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  • To bi-wire or not to bi-wire...?

    CAVEAT: I am well aware that posting anything even remotely cable-related is playing with fire, so I’ll just state at the outset that my purpose is to open a discussion concerning the relative merits of different wiring configurations for speakers which provide for biwiring, not whether or not the cables mentioned (or any other cables) are this, that or the other thing, or whether or not speaker manufacturers who provide for biwiring are in cahoots with the cable manufacturers to force us to buy more expensive cable. Also, I made the same post on another audio forum, so forgive me for repeating myself if you also happen to be a member of both.

    Lately I have been experimenting with bi-wiring my Totem Forest Signature speakers. In the past, I have owned, among other things, several different pairs of Vandersteens (2C, 4A and Quatro), and in those cases I almost invariably bi-wired, although I did not always follow vandersteen’s very strenuous recommendation to use separate runs of the same cable, as opposed to internally bi-wired cable, and never seriously experimented with single wire and jumpers configuration. Other speakers I have owned - from Wilson, Thiel, DeVore and Quad (to name a few) - did not provide for biwiring. Recently, I have run across several knowledgeable people (including my dealer) who have put forth the propositon that biwiring might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Indeed, Totem is not nearly as adamant about bi-wiring as Vandersteen, although my speakers are built with four wbt binding posts that are so well made they are indeed a pleasure to use. I had been using the MIT CVT Terminator 1 biwire speaker cable for most of the past year, and with very satisfying results. But having an opportunity to grab a single wire pair of Shotgun S1 for a song, an amp which provides an extra set of binding posts expressly for biwiring, and a decent set of audioquest copper jumpers with silver clad spades, I decided to play.

    First, the CVT1 bi-wire presented a very nice overall tonal balance, with a deep, wide soundstage and plenty of dynamics, all of which are hallmarks of the ‘MIT sound’. If I had one complaint, it was that the bass response was not all that it could be, but I had written that off to the cost of moving from Vandersteen Quatros with built in powered subwoofers to the comparatively diminutive Totems. However, when I replaced the CVT Terminator 1 bi-wire with the Shotgun S1 single wire and the aq jumpers, hooked up in the ‘normal’ fashion (speaker wire to woofer inputs, jumpers from woofer inputs to tweeter inputs), I heard a huge increase in bass transparency and space, but the overall presentation was a tad on the dark side (very sexy and musically involving, but probably not totally ‘accurate’). Reversing the connections over-emphasized the tweeters (a total non-starter for me), but the Totem-preferred diagonal wiring scheme (+ to the woofer and - to the tweeter, jumpers rearranged accordingly) gave the best overall tonal balance while preserving most of what I had gained in terms of transparency and bass traction. Pretty good, and better than the internally bi-wired cable I had been living with, but, like most of us, I want it all, so the next move was to eliminate the jumpers, install the S1 direct to the woofer inputs and, from the second set of binding posts on the Plinius, the CVT 1 direct to the tweeter inputs.

    And there it was.

    I now had (have) all of the bass majesty that I had gotten from the S1 direct to the woofer terminals, coupled with the sweetest, most delicately detailed, absolutely delicious treble, transparent, tactile midrange and 3-D imaging I have ever experienced in my home. Only the Quad ESL-63 has come close, but without the frequency extremes.

    So, my conclusion: In my system (as set forth in my signature), in my room and using only what was on hand, the Vandersteen bi-wiring method is correct - double bi-wiring is clearly the way to go, followed by single wiring with jumpers*. The internally bi-wired cable, with which I was perfectly happy until I tried this experiment, and which I suspect is the default mode for many of us with bi-wirable speakers, ultimately proved to be the least satisfying option of all. While the amp never sounded like it was struggling before, it now sounds like it has been freed from some constraint and the entire presentation is more fluid, natural and immersive, with the music emanating effortlessly from a cohesive soundstage. I’ll leave it to those better versed and/or more interested in the technical side of things to debate whether or not my observations make any sense, I just know that I am currently getting the best sound I’ve ever had in my room.

    NB:
    I realize that that I may just have gotten lucky - the CVT 1 and S1 are not identical cables (which violates at least one of Vandersteen’s rules of bi-wiring), and so may have just hit upon a combination that happens to work for me, but I do not have unlimited access to cables so I used what I had available and they are ‘close enough for jazz’, as the saying goes. I’m satisfied that the differences I’m hearing are attributable to the different wiring schemes with which I experimented, rather than any minute difference in cable architecture.

