Whatever I have at hand! Usually the cheap stuff! Monoprice!
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I've used a couple of different connectors
For spade connectors I use Furez silver plated copper - they have proven t be the best sounding spade connectors I have tried
For Bananas, Furez also produces a nice Silver Plated Banana
- BUT the Bananas plug I now use is from KLE Innovations - it is exceptional and are great for installing jumpers on Bi-wireable speakers
I found that silver plated copper provides the best details and clarity and if the silver plate does tarnish then reseating the plug will effectively clean the tarnish at the point of contact (if there is any)
The black "Tarnish" on silver is the silver reating with the Sulpher in the air to produce silver sulphide, which actually conducts electricity, unlike the tarnish on bare copper, which MUST be cleaned/removed.
I did use the more affordable gold plated brass and Berylliam Copper type of banana for a while, but the silver plated copper are better - to these ears anyway
I use silver plated copper Mains connectors on my mains cables
And the RCA's from KLE Innovations are the best RCA's I have tried to date
Hope that helps - Steve
I will say that what does NOT work is hard metals, like rhodium, or solid brass.
You want your plugs to be soft and non-tarnishing, preferably with a spring to them, like banana plugs have or the spring loaded WBT spades.
Anything hard like rhodium or gold over pot metal (like the Monster screw on spades) is never going to have a tight fit, especially when used in nickel plated speaker terminals.
Bare wire unless you want to change something.. Most folks know different terminal ends and HOW they are attached make a pretty big difference in SQ. Especially if they are loose and open air. Time will change that connection. Silver gets better, copper gets worse..Gold stays close to the same.. (contact wise over time)
Second, different material and plating. Solder or secure with screws and tin or NOT to tin the ends and just tighten the screws.
Did you dip the bare wire and the terminal end after a solder or screw tightening, in contact enhancer?
It all matters/changes the sound.. Then let it settle for a while..While it's breaking the rest of the way..Pure silver wire, holy cow... 400 plus hours, for anything #12 or smaller. Copper, drop it on the floor, 50 hours..
Little secret. NEVER tin the ends on silver wire. you'll never enjoy the wire if you do..Graphene paint the bare wire and tighten the lugs on mine. 1/2" silver lugs.. to the internal pure silver S/C Teflon wire inside.. The bass section, I don't use. But they are wired in all 1" flat braided copper in a loose silicone tube..Very caveman looking..Huge solder joints..Very polished to this day..The copper looks pretty good after 12 years.
These are the desirable things in a speaker wire/connectors:
Must have low resistance so as to not increase the output impedance of the amp. You get that by using better and thicker conductors. Copper is fantastic. So, the purer the copper, the better the conductance. Having said that, no need to be ridiculous either. 99.99% of the people wont be able to tell the difference between 99% pure copper
and 99.9999% pure copper. Not worth the extra which only a very sensitive measuring device can notice.
Lower capacitance. Higher capacitance will impede hi frequencies. But then again, you
will not notice it in a few nano farads.
Lower inductance. Do not coil your wire, run it straight. Increased inductance may affect the rise time of your signal due to an inductor resisting the rate of change of current thru it. Again, a few nano henries will not be noticed.
A perfectly good pure copper speaker wire of about 12 gauge can easily be bought for about $50. No need to spend any more, unless you want to run miles of it.
I wonder if they have done significant blind testing?
I would also be curious to know if I were blind tested to compare speaker cables if I would hear a significant difference? I doubt someone would sit down to listen to a system and say this sounds like you are using Tera Labs or Kimber Cable. I do think buying a decent set of cables does make sense, but not spending more than $1,000. However, $1,000 is a lot of money. The system should I guess cost at least $10,000 to warrant the expense.
