Spade vs bare wire


Age old audio cable question. Im thinking of going spades for my next set of cables. I‘ve noticed banana plugs seem to loosen over time. However, bare wire might just be the best. Many old threads on this subject. 

Any thougts, experiences or even measurable differences?
aberyclark
Connectors always impart their own sonic signature. Having said that, I've tried bare wire, spade and banana connectors and each sounded good in the context of the system I had then. 

Once I accepted that connectors have their own sound, it's easy to accept the sound of the cable, should they come with connectors. Having said that, I find well made bananas to be a fine choice to go with.

BFA bananas have never loosened on me. What I have now are Furutech FT-212 locking bananas (https://zenwaveaudio.com/product/furutech-gold-plated-locking-banana/ ) and they stay solidly in place.

All the best,
Nonoise
Bananas IMHO are the least likely to loosen.

Spades are good, but only with soft metals. Using very hard terminals, and/or very hard spades leads to easy to loosen connections. WBT makes a type of spring loaded spade I like a great deal.

Otherwise, I like the low mass WBT type of locking banana best. I tried Furutech and they were literally garbage.
I've had the best luck with BFA bananas. They have a very large contact area and if they do loosen from repeated insertions it's easy to adjust the tension with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.
With decent high purity OFC I find bare wire is fine due to its low oxidation levels.

If you want connectors then get tarnish resistant ones that are also air tight giving the cable little or no chance to oxidise. Soldering can have it's own issues, as I discovered with that horrible Linn and Naim cables we were recommended back then. 

I'm pretty sure that although the differences in resistance would be negligible in either case I prefer bare wire as it's cheaper and infinitely more practical.
Low mass BFA bananas are my choice and have been for the last 20 years. My first experience with them was the Nordost Z-plug on their Super Flatline Speaker cables. Since then, I've purchased similar low-mass BFA bananas and soldered them on my own cables. Right now I'm using The "No Frills" Audioquest Type-4 speaker cables from Audio Advisor, built with BFA bananas. Great value IMHO.
I like bananas too, for a snug fit and easy to remove and replace.Bare wire would be my second choice,no worries if the binding posts are close together and the spades are in danger of touching.
Have never had an issue with locking bananas but have spades loosen up or don’t tighten all the way


Never had an issue with the Furutech locking bananas that came standard with my speaker cables. Finger tight is the rule and the sound is wonderful. 👍

All the best,
Nonoise
I have tries all three methods and Stopped using bare wire one I used the following.

Here are my favourite connectors...
#1. KLE Innovations Bananas
Pro’s...
- extremely well engineered
- no colouration
- improves signal transfer over every other connector method/type
- extremely fast dynamics

Con’s...
- the fit is very snug, but they are made from copper and as such are not really meant for supporting a significant length of heavy cable.

- My cables have a 10 gauge neutral and a 12 gauge signal and the terminals (amp and speaker) are only 20" off the ground and I have no problems.

Other with longer lengths of cable to support have reported loosening or bending

#2. Furuz Spades
Pro’s...
- nicely engineered - i.e. they are very flat - no curved edges so they maximize their contact area
- Pure Copper of silver plate on pure copper
- comes in a variety of wire gauge and fitting type i.e. crimp/solder or screw clamp
- Being copper, clamping down on them makes for a pretty tight fit that does not loosen

Con’s
- not quite as detailed as KLE Innovations bananas

#3. Furez Bananas

Pro’s...
- nicely engineered
- Pure Copper or silver plate on pure copper
- comes in a variety of wire gauge and fitting type i.e. crimp/solder or screw clamp

Con’s
- not quite as detailed as KLE Innovations bananas
- easily bend if the banana is knocked of inserted roughly
- bends if heavy cable is used

I have tried some Furutech and Neotech bananas but to these ears they did not compete with any of the above products.

Hope you find it useful - Steve
I've tried it all. The TLDR is that bare wire would be 100% better were it not for the fact that a larger gauge wire than will play well with a binding post sounds better than a gauge of wire that'll easily wrap to a binding post.

