I personal don't think there is any difference in the sound between Spades and Bananas. But as for tighter connection I think the Spades works the best. It all really depends on your speakers.
Connectors do sound different, and in the case of speaker cables, the connectors both on the cable and the amp and speaker are very very important. But there are good banana connectors and bad spades, and vice versa. I like the WBT bananas much better than their spades for example. A great buy, by the way, are the very inexpensive Audioquest spades.
I recently made a change in spk cable. My previous cable had spades on the amp end and bannana at the spk. The new cable I got has bannana's all the way around. I was a little concerned because I had also heard the sonic rule was #1 bare wire connection #2 spades #3 bannana. Now my observation my be skewed becaue the cables themselves were a significant sonic upgrade. The new cables have the factory terminated Z plugs. The terminations asthetically are beautiful and convenient. This bannana, unlike others, makes 100% surface contact because of it's design. It is gold plated berillium copper. I am very pleased with the sonics and the convenience of plug and play. No binding post wrench required, no worry about stripping the posts, and very very clean looking. I have not had experience with the WBT but I have read many comments that their topline bannana is also an excellent choice. The bannana is also convenient if you like to swap wires in and out. My wife says she also prefers the bannana! So there you have it :^)
I beleive in not using banannas just for the reason of possible failure. The bananna puts stress on the wire connection of the cable (gravity) and over time can fail. The bananna connector also puts stress on the binding post and can damage the binding post over time. Especially concidering the weight of many quality cables. Stay with spades or bare wire if possible. Sometimes this can be difficult when using bi or tri-cable or bi-wire. In this case you can have them custom made to fit your application. JMHO
I use bare wire and just clean the connections every couple of months. If I break a strand of wire (Kimber) I snip off half an inch and strip the wires (8 of them again) which takes a few minutes with a good wire stripper. Mine is one of the old simple ones that you can adjust with a set screw. The connections take very little time to maintain and sound better than any connector that I have used. The only expense to maintain the connections is for a contact cleaner such as De-Oxit. I recommend bare wire if you can do it. I also tried using bananas on a pair of DIY jumpers and found bare wire connections to sound better as well. In this case the bare connection was not very convenient, but they still sounded better. The only time that I use bananas (solder less) are if I am trying out a bunch of different equipment or when I am experimenting with placement of the same. Once the equipment is set then off come the connectors. The only situation that I can think of in which I would use them is if a cable were designed or voiced with their use in mind.
Hi Swampwalker. Dekay may very well be right. And the method to terminate speaker cables can differ depending on their construction. I actually use a local guy who knows his stuff and has thousands of dollars of gear to do the job right and so I don't have the full answer. In the case of Audioquest cables, most use several solid core cables that are easily stripped - unlike cables like Cardas, Wireworld and Straightwire where very expensive termination equipment is needed. The key thing with the Audioquest is to crimp the cable into the connector with sufficient pressure to "cold weld" the joint. Failure to do this will lead to oxidisation IMO, and is the most critical step. The next precaution is to use a suitable fluid like Dekay's suggestion of De-Oxit, but my guy uses something else that is meant to last a long time - I will ask him about it. Then heat shrink the connector and cable to leave none of the bare wire exposed. I guess Dekay's method allows you to continuously de-oxidise the cable whereas what I am suggesting will potentially degrade over time depending on how well you do it.
Trelja had mentioned a super duper hand operated wire crimper that was designed for use in the aircraft industry (I have been unable to source one). This might be what you are looking for if you would like to make solder less connections. His cost for the item was not very much. I had wanted one to make my own extension cords with solder less connections (just stock Belden cords with better connectors).
I recently sent some 8TC to kimber to terminate with post master spades. I was using bare wire and also copper spades I cold soldered myself years ago. What a difference! Big improvement, noise floor dropped, better detail, just more information. I'm using these with Thiel 3.6's which are so tonally accurate and nuetral that any change at all in my chain comes out the other end. I think surface conductivity and the gas tight connection you are able to get makes the difference. Worth it IMHO.
I find your post on bare wire connections sounding better, very interesting. I took the time of making my own speaker cables and would definetely be interested in making a better electrical and better sounding connection. I took the time to tin my speaker wire, then crimp, then solder with a high silver content solder (high wattage solder gun recommended). I thought that was a very good connection but am still intrigued by your comment of bare wire connections sounding better. Oh yea, mine are banana on both ends. I'm also assuming that by bare, you mean that you don't tin your wires? Signed, starting to upgrade!