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Speaker Wire....BiWire vs. Single Wire??


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#1 of 67 BillSune

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Posted March 02 2004 - 05:47 AM

What is the big advantage to Bi Wiring speakers and what will the sound difference be between that and regular wiring the speakers with a little heavier gauge wire.

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#2 of 67 WayneO

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Posted March 02 2004 - 05:55 AM

To most people, no difference. All I can say is try it yourself and see if it isn't a major expense.
If the best advice is "listen for yourself", then why offer your opinion?

#3 of 67 Dan Halchak

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Posted March 02 2004 - 06:00 AM

If you are using a good quality speaker wire that is a decent gage, I doubt to our ears one could tell a whole lot of difference...just my thoughts, but I agree, try it for yourself.

#4 of 67 Robert_Dufresne

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Posted March 02 2004 - 12:06 PM

It's a way to sell more cable to gullable audiophiles.
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#5 of 67 Shane Martin

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Posted March 02 2004 - 12:46 PM

Quote:
It's a way to sell more cable to gullable audiophiles.
Makes alot of sense considering the cables I'm looking at cost the same regardless of whether I go biwire or single-wire.

#6 of 67 Philip>L

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Posted March 02 2004 - 01:51 PM

With bi-wiring, the higher frequencies travel in one wire and the lower frequencies travel in the other. Supposedly this reduces magnetic interactions between the frequencies, which results in better sound.

The worst thing you can do is try it...

Some recommend spending your speaker cable budget on cheaper cables in a bi-wire setup than more expensive cable in a mono-wire setup...
"Lots of things work in practice for which the laboratory has never found proof." -- Martin H. Fischer

#7 of 67 Philip Hamm

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Posted March 03 2004 - 12:11 AM

Quote:
With bi-wiring, the higher frequencies travel in one wire and the lower frequencies travel in the other.
Incorrect. With biwiring the same full range signal travels on one conductor, coupled at the amplifier/receiver. In active bi-amping, the higher frequencies travel in one wire and the lower frequencies travel in the other.
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#8 of 67 Philip>L

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Posted March 03 2004 - 02:49 AM

No, what you're describing is mono-wiring, or "normal" wiring. That is with one conductor pair (a + and -) run from each set of amp terminals to one set of speaker posts.

Bi-wiring is when you run two pairs of wire from each set of amp terminals and connected them to 4 posts at the speakers. You remove the jumper between the two sets of post on the speakers.

Bi-amping is when you use different amplifiers for each set of posts at the speaker.
"Lots of things work in practice for which the laboratory has never found proof." -- Martin H. Fischer

#9 of 67 Brad_Harper

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Posted March 03 2004 - 04:12 AM

Even when you Bi Wire the amp sends the same frequencies down both sets of wire. The speaker crossover filters out lows for tweeters and highs for woofers. The amp doesn't know what you have connected. Electrically there is no difference between using the jumpers on the speakers or bi wiring. Bi wiring just moves the parallel connection closer to the amplifier output. In my opinion bi wiring offers no advantage over just running 1 set of wires.

#10 of 67 Philip Hamm

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Posted March 03 2004 - 05:26 AM

Quote:
No, what you're describing is mono-wiring, or "normal" wiring. That is with one conductor pair (a + and -) run from each set of amp terminals to one set of speaker posts.
I said one conductor not one wire. Biwiring introduces one conducter (+/- pair) to the circuit, carrying a full range signal. Electrically this is the same as what you've termed "mono-wiring". There are two separate wires, but to the electrical system they are one conductor.
Quote:
Bi-wiring is when you run two pairs of wire from each set of amp terminals and connected them to 4 posts at the speakers. You remove the jumper between the two sets of post on the speakers.
Correct. Two wires, one conductor.
Quote:
Bi-amping is when you use different amplifiers for each set of posts at the speaker.
Right. Passive bi-amping you're sending amplified full-range signals down both cables, letting the speaker crossover do the filtering. Only with active bi-amping are you sending non-full-range signals.

