Bi-wire: is it worth it?

I am about to buy a sweet set of used martin logan stats. They have four terminals, and can be bi-wired. Someone has suggested I should bi-wire them. However, this would come at an additional cost, as I would have to buy new speaker cables. Does bi-wiring make a noticeable difference?
Yes bi-wire them. Every thing gets better when you use 2 runs of good cables..try some Morrow Audio cables. They wont break your bank and they are invisible.
The diversity of opinion that might be expected on this question was expressed in this thread.

My comment in that thread, while obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I think pretty much says it all:
02-07-12: Almarg
Having followed many prior threads that have addressed this question, I can say unequivocally that a clear consensus has emerged. That consensus can be stated as follows:

It may or may not make a difference. If it makes a difference, it may or may not be for the better.
-- Al :-)
Eloquent as usual Al :-)
Al summed it up perfectly.....again. Good work Al!
Elegal, you also need to add shotgun where you use 2 single runs for bi-wiring so 2x price of SCs.

From my experience, it all depends on the speaker and SC so you gotta try for yourself. In my current system, shotgun is definitely WORTH IT!
They have four terminals, and can be bi-wired.
Keep in mind that a vast majority of speakers "can be bi-wired." IMHO, very few have actually been designed for this, and for most of them, it is just "audio fashion."

A few years ago, while reading a Q&A section in a magazine, a manufacturer was asked why they removed the bi-wire terminals from the latest version of a speaker. Their answer was that it was originally done to be like other speakers, but they had finally determined through listing tests that bi-wire compromised coherency.

Al is spot-on, it's like a roll of the dice, maybe higher, maybe lower, or same as the previous roll.

I think everyone will agree that the factory jumpers between the terminals should be replaced when using single wire cables.
I agree with Tls49. In my case, replacing the stock jumpers with higher quality ones improved things more than bi wiring.
Per the above poster...
"Keep in mind that a vast majority of speakers "can be bi-wired." IMHO, very few have actually been designed for this, and for most of them, it is just "audio fashion."

This is very true. And then, there are many well accepted
speaker manufacturers that do not even bother with bi-wiring/bi-amping by providing only one pair of binding posts - Vienna Acoustics, Dynaudio, Sonus Faber, etc.

As a Vienna owner, I sure am glad they have given me one less thing to obsess over so I can just sit back and enjoy the music.
Biwire is basically doubling up on the wire Gauge. If you notice a difference you would have most likely noticed a difference by just getting thicker wires. Think about it, it's now twice as much wire to conduct that signal. I really believe this is where the benefits truly come from.
I have found some speakers work better Bi-Wired and some do not. You want to make sure that both runs of wire are identical in make and length for both speakers. Talk to others that have or had your speakers and see what they say? Borrow 2 sets from your dealer and see what it sound like?
Good luck
I think the results also vary with different speakers and different wire. I would at least recommend that your jumpers be the same as your main cable.
There is an interaction between speakers by "Back EMF" generated voltage. Bi-wiring separates speakers by inductive reactance of the wires' and amp's output impedance divider. It works for some speakers more than for the others. I think it depends on xover design.
I would be irresponsible not to suggest that you simply get your new speakers and listen to how they sound. You may find that your money would be better spent on a new preamp or amplifier or interconnect or source or who knows what..
Elegal....I've heard the system bettered every time...sometimes dramatically, sometimes incrementally. In my experience, if the speakers were designed with bi-wire in mind (separate low and high sections ....2 (or more) input connections on the speaker) there is a very worthwhile improvement
My speakers are set up for bi-wiring and my cables are bi-wired Kimber 8PR banana plugs. If I wanted to compare bi-wire to regular (single) as this point, what do I do?

Yes, I have the original metal jumpers, but some think they degrade the sound and custom jumpers are needed. If I get custom jumpers, what brand?

And ... lastly, what do I do with the extra set of cable leads? Tape over the banana leads and fold them back?

I bet the whole quixotic exercise will be one of futility, but I'm game to try.

Bifwynne, getting custom jumpers and only using half of the Kimber 8PR would not be a fair test. A quick easy way to eliminate bi-wire is to install the jumpers with the 8PR connected as it is now. If you could use a short piece of quality wire to do this, that should be better than the straps. Nevertheless, that will eliminate bi-wire for a comparison.
@Kijanki, IMHO your back EMF explanation is the only plausible one I have heard for why it would be beneficial to bi-wire.

