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Can someone explain how bi-wiring works and should I do it?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KeithH, Aug 18, 2001.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I bought a pair of Totem Arro floorstanding speakers last weekend that can be bi-wired (i.e., each speaker has two pairs of binding posts). I've never investigated bi-wiring to any great extent, so I am only vaguely familiar with the process. Can someone explain what bi-wiring accomplishes and why people do it? Is it something I should do with my system? Here is what I have (main components only):
    Totem Arro floorstanding speakers
    NAD C 370 integrated amp
    Sony SCD-777ES SACD/CD player
    Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player
    Does an amp have to be configured in a special way to allow bi-wiring? Do I need a special type of speaker wire? Currently, I am using standing Monster speaker wire off the roll (Circuit City), but I am strongly considering Kimber Kable 4TC speaker wire. From what I have read, one can bi-wire with the 4TC wire.
    Are there reasons not to bi-wire even if you have speakers capable of being bi-wired? Can someone give me a step-by-step walkthrough of how to do it?
    Sorry for all the questions, but this is a new area to me. Thanks for reading.
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  2. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Johan, thanks for the Jon Risch link. There is a lot of information there that I will have to digest. I knew bi-wiring had to do with separating the bass and treble information (i.e., subwoofer from tweeter), and I had guessed that I would run two pairs of wires from the speakers into one pair of binding posts on the amp. So I guess I am not as clueless as I thought. What I don't understand yet, and maybe reading Risch's explanation thoroughly will help, is how connecting both sets of wire to one pair of binding posts separates out bass and treble information. In other words, I would imagine that the same information is coming from the amp through both sets of speaker wire. So, how does the bass and treble information get separated when the signals feed into the speaker terminals? I guess this is where the speaker's crossover comes in. The same signals go into the tweeter and subwoofer terminals since the amp doesn't know to partition high- and low-frequncy information to the tweeter and subwoofer, respectively, but the crossover in the speaker serves to filter out information above or below the threshold frequency. I am assuming that this is how it works. Hopefully Mr. Risch will confirm or dispel my theory. [​IMG]
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  4. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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    You're on the right track.
    BTW, I remember seeing a mathematical proof that 'proved' that there was no difference b/t single and biwiring when it came to electrical signals. I wish I had bookmarked it.
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    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/bbs/equipment/28687.html
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Peter Johnson

    Peter Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, it can be shown mathematically that biwiring is a waste of time.
    Basically the tweeter and woofer are split at the amp, rather than at the binding posts. The circuit itself is identical.
    Whilst I cant hear a difference, some things that are the same mathematically, sound different..such as cd players..
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    It's never been shown to work. Biwiring basically doubles the gauge of your wire and is equivalent to a single wire of the same gauge. But if you believe hard enough that it works, then I'm sure it will.
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the input. I will file bi-wiring under the "controversial audio tweaks" category along with green pens, isolation devices, power cords, etc. That is not to say that I won't try bi-wiring someday. For now, since there are improvements to be made over my Monster speaker wire and interconnects, I am going to do this in a controlled manner. First I will try different speaker wire, such as the Kimber Kable 4TC, which I have heard a lot of good things about. In time, I will try different interconnects for my front-end components. Maybe then, once I have interconnects and speaker wire I am happy with, I will try bi-wiring. Of course, by not bi-wiring, I can save some money.
    I can certainly respect your views against bi-wiring, but I also realize that I would get a totally different viewpoint on Audio Asylum. It's nice to get a different perspective, and that works both ways.
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  8. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    Yes, Audio Asylum definitely has a bigger percentage of loonies than this place [​IMG] Or any other home theater forum, for that matter. Actually, I enjoy that forum quite a bit. Mostly because I'm much more interested in audio than home theater.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    easy enough to test with relatively inexpensive 12 gauge wires...go have some fun
     