Basically biwiring does nothing. Try it and see if you can hear a difference.
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#11 of 67 Chu Gai

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Posted March 03 2004 - 06:02 AM

Other than stimulating a particular sector of the economy, it confers no audible advantage compared to say a wire of the same gauge. Takes a beeeeeeeeeeg difference in gauge to hear a difference. Some vendors of wires, like Canare, offer a wire where there are four conductors which some use to go the biwire route if that's their preference. Consider though, that manufacturers of speakers can add an extra set of binding posts fairly cheaply and do so in order to not alienate a particular segment of the population that won't consider a speaker unless they can biwire.
Mr. Hamm is quite correct in the way the signals propogate down the wires.

#12 of 67 PierreAC

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Posted March 03 2004 - 06:11 AM

As Philip says, basically it does nothing (but cost you more and you have more wire to snake)

Now if you Bi-Amp your system, THEN it makes sense to Bi-Wire. Else you are just spending more $ on more wire...
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#13 of 67 Philip>L

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Posted March 03 2004 - 08:02 AM

Quote:
Even when you Bi Wire the amp sends the same frequencies down both sets of wire. The speaker crossover filters out lows for tweeters and highs for woofers. The amp doesn't know what you have connected. Electrically there is no difference between using the jumpers on the speakers or bi wiring.

From Robert Harley's The Complete Guide to High-End Audio:

"In a bi-wired system, the power amplifier "sees" a higher impedance on the tweeter cable at low frequencies, and a lower impedance at high frequencies. The opposite is true in the woofer half of the bi-wired pair. This causes the signal to be split up, with high frequencies traveling mostly in the pair driving the loudspeaker's tweeter and low frequencies conducted by the pair connected to the loudspeaker's woofer circuit."

This makes sense to me. Just because the crossover filter is some many feet of cable down the line from the amplifier doesn't mean that the filtered signal travels all the way to it. People often use a water and hose analogy when explaining impedances and so for in speakers, and it seems to me that it's perfectly valid here as well.

If you put a Y adapter on a faucet and attach hoses to each output of the Y, then you allow water to flow down one hose (the tweeter playing a high frequency noise), but don't allow it to travel down the other (the woofer crossover not allowing the passage of high frequency sounds), is water still going to travel down the low frequency hose? I'm sure this isn't the best way to explain it...

How about this: If I have a simple circuit with a switch, a battery, and a light bulb, all connected in a loop, and then I open the switch, will current flow from the battery to the switch? No. The same is true in an AC circuit.

It seems to me that one can easily demonstrate what I have proposed above by playing a high frequency sound and then connecting an ammeter in series with the woofer cable.

Quote:
Basically biwiring does nothing. Try it and see if you can hear a difference.

I wish I had a speaker of high enough quality to have come equipped with multiple wiring posts. However if I did have multiple posts and had my speakers bi-wired, and STILL didn't hear a difference, I could not simply conclude that the setup "does nothing." That's only one of many explanations, and one which I do not believe to be true.

Whether it works or not is in the ear of the beholder...

Quote:
Now if you Bi-Amp your system, THEN it makes sense to Bi-Wire. Else you are just spending more $ on more wire...


I have suggested that one might get better sound by using the same speaker wire budget to bi-wire with cheaper wire than to "mono-wire" with more expensive wire.

