The era of having basic stranded wire that you can just twist and screw on to your speaker and amp binding posts is no longer here. Most speaker wires these days are made up of esoteric materials and complicated geometry which make it impossible to connect without terminations.
Depends on the cable. For example now I have the Nordost Frey. It would be tough but not impossible to put all the strands through the binding post. Also they are silver and would oxidize too fast. That being said I ran unterminated copper stranded bi-wire cables for over 20 years. Until I took my speakers to different dealers to compare I had no reason to terminate them (except I would cut them back a couple of inches every few years). Then it became a nice convenience.
That's a great question. I am guessing because you can't mark up bare wire 1000%.
There's no good reason not to use bare wire (or bare wire tinned with solder) unless the gauge is too large to fit through the hole in the speaker binding posts.
I recently bought Morrow speakers cables with "nude" terminations at the speaker end, although I chose spades at the amp end for reasons of convenience only.
Nick Gowan of True Sound advised me to use tinned bare-wire terminations on Audio Note speaker cabling for the best sound.
I should have mentioned I like solid-core wire. Stranded would indeed pose some issues.
I see that Mapleshade sells a nice, simple, unterminated speaker cable. Silver-place solid-core copper. Cool!
Stranded wire poses no issues if the ends are tinned. Mike Morrow does this. No problems.
Nick Gowan says he solders WBT crimp sleeves onto the stranded ends, thus preventing fly-a-way wires.
With solid core wire...go naked unless you find terminations easier to use.
I'm using those Mapleshade speaker cables now, Double Helix plus. Bare leads....they sound very good, especially for the price.
That's a great question Paul. I have Morrow Audio SP-2 Speaker Cables in both of my systems, and one pair is unterminated wire. When I bought my second pair of cables from him, Mike Morrow told me that unterminated wire is flat out the purest connection available. He put some silver solder on the bare wires and I'm using them in that state in my dining room rig. They sound great BTW.
All connectors affect the sound. I prefer the sound with bare wire opposed to terminated wire everytime.
Audio Magic sells an unterminated wire also.
Blowing out an amp from allowing stray stranded wires is the main reason to use terminations. Solid wires, and well tinned wires are grat. i would say the rise of aftermarket wiring is the main cause of terminations. Used to be you just bought a roll of wire and cut your own...
You are definitely usually better off without terminations when possible. However there is something to be said for the sound of some higher end connectors made of Rhodium, Gold, and even Silver.
Elizabeth, rolling my own is exactly what I did back in college (and I am talking about speaker wire).
I really do not think bare wire causes any greater chance of shorting - some spades I've had are so big that on some amps one rotating can cause it to contact the other spade!
Elizabeth, Isn't all wire aftermarket? Connecting speaker wire is the most basic of tasks.
Until I started playing in the high end audio sandbox eight years ago, I have never used anything other than bare speaker wire (stranded). That's about 30 years of using stranded bare wire without any issues or problems.
Makes a difference. I've been using DIY copper foil speaker cables & jumpers with 1/4" punched holes. This works nicely with Cardas no-stress clamp-style binding posts. With Merlin VSM this has eliminated ten solder joints and ten spades per speaker.
I like bare wire connections, BUT one must be careful. Multi stranded heavy gauge wire requires some torque when tightening down the nuts. It needs more compression than is readily apparent. What appears tight can be loose the next day and fairly easily disconnected resulting in a potential for a short. I routinely check the connections at the speakers or amps. The only down side is you can't simply disconnect the wires if you are having an electrical/component emergency. A rare occurrence, but......
The only reason to have "terminated" wire is to facilitate frequent disconnection/reconnection. Like if you run an audio shop. For most home aplications there are better ways to spend money.
Newbee - stranded wires should not be tinned (unless done in factory). There are two reasons for that:
- Tinned stranded wires break easily, because stress point on the border of isolation is created (solder stiffens wire but stops short of going inside). It is just against common thought that tinning makes wire stronger.
- Connection is not reliable because solder "gives" over time (it is called cold flow). In some states (for instance Missouri) it is illegal (against code) to tin stranded wires.
This is clearly stated in BSEN 60950-1:2006 Information Technology equipment - Safety, Para. 3.3.8.
"3.3.8 Stranded Wire
The end of a stranded conductor shall not be consolidated by soft-soldering at places where the conductor is subject to contact pressure unless the method of clamping is designed so as to reduce the likelhood of a bad contact due to cold flow of the solder.
Spring terminals that compensate for the cold flow are deemed to satisfy this requirement.
Preventing the clamping screws from rotating is not considered to be adequate."
Stranded wire, flattened provides under pressure oxygen free connection while flattening increases contact area.
That's minor point and people do what worked for them before, but I absolutely agree with you that one has to be careful and examine connection from time to time.
Kijanki, Although some may think otherwise, I've never been a tinman myself. :-) BTW I agree.
FYI, I am now running a pr of Clear Day solid-core silver cables, unterminated, and they are GOOD (and cheap).
I won't say what they are replacing but they are substantially better and considerably cheaper. Noticed smoother mids and especially better bass articulation.
(This wire is quite thin and possibly only really suitable for high-efficiency speakers. I can't be sure about that though.)