Farewell to Bi-Wiring

av L

Standard Member
For years now I've been bi-wiring my speakers, on the assumption that if there were 4x terminals on the back of a speaker, this would provide the best possible sound quality....

This said, although I'd experimented many a time with speaker placement/listening positions & come to the conclusion that I'd optimised to the max, the sound never quite jelled for me & always sounded unrealistic. Yes, instruments & voices were very pinpoint & defined, but it just never sounded 'Right' to me, which I put down to the quality of my speakers & room acoustics, etc....

Anyway to cut a long story short, I'd been meaning for some time now to rewire the cables feeding the speakers, from 4 individual connectors to 2, and simply bridging the connections on the back of the speakers i.e. positive to positive/negative to negative - I decided to take the plunge this weekend & bite the bullet....

Anyway once completed, I sat down for a listen & wasn't expecting much of a difference, in fact I thought the situation would be for the worst.....but how wrong could I have been!

Straight away, it was evident that the sound was natural, and whilst instruments weren't quite as pinpoint as before, the music & voices just sounded natural & airy, the bass was tight, etc - in fact it was what I'd been after all along, and found myself having a truly long session, listening to my favourite tracks throughout the rest of the day!

I'm a happy boy :)
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
It's interesting to note that Cambridge Audio think that bi-wiring is such a good idea that they've stopped supporting it.
Yup. Neither my amp or speakers support bi-wiring. Experiments with previous amp and speakers, which did support it, showed no difference to my ears.
 

av L

Standard Member
Yup. Neither my amp or speakers support bi-wiring. Experiments with previous amp and speakers, which did support it, showed no difference to my ears.
Well that's the thing, in theory it should make no difference either way, but I can assure you that in my case it absolutely has - I've no idea as to why though...maybe someone can clarify?
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
Well that's the thing, in theory it should make no difference either way, but I can assure you that in my case it absolutely has - I've no idea as to why though...maybe someone can clarify?
The only thing that I can think of would be a dodgy connection or a bit of dodgy wiring. Have you tried the wire that you no longer need in place of the one you're using, if that makes sense?
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Nothing like a healthy dose of confirmation bias...

If your system was wired correctly, simply bridging the speakers would not make any difference. All you are adding is a few metres of essentially inert speaker cable - which will not exert any effect on the sound.
 

av L

Standard Member
Nothing like a healthy dose of confirmation bias...

If your system was wired correctly, simply bridging the speakers would not make any difference. All you are adding is a few metres of essentially inert speaker cable - which will not exert any effect on the sound.
I would have to totally agree with you, however apart from reverting to a 2 wire connection, I've changed absolutely nothing, i.e. same cable, speaker/listening distances, room, etc - and can also confirm that the speakers WERE wired correctly prior to this & have been for years, but even so - the difference is clear to hear. Like I said, I agree & would have disputed the fact had I not heard it with my own ears....but there is an improvement.
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
I've no reason to doubt your experience but if they've been connected for a while redoing the connections can often make a difference where the surfaces have tarnished slightly.

It's for this reason every couple of years I unplug and reconnect all RCA connections and give the speaker connections a bit of a clean so they're nice and shiny.

If you want to gain any sort of conclusion it might be worth restoring them back to bi-wire and see if they get worse again. I suspect not but who knows.
 

av L

Standard Member
I've no reason to doubt your experience but if they've been connected for a while redoing the connections can often make a difference where the surfaces have tarnished slightly.

It's for this reason every couple of years I unplug and reconnect all RCA connections and give the speaker connections a bit of a clean so they're nice and shiny.

If you want to gain any sort of conclusion it might be worth restoring them back to bi-wire and see if they get worse again. I suspect not but who knows.
Thanks for your suggestion, however being 'Old School' & constantly moving stuff around on a regular basis, together with cleaning connections, etc - I doubt this was the issue? Appreciated none the less.

So basically, for now & whilst I know others will say it's either my imagination or 'snake oil', my ears are truly being given a treat! :lesson:
 

MikeFaulkner

Active Member
Interesting discussion. I doubled up my bi-wire speaker cable several years ago and immediately noticed the sound was different. I cant honestly say if it is better (I'd have to define better then) but it is different and i find it easier to listen for longer periods. In effect the only thing i have altered is the guage of the cable going to the speakers by doubling it.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
If Bi-Wiring works for you, then more power to you ...but.... you will have a hard time explaining the Physics behind it.

What you are essentially doing is moving the Jumper Bar from the Speaker terminals back to the Amp terminals. And of course, doubling the cross-sectional area of the wire assuming the same wire for Bass and Mid/High. But doubling the cross-sectional area shouldn't matter unless the original wire was too small to start with.

I've also tried Bi-Wiring, which I actually recommend everyone on try just for the experience. In my case to minimize Cross-Talk, I separated the wires by about 2" to 3" using small Craft Sticks. I used sufficient wire gauge, I think both wires were 14ga (2.09mm²). I used the speakers that way for several months, and found no difference.

