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Is bi-wiring worthwhile? (not bi-amping)


MeloManiac
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After aquiring an entry level Marantz PM5005/CD5005 amp and cd player, I finalized my 'budget' system and enjoy the full power of my RP160M speakers. I'm really happy with this setup and the amp has also a very well sounding phono stage for my old vinyl records.

  • I was wondering if bi-wiring this combo would further improve the sound quality. I plan to test this myself one of these days. Reports on the internet are mostly that the effect is very limited. What is your experience with bi-wiring?
  • Both the Marantz and Klipsch manuals are not clear about the technical aspect of bi-wiring. What does it actually mean? Does it mean that the 'crossover' is done by the amp instead of by the speakers?

 

 

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@ILI This could get contentious! Not with me though.

It is worthwhile to me, if you could try hooking them up both ways to compare you will know for yourself.

 

First off, when I got my Forte IIIs they had the option of bi-wiring or amping on the back.

Experience in the past with a monster 90s receiver and three sets attached... I know the spl can be improved utilizing all sets of speaker outs on that RX-1100!

 

Picked up a set of "vertical bi-wire" speaker wire for the new Klipsch.

Using speaker outs B for the LF and A for the HF I was pleased with the sound of my new Heritage set. I put the jumpers back on and attached them with a single negative and positive wire.

Yes there was a difference in SPL with the volume pot up to noon or one o-clock. There is a difference at lower volumes also and honestly that's where I am most of the time now when listening. That's simply the watts/channel going up 50% to each speaker. More than that on the old Yamaha it was 125 in two channel, 100 into four or six.

 

Not just a difference in the SPL though, the "enunciation" of the bass, mid and high frequency sounds is improved upon. So much so that I did not send the cable set with the double positive and negative leads back. I'm not looking back either, and my mind is made up on this matter.

Only wish I could bi-amp now!!

 

IMG-20190828-070248.jpg

 

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11 hours ago, JohnJ said:

@ILI This could get contentious! Not with me though.

It is worthwhile to me, if you could try hooking them up both ways to compare you will know for yourself.

 

First off, when I got my Forte IIIs they had the option of bi-wiring or amping on the back.

Experience in the past with a monster 90s receiver and three sets attached... I know the spl can be improved utilizing all sets of speaker outs on that RX-1100!

 

Picked up a set of "vertical bi-wire" speaker wire for the new Klipsch.

Using speaker outs B for the LF and A for the HF I was pleased with the sound of my new Heritage set. I put the jumpers back on and attached them with a single negative and positive wire.

Yes there was a difference in SPL with the volume pot up to noon or one o-clock. There is a difference at lower volumes also and honestly that's where I am most of the time now when listening. That's simply the watts/channel going up 50% to each speaker. More than that on the old Yamaha it was 125 in two channel, 100 into four or six.

 

Not just a difference in the SPL though, the "enunciation" of the bass, mid and high frequency sounds is improved upon. So much so that I did not send the cable set with the double positive and negative leads back. I'm not looking back either, and my mind is made up on this matter.

Only wish I could bi-amp now!!

 

IMG-20190828-070248.jpg

 

The action/setup you've described doesn’t sound like bi-wiring. It sounds like what you're actually doing has the effect of wiring the speakers in parallel.  See slide 10.

 

https://cie-wc.edu/Series_Parallel_9_14.pdf

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That's "exactly" bi-wiring.

 

I'm of the opinion that it can't hurt to do it.  The biggest essence of it is increasing the wire size, and I'm confident bi-wiring with two sets of wire at half the capacity of a single larger wire would work/sound exactly the same.  However, it does open up the possibility for creative combinations like if there were a favorite wire for its high-frequency effects you could use it but not have to deal with what it does to the lows, which could use a specialty wire which may otherwise adversely affect the highs.  Not that that's a direction I'd spend the money to go...

