How to Use a Multimeter on Audio Equipment

Updated on: July 11, 2019


This guide will certainly show you exactly how to make use of a digital multimeter (DMM), an indispensable device that you can utilize to identify circuits, find out about other individuals’s electronic layouts, and also audio equipment. For this reason the ‘multi’-‘meter’ or multiple measurement name.

The most fundamental things we measure are voltage as well as current. A multimeter is also excellent for some basic sanity checks and troubleshooting. Is your circuit not functioning? Does the switch work? Put a meter on it! The multimeter is your initial defence when fixing a system. In this tutorial we will certainly cover measuring voltage, current, resistance and continuity.

Every fixer must recognize their way around a multimeter, which has just north of a zillion makes use of for testing digital components and also circuits.

In this tutorial we’re going to reveal you how to make use of a multimeter. This tutorial is mostly attended to for novices that are starting in electronics as well as have no concept how to utilize a multimeter as well as exactly how it can be beneficial. We’ll check out the most typical functions on a multimeter and exactly how to measure current, voltage, resistance as well as just how to check continuity.

What is a multimeter as well as why do you need one?

A multimeter is a measurement device definitely necessary in electronics. It incorporates 3 necessary features: a voltmeter, ohmeter, and also ammeter, as well as in many cases continuity.

The tool permits you to comprehend what is taking place in your circuits. Whenever something in your circuit isn’t working, it will certainly aid you repairing. Right here’s some circumstances in electronics tasks that you’ll find the multimeter valuable:

  • is the switch activate?
  • is this cable performing the electrical power or is it broken?
  • just how much current is streaming through this led?
  • just how much power do you have left on your batteries?

What will multimeters measure?

Nearly all multimeters can measure voltage, current, and also resistance.

Certain multimeters have a continuity check, causing a loud beep if two points are electrically connected. This is valuable if, for example, you are building a circuit and connecting cables or soldering; the beep indicates every little thing is linked and also absolutely nothing has come loose. You can likewise utilize it to make sure two things are not linked, to help avoid short circuits.

A handful of multimeters additionally have a diode check function. A diode is like a one-way valve that only lets electrical power circulation in one instructions. The specific feature of the diode check can differ from one type to another. If you’re collaborating with a diode and can’t inform which means it enters the circuit, or if you’re not exactly sure the diode is functioning correctly, the check feature can be rather helpful. If your DMM has a diode check function, read the guidebook to find out exactly just how it works.

Advanced models might have other features, such as the ability to measure as well as determine other electrical components, like transistors or capacitors. Because not all other multimeters have these features, we will not cover them in this tutorial. You can read your multimeter’s manual if you need to make use of these features.

What Do All Of the Symbols Mean?

There’s a whole lot going on when you consider the selection knob, yet if you’re only going to be doing some standard stuff, you will not even make use of fifty percent of all the setups. All the same, here’s a review of what each symbol suggests:

Direct Current Voltage (DCV):at times it will certainly be signified with a V– instead. This setting is made use of to measure direct current (DC) voltage in points like batteries.
Alternating Current Voltage (ACV): Sometimes it will certainly be represented with a V ~ instead. This setup is utilized to measure the voltage from alternating current sources, which is practically anything that connects into an outlet, along with the power originating from the outlet itself.
Resistance (Ω): This measures just how much resistance there remains in the circuit. The reduced the number, the simpler it is for the current to move via, as well as vice versa.
Continuity: Usually denoted by a wave or diode icon. This merely evaluates whether or not a circuit is total by sending out an extremely percentage of current via the circuit and also seeing if it makes it out the other end. If not, after that there’s something along the circuit that’s creating an issue– find it!
Direct Current Amperage (DCA): Similar to DCV, however rather than giving you a voltage reading, it will certainly tell you the amperage.
Direct Current Gain (hFE): This setup is to test transistors and their DC gain, yet it’s mainly worthless, because a lot of electrical experts and hobbyists will certainly use the continuity check rather.

Your multimeter could additionally have a specialized setting for checking the amperage of AA, AAA, as well as 9V batteries. This setup is usually denoted with the battery sign.

Once more, you probably will not also utilize fifty percent of the settings revealed, so don’t obtain bewildered if you just recognize what a few of them do.

Just how to Use a Multimeter

For beginners, allow’s discuss several of the various components of a multimeter. At the extremely basic degree you have the tool itself, together with two probes, which are the black and also red wires that have plugs on one end as well as metal suggestions on the various other.

The tool itself has a screen at the top, which gives you your readout, and also there’s a large selection knob that you can spin around to select a specific setup. Each setup may also have various number values, which exist to measure different strengths of voltages, resistances, and also amps. So if you have your multimeter set to 20 in the DCV section, it will measure voltages approximately 20 volts.

