Does anyone use a different cable for the neg run?

I remembered that Richard Vandersteen liked to run two separate runs of speaker wire on his speakers, in a rather unconventional way.

Which is to sum the pos and neg at the pos amp end nand use the pos and neg to power the upper pos and lower pos taps in bi wired speakers.

The negative return run is the same, both ends summed at the amp, while the pos and neg run of this cable goes to the neg upper and lower speaker posts.

So you still need 4 runs of wire, but the wire isn't split into two at the upper posts or the lower speaker posts-one half pos, one half neg, as is the norm.

I tried this on my speakers,took out the jumpers and for the second runs of the neg returns I used 12 guage solid core romex.

The results were positive,and the increase in detail, less hash, and more rounded full body images has made a believer out of me.
I don't know if the DIY neg runs of solid core or just the doubling up of the Nordost as POS only signal wires is the reason for the improvemnt , but until I can try another pair of Nordost for the Neg returns, I'm sticking with this set up.
It's like I've made a major gear swap, and it cost me nothing.

I was wondering if others who use the Vandersteen bi wiring arrangement or one using disimilar wires for the neg return have anything to add to this?

Also I would appreciate any opinions about why this shouldn't work or that it is messing with the function of my amp or speakers .

Feel free to tell me this is a bad practise,but in the interim I am enjoying the best sound I've ever had from my system.
Vandersteen is my favourite speaker and I have several pair. They do sound a lot better with a double biwire setup. More so than with any other speaker (I believe Vandersteen was the first one to use biwiring.) Even if you have to go with less expensive cables, it will still sound much better. Audioquest is a great choice. 2 separate runs of type 8 or cv8 will sound great with Vand. I would also, highly recommend not mixing cable type and use 2 pairs of exactly the same cable. Just to note, everything that I just mentioned above, I have actually done myself. (I didn't just read some magazine articles) I speak from actual experiance.
So the wire configuration is called double bi-wire?

At one time it was shot gun.

Anyway I've also experimented with one single 12 guage romex return run,with the one wire running thru both neg speaker posts, and it wasn't as good as two separate runs.

I also tried to run the returns with some other copper flat wire returns,again not as good as two separate return runs of 12 guage solid core.

So my conclusion is that it's not just doubling up of the Heimdals that is working the magic, what you use for the neg return seems to matter more, which I find intersting.
I am not using Vandersteens, I have Ref 3A Grand Veena, that I was running as single wired with the Nordost Heimdal and Norse jumpers in the Nordost diagonal speaker wire configuration.

This has proven to be quite good and the best wiring set up so far after numerous DIY and name brand wiring attempts.

Why the double runs of 12 guage solid core return at less than half the length of the Heimdals(2Mtr) works best is something I am trying to find an answer for.

I know it flies in the face of convention,and usual audiophile practises of keeping everything in neat and tidy packaging,but I can't be the only fellow doing this am I?

Which is why I posted,and asked if this would harm my amp, which after almost a week it has yet to do.It doesn't run any warmer(tube amp) no extra buzz or noise, just better performance, and all attributted to the return more than the doubling up of the Nordost.

Has the neg return run been taken for granted over the years?To my ears it has.
It's always been the duplicate of the positive run and we've accepted that is the way it's supposed to be.

So if others with bi wired speakers are curious,give this a try and post.

If you are already doing this also post.

If you are a cable manufacturer please post and provide some answers,proving or disproving what I have stated.

Until I can source another identical pair of Heimdals and run double biwire or shot gun to compare,,I have to say that the way things are now is more than satisfactory.

