How To Test and Tweak Your Speakers' Awesomeness

By Paul Lilly

Follow along as we show you how to test the integrity of your sound system.

Whether you forked over $20 for a pair of blue-light special headphones or dropped $2,000 on a home theater speaker setup, you're going to want to spend some time testing out your audio gear. It isn't a complicated process, or even time consuming, but it is crucial if you want to ensure you've hooked everything up correctly and that your new parts are functioning.


Start with the Basics

  • Richard Farrar's Speaker Test: Listen to your left and right speaker channels individually, and then click the Center Balance Test to make sure the sound is evenly divided between the two. Next, click the Speaker Phase Test to make sure you didn't mix up the negative and positive connections when plugging in your speaker wires, If they're plugged in correctly, you should hear a difference in sound midway through the Phase Test.
  • Lynne Music Surround Test: Download and play back the 5.1 Surround Test File. You should hear "front left," "center," "front right," "rear left," and "rear right." Make sure these correspond to the correct speaker. If they don't, check your wiring.
  • Microsoft's Multi-Channel Audio Test Files: If you're rocking an 8-channel speaker setup, scroll down and download the appropriate test file, which are available in both WAV and WMA form.

Test Tones and Frequencies

Once you've ensured that your speakers are wired correctly and sound is coming where it's supposed to, it's time to move on to more in-depth testing. Eminent Technology's Multimedia Speaker Test includes a bunch of sample sounds to ensure your speaker's lows, mids, and highs are in working order. Some of these files play loud so be sure to turn down your speaker's volume to about 25 percent before playing them back. If you can't hear a particular test tone, turn the volume up a little bit and try again until you can either hear the test file, or have determined that something's wrong. 


Ultimate THX Test Suite