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Thread: Biwiring

  1. #1
    Forum Regular Swerd's Avatar
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    Biwiring

    A subject that occasionally is discussed here is whether biwiring speakers provides any audible benefit. The replies are typically divided into the usual polarized camps. I offer a few samples below, hoping that someone can offer answers that are more thoughtful:



    • Biwiring means only buy wire. It does nothing at all.
    • Speaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary.
    • Why do you care what others may say? Try it yourself and trust your ears.
    There are numerous speaker manufacturers who provide the separate crossovers and terminals needed for biwiring or biamping, especially on their higher priced models. Usually they are supplied with a strap or bar that bridges the terminals, allowing the option of standard wiring. Some makers, like Vanderstein, leave this part out, in essence, recommending biwiring. Other makers, such as Thiele, choose to provide only one pair of terminals, preventing the possibility of biwiring.

    What information have any of you learned about why such experienced and respected speaker designers arrive at these opposing decisions?

    PC Tower, you have mentioned your Vanderstein 5 speakers. Have you ever asked Richard Vanderstein why he recommends biwiring? I have listened to his 2ce and 3A signature models and love them. His reasons would be interesting to know. I am also curious why Jim Thiele avoids building biwiring hookups in his speakers.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    A subject that occasionally is discussed here is whether biwiring speakers provides any audible benefit. The replies are typically divided into the usual polarized camps. I offer a few samples below, hoping that someone can offer answers that are more thoughtful:



    • Biwiring means only buy wire. It does nothing at all.
    • Speaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary.
    • Why do you care what others may say? Try it yourself and trust your ears.
    There are numerous speaker manufacturers who provide the separate crossovers and terminals needed for biwiring or biamping, especially on their higher priced models. Usually they are supplied with a strap or bar that bridges the terminals, allowing the option of standard wiring. Some makers, like Vanderstein, leave this part out, in essence, recommending biwiring. Other makers, such as Thiele, choose to provide only one pair of terminals, preventing the possibility of biwiring.

    What information have any of you learned about why such experienced and respected speaker designers arrive at these opposing decisions?

    PC Tower, you have mentioned your Vanderstein 5 speakers. Have you ever asked Richard Vanderstein why he recommends biwiring? I have listened to his 2ce and 3A signature models and love them. His reasons would be interesting to know. I am also curious why Jim Thiele avoids building biwiring hookups in his speakers.
    Wish I could find my refererence to an exchange someone posted a while back with Klipsch about bi-wiring. The engineering department has no support for it but their marketing department does for reasons posted in some of your quotes. I am sure a phone call to their engineering would confirm it.
    Same applies with Paradigm whom I have called in the past as they have an interesting paragraph in their manual on it yet their engineering has no data to support it in light of the company doing extensive DBT work.

    Here is a link you might find interesting:

    http://www.pcavtech.com/techtalk/biwire/index.htm
    mtrycrafts

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    A subject that occasionally is discussed here is whether biwiring speakers provides any audible benefit. The replies are typically divided into the usual polarized camps. I offer a few samples below, hoping that someone can offer answers that are more thoughtful:



    • Biwiring means only buy wire. It does nothing at all.
    • Speaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary.
    • Why do you care what others may say? Try it yourself and trust your ears.
    There are numerous speaker manufacturers who provide the separate crossovers and terminals needed for biwiring or biamping, especially on their higher priced models. Usually they are supplied with a strap or bar that bridges the terminals, allowing the option of standard wiring. Some makers, like Vanderstein, leave this part out, in essence, recommending biwiring. Other makers, such as Thiele, choose to provide only one pair of terminals, preventing the possibility of biwiring.

    What information have any of you learned about why such experienced and respected speaker designers arrive at these opposing decisions?

    PC Tower, you have mentioned your Vanderstein 5 speakers. Have you ever asked Richard Vanderstein why he recommends biwiring? I have listened to his 2ce and 3A signature models and love them. His reasons would be interesting to know. I am also curious why Jim Thiele avoids building biwiring hookups in his speakers.
    I don't know if this means anything, but here is a link to someone saying Linn found a difference with biwiring under blinded conditions:

    http://www.tip.net.au/~legend/biwiring.htm

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    Biwiring is one of the few things in cabling that my mind tells me should make a difference. My experience leads me to believe differently. For some reason I am yet to fathom I do hear diffferences in cables but I have never heard bi-wiring make the slightest change - sighted or otherwise.

    It is just yet another paradox I live with in this hobby of ours....