However, I wonder then what the point is of bi-wiring with a cable that has all for wires twisted and wrapped in the same sheathing. Wouldn't the individual runs need to be separated in order to fully isolate them from EMF interactions?
Nick_sr, I don't know - inductance is inductance in any configuration but there are different and often strange findings. I've heard, for instance, that shorting positive (red) of upper and lower speaker in biwired speaker changes the sound. I have tried it and it does, but the only explanation I can come up with is that it removes half of the inductance from divider. Change was very small and I don't remember if it was for the better or the worse. It must've been for the worse since I rejected idea.
I have a pair of Mirage M5si's. They're bipolar 6-1/2" 2-ways, with matching pairs firing forward and backward. These speakers respond to every improvement in amplification and cabling you can throw at them.

My first wife could IMMEDIATELY tell if they were bi-wired or not. Even if they were biwired poorly, she noticed it within a coupld or seconds. When I didn't have the money for matched biwiring, I combined a set of solid core TARA Labs with some Straightwire 8-conductor ribbon cable. One night after everyone had gone to bed, I fashioned some better-than-factory jumpers from some Vampire Wire. I figured the matching cable should be better than such disparate runs to the woofers and the tweeters.

The next morning, as soon as my wife turned on the system--*to watch TV*--she immediately said, "Change it back; whatever you did to the system, change it back to what it was before." It wasn't even music; it was a talk show over cable, not a $40 audiophile recording, and yet she heard the difference immediately.

A year later, I upgraded the wiring to two pairs of MIT-750 and got a nice improvement in smoothness, linearity, clarity, etc.

Six years after that, Audio Advisor was blowing out the last of PS Audio's foray into premium cables, and I picked up a $1500 pair of XStream Reference Bi-Wire, the only cable up to that time that had been designed from the ground up specifically for bi-wiring. It uses 6-gauge copper for the woofers and multi-strand silver-plated copper for the high frequency input. These made a dramatic difference and were icing on the cake. Before, the M5si's always sounded like big speakers, but the PS Audio bi-wire rig enabled them to scale up and down better, and particularly improved the transparency and intimacy of the presentation. A friend of mine who is no audio geek, but who heard the system before and after the switch remarked how the new cable made the speakers compete with the immediacy and intimacy of minimonitors, which they couldn't do before.

Of course, YMMV. I suspect that when first order crossovers are used, there's less need for bi-wiring, but with more complex crossovers using combinations of 2nd, 3rd, and/or 4th order crossovers, biwiring asserts an advantage.

Biwiring makes a consistently difference with my Mirages, but my Magnepan 1.7s don't offer bi-wire inputs, and frankly, I'm really happy with the sound as-is.
I run Vandersteen 5s with complete double bi-wire (DBW) cabling so I guess I can't be objective. That said, there's a great article on the Vandersteen site about this topic and I have pasted an excerpt below. For me, the operational phrase is:

"Coupled with a crossover designed specifically for bi-wiring. . ."

Having spoken with Richard V. First hand, for my money he is an unimpeachable source of real-world intelligence, but others may feel differently. At any rate, here is the excerpt which I have edited for brevity (but changed no words--just deleted some sentences).

Bi-wiring uses two separate sets of speaker cables to connect a single pair of loudspeakers to an amplifier. Coupled with a crossover designed specifically for bi-wiring, it offers many of the advantages of bi-amplifying the speakers with two separate amplifiers without the cost and complexity of two amplifiers.

We began experimenting with bi-wiring back in the early '80s, an era when horizontal bi-amplification was considered the ultimate way to drive quality loudspeakers. (Horizontal bi-amplification used one amplifier to drive the low-frequency section of a speaker and a second amplifier to drive the high-frequency section.) We noted that speakers sounded better when bi-amplified by two amplifiers than when driven by a single amplifier. Surprisingly, this superior performance was evident even when the speakers were bi-amplified by two identical amplifiers at a low volume level and the amplifiers were each driven full-range without an electronic crossover. We initially believed that the double power supplies and other components of two amplifiers were responsible for the improvement, however building amplifiers with twice the power supply and doubling-up on other critical components failed to provide the bi-amplification benefit.

So we looked at the speaker wires. With two amplifiers, bi-amplification used two sets of speaker cables so we experimented with doubling-up the speaker wires and with larger wire. Neither duplicated the bi-amplification improvements. Then we considered that in a bi-amplified system, one set of wires carries the low-frequencies and the other set of wires carries the high-frequencies. We modified a speaker's crossovers to accept two sets of cables and present different load characteristics to each set so that the low-frequencies would be carried by one set of wires and the high-frequencies by the other set of wires. Finally we heard the sonic improvements of bi-amplification with a single amplifier.

Additional experiments with a Hall Effect probe revealed that high-current bass frequencies created a measurable field around the wires that expanded and collapsed with the signal. We believe that this dynamic field modulates the smaller signals, especially the very low level treble frequencies. With the high-current signal (Bass) separated from the low-current signal (Treble) this small signal modulation was eliminated as long as the cables were separated by at least an inch or two. (To keep the treble cable out of the field surrounding the bass cable.)

