How to choose the very best connectors for your speaker cables and enjoy superb sound from your music system

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1 Not all speaker plugs sound the same How to choose the very best connectors for your speaker cables and enjoy superb sound from your music system By Graham Nalty MA

2 Not all speaker plugs sound the same The booklet that tells you all you need to know and helps you choose and buy your speaker plugs. Welcome to the small world of Speaker Plugs. Terminating a speaker cable with plugs is really quite easy. However not all plugs easily fit all cables! When that happens, problems may occur. I have written this booklet so you can avoid many of the unexpected pitfalls that can be experienced when terminating your speaker cables. I hope that this booklet will help you. If so, or your have benefitted from using speaker plugs chosen via our web site, please leave a testimonial on our web site so that future customers can benefit from your experience. Copyright Graham Nalty All rights of this publication are reserved. No part of this publication may be copied, stored or transmitted by any means in any form by electronic, mechanical, photographic or other copying process without the prior written permission of the author. Written and edited by Graham Nalty MA

3 Welcome to the world of Speaker Plugs The world of speaker plugs is very small. The world of speaker cables is much larger. The world of all audio and video cables is even larger and the world of sound and vision systems even larger still. But even the tiniest part of any system can be very important to its overall function Types of speaker plugs There are a small number of basic types of speaker plugs: 4mm diameter plugs known better as banana plugs which plug into sockets Spade connectors which are screwed tight on to terminal posts Z plugs and the very similar BFA types with an open terminal Pin plugs fitted with a pin that is held tight by screw terminal posts Adapters that enable the plug type to be changed to fit the connector Banana plug Spade Z plug Pin 4mm-spade adapter The most common type is the Banana Plug, and there are very many different types of banana plugs, including Locking plugs that use a screw locking action to hold the plug securely in the connector. Sizes of Speaker cables Speaker cables can vary in size from about 0.5 sq mm (20 gauge) to 10 sq mm (7 gauge) and even larger in extreme cases. Very few speaker plugs can accommodate this variation in cable size. The speaker wire will be covered in some form of insulation right up to the plug to prevent shorting of the wires which will shut down the sound and, in some cases, damage the amplifier. The thickness of insulation may also vary quite considerably. Matching the cables to the plugs With the exception of sale items, each plug page will have details of the cable sizes that we recommend can be used with it. Experienced constructors may well be able to fit other cables that are larger or smaller than our recommended cable sizes. On the other hand, people with limited experience of electrical assembly may have difficulty with cables close to the limits of our recommended sizes. In addition you will be able to access a FREE DOWNLOADED PDF showing how to connect the plug to one or more different cables, listing the tools that you will need as well as a suggested length of insulation to be removed.

4 Types of receptacles for speaker plugs Receptacles for speaker plugs of all kinds, and also bare wire connections are provided on the backs of amplifiers and loudspeakers. The most common types are known as Terminal Posts. These can secure spades by screwing a rotating part on to the spade. They also have a 4mm socket for 4mm plugs at right angles to the chassis that supports them. They may also have a hole through them to attach bares wires and pins and this hole sometimes is large enough to insert a 4mm plug. In addition some amplifiers and speakers may have sockets that only take the 4mm plug and some low priced equipment may have spring loaded terminals that only accept bare wires of small size and pins. Do different speaker plugs sound different? It is quite easy to hear differences in sound quality between different styles of loudspeaker plugs. Whilst these differences are not as great as with speaker cables, they are very audible. More important the differences are such that is you change a speaker plug to one that you consider to be better, you will generally notice the removal of a layer of distortion in the sound. When you have heard your music without that distortion, you will not want to go back to the plugs that gave you the distortion. So if you want to enjoy your music, using the better is well worth the effort and expense. Why do speaker plugs sound different? There are many possible reasons why differences in sound quality exist between different plugs. 1. They are made of a different base material such as brass or copper. 2. They use different plating in the outer surface such as silver, gold, platinum or rhodium. 3. They may or may not contain a large amount of metal. 4. They make contact with the receptacle in a different way. 5. They make have moving parts over which the sound has to travel. 6. They have a locking mechanism to ensure a more reliable connection. For this reason, you will find many different styles of speaker plugs which may be designed for different purposes: 1. They are designed strictly for giving the best sound quality. 2. They are designed to look expensive and very desirable. 3. They are designed to work in extreme weather conditions. 4. They are designed for quick assembly by professional installers. 5. They are designed to give a good connection at a very low cost You will choose your plugs based on your design priorities. We will give you some pointers on how to select plugs for sound quality, but we would like you to give us your feedback to help inform future customers.

5 Discover how to choose the speaker plugs that will give you the best sound. We have tested most of the plugs that we sell for their sound quality and we have learnt some interesting facts about speaker plugs and sound quality. We have no information on whether speaker plugs sound better than spades. This is because most people have already decided whether to choose spades or 4mm before they choose their cable or their connector. We very much welcome your feedback if you have tested spades against 4mm plugs, but we do accept that some connectors may be better suited to one type over the other. We are aware of very few reviews in audio magazines covering the sound quality of speaker plugs. Our current findings are: Z plugs sound better than the 4mm banana type Locking plugs sound better than the 4mm banana type Rhodium plated plugs sound better than gold plated plugs. The Black Rhodium Universal rhodium plated 4mm plug won a ***** Recommended award in a recent issue of HiFi Choice magazine. Line contact style plugs do not come second in sound quality to any other types we have tested. And the type to avoid any plug in which the working parts can rotate against the body. The moving contact will seriously detract from the sound quality. We welcome your feedback to add to our knowledge of how speaker plugs perform. Tools you will require for terminating speaker cables Screwdrivers. Use the largest size blade that will fit in the screw when the screw is below the level of the barrel of the plug. In our instructions we have suggested the best sizes for each plug. Wire strippers. You will need a set to strip off the insulation. A sharp blade may work in some circumstances, but may be less convenient to use. Side Cutters. Use these for trimming excess wire of cutting through segments of insulation. Allen Keys. Some connectors use Allen Keys to secure the wire. 1.5mm size is a common size. Heat Shrink Gun. If you need to cover any parts with heat shrink. An alternative is a hair dryer and even the small travelling types will work so long as the nozzle is used. Soldering Iron and Solder. You will need these for plugs designed for solder assembly. Our assembly instructions will inform you which tools you will require for each plug. Graham Nalty July 2013.

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