Benefits and Drawbacks to Shotgun Speaker Cables

Hello everybody, just wondering what the technical differences are between Shotgun and normal speaker cables. I know there are two cables instead of one. I'd like to know the technical differences, like conductance measurements etc... Also, what experiences have you had with Shotgun speaker cables? What was the biggest change that it brought to your system?
I think the only benefits to the "shotgun" type of bi-wiring is neatness and less cost. Richard Vandersteen specifically recommends TRUE bi-wiring for his 2Ce and better speakers. I've recently tried both on the Vand. 5s, and the 4 separate wires per speaker is better sounding. The shotgun cables sounded warmer, somewhat more veiled, more congested and less dynamic-- especially with complex music than the true bi-wired system.

The differences were noticeable but not dramatic, and the warmth of the shotgun wires was nice with some music. I was using Syn. Res. Sig. #2 cables vs the new Sig. #10 (shotgun)-- which is the replacement model for the #2. Cheers. Craig
This is a term that i've heard used with various meanings. Can someone please explain what the "accepted" meaning of "shotgun cables" is ?

I've been told that "shotgunning" cables is when you take all of the conductors ( pos and neg ) of one speaker cable and use them for one polarity and then use all of the conductors of an identical cable for the other polarity. You then have two individual but identical "barrels" side by side ( ala a shotgun ) with twice the "firepower" ( gauge ) that you would normally have by splitting the conductors of one cable between polarities.

Is this correct or am i off in left field on this one ??? Sean
Sean I think you've got it. Shotgun configuration is simply two wires that end with one termination. So for my Red terminal on my right speaker I have ONE run of Shotgunned cables and the same for the black. So I have 4 cables per speaker. I've noticed a HUGE difference in sound quality. I'm not talking a bit here... My system has jumped on to the resolution bandwagon :)

Garfish, I think you're a little confused about 'Shotgun' because this method of cabling actually doubles the cost because you've got double the cable for each run. And there's no Bi-wiring/Bi-amping going on in my system.
Sean, you are correct, Garfish is referring to true double bi-wire rather than shotgun I beleive, as opposed to a single bi wire configuration. For example if you used kimber8(one strand on each side) and seperated out some of the conductors for the "high" and "low" in a single pair(this would require being careful to get this right(Audio Quest and other companies do this), that could or would be single or internal bi-wire. True bi-wire would have two runs per side and shot gun would have 4 per side on a bi-wire, both the black and blue in Kimber (8tc)would be grouped together and not seperated as + or -. shot gun can also refer to a non bi-wire configuration and use two seperate runs per side. Dont confuse this with MIT shotgun which is different. Clear as mud?
Buckingham, to answer your question, go to the Audioquest web site, and read their explanation of bi-wireing. This is is one of the best explanations I have seen.(you may have to search around since the site is a bit strange at first)They don't mention specifically shotgun but they will talk about the benifit of the added conductors and the seperation of electrical fields.It will take a bit of interpretation to apply this to "shotgun". I first tried "shotgun" before I new it was "shotgun" back in about 1981 with my then, Mogami speaker cable. It improved the sound in just about every way(it sounded more lifelike) with that wire. I can't say it will happen with every cable out there.
Here's my understanding, please educate me if I'm wrong:

Bi-wire = four conductors in one cable / speaker
Bi-cable = two conductors in two cables / speaker
Shotgun = four cables / speaker

I've tried all of them. If your speakers are truley bi-wireable (internally split crossovers, not just two sets of binding posts to one crossover) you will surely hear an improvement. Currently I'm running Transparent Super Bicable XL's (two - two conductor cables in one conduit, networked), but am looking to go Shotgun. That way I can utilize the multiple Ohm taps on my monoblocks, running 4-8 ohm to my tweeters and 2-4 ohm to my woofers (bi-wireable 2-way monitors).
Here is a link to a single run of Biwire Shotgun speaker cables. With this cable you would have 8 cables per speaker! I have a similar cable but it is not bi-wired. So it is 2 cables per red and 2 cables per black on each side, each ending in separate WBT banana terminations.
Now that we've got that cleared up, running cables in shotgun fashion will DRASTICALLY alter their electrical characteristics. Any "special geometry" between the positive and negative conductors in the original design that was included to increase cable bandwidth ( such as braiding, twisting, etc...) is effectively negated when doing this. Inductance will go WAY up and series resistance should be reduced by half. In effect, we have doubled the gauge of conductors and increased the dielectric gap between the two polarities by a massive amount.

