Monowiring, bi-wiring or bi-amping in Hi-Fi. What are they?


What is bi-wiring and bi-amping? Bi-wiring is one means of connecting a speaker to an audio amplifier. Typically, a single cable runs from the output of the amplifier to the terminals of the speaker enclosure (this connection is called monowiring, however worthy of improvement). In bi-wiring, however, each speaker has two pairs of connectors and two cables are run from the output of the amplifier to the speaker cabinet. One corresponds to high frequencies, one to low frequencies (via two separate crossovers).

Bi-wiring versus monowiring

Bi-wiring is a connection with a double cable Speaker between the amplifier and the loudspeakers. With only one bi-wire cable, all audio frequencies They pass through it and the speaker's crossover cuts them off and sends them to the speakers. Many speakers are built with a crossover that allows them to accept low frequencies and high frequencies separately. In this cable the speaker will have four terminals instead of two (LOW+/LOW- and HIGH+/HIGH-).

bi wiring

In the case of a speaker with dual connections that is connected with a single cable, there will be a jumper made from a metal strip that joins the LOW+ to the LOW- and the HIGH+ to the HIGH-. So, in order to use the bi-wiring connection you have to remove this jumper, so that two independent inputs are created. One goes to the woofer (LF: Low Frequency) and the other to the midrange + tweeter (HF: High Frequency). If instead you use the classic connection with a single cable, the jumper should be left so that the signal goes to both terminals.

One of the advantages of using a double cable is that it should reduce magnetic interference. Another is that it gives a larger overall cross-sectional area than a single cable would, and also that the current drain from the woofer doesn't affect the smaller signal going to the top end. However, a technical analysis suggests that while bi-wiring may offer differences, they are so subtle that they are not tangible.

However, some audiophiles have found a significant difference in reduced treble harshness and improved bass control. However, detractors of bi-wiring claim that nothing changes electronically. They playfully refer to the practice as " buy-wiring ", claiming it is all just a marketing ploy to sell more speaker cables.


Bi-wiring versus bi-amping

Ricable has always maintained that bi-amping is certainly effective, but when it comes to bi-wiring a bit more caution is needed, as it all depends on the design of the amplifier. If the amplifier has been developed and optimized for bi-wiring, it makes sense to use it, otherwise it is better to save space and money on double speaker cables and rather buy only one, but of higher level.

What's the difference between bi-wiring and bi-amping? The main difference, as you can guess, is that bi-amping is done with two amplifiers, which gives a whole different meaning to this kind of connection. Just to mention it, bi-amping can be either vertical or horizontal. The first is to use two identical amplifiers and use one to amplify each speaker individually, the second is to use one amplifier for low frequencies and another (same or different) for high frequencies.

It is the best solution but also the most expensive one, to be adopted for very high level systems. In bi-amplification we start from the concept that each amplifier acts on a specific range of frequencies to directly drive the loudspeaker responsible for the reproduction of that specific range. In this way intermodulation phenomena and other undesired effects are avoided as much as possible; for example, the amplifier that treats the highest frequencies doesn't have to work with the low ones too, with benefits for the power supply and the performance.

Bi-wiring cables. Do you need them?

On the market there are Speaker cables specially designed for bi-wiring, that is with two connectors on the amplifier side and four connectors on the loudspeaker side. According to the philosophy Ricable, after some technical tests, this type of cable has no effect compared to the use of a standard cable with the addition of valid jumpers (do not leave the manufacturers' metal plates). On a technical level, there's no reason to prefer them to an arrangement with a monowiring cable connected to the other pair of binding posts through jumpers of the same conductor. Except for the negligible fact that, with the jumpers, the cable length is about ten centimetres longer.

Either way, the cable itself is not an active crossover and has no means of separating the high frequencies from the lows, so the only effect of bi-wiring is a complication in itself in the connection from amplifier to speakers, often with a deterioration in the quality of signal transmission.

In conclusion, we always suggest to simplify and, in case you have only one amplifier with bi-wireable speakers, to buy a standard cable with its jumpers. You'll spend less and get an identical, if not better, result.

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