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Bi-wiring... Does it really make a differance?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by Timh, Sep 4, 2003.

  1. Timh

    Timh
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    I just purchased a Pair of B&W DM603-S3's. Would I notice a differance when Bi-wiring them to my Denon AVR-1803 Receiver, currently wired with QED79 speaker cable.
    If its really worth the upgrade what would be a good, but cheap Bi wire cable.
    I am using a Toshiba SD-510 for music playback, connected via a fibre optic cable (please no comments on using a Coax, tried it but coudn't notice a differance).

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    No but change the 'links', 'just in case'.
     
  3. Sunday Ironfoot

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    It's often said that simply buying better speaker cable makes a bigger improvement than bi-wiring with two lots of cheaper cable.

    You should save your money IMHO!
     
  4. bob1

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    You will not hear anything by changing the speaker cable either then,just like most people (that includes me);)
     
  5. Timh

    Timh
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    Thanks for your comments . I may just dig out some old speaker cable and test it, but I probably wont notice a differance like bob.
     
  6. Hawklord

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    I would definately recomend you try at least. I Tried bi-wiring my DM602 s3's (recently replace with Linn Ninka's-also bi-wired) with cheap cable to see if I could notice any difference and was suprised to find that I could. I then up graded my cable to Van den hul teatrack bi-wire which improved the sound too.
    I believe that bi-wiring and using quality cable can only improve your enjoyment of your speakers by maximising their performance and not limiting them by substandard/cheap cabling.
    Give it a go and if you don't notice any difference you've not lost anything.
     
  7. Dean

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    It all depends if the speaker was designed for bi-wiring, I believe many Mission speakers as well as others, are now designed with bi-wiring in mind. At the moment I am using single runs of QED XT300 and am contemplating getting a 2nd run to bi-wire.
     
  8. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Depending on the speaker,and the cables used,it can make a very large improvement....I have a set of Nautilus 805's,and the improvement in sound quality by going from single to bi-wired was enough for my wife( who wouldn't normally notice...honestly!)to say how much better it sounded.
    The cables are Kimber 8TC,so obviously not cheap,but the difference made it well worthwhile.
     
  9. BLACK_MAGIC

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    From my experience having and extra set of cable running to you speakers DOES make an audiable difference. It will give the sound a fuller tone and deliver the music with larger weight. However its not actual birwiring that leads to this result.
    I have done some heavy testing with my kef 203's and 202c and have come to the following conclusion (probably doesn't apply with all speakers).
    I took two equal runs of copper based cable (tried with various cables). First i tried listerning with one cable, then added the additional cable (birwired) and there was the audiable difference i described above. I then initially out of curiousity bound the two cables into one and ran them into one set of speaker posts. The effect was exactly the same as biwiring but without actually birwiring. I have tried this on my speakers with cable ranging from 2.50 a metre up to £75 a metre and with the same results with all (always with added weight and tone).
    So ive concluded that its the actual physical amount of cable that makes the difference rather then the actual biwiring. I dont know the physics on how cable works so i cant explain it and i've only tested it out on my speakers but for me thats the results I got with my system.
    So i would say it does make a difference. Is it worth it? well imo i think you'll be better off getting better cable and having one run, but if your in the situation where to actually get the step up in cable from the one you've got its going to cost bucket loads then go for the extra run of cable.
    You must audition it yourself though to see if you notice any difference with your speakers but even if you do notice a difference i cant imagine it being massive.
     
  10. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    That almost certainly indicates that your old single-wire cables had too high resistance. Using two lengths of wire halves the resistance. (But obviously you can achieve the same thing with a fatter wire).
     
  11. sticker

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    If thicker cable is better (I tend to agree) what about the philosophy of companies like Nordost? :devil:
     
  12. Garrett

    Garrett
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    I would say if you was going to spend X amount on cable to buy it a single lengths then later you have the option of adding an other length to Bi-Wire when you can afford it (thats if money is tight).
    I found two of the biggest improvements in my system were bi-amping then getting some really good cable like Hawklord I got some Van den hul teatrack bi-wire. In fact I had ordered some new speakers at the same time I bought the cable and joked with the sales person I was going to cancel the order the improvement was so good.
     
  13. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Bi-amping is a whole different issue. Definite (potential) benefits there.
     
  14. Hawklord

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    Why does bi-amping improve performance? (laymans terms please)
    I have Linn Ninka's (currently bi-wired) what is the difference betweem bi-amping and making them active. What would the benefits be in doing so ?
     
  15. alexs2

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    Hawklord....in your case,it's much better to make those speakers active and bi-amp them(I think we had a similar discussion before).
    In the case of passive speakers,bi-amping simply gives each speaker an amp running through the speaker's internal crossover...when you've compared Linn speakers biamped,then biamped/active,the difference is immediate....much clearer,faster,tighter.
     
  16. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    We really need a Frequently Asked Questions section for questions like this.

    (sigh)

    Okay, there are three things we might be considering here: Bi-wiring, Passive Bi-amping, and Active Bi-Amping.

