Buying and setting up a stereo or home cinema system requires considerable forethought and planning. Unfortunately, many audiophiles dedicate most of their time deciding upon which type of audio components to buy for their systems. They spend little, if any, time considering the most important audio component. The cables that connect speakers to turntables, a receiver, and amplifiers often make the difference between enjoying pristine sound quality or muddling through albums that project unclear and distorted sound. Consumer who want to ensure that they listen to the finest quality sound from their audio systems should consider utilising terminated interconnects.
Consumers can find stereo speaker interconnects at any large electronics shop or shops that specialise in selling audio systems. They can also go online to buy interconnects on eBay. Before they make an interconnect purchasing decision, consumers should know what a terminated interconnect is, as well as understand the metal options for terminated interconnects, the electrical factors to consider, and finally, how to terminate speaker interconnects.
Description of Terminated Interconnect Stereo Cable
Connecting a stereo or home cinema system requires the purchase of cables. Consumers must not only choose the right cables to enhance audio, they also must understand the difference in connection methods. Bare wire fed to speaker terminals is one way to connect speakers with the rest of an audio and video system. Another method involves the concept of terminated interconnects, a connection method that utilises banana or spade plugs to attach to speaker terminal ends. Most audiophiles prefer to utilise banana plugs for their terminated interconnects.
Banana plugs get their name from the banana-shaped prong that holds speaker wires together. Many audiophiles believe this a far superior connection method than the strip and twist method that sometimes causes inconsistent connections. Banana plugs are easier to plug and unplug speaker wire connections. Behind-the-wall installations of speaker connections typically use wall plates. The wall plates possess jacks that only fit banana plugs. Banana plugs also improve the appearance of wiring done for the back of speakers and receivers. They offer a more reliable way to connect speaker wires to amplifiers and receivers. Despite all of the benefits of using banana plugs to establish a terminated interconnect, examine the speaker and receiver connectors to determine if each audio system component accepts banana plugs.
Metals Used for Terminated Interconnects
Even if audiophiles choose banana plugs for their terminated interconnects, they must understand which metals are used for wiring speaker systems to other stereo system components. For years, copper and gold have been the standard for all audio wiring and interconnects. While copper provides outstanding electrical conduction, it also tarnishes easily, which shortens its lifespan. Gold has become expensive due to the high demand for the metal, but the cost may be worth it since the metal is highly resistant to corrosion. Two other metals have gained traction in the speaker interconnect market. Rhodium possesses low electrical resistance, stable contact resistance, and a high-resistance to corrosion. Nonetheless, silver continues to make inroads towards becoming the standard metal used to construct speaker wire and interconnects.
Why Silver for Terminated Interconnects?
Silver is a great electricity conductor, even better than copper. Pure silver, which can cost more than amalgamated silver, possesses the highest level of electrical and thermal conditions. Speaker cables that have high levels of construction transmit audio signals that produce higher-quality audio. Silver also possesses the lowest contact resistance, and it is stable when exposed to pure air and water. Audiophiles should be careful not to allow silver interconnects to be exposed to ozone and air that contains sulphur. When looking for silver terminated interconnects, audiophiles are presented with two options.
Pure Silver Interconnects
Many audiophiles believe that pure silver interconnects produce crisper audio than any other metal or metal combination. The crystal clear sound especially appeals to music producers and engineers. As with gold, silver has witnessed a sharp price spike in the commodities market, and hence, pure silver interconnects cost more than amalgamated silver interconnects. Due to the cost of pure silver, consumers must choose a wire gauge that sufficiently powers speaker systems. Choosing pure silver interconnects that possess sufficient gauge rarely cause electromagnetic interference.
Silver-Coated Copper Interconnects
As silver becomes increasingly cost prohibitive, some audiophiles have turned to silver-coated copper interconnects for their stereo systems. This type of interconnect is cheaper to construct than pure silver interconnects, since they contain small amounts of pure silver. However, silver-coated copper interconnects do not conduct electricity well enough for adequately powering larger home cinema systems. This type of interconnect works best with higher gauge level interconnects that integrate a small stereo system.
Electrical Factors to Consider When Buying Terminated Interconnects
As with other types of wires and interconnects, consumers must consider a few electrical factors before making a terminated interconnect purchasing decision. Consumers should rank the importance of each factor before coming to a decision.