The trade off of the inferior spade for the superior large gauge wire was the better choice (IMS).
Like Fliz I tried it all.  I feel the method of binding to the speaker ends is the critical part.  Crummy connections = Crummyniss regardless of the chosen end.  
Funny, if you look at many threads here with same question from 10 or so years ago, bananas were the worst choice. I’m sure quality of connectors has improved quite a bit. 
Keep in mind that if 6-nines copper is important to you, then bare copper wire is continually oxidizing, and copper oxide is a semi-conductor (a diode). Guitar effects manufacturers use diodes to create distortion boxes. Silver oxide is a conductor, so there’s no problem with silver.

I love the low-mass architecture and the metallurgy of the ETI / KLE / Eichman connectors and we selected ETI for our cables. There’s a bit of confusion over the 3 names, and if you’re interested in the genealogy, you can find it here: http://www.eti-research.com.au/the-original-bullet-plug/

ETI dispenses with the intermediate nickel layer found in many connectors which I refer to as audio jewelry - pretty stuff, but sonically lacking (you know who you are).

How much the metallurgy contributes to their sound is impossible to say, since I wasn’t privy to ETI’s prototyping sessions.

What I can say however, is that the connectors I’ve heard with an intermediate nickel layer have a characteristic distorted sound to them.

The ETIs are silver over copper, BTW.

Disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in ETI, but I do have an interest in building the best cables that we can deliver to our customers.

... Thom @ Galibier Design
Both silver and copper wire will oxidize if using bare wire you should tin the wire ends but do not allow the solder to penetrate the insulation as that will contaminate the tinning. 
There is a vast chemical difference between tarnished and a metal's oxide. In a normal room environment, metal tarnishes, so the validity of the oxide conductivity is specious.

Gas tight connections are best. Bare wire in a connector is a poor idea as it will tarnish. Gas tight connections can be effected with crimps, but require the proper tool, connector and wire. Soldered connections may sound a little different, but it is unlikely that the solder is the issue. There can be several dozens of soldered signal path connections in every device.

Worrying about solder when there are likely multiple crimped and soldered internal loudspeaker connections is silly.

A standard speaker connector with a well crimped/soldered ring or spade terminal cinched down with a nut driver makes an almost permanent connection. The two layer WBT are as good and don't require as much torque to keep tight.

https://hackaday.com/2017/02/09/good-in-a-pinch-the-physics-of-crimped-connections/

https://media.digikey.com/pdf/data%20sheets/molex%20pdfs/tbo%20quality%20crimp%20handbook.pdf

AND, AS ALWAYS, YMMV. Any advice not generated in your context is worth 0x0000000000000000000000000000000

This is not the vendor I've used in the past, but these low-mass BFA style banana plugs look like the ones I've used in the past:

https://www.moon-audio.com/bfa-gold-banana-plug.html?gclid=CjwKCAjw27jnBRBuEiwAdjQXDBxSG5U7-ovA8GR2-oQd-blBAuCC1zw1aYl8MB8JBK74ZJb094cC3xoC3HMQAvD_BwE

I typically clip off the crimp wing and solder them to the cable. They work perfectly. They have a large contact area, fit tightly and don't loosen over time.
I gave up with connectors, they corrode, get loose etc. So I solder the wires straight through. You can remove the plastic cover on the back of speakers thus minimizing damage.
“Connectors have their own sonic blablabla” lol what a crock! 
@bac2vinyl
I was once head of analog engineering at a professional recording console manufacturer. When I arrived, my engineers had pretty much the same attitude that wire was wire and connectors pretty much of a muchness.

We made up several identical lengths of a few different cable types with XLR from Neutric, SwitchCraft & Amphenol in both gold and silver.

After I demonstrated that I could reliably detect cable types with the same connector and connector types on the same cable, they all woodshedded to learn how to identify the characteristics. In the end, they were all convinced there is no free lunch.

Note that we were not trying to determine gradation, just difference. Gradation is skewed by system and CBLF.

