When speakers and speaker components need to be connected, it’s essential to know which speaker wire connector types are best suited.
As you can imagine, while there are several speaker wire connector types out there, proper speaker wire connectors are best to use for your home and professional audio needs.
More than anything, one needs to look for a connector that provides a secure connection while minimizing signal loss.
For speakers, signal loss is a huge problem compared to other video and audio connections. That’s because speakers use powerful analogue signals that may get distorted if the connector is not sufficient to carry the signal.
The size of the wire may also affect signal transmission. That’s why most audiophiles use big wire gauge sizes, especially when working with powerful audio amplifiers.
Speaker wire connectors are built to create a solid electrical contact between your gear and the speaker wire.
More importantly, they make it significantly easier to plug-in and unplug your sound equipment. Here are the most common types of speaker wire connectors available on the market:
1. Spade Connectors
This type of connector comes in various styles, with crimp-on connectors being the most common. The connectors look like a piece of forked metal that can be used with screw terminals as well as binding posts.
In most cases, they are sold within a set, for example, this Cofufu Spade Connector Set is pretty good.
They ensure that you capture all the wire strands in the connection and help to protect the wire ends from getting unraveled.
Please remember that these connectors will need to be crimped. As an example, check out our guide on how to crimp 4 gauge wires by yourself.
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2. Banana Plugs
If your speaker or receiver has binding post terminals, Banana plugs are some of the best connectors you can get.
They are a little bit more expensive of course, but you can find pretty affordable ones on Amazon, for example, this AmazonBasics 12 pair banana plug set.
They come with a metal collar that compresses to fit in the binding post hole, providing a solid electrical connection that carries ample current. For 5-way binding posts, dual-banana plugs are better than single-banana connectors.
Banana plugs are very useful when connecting subwoofers to amps without sub out for example.
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3. Pin Connectors
Pin connectors are the smaller version of banana plugs. They look similar to each other, but they don’t feature spring contact like banana plugs.
They work with binding posts, as well as spring clip terminals. However, they are not very common in speakers. This Silverback Flex Pin Connector set is a good choice if you need it.
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4. Speakon Connectors
They are available in two, four, or eight-pole designs. The four and two-pole designs are easily interchangeable, but the eight-pole design is physically larger than the others.
The best part is, they are very affordable, this GSL Audio Speakon 4 Pack Set costs less than the other sets mentioned on this list.
Compared to other types of plugs, Speakon connectors have three main advantages:
- They carry more electric current than other connectors.
- The feature is a non-shorting electrical contact when plugging and unplugging the connector.
- They are locking plugs.
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5. Phono (RCA) Connectors
RCA connectors have been used in audio devices since the early 1940s. To date, they are the most common connectors for home audio devices. For this reason, these connectors are normally cheap, for example, these Kenable 1/4 inch Mono Jack RCA Plugs are available on Amazon.
Their main advantages are ease of use and low cost. However, the connector easily disconnects if the cable is stepped on or kicked. They also require a corresponding audio jack to work.
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6. Binding Post
Binding posts are chassis-mounted connectors. These connectors are most commonly used to connect bare wires. In some cases, they are also used to connect spade lugs, banana connectors, or pin connectors.
They are rather similar to simple screws (which are sometimes used as connectors) except that they provide better contact in addition to the capability of using these types of connectors. An excellent example is the Dayton Audio BPA-38G.
This connector is particularly good because it has gold plating for good signal transfer and corrosion resistance.
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7. XLR Connectors
XLR connectors are very common in both the audio and video industry, yet they aren’t commonly used. However, they do provide one advantage in that they are commonly used for microphone cables so it’s easy to replace a cable if something goes wrong.
The downside, of course, is that it’s easy to confuse cables. Another disadvantage is that the cables cannot carry enough power to use in large theatres.
If you need XLR connectors, the CableCreation [5-PAIR] XLRis a good choice.
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8. Speakon Jacks and Plugs
The Speakon connector holds the distinction of being the very first connector designed specifically for professional audio speakers.
Today, Speakon plugs are available in either a two, four, or eight-pole design.
These plugs have certain advantages in that they are locking connectors, they carry more current and the contacts are non-shorting. The Kenable Speakon is a good choice.
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9. Quarter Inch Plug and Jack
1/4” Phone connectors are commonly used professional audio connectors also known as TRS connectors.
In fact, the quarter-inch plug has been used as an audio connector even before the Speakon connector.
