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Passive Biamping: How much improvement?


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#1 of 66 Jigesh Patel

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Posted June 18 2003 - 03:09 AM

I am a bi-wiring non-believer. Said that, I want to know if passive bi-amping could really make any difference to already a well performing HT set up.

I am thinking to add two more channels (upgraditis acutis) to Sherbourn 5/5210 and make it 7/2100. However, I might still be sticking to 5.1 set up at least for a couple of years. So I was thinking of passively bi-amping my front L-R Paradigm Studio/40 v.2. These speakers don't allow me access to internal cross-overs so active bi-amping is out of question.

I read in the Paradigm speaker manual that vertical bi-amping improves stereo separation for music and horizontal biamping gives more "space/air" to sound. Since Sherbourn is mono-multi design, I guess I already have some separation and may be I will go for horizontal bi-amping.

The question is, how much real-life difference a passive bi-amping can make to my already nice (in my view) current set up? My listening habit is 70% HT and 30% non-classical music. Denon 3802 is the receiver as prepro and SVS 25-31PC+ subwoofer if it's relevant. I would appreciate inputs from those who experimented in biamping or any web links for more information.

Thank you.

Jigesh

#2 of 66 Alan Pummill

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Posted June 18 2003 - 03:49 AM

Jigesh,

About a year ago, I bought a used Carver AV-705x, 5 channel amp off of e-bay. At that time, I was using a Pioneer Elite VSX-09TX Flagship receiver. My intentions were to bi-amp my front Paradigm Monitor 7's with (4) of the channels, and run the CC-350 center channel with the 5th channel. I used the VSX-09TX for my rear speakers. But shortly after I got the Carver hooked up, one of the amp channels stopped working, so I ran the center with my receiver. The addition of the amp made the fronts really sound great!!

About a month and a half ago, my receiver was damaged in an electrical storm. I decided at that time to purchase an Outlaw 950 pre/pro, since my receiver was older and didn't have 5.1 inputs to mate up with my Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD, SACD, DVD-A player. While I was waiting delivery of my new pre/pro, I had the Carver fixed. (blown fuse...$17.50)

I am now running all (5) channels with the Outlaw and Carver combo, hence I can no longer bi-amp my mains. I have actually heard an improvement in sound quality. Is it the Outlaw??? Was bi-amping really contributing anything??? IMHO, passive bi-amping doesn't benefit the sound of a speaker!!! Hope this helps!!!
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#3 of 66 chung_sotheby

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Posted June 18 2003 - 03:50 AM

When you say passive biamping, you know that this can only be accomplished by completely getting rid of the internal speaker crossovers from the amp to speaker path? Biamping uses an external crossover to send one section of the whole signal to each driver. The only difference between passive and active biamping is the type of crossover used to split the signal BEFORE it reaches the amplifier. Once the signals are split, each piece of the signal goes to a single amplifier channel, which then feeds the signal directly to the driver unit. If you are unable to seperate the drivers from the internal speaker crossover, then you cannot biamp. Just using a single amp channel to send a signal to each set of binding posts is called Fool's Biamping, since you are still using the speaker's internal crossover.

As for the improvement in your system, there will probably be a slight improvement, but it will probably not be worth the price of another set of amp channels. As always with audio, the law of diminishing returns takes place when biamping (JMHO, though).

#4 of 66 Andrew Pratt

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Posted June 18 2003 - 04:43 AM

Why not try it with four channels from the amp now and see if you hear a difference in 2 channel? I'm bi amping my mains and it was quite a noticeable improvement in sound stage depth but then my mains are fairly demanding for power.

#5 of 66 Jigesh Patel

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Posted June 18 2003 - 04:45 AM

Thanks a lot, Alan, Chung and Andrew for your views.


Chung:
Quote:
When you say passive biamping, you know that this can only be accomplished by completely getting rid of the internal speaker crossovers from the amp to speaker path?


No. May be I am confused a bit?? I meant using speaker's internal crossovers for passive biamping and not using any external (active or passive) crossovers. Thanks.

Quote:
If you are unable to seperate the drivers from the internal speaker crossover, then you cannot biamp. Just using a single amp channel to send a signal to each set of binding posts is called Fool's Biamping, since you are still using the speaker's internal crossover.


