Learn more about cookies including how to disable them. After trying 18 different sets of banana plugs with a wide range of wires and testing their electrical properties with laboratory-grade equipment, we think the Monoprice Affinity Series plugs are the best all-around choice because of their affordable price, dependable connection, and slick finished appearance.
The easy-to-install Affinity Series plugs create a dependable connection and give speaker wires a professionally finished appearance. The Monoprice Affinity Series is one banana plug we tested Banana plug hook up got everything right. They connect firmly into binding posts, and they give wires a finished appearance that makes an audio system look like a professional installation instead of a science project.
The Monoprice is a very different choice than our top pick: It installs in seconds without a screwdriver, and currently it costs about half as much. I have thousands of hours of experience at the test bench, and I keep a full suite of audio-test gear in my home.
Even before I undertook this project, you could probably have found at least a dozen types banana plugs if you dug through my lab. For most people, cables tipped with banana plugs are the most practical way to connect speakers to amplifiers or receivers.
By cutting your wires to the exact length you need, you reduce clutter and give your audio system a cleaner look. Banana plugs arguably give you the most reliable connection of any type of speaker cable termination. Plugs tipped with spade connectors or pins tend to work their way loose over time. Using bare wire without a plug tends to create an unreliable connection as well, and also creates the possibility of an accidental short circuit caused by stray wire strands.
The cost of banana plugs is typically low: But when you consider the couple of hours you might invest in terminating all those speaker cables, and the hassle and annoyance of having to replace a malfunctioning plug, your choice of banana plug becomes more important. Most speakers, amps, and receivers have speaker-cable binding posts that can accommodate banana plugs. Some cheaper audio devices have spring-clip speaker-cable connections. Banana plugs have been in common use for about 90 years, and innumerable brands and types have appeared.
Although they might seem to be a commodity, there are big differences among them. Some are difficult
Banana plug hook up connect to wires, especially for people with large hands.
Some provide a weak connection to the wire that can pull loose with an accidental tug. Some come apart easily. Obviously, we needed to weed out most of the available models before we started testing. First, we decided to test only those banana plugs that you can install without soldering or crimping.
Soldering large-gauge speaker cables and plugs requires soldering experience as well as a high-powered soldering iron, and it produces fumes and mess. I rejected anything that had mediocre owner reviews, or that looked like nothing more than a pricier variant of a model I could find cheaper under a different brand. I ended up with samples of 18 banana plugs: "Banana plug hook up" began our tests by using each plug to terminate stranded speaker wire ranging from 10 gauge, which is the largest speaker cables usually get, to 18 gauge, which is the thinnest speaker wire you should consider using.
Then I pulled
Banana plug hook up on each wire and yanked it from side to side, trying to dislodge it from the banana plug.
I tested the strength of the connection by plugging every model into three different speakers each with some variety of five-way binding posts so called because they accept banana plugs, dual banana plugs, spade connectors, pins, and bare wire.
I tried pushing all the banana plugs into the binding posts to see how firm the connections were.
I also shook each plug from side to side to see how well it seated in the jack, and whether it produced a rattling sound. The next step was to insert and reinsert each plug into a set of binding posts times, to see if the plugs would fatigue or loosen over time.
Fortunately, only one did. If you read audiophile websites and magazines, you may see audio-cable manufacturers touting the sound quality of their banana plugs, or implying that the construction of the plugs affects the sound quality of a speaker cable.
When we did blind tests of speaker cables a couple of years ago, we found the sonic differences elusive at best, and in most cases indiscernible. Despite my decades of reading audio technical journals, I have yet to see data from legitimate that is, blind listening tests that shows a statistically significant audible difference among banana plugs or speaker cables, for that matter.
Even so, I did electrical measurements of impedance using my Audiomatica Clio 10 FW audio analyzer just to make sure none of the banana plugs we picked had some design flaw that could affect Banana plug hook up quality.
Impedance is a measure, in ohms, of how much a component resists the flow of electricity at different signal frequencies. That resistance is analogous to someone squeezing a garden hose in the middle to restrict the flow of water. The difference between impedance and resistance is that resistance is always the same no matter the electrical signal, but impedance can vary with the frequency of an audio signal—for example, a particular audio product might restrict the high-frequency sound of a piccolo more than it restricts the low-frequency sound of a bass.