The best Pseudo-Science explanation that anyone can come up with is that you are separating out the Current. Both Bass and Mid/High get the same voltage signal, but only Bass Current flows in the Bass Cable, and only Mid/High Current flows in the Mid/High cable. That may be true, but no one has yet demonstrated that this matters.

But this is a minor thing. If you try it and like it, more power to you. And if you try it and find no difference, that is also fine. It is really just the cost of a bit of additional wire and is not going to break anyone's bank.

To anyone considering it, I say - Do It - you have nothing to lose but a bit of wire, and worst case you gain experience and first hand knowledge.

Again, this is such a minor thing that is it hardly worth quibbling about. Try it, you will either like it or not, and either way is fine.

But, if you like it, you will find it next to impossible to justify that position with Physics. But then ... it really doesn't need to be justified. If you like it - you like it. That's all that matters.

Steve/bluewizard
 

av L

Standard Member
Here, here...you're right, I like the way it sounds normally wired & happy, regardless of whether it should make any difference or not, but in my system I believe it definately has, and for the better to MY ears.

I'm now gonna throw another spanner in the works....

Today, I've been trying out a little extreme toe-in .i.e. where the speaker's line of fire cross just before my head - with the right speaker pointing to my left ear & vice versa. Again - I think it sounds preferable to MY ears!

Haven't decided 100% yet though as it's early days, but sounds promising :)
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
...

Today, I've been trying out a little extreme toe-in .i.e. where the speaker's line of fire cross just before my head - with the right speaker pointing to my left ear & vice versa. Again - I think it sounds preferable to MY ears!

Haven't decided 100% yet though as it's early days, but sounds promising :)
This sounds good to you, but in crossing the speakers like that you create a very small sweet spot.

Typically Toe-In is meant to moderate the tweeters. A bright speaker would likely to be better facing straight forward. The softer speaker would probably to better turned more toward the listener.

So, now to a Side Note - As frequency increase the beam of sound become narrower and narrower. At Low-Bass, the sound is omni-directional, appearing to come from all directions. At High- Frequencies the beam is relatively narrow ... but how narrow?

Most Tweeters are tested for Frequency Response on the Center Line, 15° off the Center Line, and 30° off the Center Line specifically to determine how much they are Beaming or how narrow their sound is becoming.

Typically at 15° off of Center, there is a slight attenuation of upper frequencies, but generally insignificant in most good tweeters. Then they are tested at 30° off of Center, where the drop off at higher frequencies is significant.

But what does that mean in feet or meters?

Well the formula is simply, and even more simple if you are using a calculator.

Ad = TAN(angle) x Distance

Ad is the Arc Distance, or dimensionally how wider the arc of sound is.

If we use 15° (±7.5°), which is very narrow, how physically wide has the Tweeter fanned out at 10 ft.

Ad = TAN(15°) x 10ft = 0.267949 x 10 = 2.67949 feet (0.82m)

So, you have a prime functional fan out of nearly 3 feet at 10 ft.

If we expand that to the common ±15° or a full fan of 30° we have -

Ad = TAN(30°) x 10ft = 0.57735 x 10 = 5.7735 feet (1.76m)

Note this is the full arc, not from the Center Line.

So rounding things off, the functional arc of sound from the Tweeter is between 3ft and 6ft in diameter at a distance of 10ft. Keeping in mind that even the 6ft spread would be consider prime range.

I think as long as you are in that Prime Arc of Sound, you are good.

So, why am I telling you this? Well for figuring out functional Speaker Stand Height, for estimating Toe-In, or general speaker placement, having these calculations can be helpful.

The basic formula is not that hard to remember, simply the TAN of the Angle times the Distance will give you the Fan out.

Just thought it might be helpful.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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av L

Standard Member
Thanks for your in depth recommendations above; however, I've never been one to go with the general line of thought .i.e. been into Hi-Fi since the early 80's & have constantly tried different speaker placements, tweaks, etc, regardless of what's recommended by the experts - there are too many other considerations to take into account when it comes to stereo audio such as room acoustics, placement/listening position restraints & so on, which are obviously outside of any textbook calculations & beyond my control. The way I see it, its all part of the enjoyment that comes with being an Audio hobbyist....basically if it sounds good to ME, that'll do just fine - and if not, I'll continue to experiment :lesson:
Appreciate your input though!
 
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av L

Standard Member
OK, an update...

After several hours of listening with the speakers toed-in considerably .i.e. so that the line of fire crossed just before my sitting position, I've decided that it's not for me & have gone back to the usual. Oh well.....nothing ventured, nothing gained :rolleyes:
 
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dannnielll

Well-known Member
If Bi-Wiring works for you, then more power to you ...but.... you will have a hard time explaining the Physics behind it.

What you are essentially doing is moving the Jumper Bar from the Speaker terminals back to the Amp terminals. And of course, doubling the cross-sectional area of the wire assuming the same wire for Bass and Mid/High. But doubling the cross-sectional area shouldn't matter unless the original wire was too small to start with.