  10. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    quote: It's never been shown to work. Biwiring basically doubles the gauge of your wire and is equivalent to a single wire of the same gauge. But if you believe hard enough that it works, then I'm sure it will.[/quote]This is exactly the kind of statements that start the flame wars. "never been shown to work"? By whom? who has "proved" that it cannot possibly work?
    And your description is completely wrong. Bi-Wiring does not "double the gauge of your wire". You are running two completely separate wires from amp to independent speaker posts. That in no way "doubles your gauge". If you ran both wires from the amp to the SAME speaker binding post, then you'd be partially right, but with regards to Bi-wiring, your explanation is incorrect.
    Keith,
    One of the benefits (supposedly) of Bi-Wiring is replacing the (usually) poor quality jumper post that connects your 2 speaker posts together. Even Bi-wiring non-believers usually replace this jumper with a small run of speaker wire. Some Bi-Wiring theorists also say that you can run 2 different gauge wires to each post, i.e. 12 gauge for the woofer wires and 16 gauge for the tweeter wires, or other combos such as Silver wire for the highs and copper for the lows, etc etc.
    Best advice is try it yourself. Leave the bi-wiring hooked up for awhile, then go back to single wiring. See if you can notice a difference then. If so great! If not, no big loss, provided that you didn't blow a load of $$ on the new wire [​IMG]
    I bi-wire my Paradigm Studio 40's with positive results. YMMV
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    http://www.ricperrott.com
    Ric Perrott
    [Edited last by RicP on August 18, 2001 at 03:55 PM]
     
  11. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    so as long as i agree with you Ric and play the march step then we won't have any wars? is that the way it works? we all just agree that everything is possible? let's turn it around, where is the proof that it does work? the fact is that biwiring capabilities are being seen in more and more manufacturer's speakers is for the simple reason of marketing and keeping up with everyone else. the cable companies aren't stupid, and are marketing cables to facilitate the process. the simple experiment is to run those two wires to your two binding posts, then repeat it but this time jumpering the posts.
    "usually poor jumper posts" ok what's wrong with them? and now somehow you suggest that the high frequencies have a preferential tendency to travel in thinner wires or perhaps silver? gee, what happens with aluminum...does that handle the mid frequencies? well if they're theorists, where is the effort to confirm the theory by experimentation?
    i'm sure your biwiring has positive results and if you jumpered everything and ran those same two wires into one post you'd also have positive results.
     
  12. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    quote: so as long as i agree with you Ric and play the march step then we won't have any wars? is that the way it works? we all just agree that everything is possible?[/quote]Agreement has nothing to do with it. Chiming in on every single cable and wire thread to preach the same rhetoric that "cables are all a sham" without anything whatsoever to back your claims up gets a little tiring and does nothing whatsoever to advance the topic that's being discussed.
    Certainly if you feel strong enough to post in virtually every cabling thread here, then you have some documentation to back up your opinion no? What is so wrong with people trying things for themselves? Every wire manufacturer I know offers a full refund if not satisfied, so what's the problem? What's your angle? Why are you so determined to squash any and all claims of cable or wire or bi-wiring affecting someone's system positively? I am genuinely curious as to why you apear to be on such a crusade against the "evils of after market cabling"?
     
  13. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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  14. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    Stereo Review did a blinded test a decade ago showing that good quality hardware store cable fares as well as 3-digit $ cables, much to the chagrin to some of the test subjects.
    I feel that there are merits to getting good quality shielded cable, but unless your cables are truly terrible, sound quality will not be an issue.
    As for biwiring, it doesn't make scientific sense, since electrically they're still on the same wire. And my own personal unscientific unblinded tests (ie. slap some cables together and listen) reveal no difference.
    Biamping is a different story, but most people don't have a system capable of biamping. Indeed, Paradigm's Active Reference speakers are sort of a biamped system and they are great speakers. But then again, my Paradigm Studios are also great speakers, and they run fine mono-amped with the bridge between the posts.
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    Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
    1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Johan,
    Thanks a lot for the links. I appreciate your efforts. I will have to check them out. There should be some good information there, especially with the mathematical proof.
    Eugene,
    It seems more and more, I hear about articles in audio magazines from many years ago where DBTs or related tests were conducted to test the tenets of high-end audio. Why can't the magazines do more of that now? Product reviews are worthwhile, and I imagine the magazines receive revenue by promoting products (hence, the penchant for positive reviews), but more articles that test audiophile claims would be great. I would love to see DBTs on the validity of using green pens, isolation devices, biwiring, etc. Unfortunately, it seems those types of articles are largely a thing of the past.
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    [Edited last by KeithH on August 20, 2001 at 07:22 AM]
     
  16. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Since it was brought up, what is biamping and what does it take to do? Isn't it just a matter of having different amps for the high and low ends or is there more to it than just that?
     
