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Tightness of banana plug <> cable (not banana plug <> speaker/amplifier)

Discussion in 'audio' started by vln, Jan 14, 2022.

  1. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    Dear all,

    I am currently playing around with a set of new speaker cables (van den Hul D-352), and I have noticed that the banana plugs holding the cable get loose after a couple of hours, i.e. you can retighten them.

    Just to be clear, I am talking about the banana plugs themselves holding the cable, NOT anything between the banana plugs and the speakers or amplifier.

    This is the banana plug in question:

    Have the people who made the cables done something wrong? Is it something I should worry about? For context, my current speaker cables are/were QED, with their Airloc system which seems pretty bomb proof.

    The reason for getting the vdH was pure curiosity, since the internal cable of my speakers is already vdH, and so is the cabling of my turntable. Both the vdH and the QED are less than 1% of the total cost of my system (not *that* much of a believer in expensive cables as you can see), so I am prepared to move the worse sounding cable on, even if it turns out to be the newly acquired vdH.

    Regarding sound quality, the jury is still out, but the above mentioned issue does not make the vdH look good at the moment.
  2. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    Maybe I'm old school but always preferred some soldered connectors using a 2 screws banana plugs and filling the first hole with solder and using the screw of the other hole.
    Mynamemynaim and Durmbo like this.
  3. Durmbo

    Durmbo not French

    I’ve long found soldered banana plugs to be the most convenient connectors. Recently though I found that bare wire in binding posts sounded better to me, if not as convenient if you like to switch things around a bit.
  4. Amber Audio

    Amber Audio This is the Day

    Hard to explain - unscrew the plug, where the cable goes through the first smaller piece bend back a few strands back outside the body so they catch in the threads, reassemble.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
  5. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    Those things look like pretty crap plugs to me.
    H20GNA and Durmbo like this.
  6. Craig B

    Craig B Re:trophile

    These are essentially a knockoff of the Monster Cable 'QuickLock' connector, also sold as Amazon Basics amongst other brands. With this type of connector you need bend all of the strands back out over the side of the inner toothed cylinder and screw back together very tightly without rotating the part holding the wire. When screwed fully down hard these don't come loose and are far superior than the old tiny slotted screw through hole in the side type.

    wow&flutter likes this.
  7. wow&flutter

    wow&flutter pfm Member

    Looks an unusual set up to me and I guess the results will very much depend on the gauge of cable being used.

    It was quite difficult to see what is actually going on in the pics you provided but I did find a slightly better pic online and to me the only way it could work is to bare back the insulation enough so the copper can be fanned out over 360 degrees back towards the threaded knob but not reaching the threads themselves. That way when tightened the copper will be pressed against the 4mm plug section evenly on the clock face which will give enough copper to be compressed when tightened. It may even work if the copper strands are bunched together in a ball and the knob compresses the copper ball.
    Its one of these things that sort of makes sense when you have it in your hands but is difficult to describe. I’m also assuming the qed cable has nothing fancy going on with additional insulation etc but I’ve never seen one of their airlock plugs before so can’t comment.
    The fact it’s working loose suggests you’re not actually compressing the copper strands at all which should almost act as a washer and tighten the threads against each other!

    Years back friend on mine called me to say his amp was cutting off and on and could I take a look. He’d bought a modern cheap copy of the original Michel banana plugs where you unscrew the tightening knob, hold it upright till the small cylinder drops enough to reveal the hole at right angles to the plug where the cable enters. Always quite liked that connector though there was a risk of shorting the leads if you weren’t careful when plugging them in as the plug bodies weren’t insulated.
    Anyway he’d somehow wrapped the cable around the tightening knob part the end of the plug and the excess strands were shorting together.
    He explained, “that was how the guy on YouTube done it”! Made perfect sense when I showed him how they should be connected!
    Craig B likes this.
  8. wow&flutter

    wow&flutter pfm Member

    Nice one Craig B, the pic shows more clearly what I was getting at!
    Craig B likes this.
  9. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    I have some old Audio Research plugs here which are a similar design. Horrible things! Never use them. Pain to fit, only work with certain gauge of wire and there is no way of knowing exactly what has happened in there, are the strands all clamped or have some bent over and you're only gripping a few?

    Give me a solder joint every time. You don't look inside an amplifier and see stupidity like this. These things only exist because dealers and customers like them as they don't need to get a soldering iron out.
    Gervais Cote, Durmbo and wow&flutter like this.
  10. dalryc

    dalryc pfm Member

    Does a soldered joint have any negative impacts as you are effectively introducing another conductor with a different impedance?
  11. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    Thx all for your comments - not exactly the sexiest topic so I appreciate it.