Banana plugs are great for experimenters and folks who make a lot of changes, but they don't offer much contact area with the barrel they fit in to. You want maximum contact area. After all, there are two ends to the wire and the net effect of both connections must be considered. While I use many banana plugs and buy dozens every few months, I know spades or bare wire will give me a better connection. Remember, bare wire will squash down and fit the contacting surfaces very well. Copper is rather soft and will flow over time, loosening the connection. (That's why there are electrical fires in old houses.) Tighten them up every year or so. Spades seem to offer a good connection, but how do they attach to the actual wire? You have two connections on each end! The wire to the spade, and the spade to the speaker terminal (not to mention the terminal to the lead that actually goes to the actual speaker!). So, considering there are two connections inside the speaker "box," it is best to use bare wire and tighten the connecting mechanism really tight. The "tinning" you hear or read about is just to keep the many strands of wire in many types of cable from separating as the connections are tightened. A good idea. Use "silver solder."
I tried many different connections, but by far the most natural and real sounding speaker cable connector is the ETI Research pure copper spade. I always solder and use Wondersolder with very good results.
These ETI bare copper spades are better sounding than Furutech gold plated FP-201, even when you solder them instead of clamping with the screws.
I don’t like “squeezing” a wire into a connection ( unless it is a thick solid core like AWG 16 or more). The thin wires will be squeezed and this is limiting the “electron flow” since the surface is damaged.
And please DO NOT TIN ( solder) bare ends and put them into a screwed connection. This will not give a solid connection as the tinning makes the cable very soft and is flowing under the pressure of the screw and being a loose connection.
I purchase the ETI spades from Hi-Fi-collective.uk, as it is half the price compared to VH Audio.Hope this helps to answer your question.
Banana plugs are great for experimenters and folks who make a lot of changes, but they don’t offer much contact area with the barrel they fit in to. You want maximum contact area.For the most part - I agree with this statement
Some banana plugs have little spring clips on the pin
Some banana plugs have a little bar on the pin
Some Banana plugs rely on the spring effect of the pin itself to hold them in place - BUT they are generally NOT perfectly cylindrical, but elliptical.
Some banana plugs have a screw lock that widens the pin
Many plugs are gold, rhodium or even platinum plated, but the issue here is - these metals requires a substrate to adhere to the base metal - that substrate normally has a much lower conductivity than the metals being used - so it impedes the transfer of the signal.
All of the above designs are flawed - they all fail to make use of the maximum possible contact area
However, the Banana plugs from KLE Innovations are precisely engineered and are perfectly cylindrical. They do Maximize the contract area of the entire pin - which in their case is approximately 1.1 sq cm. That’s possibly the biggest contact surface area of any speaker cable connectors - spades or bare wire!
They are also NOT made of brass or some copper alloy - they are pure copper with a silver plating - so conductivity is maximized
BTW silver applied to copper does NOT requires any intermediate substrate plating material.
But they are not without any shortcomings
- they "may work loose" - IF the speaker cable is heavy - 10 gauge max
- they are a little fragile - they can bend out of shape IF you are not careful
- they can only be soldered onto the wire - some prefer crimp/screw style
Being silver plated they can "tarnish" and some people feel the need to clean them.
But here’s the thing, that dark discoloration is actually SILVER SULPHIDE
- Silver DOES NOT actually oxidize - it reacts with Sulphur in the air
And here’s the thing with Silver Sulphide...
- it does conduct electricity, but not quite as good as silver
- it is only ever microns thick
- restoring full performance is as easy as reseating the plug - i.e. "IF required"
The KLEI Bananas are so well engineered/fabricated that air seldom gets into the joint, so the tarnishing effect on the pin is almost non existent.
If the plug gets deformed, restoring it’s shape is very easy.
They may not be for everyone - BUT if you want to improve the connection of your speaker cables - give them a try
They are the best Banana plug I have tried in the last 4 years
Here is my review...
Regards - Steve
I wonder if they have done significant blind testing?
Problem I have connecting my speaker cable to my ARCAM AVR 550 is I also have my two REL S2 SHO subwoofers connect to right and left channel using the high level connection. So far, I am not sure I can use a spade connection based on the design of the left and right speaker connections at the back of my receiver. I think Spades are best for a secure connection. If anyone is familiar with my ARCAM receiver, I would appreciate your help. My banana connections work themselves loose over a period of sever weeks and when this happens it takes me a half hour when moving my cabinet against the wall to maintain a solid connection. I would hate to hog this discussion. This group is extremely knowledgeable and perhaps someone is familiar with my receiver and can offer some help.
