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  • Rob Skuba

How To Bi-Amp Speakers and What is Bi-Wiring?

Updated: Mar 3

How To Bi-Amp Speakers and Bi-Wire Amplifiers
How To Bi-Amp Speakers and Bi-Wire Amplifiers

Stepping into our shop, you're in for a treat the moment you hit play in our main listening room, affectionately known as the blue room. It's decked out with the latest in amplification tech, top-notch turntables, the crispest high-resolution streaming, and speakers that weigh more than your average heavyweight boxer. The room itself? It's a carefully curated mix of acoustic paneling and plush carpeting, all designed to wrap you in pure, unadulterated sound.

Now, here's the kicker. Among all the HiFi wizardry we've packed into this space, one of the most impactful tweaks we've made to elevate our sound game didn't break the bank. In fact, it's something you might just want to try out for yourself. We took the plunge and bi-wired every speaker in the room. The difference? It's like night and day, and it's a game-changer we're pretty chuffed about.

What is bi-wiring?

To understand how bi-wiring (and bi-amping) work, let's consider how speaker systems work without modifications. Audio systems come in all shapes and sizes, with complexity ranging from simple to baroque. But from a bird's eye perspective, an audio system contains two main parts: an amplifier and a speaker.

Bi-Wiring A Speaker Diagram
Bi-Wiring A Speaker Diagram

The amplifier takes the electrical signals you want to hear and boosts them up to the correct volume before sending them to the speaker. The speaker contains components: a tweeter for high notes and a woofer for low notes. When using a single speaker cable, the large amounts of bass energy carried within the single cable (often referred to as back EMF) create an adverse effect on the upper frequencies. Back EMF is prominent because up to 80% of the amp's power goes to driving the bass.

A typical setup uses just one wire connecting the speaker and the amplifier. But we add a second cable in bi-wiring, provided you have double speaker binding posts. Note: the two speaker cables must be identical or exhibit identical characteristics.

In a bi-wire setup, the speaker cable feeding higher frequencies no longer handles the large magnetic fields caused by the high current needed to produce bass. Bi-wiring does not affect bass fundamentals but allows the high-frequency signal to travel along a less disturbed path.

“It is always worthwhile to take advantage of bi-wiring benefits when the speaker manufacturer has gone to the added expense of providing this capability. The performance benefits of reducing distortion in this way are substantial.- AudioQuest”

Many of today's speakers can be bi-wired, meaning the speaker has separate inputs for the woofer and separate inputs for the higher frequencies. Hence, bi-wiring is a way of splitting your audio signal between the high and low frequencies. You run two speaker cables between each speaker and your amp channels to do this. One wire carries high frequencies to the tweeter, and the other takes low frequencies to the woofer.

In doing this, you can improve the output of the mid-tones. In addition, bi-wiring reduces the impedance differences between high and low frequencies and results in more precise sound.

Also, remember that speaker wire does make a difference. Are you still using zip cord for your speaker connections? Upgrade to a better speaker cables, and you'll enjoy much better sound. And compared to new speakers, it's inexpensive! But if you also bi-wire, you'll hear better imaging, cleaner midrange, cleaner highs, and it will be quieter between the notes. Just remember to take the jumpers off your speaker binding posts!

How To Bi-Amp Diagram
How To Bi-Amp Diagram

How do I bi-amp speakers and Amplifiers?

Diving deeper into the world of audio enhancement, let's talk about bi-amping. This technique takes the concept of bi-wiring a step further by employing not just separate cables, but separate amplifiers for the tweeter and woofer in each speaker. Unlike bi-wiring, which uses one amplifier to send signals over two sets of cables, bi-amping dedicates an entire amp to handle the high frequencies and another for the lows.

This setup does wonders for sound clarity and detail. By isolating the power sources for the highs and lows, bi-amping minimizes interference and maximizes the performance of each speaker component. The result? A soundstage that's not only clearer but also more dynamic and precise.

But, as with all good things, there's a bit more complexity involved. Bi-amping requires a compatible speaker setup with separate inputs for highs and lows, and of course, the additional investment in a second amplifier. Yet, for those chasing the ultimate audio experience, the leap from bi-wiring to bi-amping can be a game-changer, offering a level of control and quality that's hard to beat.

Step by Step Guide To Bi-Amping

Wondering how to elevate your audio system with bi-amping? Here's a guide to help you navigate through the process, ensuring you harness the full potential of your speakers for unparalleled sound quality.

Bi-Wiring Schematic Marantz receiver
Bi-Wiring Schematic Marantz receiver

Step 1: Verify Your Speakers Are Bi-Amp Capable

First things first, check if your speakers have dual binding posts, a clear indicator they're ready for bi-amping. This setup allows for separate amplifiers to drive the high and low frequencies, ensuring a cleaner, more dynamic sound.

