In this post, we discuss the different Speaker Wire Connector Types and their pros and cons.
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A considerable number of speakers don’t come with a speaker wire. You need to consider many factors when selecting speaker cables for a home cinema system.
Speaker cables transmit the electrical currents from your receiver or amplifier to your speakers. Although a significant component of the audio setup, it is usually overlooked.
Related: List of Audio Cable Types – For Speakers, Optical, Analog, Digital and TV
It is imperative to use the appropriate cable connector because it assists in optimizing the audio signal until it approaches the final speaker components. If you use the wrong speaker cord type and connector, it can lead to signal loss, which will significantly influence the sound output.
A speaker wire connector is a tiny component, but it is essential to understand which connector types you must use with your speaker terminal. Although there are many plug types to select from, the following section discusses the best wire plug designs.
Before going into the details of each of them, let’s first understand the need for using speaker wire connectors:
Unlike speaker terminals, cables for speakers don’t incorporate polarity indicators. Red is used for positive, whereas black is for negative. Every speaker wire is not prepared using two-tone insulation. Moreover, every speaker wire doesn’t have positive and negative ends that are easily distinguishable (dashed lines, text, or stripes.)
If you are uncertain, you interchange out the speaker wires and check whether it helps or not. When colored connections are used, it is needless to examine, worry, or guess. All multi-channel home audio systems depend on speaker wire connections for proper functioning.
With the help of speaker wire connectors, it becomes easy to connect and remove speakers from amplifiers and receivers. The threads of bare wire must be twisted collectively before they can be inserted into a binding post or a spring clip.
Moreover, the wire should be re-straightened, and the procedure should be revived if you miss and mess it up. On the contrary, speaker wire connectors defend the exposed wires by shielding and housing them. So, audio hookups become pretty effortless.
Speaker wire connectors streamline audio cords in multiple ways. If the tips are properly placed, your stereo speakers will receive the best sound. Whenever you connect your equipment through speaker wire, it appears more organized and sophisticated.
The key functions of a speaker wire connector are to house the speaker wires and ensure a secured connection between amplifiers and the cables.
The signal from the amplifiers to the woofers and speakers is exceptionally high-powered. It requires wires of proper size and quality. The use of speaker wires of appropriate size helps upkeep the overall audio quality of the system.
If the contact area between the stereo components and the wires is not sufficiently big, the signal would be distorted. This results in losses of the signal at those contact points, which eventually leads to poor quality of sound originating from the stereo system.
At this point, the need for a suitable connector arises. A good speaker wire connector can offer an appropriate surface area at the terminals to let signals flow freely from wires to the stereo components.
They provide incredibly tight connections and avoid corrosion of wires.
Right from its inception in the 1940s, the RCA connectors have been extensively used in audio devices. RCA connectors are the most common types of connectors in audio devices designed for causal residential use.
The three reasons behind the same are ease of use, small size, and low cost. These reasons justify that RCA connectors are so famous that you hardly find a household without them.
After their inception, they gradually dominated the market from the 1/4″ phone connector, owing to their lower cost. But they should be used with the corresponding jack.
Usually, these connectors are colored red and white. The left channel is white, and the right channel is red.
An RCA audio connector can transmit a 2-channel analog composite audio signal to the left and right channels of audio. Although it supports stereo audio-only, you can use an RCA plug for mono audio. Moreover, if you use a turntable with speakers and a receiver, you will need RCA connectors.
Although many newer TVs have adopted the use of HDMI, devices like record players still use the design of RCA connectors to a great extent.
Banana plugs are single-circuit connectors typically employed for test equipment in labs. These plugs come with a spring-sided design that guarantees reliable contact, even after recurring repeated connections. Commonly, these plugs connect to binding posts. When used with speakers, these plugs offer a powerful electrical contact that carries a huge current.
In contrast to RCA connectors, Banana plugs provide security against inadvertently getting pulled out with little to no contact. Other benefits include a stable fit and outstanding electrical conductivity.
The size of banana connectors is 4 mm. These connectors can connect to precisely matching Banana jacks and 5-way binding posts too.
You may wonder how to connect a banana plug to a wire. Many of them contain screw-in connectors that only require a small screwdriver to connect to the cable. This approach is easy to use. Certain banana plugs are self-crimping and tightening the cap of these plugs would clamp the cable.
In some other banana plugs, soldering can be needed. If you are fine with using a soldering iron, then this approach works well for you.
Screw-in banana plugs don’t require soldering if you are careful while connecting them. The connection can dwindle with time. Hence, if you continue reconnecting the two of them, then be careful while connecting.
Many banana plugs’ bottom has a female connector. It helps you to connect another banana plug to it and then use it as a power source. This is a recommended option if you intend to connect multiple speakers to a single terminal.
It needs not to be done often, but it can be very advantageous when you do. For example, you can use this option when the front left and right speaker terminals are needed to deliver a high-level subwoofer input.
Binding posts are nothing but chassis-mounted connectors that allow the connection of banana connectors, bare wires, pin connectors, or spade lugs. Their ends have a diameter of 4 mm.
So, banana plug pins perfectly fit into it. Their structure consists of a threaded screw to which bare wires are fastened and held in a place through a nut.
