We love the reaction we receive when visitors to our shop play music on the systems in our main listening room (AKA the blue room). We have state-of-the-art amplification, the best turntables and photo stages, high-resolution streaming, and plenty of 200-pound speakers. In addition, the room has a good mix of acoustic paneling and carpeting.

But one of the most significant improvements we’ve made to improve the sound reproduction of the listening room was one of the least costly, and you probably can do it also. We’ve bi-wired all of the speakers.

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.

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 in bi-wiring, we add a second cable, provided the speaker has double connection posts. Note: the two cables must be identical or exhibit identical characteristics.

In a bi-wire setup, the cable feeding higher frequencies no longer handle 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 cables between each speaker and your amplifier 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 cable, 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 posts!

Marantz Bi-Wire Schematic
Bi-Wiring Schematic

Image Courtesy of Marantz

Then there is bi-amping

Bi-amping is a way of providing separate amplification channels to the speaker. To bi-amp, you first have to bi-wire, but bi-amping takes things one step further. Bi-amping requires a separate amplifier for your speaker’s bass connection and another for the treble connection.

As bi-amping involves two amplifiers, you get the advantage of more power combined with the benefits of bi-wiring. And while the combination can make a big difference in the overall clarity of the sound, optimizing each part of the system to get the precise amplification and frequency you want, bi-amping requires a more significant investment.

Changing your system to bi-wiring or bi-amping is a fun way to experiment with your audio equipment. It gives you a chance to get to know your system better, try out new cables, and understand how it works. In addition, since they are not overly complicated operations, they could act as a warmup to more elaborate experiments.

Bi-Amping Schematic
Bi-Amping Schematic

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.

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