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    A subject that occasionally is discussed here is whether biwiring speakers provides any audible benefit. The replies are typically divided into the usual polarized camps. I offer a few samples below, hoping that someone can offer answers that are more thoughtful:



    • Biwiring means only buy wire. It does nothing at all.
    • Speaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary.
    • Why do you care what others may say? Try it yourself and trust your ears.
    There are numerous speaker manufacturers who provide the separate crossovers and terminals needed for biwiring or biamping, especially on their higher priced models. Usually they are supplied with a strap or bar that bridges the terminals, allowing the option of standard wiring. Some makers, like Vanderstein, leave this part out, in essence, recommending biwiring. Other makers, such as Thiele, choose to provide only one pair of terminals, preventing the possibility of biwiring.

    What information have any of you learned about why such experienced and respected speaker designers arrive at these opposing decisions?

    PC Tower, you have mentioned your Vanderstein 5 speakers. Have you ever asked Richard Vanderstein why he recommends biwiring? I have listened to his 2ce and 3A signature models and love them. His reasons would be interesting to know. I am also curious why Jim Thiele avoids building biwiring hookups in his speakers.
    I asked Richard a number of years ago, but candidly don't remember his answer. He has been recommending bi-wiring for many years, long before it became a fad. Dave Wilson, on the other hand and as far as I know, doesn't even provide for bi-wiring in most of his speakers.

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    Follow-up on Vandersteen

    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    A subject that occasionally is discussed here is whether biwiring speakers provides any audible benefit. The replies are typically divided into the usual polarized camps. I offer a few samples below, hoping that someone can offer answers that are more thoughtful:



    • Biwiring means only buy wire. It does nothing at all.
    • Speaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary.
    • Why do you care what others may say? Try it yourself and trust your ears.
    There are numerous speaker manufacturers who provide the separate crossovers and terminals needed for biwiring or biamping, especially on their higher priced models. Usually they are supplied with a strap or bar that bridges the terminals, allowing the option of standard wiring. Some makers, like Vanderstein, leave this part out, in essence, recommending biwiring. Other makers, such as Thiele, choose to provide only one pair of terminals, preventing the possibility of biwiring.

    What information have any of you learned about why such experienced and respected speaker designers arrive at these opposing decisions?

    PC Tower, you have mentioned your Vanderstein 5 speakers. Have you ever asked Richard Vanderstein why he recommends biwiring? I have listened to his 2ce and 3A signature models and love them. His reasons would be interesting to know. I am also curious why Jim Thiele avoids building biwiring hookups in his speakers.
    In further answer to your question, I did what no self-respecting male should ever get caught dead doing and consulted the owner’s manual. Here’s part of what he says about bi-wiring.

    The Model Fives are optimized for true bi-wiring using two separate speaker cables to connect each speaker to the amplifier. The speaker’s internal crossover presents different electrical characteristics to each cable so that one cable carries the signal going to the woofers while the other cable carries the signal going to the midrange and tweeter. The improvements offered by bi-wiring versus a conventional single run of cable are substantial. Often, a bi-wire set of moderately priced cables will sound better than a single run of far more expensive cables.

    All the speaker cables in a bi-wire set should be the same type. While it is tempting to use a cable know for good bass response on the low frequencies and a different cable known for good treble response on the midrange and tweeter, the differing sonic characteristics of the two cables can affect the blending between the midbass and midrange drivers and compromise imaging, transparency, and detail. Different cables should only be used after you audition them in your system and verify that they do not affect the midbass to midrange blending and that you like their sonic characteristics.

    Our research revealed that much of bi-wiring’s benefit comes from the physical separation of the low frequency cable from the midrange/tweeter cable. Internal bi-wire cables that combine all the wires together in one sheath do not offer all the advantages of true bi-wiring. These multiple conductor cables are the only recommended method of mono-wiring the speakers, but should not be considered the equivalent of cable bi-wiring.

    ///

    If your amplifier has “A” and “B” outputs, use the “A” outputs for both cables. The two sets of outputs may not be electrically identical.


    For what it’s worth, I do not follow that last piece of advising and use the separate output terminals on my JC-1s.

    This may be as good a time as ever to say that the Handspring/Sprint Treo 600 is the coolest techno-gadget man has ever invented. It replaced my pcs phone, Palm Pilot and Goodlink G100. In addition, it serves as a modem for my laptop operating through Sprint’s Vision network. It even has its own browser which actually half-way works.

    All of that for $450. Which is dirt cheap considering one can’t even get a decent pair of interconnects for that price.