Paradigm Studio/40 has two sets of binding posts on the back and come with a metal strip (for short-circuiting same polarities). If I remove this strip, I can have access to two individual driver paths. Now I guess from your first question that removing this strip probably means bypassing internal crossovers (??). Studio/40 is a two-and-a-half way design so I wonder whether I will really bypass internal cross-overs simply by removing the strip.

#6 of 66 Chu Gai

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Posted June 18 2003 - 07:56 AM

i don't think removing the strap results in the drivers being electrically isolated from each other. you could always dash off an email to Paradigm to confirm.

#7 of 66 chung_sotheby

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Posted June 18 2003 - 08:22 AM

Quote:
Paradigm Studio/40 has two sets of binding posts on the back and come with a metal strip (for short-circuiting same polarities). If I remove this strip, I can have access to two individual driver paths. Now I guess from your first question that removing this strip probably means bypassing internal crossovers (??). Studio/40 is a two-and-a-half way design so I wonder whether I will really bypass internal cross-overs simply by removing the strip.


By just removing the jumper you are not bypassing the internal crossovers. You will only be separating the modes of power delivery for the drivers. The whole idea of biamping is to have one amp channel use its power to deliver one section of the full spectrum of sound. By using the internal crossovers of the speaker, each amp channel is still delivering a full ranges signal through each set of speaker wire, a signal which only separates by the time it reaches the crossover network of the speaker. To completely bypass the crossover, you would have to take the jumpers off, then disconnect the drivers and binding posts from the crossover and connect the binding posts to the drivers directly.

#8 of 66 Jigesh Patel

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Posted June 18 2003 - 08:33 AM

Chu and Chung:

Thank you for clearing out my misconception.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chung Sotheby...
To completely bypass the crossover, you would have to take the jumpers off, then disconnect the drivers and binding posts from the crossover and connect the binding posts to the drivers directly.


Quote:
Originally posted by Chu Gai...
i don't think removing the strap results in the drivers being electrically isolated from each other. you could always dash off an email to Paradigm to confirm.

I guess I will now shelve the biamping project!! In order to biamp correctly, I might violate Paradigm warranty (plus spend some more money for an improvement that is debatable..).

It was a very informative discussion for me - thank you all.

Jigesh

#9 of 66 TylerR

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Posted June 18 2003 - 10:05 AM

While chung is adament that you must bypass the internal x-over to properly biamp, increasing headroom can greatly improve dynamics and of course help with overall output.

Biamping with seperate passive x-overs is a completely idiot suggestion...

#10 of 66 Michael R Price

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Posted June 18 2003 - 01:54 PM

Uh, the strap simply connects the woofer and tweeter sections in parallel. Just as there is nothing wrong with removing the strap to bi-wire, there is nothing wrong with removing the strap and connecting separate amplifiers to the two posts. You might not find much of an improvement, though.

#11 of 66 Craig_Kg

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Posted June 18 2003 - 06:04 PM

Quote:
i don't think removing the strap results in the drivers being electrically isolated from each other.

Why else are they there then?

BTW "Fool's biamping" with wholly separate amps might give some improvement in sound if the power supply of the amps being used are struggling with the power requirements (ie rail voltages sagging) when used alone. In this case, just running each speaker singly from a power amp should achieve the same result. "Fool's biamping" with multiple channels from a single multichannel amp will only have an effect if each amp section has its own separate power supply (which is usually not the case).
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#12 of 66 TylerR

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Posted June 18 2003 - 06:12 PM

Thats absolutely incorrect craig....

#13 of 66 Craig_Kg

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Posted June 18 2003 - 06:13 PM

why Tyler?
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#14 of 66 TylerR

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Posted June 18 2003 - 07:02 PM

Baucause, unless I'm misreading, you are suggesting that all multiple channel amps without mulitple seperate ps's will not make more power with 4 channels driven as opposed to 2 channels. This simply isn't the case...

#15 of 66 Chu Gai

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Posted June 18 2003 - 09:22 PM

In the vast majority of cases, they're there because the public, or some portion thereof, demands it and not for any positive benefit. No sense in alienating potential customers as it's cheap to implement. Those that want that feature and enjoy the techo-speak are happy. Those that don't, it's irrelevent. Like including a cigarette lighter in a car. If there's a benefit, I think it has more to do with being able to provide additional power to a speaker that can use it.

#16 of 66 Brett DiMichele

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Posted June 18 2003 - 09:39 PM

FYI Guys..