The impedance of a cable or plug can react with the various electrical components inside the speaker to change Banana plug hook up sound of the speaker, and only an experienced audio engineer could calculate and interpret those changes. Fortunately, no properly designed cable or plug presents enough impedance to change the sound of an audio system significantly. To run the impedance measurements, I terminated each plug with a 1-foot-long piece of gauge wire.
Banana plug hook up then connected one of my standard measurement test leads to the bare end of the wire and connected the other test lead to an unconnected loose speaker-cable binding post. Then I pushed each banana plug into the post.
By measuring the impedance of the cable and test lead separate from the banana plugthen subtracting that number from the Banana plug hook up I measured with the banana plug in place, I could determine the impedance of each plug although these measurements included the negligible impedance of the binding post I had to use to connect the plugs. As it turned out, the electrical differences among the plugs were small.
As you can see in the accompanying chart, even the worst of them presented an impedance less than that of 1 foot of gauge The results here are all best-case; the impedance changed slightly every time I terminated a cable. The Mediabridge SBC-BP and Monoprice Affinity Series measured better than the other plugs shown in this chart, but still, all of the plugs we tested for this guide measured under 0.
After I finished all of my tests, I ended up with about half a dozen plugs I considered acceptable. The Monoprice Affinity Series is the banana plug that gets everything right.
This plug is simple to use, and it provides a secure, durable connection for any audio gear, without an audiophile price. The installation is unusually easy for a couple of reasons. The Affinity Series also includes one nice design twist found on no other plug here: At the time we checked, the Affinity Series had only four buyer reviews on the Monoprice website, but those four reviews averaged 4. The only downside I can find to the Monoprice Affinity Series is that the anodized aluminum barrels can twist loose.
If you do change your speakers or amp frequently, you can secure each barrel with a drop of Loctite Threadlocker Blue. However, adding that may make it difficult to unscrew the barrels later.
Just strip the wire, loosen the knurled screw, insert the wire, and tighten the screw down. The knurled screw can work its way loose if you constantly change out your components as I do, but the plugs on my surround speakers which I rarely change have been hanging in there for a couple of years now.
This model is also sturdy, partly because unlike many similar plugs, the banana connector is an Banana plug hook up part of the plug rather than threaded in. This plug has three drawbacks, a couple of which you might be able to gather from the photos. Even though installing banana plugs on speaker cables is about as easy a DIY task as you can find in audio, it does require one or two tools and some very basic skills.
The basic process is to split the speaker wire into its separate positive and negative wires, strip the plastic jacket off each one to expose the bare wire inside, and secure the plug using set screws or a finger-tightened screw.
If you plan on installing only a few plugs, you can get by with a low-cost generic wire stripper such as the Stanleybut a better bet is a wire stripper with slots marked for different gauges of wire. My favorite is the Kleinfeatured in our guide to the best wire cutters.
For most banana plugs, about half an inch will work fine. Now gently twist the bare strands of wire together and slip that bundle into the banana plug.
Hold it in place while you tighten the set screw s with a screwdriver, or if your plug uses
Banana plug hook up knurled screw, tighten it with your fingers. Make sure that no stray strands are poking out from the cable, because these can form a short circuit if they touch another conductor. I usually strip the outer jacket by clamping lightly with the wire-cutter section of my wire stripper, turning the cable gently inside the stripper to cut the outer jacket, and then pulling off the outer jacket by hand.
You have to be very careful not to cut into the wires inside, though. Many of these types of cables have a string inside that allows easier stripping of the outer jacket; if yours does, cut away a little of the end until you can grab the string, pull the Banana plug hook up down so it cuts
Banana plug hook up the outer jacket, and then use the wire-cutter section of your wire stripper to cut away the excess jacket material.
We considered 18 different banana plugs for this guide. Here are the other models we tested. The AmazonBasics Banana Plug appears to be a more cheaply made version of the Monopricebut neither plug works well.
To install the AmazonBasics plug, you insert the stripped cable through the barrel, fan out the strands of the wire around the end of the barrel, and then thread the barrel into the body of the plug. I found getting a good connection with this plug much more difficult than with plugs such as the GearIT AZ, which worked much the same way but had teeth that gripped the wire firmly.
I included the Deltron in our test group because it offers an unusual plug design that should, in theory, produce a better electrical connection. The Ethereal WBAN had a sturdy, compact double-set-screw design that formed a very solid connection to the wire.