How do you recommend I connect speakers to my amplifier or receiver?

Learn why we only recommend spades or banana plugs

The below text is a transcript of the video.

Hey there, we’re here to actually just do some really basic explanations. A lot of times when people get involved in audio, there’s just so much new information they’ve got to try and sort out. We’ve been doing this for a very long time and we just thought it would be useful for you guys to learn a little bit about binding posts, which are these connectors that are used to connect it both on amplifiers and speakers cable between those two. These are traditionally called, this is the most basic kind of all, this is called a five-way binding post. Covers a variety of different ways to connect it. Probably my least favorite is a bare wire. And the reason I say that is if you’re not careful with it, and especially at the beginning, you’re not going to feel as comfortable with all the nuances of connection.

It’s really possible because these, these holes that go through you can’t see the yet, but there’s actually a whole drilled through the screw mechanism here and it’s oriented to point right at the other connector. And if you have a wire that’s a little too long, or you have just a few strands that are sticking out you can do what’s called a dead short, and it’s called that because hot and ground will touch together.

When you do that, you can damage your amplifier. So unless you absolutely have to, some types of receivers, for example, have a sort of pin loaded or spring-loaded, hole that just opens up and that you kind of have to use a bare wire. But besides for that, I probably would stay away from it. All right, here we go.

I’m going to show you that one of the most common ways to connect. This is called a spade lug. Now we actually deliberately used ones that were relatively short. If you go online and really start looking at different high quality spade lugs, it’s called a spade lug because it sort of looks like the shape of a spade.

There are thousands, literally thousands of these and many of them have much bigger, more impressive looking metal. You’re thinking, what am I looking for here? Why? You don’t need to have massive amounts of metal for it to be a good spade lug. And in fact, what we’re finding is oftentimes things that have a really long tang here can have the same problem that the bare wire has.

Right? So if I were to put this in and, and, oftentimes that really is the most natural way to do it. These are very close together. We would wind up with the same resulting problem. If I have long tangs here and long fingers here. They go together and they would dead short. So not a bad idea to have them actually match up to the kind of connect we have.

There are other ones, it’s fine. It, for example, if this wasn’t even here. Right, and we were just dealing with right and left and you really wanted as much metal to metal contact, as possible. Great. I’ll show you how easy it is. These just slip right over the threaded barrel and we tighten it down.

When it gets there, really, and this is where amateurs don’t understand. Once it starts to feel tight, it’s only starting to, and as you can see, I’ve just made about four turns after it began to get tight. You really want to bear down with your fingers and get it really nice and snug. Otherwise, the first time you move the speaker or the amplifier it’ll, tend to fall out.

And you don’t want that cause you again, can wind up with a dead short. So here we go. I’m just doing the flat ground one now and off we go works well again, I’m already into resistance and I’m having to really fight through this to snug it down tightly. And there you go. That’s the spade. Now there’s a second kind.

Now I’m really just dealing with the two most common ones. It’s called a five-way because it can handle a bare wire, it can handle a banana, which we’ll get to in a moment, spade lug, dual banana, and a pin which is sort of a surrogate for bare wire. It’s a whole connector that just results in a tiny little gold pin.

I don’t recommend anything really, but these two, the banana and the spade are the most common out there. And they’re common because they make good, solid mechanical connections and mechanical electrical connections, so you can really trust what you’re getting into. The banana so-called because

somebody thought it was shaped like a banana. These literally just press in. I love these. These are off of parts express. That costs almost nothing, and what I love about these is they’ve got a very cool little feature here where the wire goes into the back of the barrel here, and you’ve got a little set screw and it just makes it so easy to attach

sort of a normal, a 14 gauge 16 gauge wire to this. You know, if you’re not spending thousands and thousands of dollars on state of the art cables, these are fantastic. Just undo this little set screw. It’s hard to make out here. We’ll show you in more detail in a second. We just backed that thing out.

Slide the wire in, tighten it down and then slide the, and these are done both for, for sort of looks right for color coding hot is red ground is black, but also to prevent them from shorting. All right. So there’s a lot of process to this and these just plug in the back of this connector so that’s, the easy as could be. Just a quick warning,

a lot of things coming out of European markets are required to have a little filler plug. It’s a really hard plastic piece. You’re going to have to dig that thing out with something like a jeweler’s screwdriver. They’re highly resistant, but they will come out. You just have to keep your fingers away and make sure you don’t hurt yourself with that with a sharp implement.

But these are the two most common ways. There is a kind of a Sonic difference and you’ll find a lot of Americans really prefer the spade. That’s because it gives the most amount of surface area of contact, and that results in sort of a, a richer bass heavy sound, right. Current flows through surface area.

So it’s kind of interesting over in Europe, you’ll get a lot more people using bananas and I remember many years ago listening really critically when I was working with a cable manufacturer to dozens and dozens and dozens, probably hundreds of connectors by the end of my career. And there is a kind of a Sonic difference.

Bananas tend to be fresher lighter, crisper, spades tend to be heavier a little richer, a little denser. So, a little bit of audio stylism there.

May 6, 2022 - Posted in: Q & A With John Hunter, Videos