    This does not purport in any way to be a controlled experiment, a comprehensive overview or a definitive conclusion - it is nothing more than the recent observations of a long-time music-lover and audiophile who loves to play around with his equipment (except when he doesn’t) and likes to think he is open-minded about all things audio.

    YMMV

    * I did experiment with a couple of different jumpers, but the aq was clearly the best of what I had available.
    Last edited by Nscohen17; 12-30-2018, 04:10 PM.
    SME 10/IV, Lyra Kleos, Koetsu Blavk Goldline, Cotter Mk. 2L sut, Naim cd 3.5 2/ flatcap 2, Audioengine D2 WiFi dac (for streaming from iMac desktop), Plinius Hautonga, Totem Forest Signature, MIT Shotgun S1 phono, S3 (cd player), SL3 (dac), MIT StyleLink Plus usb, Shotgun S1 speaker cable with AQ jumpers, RGPC Substation and1200S, Marigo Ultra and Reference power cords, Burson Soloist, Focal Elear with Silver Dragon wire or Hifiman HE560 with clone ZMF Universe sheepskin pads and Furutech/Mogami wire, VPI 16.5 and other miscellaneous and sundry widgets, thingamabobs and doodads.

  • #2
    by biwire, you mean 2 pair of wires per speaker, one pair for bass, one pair for HF with separate terminations at the speaker but a common parallel connect to a single amp. right?
    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

    Comment


    • Nscohen17
      Nscohen17 commented
      Editing a comment
      Correct - the point I was trying to make is that the ‘true’ or ‘double’ biwire connection, as you described it (two cables on each side, with two terminations on each), gave me substantially better results than either single wire with jumpers or the single internally biwired ccable (one speaker cable with four terminations at the speaker end) to which I think many of us with biwirable speakers default. In the few discussions of this topic I’ve read through, that important distinction does not appear to be clearly made.

  • #3
    Same question here !
    analog stuff.
    otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
    otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
    sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
    new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
    thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
    thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
    kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
    phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
    speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
    mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
    digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
    Dacs lampi various

    Comment


    • Nscohen17
      Nscohen17 commented
      Editing a comment
      Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but see my comment above. I am trying inartfully to say that, at least in my experiment, two separate runs of cable - one for woofer and one for tweeter - were required to get the best from my biwirable speakers.

  • #4

    Ok I can truly except your findings in this.
    For me until I played further the best was this.
    12 gauge copper silver plated lamp cord.
    Each cord was used as one polarity alone. Then a gentle twist of the two at about 1 twist each 6 inches. Yes sounds stupid lol. But in ding so it was best compared to many variants of this wire. No twist or one pair and other types of wire. So when you Lay claim I read and trust.
    i could measure for why but it's conclusion is more about what we hear not always why. MIT Cables use a box for ind / cap values this too matters
    analog stuff.
    otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 made new by soren
    otari mtr 10 2 track 1/4 1/2 combo made new by soren
    sota sapphire used eminent tech ver 2 arm
    new sota nova table has magnetic levitation platter and full speed control and latest motor same arm as above
    thorens td124 sme ver 2 arm
    thorens td125 sme ver 2 arm
    kenwood direct drive sme ver 2 arm
    phono preamp Ml no 25 all re capped
    speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
    mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
    digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
    Dacs lampi various

    Comment


    • #5
      I have owned Vandersteens for 30 years so I have always bi-wired my speakers. I would seem as though a true bi-wire would have better results than an internal. That is what I have been using with my Model 7s. I know some people have a slightly different wire for the bass run and the treble/mid run. The Audioquest cables that came with Model 7s are specifically labeled for each set of terminals. I don't know if that is because the wire is different or just to provide the user with instructions.
      Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Zero; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Pacific

      Comment


      • #6
        I have bi wired and bi amped in the past with my Infinty QLS speakers vertical bi amped as well

        currently no bi amping or bi wiring I have gone with the idea of keep it simple and go with the best you can find afford and live with .

        Speakers at present are Martin logan CLXs plus 4 decent I subs so not as simple as it could be .

        Some of my equiment I plan for some of it finds me .

        The more complicated your set up the more problems you have to live with or find and fix .

        wire is very system dependent more wire is more so

        KISS can mean keep it simple stupid or the other sometimes both simple systems can give trouble elaborate systems can be trouble free but for a average guy simple is the easier way to go 9 time out of ten.