The crossovers in Vandersteen bi-wirable speakers are engineered with completely separate high-pass and low-pass sections. The bass inputs pass low-frequencies to the woofers, but become more and more resistive at higher frequencies. The treble inputs pass high-frequencies to the midrange and tweeter, but become more and more resistive at low-frequencies. The output from the amplifier always takes the path of least resistance so deep bass frequencies go to the bass input (Low impedance at low-frequencies) rather than to the treble inputs (High impedance at low frequencies). For the same reason, treble frequencies go to the treble input (Low impedance at high-frequencies) rather than to the bass inputs (High impedance at high-frequencies). At the actual crossover frequency, the output from the amplifier would be divided equally between the two inputs as they would both have the same impedance at that frequency. Because of the different reflected impedances of the cables, the crossover between the woofer and midrange actually occurs at the wire ends where they connect to the amplifier.
get some kimber 8 tc or pr and use a 3/5 configuration

i use this on my ref 3a de capos
"Coupled with a crossover designed specifically for bi-wiring. . ."
Very good point, Kjweisner, and as I said, just having multiple connections does not mean this is true. There are some, like Vandersteen, that specifically design for bi-wire, some that do single wire connections only, and others that just include the extra connections.

Nevertheless, as in many cases, Al's answer is the best.

You just have to try it, and see what it does for you, but don't get caught up in to thinking a difference is better as I did. Initially, I was on board with it, however, for some reason, always had the desire to make a change. I tried to supress this feeling, thinking it was just "wanting to upgrade" and then I came across this article.

It described exactly what I was hearing, so I changed to single wire with jumpers of the same wire and was much happier.
I think it's clearly a "speaker specific" thing. I have Silverline Preludes that, according to a general note in Silverline's sort of "catch all" speaker placement and use guide, should be bi-wired. When I bought these I called Silverline to see if I could replace a woofer (which didn't work, but this was due to a wiring issue which was fixed) and got Alan Yun on the phone who said the Preludes were "more coherent" as single wired. I ignore this of course, tried 'em biwired, and found he was right (seriously and obviously right). Go figure...and single wired they stay.
Bif.....those cables that have 2 on one end and 4 on the other are not nearly as good as having 4 separate cables. ...sometimes a bit, sometimes more
Grinnell, please explain "use a 3/5 configuration."
As a general question, who knows? But the question was very specific. This question should be answered by experienced Martin Logan owners. I would also contact Martin Logan for their opinion on the subject. Did they install two terminals because they thought it sounded better or just to keep up with the Joneses? In the end though, trial and error would probably give the best answer.

I would also be interested in the "3/5 configuration", as I have a friend that uses 8TC, and he always wants to try something different. I assume it means to separate the 8 conductors of each positive and negative leg into 3 and 5 rather than 4 and 4, and then use 5 for the bass and 3 for the treble.

BTW, Bifwynne, did you have any thoughts on my suggestion on how to eliminate bi-wire in your setup?
Tls49 ... yes I have thinking about doing just what you said, which is to use heavy gauge wire to act as a "hot-wire" jumper between the 2 sets of terminals. If it sounds better, I'll take it another step further -- maybe buy quality jumpers and single terminal speaker cables. Or, I could just buy jumpers with spade-ends and live with my bi-wire cables.
I appreciate all the responses. The speakers are Martin Logan SL3's. They are currently are single-wired, and sound amazing. I would like to A/B them with bi-wiring, but that is easier said than done.
Get bi-wire loaners from Cable Company.
I suspect the SL3 crossover is indeed designed for biwiring vs. a fashion statement. I just read the manual, which discusses both vertical and horizontal bi-amping. At the risk of painting the target around the arrow, I think it's a reasonable to conclude that bi-wire/bi-amping is intrinsic to the design brief of the crossover.
This explanation is from TAS The Golden Ear's Guide to Audio system Setup and Evaluation. The except in the book is quoted from Bill Low of Audioquest.