  7. #7
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    This might come as a shock to hear this from me, but at least a theoretical arguement can be made for biwiring in some cases. It is however, not the arguement most audiophiles who advocate it make. The popular audiophile arguement is that we should use some cables for high and mid frequency drivers because they are electrically more suitable for that application and others for low frequency application for the same reason. That IMO is not a good arguement and apparantly Vandersteen agrees according to what you have said in your quote from the instruction manual;

    "All the speaker cables in a bi-wire set should be the same type."

    Then what case could be made for biwiring? Simply this. We know that woofers can generate a back emf, especially woofers that have a large mass and are poorly mechanically damped. Biwiring places the output terminals of the amplifier electrically between the woofer and the rest of the system. In this case the two sets of speaker wires can be viewed as four very low value resistors putting the amplifier output electrically halfway between the woofer and the midrange/tweeters. This makes the amplifier damping more effective at surpressing the spurious back emf from reaching the midrange and tweeters than if they were connected to each other at the speaker terminals. However, there are arguements against this as well, one of which is that the crossover network components for the midrange and tweeter would likely filter this spurious signal out anyway and if you use a separate active subwoofer, the woofer in the bi-wired system may not generate much of a back emf signal to worry about.

    Of course, DBTs would be helpful in figuring out if and where this technique would be of benefit. I personally have no experience with this one way or the other so it's just a theory to consider.

    One other thing is that the ability to bi-wire a speaker also means it has the ability to bi-amplify that speaker and I think that a much better case can be made for that.

  8. #8
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pctower
    For what it’s worth, I do not follow that last piece of advising and use the separate output terminals on my JC-1s.
    As does HP with the Edge Signature monoblocks and the Alon Exoticas. I really like the Edge output post design as they have a large user friendly wingnut. Having said that, I have zero experience at home with biwiring because I use one-way speakers.


    Quote Originally Posted by pctower
    This may be as good a time as ever to say that the Handspring/Sprint Treo 600 is the coolest techno-gadget man has ever invented. It replaced my pcs phone, Palm Pilot and Goodlink G100. In addition, it serves as a modem for my laptop operating through Sprint’s Vision network. It even has its own browser which actually half-way works..
    If you're trying to make me jealous, it is working! I have carried around my two separate boxes, phone and Palm, for years and yearned for a single box solution. While the Treo covers all the bases, I find the ergonomics of the Samsung flavor somewhat better. It is narrower, more compact as it is a flip design, and still uses the graffiti instead of the chiclet keyboard.

    http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/artic...,110441,00.asp

    rw
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Biwiring-edgerear.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    As does HP with the Edge Signature monoblocks and the Alon Exoticas. I really like the Edge output post design as they have a large user friendly wingnut. Having said that, I have zero experience at home with biwiring because I use one-way speakers.



    If you're trying to make me jealous, it is working! I have carried around my two separate boxes, phone and Palm, for years and yearned for a single box solution. While the Treo covers all the bases, I find the ergonomics of the Samsung flavor somewhat better. It is narrower, more compact as it is a flip design, and still uses the graffiti instead of the chiclet keyboard.

    http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/artic...,110441,00.asp

    rw
    I considered the Samsung, but it uses Palm OS 4.0, which severly limits it. With the 600, I'm able to use our firm's GoodLink server, which is huge for me as it gives me instantaneous e-mail sync as well as sincying with contacts, calendar (which changes frequently with docketing changes) and tasks. The docking system we use employees Outlook e-mail for scheduling, and GoodLink allows me to respond and get it on my calendar right away.

    I also installed a program that allows me to easily retrieve personal e-mails from my home computer and reply to them.

    The software people are falling all over themselves to write new programs for the 600 and most I have tried work like a charm. For example, with Dataviz' Word to Go, I can receive MS Word (and Excel) attachments, edit them, retain formating and send them back or forward them.

    The main limit from my perspective is that no one yet has an addon that will convert pdf image only email attachments for viewing.

    As for ergonmics, I installed jot and it works far better than Graffiti 1, IMHO. QuickWrite is a niffty virtual keyboard with word-complete capability. Also, I have the portable keyboard for the 600. And the built-in keyboard isn't bad, and I have big, big fingers.

    But, what may really has caught my eye is:

    http://store.yahoo.com/ibizpda/vike.html

    Not sure if it will initially be compatible with the 600, but I'm sure it will be soon.

    Only downer for me is the camera. It's worthless, yet it causes problems when I want to take it to court with me. They're coming out with a non-camera model in April. I'm sure bluetooth and hirez screen are soon to come.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Monstrous Mike's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=SwerdSpeaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary[/QUOTE]
    Having two sets of terminals on a speaker allows for bi-amping which can indeed affect the sound of a system. I don't believe most people here would benefit but you never know. It seems like overkill.