Step 2: Gather Your Equipment

You'll need two amplifiers or a multi-channel amp with enough channels to dedicate two amp channels per speaker. Quality speaker cables are crucial here, as they'll be the lifeline between your amps and speakers.

Step 3: Connect Your Amplifiers

Using speaker cables, connect one amplifier to the tweeter terminals and the other to the woofer terminals on your speakers. This direct connection ensures each amplifier focuses on a specific frequency range, optimizing sound reproduction.

Step 4: Adjust and Fine-Tune

Dial in your system by adjusting the volume and crossover settings on your amplifiers. This step is key to achieving a seamless blend between high and low frequencies, enhancing the overall soundstage and clarity of your audio system.

Step 5: Bi-Wiring vs. Bi-Amping

While you're setting up, remember that bi-amping differs from bi-wiring. Bi-wiring uses a single amp but separates the wire paths to the tweeter and woofer. Bi-amping, however, elevates this by dedicating an entire amp to each frequency range, offering more power and precision.

Step 6: Reap the Benefits

With everything connected and fine-tuned, you're set to experience the richness and depth of bi-amped sound. From the low rumble of the bass to the crispness of high frequencies, bi-amping brings out the best in your audio equipment.

Sonus Faber Bi-Amp-able Speakers
Sonus Faber Bi-Amp-able Speakers

Key Considerations:

  • Ensure your AV receiver or amplifier supports bi-amping, and check for dedicated settings that might enhance this setup.

  • Pay attention to the speaker impedance and power output of your amplifiers to match your speakers' requirements.

  • Consider the overall setup of your home theater or sound system, as bi-amping can integrate seamlessly, offering a significant upgrade in sound quality.

Bi-amping your speakers is more than just a technical tweak; it's a journey towards audio perfection, allowing each note and beat to be heard with unprecedented clarity and depth. Whether you're a seasoned audiophile or new to the high-fidelity world, bi-amping is a worthwhile endeavor for anyone seeking the ultimate sound experience.

Bi-Amping Schematic

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Bi-Amping

When embarking on the bi-amping journey, enthusiasts might face a few hurdles. Understanding these common challenges can help ensure a seamless setup:

  • Mismatched Amplifiers: Using two separate amplifiers with different power outputs or characteristics can lead to an imbalance between high and low frequencies. Ensure your amplifiers are well-matched in terms of power and performance to maintain sound quality.

  • Incorrect Connections: It's easy to mix up the connections between the amplifiers, speakers, and the audio source. Double-check that the tweeter and woofer binding posts are correctly connected to their respective amp channels.

  • Overlooking Speaker Impedance: Ignoring the impedance requirements of your speakers and amplifiers can lead to suboptimal performance or even damage your equipment. Verify that the impedance of your speakers aligns with the output impedance of your amplifiers.

  • Neglecting Room Acoustics: Even with a perfect bi-amp setup, the acoustics of your listening environment play a crucial role. Poor room acoustics can diminish the benefits of bi-amping, so consider room treatments and speaker placement.

Comparative Analysis: Before and After Bi-Amping

To truly appreciate the impact of bi-amping, a comparative analysis can be enlightening:

  • Sound Clarity: Prior to bi-amping, you might notice that complex musical passages become muddled, especially at higher volumes. After bi-amping, each note and instrument can be distinctly heard, thanks to the dedicated amplification channels.

  • Bass Response: Without bi-amping, bass frequencies might lack punch or depth. Post-bi-amping, the bass becomes tighter and more controlled, providing a solid foundation for the music without overwhelming the mid and high frequencies.

  • Soundstage and Imaging: Initially, the soundstage might feel confined, with a less precise localization of instruments. Bi-amping can expand the soundstage, offering a three-dimensional listening experience where each sound seems to emanate from its own distinct space.

  • Dynamic Range: Before bi-amping, the dynamics of music might seem compressed, with less distinction between soft and loud passages. After implementing bi-amping, the dynamic range is noticeably wider, allowing music to breathe and express its full emotional range.

Incorporating personal testimonials or professional insights can further validate these observations, while scientific data on sound quality improvements can offer an objective perspective on the benefits of bi-amping.

We Highly Recommend Audio Quest Cables
We Highly Recommend Audio Quest Cables

Choosing the Cable

It can be hard to decide on the right cable, so even people who have tried these operations might not be getting much out of them. However, Audio Video Synergy offers several high-quality cable brands to fit your needs, such as AudioQuest.

If you are interested in bi-wiring or bi-amping your system, send us a message so we can have a chat. If your speakers can accommodate it, bi-wiring is a simple and cost-effective way to get even better sound from your system.

And if you'd like to read the technical aspect of bi-wiring, click here to read the AudioQuest white paper.

Better yet, stop into the shop and check out the two Moon 330A amplifiers we've mated with a pair of Bowers & Wilkins 803 D4 speakers. This bi-amped, bi-wired system is remarkable and is sure to impress.

Learn More:

Audio Video Synergy 33 Main Street.

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