What are the best connectors to use for hooking up speakers with banana plug fasteners? Is it better to use pins, plugs or the y connectors? Does the brand make a difference, i.e. Monster Cable vs. Acoustic Research?
The connectors you are referring to (commonly found on the backs of receivers and speakers) are called five-way binding posts. They can be used with bare wire, banana plugs, or spade lugs (i.e., the “plugs with the y-connectors”).
Banana plugs are the most convenient, especially if you re-arrange your equipment a lot. They allow you to easily plug-in and unplug the speaker wire.
However, if you intend to set-it-and-forget it, the simplest and cheapest connection is bare wire directly to the binding posts. If you unscrew the red and black ends of the binding posts, you will find the post beneath them has a hole in the center of it, to accept the bare wire.
Pins are not for use with binding posts. They are for speakers and receivers that have cheaper spring-loaded speaker terminals.
I tried AR, Radio Shack Gold, and RCA banana plugs and I thought the Radio Shack plugs were the best. They fit the most securely in my receiver and speakers, the AR and RCA plugs were looser. I also thought the RS plugs had the best quality construction.
I agree with Craig and John, Radio Shack bananas are the best of the 3 brands I've used(AR, Monster, RS). Good snug fit and they accept the 12g Home Depot speaker wire I use extremely well, not to mention cheaper as well.
I use AudioQuest BFA Banana plugs exclusivly. I have used many over the years and they all tend to loose their "bite" or tightness in the binding post except the BFA's. They are designed to create the maximum coverage or surface area touching the binding post as well.
They are more expensive ($4 each) and can only be used once but you will never have trouble with them. So if you plan on changing wire any time soon, they are not for you.