There’s a lot of spirited discussion to be found on the ostensible superiority or inferiority of various connector types or bare wire, but we have never seen any such argument substantiated by any kind of science, data, or logic – if you’re able to make good secure contact with any connection type, then there’s no reason any one type would sound perceptibly better than another.
Bare wire does remove an intermediary piece of equipment from the chain that could, in theory, compromise the connection in some way, but bare wire comes with its own potential issues:
Firstly, threading bare wire into any terminal is just a pain, and becomes an insufferable chore real quick if you ever have to disconnect and reconnect your equipment more than once.
Secondly, the little individual strands can splay out or come off quite easily. That runs the risk of the polarized adjacent wires (usually they correspond to red and black) touching each other which can, among other things, short and destroy an amplifier. If any of those strands fall through a vent on a receiver or amp and land on any of the components inside, similarly bad things can happen.
Spade connectors do have the most visible surface area and are argued by some to therefore have the superior connection. But, again, there’s no actual evidence that we’ve seen that a spade connector can and will achieve less contact resistance than either bare wire or a banana plug will. The other issue with spade connectors is that they’re often not able to get nice and tight/secure, and while they’re somewhat less hassle than bare wire, they can still also be a pain to deal with for that reason among other things.
Which leads us to: banana plugs – these are, in our opinion, definitely the way to go for most people. Once set up (which we think is frankly easier than threading bare wire into terminals), you can very easily plug in and disconnect speaker wire just like you would an RCA cable or headphone plug for example.
And even though there is controversy around various speaker connection types, just about everyone would agree that using banana plugs is a no brainer if you need to connect and disconnect your equipment with any sort of frequency.
Not sure which ones to get? We’ve bought and used the above banana plugs many times and they’re a solid and inexpensive product from a trusted brand.