Bi-amping and Bi-wiring
Two set of 5–way binding posts are common on high–performance speakers. High–end speakers can typically take in more current, which is when bi–amping or bi–wiring can be useful. An amplifier or receiver can output the mid and high frequencies to one set of speaker’s binding post. The lower frequencies can then be sent to the other set of speaker’s binding posts. This allows the mid–range and tweeter drivers to be independent from the woofer drivers. The result is a higher fidelity sound.
Bi–amping uses two amplifiers in your receiver or amplifier to drive a speaker instead of the normal single channel driving a speaker. This allows the mid–range and tweeter drivers to have their own current source, and the power hungry woofer drivers to have their own current source. The benefits are electrical isolation between high and lows of the speaker system, reduced crosstalk, and double the power.
Bi–wiring uses a single amplifier to drive a speaker, but with one set of wires going to the mid–range and tweeter drivers, and one set of wires going to the woofer drivers. Bi–wiring does not increase the power as bi-amping does, and usually has a negligible performance difference.
Speakers with two sets of 5–way binding post can also be connected to a single channel from an amplifier or receiver. However, make sure to remove the jumpers between the two sets when connecting in a bi–amping or bi–wiring configuration.
Amplifier / Preamp Tips
- The lower the speaker’s impedance is, the more current (or power) a receiver or amplifier will have to provide.
- Watts Per Channel (WPC) ratings should be tested when all speakers are active and in use. Sometimes companies will give their ratings when only one speaker is connected, which will give you an inflated value.
- Another way manufactures can inflate power ratings is to not give a full–bandwidth power rating. A full–bandwidth power rating is a more reliable rating because it is performed over the entire range of frequencies audible to human ears, which is 20 to 20,000 Hz.
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) is another measurement used by receivers or amplifiers. THD is a measurement used to show how much distortion or noise a receiver or amplifier produces in sounds. Amplifiers with the cleanest sound will typically have THD ratings below 0.1%.
- Remove the jumper between the two sets of 5–way binding posts before connecting a bi–wiring or bi–amping system. Your amplifier or receiver can be toast if you don’t.
- Use bi–amping when you can. Bi–wiring has a negligible performance difference.