VERY old speakers, is it better to use wire direct or banana plugs, and is soldering wire best?


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I have some speakers that are around 50 years old, maybe more amazing Wharfdale speakears I got for free 10 years ago that I use for my plasma tv.

Up until yesterday All I did was use very thick speaker wire and push into the holes on the terminals and tighen then piece around it, worked fine but now and again lets say I moved a speaker it pulled out wire.

So I decided to for one thing twist the wire as much as I could and put solder on so it won't flake off and more solid but also use banana plugs.

First impressions was theres a little less bass overall but the other audio sounds crisper/more balanced as before the bass could sometimes drown out voices, but on the other hand I hear a slight audio "hum" when people speak or shout, very faint but I don't know if thats due to bad solder job or the plugs themselves

So either way are banana plugs themselves better or worse than connecting direct? And tinning the wire better or worse?


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Any chain you add has to take something away as this is the rule of things as you cannot make something better by adding something more. Ideally when adding, you are trying to make something less worse which might sound odd, but that is in reality what you are trying to achieve as the best it will sound is from Material --> Main source --> Cable --> Main Amp --> Speakers --> Ears and all these items in the chain (taking the room out of the equation) takes something away from the material you inputted. This is why good cable (which doesn't have to cost the earth) makes a difference to the sound. The only area I know a cable can improve the audio sound is if you take a single spur from the consumer box to the hi-fi and this is because you are taking other components out of the mix which could have a bearing on the purity of the cable. Again the same rule is being applied by making something less worse and that's bringing clean mains to the system. If you are happy with the sound though, I'd leave this side as you may find you don't hear much if the ring main hasn't many things on it

With cable from your hifi, believe it or not, just trimming the ends of the cable can change the sound as it will be a clean connection from one that will have most likely oxidised a little. Unplugging the RCA cables every now and again can have the same effects to, but you have to have a keep ear and understand how your system sounds to tell. It's something I wouldn't panic about either if you don't hear a difference

Tin can change the sound for sure as some speaker cable brands exclusively use it and I feel it brings a brighter sound to my own ears when I've heard it (which sounds like what you've heard to).

In reality you want to use the best conductive material which in this instance is silver to help create the best less worsening process. But as everything is relative, I wouldn't place a pure silver cable on my hifi as its just not worth it even though the replacement costs would push my system over the £10k. I use a solid copper core cable which I purchased with my speakers when I bought them from my uncle and they have banana plugs on the end (no option as I don't have any binding posts on them) and I'm totally happy with them

So as for banana plugs, yes you will alter the sound if you add them as you cannot avoid that based on the less worsening effect when adding things. I would say using another copper based plug should restore the sound you had before or at least somewhere very close. If you want a really solid connection, use BFA connectors over banana plugs as they are ever so slightly wider fitting (we are talking tiny amounts here - but you can feel the difference) and this give a more snug fit in my opinion

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