The problem is oxidation. When the wire oxidizes it is unable to transfer any signal. Some cables oxidize faster than others, but ALL cables will oxidize. It is a bad idea to use unterminated wire, don't do it...
Can anyone tell me if really terminations can effect sound quality a lot?
As long as the contact resitance is low then no...not at audio frequencies.
Of course, a but a bad contact can be a problem. A loose wire or a loose pin in a socket can also be a problem. Occasionally a solder joint will work loose...a cold solder joint is expecially prone to this.
Compressing wires in a binding post should not normally be a problem unless the wires are physically cut (and it can work loose).
Proper termination will help prevent Oxidation. Oxidation will be very climate dependent... if you live close to the sea or on a houseboat then you can expect more oxidation problems. Proper termination of the wires with solder can obviously help reduce oxidation by preventing mositure entering under the cable jacket at the junction.
Air is the best dielectric. I use pure silver solid core DIY cables with no terminations what so ever. I have used them for over a year now. There is no oxidation that I can see with my eyes under the teflon. The ends will show a slight discoloration..it hasn't effected the sound from my observations.I live in the humid climate of the south as well. Once the oxygen is used up between the wire and the teflon..there's not much oxidation going on. Some audiophiles use speaker cables only surrounded by cotton tubing. If I were you, I really wouldn't worry about it. Audiophiles can get a bit carried away with this stuff some times. :-)
Silver and copper are very different. Silver oxide is conductive while copper oxide is not. That is part of the reason some people really tout silver. Even when silver oxidizes the oxidation transmits the signal very well. Copper oxidation does not transmit the signal there-by harming the signal. Cotton tubing is used on silver wire due to these characteristics. No one I know of would ever do this with copper wire.
If you want to use bare ends on copper wire that is fine. I simply use some de-oxit and then pro gold every couple of months to keep the ends clean.
Termination is no guarentee of less oxidation. Unless the wire was sealed off from oxygen when terminated it is oxidizing. If you have a cable that is a few years old with spades or bananas that are attached with set screws and you remove them, there is probably going to be some oxidation on the wire.
Understand. So has anybody heard of silver terminations? So far I don't think I ever seen any silver plug ever.
By what you say (and I appreciate your effort) terminations are usually in copper so them too are very prone to oxidation.
What if some terminations were dipped in silver by a jewellery?
Could that help?
Almost all copper terminations are coated with another metal that doesn't oxidate ie gold etc. There are silver spades out there, WBT comes to mind. You can see them at www.ramelectronics.net or of course www.wbtusa.com WBT also makes silver crimp sleeves that could be crimped onto bare copper wire to seal them in. You would still need a little solder on the end for an air tight seal. I would be interested in trying this myself.