 

As for getting increased sound output by wiring the lows and highs to an amp's A and B speaker outputs, shouldn't happen unless either the wire was grossly undersized or the amp does something besides merely outputting "parallel-ly" to two sets of terminals (like maybe reconfiguring the output stage or power supply, etc. for such use).

 

I wonder what the cost difference is between, say, two terminated lengths of #14 versus one terminated length of #10 (or whatever's the capacity equivalent).  Whichever's cheaper is the "better" way.

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Yes it cannot hurt to do it(except the cash out of your pocket for more wire). Your speakers, crossovers, wires and amp are a system. In a single wire setup all the energy at all frequencies go down the same wire  where they get separated by the crossover and then are fed to the drivers. In a biwire system the low frequency and high frequency energy go down the two separate wires. I think sometimes there is a misconception that the energy of all frequencies goes down both wires in a biwire system and then when it gets to the crossover the low frequency energy that arrives at the high side crossover just magically goes away. And vice versa for the high frequency energy at the low side crossover. I have seen papers that show measurements of small amounts of IM distortion that are eliminated by biwiring because the low and high frequency energy are not traveling on the same wire.

Now that said can you hear it? I think only your ears can tell you that. Or do you just want to hear a difference because you spent more money on wire?

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I tried bi-wiring a few  times in various demo rooms through the retail years with some higher end gear (Krell, Levinson, etc) on various speakers and could never hear any difference nor could the store owner or other employees....or the employees wives (since women have better HF hearing).    This was back when my hearing was top notch and I was a certified IASCA (International Auto Sound Challenge Association) Sound Quality judge and could hear a fly fart in the wind from 100 meters.  lol  There were some discernible  differences....but not reach out and ****** slap you differences.

 

Mostly the wire companies used it to sell more wiring it seems....especially Noel Lee.  Now, I typically get rid of those cheap a$$ brass barrier strips from one set of terminals to the other and replace with actual wire.

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11 minutes ago, babadono said:

In a biwire system the low frequency and high frequency energy go down the two separate wires.

 

That's NOT what John is saying he did on his. He is using outputs B for the bass and A for the tweeters. Both A and B outputs are full frequency.

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5 minutes ago, Marvel said:

 

That's NOT what John is saying he did on his. He is using outputs B for the bass and A for the tweeters. Both A and B outputs are full frequency.

If outputs A and B are just parallel outs from the same amplifier circuit then its the same as tying both sets of wires to A or B, no? It's just convenient that he has two separate outputs to tie to.

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37 minutes ago, babadono said:

If outputs A and B are just parallel outs from the same amplifier circuit then its the same as tying both sets of wires to A or B, no? It's just convenient that he has two separate outputs to tie to.

Well my speakers have the crossovers set up for it, so....... better ask chief Roy about that!

 

On 8/28/2019 at 6:43 AM, JohnJ said:

@ILI This could get contentious! Not with me though.

I tol you so 😂

Although this thread is not half as bad as the one where the professor says buh buh buh fa fa buh buh buh fa buh buh for five long minutes and some couldn't hear the difference on their computer or phone I guess.

 

I did read about the intermodulation distortion reduction when doing this prior to trying it. Maybe that is what I could hear the difference in. When I say the separation is better, the tones are more rich & true... not Michael Fremer here, my adjective vocabulary is slim. I compared the Type 8 (12 AWG) vert bi-wire directly to a pair of Type 4 (15AWG) and a pair of 12 gauge OFC that I cut down to 25 feet each cause I'd been using those two 50 foot monster cables from NC to FL and back for 25 years. I recognized long ago that reducing the resistivity of the speaker cable helped the Heresy sound better. Sure that played a part in my experience too. 

 

Don't think PWK would mind if ofc 12 g sounded better that 18 g zip cord. AudioQuest Type 4 is now in the KHorns and the LaScalas.

 

The other wattage per channel argument I don't care to, or see how it can be argued about.

