Speaker wire is one of the most common types of audio cable. While it looks simple at a glance, there are a fair number of factors that come into play. Some speaker cables have connectors while others are blunt (ending with bare wire). The AWG (American Wire Gauge) of speaker wire comes in a few different varieties with different types having advantages and disadvantages depending on the application.

Speaker Wire Connectors (or Bare Wire)

Most speakers (and some similar equipment) do not come with the speaker wire they need. The first step in selecting one is deciding how you the wire will be connected to the speaker. Many speakers have the option to insert the bare wire, eliminating the need for a connector. Bare wire does provide the best sound quality since there is nothing between the wire and speaker but comes with a few downsides. Since the wire is out in the open it can be frayed or otherwise damaged over time, which can lower the signal quality or even break the cable. If the cable or speaker ever needs to be moved, it is also easier to unplug a connector than undo bare speaker wire.

All types of speaker connectors work in pairs. One cable will be positive (red) and the other will be negative (black), similar to a car battery. Typically, connectors are sold in pairs since they are designed to be used together.

Banana connectors are the most common speaker wire connector, with virtually every speaker on the market having banana ports. Bare speaker wire is inserted into the back of the banana plug and held in place with small screws. These screws act as the conduit between the rest of the banana connector and the speaker wire itself.

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