What is a speaker terminal?
Connectors for speakers are utilized by Hi-Fi systems, loudspeakers, and other audio devices.
They provide a connection between the speakers and the amplifiers.
Their design establishes a strong electrical connection between your equipment and the speaker cable.
How to Select the Most Effective Speaker Connectors
Each speaker connector is straightforward to install and requires only a few basic tools.
To choose the optimal type, you must first examine the available terminals on your equipment.
Additionally, the rear end of your stereo equipment can feature a variety of connections. Occasionally, there are multiple types on each, such as amplifiers and receivers. Consequently, you will need a pair of pin connectors if your speaker includes spring clips. Moreover, if your amplifier or receiver includes binding posts, I recommend using either spade or banana connectors.
In addition, it would be prudent to determine the gauge of your speaker wires prior to purchasing connectors. Even while many connections were designed to operate with the most common wire sizes (12 – 18 AWG), others are intended for larger or smaller wires; therefore, it is important to check the dimensions to assure compatibility.
Connectors for speakers:
1. Binding posts
Binding posts are connectors mounted to the chassis that facilitate the connection of bare wires, spade plugs, pin connectors, and banana connectors.
Binding posts are the most commonly seen type of connector.
They are present on all sorts of amplifiers and speakers, from inexpensive to expensive.
You can use bare wire or connect banana plugs or spades to the end of the speaker wire when utilizing binding post connections.
How to link up:
- Unscrew the red (+) or black (-) cap.
- Insert the speaker cable into the post’s hole or wrap a spade connection around the base before tightening the cap.
- Insert the cable into the aperture on each post’s side. Here, you will have to connect banana plugs. Some receivers may have an end cap made of plastic that must be removed first.
There may be no aperture for a banana plug at the end of binding post-equipped loudspeakers. A few have, but it is more common in amplifiers.
With binding post connectors, you can either feed a bare wire into the hole and tighten the screw, or you can wrap a spade connector around the post and tighten the screw.
Binding posts are superior to basic screw terminals because they provide better contact and utilize these connectors.
2. Banana Plugs
Banana plugs are common single-circuit connections found in laboratory testing equipment.
Banana plug connectors have a standard diameter of 4mm, making them ideal for use with binding posts.
The spring-sided construction maintains good contact, even after multiple connections.
Typically, they attach to binding posts.
When utilized in speaker connections, they provide a strong electrical contact that transmits a substantial amount of electricity.
When using banana plug connections, you will need to purchase them as a separate wire accessory. Each wire will require four banana plugs, two for each end of the cable.
How to link up:
- First, ensure that the receiver’s power is off.
- Twist each exposed end of the copper wire so that the strands remain unified.
- Remove the screw from the bottom of the banana plug to check the hole is open. There are a variety of banana plugs, but the most contain a location to put the wire and a screw to secure it.
- Insert the wire into the drilled hole.
- The bottom of the banana plug must be tightened to ensure that the wires are secure.
- Connect the positive (red) banana plug to the appropriate red jack on the receiver.
- Repeat the same for the negative (black) speaker wire and plug it into the receiver’s blackjack.
- Insert the red plug into the red binding post of your speaker and the black plug into the black crucial post to connect the speaker line to your speakers. Now you can safely power on the receiver and alter its settings.
In addition, banana plugs can connect to cables in a variety of ways. The majority of the connections are screw-in and require a little screwdriver to fasten the wire. This is one of the easiest methods.
Also, some are self-crimping, which means they clamp the cable when the plug’s cover is tightened.
Others might necessitate soldering. Therefore, you should only choose these connectors if you are prepared to use a soldering iron.
However, there are banana plugs with screw-in connections that function flawlessly without soldering as long as you are careful when connecting them. This has the disadvantage that they may loosen over time. Therefore, you must verify the connection if you frequently reconnect them.
The majority of banana plugs feature a female connection on the bottom. This allows you to connect another banana plug. This is useful if you need to connect multiple speakers to the same terminal.
This may not be required frequently, but there are situations when it is necessary. If you need to connect a high-level subwoofer input to the front left and right speaker terminals, for instance, you can do so using this jack.
3. Spade Connectors
These connectors are available in several types, with crimp-on connectors being the most common.
These connections resemble metal forks with screw terminals and binding posts.
In many instances, they are sold as a set.
Spade connections guarantee that all wire strands are captured within the connection and protect the wire ends from unraveling.
