applying the soldering iron to the RCA plug body can harm the part.
  • Allow all solder points to completely cool. Before placing the RCA plugs into the equipment, carefully tug on the wires to make sure they are strongly bonded. Connect the red RCA plug to the red “right channel” input and the black “left channel” input with the other RCA plug. Your speaker wires are now prepared to transmit an audio signal via RCA connectors.

Step 3: Connect to Your Devices and Enjoy

You have now successfully converted your speaker wires to RCA plugs. It is time to connect them to your audio devices and start enjoying enhanced sound.

  • Connect the red RCA connector to your device’s red RCA input jack and the white RCA plug to the device’s white RCA input jack. These jacks are commonly labeled “Audio In” on receivers, amplifiers, and other pieces of equipment. Some devices may use additional colour coding to tell the difference between the right and left channels. For audio in stereo, connect the plugs to the proper jacks.
  • Switch on your audio device and go to the input to which the RCA plugs are connected. You should now receive sounds coming from your speakers. To modify the sound level, adjust the volume on your amplifier or receiver.
  • Using RCA connectors instead of bare speaker cables provides a more secure connection and helps to avoid problems such as signal loss or poor sound quality. RCA plugs are suitable with a wide range of audio parts, giving you more options when setting up or expanding your sound system

Frequently Asked Question 

Common questions about converting speaker wires to RCA plugs:

Q. Will I Lose Audio Quality by Converting Speaker Wires to RCA?

A. In most cases, converting speaker wires to RCA plugs will not noticeably reduce audio quality.

RCA connections can transmit high-quality analog audio signals with minimal loss. However, for the best results, use high-quality RCA plugs and cables designed for audio.

Q. Do I Need Any Special Tools?

A.  The only tools required are wire cutters or strippers to strip the speaker wire, RCA plugs, and a screwdriver. No soldering iron is needed.

Q. What Speaker Wire Gage Should I Use?

A.  For connecting to RCA plugs, 16- to 18-gage speaker wire works well for most applications. Thicker wire may be difficult to connect to the RCA plugs. Thinner wire could reduce signal strength over longer cable runs.

Q. Can I Connect Speaker Wire Directly to RCA Inputs Without Plugs?

A.  It is not recommended to connect bare speaker wires directly to RCA jacks. RCA jacks are designed for use with RCA plugs, not bare wire.

Connecting bare wires could potentially damage the RCA jacks or the device they are connected to. RCA plugs should always be used to properly connect speaker wire to RCA jacks.

Final Say

Following the three simple steps outlined above, now you know how to convert speaker wires to RCA plugs.

With some basic hand tools, you upgraded your speaker setup to work with more modern audio equipment.

While speaker wires served their purpose for years, RCA connectors are the current standard and open up more options for your listening experience.

By taking the time to do this conversion yourself, you gained useful knowledge about basic wiring and saved money versus paying someone else to do it.

With your new RCA connections in place, you can now enjoy enhanced audio from a wider range of sources.