Since the resistance is lowered ( this is a good thing ), you might have better control over the drivers that produce the most reflected EMF ( electromotive force aka "voltage ) like woofers, etc... However, the increased inductance will produce greater roll-off and veiling of details as frequency rises. Dielectric absorption is also increased, as you've got twice as much insulator / cable jacket to work with.

The bottom line is that you'll probably experience warmer, tighter and more robust low frequency response with a softening of upper mids and treble response. One could somewhat "fine tune" the tonal balance of an arrangement like this by playing with the spacing or "gap" between the positive and negative cables. Some have used this to "smooth out" problems with digital glare or sibilance with great results.

Obviously, some speaker / amp / wire combo's would respond differently than others depending on the complex impedance that resulted. Results WILL vary from system to system and would be strictly a matter of personal taste. Sean

Following on Sean's ideas, if you have bi-wire speakers you could try just the "shotgun" set up for the lows and "norman" bi-wire on the top to reduce the effects that he and both Garfish suggest in the soffened high end but perhaps with the greater bass controll that the shotgun "could" provide with some cables. Again to use Kimber 8TC as an example(it works well to illustrate it since it has no real outer jacket to hide what is going on inside,black normaly used for the - side and blue used for the + side) it would be two runs(one for+ and one for -, both black and blue combined, ) to the bass and a single run to the top on each side(with the black and blue wires seperated as normal) for a total of 6 runs of cable.
Hey Sean, I've had the opposite happen here. More high freq information for sure. I've had many veils lifted after only the first day of break-in. Bass sounds quite different. Overall the soundstage is much larger (especially in the Y axis). The speakers seem to have a much easier time reproducing images very deep in the soundstage.
My experience with biwiring my Triangle Cometes (two seperate sets of cable on each side, I think this qualifies as shotgun but I'm still a little confused) produced exactly the same results Buckingham described. An audiophile buddy and myself immediately noticed a taller and deeper soundstage, along with a sense of ease and seperation between instruments that never seemed muddy or jumbled before, but after biwiring there was no question. Actually, I was astonished at the difference this configuration made with my speakers. Before, I had accepted these speakers as kind of a compromise for now. Now I'm really loving them! I would never have known what these speakers could do until I tried biwiring.
Buckingham, as i mentioned, every system can react differently. There are SO many variables with different cable geometries and gauges, etc... My comments were based on "generic" standards as to what "should" happen in "theory". I have learned enough to know that not everything follows theory though, so it is quite possible that you have stumbled across a killer combo.

I have some interconnects that are higher in capacitance than many other designs. While this typically results in high frequency softening and roll off, many that have used them have commented that treble sounds much more focused and detailed with greater depth to the soundstage. While i would agree with their comments in many situations, i know that the cables achieve these results by softening some of the upper midrange ( i.e. "grain and glare" ) that is present in many SS systems. By getting rid of what is normally distracting or fatiguing, it is easier to concentrate on what is left. Hence the "greater detail and focus" and smoother overall sound. The "greater depth" is also "psycho-acoustic" in the fact that when you remove upper harmonics of instruments and voices, they appear to be further away or "deeper" in the recorded presentation. Sean
Jfaker, I don't think we have cleared up what shotgun is yet, Sean said it best, but I will try to sumerize. A "standard" speaker set up uses a single + connection and a - connection for each channel. This is the same for a single"standard" amp configuration. Lets use zip cord for our model. In the standard connection you conect one side of the zip cord to + and one side to - on both ends. A "bi-wire" speaker has two + connections and two - connections on each speaker. To bi-wire with our zip cord we hook up two runs of it, connecting both runs to one + terminal on the amp end and both runs to one - terminal of the amp. On the speaker end we connect the two + ends to the two + terminals on the speaker and the two - ends to the two - treminals. Here is the "Shotgun" set up. Forget bi-wire for a while since you can "shotgun" with a bi-wire or a "standard" speaker connection. Sean already said this but I will try again with the zip cord. Zip cord has two wires,one ment for the + signal and one ment for the - signal. To "shotgun" all you do is twist the + and - together to make one conductor, now take another run of Zip and do the same thing. Now you have two seperate zip cords, that used to have two conductors each. They now have one each.Use one as + and one as -. Connect one of the twisted together zip cords to the + and one of the twisted together zip cords to the - terminals on the speaker. Do the same on your amp. This will hook up one standard speaker. Do the same for the other side and you now have "shotgun". It is simply using a seperate 2 conductor zip cable for each connection, as Sean said it doubles the gauge of the wire. Again "zip" cord is only used in this context as a tool to explain what "shotgun" is, not as an endorsement of zip cord. I still think people are confusing standard "bi-wire" with "shotgun".
I think Audiogon needs a "chalk board" feature so right brain "artist" types like my self who can't explain anything clearly can draw a diagram instead.
Hey Guys