How to link up:
- These can be connected using soldering, crimping, or screwing, just like banana plugs.
- Crimping is the process of using a tool to bend the end of the connector so that it is snugly connected to the wire. This could be an excellent alternative to soldering the wire. Additionally, be sure to use the right crimping tool.
After attaching your spades to the wire, unscrew each binding post and press it into position. Again, tighten the cap to secure them.
Using spade connections is preferable than using bare wire because they improve connection reliability.
Spade connectors are optimal for speaker wires positioned in close proximity to the wall.
4. Connectors with Pins
Pin plugs are tiny banana plugs with a similar origin. In rare cases, you may encounter them as banana plugs. However, they lack the spring contact present in banana plugs.
Pin plugs typically include pins with a diameter of nearly 2 millimeters. The pin is typically straight, however you can also find angled pins. Due to this, they did not use them as speakers, but they were still utilized.
Similar to banana plugs and spades, strip the wire of its insulation and connect the pins to the bare wire.
In addition, crimping or soldering is used to join them. They may also have a screw-in connection, however.
How to relate them:
- Undo the screw a bit.
- Insert the bare conductor
- Again, tighten the screw.
- Pull the speaker cable gently to achieve a secure connection.
- This speaker wire termination is typically ideal for spring clip connections. Consequently, depress the clip and insert the pin into the hole.
- You can also utilize pin connections with binding posts by inserting them through the central hole and tightening the cap, despite this not being the typical method of use.
The usage of pin connectors is safer than bare wires and increases the likelihood of a secure connection.
5. RCA Connectors
RCA connectors are RCA plugs, Phono plugs, and Cinch plugs, which are commonly referred to mistakenly as “Aux cables.”
RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America, and in the early 1940s they developed this connector for use in home radio equipment.
Due to their low cost, they eventually supplanted the “1/4” phone connections on the market.
They remain the most popular home audio connector because they are inexpensive and simple to use. However, they must be compatible with the corresponding jack.
How to link up:
- Remove the insulation from each wire end to expose 3/8 to 1/2 inch of bare wire. Utilizing color codes, be aware of which leads are good and which are negative.
- Unscrew the shells from the plugs of your RCA connectors and slide the covers over the wires.
- The positive terminal of the speaker wire should be soldered to the middle pin of the RCA, while the negative terminal should be soldered to the outside lead.
- Once the solder has cooled, slip the shell over the solder joints and tighten the screws on the RCA jack.
- Perform the same procedure on the opposite end of the speaker wire to finish the connection.
The most major disadvantage for professional audio is that they can quickly disconnected if walked on or kicked.
6. ”1/4″Inch Phone Connectors
Their construction is intended for usage with manual telephone switchboards. They no longer serve this function, though. They can now be used widely for years for professional audio hookups.
You may also refer to them as TRS connectors, which refers to the three contacts (on a stereo version of the connector): tip, ring, and sleeve. The tip is the sharpest section, the ring is the section following the first black hoop, and the sleeve is the region following the second. The tip and ring function as the left and right channel signals, respectively, while the sleeve serves as the common earth.
Prior to the advent of the Speakon connector, professional audio speakers were connected with two-conductor phone connectors.
The most common use of a stereo jack connection is as a headphone output on keyboards, pianos, recording equipment, guitar amplifiers, mixing tables, and home stereo systems.
This plug is sometimes referred to as a balanced “1/4” jack. Balanced audio connectors use TRS plugs (each end requires a balanced connection) to create a mono/single-channel connection that is far less susceptible to external noise, particularly when running long cables.
It would be beneficial to use them with the matching jack.
7. Speakon Connectors
The Speakon connections are the most recent audio connectors that sound like an alien race planning to conquer Earth.
As the first connector specifically designed for professional audio speakers, Neutrik designed these.
Speakon connections are commonly used in commonplace audio applications.
They are available in two, four, or eight pole configurations.
Physically, the two-pole and four-pole designs are interchangeable, allowing a two-pole plug to be inserted into a four-pole socket using only one of the two circuits.
The eight-pole design is physically more significant than the two-pole and four-pole designs.
How to link up:
- Unscrew the casing from the Speakon connector by turning it counterclockwise, then remove the chuck and the plug from the casing.
- Remove approximately three-quarters of an inch of the cable’s outside insulation to expose the two interior wires. Black represents the negative (-), whereas red represents the positive (+).
- Remove approximately 3/8 inch of insulation from the inner wires to reveal the bare wire.