We went on to recreate a classic EQ, paying attention to 'inaudibles.' The unit has sold in the thousands because it is almost indistinguishable from the originals.
I also don't buy into the alleged sonic differences between bare wire, bananas, and spades. That difference seems to potentially be so absolutely tiny as to render opinions kinda silly (or allowing listeners who do claim to hear differences to feel "special," which might help those with inadequacy issues), but that's to be expected around here...Use high quality versions of any connectors and you're gonna be fine. Note that bananas do have the advantage of providing potassium, and spades can be used for gardening.
My ancient (1979) Vandy 2Cs accept only bananas. My Anticables were terminated with spades (for previous Monitor Audio Silver 8s). After cutting off the spades, I doubled back the ends of bare wire and seated them firmly into the 2Cs. Listened that way for a year or so, then curiosity got the best of me. Cold-welded bananas to said wire, drove 'em home where they belonged and listened. Honestly, I wasn't expecting ANY difference, but there was. Better defined bass. Expectation bias definitely didn't play a role- I wasn't expecting any change at all.
I realize I didn't compare different legitimate connections since the Vandy terminals were not designed for bare wire, but anyway...

Tom
Dave built me a pair of speaker cables with these. I very much like them! And his cables 😊

https://zenwaveaudio.com/product/furutech-rhodium-plated-spade/
“Connectors have their own sonic blablabla” lol what a crock!
So, you can't hear the differences? Must be nice to live in a mid-fi world.

To see what effect connectors have:
http://www.tempoelectric.com/Wire_and_Cable_Facts.pdf


All the best,
Nonoise
Hi,
@aberyclark, you can follow Kondo's approach and just tarnish with solder the ends, that would leave cable character intact.
Tinning is probably not the best idea:
 - Solder is soft and malleable, so connections tend to loosen over time and are thus not gas tight.
 - Tinning should be done in a solder pot
 - There are 2 dissimilar junction instead of one
 - Unless you are expert with proper tools and the correct solder, you run the risk of a 'dry' or incompletely wetted flow which are sonically awful.

Bare OFC cable is the simplest and easily the most convenient. Issues with oxidation, if they exist at all, can be dealt with a periodic clean once or twice a year.

Besides, concerns with any oxidation of speaker cable pale into insignificance compared to oxidation of cable used inside amps, speakers, the mains, the power station etc etc.

Paranoia City Arizona.
Maybe, but what about the potassium?
Issues with oxidation, if they exist at all, can be dealt with a periodic clean once or twice a year.
Pray tell, how do you clean multi-strand 12ga 7x24x34

Besides, concerns with any oxidation of speaker cable pale into insignificance compared to oxidation of cable used inside amps, speakers, the mains, the power station etc etc.

Soldered connections are gas tight and don't oxidize.

Tremendous improvements in sound quality can be effected by removing ALL crimps / headers / connectors from the audio path and soldering the connections
@ieales, "Tremendous improvements in sound quality can be effected by removing ALL crimps / headers / connectors from the audio path and soldering the connections"

Tremendous?

Perhaps, but only if after 25 years or so they had become terribly pitted.

For many of us going that long without changing gear is beyond comprehension.

I'm sure you mean well but what you're suggesting is risky to say the least, and in most cases I believe, totally unnecessary. 
cd318:
Back in the 80s, I became design engineer for a newly built private recording studio. We had identical MCI JH-24 multi track recorders. As best we could tell, they differed very little. Note that we had first rate, phase correct tri-amped monitors, so playback was pretty pristine.

Having auditioned connectors for a couple of decades and finding 'none' better than 'any', I removed every connector from the console to the MT rack cards: Patch bay -> console connector -> machine wall plate -> MT input -> MT rack cards.

Once completed, we tracked some sessions simultaneously to both machines. No one but myself and the owner knew there was any difference in the two paths. On playback, all but the owner and I were astounded at the increase in clarity, detail, punch, etc. IOW, Tremendous!

I did several other studios after other owners heard the delta.

Look inside your typical gear: One may find connectors to/from the power supply, input connectors, switches for Bal/UnBal/Bridged operation, etc. Many fall into the "Best connector you can buy for under a quarter" class and are definitely not HiFi.

Having the luxury of multiple units in the studio and the ability to A/B modified against not, no connectored device ever beat a Un!

NOTE:
Only the qualified and competent should attempt hardware modifications.