    Let's start by considering what happens with a "single-wired" speaker. For simplicity, let's initially consider a 2-way speaker design with a woofer and tweeter driver, but no separate mid-range.

    The signal for the speaker comes from the pre-amp. It enters the power amp. From there it goes along a single wire to the speaker terminals. The speaker cross-over circuitry then divides the signal into two: low frequency and high frequency. The low frequency signal goes through the woofer. The high frequency goes through the tweeter. After passing through the drivers the signal is recombined and goes back to the power amplifier, completing the circuit.

    So conceptually it looks like this:
    Code:
           Pre amp
                 |
                 V
         Power amp
                 |
                 V
    Speaker Terminals
        ______|____
       |                |
       V               V
    High            Low
    Pass            Pass
    Filter           Filter
       |                |
       V               V
    Tweeter     Woofer
       |__________|
                 |
                 V
    Back to power amp
    
    Bi-wiring means we use two pieces of wire rather than one between the amplifier and the speaker, so you get this:

    Code:
           Pre amp
                 |
                 V
         Power amp
        ______|____
       |                |
       V               V
    Speaker Terminals
       |                |
       V               V
    High            Low
    Pass            Pass
    Filter           Filter
       |                |
       V               V
    Tweeter     Woofer
       |__________|
                 |
                 V
    Back to power amp
    

    Passive bi-amping means that we use two separate power amps whose outputs are not connected together. So we get this:

    Code:
           Pre amp
        ______|____
       |                |
       V               V
     Power       Power
    Amp 1        Amp 2
       |                |
       V               V
    Speaker Terminals
       |                |
       V               V
    High            Low
    Pass            Pass
    Filter           Filter
       |                |
       V               V
    Tweeter     Woofer
       |                |
       V               V
    Back to      Back to
    Amp 1        Amp 2
    
    
    With active bi-amping we move the cross-over circuitry outside the speaker so that the signal is split into high and low frequency components before it reaches the amplifier:

    Code:
           Pre amp
        ______|____
       |                |
       V               V
    High            Low
    Pass            Pass
    Filter           Filter
       |                |
       V               V
     Power       Power
    Amp 1        Amp 2
       |                |
       V               V
    Speaker Terminals
       |                |
       V               V
    Tweeter     Woofer
       |                |
       V               V
    Back to      Back to
    Amp 1        Amp 2
    
    
    Of the three solutions, active bi-amping is the best one, other things being equal - it reduces distortion - but it requires the speaker to be specifically designed to use external cross-over circuitry, or (more commonly) to have the amplification built in. If it's built-in that means that if you sell the speaker you have no choice but to sell the amplifier as well. Also you can't choose what amplification you want to use if it's in-built. On the upside, the speaker manufacturer can choose an amp they know will work well.

    Passive bi-amping essentially means that you have double the amplification current available (which makes the amps less likely to clip) and also means that the amp driving the tweeter is operating well within its tolerance. The amp driving the bass driver will be under nearly as much strain as it would be when single-amping, because most of the energy needed is in the bass range. But that means that the tweeter amp is having a relatively easy time of it, which may make the treble less distorted.

    Bi-wring cannot have any effect at all, unless, as previously discussed, your cable has a higher resistance than it should.

    (An additional complication to the above is that many speakers are actually three- or even four-way systems - a woofer, a mid-range driver, and a tweeter - so when bi-amping you have one amplifier driving the bass, and the other driving mid-range and treble, with extra filtering circuitry to handle this. Some really fancy speakers actually allow you to use three or even four amplification channels per speaker. But obviously this starts to get expensive, as you are having to pay for an awful lot of amplifiers!)

    Edit: I originally managed to get the woofer and tweeter the wrong way round in my diagrams. Sorry. I've now amended this.
     
  17. Steve.EX

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    Can i add that i was very very fortunate to obtain 6x1m runs of Nordost SPM reference for a bargain, these are used for the front three, in bi-wire fashion connected to Tag mono-blocks, i could tell NO difference WHATSOEVER between single wire and bi-wire options (connected to Kef 203/202c)

    Regards

    Steven.
     
  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I would also add that if there is ANY difference, you have a dodgy designed crossover and means you have a **** speaker!
     
  19. gringottsdirect

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    I can't say any benefit from bi-wiring NAC 5 to Mission 753s except to dealer's till. :cool:
     
  20. Hawklord

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    NicolasB thankyou for that clear explanation.
    I have Linn Ninka's that can be Bi-wired, passively Bi-amp'd, passively tri-amp and Actively bi/tri-amp'd and currently have them bi wired via my arcam a75+ integrated amp.
    My easiest upgrade would then be just to buy a power amp like the arcam P75 (or p85-a75+ for high and p85 for low) and bi-amp my fronts. How would my centre Trikan speaker fit into the equation if I wish to bi-amp that too? Would I have to buy yet another p75 or are there power amps that have more than two sets of terminals to allow you to drive more than one set of speakers. (all speakers have three drives).
    With regard to actively bi/tri amping are there any power amps on the market that already have the cross over circuitry built in or are there products specifically designed for external crossover?
    I know Linn offer crossover cards for their range of power amps but that would mean replacing my arcam kit. I'm hoping to get the best from these speakers over the coming months but will not be able to afford the upgrade to active in one go. What do you suggest as the best route to take and what kind off money are we talking about?