- Insert the housing onto the wire with the threaded side facing the bare ends of the wire. Then, with the rounded side towards the interior of the bushing, plug the chuck into the wire.
- Gently twist the end of the positive wire and place it into the Speakon terminal on the “1+” insert. Turn the screw to tighten.
- Repeat the preceding steps to connect the negative wire to the Speakon terminal labeled “1-.” Additionally, tighten it using a screwdriver.
- Place the casing over the insert, put the chuck into the casing, and tighten the casing by hand.
Because the plastic may crack if you use pliers or other hand tools to tighten the case, it is better not to do so.
Speakon connections are superior to “1/4” phone connectors in three key ways:
- They can handle higher current.
- They are locking connectors.
- When joining and disconnecting the connection, the contacts do not short.
They were designed to accept high-current impulses.
Male panel sockets and female plugs are included.
Female pins often connect to male panel sockets through a twist-lock mechanism that secures them within the socket.
This makes them the ideal choice for live sound applications, specifically for connecting power amplifiers to loudspeakers. Therefore, they are extremely prevalent.
8. XLR Connectors
These connectors were compatible with a variety of audio and video applications, including professional speakers.
Their design has a diameter of roughly 2cm and a range of 3 to 7 pins (male) or holes (female).
XLR connectors are utilized in a variety of musical and audio applications due to their balanced and secure construction.
Female connectors often receive output signals from devices (e.g., a microphone), while male XLR plugs are used to plug into inputs (e.g., an active studio monitor or a microphone pre-amp on a mixing desk).
Due to this, the most common XLR connector is the dependable mic lead with a male XLR pin and a female XLR plug at each end.
They function in microphone connections, audio interfaces, public address systems, monitor speakers, etc.
Their fame is both their gain and their detriment. Additionally, it is simple to replace a cable when necessary because they are commonly used in microphone cables, but it is also simple to confuse wires.
The current carrying capability of XLR connector cables is insufficient for professional use in large theaters and outdoor events.
Are speaker wire connectors significant?
Almost always, terminals on speakers and home audio systems are color-coded to indicate polarity. Positive (+) terminals are red, while negative (-) terminals are black. Nonetheless, this is not the case with speaker wires.
Not all speaker wires feature two-tone insulation or labeling for identifying convenience. Text, stripes, or dashed lines, for instance, indicate the positive terminal.
Assuming you are always uncertain, you can rapidly test the speaker wiring. However, the use of colored connectors will eliminate confusion.
Many individuals, especially those with multi-channel home radio systems, can avoid headaches and confusion by using speaker wire connectors.
Because they plug into the speaker terminals, the primary benefit of having speaker connectors is creating connections more quickly and easily. They create a solid and dependable electrical connection while limiting the risk of shorting caused by stray wire filaments touching adjacent binding posts when properly installed.
Additionally, high-quality connectors are an obvious method for reducing high-frequency noise.
Speaker connectors simplify the process of plugging in and unplugging audio equipment.
How to prepare wires for speaker connectors
Required equipment: cable/wire strippers Even while you could also use a knife or scissors, I strongly prefer strippers due to their safety benefits.
It is essential to begin and complete each end of the line, installing the connections before moving on to the next.
Preparation includes the following measures:
- Cut the end of the speaker cord so that no exposed copper wires are protruding.
- Carefully separate the distinct wires (positive and negative terminals) by approximately two inches. This creates sufficient space for work.
- Select a single wire and position the cutting edge of the wire remover approximately half an inch from the end. If your wire stripper has tags with multiple cutting sizes, select one that corresponds to the wire’s dimensions.
- Clamp the wire stripper down to remove the insulation and revolve the tool around the wire to create a clean cut.
- Using the wire stripper, remove the part of insulation that has been cut, taking care not to cut the copper below, since this will expose the bare wire.
- Using your thumb and forefinger, give the copper wire a little, gentle twist to ensure the individual strands stay together.
- Repeat the process with the remaining individual wire.
After forking speaker wires with exposed ends, you can now fix the connectors.
Additionally, verify that you observe and match the right polarities (positive and negative) of the wires and connectors in order to phase-correct your audio equipment.
Speaker wire connectors simplify the process of plugging and unplugging speakers from the stereo or amplifiers.
You should also be aware that the bare wire is unstable if the gap between the terminals is encased, as the strands can short circuit with other cables. Therefore, it is easier to insert a connector into terminals than a bare wire.