If bi-amping is so great, why do some high end speakers not support it?


I’m sure a number of you have much more technical knowledge than I. so I’m wondering: a lot of people stress the value of bi-amping. My speakers (B&W CM9, and Monitor Audio PL100II) both offer the option. I use it on the Monitors, and I think it helps.

But I’ve noticed many speakers upward of $5k, and some more than $50k (e.g., some of Magico) aren’t set up for it.

Am I missing something? Or is this just one of the issues on which there are very different opinions with no way to settle the disagreement?

Thanks folks…


Convert?fit=crop&h=128&policy=eyjlehbpcnkioje1mtewote4mjesimnhbgwiolsicmvhzcisimnvbnzlcnqixx0%3d&rotate=exif&signature=00b2159819727c091ad2a9b8f7b1591b0a808cb692ac0b7dafa239c80540ccbf&w=128rsgottlieb
"Or is this just one of the issues on which there are very different opinions with no way to settle the disagreement?"

Yup.  
Oh please not this subject again.
I would rather debate,

Analog Vs Digital
Solid state Vs Tubes.
This Pwr cord beats that Pwr cord

Best of luck to you,

Kenny.
Jordan vs. James? Mozart vs. Beethoven?
lol
I have no position myself. I just was curious what the experts thought.
I think bi-amping is stupid.
Are you asking about Biamping or Biwireing or both in general?

Kenny.
Either/both

Some folks like to biamp,
Use a tube amp on the mids and top end and a solidstate amp on the woofers.Or maybe a small wattage class a solid state on the mids and tweeters and a more powerful solid state amp on the woofers.Or any other crazy combo you could ever think of.

There is also a lot of negatives in my opinion for biamping,
matching of sound levels and the overall amps being used having different sound characteristics.Also it just makes a system that much more complex more wires and cables.

I have tried it and it's been so long ago I couldn't give any particulars in what gear was involved.

I do like to biwire the majority of the different speakers I have owned,mainly so I have the flexibility to choose different speaker wires that go to the mids and tweeters and diff. maybe heavier gauge to the woofers.Just really my personal preference and if I have a set of speakers that only have one set of terminals I either add another pair or wire directly to the crossover.


After many years of biwiring I would like to say It makes a small but noticeable difference,adding clarity and better dynamics but honestly the jury is still out with this one.

The only way to truly know for your system is to maybe try it and see.

A lot of technical variables come in to play with this subject and if you ask 5 different audiophiles you will get 6 different answers.


Best of luck to you,


Kenny.


kdude66
You say a negative of biamping is different sound characteristics of the amps yet you like to biwire because you can select different sounding cables. Doesn't make sense. I biamp. My amps have volume controls and I also can get the power I need to drive my speakers using my favorite sounding amps
Alan
Alan
Alan,

Did you carefully read this statement,

Use a tube amp on the mids and top end and a solidstate amp on the woofers.Or maybe a small wattage class a solid state on the mids and tweeters and a more powerful solid state amp on the woofers.Or any other crazy combo you could ever think of.

It's using diff. amps that have totally diff. sound characteristics that don't match up in the overall sound of a given speaker.

If both of your amps have volume controls they are probably about the same in sound maybe diff. pwr output.

I don't have the need to biamp but like I stated I do biwire from one single stereo amp or mono amps.

What amps do you have?


Kenny.
I tried bi-amping once; B&W N801 speakers and two Pioneer Elite M91 power amps (each 2x200W). Certainly made a difference in my case; detail was more pronounced, dynamics improved and overall just sounded better. Also, two beefy power amps, with glowing VU meters simply looks plain cool IMHO. Then I went to a single Krell KSA-250 power amp, wow, what a massive improvement that was. Quite simply the best amp I have ever owned, period.

My advice; worth a try, why not? After all, this hobby (some would say addiction) is all about experimenting and having fun.

Marcus

If bi-amping is so great, why do some high end speakers not support it?
I think the real issue here is why do some speaker designers provide the option to biwire/biamp. On the other hand, some speakers are designed so that one signal is required to drive the speaker for the intended voicing.
Some manufacturers believe in doing and some don't really
just as simple as that.