    many thanks
     
  21. Hawklord

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    If there is no benefit bi-wiring why do speaker manufacturers provide this functionality. All companies that provided the bi-wiring capability on speakers I have owned (B&W, Mission and Linn) all advise you bi-wire to get the best results. Surely manufacturers are in the best possition to advise their customers on how to best use their products for optimum performance.
    I cannot imagine they offer bi-wiring capability just to sell a few extra meters of speaker cable. :confused:
     
  22. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Hawklord....if I remember when you were buying the Ninkas we had a similar conversation...the Ninkas and all Linn active speakers can be used with other manufacturers power amps by using a TuneBox....this is Linn's external power supply box for active crossover cards....I used one of these for some yrs when I had a set of Keltiks run from Krell power amps.
    The boxes are made to order and cost around £600 new,but if you keep an eye on the secondhand/used markets(ebay,ex-dem etc) they do turn up at times,as do the cards.
    That way you can keep your Arcam amps...
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

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    well if you ask the technical people rather than the marketing people what works they will tell you. B and W will openly say biwiring is rubbish but they add the terminals to market the speakers. Ever tried selling a speaker without biwire terminals, a bit like buying a car with ****** (ad your favourite useless add on here).

    I believe bi wiring just doesn't work, bi amping is another matter, active operation is better again
     
  24. Ricky27

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    Hi Tim, i found that instead of leaving the gold plated links in my terminals i simply fed the same length of QED qudos staright through to both high and low termianls, cutting a half inch of the plastic coating away about one inch down the cable for the low frequency terminals, to me at least sounds the same as bi-wiring.
     
  25. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Now thats a good idea ;)
     
  26. NicolasB

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    I suppose, in theory, if the shunt supplied with the speaker (for connecting the two sets of terminals together when single-wiring) is of sufficiently poor quality, that could also have an influence.


    One possible reason is that sophisticated users want the opportunity to bi-amp, and to make the speaker bi-ampable you have to make it biwirable whether you like it or not. :)

    (Given how difficult things like B&W Nautilus 802s are to drive, bi-amping is often a good idea).

    Some B&W speakers are also infamous for having a particularly wide range of impedance values as the signal frequency changes. My 803s, for example, are nominally 8 ohms, but can go all the way down to 3.0 ohms. That will make them relatively sensitive to cables that have an inappropriately high impedance. Encouraging users to bi-wire is a subtle but effective way of reducing the typical cable impedance so they are less likely to have a problem.

    Or, as Beekeeper says, it may just be a marketing ploy.


    A final note on passive bi-amping....

    1) It is usually preferable to use the same model of amplifier for each part of the speaker. At the very least you need to make sure that both amps have exactly the same gain.

    2) Some people on this forum are terribly gung ho about bi-amping, but you need to be very careful about what you're spending the money on. It is almost always the case that a speaker bi-amped with two amplifiers of model X, brand Y will sound better than the same speaker using a single model X brand Y amplifier. However, that doesn't mean that it will sound better using two amplifiers of this type than it will using a single amplifier that is of better quality. Given a choice between using two amplifiers that cost £x each, and one amplifier that costs £2x, it is often the case that the single £2x amp sounds better.

    (To take a practical example: bi-amping a pair of speakers with a pair of Bryston 3B-SST amplifiers will set you back £3450 at list price. But it's unlikely to sound detectably better than using a single 4B-SST amp, which would cost only £2350).

    Never, ever ask "if I upgrade to X, will it sound better?" because it nearly always will. Instead ask "will upgrading to X give me more of an improvement in sound quality than spending the same amount of money on anything else could?"
     
  27. Sunday Ironfoot

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    This is pretty much true, although Bi-amping offers a good alternative to people who have already bought a particular amp and are stuck with it. Rather than selling it and spending significantly more on a better amp, it's cheaper to bi-amp with your existing amp and still get improvements in the sound.
     
  28. Nic Rhodes

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    I'm not so sure about this, more later.....:)
     
  29. Timh

    Timh
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    I just did a quick test with 79 strand cable, to run with my current QED 79 srand cable.
    There was no noticable differance. Maybe there would be an improvement with better cable. :confused:
     
  30. alexs2

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    Tim...being honest,that's quite a reasonable "budget" cable,and I'd be surprised if,having noticed no difference using it biwired,that you'd notice a difference unless you went to something pretty expensive....you also have to factor in the amp and speakers....I had a set of Linn Keilidh's years ago which frankly didn't improve biwired,but really were totally different active and biamped.
    My current Nautilus 805s however are so much better biwired that there is no comparison...a lot comes down to the speaker/amp interaction,as well as the cables,and I definitely think that a run of good single cable can be much better than 2 runs of poorer quality cable.
     

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