How To Connect Speaker Wire Without Banana Plugs?


Connecting speaker wires can be confusing, especially if you don’t want to use banana plugs.

Maybe you don’t have any or dislike using them, but fortunately for you, there are several other ways to wire speakers without using them. 

Here’s how to connect speaker wire without banana plugs:

  1. Strip the wires of any protective coating.
  2. Determine what type of speaker terminal you have.
  3. Use the bare wire method if you have good access.
  4. Use the spade connector method for better security.
  5. Use the pin connector method for spring clips.
  6. Use the RCA method with RCA inputs or an adapter.

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Tip: For the most solid connection, you can solder speaker wire. Soldering can be useful in a permanent setup, where you don’t want to worry about wires coming apart. The simple tool is this soldering kit available on Amazon.

But, of course, soldering wires together means you can’t take it apart later and use the components for other things, so consider carefully before soldering.

In this article, I’ll show several ways how to wire car speakers, the differences between them, and some other relevant topics about wiring speakers.

How to Wire Speakers Without Banana Plugs?

Without banana plugs, you have fewer options, but there are still multiple ways to wire a speaker system without them. 

Bare wire is always a viable choice, and spade connectors are handy as well. Pin connectors are often called banana plugs, even though they’re not. These also work to wire speakers.

Let’s go over how to connect speaker wire without banana plugs in more detail.

  • Strip the Wires of Any Protective Coating

Before you can get to wiring anything, you need to prepare your wires. 

You can do it with wire cutters, scissors, or a knife, but we’ll be using wire cutters for this guide – the other options are far more unsafe and not recommended unless you’re in a pinch.

To prepare wire:

  • Cut the speaker wire. Be careful to separate the positive and negative ends.
  • Identify the gauge of your wire on your wire cutters. There are slots for varying gauges of wire down the jaws of the tool.
  • Place the wire into the corresponding slot. Don’t put it too far in; only about half an inch to ¾ of an inch (1.27 to 3 cm) is necessary.
  • Close the wire cutter’s jaws firmly. Then, grip the end of the wire with your fingertips.
  • Rotate the wire cutters as you slowly pull the wire through, peeling through the wire’s insulation. Lightly twist the copper strands together with your fingers as you strip, so the wires stay together.
  • Repeat this process with the other wire, ensuring that you can tell what their polarities are. Wires are often color-coded, with red meaning positive and black meaning negative, but some cables aren’t. 

Now that your wires are properly stripped, they’re ready to connect with your method of choice.

However, you need first to determine which type of speaker terminal you have to find the suitable method for connecting any wires.

Audio equipment, like speakers and amps, have terminals used to wire them together and in different arrangements of audio devices. 

Rather than having a universal type of terminal, several types of terminals can be used with different types of terminal connectors. 

Binding Post Terminals

Binding post terminals usually have a cap that covers a hole where your input will go. This can be bare wire, spade connectors, pin connectors, etc. 

Binding posts are more common than spring clip terminals and can be found in a broader range of equipment in all price ranges. In addition, binding posts are considered more secure than spring clips because they don’t allow connections to wiggle free. 

Spring Clip

Spring clips are often seen on cheaper and older audio equipment and are generally considered inferior to binding posts in terms of connection and audio quality. 

These components rely on a spring-loaded clip to keep wire or connectors in place, and it’s easy for your terminal connectors to wiggle free and affect the audio’s quality. 

It’s also worth noting that only bare wire and pin connectors can be used with spring clip terminals. So consider whether your setup has spring clips when deciding what connectors to use because only those will work. 

RCA Jacks

RCA jacks are sometimes found on equipment, ostensibly to make connections simpler. 

There’s no need for messing around with wire cutters, bare wire, or any other complexities. For RCA, you just plug and go. 

This convenience is somewhat impeded when you don’t have RCA inputs, but adapters are available that make bare wire to RCA connections possible.

If you have good access, use the Bare Wire Method. Bare wire is the simplest way to connect speakers. 

Some audiophiles argue that it gives the best audio fidelity when appropriately done because other connectors impart a unique ‘sonic signature’ or sound quality to any audio played by the system. 

Regardless, as long as a user is careful to twist their wires tightly together, bare wire works perfectly fine. 

The primary disadvantage of bare wire is that it’s hard to do – you must twist the cables to connect them, and if you don’t get the wire into the terminal correctly, it can mess up your wire, calling for more twisting. 

I don’t recommend bare wire connecting if you’re feeding it through the back of a small hole in an entertainment system, for instance. Confined spaces aren’t suitable for this method.

The bare wire method is a little daunting at first, but once you try it a few times, you’ll find that it’s not that difficult. You need nothing but your prepared wire and speaker system.

Follow these steps to wire speakers with bare wire:

  • To connect wires, spread both exposed wires apart like a fan.
  • Put the fanned wires together and twist them tightly, ensuring the wires are enmeshed. There should be no loose or stray wires deviating from the connection, negatively affecting audio quality and volume.
  • To connect to speakers, place a tightly twisted bare wire into the gap of a spring clip or binding post. 
  • Clip your spring clip together, or tighten your binding post according to its type. Tug on your wire after you secure it to ensure a solid connection.
  • Repeat this process until all of your wires and speakers are connected. If possible, always use color-coded wire to ensure that your speakers aren’t out of phase, which is an unpleasant phenomenon where you mix up positive and negative wires.