Compared to a typical screw terminal, binding posts offer better contact and efficiency in using these connectors.
Primarily, binding posts are used to connect bare wires. You can use them with banana connectors or pin connectors. Most speakers are equipped with a binding post. You can connect a cable in two ways.
You must disconnect the speaker wire and place it inside the post hole. Insert the wire into the entry hole of a particular binding post.
Banana plugs can be used for this. At the receiver, you may find a plastic cap that should be removed.
Spring Clips are found in budget amplifiers and speakers and all-in-one systems. Due to their broad compatibility, you can find them on many devices.
If you want to connect the speaker wire, insert the bottom end of the clip into the hole above. Through this connection type, you can use pin connections or bare wire.
The Pin plugs represent the smaller version of Banana plugs. Unlike banana plugs, they don’t have spring contact. Instead, they are used only with binding posts equipped with a hole through their center for the pin plug to pass through. Due to this reason, they are not commonly used by speakers.
The size of pin plugs ranges from 2 mm to 3 mm. The standard type of Pin Plug comes in 2.6 mm size. It’s nearly 1/3 of the size of standard Banana plug connectors. Sheathed options and contact styles are available for high voltage use.
It is either angled or straight when it comes to the pin’s structure. If you want to connect the pins to the wire, you must discard the insulation and use tools like banana plugs or spades.
You can connect pin plugs to the wire through soldering or crimping. However, they can have a screw-in connection, identical to the pin connection.
Firstly, you need to insert the bare wire and tighten the screw after it’s been slightly unfastened. Now carefully pull the speaker wire to assure a solid connection.
Spade Plugs are famous for providing one of the most reliable and secure connections. Usually, they are available as screw-on or crimp-on styles. The screw-on is the most common option.
If you want to connect the screw-on type, put the exposed part of the U on a five-way binding post. Now screw the nut down on the plug.
Specific spade plugs are shaped with 3/4 of a circle. Compared to the U-shaped design, these circle types provide a stronger connection.
If you are terminating your speaker wire, you can use spades as a substitute for crimping. If are connecting wires through spades instead of banana plugs, you need 4 spade connectors for each wire.
Straight and angled spade connector is available; you can choose any of them. These connectors are connected to the speaker wire through various methods, namely crimping, soldering, or a screw connection.
A crimped spade connection doesn’t need soldering if done correctly. You need to unfasten each binding post and press it into place after you have connected the spades to the wire.
If you put the cap back on, it ensures that they are correctly well-secured. Compared to bare wire, spade plugs offer a steady and secure connection.
If you want to connect a wire to speakers mounted close to a wall, then spade connections are highly suitable. The wire will directly drop-down when connected to the link through a spade connector because it is inclined at a 45° or 90° angle.
A circular, 3-pin design is the most common type of XLR connector. Generally, 3-Pin XLR connectors are used for balanced audio to decrease the risk of EMI noise or interference.
They can even travel a long distance. Due to this property, XLR connectors are suitable for monitor speakers, audio interfaces, mic cables, pro audio devices, mixers, and PA applications. In-home studios and home audio setups, XLR connectors are popular choices.
Apart from the 3-pin design, you can also find XLR connectors in 4, 5, 6, and 7-pin designs. Although not widespread, the majority of mixing consoles did offer an XLR main out.
Plenty of XLR connectors incorporate a locking device that makes sure they can’t be easily pulled out. This design feature is simple yet very useful.
The TRS connector is one of the most remarkable connections in the professional audio environment. These connectors are primarily designed for deployment on manual telephone switchboards.
For years, they have been broadly used for professional audio connections. It is popularly referred to as the 1/4″ speaker jack type. It can be found on all types of audio equipment.
Their design shows three contacts (found as per a stereo version of the connector): tip, ring, and sleeve (representing the TRS initials). These three terms express the three contact points of the corresponding wire plug design. These terms give balanced nature to the TRS connector.
An unbalanced TS connector design comes with two contact points (tip and ring), but a balanced TRS connector design comes with three contact points (tip, ring, and sleeve).
In addition to the standard 1/4″ size, TRS connectors is also available in two other practical sizes, i.e., 3/32″ and 1/8″.
The Speakon connectors’ own hallmark design was specifically designed for professional audio speakers. They are primarily intended for the experienced audiophile, bearing in mind safety and convenience.
Some other identical designs are termed ‘speaker twist connectors. However, the Speakon design is extensively regarded as the industry standard. They are available in 2, 4, and 8-pole designs. Moreover, they are interchangeable up to a certain extent.
The 2-pole and 4-pole designs are physically interchangeable. So, a 2-pole plug can be connected to a 4-pole jack via one of the two circuits. Note that the 4-pole design is physically bigger than 2-pole and 4-pole.
Of these designs, 4-pole is the most common type because it permits bi-amping without using two cables (two connections each for both low and high frequencies).
The choice of speaker wire connector types depends on your application and setup. Before selecting a speaker wire connector, you must assess the terminals accessible on your equipment.
For connection with your speaker cables, the three major types of wire connectors are spade, banana, and pin connectors. These three types of connectors provide the maximum benefit.
However, the other speaker wire connector types discussed above also ensure efficient connection and flawless transmission of audio.