@redwoodaudio - you are correct.
Fortunately - you can "adjust" the KLE Bananas quite easily.
I use an old banana plug similar to this one...
I removed that little piece of wire on the pin. The shaft of this banana then fits nicely inside of the KLE Banana, making them expand ever so slightly to allow them to fit "Snuggly" in most binding posts.
But as I said, they are more delicate than many other alternatives, but they sound great
Regards - Steve
The correct answer is what you like based on your system in your house . Beware of the people that tell you what you will hear in “Absolute statements “. I use some bananas and some spades . For me in my system , silver on the connectors or in/on the wires ads a brightness to my system in my listening room that I don’t care for . If you are fortunate enough to have friends that will lend you cables to try , take advantage of it . I personally don’t believe in the NASA based article that “ wire is wire “. But I have a budget on the modest side and don’t run high priced wire . I’ve had good luck at my price point with Anti Cables , Morrow , Cardas, and Audioquest. I’ve experienced noticeable improvement with break in too . Morrow interconnects take 400 hours . I also believe in cleaning and treating my connections. This is one of the many experiences we get to enjoy building our systems . If this doesn’t drive you crazy, explore tube rolling . Best wishes and happy hunting .
Rhodium is the best material for contact surfaces. It is harder than gold. Rhodium is a good conductor (although this is not important for contacts), and rhodium does not tarnish. Second is gold, since it doesn’t tarnish as much as other materials. All military connectors use gold. Rhodium is too expensive. But gold is soft and not a great conductor compared to copper or silver; so it is generally a poor choice for the wire itself. Silver is the best conductor for wire.
@cakids - I found some different information,,,
White gold was originally developed to imitate platinum (a naturally white metal). White gold is usually an alloy containing about 75% gold and about 25% nickel and zinc. If stamped 18 karat, it would be 75% pure gold.and
Rhodium is a chemical element with the symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is an ultra-rare, silvery-white, hard, corrosion-resistant, and chemically inertBut you are correct in that Rhodium is used a lot in jewelry, but in comparison to silver, coper and even gold - it is a poor conductor
From the table of Conductivity...
BTW - Conductivity is VERY important for contacts
Also - If the contacts of a plug are Gold or Rhodium plated, then a substrate plating is required, which normally has an even lower conductivity rating than the plating materials.
I was going to paste a picture of the relative connectivity of base metals, as there are some misconceptions. fortunately, the above post is correct. The IDEAL combination for banana, spade or what ever you are using is Copper, that could be silver plated. Im trying to find just copper connectors, with very little luck. I dont want them gold plated, just copper, and if any plating is used, silver only. Does anyone have any idea where to get this? I will not pay 100 dollars for a pair of copper banana plugs that use less than a dollars worth of copper, thats for sure. Anyone have a good solution?
"Minimum mass copper or brass crocodile bananas, crimped, not soldered". might you have a link to that? AND do you think that bananas are better than spades? when i went to high quality 10 gauge wire, i could hear the difference over what i had before. im just looking to do what i can to get as much improvement as i can, without the snake oil!!
Wait, that acoustic revive is 500 bucks, and 55 dollars shipping? uhhh, no.
The Acoustic Revive stuff is outstanding: treat all contacts incl. fuses and you’ll find it one of the best value or money tweaks anywhere.
Otherwise Chris Venhaus at vhaudio.com can probably help
Yep, it seems the quality of the connectors is much more important than the cable between them. If you calculate the right gauge, any cable will do. But the terminus is the thing. I run the cables all the way to the driver and solder the connection - the advantages of building your own. Soldered banana plugs the other end so they can be easily cleaned.
I've posted this before in other threads and it looks like it's needed here;
It seems using any kind of connector degrades the signal.
All the best,
this is why I suggest low mass, crimped banana connectors with Acoustic Revive contact enhancer. Replicating the force of crimping is near impossible on any normal binding post on bare wire and increasing connectivity of the imperfect banana surface is mandatory. On bare multi-strand wire the likelyhood of breaking wires is high, surface contact is low. On single strand wire chances are that in a bare connection the contact surface is even lower. Soldering adds resistance, no matter how good the solder.
Great reference article, btw