Use the Spade Connector Method for Better Security

Spade connectors may look a little funny, but they don’t work any differently than other connectors. 

Some people prefer spade connectors because the wires tend to stay put as opposed to banana plugs. The spade part of the connector is placed into the binding post and tightened down precisely the same way that bare wire is connected to a binding post. 

Spade connectors are notable because some types allow you to solder the bare wire into the connector, creating a more solid connection. 

This isn’t necessary, as most spade connectors allow you to screw the wire in to secure it. Soldering helps make a permanent connector, though, if that’s what you’re after. 

Regardless of which you’re going with, here is how to actually hook them up to your system:

  • Ensure your prepped wire is securely fastened to the connector. Poor connections are often due to the wire not being sufficiently secured within the connector.
  • Slightly loosen your binding post and insert the U-shaped part of the connector. Don’t push or jam it in any further than it comfortably goes – it should be making solid contact with the base of the terminal, just as with the bare wire method.
  • While holding the connector in place, screw the binding post until it’s keeping the connector in place against the terminal base.
  • Repeat this process for all positive and negative terminals. Use color-coded wires to avoid making a mistake and making the system out of phase.

Use the Pin Connector Method for Spring Clips

Pin connectors are the connector of choice for spring clips or even some binding posts. These are often confused with banana plugs, but they’re much smaller – usually just 2mm (0.07 inches) in diameter. 

You can also plug pin connectors into the side hole some binding posts have, making daisy-chaining possible. Wiring with these is no different than any of the other methods.

Follow these steps to wire speakers with pin connectors:

  • Unscrew the connector and insert your wire, screwing it tight and ensuring a tight connection.
  • Open your spring clip and insert the pin connector. Alternatively, unscrew your binding post and insert the pin connector into the side hole. In either case, close your terminal via their respective mechanisms.
  • Pull lightly to make sure that the connection is stable.
  • Repeat this process for all your terminals, and test the speakers if desired to make sure you’re good to go.

Use the RCA Method With RCA Inputs or an Adapter

If you already have RCA inputs, you’re good to go. 

If not, you’ll either need to do some soldering or get an adapter like the Kicker Speaker Cable to RCA Adapter from Amazon.com. This model allows for 55 watts of input and gives impressive sound quality for something so small.

Below I will cover how to use the adapter, as soldering would require a separate in-depth guide.

To wire speakers with RCA, follow these steps:

  • Open the spring clip-like parts opposite the RCA input on the adapter.
  • Place your prepped wire end into the clip and close it exactly like a spring clip.
  • Repeat this process for all necessary wires.
  • Now that the inputs are ready, simply plug them into their respective RCA jacks.
  • Test the system to ensure that you don’t have any loose connections in the adapters.

Secondary Types of Connectors

While they come as banana plugs, spade connectors, and pin connectors, there’s also a secondary consideration for connectors – whether it’s an open-screw, self-crimping, or regular connector. 

These only affect how the wire is secured in the connector.

Basic Screw Connectors

Basic screw connectors are simple to use – feed the wire in the bottom and screw the connector shut. 

The bare wire will remain in place and shouldn’t move or come out if you lightly pull on it. It’s vital not to tighten the connector so much that it cuts into or severs the bare wire connected to it. 

Self-Crimping

These types of connectors separate into multiple parts – usually three pieces in total. First, you feed the bare wire in the bottom and out of the top, where you’ll spread or ‘fan’ out the wire and pull it down over the tip of the connector. 

When doing this, be careful not to cover any of the threads that screw in, or you can cut your wire. 

Open-Screw

These are interesting connectors because they have two ways to connect wire – through the side and the bottom. 

This enables multiple speaker setups with the same connectors, aka ‘daisy-chaining’ speakers. 

You put the wire in either the side or bottom and feed it in the connector until there’s no more room for it; simply unscrew the connector a bit to see your progress.

Can You Solder Speaker Wire?

You can solder speaker wire, which can be useful in a permanent setup, where you don’t want to worry about wires coming apart.

But, of course, soldering wires together means you can’t take it apart later and use the components for other things, so consider carefully before soldering.

Does Speaker Wire Gauge Matter?

Speaker wire gauge matters because the lower-gauge wire is better at carrying amplified signals. A 12 AWG wire would be best at running an amplified signal of more than 6 ft (1.82 m), while a 16 AWG wire is better for short distances. This is because the thick wire has more resistance, allowing the signal to carry farther distances.

Final Thoughts

While connecting speaker wire can be a daunting task at first, it’s actually not that bad, and many available tools make it easy – even without banana plugs. What you need simply depends on your equipment’s terminals. 

You can connect speaker wire with various methods, including spade connectors, bare wire, pin connectors, solder, and RCA adapters.

Each of these methods has its pros and cons, but they are mainly aimed at making any setup viable depending on what components are on hand.

Martin

Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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