        Have fun

        I think bi wiring is good in some systems not all just my 2 cents worth

        Comment


        • #7


          I think bi wiring is good in some systems not all just my 2 cents worth[/QUOTE]

          No absolutes in audio Garth. That’s the real absolute. Each listener has to find their own nirvana.
          TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter matte & weight; Arcam R Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

          Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

          VTL 6.5 preamp Series II
          Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

          Piega C711 Loudspeakers

          Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

          Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator, Synergistic Research 12 UEF SE Line Conditioner, Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cords, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates, Synergistic Research Orange & Outlet, Furutech NCF Booster Braces, Audio Art Ref balanced IC, MIT Oracle IC, Synergistic Research Euphoria Level 3 Speaker Cables, Synergistic Research Cable Risers.

          Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD800s Headphones.

          Comment


          • Garth
            Garth commented
            Editing a comment
            I agree just try not to go over the cliff finding Nirvana LOL

        • #8
          Ive experimented with bi-wiring and in one case tri-wiring (Spendor SP100). Like other posters Ive owned a few Vandys the last being a pr of Quatros, Richard has optimized his speakers to sound best bi-wired, my experience bears that out. Ive had less success with Spendor, Harbeth et al where the difference is infinitesimal. One theory espoused elsewhere is that speakers with high-order filters, impedance compensation networks, etc. diminish the influence of back EMF produced by voice coils. bi-wiring may have marginal benefits in those cases.
          Simon Yorke + Zyx + B.M.C .> Soulution > Boulder > Magico

          "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

          Comment


          • #9
            I agree with what Rob said above.

            The better the system is, everything matters. I have had a considerable amount of experience with bi-wiring and passive bi-amping. I have found that speakers designed for bi-wiring sound the best with bi-wire cables.

            The first example in the diagram shows jumper plates. I hate jumper plates, never herd one that was acceptable. Replacing jumper plates with a high-quality jumper cable is better but not optimal.

            A bi-wire cable is usually designed to have specific wire types optimized for highs and lows. Having 4 wires in a single jacket is also neater. You can have a single pair of connectors at the input or two pairs at the input for amps with two outputs. The two-pair input version sounds better.

            The best solution is to have a conventional pair of cables to connect the amp (preferably with two outputs) connected to the speakers as shown in the forth example.

            Click image for larger version

Name:	Bi-Wire Speaker Cable Diagram.jpg
Views:	3513
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ID:	105128
            A good passive crossover designed for bi-wire/bi-amp will have completely separated HF and LF circuitry and work best when not tied together.
            Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
            Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
            Phono 1: VPI Prime Signature Belt-Drive Turntable with 10” 3D Printed Uni-pivot Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Decade Phono Preamp
            Phono 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable with 12” 3D Printed Fat Boy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
            R2R Tape: Studer A810 with Bridge Console
            Digital: Battery Powered Laptop running software on SSD, Music Files on USB SSD, and playback by JRMC. USB interface to M2Tech Young DAC
            Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
            Power: Audio-Ultra Power System, IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
            Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

            Comment


            • #10
              I biwire my maggies to my Amherst amp. I use 3 pairs of mega cable (heavy copper braid) 2 pairs in parallel to the LF panel, 1 pair to the HF tweeter.
              Last edited by JCOConnell; 12-31-2018, 08:23 PM. Reason: spelling
              Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

              Comment


              • #11
                The other advantage of the two pairs of conventional speaker cables is one pair can be selected to optimize/sound better with the highs and the other with the lows. Also, if you want to get rid of a bi-cable in the future, its a bitch.
                Speakers/Amps: Genesis G2.2 Jr with Powered Servo-Sub Bass, Genesis GR1440 Mono Amps, 5,000 watts total power
                Preamp: SMc Audio VRE-1C Preamp (fully balanced inputs and output)
                Phono 1: VPI Prime Signature Belt-Drive Turntable with 10” 3D Printed Uni-pivot Arm and Ortofon MC Windfeld Ti Phono Cartridge driving Lehmann Decade Phono Preamp
                Phono 2: VPI HW-40 Direct-Drive Turntable with 12” 3D Printed Fat Boy Gimbal Arm and Ortofon MC Anna Diamond Phono Cartridge driving Genesis Gold Phono Preamp
                R2R Tape: Studer A810 with Bridge Console
                Digital: Battery Powered Laptop running software on SSD, Music Files on USB SSD, and playback by JRMC. USB interface to M2Tech Young DAC
                Cables: Genesis Advanced Technologies/Absolute Fidelity Interface Interconnects, Speaker, Phono and Power
                Power: Audio-Ultra Power System, IsoTek Super Titan Passive Power Conditioning for Amplifiers
                Accessories: Custom Acrylic Equipment Stands, Klaudio Ultrasonic RCM

                Comment


                • JCOConnell
                  JCOConnell commented
                  Editing a comment
                  isn't that the only advantage?

