How to Phase Your Speakers





Introduction: How to Phase Your Speakers

In this instructable I will cover phasing of speakers.  This is designed to be just a introduction to phasing, some phasing techniques are very advanced, however, I will show you what I think is the easiest way to think about phasing.

Step 1: What Is Phasing?

Many people might ask: "What is phasing?".  That can be very difficult to explain, but I will do my best.  When you produce artificial sound from multiple sources, you always run the risk of being out of phase.  What I mean by out of phase is this: one source is "contradicting" what the other source is doing.  When a speaker produces sound, it is vibrating back and forth.  When you phase a speaker, the idea is to have both speakers moving in the same direction.

Step 2: When Do You Need to Phase?

Let's determine if you even need to phase your speakers.  There are a three questions you need to ask yourself.

1.  What were these speakers meant to do?  (Pro Audio, Stereo system, Surround Sound, etc.)
2.  What was the amplifier meant to do?  (Pro Audio, Stereo system, Surround Sound, Powered Speakers, etc.)
3.  What orientation was the system designed to be used in?  (Facing each other, same direction, surround, etc.)

If you are using the system in the way it was designed, then you do not need to phase the speakers.  But if you have a system that was designed to be used with the speakers facing each other and they are now facing the same direction, or you have a system that was designed to be used with the speakers facing the same direction and they are now facing each other, you need to phase them.

Step 3: How to Reverse the Phase

Now that you have determined if you need to phase, the next part is easy.  This is how we phase a speaker.  Normally on a straight phase, the marked wire would always be in the positive jack of both the speaker and the amp.  With a reversed phase, the marked wire should be reversed on either the amp or the speaker.  (Not both.)   In this way you are reversing the polarity so that when the speaker would normally move out, it moves in; and when the speaker would normally move in, it would move out.

Step 4: Copyright

Please note that I do claim copyright to the information. I did not use any specific sources when compiling this information, all of this is from my personal experience.

You may quote parts of this information for educational purposes. Under no circumstances will you sell this information.

I do not own the copyright to any of the images, however, as far as I have been able to find, I have the right to use them in this instructable. If there is any question about whether or not I have the right to use these images, please contact me. I have no intention of stealing anyone's intellectual property.

Use of this information implies that you agree to these copyright terms.

© 2011



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Phasing can also be used to simulate surround sound (pretty well, I might add). Your receiver needs to have two pair of speaker outputs. Hook up your front speakers properly phased (i.e., receiver+ to speaker+ and receiver- to speaker-). Get a pair of cheap rear speakers (matched properly ohm-wise to your front speakers so volume output matches). Hook up the rear speakers to the second speaker terminals on your receiver. However, hook up these rear speakers as follows: receiver+ to speaker+ but speaker- to speaker-. In other words the left and right rear speakers have their + going to the L and R receiver+ but their - going to each other. This will only produce sound from the rear speakers that is common to both left and right channels. It gives a very nice and subtle spatial effect to your music. Depending on the front and rear speakers, it might take a cheap volume control for the rear speakers so that their volume is more background than foreground. Some receivers might have a fader control that will accomplish this also. IMHO, the sound is more pleasing than some of the spatial effects that are built-in to many receivers out there today.

Nice! I never thought about doing it that way, but you're right, it would sound pretty decent. Thanks for sharing!

Anything is possible, if you don't care who gets the credit.
— Harry Truman

It appears that the figure in step 2 shows a single source ( for example the left channel) connecting 2 speakers in series (upper image) or parallel (lower image). Shouldn't it show 2 sources?

Not necessarily. Basically that figure is showing a Mono setup, which is what you would use in most professional audio setups. Stereo (two audio channels) is what you would use in a home theater setting, or in professional audio if you need to pan a track or channel to a specific side of a room for some reason. (For instance: making thunder sound like it's moving from one side of the room to another.)

You can't copyright common knowledge. You didn't invent the process of phasing. Sound engineers have been doing this for decades. I phased my speakers back in the 70's when I was 13.

I'm not copyrighting the process of phasing, merely the way that I presented it. If you want to create an adaptation of how I presented it, fine. If you want to create your own presentation on how to phase your speakers, fine. But if you copy me word for word, then we have a problem. That is all that I claim copyright to.

Well this is special, you should share some useful information because I have found out more from googleing your instructible subjects than what you have provided. Did you know sound isn't really just a sin wave. A pure note will appear as a sin, but it will actually zig-zag, even a tuning fork will, which is what this image is of


Yes... I did know that... But almost all sound can be created from or reduced to a sine wave at some point. (And it is sine wave... Not sin wave... The wave didn't do anything bad!)

I really don't understand why that would affect phasing though. The concept is still the same, and it is still necessarry. If there is something you think I missed, please let me know... I am more than happy to add it. The purpose of my instructables is to provide the basic information that professionals like myself use day to day in a way that someone who knows nothing about sound can understand.

How is this spam?