Are Terminals Necessary?

At the risk of sounding the simp, I'm wondering: are terminations at speaker cable ends really necessary? If I understand it, isn't the object to impose as few interferences between the source and the sound as possible? So do spades, bananas, etc. serve to improve sound or are they something else? This may sound incredibly obvious to many but I'm new to all this so I'd appreciate what ya'll got to say. Thanks and I really dig this site. Jerry
Jerry, As far as I know the only possible reason not to use bare wire (assuming it's copper) is because it oxidizes over time when exposed to the air and there-bye jeopardizing it's ability to conduct as intended.

Another reason is that some of the cables are constructed of such fine gauge individual strands of wire that they would easily break off if left unterminated.

As with all things audio, everything is a compromise. I suppose it would be better to directly connect the wires to the speaker and eliminate the speaker posts, connectors and solder joints.

That being said, I prefer any number of high end speaker cables (with connectors in place) to the ordinary hook up wire than many people consider adequate, even if they were directly wired.

There are plenty of flaws in (all) our systems to keep us busy for years. If we were totally hard wired, experimentation would slow to a crawl. Experimentation is necessary to learn and the only way to be sure a change is for better or worse.
Albertporter...As you imply, wire terminations instead of bare wire connections do make it much more convenient to make all the changes involved with cable evaluations. Therefore, to protect your bank account, I suggest hard soldered connections :)
I should have thought of that.
From what I've seen of his system, Albert Porter's bank account has already been terminated. That's a heck of a system!

It is true that every connection is a loss of signal, but where bare wire connections will deteriorate over time, spades or banana plugs should remain constant. Ideally we would all have our IC terminated inside the cabinet of the electronics, and our SCs would terminate at the crossovers of the speakers, but as 'the great one' said, that would be unpractical. Therefore we opt for the lesser of a great number of evils!
I tried bare wire ends. Over time the copper discolored and the speaker teminals chewed up the exposed strands.

I tried tinning the bare ends with solder. This works great with smaller diameter wire or spring-type terminals. The solder makes the conductors more durable and easier to push thru tight spaces. I still noticed the oxidation creeping down into the insulation.

Heavy gauge wire, especially biwired at the amp end, won't fit thru the hole in many amp and speaker terminals. Some kind of connector becomes necessary. Now I solder spades to the wire ends and cover the insulation with plastic sleeves to minimize air exposure. Hooking bare wire around a terminal and torquing it down is a recipe for a loose connection. The good news is that whatever wire/terminal interface you choose, it will be the correct choice.
Hmm... contrary to the advice I got from ProAc. When I got my ProAcs a long time ago, the advice was to use bare wire. When the copper wires get crushed under the speaker terminals, they will actually crush and the metal to metal connection will be gas-free, so no oxidization. My understanding is that the surface interfaces (wire to solder, solder to terminal, terminal to speaker terminal, etc) are what you are trying to avoid...

As far as I know they are probably only needed with certain cable types. Think that the RCA plugs may be calculated into the design of a 75 ohm digital cable (or @ least they should be it would seem).

I have experimented with eliminating the binding posts, metal RCA plugs and IEC outlets from some of my gear and the most positive results came from removing such items from the signal path (IEC's were a waste of time - with my gear anyway).

Thing is that removing these items may not please everyone as they may very well prefer the different type of sound I detect with metal RCA connection VS a less massive one.

Also, I have found less of a difference, between the two, when using stranded wire designs. When using simple small gauge solid core wire designs the difference is more dramatic (again, with my gear/ears).

If you have contemporary binding posts (the type with a hole across/through the center of the post and bare ended speaker cable try the following excersize:

Connect one speaker by placing the wires in (not through) the holes and hold the wires stationary when tightening the binding post (so that the wire does not wrap around the post). This will be not be changing the metal mass of the connection, but it will be reducing the contact area that the wire makes with the binding post).

On the second speaker wrap the speaker wire around the binding post a few times (creating a larger contact area). This is the way I see most bare cable attched as we have all been told that a larger contact area is better in the past.

Set back, listen, for a few days to see if one channel sounds different and/or better. If you hear a difference then perhaps try reversing the two types of connection per speaker and see if you come up with the same results. If you have a mono switch you might try it as well.

Anyway, if the contact area alone makes an audible difference then imagine what reducing the metal mass of the connections will offer.
They might prevent unwanted contact of splayed frayed wires from shorting nearby terminals.
I use bare wire at the amps and dual-bananas at the speakers
for the exact reason Unsound mentions: binding posts on the
amps are spaced wide apart making a short across the terminals
nearly impossible. Otherwise I'd use dual-bananas at the amp
side as well. I don't know why but I really like dual-bananas.