I have never compared the two, but I pefer Spades just for the fact of more contact surface. I'm not sure that there is more surface but looks like their should be. Also with spade end, you can get a tighter conection. As far as sound, not sure I have heard a diff, or if I have throught if was another factor.
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Whenever possible use bare wire. I'll found that there is little difference between a spade/banana. However, there is a difference between the types of connectors and whether they are crimped/screwed or soldered. If your amp or int. amp has really cheap binding posts you might want to replace with something better such as Superior Electric BP30/31 gold-plated binding posts. Really good and very affordable. Bill.
I have the same cables (length, brand, model), one pair factory terminated with WBT spades and the other pair with bare wire. There is no contest. Bare wire is superior.
I also have factory terminated Kimber Select jumper cables with WBT bananas and other cables terminated with WBT bananas. Same thing. The banana connectors really do a number on the sound....don't know why, they just do. I have never liked a cable with WBT termination. Confusing, because Kimber uses them on all their top notch stuff.
If you want the convenience of banana plugs, go with a quality brand of Z-style plugs. You'll get more surface area contact then with a spade or bare wire and a snug fit, though not as tight as can be achieved with the other two approaches. Don't bother with the regular-style of banana; the Z-plugs definitely give you a better fit.
You can see the difference between banana and Z here (this is a UK site):
Gmood1, if you thought I was arguing your point, I think you're a little jumpy. Actually, I didn't understand your comment about how bare wire "goes against audiophile thinking." From the posts in this thread so far, it's pretty clear that bare wire is fairly common practice. I use bare wire connections myself.
Anyway, banana plugs have their place, and I like the Z approach (Nordost offers these as alternative to spades) over expanding bananas, which I think are more prone to small contact area. I don't have experience with the controlled comparison that RJA asks about, though.
Jayboard..the comment is more towards what I've read others say. Not trying to argue at all. I've seen several post where the poster claimed the bananas or spades would be sonically better than bare wire. I've never been able to understand this because common sense should kick in some where...unfortunetly in some cases..it never does.
I just find it funny.
No harm no foul..I've tried the Nordost Cables with the Z banana approach. Nothing wrong with it.. just not worth the money IMHO.
Yes, this is the main drawback of using bare copper, it oxidises fairly rapidly. We can therefore assume that the signal will degrade over time also. A gold plated end sleeve will prevent this, but how to get a good connection with these? I do feel that manufacturers can do far better in this area?