  17. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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  18. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

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    quote: It seems more and more, I hear about articles in audio magazines from many years ago where DBTs or related tests were conducted to test the tenets of high-end audio. Why can't the magazines do more of that now? Product reviews are worthwhile, and I imagine the magazines receive revenue by promoting products (hence, the penchant for positive reviews), but more articles that test audiophile claims would be great. I would love to see DBTs on the validity of using green pens, isolation devices, biwiring, etc. Unfortunately, it seems those types of articles are largely a thing of the past.[/quote]Yeah, I dunno why. Maybe it doesn't make for good advertising revenue. Stereo Review did another test with I believe some amps. Again there was no statistically significant difference in audible sound quality in the lower-end to mid-end hifi units, except for one Carver which had a re-equalization circuit turned on. (It sounded the same as the rest with the circuit bypassed. I don't think super hi-end stuff was tested though.) I should have kept these issues of Stereo Review, and unfortunately, they're not online. As for the rest, I was VERY amused by the green pen fad. At least there are differences in amps - I've heard some truly mediocre ones but the green pen thing is just plain bizarre.
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    Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
    1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
    [Edited last by Eugene Hsieh on August 20, 2001 at 09:23 AM]
     
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Eugene, the perceived sound quality of one sound system relative to another or one component relative to another is just that, perceived. That perception can often change depending on one's mood, biases, expectations, etc. In some regards, I regret getting into higher-end audio. Often times, I don't enjoy listening to music like I did while in college. When I was in college, I had a Kenwood rack system that wasn't high-end, but was better than what most people had in my dorm. It still wasn't high-end, and I didn't know high-end, so I just put in a CD or tape, cranked the volume, and had fun. I can't seem to do that much anymore, unless I am listening to a CD or the radio in the car, on boomboxes, or on the shelf system in my bedroom. I don't expect the sound to be great on any of this equipment, so I don't waste time judging the sound. I throw in a CD and enjoy it. With my two home systems, I find it difficult to sit back and enjoy the music. Now that I bought new speakers for my main audio system, I am constantly judging each and every CD or SACD I play. It can become frustrating, and breaking out of this habit is difficult.
    Of course I know that the music sounds much, much better on my home systems than in my car, on my boomboxes, or on my shelf system. Still, I am always judging the sound quality. If something doesn't sound the way I expected or hoped it would, is it because of the recording or the equipment? It's a viscious cycle. With the new speakers, for example, I am hearing details in music that I have never heard before. With that increased detail comes some of the nasties inherent to many of the older and/or digital pop and rock recordings I like. Oh well. Maybe one of these days, I will be able to put in a CD or SACD and enjoy it on my main systems without judging it.
    Getting back to the issue of perception, my mood will sometimes influence how much I enjoy SACD. My expectations are that an SACD will sound significantly better than the corresponding CD, but there are times when the CD sounds just fine. The increased resolution of SACD, like that of my speakers, can be unforgiving. Now combine the new speakers with SACD, and the level of detail can be mind-boggling, but at the same time a bit frustrating, depending on the recording. As I've been evaluating my speakers, I have gone back and forth between CDs in my Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player and SACDs in my Sony SCD-777ES. At times, I have loaded the CD and SACD of the same album and gone back and forth between them. Of course, this is not scientific since I am changing players and media at the same time, but there are times when I am very pleased with the sound of the CD. The Ah! is an excellent CD player. Sometimes I wonder if I really need SACD.
    Last night, I compared the Mariah Carey #1's CD in the Ah! to the SACD in the '777ES. All in all, I found that both discs sounded lousy. Typical '90s pop music with trashy production quality. The SACD did nothing for me. I heard no improvement over the CD. Maybe again, it was my mood or predisposition at the time, or maybe the Mariah Carey album is not a good one to judge SACD. Somehow, I bet if I threw the CD in my car player, I wouldn't mind the sound. An average in-dash player with Honda factory speakers doesn't convey much resolution, so maybe the Mariah disc would sound O.K. I'm not sure I will ever be able to enjoy this disc on my home systems though. [​IMG]
    Sorry for the long post. Oh, and Eugene, you said:
     
  20. Keith Mickunas

    Keith Mickunas Cinematographer

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    Thanks Johan, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.
     

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