The best thing about modern-day gadgets – they’re pretty versatile. The big, internationally-known brands always pack their devices with different ports/interfaces so that the average user doesn’t have any issues with the connections. However, sometimes, it can be a bit tricky to plug your headphones into a Smartphone (like an iPhone, for example) or a tablet.
In other cases, folks complain about the lack of RCA-HDMI adapters. In this guide, I want to focus on a rather popular question online: how to connect a two-wire speaker to a 3.5mm jack port? Is there a way to do that “domestically” or maybe you’ll have to pay a pro? No, you can absolutely pull this off on your own. All you’ll need is a cheap converter or a soldering gun. Ready to learn more? Let’s get to it!
#1: Using an Adapter/Converter
Back in the day, professional engineers didn’t have much use for adapters, because they weren’t at all reliable. However, these days, they are very popular. There are adapters for a long list of connectors, plugs, and interfaces. You can connect a 3.5mm jack to an RCA, an optical cable, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI, and XLR, to name a few. So, if you’ve got a two-wire speaker that you want to plug into the 3.5mm jack port, just get an adapter!
I have to warn you, however, that this interface is mostly intended for headphones, and maybe also an entry-level microphone. Therefore, to enjoy the sound quality coming out from the speaker(s), I highly recommend getting an amplifier. Otherwise, the quality will be pretty poor. In this case, the amp should be plugged into the jack, while the speakers will be connected to the amp using a more traditional port.
#2: The Soldering Technique
Looking for a more permanent solution? Well, if you’ve got a soldering/heat gun in the garage, that can also be an option. The idea is pretty simple, actually, and doesn’t involve any pro-grade skills or big expenses. Remember one thing: the goal is to connect the red wire from the speaker to the same-color wire on an audio jack cable. Don’t have one? No problem – just order a cable pack online; it won’t cost you much.
Some experts recommend using the crimping technique, but, in my experience, soldering is a lot more reliable and long-lasting. A quick note: before you heat the wires don’t forget to peel off at least an inch of the coating from both the 3.5 mm jack and the speaker wire. This is easily done with a wire cutter. Or, if you’re on a tight budget, just use a knife. Be careful with it! With the copper exposed, go ahead and use the soldering gun to bond the wires.
When you’re done, give it at least 15 minutes to “sit” and gently pull one of the cables. Sometimes, the bond can be pretty weak – you’ll feel that while pulling. In that case, go over the wires once again, and maybe hold the gun over a bit longer to achieve the desired result. One of the most important things to remember is the gauge. This term is used to describe the diameter of the cable. Make sure the 3.5mm wire matches that of your two-wire speaker!
What about the Heads?
If you’re wondering – can I just attach 3.5-millimeter jack heads to the speaker wires – the answer is yes, you can. That’s actually what the manufacturers of different cables, adapters, and converters do. Say, if the plan is to connect a PC to a home theater, this will be a great decision. But, it will take a bit more skills; so, make sure you’re up to the task. Otherwise, you might end up ruining the wires.
Can You Connect the Positive to the Negative?
Say, you got the wires wrong, and you connected the negative to the positive or the other way around. What’s gonna happen? Well, you won’t damage the speakers or the audio equipment, that’s for sure. However, depending on the setup, you might put one of the speakers (if you’ve got at least two) out of phase. This is a very common term among mixing engineers, and when the speakers are out of phase, there’s very little low-end in the sound.
This happens because the low frequencies “cancel” each other and everything just sounds very “thin”, without any bass. The same is true not only for two-wire speakers and 3.5mm jack ports, but pretty much all the audio interfaces, ports, and devices, including amps, equalizers, compressors, and such.