Bi-amping question

Well after reading numerous articles on bi-amping, I still haven't figured this out. I have a pr of Totem Sttafs I'm running with a 15wpc tube amp. It would probably be better with more power and was thinking of adding an old Yamaha 50wpc receiver or even an old Realistic 25wpc receiver, with the tubes running the highs and the receiver running the bass. Some articles make this sound like a useable thing, others insist the amps have to be identical or damage can occur. Anyone have any practicle advise a neophyte could understand. I don't want to just try it and then have to replace damaged speakers. Thanks
Post removed 
I agree with Bob (and if he and I agree you know it's right...or the world is about to end).

Consider subwoofers. You don't necessarily need to high-pass your main speakers either. Adding subs will add lots of power and low frequency capability while subjectively improving the higher frequencies as well.

I would absolutely not biamp as you propose. The "bass" driver on the Sttafs is actually a mid-bass driver - a good deal of your mid-range is produced by it - which is exactly what you want tubes for, not a mid or low fi receiver. If you had a SS amp of comparable quality to your tube amp, then maybe, but I'd still think twice about that.

Bob's suggestion is right on. Get yourself a subwoofer. Even if it's a budget subwoofer it will help some. If you can spare more change, a really good subwoofer (like a Rel or one of Totem's) would be very much worth the investment.

When I had my Sttafs I used a cheap-o infinity SW for a while and it was really nice (and I was driving the Sttafs with 200 watts/ch). I then got a Rel Storm III and it was amazing.

Further, my limited experience with Tubes on top, and SS on the bass was disappointing. It was very hard to tune in 2 amps, and I never did find the resulte satisfactory. I ended up giving up on the idea.
Question: How critical is the crossover in the loop between the amp and the Staffs versus just running separate lines directly to the sub and the speakers? My experience without one has been that a smaller amp will start to clip and the mid bass drivers on small bookshelf speakers will start to go all wobbly with bass rich material at higher volumes, while the powered sub just plows ahead undeterred. I have also heard that putting a less than high quality crossover in the path can defeat the purpose of having a speaker like the Staff which has carefully matched crossovers and drivers. Other's experience on this appreciated. Also, which subs quality built-in crossovers to deal with high level inputs and outputs to speakers?

Agree with all posts here, I have always thought that you would have volume and tone matching problems if you used different amps or types of amplification to bi-amp a single speaker system. This has been my experience building custom sound systems for automobiles.
A few quick thoughts on biamping. I'm running an actively biamped Linn system, which is intended to be upgraded in this way.

Passive biamping, especially if you're using a tube amp, will certainly beef up the bass. Whether this is an "improvement" or not will depend on a number of things. One is quality of the amps. In your case, I don't think that a receiver will do much for you. One good amp is better than two poor amps, or one good amp hampered by a second poor amp. Unless you make a significant jump in amp quality, you're probably better off using one amp and adding a sub like the other posters suggest.

On the other hand, active biamping, where you replace the speaker crossover with an electronic crossover, and then use two amps, is a huge improvement. That's not what you're proposing however. You can do this with: two amps, an electronic crossover, and with or without a sub; or with one amp and a sub using an active crossover. The latter is what Bob is suggesting. That's probably the best way to go with your Totems, although in my view the former is far better if you have a system designed to be upgraded in this way.

As far as using tubes on top and SS on the bottom, a lot of people do this. For some it works, for others it doesn't. I've never tried it.

When you biamp, the amps do not have to be the same. However, they do have to have the same "gain". Otherwise the balance between the tweeters and mid/woofer will be thrown off. Whatever is being run by the amp with the higher gain will be "louder" than the cone being driven by the amp with the lower gain. This can certainly damage the tweeters if it's the less loud one and you crank up the volume trying to restore the volume balance.
Well thanks for the responces. The issue of having the same "gain" was what I had been reading about and didn't quite understand. The info about the Sttaf bass being a mid/bass was something I hadn't thought of. I have no interest on adding a subwoofer, more powerful bass isn't what I'm after. I find I have the volumn knob at 12:00 for many of my CD's even though I'm in a 13X20 room and sitting 7-8 ft awawy from the speakers. I guess I'm used to a volumn setting of 9-10:00 on other systems and just thought maybe this would be a good idea. I'll just keep it as it is.
Post removed 
I agree with Bob Reynolds regarding the sub.
However, I do not remember if you mentioned what speaker cable you were
using. I might think, i your cable manu, has a product that is alike in the highs and mids, but is thicker, you'll get more bass. 14 gauge, verses 10g. But, that is if they swear the other characteristics are the same.
*Maybe a less expensive solution. I'd go for the sub, generally having
a contour control to be just where you want it, including "hardly
perceivable" if that's how little addition you need.
Done properly a subwoofer will increase dynamics, soundstage and detail. You should not know the sub is even turned on until you turn it off.
Concur 100% with this. When set up properly it is wonderful. Just last night I moved my system out of my dedicated room (daughter returning from school for summer) and was listening to Beck's "Sea Change." The bass was overwhelming so I turned the sub off. Things were better but definitely lacking so I went to work adjusting the sub for its new placement and before Beck was finished the sub was dialed in. Now if I turn the sub off it is only noticed in the very lowest register, more of an ambiance thing.
This is with a pair of Proac 1.5s which aren't exactly bass shy speakers. I don't think I'll ever be without a sub in my system again.
count me as one more in total agreement with Bob reynolds.