                • Nscohen17
                  Nscohen17 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Definitely not the only or even the primary advantage. Separating the runs instead of having them twisted together inside the same jacket and NOT having different gauge cables top and bottom (as many cable manufacturers do with their internally biwired cable) are the stated primary advantages.

                  From the Vandersteen manual:

                  “TRUE BI-WIRE CONNECTIONS
                  True bi-wiring is recommended for all systems using a single stereo amplifier or two mono amplifiers. Four identical runs of equal length speaker cables are required. (Two per speaker.)
                  Please review the information on page 4 regarding cable selection and connection techniques before you connect your speakers.
                  1. Crimp and solder spade lugs to the speaker ends of the cables being used to connect the Quatros.
                  2. Choose one of the cables as the tweeter/midrange cable. Connect this cable to the two terminals on the right,
                  carefully observing proper polarity.
                  3. Connect the remaining cable to the two left terminals, carefully observing proper polarity.
                  4. Connect both cables in proper polarity to the same set
                  of outputs on your amplifier. If possible, use a single spade lug to connect both positive wires and a single spade lug to connect both negative wires to the amplifier as shown in the diagram to the right.
                  WE RECOMMEND TRUE BI-WIRING
                  a. All four speaker cables should be the same type and length. While certain different cable types may work well together, using identical cables on both inputs insures perfect blending.
                  b. Use high quality cables and spade lugs. Crimp and solder the spade lugs to the cables.
                  c. 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.
                  d. If your amplifier has multiple impedance taps, try the 4 ohm taps and 8 ohm taps to see which sound better. (They will sound different.) The Quatro is an easy
                  load and always stays between 4 and 8 ohms so there is no danger of damaging your amplifier or the speakers by using either set of taps. Both cables must be con- nected to the same rated taps on the amplifier.”

                  It goes on from there to recommend internally biwired cable only if your domestic situation requires it and specifically warns against the ones that use different cables for upper and lower, as that will change the intended tonal balance of the speaker.

              • #12
                Originally posted by Joe Pittman View Post
                I agree with what Rob said above.

                The better the system is, everything matters. I have had a considerable amount of experience with bi-wiring and passive bi-amping. I have found that speakers designed for bi-wiring sound the best with bi-wire cables.

                The first example in the diagram shows jumper plates. I hate jumper plates, never herd one that was acceptable. Replacing jumper plates with a high-quality jumper cable is better but not optimal.

                A bi-wire cable is usually designed to have specific wire types optimized for highs and lows. Having 4 wires in a single jacket is also neater. You can have a single pair of connectors at the input or two pairs at the input for amps with two outputs. The two-pair input version sounds better.

                The best solution is to have a conventional pair of cables to connect the amp (preferably with two outputs) connected to the speakers as shown in the forth example.

                Click image for larger version

Name:	Bi-Wire Speaker Cable Diagram.jpg
Views:	3513
Size:	233.1 KB
ID:	105128
                A good passive crossover designed for bi-wire/bi-amp will have completely separated HF and LF circuitry and work best when not tied together.
                Thank you for the illustration, Joe! The primary point I was trying to make is that, for me, the method represented by fourth picture (what I referred to as ‘true’ or ‘double’ biwiring is head and shoulders above the methods represented by the first two (I did not try the third, with four terminations at both ends of the same cable). Although I don’t own a pair of vandersteens at the moment, anyone who has knows that he insists that this is the only way to truly get the benefits of biwiring. After my little experiment, I agree, limiting my comments only to the specific equipment I used, but my intent was to get one or two people who believe they are getting the full benefits of biwiring by using one of the methods illustrated in your first three pictures to try the fourth method. They might be pleasantly surprised.
                SME 10/IV, Lyra Kleos, Koetsu Blavk Goldline, Cotter Mk. 2L sut, Naim cd 3.5 2/ flatcap 2, Audioengine D2 WiFi dac (for streaming from iMac desktop), Plinius Hautonga, Totem Forest Signature, MIT Shotgun S1 phono, S3 (cd player), SL3 (dac), MIT StyleLink Plus usb, Shotgun S1 speaker cable with AQ jumpers, RGPC Substation and1200S, Marigo Ultra and Reference power cords, Burson Soloist, Focal Elear with Silver Dragon wire or Hifiman HE560 with clone ZMF Universe sheepskin pads and Furutech/Mogami wire, VPI 16.5 and other miscellaneous and sundry widgets, thingamabobs and doodads.

                Comment

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