How To Wire Speakers With 4 Terminals

By José Carter  |  December 18, 2021
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José Carter
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José is a veteran audiophile with an MSc in Engineering, and a passion for sharing his audio knowledge with others.
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Technology has gotten advanced over the last couple of years with the introduction to the industrial age.

More industries are converting to a technological basis. The introduction of wireless came about with Bluetooth and WiFi, but wouldn’t you want to improve your skills as a handyman and actually do something with your hands?

Don’t get me wrong, the internet is great but the love we share for audio and DIY projects has to be expressed in some form.

This comes in the form of wiring your speaker with 4 terminals. Let’s use all of those binding posts at the back of your speaker. 

Using 4 Terminals

Before we get started, quick notice needs to be brought to attention. If you have a quality sound setup and there is nothing wrong with it, leave it alone. The addition of wires does change the impedance slightly but there are no major differences. If you’ve got one wire connecting your speaker and amplifier, there is nothing wrong with that. Connecting an extra wire to your speakers is called bi-wiring and connecting an additional amplifier is called bi-amping. Bi-wiring and bi-amping are completely voluntary and speaker companies allow you this option by providing dual binding posts. The methods will be explained in detail and to why we will need to hook up this configuration.

There are 3 ways to wire speakers with 4 terminals. You can use bi-wiring, bi-amping, or leave the conductive bar between the terminals and connect one set of wires. Jumping right into the steps means that we’re jumping the gun, there are a few things we need first:

  • Additional wire (Preferably an 8 or 10 gauge, keep it low as the impedance increases the higher the gauge number)
  • A speaker with dual binding posts
  • An additional amplifier

With each section, a youtube video will be attached as a link for a more visual understanding.

Wiring With All 4 Terminals

Speaker companies allow bi-wiring and bi-amping, however, you can’t accomplish this if your speaker does not have dual binding posts. The image below shows what dual binding posts look like. 

Wiring with 4 terminals serves as a benefit for you and enhances the performance of your system. You can connect your speakers using 1 binding post (negative and positive) and forget about the second binding post. Looking into the audio enhancements, the sound produced is clearer and tighter. There is a noticeable difference in the sound with the addition of the wires. One amplifier is connected to the woofer section and the other amplifier is connected to the mid-range and lower frequency levels. This provides the frequency ranges with their restricted areas to operate individually. 

The low and high-frequency range makes up the speaker’s internal crossover. The low frequency is called the LPF (low pass filter) and the high frequency is called the HPF (high pass filter). The LPF rejects frequencies over a certain range and the HPF rejects frequencies under a certain range. The amplifiers operate on specific ranges, focusing on the frequency at hand. Due to the separation of frequencies, there is less usage of power on the amplifier and this allows ideal ranges to be heard.

Bi-wiring

Bi-wiring is ideal for audio-heads trying to listen to the best possible sound. The separation is ideal and works on many levels. Performance on the system has never been better with the amplifiers working on specific ranges. Both sets of binding posts are used. You’re using one pair of the binding posts on the amp or external receiver that goes to two separate binding posts at the back of the speaker.

Here are the steps. 

  1. Switch off your entire sound system. 
    1. Including the amplifier, main plug, and speakers.
    2. In most systems, the top binding posts are for the higher frequency and the bottom binding posts are for the lower frequency.
    3. Switching the system off can avoid potential damage to the speakers and/or the power source.
  2. Remove the bi-wire bridge on your speakers.
    1. This is the gold bridge or copper plates between the two binding posts.
    2. Remove them from both sets of binding posts.
  3. Plug in the first set of wires to your speaker. 
    1. Depending on what type of cable you have, you can either connect with banana plugs, spade connectors, spring clips, or bare wire.
    2. Make sure that you match the polarity (positive to positive and negative to negative)
    3. Each amplifier channel needs to be connected to its respective speaker.
  4. Repeat this process for the second pair of binding posts with a different cable connection.
    1. Use a different connection method (banana plug, spade, spring clips, or bare wire).

Connect A Set Of Wires

Let’s bring in an alternative view. Remember in the beginning we mentioned that you need a dual binding post? Well, what if we only used one binding post? It is possible with the same method described above, the only difference would be that your binding post needs to have enough space for this to happen. 

Follow the process above but when you have you repeat the process, use the same binding post with a different cable connection. If you had your banana plugs in the post, use a bare wire method or spade connector method on the same binding post. Check the image below.

Link to How to connect speakers

Bi-amping

Bi-amplification is the use of two amplifiers for both speakers. The steps are more or less with same as bi-wiring but if you’ve just scrolled down for this section, here are the steps:

  1. Switch off your entire sound system. 
    1. Including the amplifier, main plug, and speakers.
    2. In most systems, the top binding posts are for the higher frequency and the bottom binding posts are for the lower frequency.
    3. We want to avoid any electrical shocks by switching the speaker off.
  2. Remove the bi-wire bridge on your speakers.
    1. This is the gold bridge or copper plates where the LPF and HPF crossovers connect the two binding posts.
  1. Remove them from both sets of binding posts.
  2. Plug in the first set of wires to your speaker. 
    1. Depending on what type of cable you have, you can either connect with banana plugs, spade connectors, spring clips, or bare wire.
    2. Make sure that you match the polarity (positive to positive and negative to negative). 
  3. Each amplifier channel needs to be connected to its respective speaker.
    1. Locate the bi-amping terminals at the back of the receiver or amplifier
    2. The bi-amp settings will be configured on your receiver or amplifier.
  4. Locate the controls section on the amplifiers.
    1. Set the same levels of controls so that the speaker will receive the same signal and volume. 
    2. If the amplifiers are identical, then it’s enough that you set the same level controls.
  5. Connect the receiver’s main speaker output to the speaker's set of connections.
  6. Repeat the process on the other side.

When connecting your system via the bi-amping method, you have two options: you can use the passive or active bi-amping route. These methods are brought up for the sake of covering bi-amping. Only one generic method of bi-amping will be discussed.

Passive Bi-amping

You’re using an amplifier to respectively power the low and a separate amplifier to power the high. You’re still using the internal crossover of the speaker. 

Excellent examples of using a passive bi-amping method could be when you’re using a massive tower speaker or reference towers with true subwoofers in them.

Active Bi-amping

This is where you take the crossovers out of the speaker. It is advised that you get a professional for that because it could harm the speaker. 

Some brands offer active networking in the speaker and these are the typical speakers you want to get for this method. Active bi-amping really separates the frequencies where one amp is producing a high frequency and the other a low frequency.

Conclusion

Bi-wiring and bi-amping have never been done this quick! Not only did we discuss the steps to wiring all 4 terminals, but we also got a bit of knowledge and insight on why we would want to use all 4 binding posts. Connecting your speakers to dual amplifiers seems like a daunting task but now you can see the simplicity in it. 

We hope to have informed and provided an adequate amount of information to you with the hopes of a re-visit on more of our articles.

José Carter
Founder
José is a veteran audiophile with an MSc in Engineering, and a passion for sharing his audio knowledge with others.
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