Does bi-wire sound better than single-wire?
by: Michael Whiteside, Director and Designer,
Studio Connections cable, Abbey Road Cable
From experience, I have no doubt about it that all speakers work better bi-wired than single-wired. Or, more correctly, a speaker wire for each driver. This is because speakers connected to each other will interact with each other. In bi-wring, the back voltage sent from one driver can be arrested immediately by the amplifier before it can transmit up to the other driver. Without bi-wiring, one speaker will interfere with one closely linked to it, and the amount the amplifier can arrest this will be limited by impedance of the length of the speaker cable.
Simple illustrative example- at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club we improved the sound by wiring each driver to the amp. We had two woofers in each cabinet. Prior to multi-wiring, if I pushed one driver in to the cab by hand, the other moved out (the voltage generated from one cause the other to react). So imagine the possible interactions with complex wounds vibrating the different drivers… After multi-wiring, even when one woofer was pushed in, the other stayed solidly under the control of the amp and the sound was so much better after the re-wire.
In practice, I wired a humble pair of Totem ‘Arro’ speakers using Studio Connections Reference Plus cable on the bass end and Studio Connections Monitor range speaker cable on the top end (using Sim Audio Moon amp and CD player). The resulting image and musical detail transformed from being good for a cheaper pair of speakers, to extraordinary, and on par with an £80,000 pair of reference speakers I use occasionally (obviously it was limited by the amount of power it could handle etc – but the image was impeccable). So what happened? The timing just got ‘more equal’ in the top and low end. Simple.
This, by the way, answers a question an audiophile asked some while back as to why recording sound so rubbish these days- it’s all in the minute timing. It’s all to do with capturing and representing the tiny timings that is natural sound. I say in good recordings you can hear the eye contact (recorded with few, well placed microphones in one take an then embellished) – whilst at the other end of the spectrum is impeccably produced blandness (over microphoned, multi-tracked too much in separate takes so each part is orphaned sonically from the whole resulting in no natural timing information).