The Black Rhodium Blog
All You Need To Know About Bi-Wiring In Loudspeaker Cables
- By Graham Nalty, founder and owner of Black Rhodium
We have to start with a definition to avoid any possible misunderstandings.
Bi-Wiring is best described as using two cable cores to connect from one pair of terminals in the amplifier to two pairs of terminals at the loudspeaker end. At the loudspeaker end one core is connected to the higher frequency loudspeaker drivers and the other to the lower frequency drivers.
In the illustration of a pair of BiWire loudspeaker cables, there are four connectors for the amplifier end and eight connectors for the loudspeaker end.
When a BiWire loudspeaker cable is used, the current to drive the high frequency driver is carried from amplifier to speaker in a different cable core to the current used to drive the low frequency driver.
The benefits of Bi-Wiring
The benefit from using a BiWire loudspeaker cables, as opposed to single wires between amplifier and speakers is an improvement of the clarity in the music. Voices and instruments are better separated from each other in the music and the overall effect of listening to music is more enjoyable.
Bi-Amping of Loudspeakers
A further, and more extravagant enhancement to sound can be achieved through Bi-Amping, by using two separate amplifiers to drive each loudspeaker. One amplifier drives the high frequency driver and the second amplifier drives the low frequency driver.
Tri-Wiring and Tri-Amping
If the loudspeaker has more than two drive units, then each driver can be powered by its own separate cable (Tri-Wiring) or by its own separate amplifier (Tri-Amping).
Why Bi-Wire Cables Are Less Prevalent Today
The old way of Bi-Wiring and Bi-Amping employed a four core loudspeaker cable as shown in the picture above. In this cable four wires are twisted together and fitted into a single outer sheath. This is convenient, but the proximity of the conductors means that magnetic and electrical fields from one conductor can affect the current in the other conductors causing audible distortion that can be reduced by isolating the conductors from each other. If we move the conductors away from each other we lose the convenience of the single outer sheath of a convenient outer diameter size.
Three Options Available
1. Jumper Links
Foxtrot S and Foxtrot Speaker Links
Jumper links offer the advantage that you only need one pair of loudspeaker cables and these can be used between both pairs of terminals at the loudspeaker. This is also less expensive than buying two pairs of cables. Conversely it enables a high quality cable to be chosen.
2. Bi-Wire cables with Contra-Winding of cable pairs
Twist BiWire Classic/Duet BiWire Classic
The audible distortion caused by close proximity of high and low frequency cables is reduced by wiring each pairs of cables in the opposite rotation to that of each pair. When two pairs of cables are wound together, they can easily mesh together giving the appearance of a 4 core cable. When two pairs are wound in a contra- wind they have a more distinctive weave. But more important the sound improvement of the contra-wind can easily be heard by audition. This is a compromise solution, but a highly cost-effective solution that is very hard to beat at the price.
3. Two pairs of cables
Black Rhodium Charleston Spades – 4mm Amplifier to HF driver/Black Rhodium Charleston 4mm – 4mm Amplifier to LF unit
Charleston is a cable designed without compromise. Charleston is engineered to reduce to absolute minimum all the forms of distortion that can degrade your sound.
A Bi-Wire version would be rather unwieldy, and compromising the design would lose the special sound that Charleston delivers.
Jumper leads built to the same specification as the main cable would be hard to engineer over the very short length of a jumper lead.
Black Rhodium strongly recommends that where CHARLESTON is used with Bi-Wire loudspeakers, then a second set of cables should be used as above.
Anything less compromises the outstanding sound quality that CHARLESTON delivers to your music.
The practice of Bi-Amping, in which separate amplifiers are used, will produce even better sonic results.
This article was originally written some years ago and shows Black Rhodium cables that are longer produced. Whilst trends in audio are moving further away from regular application of Bi-Wiring, the same principles of design apply to Bi-Wiring which will still be highly beneficial to many music lovers who want the best sound for their music.