I should add that in the course of two years I've tried numerous name brand bi-wired cables and DIY speaker wire configurations and hybrids of both, and differnt jumpers, and non came close to this combo.
I thought shot gun was when then amp side had 2 connections and the speaker side had 4 connections?
To be honest I was a bit confused with your first post. Just to clarify, a double bi wire is 2 completely seperate runs of speaker cables. I believe you can call it a shotgun, as well. You can, however, terminate the 2 pairs of cables together at the amp end in order to make it easier to manage. Most amps only have 1 set of binding posts so it can be a real pain trying to shove 2 sets of spades into something that was only made for 1. (espically when you are dealing with solid core.) As to the different conductors on the return, that is not very popular. If I remember correctly Kimber does this on some of their models. I think they mix copper and silver on some of their models to keep the cost down. As for the speakers, I can only speak for the Vand. They need two seperate runs of cables to sound their best, even if you have to use a less expensive cable. And they should be identical. I can confirm all this from actual experiance. (They do recommend this in the manual but it is nice to confirm this type of thing in the real world whenever possible.)
I have to restate the fact that I've tried different neg return runs,one was a Goertz type flat pair of speaker wires and the sound was inferior to the 2 runs of solid core 12 guage romex.
So in my real world what is used for the return does matter, and perhaps more so than the signal runs.

I know, it flies in face of all audio wisdom, we've been brainwashed to always think in terms of using identical speaker wires for neg and pos.

But as I found out before I tried this experiment,all that the neg run is, is a ground.I may try grounding elsewhere than at the amp.

From my observations, the better the ground the better the sound.

Perhaps I wasn't clear on what I am doing or perhaps it's the old ways die hard of audio truths, but it's simple.

You take one run of speaker wire, I use Nordost Heimdal.
Bananas on all ends.

I put the red(pos)banana into the top red (pos) speaker terminal and the black(return)into the lower red(pos speaker terminal.

At the amp end,one banana goes into the DEcWare top binding post hole, the second (ret,black) into the pos hole on the side of the 5 way terminal,the part where a bare wire would be inserted.

So you have the two pos (red) speaker terminals filled with one red and one black Nordost banana from a single run of Nordost(non bi wired )speaker cable,The other red and black Nordost bananas are summed at the red pos amp post.So thats on run of cable just to both of the pos speaker posts and the other end of the wire(pos and neg)to just the pos amp binding post.

The return runs, using 12 guage solid core, are terminated as follows.
One single 12 guage wire to the top black speaker binding post, and another single wire to the bottom neg speaker terminal, both wires summed at the amps Neg (black) binding post.

As usual the other speaker and the other side of the amp follow suit.

Again, what intrigues me is that the difference in sound has everything to do with the return run.

Change it and the sound suffers.
Opting for one single wire on the return wasn't as full sounding, and neither was a full set of copper flatline type of speaker wires used as the return or neg runs.

I thought this similar to Nordost speaker wire set up would sound the best.It was double runs using two complete sets of speaker wires.

But it wasn't, the sound lacked the detail retrieval and weight that the solid core 12 guage brought to the party.

I know it sounds strange to most, I am still trying to figure out why, hence my post,but from my side of the fence listening to the changes, I have to say that the neg return has more of an influence on the sound than I ever thought it did.

Just speculation on my part, but perhaps the thicker return wire that I am using allows more of the grunge to flow out of the gear and back to ground.

More conventional wiring schemes where all wires are equal send less grunge back to ground, and so we hear more of it's effect masking the music.

The increase in inner detail with the thicker neg returns, the cleaning up of the sound, leads me to make this observation.

I used the Love cd to really get a grip on this.
I settled for the 2 return runs of romex per speaker because more of the cd's sound effects and song mixes were easier to pick out than with any of the other configurations, including my intial use of a set of Heimdals and Norse jumpers.

I should add that minor ticks and pops in vinyl were less thin sounding , there was less hash to older less pristine recordings in my collection.Cymbals took on more shimmer and had a weightier sound.You could hear more wood sound from sticks hitting cymbals.

I wish I could say that the improvement in sound was simply the dobling up of the Nordost on the pos terminals.That would be easy for all to understand, as it only makes sense.

What doesn't make sense, until you hear it, is why there is so much difference in sound when you start fooling around with the neg return runs of speaker wire.

Again I can only speculate why, and so far no one else has come up with an answer.

I may try grounding elsewhere than at the amp.
No, don't do that. The return current from the speaker will want to find its way back to the circuit ground of the amp, and the consequences of that will not be good.

If you connect the negative speaker leads to the ground of a different component in the system, the return path that will be taken to the amp will be through interconnect cables. That will result in crosstalk between that large return current and the low level signal return currents the interconnects normally carry. Also, the interconnects aren't designed to carry high current. I'm not sure exactly what the net result would be, but I would expect that at best it would be a sonic mess, and at worst there would be a feedback-induced oscillation resulting in damage to the system and to your ears.

