Monowiring, bi-wiring or bi-amping in Hi-Fi. What's that?

What's bi-wiring and bi-amping? Bi-wiring is one of the means to connect a speaker to an audio amplifier. Usually, a single cable runs from the amplifier output to the speaker housing terminals (this connection is called monowiring, however expedient). When bi-wiring, however, each speaker has two pairs of connectors and two cables are carried from the amplifier output to the speaker cabinet. One corresponds to high frequencies, one to low frequencies (through two separate crossovers).

Bi-wiring versus monowiring

Bi-wiring is a dual cable Speaker connection between the amplifier and the speakers. With only one bipolar cable, all audio frequencies pass through it and the crossover of the speaker cuts and sends it to the drivers. Many loudspeakers are built with a crossover that allows the low frequencies (Low) and high frequencies (High) to be accepted separately. In this cable the speaker will have four binding posts instead of two (LOW+/LOW- and HIGH+/HIGH-).

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In the case of a loudspeaker with double connections that is connected with a single cable, there will be a jumper made with a metal lamella connecting the LOW+ with the LOW- and the HIGH+ with the HIGH-. Therefore, to use the bi-wiring connection, this jumper must be removed 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, on the other hand, you use the classic single cable connection, the jumper must 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 in obtaining a bigger overall section than you would get with a single cable and also in the fact that, in this way, the current absorption caused by the woofer does not affect the signal, of a smaller entity, which goes to the high ways. However, a technical analysis suggests that although adopting a two-wired solution may offer differences, these are so subtle that they do not represent something tangible.

However, some audiophiles have found a significant difference in reducing treble hardness and improving bass control. However, detractors of bi-wiring claim that, electronically, nothing changes. In a play on words, they refer to this practice as "buy-wiring", claiming that it's all just a marketing invention to sell more speaker cables.

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Bi-wiring versus bi-amping

Ricable has always maintained that bi-amping ("bi-amping") is certainly effective, while as far as bi-wiring is concerned some extra caution is needed, because everything depends on the design behind the amplifier. If this 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 one, but higher level.

What's the difference between bi-wiring and bi-amping? The main difference, as you can see, is that the bi-amping is made with two amplifiers, which gives a completely different meaning to this type of connection. Just to make a hint, the bi-amplification can be vertical or horizontal. The first one foresees to use two identical amplifiers and to use one of them to amplify each speaker individually; the second one foresees to use one amplifier for the low frequencies and another one (same or different) for the high frequencies.

It is the best but also the most expensive solution, to be adopted for installations of the highest level. In bi-amplification we start from the concept that each amplifier acts on a specific frequency range to directly drive the loudspeaker responsible for the reproduction of that specific range. This avoids intermodulation and other undesirable effects as much as possible; for example, the amp handling the higher frequencies does not have to work with the lower frequencies, with benefits for the power supply and performance.

Bi-wiring cables. Do you need them?

There are cables Speaker on the market specifically designed for bi-wiring, i.e. with two connectors on the amplifier side and four connectors on the speaker side. According to the philosophyRicable, 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 is no reason to prefer them to a monowiring cable connected to the other pair of terminals by means of jumpers of the same conductor. If not the negligible fact that, with jumpers, the length of the cable is extended by ten centimetres.

In one case or another, the cable itself is not an active crossover and does not have the tools to separate the high frequencies from the low frequencies, so the only effect of bi-wiring cables is a complication in itself in the connection from the amplifier to the speakers, often with a deterioration in signal transmission quality.

In conclusion, we always recommend that you simplify and, if you only have one amplifier with bi-wireable speakers, buy a standard cable with jumpers. You'll spend less and get the same, if not better, result.