A real Bi Amp Passive Internal Crossover has completely
isolated networks for High Band and Low Band(Or if the
Internal XO Network is TriAmpable it will have completely
seperated High Band, Mid Band and Low Band.

Removing the Shorting staps breaks the crossover down into
these seperated sections and thus using 2 channels of amp
per speaker (In Bi Amp Configuration) sends more power to
one particular section of the network.

To say this is not true Bi Amping is ridiculous IMHO. This
method of seperating the XO Regions allows you loads of
flexibility to do things like mingle Tube gear and S.S gear
or add more power to one particular section, or just add
more power on all sections of the XO.

There are immense benefits to be gained here!
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#17 of 66 Brett DiMichele

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Posted June 18 2003 - 09:46 PM

As far as "Active Biamping" where the drivers are singly
connected directly to the amplifier and between the source
and amps resides an active external crossover. This would
only be adviseable if the speakers were designed from the
start to be used in such a setup.

To take a prebuilt set of speakers and eliminate the stock
Passive Networks entirely and rely on Active Externals like
Marchand or DBX Driveracks, should only be done by experts.
You have absolutely no clue how the designers did the stock
XO's and with Active's all you can do is adjust the Slope
and the Frequency. You have no way to configure them for
Baffel Step Compensation, Time Alignment etc.

If the speakers wern't designed and provided with external
active's then I think it's a bad idea to try and impliment
them with existing speakers.
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#18 of 66 Jigesh Patel

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Posted June 19 2003 - 01:24 AM

Thanks a lot Tyler, Craig and Brett for clarifying a number of issues including that of the strap removal - in fact, Paradigm's manual also implied the same but when a counter opinion was posted here, things became a bit hazy for me...


Also,

Quote:
Originally posted by Chung Sotheby...
When you say passive biamping, you know that this can only be accomplished by completely getting rid of the internal speaker crossovers from the amp to speaker path? Biamping uses an external crossover to send one section of the whole signal to each driver.


The following site seems to contradict Chung's definition: http://www.audioasyl....ges/57210.html says in the Passive Biamping paragraph that "In passive biamping, the speaker's internal crossover is used to route the highs to the tweeter and the lows to the woofer, just as they are when one amp is used."


Jigesh

#19 of 66 Andrew Pratt

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Posted June 19 2003 - 01:33 AM

Removing the plates should seperate the internal cross overs from each other allowing you to use two amp channels. This should improve the dynmaics of the speaker since you're now sending more power to each driver and unless the multichannel amp is very poorly designed it will be able to send more power then just using two channels. Ideally yes moving the crossovers before the amps would lower the work load on the amps since they'd only amp the freq's required but that's not to say there isn't any point in trying passive bi amping. Besides since he has a multichannel amp already just try it and see if its worth it to you...the proof's in the pudding as they say.

#20 of 66 chung_sotheby

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Posted June 19 2003 - 02:45 AM

Quote:
"In passive biamping, the speaker's internal crossover is used to route the highs to the tweeter and the lows to the woofer, just as they are when one amp is used."


While this has been used as an alternative definition of "passive biamping," I read a series of articles (I dont remember where, but please don't flame me) that looked at the benefits of baimping in this way, and when those benefits were minimal at best, this method of biamping was decried as "fool's biamping." However, my reasons for calling this type of biamplification not valid are as such:

The whole idea of using the speaker's internal crossover is totally against the reason for biamplification. Biamplification's main benefit is to limit the amount of bandwidth frequency each amp channel delivers to the speaker, in effect decreasing the amount and extent of work each channel does, and in the end decreasing the chance of distorsion, clipping, and other harmful side-effects that occur when an amp is worked too hard while at the same time increasing headroom and clarity for the rnage of frequency that the amp delivers. However, when using the speaker's internal crossover, a full-range signal is still being sent to each set of binding posts. The internal crossover is sifting out the unneeded range of frequency, but the FULL RANGE SIGNAL is still being pushed out by each amp channel. Also, by using amp power to push out the full range signal, power is wasted because of the use of the internal crossover, which gets rid of the extra signal by soaking in the amp power that was used to generate it.

This method of biamping is essentially the same as biwiring with a more powerful amp, as opposed to using seperate amp channels to drive each frequency range. The benefits of "fool's biamping" are essentially the same as using biwire speaker cable and an amp with twice the power of the existing amp.


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