How Do Banana Plugs Work and How to Choose the Right One?

Banana plugs are single-wire electrical test connectors that are spring-loaded and used to attach the wire to electrical equipment or circuit boards. This convenient and safe device is a great alternative to bare wire. It is made of plastic or metal and aids in the attachment of the terminal to the audio cable. 

The banana plug is a cylindrical pin with protruding leaves that form a solid connectivity contact in a socket, preventing the pin from disconnecting or falling out. The plug is made up of a 25mm long cylindrical metal pin with a 4mm diameter and is inserted into a matching 4mm socket.

How Do Banana Plugs Work?

A speaker usually comes with two wires – one positive and one negative. The ends of each wire are attached to the positive and negative terminals of the speaker and the receiver. Four plugs are unscrewed and fitted in with the soldered speaker wires.

Once the wire is fitted in place, the plug is screwed back to hold the wire securely. Connect the positive wire to the red terminals and the negative to the black terminals on your receiver and speaker. The plugs protect the wire from fraying, especially if you move your speakers frequently. 

When wiring speaker cables into the back of a receiver in a tight space, a banana plug makes it easy to attach the wire to the appropriate post. It also prevents stray strands from crossing over and overloading the machine. 

Factors to Select the Right Banana Plugs

Speaker Cable Width

The thickness of the speaker cable you want to use is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing banana plugs. The better the cable fits, the more surface area it has to reach the banana plug, and therefore the better the link. 

A good fit would also ensure that the end is neat and hangs nicely from your speakers’ backs. Check the diameter of the conductor on your cable. If it’s a bit smaller than the diameter of the plug, it’ll suit the best.

Speaker Cable Angle

How will the speaker cable approach the speaker terminals? To determine which way is best, you will need to check how it will fit your speakers. Usually, a banana plug with a rear entry point would suffice for most systems; some situations can need a banana plug with a side entry. 

Some speakers, for example, have upward-angled binding points, in which case a side-entry banana plug is best. It lets the cables hang straight down.

Installation Procedure

While most banana connectors are simple to use once you understand how to terminate the speaker cable, some can appeal to you more due to their ease of use. Many plugs are screw terminated, with one or two small screws usually used. Screw termination is a good way to secure the cable. 

Using plugs with a fray termination is a faster way to do it. Inserting the cable, fraying the end, and reconnecting the cable accomplishes this. This termination method is much faster and easier than screw termination, but it won’t work for cables that are thicker than 12AWG.

Banana Plug Quality

Make sure the banana plugs are of the highest quality to avoid corrosion. The gold plating on the plugs provides corrosion resistance. Corrosion can obstruct signal transmission and damage your equipment’s terminals.  

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