I uploaded a sketch of what I've got right now that I refer to as Shotgun
There are 2 cables per terminal, so 4 per speaker.
Buckingham,I think it will still confuse some out there. Looks like what you are doing IS (standard 2 terminal) shotgun. All conductors in each wire(which were intended to be used as +And-) are now grouped together as + in one cable and - in the second, for each side. Now throw bi-wire shotgun in there and I think people will still be unclear on it. I think that some of the confusion comes from the manufacturers using their own terms. Terms like "single bi-wire" and "internal bi-wire" which are the same thing in my understanding. I still think AudioQuest does a good job of illustrating and explaining the bi wire thing, along with some good discussion of electrical properties, with some AQ propaganda thrown in. They think solid round conductors are best,Nordost says flat, Analysis says oval, I think they are all sort of right, maybe, perhaps? I want a solid stranded braided round flat oval networked teflon foam air liquid insulated silver copper internal single bi-wire shotgun cable. Not too much to ask? My head hurts now.
Buckingham, that was a valiant attempt at artwork and being helpful. Glad to see that i'm not the only "scribbler" out there : )

I agree with Maxgain about this still not clearly showing what we are talking about. One would almost need a color coded drawing to fully clarify things.

The easiest way that i can think to explain this is to use a double barrelled shotgun as an example. Think of a double barrelled "side by side" shotgun ( not an "over and under ) design. You have your right barrel ( call this the positive wire ) and the left barrel ( the negative ). Instead of having the two barrels used individually for each polarity ( + and - ), they are tied together at each end. In effect, you know have one barrel that is twice as big. Since you only have one conductor to "shoot" the signal from the amp to the speaker ( we'll call this one positive ), you now need an identical yet seperate "shotgun" ( cable ) to make up the necessary negative lead. In effect, you now have four smaller wires acting as two bigger wires.

While a similar effect can be achieved in a multi strand or "internal bi-wire" cable due to the plethora of smaller wires in one bigger jacket , the main difference in "shotgunning" is that each polarity ( + & - ) are completely seperated from each other within their own jackets. They also have an air gap between the two polarities.

That large air gap is what increases the inductance of the cable. The closer the cables are brought together, the lower the inductance would be. That is why cables like Goertz, which are flat strips of copper or aluminum sandwiched as close together as possible, are very high in capacitance and very low in inductance. Zip cord is higher in inductance because of the bigger gap / thicker insulator between the two polarities. Sean
Hi (again) All; to me, and to Richard Vandersteen, TRUE bi-wiring is four SEPARATE cables going to each speaker from the amp(s)-- these four wires are not enclosed in common sheath. The Vandersteen manual makes this clear. A shotgun system has all the wires (either two or four) enclosed in a sheath with four terminals at the speaker end but only two at the amp end. So, given equal quality, a TRUE bi-wire system will cost more, and be "messier", than a shotgun system. Cheers. Craig
Garfish, you are confusing shotgun with internal bi-wire, read Sean's last post or my zip cord analogy. You are correct about true bi-wire though. Go to the AudioQuest site and read their bi-wire explanation it will cover different possibilities. I don't mean to be contrary Craig, it's just that I thought we finnaly cleared it up.
I think everybody has a different definition of what Shotgun, Bi-wiring, true Bi-wiring etc...
Maxgain; you are correct, I was not differentiating between "shotgun" and "internal bi-wiring". I do know the difference, but was just trying to specifically define true bi-wiring. Cheers. Craig
.........went back and re-read the posts above-- it turned my brain to cheese. The Syn. Res. Sig. #10 that I recently tried (in addition to my own true bi-wire set), had only two cables per speaker with four terminal wires on the speaker end but only two (+ and -) on the amp end. The dealer called it internal bi-wire, but because of the 4 spades on the speaker end, I took it to mean "shotgun". Sorry about the confusion on my part. I'll look up the AQ site-- after I have some chinese;>)