Kenny.
I tied vertical biamping my ML Aerius i speakers using two different amps - one with volume control, and could not get them to sound good/better even when the volumes were carefully matched. I think a monoblock set up using identical amps yields better results.
Wow i must think about that it depends on the design.Some companies such as Magico think single wiring makes for a more coherent sound.
Because of the expense of more power amps, and external crossover difficulties, very few audiophiles bi-amp.
Focal is of the opinion bi-amping defeats the voicing of their crossovers. Frankly, I think it's a cheap gimmick. You see it all the time on mediocre speakers like Polk RTi and ilk of that range as if someone is buying $1000 speakers and putting $2000 worth of amplifier behind them. Not something I'd ever consider. I highly doubt I can do better than the engineers that voiced my speakers. 
I agree with the above comments. Vandersteen is the exception in that they are designed to be biwired.

http://vandersteen.com/support/faqs
(Scroll down the page)
Interesting stuff. I guess the people who really should answer this would be some speaker manufacturers. Get the ones who do it and the ones who don't together and let the fur fly. 
thanks for your informed responses. 

There are sonic benefits to be gained by getting rid of the speaker-level crossover in a loudspeaker, instead filtering the signal before the power amps, the amps then powering the drivers directly. That requires the speaker be designed to be used in such a fashion, with the line-level crossover duplicating the standard speaker-level one, with no compensation networks for the drivers.

Bi-amping was recommended (by both Magnepan and their original distributor, ARC) for the pre-series .7 Magneplanars. The series .7 Maggies can not be bi-amped, for two reasons: The necessary speaker cable connectors are not present, and, more importantly, the series .7 crossovers are of series design, unlike those used in the pre-series .7 Maggies, which does not allow a simple "textbook" (1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th order filters) crossover.

Biamping offers significant SQ improvements at the cost of more amps - usually the transformer is a big cost, beyond the engineering and QC.

Some speaker manfs. do not want you messing up their carefully designed cross-overs; others may worry you will not spend the $$ for multiple quality amps; and others have a narrow focus on drivers, etc. while missing the big picture.

The trend now is for manf.s to build quality class D amps into their speakers and design the amp to optimize each driver.  Meridian was a pioneer in that and in sending a digital signal as far down the listening chain as possible.
Because a truly bi-amped speaker does not need a crossover. The signal is split prior to the amplifiers.

What manufacturer is going to limit his market by forcing buyers to purchase and extra set of amps and an active crossover?  


Kenny
I biamp Maggie 3.6's with a pair of David Berning ZH270 Amps
Alan
Alan,

I could see benefits with that pairing in a biamp configuration,

I haven't owned Maggie's for about 7 yrs and the speakers from then to now would'nt have benefited a biamp configuration,all high efficiency.

Now when you bring up the configuration of active biamping and not using the passive crossovers in a speaker that's a completely different way to go and without question is a game changer.But with greater cost and complexity.


Kenny.
Groundhog day.
arh - the 3.7i's are worth the upgrade

AND the crossover is now very good - no biamping needed (or allowed)
Because bi-amping is not as good as two big monoblocks.
If I bought 3.7i I could not Bi-amp. That is why I keep my 3.6's If I did buy 3.7i's I would use my Bernings as mono blocks.No pans to do so
Alan
Alan,
If you like your combo of Maggie's and bernies there is probably no reason to spend the money and change anything.

Enjoy,

Kenny.
There are reasons to bi-amp. The chief reason is that crossovers are reactive components and they reduce the control and response the amp can have over the drivers. On the amp side, multiple amps can provide better separation because all the power supplies are discreet to each speaker and/or range. Some speakers are designed to be run like that, others not. A well designed crossover can ameliorate various failings and more precisely control voicing. They're not cheap either. 
It's a personal choice. If you don't get hard micromanaging every facet of your system, and I don't, the world has great single amp options that make lots of people very happy. 
I've never seen any reason to bi amp....   but i have wondered if the impedance changes because you are driving terminals that are normally tied in parallel with a jumper .  I think using different amps for each section is a recipe for disaster....  how can amps with different gain, input sens. and voicing yield better results? 