The manufacturer of my amp told me through the manual and the Q&As at their website that when using both speaker outputs A & B, the 80 watts per channel output goes up to 120 per channel of output. The made in Japan Yamaha I had was a relic of the past, A+B+C outputs with 125/ch into one set 100/ch into two or three. That was clearly printed on the back of it. I don't need to hear Zeppelin or Foghat, ZZ or Aerosmith from the schoolyard three blocks away to play glow in the dark frisbee like I used to!

 

Heck I don't even know it the RP160Ms have the dual + & - inputs on the back!

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3 hours ago, babadono said:

In a single wire setup all the energy at all frequencies go down the same wire  where they get separated by the crossover and then are fed to the drivers. In a biwire system the low frequency and high frequency energy go down the two separate wires. I think sometimes there is a misconception that the energy of all frequencies goes down both wires in a biwire system and then when it gets to the crossover the low frequency energy that arrives at the high side crossover just magically goes away. And vice versa for the high frequency energy at the low side crossover. I have seen papers that show measurements of small amounts of IM distortion that are eliminated by biwiring because the low and high frequency energy are not traveling on the same wire

 

Actually, unless it is bi-amplification in which there is a low-level crossover prior to the separate amplifiers, the signal going to both the (single-cabinet) speaker inputs on a (single) channel has the exact(ly-enough) same full-range potential available at the speaker, which means that both wire pairs do indeed carry the same full-range signal all the way to both halves of the crossover at the speaker cabinet(s), where the unused portions of the signal on a given wire "simply go away" (or more properly, simply don't have full effect).  But it's not by magic. 

 

I too have seen such documentation of lower measured levels of IM using bi-wiring.  It's smoke and mirrors.  That same IM, as depicted as being present only in the single-pair, is in fact (always) present in whichever internal leads/traces are between the semiconductor junction or tube element of the output device and the amp's internal point at which the signal diverges to the multiple outputs.  How can it possibly not be?  If the IM is unobtrusive while carried on a single wire within the amp, it's just as unobtrusive when it gets to a speaker 100' distant from the amp.  It's not like IM increases with the length of time (distance) the two frequencies are carried together on a wire.

 

2 hours ago, JohnJ said:

The manufacturer of my amp told me through the manual and the Q&As at their website that when using both speaker outputs A & B, the 80 watts per channel output goes up to 120 per channel of output. The made in Japan Yamaha I had was a relic of the past, A+B+C outputs with 125/ch into one set 100/ch into two or three. That was clearly printed on the back of it.

 

When the output voltage swings reach the levels of the supply rails you've reached the limit of "clean" amplification.  If the amplifier is capable of sustaining those voltage levels no matter the load, the "power" will double with each time the load is halved.  It's just relatively simple math.  Most amps are not built "strongly enough" to actually do that, and your example indicates that of your amp.  If you had two "identical" multi-way speakers (already not going to happen) attached to a fully-capable output, the power being dissipated would double.  However, that's not what you're doing.  In your case, there are not now two woofers getting signal, still just the one, so the woofer part of the signal is drawing exactly the same current as before the wiring split.  Same for the high-frequency content.  You are not gaining any advantage in terms of output power reaching the speakers unless the wire you're using is silly small.

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1 hour ago, glens said:

You are not gaining any advantage in terms of output power reaching the speakers unless the wire you're using is silly small.

 

I want to reiterate that there has got to be some production amplifier somewhere which does more than simply provide two otherwise-common sets of output terminals when selecting multiple outputs simultaneously.  I have no specific example in mind.  I merely want to cover my butt in making that statement above, which I'm sure is true in the very high 90s percentile of cases.

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@glens Well if you tried it and didn't like it.....great! All of y'all that preach down to me about this subject don't get it at all. Did I say that I ever overdrove this amp? Nope, one o'clock is as high as it has been since I got it. I usually am at ten to eleven on the vol pot. Think I don't know about clipping? Or that my Nakamichi/Nelson Pass receiver didn't even clip at five pm on the pot? The difference in the power was discernable at any level, cause the output levels changed with the amp recognizing that two "sets" of speakers were attached to it. 