Whether or not bi-wiring improves the quality of ones sound depends on a LOT of variables, and one should not discount the idea simply because one cannot "see" how it could make a difference. All you can do is try it and see.
"Lots of things work in practice for which the laboratory has never found proof." -- Martin H. Fischer

#14 of 67 Brad_Harper

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Posted March 04 2004 - 12:43 AM

Pillip L: You are correct in your battery analogy that current will not flow to the switch until it is closed but the voltage is still present. It is the voltage that determines what frequencies are transmitted where. Current just follows the voltage. Amplifiers increase the voltage going to the speakers and then supply the current to drive them. The voltage and current waveforms will look the same(except for the phase). In a bi wired speaker setup the voltage sent to the tweeter and woofer will be identical because the both are connected to the same amplifier output. Since the current waveform looks exactly the same as the voltage waveform (exception of phasing) both the woofer and the tweeter will receive the exact same musical information. The filters in the woofer and tweeter will remove the unwanted parts. This is no different then using a single wire with a jumper at the speaker.
To prove what I have said one just needs a two channel oscilloscope and hook each channel up to the + terminal of the woofer and tweeter. The voltage waveforms will be the same.

#15 of 67 Chu Gai

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Posted March 04 2004 - 02:26 AM

Harley is to audio as infomercials and witch doctors are to medical research.

Quote:
Whether or not bi-wiring improves the quality of ones sound depends on a LOT of variables, and one should not discount the idea simply because one cannot "see" how it could make a difference. All you can do is try it and see.

And if I were pushing wire, I'd certainly say the same thing. Let's assume for a moment that a speaker manufacturer puts in this capability because they know it's capable of improving (or at least changing) the nature of the sound. Well if so, then since they designed the speaker, they should also know what sort of wire should be run to the top and what sort to the bottom. Something like wire with a total loop resistance of X and Y. Try emailing a few companies and see if you're encouraged by their responses.

#16 of 67 Philip Hamm

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Posted March 04 2004 - 04:32 AM

Quote:
It seems to me that one can easily demonstrate what I have proposed above by playing a high frequency sound and then connecting an ammeter in series with the woofer cable.
Try it and see what happens. Measure the heck out of both wires. Then get back to us.
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#17 of 67 Philip>L

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Posted March 04 2004 - 08:55 AM

Quote:
It is the voltage that determines what frequencies are transmitted where. Current just follows the voltage.

Yes, the same potential is delivered to both crossovers, however there is no high frequency current flow to the woofer crossover or vice versa. If high frequency current were reaching the woofer crossover, it would mean that the crossover was being called upon to absorb the power delivered (voltage times current) in order to keep the signal from passing. That would make the crossover very hot.

Does the crossover get hot?

Quote:
To prove what I have said one just needs a two channel oscilloscope and hook each channel up to the + terminal of the woofer and tweeter. The voltage waveforms will be the same.

So prove it. I don't have a 'scope sitting around, nor do I have a bi-wirable speaker. I agree that the voltages will be the same, but not the currents, and the currents are what induce magnetic fields in the amp to speaker wires.

Quote:
Harley is to audio as infomercials and witch doctors are to medical research.

I don't see how personal opinion has any relevance in a physics debate.

Quote:
Try it and see what happens. Measure the heck out of both wires. Then get back to us.

I said before, twice now, that I don't have this capability, though it's likely you wouldn't believe me if I reported results that support my hypothesis. I was hoping that someone here did have the capability and would use it to do this test...
"Lots of things work in practice for which the laboratory has never found proof." -- Martin H. Fischer

#18 of 67 Marc H

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Posted March 04 2004 - 09:11 AM

I was at a seminar from one of the larger Canadian speaker manufacturers.
Their explanation for bi-wiring is that when an amplifier sends a woofer cone on an excursion, the woofer then springs back into position. The woofer coil moving over the magnet generates a small amount of electricity, enough to interfere with the tweeter (tweeters react to very small amounts of electricity). The extra length of speakerwire works to help dampen that back electromotive flow from the woofer. The result should be better clarity.
From my own experiences, it depends on the specific combination of amplifier and speaker on whether you will hear a difference or not. Maybe the size of the woofer magnet? Maybe the damping factor of the amplifier? Or a combo of both?
The speakers I use in my two channel system have tri-wiring capability and I can attest they sound very different in single wire mode vs. tri-wire.
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#19 of 67 ross ish

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Posted March 04 2004 - 09:48 AM

Martin Logans recommends biwiring their speakers because the electrostatic panels present such a diverse load than the woofer to the amp. In order to minimize undesirable interactions between woofer/electrostat impedance, biwiring is the route.