The only thing I'm now clear about is what true bi-wiring is 'cuz the Vaqndersteen manual has a very good diagram of it. Cheers again. Craig
"Ummmmmmm. Chineeeeese." - Homer Simpson
Craig, to shotgun you would need two "true bi-wire" sets of speaker cables. 8 seperate cables. It's just one of those hard to explain things. Enjoy the cung pow chicken. Your fortune cookie says "you will see it all very clearly soon"! ?
"I think everybody has a different definition of what Shotgun, Bi-wiring, true Bi-wiring etc..."

Who started this ?! Oh yeah - it WAS you, wasn't it, Bucky!

I look at it this way - I need to make the left/right/+/- on my amp connect to the left/right/+/- on my speakers. That's simply 4 conductors of any design. Using simple zip cord, that'd be your basic single wire setup.

If I bi-amp, then I must bi-wire. Now I have 8 outs from the amp, and I need to provide a conductor (again, of any non-specific configuration) to drive the 8 input posts on the speakers (4 ea x 2 speakers).

I can shotgun from a single amp - split out 4 inputs at a speaker from the 2 outputs of the amp, but that's just a fancier way of doing the same basic thing - make left/right/+/- leaving the amp go left/right/+/- in at the speaker. But with a single amp, you can't actually "bi-wire". If I rip my zip cord in half so each side is a separate strand, I'm not bi-wiring, I'm just separating conductors. Just because zip cord is normally built with two conductors, running a separate zip with the ends twisted together to run from amp left plus to the left plus on the speaker doesn't make this a bi-wire, it just makes the two conductors into a single wire, functionally no different than tearing one zip cord in half. And running one separate conductor to the tweeter in and one to the woofer in won't make this bi-wire either, if they both terminate on the same output post on the amp (it would, however, meet my understanding of "shotgun" wiring).

Gawd this does get ugly, doesn't it?

But the point I was getting to there goes to the issue of "true" bi-wiring. Lets not confuse conductors with cables with wires, rather, lets just count the requisite functions. With a standard two channel amp driving a pair of standard speakers, you need left/right/+/-, and we accomplish this with 4 conductors in typically 2 cables. To do otherwise requires additional outputs, hence the bi-amp issue. Now you have 2 sets of left/right/+/-, ergo, you need twice the wiring. But to do this, you typically need to remove the internal crossover on the speaker, so now you're actually in effect working with 4 speakers, each with it's own left/right/+/-. Same thing, just multiple instances.

Whether any of this really gets us better sound - I dunno. I may shotgun my Silverlines just because I can, and when I do I'll let ya'll know how it works out. Meanwhile, I only listen to music, and I am lucky and happy to have what I have!

Oh well count me out of this one, ya'll have fun!
(Maxgain leaves muttering to himself)

Kindly allow me to quote myself: "I look at it this way..." So of course, I must respond "Yes, yes, yes" (sans the absurdly suggestive phrasing of a current television commercial, if you please :)

It seems to me that all this bi-wiring, shotgun wiring, internal bi-wire, etc is just so much semantics and marketing hype that serves only to SELL WIRE. I see only two meaningful purposes to using something other than zip cord for connecting amp to speaker - increase in gauge of the conductor carrying the signal, and eliminating crosstalk between the conductors. Both of which constitute admirable goals, neither of which, imho, warrant hugely complicated wiring schemes. That's just HYPE, a sufficient amount of which already exists in this field. My car has all wheel drive - I dunno whether its Hydostatic, DynoStatic, or Whackostatic, I just know all four wheels go like I need them to. That was the approach I intended with my post. Nonetheless, I apologise to all I may have left muttering to themselves - assuredly, that wasn't my desire!

I'm thinking about getting these "Shotgun" speaker cables Cryogenically treated.. Won't that be fun??
........Buck, if you get them cryo treated, don't bend them or they'll shatter into 10,000 The Terminator;>). Cheers. Craig
Costrosk,No offense intended, It's too bad you feel that way though. I just think you might miss out on something , not to say that you need to spend 10K on speaker wire, it's just that all wires seem to sound different and it is a very complex science and not entirely hype.