    Perhaps this was the original intention of multiple terminals and somebody figured that saving money and using two sets of wires instead of two amps would give some benefit as well. This doesn't need to be scientifically proven, just reported on audio boards as having a benefit and then next you know, it's a fact of life.
    Friends help friends move,
    Good friends help friends move bodies....

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    Mytrycraft, okiemax, maxg, pctower, skeptic, et al, thanks for your replies.

    Maxg - it is interesting that you say “Biwiring is one of the few things in cabling that my mind tells me should make a difference.”, where I always thought it didn’t make sense at an intuitive level. In practice, I’m not sure if I can or cannot hear a difference, where you say you can’t hear a difference. So much for one man’s opinion. . .

    Skeptic - I had heard the back emf explanation before, and it sounded like a reasonable phenomena to someone like myself who has a freshman level understanding of physics and electronics. I never did know whether there was anything real to it. In my thinking, I thought biwiring was not unlike attributing the loss of high frequency signals when transmitted over cables to the skin effect. It sounds like it could be possible, but when presented quantitatively, skin effect doesn’t account for significant losses of signal strength until the frequencies get several orders of magnitude higher than 20kHz.

    Pctower - thanks for looking up what your owner’s manual says about biwiring. I have to admit, it was Vanderstein’s instructions on biwiring that caused me to rethink this issue. My brother has Vanderstein 3A signatures, and I got to help him haul them around, install, and wire them. (I was carefull not to drool on them while doing this.) When someone like Richard Vanderstein plainly says biwire these speakers, who am I to doubt him?

    "I did what no self-respecting male should ever get caught dead doing and consulted the owner’s manual." Its big of you to admit this. Dave Barry claims he knows the real reason why men never ask directions (or consult manuals). If prehistoric cavemen asked another man for directions, he had to turn over his women to him. This behavior has been carefully preserved to modern times. It is probably the reason why most of us post answers to questions on AR.com. PCT, if I were you, I’d be concerned about your wife and Richard Vanderstein!

    I came up with a thought experiment last night to see if the effects of biwiring could be measured in a lab. This is easy to imagine because I have no hands on experience with laboratory electronic measurements used in audio. I would appreciate if one of you could apply a reality check for this.

    I am not familiar with the kinds of tests and equiptment that speaker designers use when testing designs, but I have seen graphs of frequency response, impulse response, step response, and cumulative spectral decay (often called waterfall plots). It seems that computerized software that records the data for one of these graphs (or some other type of analysis) should allow someone to digitally record the response of a speaker while monowired and while biwired. You could then compare the two profiles on some appropriate computer software. Digitally overlay them or subtract one plot from another to show the difference plot if any. It might then be possible to determine if the difference could be audible or not.

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    Thoughtful reply

    Quote Originally Posted by Swerd
    A subject that occasionally is discussed here is whether biwiring speakers provides any audible benefit. The replies are typically divided into the usual polarized camps. I offer a few samples below, hoping that someone can offer answers that are more thoughtful:



    • Biwiring means only buy wire. It does nothing at all.
    • Speaker manufacturers provide biwire hookups because of marketing reasons, not because there is any real benefit. They do not want to loose customers who may believe this feature is necessary.
    • Why do you care what others may say? Try it yourself and trust your ears.
    There are numerous speaker manufacturers who provide the separate crossovers and terminals needed for biwiring or biamping, especially on their higher priced models. Usually they are supplied with a strap or bar that bridges the terminals, allowing the option of standard wiring. Some makers, like Vanderstein, leave this part out, in essence, recommending biwiring. Other makers, such as Thiele, choose to provide only one pair of terminals, preventing the possibility of biwiring.

    What information have any of you learned about why such experienced and respected speaker designers arrive at these opposing decisions?

    PC Tower, you have mentioned your Vanderstein 5 speakers. Have you ever asked Richard Vanderstein why he recommends biwiring? I have listened to his 2ce and 3A signature models and love them. His reasons would be interesting to know. I am also curious why Jim Thiele avoids building biwiring hookups in his speakers.
    The fact that audio component makers allow for biwiring can be explained in the following ways:

    1) They want to allow for biamping, which does make some sense from an audible viewpoint.

    2) They want to appear to be "high end" (to sell more speakers and to sell them at a higher price). And, the high end "believes in" biwiring.

    3) They are businessmen and marketers and are no more able to distinguish hogwash from real concerns than, say, many of the readers of this forum.

    I'd say you should make no assumptions about the validity of home audio accessories or design simply based on the "respectability" of component makers. Their stated goal is to make money, not give accurate, scientific information.

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