Your DMM will also feature 2 or 3 ports for plugging in the probes:

  • the COM port represent “Common”, and also the black probe will always link into this port.
  • VΩmA port (often represented as mAVΩ) is just a phrase for voltage, resistance, and also current (in milliamps). This is where the red probe will connect into if you’re measuring voltage, resistance, continuity, and also current much less than 200mA.
  • the 10ADC port (often signified as simply 10A) is made use of whenever you’re measuring current that’s greater than 200mA. If you’re not exactly sure of the current draw, begin with this port. On the other hand, you would certainly not utilize this port whatsoever if you’re measuring anything aside from current.

Caution: Make certain that if you’re measuring anything with a current greater than 200mA, you connect the red probe right into the 10A port, rather than the 200mA port. Or else you can blow the fuse that’s within the multimeters. Moreover, measuring anything over 10 amps might blow a fuse or destroy the multimeter as well.

Your measurement tool might have entirely different ports for measuring amps, while the other port is specifically just for voltage, resistance, as well as continuity, yet many cheaper multimeters will certainly share ports.

Anyhow, let’s obtain begun actually using a multimeter. We’ll be measuring the voltage of a AA battery, the current draw of a wall surface clock, and also the continuity of a straightforward cable as some examples to get you started and also accustomed to making use of a multimeter.

Parts of Multimeters

Multimeters have 4 parts:

  • Display: this is exactly where the dimensions are displayed
  • Selection Knob: this picks what you desire to measure
  • Ports: this is where you plug in the probes
  • Probes: a multimeter includes two probes. Normally, one is red as well as the other is black.
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  • “COM” or “–” port is where the black probe should be linked. The COM probe is conventionally black.
  • 10A is used when measuring large currents, higher than 200mA.
  • µAmA is utilized to measure current.
  • permits you to measure voltage and resistance and test continuity.


COM stands for typical and also is usually linked to Ground or ‘-‘ of a circuit.The COM probe is conventionally black however there is no distinction between the red probe as well as black probe besides shade.


10A is the special port made use of when measuring large currents (higher than 200mA).

Selection Knob

The selection knob enables the user to set the tool to check out various points such as milliamps (mA) of current, voltage (V) and also resistance (Ω).


Two probes are plugged right into two of the ports on the front of the system. The probes have a banana type port on the end that connects into the multimeter. Any type of probe with a banana plug will collaborate with this meter. This enables various sorts of probes to be utilized.

Probe Types

There are several sorts of probes offered. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Banana to Alligator Clips: These are fantastic cables for linking to huge wires or pins on a breadboard. Helpful for doing longer term examinations where you do not need to need to hold the probes in position while you manipulate a circuit.
  • Banana to IC Hook: IC hooks function well on smaller sized ICs and legs of ICs.
  • Banana to Tweezers: Tweezers are useful if you are needing to test SMD parts.
  • Banana to Test Probes: If you ever before damage a probe, they are affordable to replace!

Measuring Voltage

To start, allow’s measure voltage on a AA battery: Plug the black probe right into COM as well as the red probe into mAVΩ. Set to “2V” in the DC (direct current) variety. Nearly all mobile electronics use straight current), not alternating current. Attach the black probe to the battery’s ground or ‘-‘ and also the red probe to power or ‘+’. Squeeze the probes with a little stress versus the favorable and also negative terminals of the AA battery. If you’ve got a fresh battery, you must see around 1.5 V on the display (this battery is brand new, so its voltage is slightly greater than 1.5 V).

You might measure DC voltage or AC voltage. The V with a straight line suggests DC voltage. The V with the curly line implies AC voltage.

Measuring voltage

  1. Set the mode to V with a bumpy line if you’re measuring AC voltage or to the V with a straight line if you’re measuring DC voltage.
  2. Make certain the red probe is linked to the port with a V beside it.
  3. Connect the red probe to the positive side of your component, which is where the current is coming from.
  4. Attach the COM probe to the other side of your component.
  5. Review the worth on the screen.

Suggestion: to measure voltage you have to connect your multimeter in parallel with the component you want to measure the voltage. Placing the multimeter in parallel is positioning each probe along the leads of the component you wish to measure the voltage.

Measuring a battery’s voltage

In this example we’re going to measure the voltage of a 1.5 V battery. You know that you’ll have roughly 1.5 V. So, you need to choose a range with the selection knob that can check out the 1.5 V. So you must pick 2V when it comes to this multimeter. If you get an autorange one, you don’t have to stress concerning the range you need to pick.