We do need to define our terms though. I just find it amazing that so many people here do not know what bi-wireing is, let alone "shotgun". How can we even discuss this if we all have a "different deffinition". What if I had my own term for RCA connectors, or if I used my own term for speakers. I am only trying to say that our communications will break down worse than they normaly do here. I always get frustrated posting. I refrained from doing so for a month or so. I think I need another month off. I wish I knew how to post in Russian, it would be just as heplful. Garfish is right about true bi-wireing, and he quotes a reputable source. I say "no' only cuz you still don't have it right. Just trying to help!
Well folks, its my understanding that shotgun and external biwiring were the same; with the alternative being internal biwiring. My AQ Crystal were set up for internal biwiring, with two terminations per channel (and physical cable) at the amp end and 4 at the speaker end. My DH Labs Silver Sonics were set up as external (or what I call shotgun) biwiring, with two physical cables; 2 terminations at the amp end and 4 at the speaker end per channel.
You folks are right. It can become pretty confusing. I can see how Craig and Swampwalker could see the two seperate bi-wiring cables as being a "shotgun" configuration. While I have never been a fan of internal bi-wiring, that is not to say that it might not work out for some folks. Personally, i just don't see the benefits to splitting the signal within the same cable jacket. Sean
I have found the only drawback to using shotgunned cable is there bulk.My wife can only see the difference but wow the sound improvement is huge.Every aspect is vastly improved upon.Size, space, frequency extremes, dynamics.Most of all is all the subtle stuff all that extra music.To do all this the termination is so important.

No offense taken, at all, sir, in fact I am grateful for your efforts to steer us all straight. And I fully concur that common terms and definitions would be a wonderful thing. As this thread demonstrates, such a thing is still somewhat out of our grasp, unfortunately, and I suppose I did nothing to advance that cause with my previous posts. I stand by my concepts, but will be happy to agree to anything anyone can post that will establish some common nomenclature.

Costrosk,you and I do have a different idea of waht "shogun" means. My only real point of contention with what you are saying is that you can in fact"true" bi-wire with a single stereo amp. All of the speaker manufacturers that I am aware of that put bi-wire connectors on their speakers(I have had speakers set up like this nearly 20 years)refer to bi-wireing as two sets of speaker wire connected in paralel(both sets of wire running from the same amp outputs) from each output on a stereo amp to the four terminals on the back of each speaker. I.E. two connections on the amp end + and - for each channel(the + and - conductors are connected together at the amp), and four connections on the speaker end 2+ and 2- for each speaker. You are correct that to bi-amp you need the same speaker wire set up(two stereo sets) they are just not run in paralel from one amp but run from two seperate amps.
From the Vandersteen manual"Bi-wiring provides many of the sonic attributes of bi-amping without the cost and complexity of two stereo amps. Bi-wiring is recommended for all systems using a receiver, integrated amplifier or single stereo amplifier. Four identical runs of equal length speaker cables are required.(two per speaker)"and"Connect both speaker cables to your amplifier. If possible, use only one spade lug to connect both wires to each terminal as shown in the enlarged view of an amp connection." sorry we will have to do without the "as shown" part. Das Vedanya!
Max my boy- interesting to see you quoting RV ;>) But you are correct. The difference in nomenclature is with single biwire vs. double which I believe is the same as internal vs. external or internal vs. shotgun. In my mind, shotgun=external biwire, while internal=single. Now RV says that true biwire requires two sets of cables, connected to same posts at speaker end, not even terminated together. Well, I guess I can live with that as true biwire, and I will say that in my recent upgrade, I went from an external biwire (2 spades at amp to 4 at speakers) to a "true" biwire, with 4 spades at amp (two on each binding post) to 4 at speaker (two on woofer and 2 on mid/tweets). It does sound great, but you do have to be careful about the + and - spade touching at the amp. That would be called "blown outputs" biwiring, the most expensive form.
Regardless of who said it, i don't think that bi-wiring comes even REMOTELY close to actively bi-amping. The results of bypassing passive crossover networks and going "direct drive" is pretty staggering to say the least. Notice the key word here is "actively". One can achieve beneficial results "passively" bi-amping if you bandwidth limit the input to each amp using something along the lines of "F-mods", etc...

When my brother went from passively quad-amping with passive crossovers at the speakers to actively quad-amping, the results were staggering to say the least. The difference was SO drastic, I would have swore that we were listening to a COMPLETELY different system. Needless to say, he was tickled to death with the results. Sean