I have used several pairs of mono amps, never dissatisfied with the results.   My last stereo amp was a McCormack DNA 125 which was a great amp, no doubt,  but my current Quicksilver amps throw a huge 3D image.....maybe it has nothing at all to do with the fact that they are mono but the difference in stereo imaging was not subtle
Any crossover requires reactive elements, i.e. caps or inductors or both. High quality caps, such as film and foil teflon or styrene, are prohibitively costly in the high values required for crossing over at the speaker. They are just affordable at the line level.

However, exotic crossovers can make all the difference in the world to mating two speaker elements, and so, if this topology is not replicated in the electronic crossover which drives the amps, bi-amping will be inferior for those speakers.

I had great results multi-amping in my Maggie phase, because in those days their crossovers were straightforward devices.
The intent isn't so much to use different types of amps for different sections. The intent is to drive different speakers or sections on isolated power supplies. The less interaction the channels have, the better their separation. That's why some amps use separate transformers and power supplies for each channel. I might try that at some point when I get my F5 operational just to see if there's a difference. 
I believe the answer is in how well either alternative is implemented, like so many things in audio. I have tried it multiple ways and success was directly related to my skill level at the time.

From a speaker manufacturer standpoint, providing just 2 binding posts and preventing the inexperienced user from biamping insures the user won't mess up and their carefully deigned passive crossover will be used as intended. Then some speaker builders I think include two sets of binding posts because their marketing department tells them this is what customers want to see...I believe this is the case for B&W. I own their 804S speaker and like it a lot.

About 5 years ago I tried with my current speakers, my McIntosh MC275 for mids/treble, and a 200W SS for the woofers, both fed from the preamp. The MC275 have gain adjustment so I could level match both amps. Both amps were receibing the full bandwidth from the preamp. I didn't like it vs. only using the MC275 to feed the whole 804S.

A number of things I've learnt over these years and my system front end migrated to a highly optimized computer. Again, it's about how these are implemented. But part of the goal of using a computer was to allow me to use digital crossovers in there and have an active system, so a system where the DAC processes mids/treble, midbass, bass in a separate channel, feeds that to a dedicated amp, and the amp straight to a driver. So now the amp only receives the bandwidth it's supposed to play. I still have the 804S and the MC275 driving the midrange/treble (still using that passive xo until I get another amp), have class D amps driving the bottom of the 804S, and have powered subs. This is A LOT better than with the 275 driving all.

Performance now is much better than single amping. The regular argument then goes "but your amp section is now much more expensive". This is true, but when thinking the system as a whole I am doing without my beloved Lamm preamp, and using a more expensive DAC than I used to. All in all, my system now adds up to the same it used to - actually even less.

Still there is a hidden cost: I consciously gave up analog sources (even CD players from their analog outputs). By doing this I could focus on digital and optimize it. But my system has never sounded better. No going back for me. In fact, I'm moving forward yet: get another amp, and remove the passive crossover between tweeter and midrange.

Sorry for the long post!

The level of expertise on this list is really impressive. 
thanks for all your insights. 

High priced speaker is not necessarily high fidelity. RCA is a crap connection but you find it everywhere because it is cheap and convenient even if it is inferior to XLR
A further note. The speaker crossovers should be disconnected before the bi-amped signal is delivered. If you don't, nothing will explode, but the clean bi-amped signal will have to drive the speaker crossover, which, being made of inferior parts, will eliminate much of the benefit of bi-amping.

For the most part. In general. YMMV

@shadorne 
What!?!?  There's nothing mechanically or electrically wrong with RCA, and the virtue of XLR isn't found in the intrinsic quality of it's cable or connectors. It's found in the virtue of of how 2 opposing signals can be used to cancel noise and distortion and XLR is just a more convenient that pairs of RCA, but pairs or RCA can do the exact same thing. 
@kosst_amojan  

sorry to break any sacred cows but RCA uses ground as a wire - so no shield

you obviously have not used a multitude of equipment as you would have observed first hand that XLR always has less hum or RF noise or ground loop hiss.

RCA is just cheap crap and obviously very popular for that reason
Regarding biwire and speaker manufacturers. Jim Salk of Salk Sound doesn't think that it matters for sound but he advises his buyers to allow for that capability as it can help resale value.  
So, shardorne, are you saying those of us who've been listening and continue to listen to gear with (only) single ended connections, been hearing crappy sound with ground loop hiss mixed with RF noise all this time? We must be deaf... for sure. Sorry, completely off topic.
Apparently some manufacturers believe that owners are more likely to screw up the sound with biamping and others  support it.