Begin by turning on it, plugging the probes into their corresponding ports and after that setting the selection knob to the highest possible number value in the DCV section, which in my situation is 500 volts. If you do not understand at the very least the voltage variety of the important things you’re measuring, it’s always a great idea to begin with the highest possible value first as well as after that work your means down till you get an exact reading.

In this instance, we know the AA battery has an extremely low voltage, but we’ll begin at 200 volts just for the purpose of example. Next off, place the black probe on the adverse end of the battery and also the red probe on the favorable end. Take an appearance at the reading on the display. Since we have the multimeter set to a high 200 volts, it reveals “1.6” on the screen, suggesting 1.6 volts.

Nonetheless, I desire an even more accurate reading, so I’ll relocate the selection knob lower down to 20 volts. Here, you can see that we have a more precise reading that hovers between 1.60 and also 1.61 volts. If you were to ever set the selection knob to a number value less than the voltage of the point you’re evaluating, the multimeter would just read “1”, representing that it’s overwhelmed. So if I were to establish the handle to 200 millivolts (0.2 volts), the 1.6 volts of the AA battery is way too much for the multimeter to take care of at that setting.

All the same, you could be asking why you would need to test the voltage of something in the first location. Well, in this situation with the AA battery, we’re examining to see if it has any juice left. At 1.6 volts, that’s a fully-loaded battery. Nevertheless, if it were to read 1.2 volts, it’s close to being pointless.
In an extra practical scenario, you might do this kind of measuring on a cars and truck battery to see if it may be dying or if the generator (which is what bills the battery) is going poor. A reading between 12.4-12.7 volts means that the battery remains in good form. Anything lower which’s evidence of a dying battery. In addition, begin your car up and rev it up a bit. If the voltage doesn’t boost to about 14 volts or so, after that it’s likely that the generator is having concerns.


What happens if you pick a voltage setting that is too reduced for the voltage you’re attempting to measure? Absolutely nothing negative. The meter will just present a 1. This is the meter attempting to inform you that it is overloaded or out-of-range. Whatever you’re attempting to read is excessive for that certain setting. Try changing the multimeter handle to a the following highest setup.

Selection Knob

For what reason does the meter knob read 20V as well as not 10V? If you’re looking to measure a voltage much less than 20V, you look to the 20V setting. This will enable you to read from 2.00 to 19.99. The first digit on many multimeters is just able to display a ‘1’ so the arrays are limited to 19.99 as opposed to 99.99. Hence the 20V max array as opposed to 99V max range.

Measuring Resistance

Connect the red probe into the ideal port and turn the selection knob to the resistance area. Then, link the probes to the resistor leads. The means you attach the leads doesn’t matter, the outcome is the very same.

Normal resistors have shade codes on them. If you do not understand what they indicate, that’s ok! There are plenty of online calculators that are easy to utilize. Nonetheless, if you ever locate yourself without internet access, a multimeter is very useful at measuring resistance.

Pick an arbitrary resistor and also established the multimeter to the 20kΩ setup. After that hold the probes against the resistor legs with the exact same amount of pressure you when pressing a key on a key-board.

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The meter will read one of three points, 0.00, 1, or the actual resistor worth.

In this situation, the meter checks out 0.97, implying this resistor has a value of 970Ω, or regarding 1kΩ (remember you are in the 20kΩ or 20,000 Ohm mode so you need to relocate the decimal three places to the right or 970 Ohms).

If the multimeter checks out 1 or shows OL, it’s overloaded. You will certainly need to try a higher setting such as 200kΩ setting or 2MΩ (megaohm) mode. There is no injury if this take place, it merely indicates the variety knob needs to be readjusted.

If perhaps the multimeter reviews 0.00 or almost zero, after that you require to reduce the mode to 2kΩ or 200Ω.

Keep in mind that many resistors have a 5% resistance. This means that the shade codes may indicate 10,000 Ohms (10kΩ), but due to disparities in the manufacturing process a 10kΩ resistor might be as reduced as 9.5 kΩ or as high as 10.5 kΩ. Don’t worry, it’ll work simply fine as a pull-up or general resistor.

As a rule of thumb, it’s rare to see a resistor much less than 1 Ohm. Bear in mind that measuring resistance is not excellent. Temperature can impact the checking out a lot. Additionally, measuring resistance of a gadget while it is literally set up in a circuit can be very challenging. The surrounding elements on a motherboard can considerably impact the analysis.

The mockup usually resembles with a standard clock running of a AA battery. On the silver lining, the cable going from the battery to the clock is separated. We merely put our two probes in between that break to finish the circuit again (with the red probe linked to the source of power), only this moment our multimeter will review out the amps that the clock is drawing, which in this case is around 0.08 mA.