    This video shows the process correctly (I think) - please ignore the annoying music:

    Note that there is maybe 2-3mm of cable looking out on the lower part of the plug which is then bent over the entire rim in an even distribution (hope I am making myself clear, English is not my first language).

    And since it is only 2-3mm it stops above the threads of the lower part so the cable strand do not come in contact with them. vdH specifies 14mm of exposed cable with which you would probably arrive the 2-3mm that need to be bent over.

    I had a look at one of the cables I have and there seems to significantly more than 2-3mm of cable coming out of the lower part, and it just seems to be scrunched up somehow which probably leads to some 'springiness' and why it get loose again after some hours (if you see what I mean).
  12. vln

    vln Shuns mooks. And MQA.

    I heard some negative things about solder joints, regarding how the solder interferes with the contact area between cable and plug - I think the best way is to just crimp the cable and the plug together using a specialised tool that can exert a huge amount of pressure, like QED does:
  13. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    Put it this way, every component in you system is joined up inside with hundreds of solder joints! Look inside your amp, do you see any screw or crimp connectors? Probably not. You might see the odd push on connector either where it's not sonically critical or on a board that's optional but generally, solder is the weapon of choice. From budget to hi-end, all soldered together. Are these manufactures all daft or does solder work ok, you decide?
    paulfromcamden and wow&flutter like this.
  14. wow&flutter

    wow&flutter pfm Member

    Ok Vin, I get your frustration now. A YouTube video to show you how to do something doesn’t clearly show you how to do it!:D.
    As mentioned earlier the copper strands fanned over the end of the cylinder will be in the correct position to make full contact with the cup. I guess ultimately it depends on the cable as to how many strands you can easily bend over.
    Think of the copper strands acting like a copper washer on the sump plug of a car, when tightened it deforms slightly and helps hold it in place.

    Don’t fancy trying to get Naim naca5 into one of those plugs though!
  15. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    Oh and don't forget that the connections and crossover components inside the speaker cabinet are also soldered joints.


  16. dalryc

    dalryc pfm Member

    I'd agree there's solder inside the components, but this is in the speaker cable with many manufacturers praising the purity of their cables.
  17. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    I don't know what to tell you, they're full of shit. Do cables sound different? Yes. Do crimped and soldered joins sound different? Yes. Are soldered joints worse? Piss off! :0)
  18. dalryc

    dalryc pfm Member

    I forgot about the stuff inside the speakers and I'd agree some cables can sound different in some systems. I was just curious on the purity of cables - maybe it's not important.
  19. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    My banana plugs have a hole that goes through the body from one side to the other, through which I simply push the twisted end of my speaker cable and tighten the threaded end screw. Less faff IMO than poking it through the end of the plug and fanning the end strands of the cable. I also find it puts less strain on the plug-to-binding-post connection by moving the centre of gravity closer to the binding post, but this is only an issue if you use really heavy cables. My plugs are also shorter than normal which also helps minimise strain and is handy when space is restricted, but my main reason for using these particular plugs is that the spring-loaded section provides a very tight fit that doesn't seem to weaken much over time or with repeated insertions, unlike others I've used.

  20. earlofsodbury

    earlofsodbury Wastrel.

    Awful plugs those VdH.

    Soldering heavy brass plugs is a no-no for me - the cheap, cast brass in most Chinese-sourced plugs tends to become even more brittle afterwards, and unless you have a powerful soldering iron that can get the whole plug+heavy-gauge-cable really hot, chances are you'll have a dirty, poorly adherent solder joint - and if you do get it all good and hot, you'll liquify the cable insulation...

    I've used so-called 'Nakamichi' Z-plugs for years, the contacts are effectively sprung along their entire length, meaning pretty much the entire thing is making contact with the terminal it's plugged into, and the barrel into which the cable is inserted has two securing screws, staggered but opposing which locks the cable inside really well:


    They're not perfect - it's easy to strip threads if you overtighten the grub-screws, and the contact pin can become loose if you're clumsy and plug/unplug it many times - but then again, you can easily open it out again with a straight-bladed screwdriver again for a tight fit, and they're cheap-as-chips.

    One tip for screwed-contact plugs into which stranded cable goes: after first tightening the screws, hold the plug body and give the cable a good wriggle-around and you will often find you can nip-up the screws again for a tighter contact that won't come loose with use. Just don't overtighten if using a screwdriver or other tool: brass is soft stuff.

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