"When you're using a single full-range speaker cable (not bi-wiring), the large amounts of bass energy carried within the single cable has an adverse effect on the upper frequencies. In a bi-wire setup the cable feeding the the higher frequncies no longer handles the large magnetic fields caused by the high current needed to produce bass. Bi-wiring does not affect the bass fundamentals, but the treble signal now travels a less disturbed path. It's a little like the differnce between swimming through waves versus through smooth water. Bass frequencies will sound better because bass definition is actually located in the midrange and higher frequencies. It is always wothwhile to take advantage of the benefits of bi-wiring when the speaker manufacturer has gone to the extra expense of providing this capability. The performance benefits of reducing distortion in this way are substantial."
When you're using a single full-range speaker cable (not bi-wiring), the large amounts of bass energy carried within the single cable has an adverse effect on the upper frequencies. In a bi-wire setup the cable feeding the the higher frequncies no longer handles the large magnetic fields caused by the high current needed to produce bass. Bi-wiring does not affect the bass fundamentals, but the treble signal now travels a less disturbed path. It's a little like the differnce between swimming through waves versus through smooth water. Bass frequencies will sound better because bass definition is actually located in the midrange and higher frequencies. It is ALWAYS [emphasis added, to reinforce my disagreement] wothwhile to take advantage of the benefits of bi-wiring when the speaker manufacturer has gone to the extra expense of providing this capability. The performance benefits of reducing distortion in this way are substantial.
As is often the case when it comes to explanations that are provided for alleged cable effects, IMO it is not possible to either agree or disagree with Mr. Low's explanation with any certainty. The reason being that such explanations commonly do not lend themselves to either analysis or measurement in a QUANTITATIVE manner, that might allow a determination of whether or not it is conceivable that the claimed effect could be great enough to be audibly significant.

In this case, I don't doubt that in many situations listening results would be obtained that are consistent with what Mr. Low is saying, whatever the explanation may be. However, it seems clear that the opposite will also sometimes occur. For example, in this thread and this one three different members reported a substantial loss of bass when biwiring, compared to when their connections were single wired.

-- Al

One thing for sure, bi-wiring is more expensive, and IMHO, anyone in the business to sell cables would be an advocate for everyone to "buy-wire" :-)
Gimmick...cables are accessories...huge mark up
The answer depends!

Gimmick...cables are accessories...huge mark up
"huge mark up"

No doubt. Accessories are way more profitable than the main workhorse components. That's always been the case. Retailers know this and depend upon it.
I purchased a set of Nordost Heimdall 2 speakers cables with jumpers a couple months back but have not had a chance to use them as of yet. I still have my older MIT terminator 4 and was wondering if i should even bother trying to bi-wire again with the Nordosts.I guess I should just experiment but was wondering if mixing the cables would be a detriment to a systems overall performance or if anyone has mixed speaker cable brands for their systems. I would think most of you would say just use the more expensive Nordost soley with the jumpers.

As far as bi wiring goes, IMHO, I am not sure lol. I have only bi-wired with the MIT's so I have really no idea if I gained anything from it all. I would imagine that Nordost's philosophy is not to biwire since they do not seem to offer a biwire configuration at present. Please do correct me if i am wrong.
I agree with the above. I do have the SL3 in the family and recall that that crossover design benefited from biwiring. I think the old Stereophile review of the SL3 recommended biwiring. I have mine externally biwired with twin runs of DH-Labs Q-10 Signature.
That being said, other ML's may not need that even if they do accept biwiring. I believe alot depends on the xover and also how an amp senses and reacts at a given time to the woofer vs. the stator impedance through 2 different cable runs combined at the amp end. May want to borrow an extra pair of cables or a new biwire set and judge.
I ran a pair of bi-wired Nordost Heimdall 1 speaker cables about a year ago or so. So Nordost did used to make bi-wire cables. I'm not aware if they stopped making them.
Nordost still has 4Flat biwire speaker cables in their product line. I wouldn't be surprised if the other lines could be ordered that way.

Here's bi-wire Frey, but notice it's on closeout. Maybe Nordost is going single-wire for their upscale offerings.
I have read that Nordost has stopped making internally biwired cables due to the inherent compromises, but has revamped their line of biwire jumpers.
Kubala-Sosna makes excellent speaker cables. I am a dealer for them but you will have to contact the manufacturer to determine who you nearest dealer is.
Hello Elegal

I manufacture audiophile cables and have been testing bi-wiring and the effects of Bi-wiring for the past three months as we will introduce a 3.5 meter Bi-wired loudspeaker cable next month and also 30 Centimetre Jumper leads.

I have also been testing crossover cables with different crossovers and the effect that they have with bi-wiring. 

I have also been testing the bi-wiring Jumper cable lengths and differences

Firstly I will say that YES Bi-wiring does give you a better sounding Bass, more air in the music and a better presentation - FACT

Now if you want to try bi-wiring then just remove the jumper plates that are supplied with
the loudspeaker and fit a set of jumper leads. There are many people who supply these
and they all come in different lengths because you will hear a big difference

Does length of a jumper cables make a difference? - YES
Does a pair of Bi-wired loudspeaker cables sound better than jumpers? - YES

I have been surprised at the difference that bi-wiring does make but as always it depends on speaker position and system set up

Best regards

Paul Goodwin