Types of speaker wire adapters

Written by roger golden
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Types of speaker wire adapters
Installing speakers is easy when you have the correct connectors and wire type. (Speaker image by PinkShot from Fotolia.com)

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.

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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.

Types of speaker wire adapters
Speaker wire plugs directly into spring connectors. (speaker wire image by Paolo from Fotolia.com)

Eighth-Inch Connectors

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.

Types of speaker wire adapters
Computers generally use a 1/8-inch speaker jack. (speaker image by Aditia Patria Warman from Fotolia.com)

Quarter-Inch Connectors

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.

Types of speaker wire adapters
This is an adaptor to convert from 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch. (stereo jacks image by Stepanov from Fotolia.com)

RCA Connectors

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.

Types of speaker wire adapters
RCA jacks are distinctive in shape and design. (Stereo Cable image by Christopher Meder from Fotolia.com)

Screw Connectors

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.

Types of speaker wire adapters
Older stereo systems may use screw connectors. (black record player graphic image by Catherine rogers from Fotolia.com)

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