While many multimeters can additionally measure alternating current (AC), it’s not really an excellent concept (specifically if its real-time power), considering that AC can be hazardous if you wind up making a blunder. If you require to see whether or not an outlet is functioning, use a non-contact tester instead.

To measure current you require to bear in mind that elements in series share a current. So, you require to connect your multimeter in collection with your circuit.

SUGGESTION: to position the multimeter in series, you require to put the red probe on the lead of a component as well as the black probe on the next component lead. The multimeter acts as if it was a cord in your circuit. If you disconnect the multimeter, your circuit will not function.

Prior to measuring the current, be sure that you’ve connected at a loss probe in the best port, in this case µAmA. In the instance listed below, the exact same circuit of the previous example is utilized. The multimeter becomes part of the circuit.

Test for Continuity

If there is very reduced resistance in between two points, which is less than a few ohms, both factors are electrically attached as well as you’ll hear a continual audio. If the sound isn’t constant or if you don’t listen to any noise whatsoever, it implies that what you’re testing has a defective link or isn’t connected at all.

WARNING: To evaluate continuity you ought to switch off the system! Switch off the power supply!

Touch both probes with each other and, as they are attached, you’ll listen to a continual sound.To test the continuity of a cable, you simply need to connect each probe to the cable pointers.

Continuity is a wonderful method to test if two SMD pins are touching. If your eyes can’t see it, the multimeter is normally a fantastic second testing resource. When a system is not working, continuity is another thing to assist troubleshoot the system.

  • Establish your multimeter to the continuity setting utilizing the selection knob.
  • The readout on the screen will quickly review “1”, which means that there isn’t any type of continuity. This would be appropriate considering that we have not attached the probes to anything yet.
  • Next off, make certain the circuit is unplugged and also has no power. After that connect one probe to one end of the cable and also the various other probe to the various other end– it matters not which probe goes on which end. If there is a full circuit, your multimeter will either beep, show a “0”, or something apart from a “1”. If it still reveals a “1”, then there’s a problem as well as your circuit isn’t total.
  • You can additionally examine that the continuity feature works with your multimeter by touching both probes to each various other. This completes the circuit as well as your multimeter should let you understand that.

A continuity test tells us whether two things are electrically attached: if something is continual, an electric current can flow openly from one end to the various other.

If there’s no continuity, it suggests there is a break somewhere in the circuit. This can show anything from a blown fuse or bad solder joint to an improperly wired circuit.

Altering the Fuse

Among the most usual errors with a new multimeter is to measure current on a bread board by probing from VCC to GND. This will immediately short power to ground through the multimeter creating the bread board power supply to brownish out. As the current rushes with the multimeter, the interior fuse will certainly warm up and after that wear out as 200mA streams with it. It will take place in an instant and also without any type of actual audible or physical indicator that something is wrong.

Keep in mind that measuring current is done in series (disrupt the VCC line to the breadboard or microcontroller to measure current). If you try to measure the current with a blown fuse, you’ll probably observe that the meter reads ‘0.00’ which the system doesn’t turn on like it ought to when you connect the multimeter. This is due to the fact that the internal fuse is broken and works as a busted wire or open.

To change the fuse, discover your handy dandy mini screw driver, as well as begin securing screws. The parts and PCB traces inside the multimeter are designed to take various quantities of current. You will certainly damage and also potentially wreck your multimeter if you unintentionally push 5A through the 200mA port.

There are times where you require to measure high current gadgets like an electric motor or burner. Do you see the 2 areas to put the red probe on the front of the multimeter? 10A on the left as well as mAVΩ on the right? If you attempt to measure greater than 200mA on the mAVΩ port you run the danger of blowing the fuse. But if you utilize the 10A port to measure current, you run a much lower danger of blowing the fuse. The trade-off is level of sensitivity. As we discussed above, by making use of the 10A port and handle setting, you will just have the ability to review down to 0.01 A or 10mA. A lot of systems utilize greater than 10mA so the 10A setup as well as port functions all right. If you’re attempting to measure really low power (mini or nano amps) the 200mA port with the 2mA, 200uA, or 20uA could be what you need.

Final thought

You’re now prepared to utilize your digital multimeter to begin measuring the globe around you. Do not hesitate to begin utilizing it to answer several questions. A digital multimeter will certainly answer lots of questions concerning electronic devices.

A multimeter is a necessary device in any type of electronics lab. In this overview, we’ve revealed you How To Use a Multimeter. You’ve found out just how to measure voltage, current as well as resistance, as well as how to inspect continuity.