If you connect the negative speaker leads to an AC safety ground point instead, the consequences would depend on the internal grounding configuration of the amp and the component it is connected to, but I would not expect that to be healthy either.

Regarding the reasons for the sonic benefits you have noted from the cabling arrangement you are presently using, what you are doing is increasing the inductance of the runs. Putting the same signal through two conductors that are physically joined and in close proximity will result in a higher inductance than having those conductors conducting the same current but in opposite directions (i.e., one conducting signal, the other signal return). Also, a run of Romex inherently has much higher inductance than a run of Nordost of the same length. Also, although it is not particularly relevant to your present configuration, increasing the spacing between conductors carrying signal and return currents will result in increased inductance.

The net effect of increased inductance will be to attenuate the extreme upper treble to a slight degree. Exactly how much will depend on the impedance vs. frequency characteristics of the particular speakers, particularly in the upper treble region.
The results were positive,and the increase in detail, less hash, and more rounded full body images has made a believer out of me.
A slight rolloff in the extreme upper treble region, resulting from increased cable inductance, would seem consistent with a perception of greater body and less hash. Perhaps the increase in perceived detail goes hand in hand with there being less hash.

If you haven't already tried it, btw, an interesting experiment would be to interchange what you are doing with the positive and negative runs, i.e., use the Romex runs for the positive connections, and the Nordhost for the negative connections. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't much difference from the results you are getting now. I would imagine that a difference would be most likely to occur if a solid state amplifier having both wide bandwidth and a feedback loop were being used, due to differences in the amount of rfi pickup in the cables that might enter the feedback loop.

-- Al
Thanks Almarg, I'll switch the cables around and give it a go.

I had contemplated using longer runs of my Romex return wires and running them directly to my panels ground wire, not hard to do as my panel is in my listening room.

This way all grunge would bypass the amplification chain and go right to ground at the panel.
My amp will not self destruct if the speaker wires are disconnected.
If I feel brave in the near future I may try this experiment, but for now I am very pleased with the results of my last"too much time on his hands"experiments.

One thing that has crossed my mind in all of this ,are the add on ground link connectors and the posts from those who find these are an improvement.

The ones that you only add to the neg return of your speakers.

The return to ground as far as I am concerned is a little more complicated than I had always believed it to be and not to be taken for granted.

It plays a bigger role in the final sound of the system that I ever believed it did.
I had contemplated using longer runs of my Romex return wires and running them directly to my panels ground wire, not hard to do as my panel is in my listening room.

This way all grunge would bypass the amplification chain and go right to ground at the panel.
My amp will not self destruct if the speaker wires are disconnected.
If I feel brave in the near future I may try this experiment ...
No, once again I strongly recommend against doing that. What happens when the speaker wires are disconnected from the amplifier has no relevance to what I am saying.

Keep in mind that electric current only flows if there is a complete circuit, from the source to the load and back to the source (the amplifier being the source, in this context). The same amount of current that goes out to the load needs to (and will) come back to the source, regardless of whatever grunge may be riding on it.

In the situation you are considering, the complete circuit would be from the + terminal of the amp to the + terminal of the speaker, then from the - terminal of the speaker to the ground at the panel, then through the AC safety ground wiring to the system, and then via unpredictable paths through the system to the circuit ground of the amp.

If the amp has its AC safety ground and its circuit ground connected directly together, that would be the path the return current would take. What that would amount to is connecting the AC safety ground wiring between the amp and the panel, as well as the wiring from the speaker to the panel, in between (in series with) the connection of the amp to the speaker. At best, that will degrade sonics considerably. But the effects may be much worse than that.

If the amp connects its AC safety ground to its circuit ground via a passive component (a resistor, inductor, or capacitor), and some other component in the system has its circuit ground and AC safety ground connected directly together, or connected together via a lower impedance than in the amp, then most of the return current would find its way back to the amp via that or those other components and their interconnections. Which could very conceivably result in oscillations and/or damage, as I previously indicated.

-- Al