It's not about more powerful bass at all. It's about deeper bass which does wonderful things as Bob indicates.

If you don't want to make this investment, another option may be to upgrade to an amp with a little more power. You don't mention which amp you're using, but a Tube amp with 30-50 w/c will be plenty IMHO. 15 w/c is perhaps just below what you really need for the Sttafs.

Sorry is it sounds like we're trying to get you to spend more money . . . I guess that's the truth of the matter though given the problem you're saying you want to solve.
If you're using the sub for a home theatre and want the hosse to shake when the bombs are blasting, that's one thing. However, if you want to supplement your speaker for music, then you shouldn't really notice the sub. If you do, then you probably have the crossover or volume set too high.

I would suggest that a sub should do two things. One is to extend the bass a little deeper than your speakers are presently capable of. As a result, a sub is often good with a small monitor in situations where the monitor doesn't go as deep as you would like.

The second thing a sub can do is add headroom. In other words, the sub can supplement frequencies the main speaker is already producing. Smaller sopeakers can usually go down fairly deep, it's just that the volume is too low. For example, a speaker spec may say 50 Hz, plus or minus 3 dB. This doesn't mean it can't reproduce lower than 50 Hz. It just means that when you go below 50 Hz, you will be more than 3 dB down. So the apparent volume of the speaker at frequencies below 50Hz will be so low that it isn't rteally noticeable. A sub can add the extra volume to frequencies the main speaker is already producing. This is a slightly different thing than just adding lower frequencies that the main speaker can't reproduce at all. This is one reason why you might use a sub with a floorstanding speaker that already goes down farily low. This is why some subs are set up to run in tandem with the main speakers, rather than relieving the main speaker's bass driver totally of the low frequency signal and sending it to the sub.

And in either application of course, there are potential integration issues.

So, as the posters above suggest, a sub isn't necessarily just to add more "powerful" bass, as it might be for home theatre applications, but to "supplement" your existing bass, either by adding bass frequencies you don't have, or by supplementing existing bass already produced by the main speaker. Supplementing doesn't necessarily mean more powerful. It means adding headroom to add to dynamics, although there is certainly the option of making it more powerful by increasing its crossover frequency or volume relative to the main speaker if that's what you want

If you're carefull in how you integrate the sub, it can add wonders to your main speakers without you even knowing that its there. I would rather have a main speaker with good bass response, rather than a speaker/sub combination. However, it's usually less expensive to go the main/sub route than it is to find a truly good main speaker with very good deep bass response at a reasonable price.
I do not disagree with those who describe the benefits of adding a subwoofer. I do add a word of caution. I know several audiophiles who have added a subwoofer(s) to their system and never achieved a satisfactory integration. I am talking about their satisfaction, not my judgment of the success or failure.
Well this had really gotten more involved than I planned. I just bought a new VUUM 30 watt tube amp, new Sttafs and a new Consonance Cd-120 linear player. For $2300 I think it's a good setup. Of course if I had bought a more powerful tube amp for $1500 more that would be better, but what I have is all I'm buying except for some cables. I'm not unhappy with what I have, I just thought I might be able to use some of the older ss equipment I have in this setup to add more power which I thought MIGHT improve the performance of the system. But it doesn't sound like a good idea.
I think you made a good choice. It is the simplest answer which is most often the right one.

One thing no mentioned is that if you put in two identical amps,say 100 Watts you end up with sum of 150 (150%)watts not double as many folks think.Given all that has been said I go passive with same amps and not use crossover I keep telling buddy with Maggie 3.6 and a Bryston 4 BST I got him to get another and their 10Bsub x-over.He could use nice fast sub like multiple driver REL,Vandersteen 2WQ,and Martin Logan as they are fast and blend best with music and are more pitch accurate because of it.But your speakers,their,price,quality etc would have me get same amps and not add even good Bryston or tube Marchand.
Post removed 
Yeah, it seems like 1+1 no longer = 2.