I've also tried Bi-Wiring, which I actually recommend everyone on try just for the experience. In my case to minimize Cross-Talk, I separated the wires by about 2" to 3" using small Craft Sticks. I used sufficient wire gauge, I think both wires were 14ga (2.09mm²). I used the speakers that way for several months, and found no difference.

The best Pseudo-Science explanation that anyone can come up with is that you are separating out the Current. Both Bass and Mid/High get the same voltage signal, but only Bass Current flows in the Bass Cable, and only Mid/High Current flows in the Mid/High cable. That may be true, but no one has yet demonstrated that this matters.

But this is a minor thing. If you try it and like it, more power to you. And if you try it and find no difference, that is also fine. It is really just the cost of a bit of additional wire and is not going to break anyone's bank.

To anyone considering it, I say - Do It - you have nothing to lose but a bit of wire, and worst case you gain experience and first hand knowledge.

Again, this is such a minor thing that is it hardly worth quibbling about. Try it, you will either like it or not, and either way is fine.

But, if you like it, you will find it next to impossible to justify that position with Physics. But then ... it really doesn't need to be justified. If you like it - you like it. That's all that matters.

Steve/bluewizard
Well actually maybe the reverse. .. Running the two sets of cables in parallel and feeding the speaker, will mean that the total resistance is lowered , so always an unmitigated good thing. Again whether it matters is debatable.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Well actually maybe the reverse. .. Running the two sets of cables in parallel and feeding the speaker, will mean that the total resistance is lowered , so always an unmitigated good thing. Again whether it matters is debatable.
True but what was the Wire Size to begin with? Here is a chart that shows among other things, the Resistance of Various Gauges of Speaker Wire -



So, it would take 100 Meters of 14ga wire to equal 0.83 ohms of resistance. Relative to an 8 ohm speakers, that is 10% signal loss .... from 100 meters of wire.

So generally at common distances likely to be found in the Home, wire resistance doesn't matter that much. In the above chart for 3% Signal Loss, even small 18ga (0.823mm²) wire can be run between 10 and 20 feet.

So, you are right, you double the wire, you halve the resistance, but half of nearly nothing is still pretty much nearly nothing.

Also, while it is reasonably easy to obtain less, 5% Signal Loss is considered acceptable, not ideal but acceptable. Most Speaker Wire Charts are for 5% Losses.



Just some general Info.

Steve/bluewizard
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
True but what was the Wire Size to begin with? Here is a chart that shows among other things, the Resistance of Various Gauges of Speaker Wire -



So, it would take 100 Meters of 14ga wire to equal 0.83 ohms of resistance. Relative to an 8 ohm speakers, that is 10% signal loss .... from 100 meters of wire.

So generally at common distances likely to be found in the Home, wire resistance doesn't matter that much. In the above chart for 3% Signal Loss, even small 18ga (0.823mm²) wire can be run between 10 and 20 feet.

So, you are right, you double the wire, you halve the resistance, but half of nearly nothing is still pretty much nearly nothing.

Also, while it is reasonably easy to obtain less, 5% Signal Loss is considered acceptable, not ideal but acceptable. Most Speaker Wire Charts are for 5% Losses.



Just some general Info.

Steve/bluewizard
Absolutely belting description. Really clear and straightforward way of putting it. Unfortunately, i don't think it will be enough to stop the believers parting with large sums for wire and interconnects that could be better spent elsewhere.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Absolutely belting description. Really clear and straightforward way of putting it. Unfortunately, i don't think it will be enough to stop the believers parting with large sums for wire and interconnects that could be better spent elsewhere.
I'm OK with that. It doesn't cost me anything. I urger restriant, but I don't enforce it like law.

As you can see from the Graphs I posted, a very vast majority of people spend 5% or less on ALL Wire and Cable regardless of total System Cost. Though obviously 5% of a £500 system is very different than £5% of a £25,000 system. But, it sets a clear precedent, consistently, those surveyed paid less than 5% of the Total System Cost on ALL Wire and Cable.

I think my own system was about 4%, though compared to some of the Systems, mine was pretty modest in overall cost.

Steve/bluewizard
 

acgingersnaps

Active Member
I'm OK with that. It doesn't cost me anything. I urger restriant, but I don't enforce it like law.

As you can see from the Graphs I posted, a very vast majority of people spend 5% or less on ALL Wire and Cable regardless of total System Cost. Though obviously 5% of a £500 system is very different than £5% of a £25,000 system. But, it sets a clear precedent, consistently, those surveyed paid less than 5% of the Total System Cost on ALL Wire and Cable.

I think my own system was about 4%, though compared to some of the Systems, mine was pretty modest in overall cost.

Steve/bluewizard
Same, but only because i wanted a professional to terminate my speaker wire and, because you can see my speaker cable, vanity made me get van damme hifi, rather than blue.
Got my first amazon basics interconnect recently and genuinely can't tell the difference between that and my 2 £30 Cambridge Audio ones.
 

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