An example is the Quarter inch Adapter.
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Computer Speaker Plug Types
Many computers are not fitted with good in-built speakers, and as such, you will be required to use external speakers connected to the desktop using various computer speaker plug types.
In fact, you can even connect a subwoofer to your computer. Here are the three main plug types in the market.
1. Mini Jacks
The mini-jack is considered one of the best jack plugs for connecting desktop and external speakers.
These plugs have a round size of 3.5 mm, just like that of headphones, and are primarily used for audio components such as amplified speakers that are compatible with computer audio.
On a 5.1 channel, you need three min jack cables with six audio channels.
2. Digital Optical Connector (TOSLINK)
Also known as SPD/IF, an optical connector transmits a digital signal via fiber optic cable retaining the signal integrity. Over the years, this interface has been standardized and known as TOSLINK.
TOSLINK is one of the connectors that provide the cleanest form of signal transfer, but it comes with some limitations that are yet to be addressed.
TOSLINK requires expertized fiber optic cables that are relatively more expensive than coaxial cables. Similarly, you must ensure that the receiving device is compatible with the TOSLINK connector.
3. RCA Connectors
RCA Connectors have undergone tremendous development. For this stereo output connection, you need two RCA Connectors as each RCA plug carries a signal for a single channel.
The RCA Connector is not so common on PC due to their shapes that do not allow for four to fit in the PC’s slot because of the limited space.
If you have a good enough setup, you can even get audiophile sound from your computer.
Car Speaker Wire Connector Types
Three main wire connectors are Binding Posts Connectors, Spade Connectors, and Banana plugs. Others include Pin Connectors, RCA Connectors, and Spade Connectors.
1. Binding Post Conductors
The Binding Post Conductors are color-coated speaker jack types for connecting car speakers and have a threaded metal rod with a hole.
They easily connect with a single bare wire and are compatible with other connectors such as Banana plugs, Spade conductors, and Pin conductors.
2. Spade Conductors
These conductors are U-shaped and mostly folded with wire, except those with a screw that holds the wire in the pocket, and are used for speakers with either binding posts or screw terminals.
Spade Connectors cover all wire strands over the bare wire, giving a solid connection. Because of these advantages, spade connectors have become common among aftermarket speakers.
3. Banana Plugs
Not all speaker types are compatible with this connector, yet it is a famous connector type in the car audio market.
It comes in two designs: One that uses screws to hold the wire and another that works in the same manner as a Binding Post connector. One advantage of this connector is that it is easier to connect and disconnect.
What Are Some of the Most Common Speaker Wire Connections?
Banana plugs, spade connectors, and pin connectors are the three main types of wire connectors that you can connect to your speaker cables.
Each is straightforward to set up, requiring only a few basic tools. You must first examine the terminals accessible on your equipment in order to select the appropriate type.
Why Do Some Speakers Have Four (4) Terminals?
Speakers with four (4) terminals offer split connections, which creates two sections. Firstly, the mid and high-frequency drivers are connected to one set of terminals, and the low-frequency drivers are connected to the other set.
Compared to speakers that have 2 terminals, the varieties that have four (4) are capable of bi-wiring.
What Type Of Connection is Best For Speaker?
Banana plugs are by far the easiest and best choice for connection. New banana plugs often are expanded wider than the binding post hole they are intended to go in.
It is often necessary to apply force to push them in. This may make some nervous, but never fear, it will work as designed.
How To Connect Speaker Wire To Banana Plug
Step 1: Using wire strippers, strip off ¼’’ of the wire insulation. For a quicker connection, you need to twist the exposed end of the speaker copper wire to hold the wire strands together.
Step 2: Create a hole in the banana plug by unscrewing its bottom. Ensure that you connect the positive wire to the red terminals on your receiver and the red terminals on your speaker.
Step 3: Push through the twisted part into the hole. Ensure the bottom of the plug holds tightly by screwing it.
Step 4: Insert the red end of the banana plug into the red speaker jack.
Step 5: Repeat the process with the black speaker wire (negative), ensuring it is inserted in the black speaker jack.
While there are various types of speaker connectors available today, RCA jacks, banana plugs, and pin connectors are the most common for home audio speakers. For professional amplifiers and other audio applications, Speakon plugs are the best choice. In addition to getting the correct speaker connectors, you can also shield your speaker wires if they are very long and drive powerful speakers.