A wide range of speaker wire adaptors, called connectors or jacks, are in use today. Small devices tend to use a small 1/8-inch connector, while high-power audio systems use hard-wired connections or a 1/4-inch banana connector. Other devices use proprietary designs or simple spring-loaded clips. Manufacturers often recommend that you use only gold-plated connectors due to the increased conductivity, and that you use a suitable wire size, between 10 and 18 gauge.
Spring Clip Binding
A spring clip is a simple device, usually found on the rear of a stereo or amplifier system. To use them, press down or in on the button, and slide the end of your speaker wire into a small hole. When the button is released, a metal strip inside the unit presses against the wire and grips it for a solid connection. The problems with this type of connector is that the wire is easily pulled out of the binding hole and there is an increased chance of corrosion.
Low-power devices such as portable MP3 players typically use a "jack" type connector that measures 1/8-inch in diameter. Eighth-inch banana connectors are identical to the larger 1/4-inch connectors used in high-power devices. Near the tip of the connector, there is one insulator for a mono device and two closely placed insulators for stereo connections.
A 1/4-inch connector is commonly referred to as a banana connector, owing to it's slightly bulged appearance. According to the Practical Home Theater Guide, banana clips are the best type of connector for use in home theatre and audio amplifiers because they are able to carry the current without disruption. Professional headphones also use this connector type for truer sound reproduction. Use stereo connectors where true stereo sound is desired.
As the name implies, the RCA connector, called an RCA jack, was developed by the RCA Corporation. They are recognised by a central 1/8-inch stem surrounded by an outer metal shield. RCA connectors are common in low- to medium-power audio devices, such as single-unit stereo systems or vinyl turntables. They provide a slightly more dependable connection than spring clips, but are bulkier than 1/8-inch jacks and less dependable for sound reproduction than the 1/4-inch connector type.
Some older devices may provide a simple screw for connecting speaker wires. To use, turn the screw counterclockwise, loop the wire around it, and tighten the screw down to complete the installation. Screw connectors have a high tendency of corrosion, resulting in loss of sound quality, or odd static emanating from the speaker.
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