#20 of 67 Andrew Testa

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Posted March 04 2004 - 10:34 AM

Quote:
Yes, the same potential is delivered to both crossovers, however there is no high frequency current flow to the woofer crossover or vice versa.


This is just not possible, Philip. And before you dismiss me, I have a lot of experience with physics. It's my thing (search the After Hours forum if you like, I've had many physics discussions there). In order to separate the frequencies you would have to have an active crossover between the amp and the speaker to do the separation. without some device to separate the frequencies, both wires contain the exact same information.

Quote:
If high frequency current were reaching the woofer crossover, it would mean that the crossover was being called upon to absorb the power delivered (voltage times current) in order to keep the signal from passing.


Yes, that's what it's there for! The whole reason for a passive crossover is to split the signal to separate circuits for each passband. The crossover passes it's band frequencies and either absorbs or shunts the frequencies outside it's passband. Every parallel passive crossover works this way. If the woofer wire contained only the low frequency data you would have to remove the passive crossover.

Marc,

Quote:
Their explanation for bi-wiring is that when an amplifier sends a woofer cone on an excursion, the woofer then springs back into position. The woofer coil moving over the magnet generates a small amount of electricity, enough to interfere with the tweeter


This is a bit dodgy on the physics. First off, the woofer never "springs back". it moves where the magnetic field interactions tell it to move. It has inertia and therefore lags, and that causes back EMF. Back EMF is present whenever a magnetic field is changing. Since with an AC signal the field is continually changing it's present all along the wire and in every inductor in the crossover. It's caused by the signal, not just the motion of the woofer. It resists changes in the current, at the low pass frequencies, thereby reducing the power a tiny bit and introducing a little distortion. Back EMF is an entropy device, ensuring that we always get less work out of a system than we put in. If back EMF created new signals that weren't there before, then it would produce more work than was put in and you'd have a perpetual motion machine.

Since the topology of biwiring is identical to using a single wire and a jumper, as has already been discussed, if a tweeter damaging signal could go through the jumper and into the tweeter, it can just as easily go down one wire and back up the other for the same effect. The only possible way for biwiring to change any of the properties of the signal to either driver is if there is an active crossover between the amp and the speaker, which would be identical to running a single wire to a speaker with an active crossover feeding each driver. Any way you slice it, if you have one amp channel and one speaker, there's no way to separate the signal frequencies by just altering the cable setup.

Here's a though experiment to show that the topologies are the same. Imagine a double post speaker with one cable and a jumper. Assume that the cable is just two bare wires for simplicity and it is attached to the woofer post. Now, replace the jumper between the binding posts with a cable. Topology hasn't changed. Now, take the woofer side of the jumper cable and use alligator clips as terminators and attach that end to the bare wire cable an inch before the binding post. The topology hasn't changed: the signal is being split just before the binding post instead of at the post, but the same signal is going to each crossover. Now incrementally slide the alligator clips away from the binding posts. You still haven't changed the topology. If the signal is the same when split at one inch from the posts, it's the same when split at two inches from the posts, etc. etc. until we're an inch from the amplifier posts. All along the wire the topology hasn't changed. The final step is to move the alligator clips the final inch from the wire to the amp posts. Again, the topology hasn't changed: the signal splits where the clips attach and the same signal is sent to each set of binding posts. Except now the clips no longer touch the first wire, and we have two separate wires going from the amp to the separate speaker binding posts. but we've shown by incrementally moving the site of the signal split that the topology never changes. Therefore, biwiring is exactly the same as far as signal propagation as using a single wire and a jumper. You just moved the signal split site from the speaker binding posts to the amp binding posts.

Andy


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