The Skin Effect describes how efficiently electrons travel along the surfaces of wires and interconnects. While the Skin Effect has a negligible impact between 20 and 20,000 Hz, it can negatively impact audio performance below and above this frequency range. The Skin Effect has considerable influence on sound quality at higher frequencies. The Skin Effect is especially powerful on silver-coated copper terminated interconnects.
Solid Core or Stranded Wire
Deciding between the two primary types of wire comes down to understanding "strand jumping". This is a phenomenon that occurs when electrons moving along a single wire jump from one strand of wire to another wire strand. Consumers must consider this if their audio systems are powered by high-voltage lines, such as those found in larger metropolitan areas. Strand jumping causes audio disruption, since the speakers do not receive complete electrical impulses. Solid core wire performs better than stranded wire over high frequencies and high-voltage lines. However, consumers choose stranded wire because it is more flexible and durable than solid core wire.
How to Terminate Speaker Cables
Audiophiles who want to change speaker interconnects, extend the length of speaker cables, or attach new interconnects to a stereo system should understand how to terminate the interconnects. While the process seems complicated, the fact is that terminating interconnects does not require electrical engineering experience, just the right equipment and knowing which type of terminals connect to the interconnect cables.
Type of Terminals
Determine if the amplifier and receiver has spring-loaded terminals or five-way binding posts. Spring-loaded terminals allow users to simply insert interconnects into the terminal openings. The spring release pressure of the terminal secures the cable. Heavy duty, five-way binding posts offer users two ways to create terminated interconnects.
Whether buying interconnects in person or online at eBay, make sure to purchase silver-plated pins for attachment to spring-loaded terminals. Gold slows the oxidation process, which often occurs to bare wires. Insert the bare wires into the pins, and then insert the pins into the terminal openings.
Audiophiles who choose five-way binding posts to connect speaker cables should utilise silver-plated spades to ensure secure connections between the speakers and the amplifier and receiver. Insert the wires into the spades, and then crimp the metal around the wires by using a crimping tool. Solder may be required to further secure the wires within the spades.
Silver-Plated Banana Clips
Terminate five-way binding posts by using durable silver-plated banana clips. Silver-plated banana plugs are simple to connect and they do not require crimping or soldering, since they possess an automatic locking mechanism. Insert the speaker interconnect bare wires into each plug post, and then screw tight.
Buying Terminated Interconnects on eBay
eBay offers consumers a wide selection of stereo speaker interconnects that enhance the quality of their audio systems. The key is to find the seller that offers exactly what you want from a speaker interconnect. Utilise eBay's powerful search engine to find seller candidates who are selling speaker cables. Navigate through the search result pages until you find the right seller. To ensure that you find the right seller, type specific keywords into the search engine, such as "optical audio cable" or "QED speaker cables". Once you find seller candidates, navigate to their product pages to review the accepted payment methods, delivery terms, and return policies.
Search for eBay's Top-Rated Sellers who offer interconnects. Top-rated sellers have established strong reputations on eBay for selling high-quality products and offering generous return policies. You can also review customer feedback that eBay compiles of seller product pages. Consider sellers who have received positive feedback over the last year and have experience selling audio components or home audio accessories. Once you form a business relationship with an eBay seller, enquire if the seller has an eBay Store where you can purchase products directly.
Stereo and home cinema system sound quality has never been better. Advanced technology has allowed electronic component manufacturers to construct state-of-the-art audio systems. Turntables, home cinema receivers, and amplifiers all posses the latest technology that converts audio signals into pristine sound. Moreover, DVD and Blu-Ray players have become integral parts of many home entertainment systems. The question is, what connects all of the audio components together to produce uncompromising excellent sound? The answer lies in the myriad cable choices that consumers have to connect their speakers with the rest of their audio systems.
Terminated interconnects provide the most reliable method for connecting speakers with other audio system components. Instead of twisting interconnect wires together by hand, terminated interconnects utilise banana plugs that secure the wires inside of a metal coated plate or pin. This method of connecting wires produces more consistent high-quality sound, since there is less disruption during the transmission of audio signals. Consumers who are interested in connecting their audio systems with terminated interconnects must make a few decisions before making a purchase. The factors to consider include the type of wire, the metal used to construct the wires, and whether they should terminate interconnects themselves or take their cables to a professional. In either case, terminated interconnects produce better sound.