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Not preaching, up or down.

 

You may have something which falls under my butt-covering umbrella.

 

If you're curious at all, you could "fall back to" one output selected and merely double up on the wire from it to the speaker.  In that case I'm quite confident you'll not be able to hear (or measure) the difference unless you're the one swapping the speaker input configuration.

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Okay cool, we disagree. Not the first, won't be the last time for me. Just like measuring bolt on improvements to a car and noticing seat of your pants improvement to your start. I just tried one after the other when the Forte's got here. The wires I have now will stay and like with the old LT1 these add ons made a noticeable improvement!

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Seems to me if the amp used has the same output on Channel A & B and you run A to HF and B to LF it could possibly cause a difference in sound as opposed to 1 line to both

 

My thought right or wrong ?  1 line goes through the X-Over as a WHOLE thus the sounds from the HF & LF is dictated by the X-Over as a whole, Splitting the signal between 2 lines you would essentially be splitting the X-Over by 2 as well thus getting FULL amp output to the now 2 halves of the X-Over.  

 

The advantage of Bi-Amping is great because you get to choose  / Taylor the sound via the amps chosen, Bi-Wiring does not allow nearly the same advantage but I can see where sound quality would / may be affected as described using Channel A & B

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@joessportster Have you ever tried this? I'd be surprised if you haven't. Believe that you are closer to me than anyone here. I could go through changing some of the wires on the F3s. With the single wires putting up to 80 in and the biwires putting 60 to the LF and 60 to the HF it is easy to see (hear) why I didn't go back.

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16 hours ago, JohnJ said:

@joessportster Have you ever tried this? I'd be surprised if you haven't. Believe that you are closer to me than anyone here. I could go through changing some of the wires on the F3s. With the single wires putting up to 80 in and the biwires putting 60 to the LF and 60 to the HF it is easy to see (hear) why I didn't go back.

Yes Close But I Bi-Amp and have for several years now. I take you at your word. All  our ears are different and what we hear is PERSONAL There is no legit argument from anyone to state emphatically you can or can not hear anything.  I learned that years ago. I have been told by several they hear X or Y and I was never able to hear it until I tried headphones they will open your ears to a whole new realm of detail.  Thats not to say that someday we may get to meet up :)   Enjoy the music

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18 hours ago, joessportster said:

My thought right or wrong ?  1 line goes through the X-Over as a WHOLE thus the sounds from the HF & LF is dictated by the X-Over as a whole, Splitting the signal between 2 lines you would essentially be splitting the X-Over by 2 as well thus getting FULL amp output to the now 2 halves of the X-Over.  

 

I'm not sure I quite follow what you're saying there.  If you've got a speaker with separate inputs between highs and lows with a jumper between them, and you remove the jumper and wire one to speaker output A and the other to output B,  you can compare the sound between speaker-end jumper to no jumper there.  There will be nothing you can do to remove the jumper between the wires on the amp end unless you turn off either or both outputs.

 

There may be differences in the sound produced both ways (A+B wiring with speaker-end jumper either in or out) but any such difference in sound will be quite microscopic.  I believe any perceptible or measurable difference in sound will be found predominantly in the crossover region and would be due to the higher impedance the crossover(s) see looking back at the amp when the speaker-end jumper is removed.  And to the extent the two filters interact with each other, the impedance between them would switch between none and most possible (yet still negligible).

 

Like I said, if you bi-wire you'll have a non-defeatable jumper between the wire pairs at the amp end and you can freely experiment with the presence of the jumper at the speaker end.  Let us know what you hear different between them.  I'm not saying you won't hear any difference.  I would expect to not be able to from the outset and that neither you nor I should be able to hear a difference.

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