I biamp my  Vandersteens as they are set up for it. Class A monos up top and Class ABs with plenty of current on bass, though an adjustable crossover.

My Wilsons are amped with a single stereo amp as that is what the manufacturer prefers.  Both sound great.

 Plenty of RCA connections have shields. 
Wilson and Magico can't be bi amped as those companies put a great deal of time and money into the design of their crossovers and how they work with their drivers. In their case much of the money your spending is for that resulting sound. So maybe bi amping improves the sound for some less expensive brands. 
Multiamping needs active filters to start making sense (today mostly with DSP). Speaker passive crossovers should be removed. Whether such configuration can sound better is a matter of implementation. With very good amplifiers and passive crossovers speakers can sound excellent. IMHO digital filters need to be done with at least 172 kHz sampling
Theoretically, biamping can be better due to bypassing crossovers. I have found that my pair of Audire Forte amps are less fatiguing when biamping my 803's, but my slightless less powerful class A Audire amp does not need to be paired to maintain the best sound. Of course, subs are required either way, and the Forte's excell with them.
For you who are not aware, biwiring does not exist electrically. Use a 20 amp capacity wire vs. 2 tens. There is no difference. You might say use 2 20's? Then use one 40.
Different application, but many moons ago I used tri-amped PA systems. In Hi-Fi I have no experience other than the use of passive X-overs. I do have a couple of questions for the group since I’m considering some modifications to my system along these lines.
Isn’t the use of active sub-woofers bi-amping?
I have tube amps, are people still using passive sub-woofers vs. powered ones, e.g. class-d?
No one mentioned the quality of the active X-over. There has to be a wide range in quality.
Like wise there was no mention of tri-amping. Wouldn’t leaving a passive X-over between the mid and high drivers and actively feeding the bass really be a hybrid?
Folks can say what they want about bi wiring, but Vandersteen designs all his speakers to be bi wired and they do sound better doing it.  I trust my ears. I know what engineers may say, but again, the ears don't lie.  There are plenty of things that can't always be explained in audio and that could be because we don't have the measurements for them yet.  

Since Richard has no skin in the wire business, there is no way he'd espouse this if it didn't make a difference for the positive in his speakers.  

I've also heard them bi amp'd.  Once in a store, I didn't like it. He used less than stellar amps doing this.  Another time when I heard at a friends house, it sounded the best I've heard the Treo's sound. He was using all Audio Research amps and I think keeping in the same company made the world of difference.   JMHO

For for those engineers who dispute what I am hearing, the fact is that you can't because you aren't in my head, lol.  All of audio is subjective.  The first time I heard bi wiring of the Vandersteen's, I had no idea that he was changing anything in the system.  I was listening to a track and then he took a few minutes and unhooked the second run, but I didn't know it.  It was pretty easy to tell which was which.  I know many who feel the same way and some, who have never heard the Vandy's both ways, make statements about how they sound....even though they have never heard them.  Just saying.  
I don’t see a value in biwiring or biamping unless you have an active crossover. It does offer the possibility of using less expensive high quality amps to achieve a higher total power output to drive your speakers than the cost of a high powered amp with comparable stats of the two combined. . . Like others here I think that most manufacturers don’t want people to get into speaker design (building crossover networks) as most implementations will not deliver as good a final product as all of their research has shown. To implement a crossover, measurement software and hardware needs to be used. When executed properly the results can be stunning but often fall short due to the experience of the person trying to build it. I personally opted for the older 20.1 Magnepans exactly for the ability to build a crossover network and actively biamp the mains with matching amps. I played around with the slopes and type of crossover and found that their factory suggestions were best to start with. Custom crossovers have been implemented using REW and MSO but most affected is the bass region, little was corrected on the mains.

Thanks,
Steve
@kalali 

No not deaf. However for those few seeking audiophile high quality sound (through biamping and all manner of extra tweaks and high end gear) might simply consider the hypocracy of using 2nd rate cheap RCA interconnect approach for line level when a superior method is available and in wide use by professionals.