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Biwire terminals and sound differences?

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  • #61
    I suppose that what one would have to do is find an as near as possible pair of identical Harbeths with biwire terminals (say the latest generation Super HL5s), listen to and measure the two of them with the standard gold/brass strips to confirm that they're effectively identical, then leave the standard strips on one pair and set the other up with aftermarket wire links, then set up a room where listeners could be asked to choose between the two blind.

    If someone wants to take that all on I'd be fascinated (truly) to read the results.

    Comment


    • #62
      Originally posted by EricW View Post
      choose between the two blind.
      Imho think our ears might be too undependable and our perceptions too opinionated to give anything conclusive.

      Prior to that, it might be simpler and more interesting to take out a multimeter and measure the resistance and capacitance of the link versus a bit of wire of the same length. Even if there were a difference, feel that the point above will kick in. ie. we won’t be able to perceive it.

      I showed the link to the wife, who’s an avionics engineer. She thinks there is nothing wrong with it from an electrical point of view, except that its not insulated. Electrical people think electrons “float” above the surface of the metal and dielectric “keeps” the electrons within. Brass is not the best conductor but she wasn’t sure whether the gold or the brass would have a bigger effect on the conductive aspects.

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by P.C. View Post
        Is there a chance that there was a 1% improvement with the links removed/ changed....
        Now with respect let's just stop and stand back and think a little about this.

        A biwire link is gold plated brass about, say, 30mm long. The claim is that this particular 30mm long piece of highly conductive metal is somehow, magically, more important than any other 30mm piece of perhaps less highly conductive metal anywhere else in the chain between the loudspeaker drive units and the power station a hundred miles away which is supplying the current that causes the cone to move and a sound to be generated. Does that sound logical? Does that sound an intellectual argument that a professor of engineering at a university could or should set his students studying? Of course not. It's a daft fixation on what is, from a point of electrical conduction, probably the best "link" in the chain from the point that the mains supply enters the house.

        The biwire link has this fascination for one reason and one reason alone - it's accessible by the user. So it lends itself to being fiddled with and to all the associated gratification of adjusting ones hifi.

        This is a non-issue.
        Pick a genuinely 'weak' part of the signal chain and experiment, but this big, fat brass part with countless billions of surplus electrons isn't the hold grail. Of that I am totally and absolutely certain as I've stated. You'd be better off paying attention to, let's say, 30mm of copper track on the printed circuit board that the binding posts are pressing onto which is vastly less conductive because it is thousands or millions of times thinner than the biwire link. But of course, that would involve opening the speaker and voiding the warranty.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #64
          I agree, maybe this : http://www.acoustic-revive.com/engli...4/bwa4_01.html instead of a fancy bi-wire link would work better? what do you think... they provide some measurements here:
          http://www.acoustic-revive.com/engli...4/bwa4_02.html

          Comment


          • #65
            Well, not that I don't agree (who am I to disagree?) but the power station "hundreds of miles away" is a bit of a red herring, isn't it? I mean, the power station is supplying, as I understand it, a simple 50 or 60hz sine wave of AC, not the much more complex signal that leaves the amplifier en route to the speakers.

            Not that that explains why a bit of copper wire would be any better or any different from a solid strip of gold-plated brass in terms of conducting the complex musical waveform without distortion.

            To kittykat: maybe you're right, maybe we couldn't tell the difference. But that's the beauty of a blind test, isn't it? If all you're really doing is guessing, the results will show that pretty clearly over a sufficiently large number of trials.

            As for me, personally, I couldn't care less. My Harbeths, fortunately, are a single-wired model and I'm quite content that way.

            Comment


            • #66
              Where does the power come from?

              A red herring? Really? Where do you think the power comes from to move the cone and produce sound?

              Do the exponents of this biwire mania have any concept at all that a current is a circulating concept? Circulating from the power station, through your amp, cables, crossover, voice coil and back again to the power station? Anyone into biwire connectors grasping that concept please? That concept of how electricity actually works is why there is a live and neutral pin on your wall socket. There has to be a flow. And what impedes the flow is resistance. And resistance is associated with thin parts, like the voice coil (about 6 ohms). So the fact that the biwire link has a resistance of perhaps 0.000001 ohm compared to the voice coil's 6 ohms means that as a component in the circulating loop, what dominates the resistance by a huge factor is the voice coil.

              If the concept of a circulating current is unclear or distrusted then the whole scientific world we live in collapses.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                A red herring? Really? Where do you think the power comes from to move the cone and produce sound?

                ...

                If the concept of a circulating current is unclear or distrusted then the whole scientific world we live in collapses.
                Hey, I'm on your side. Frankly, I wish you'd just convert the whole line to single terminals and be done with it. Till then, I'm afraid you're likely to have to deal with this stuff, irrational as you find it and as it no doubt is.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by EricW View Post
                  Hey, I'm on your side. Frankly, I wish you'd just convert the whole line to single terminals and be done with it. Till then, I'm afraid you're likely to have to deal with this stuff, irrational as you find it and as it no doubt is.
                  And I'm a good friend with everybody and agree with everyone, to a point, BUT:

                  Hey,
                  Pleaseeeee, stop getting bothered with such minor things, THEY DON'T CHANGE THE SOUND to a degree that could be heard, and we're not Supermen with our hearing systems able to catch a baby's cry at the other side of the town! What's wrong with those beautiful links? We're here to discuss very great issues of HiFi, and there are so many. We've been (from a positive standing) criticizing that "Hi-End neurosis" for so many years, and now are we becoming slaves to it? Give me a break!
                  And to resolve a little bit of some -imaginary IMHO- anxieties about links and the likes, has any friend from this forum opened the case of any decent, even well acclaimed, amplifier and see in person the WIRES used to connect the final amplification stage to the output (speakers) connectors? Have you realized how thin they are? And their usual quality? Anything special or exotic?
                  So, I won't ask, or criticize, or judge, or advise, or doubt Alan about anything... He knows better. That's why you can enjoy the SHL5s in my L/R... I don't remember -for as long as I have them- myself getting up from my chair while playing, going behind them, and examining these links, looking like a professor who collects butterflies in the Amazone!
                  Come on, lets get busy with much more important things!
                  Cheers,
                  Thanos

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Thanos View Post

                    Hey,
                    Pleaseeeee, stop getting bothered with such minor things ... We've been (from a positive standing) criticizing that "Hi-End neurosis" for so many years, and now are we becoming slaves to it? Give me a break!
                    ...
                    So, I won't ask, or criticize, or judge, or advise, or doubt Alan about anything... He knows better.
                    Thanos, you're a smart and lovely man, but I'll respectfully (slightly) disagree with you. I'm not in the least bit bothered by this issue, especially as it affects me not in the slightest, not owning bi-wireable loudspeakers.

                    But it's a question, and it's apparently a real belief some people have that this makes a difference. The "why" of that is interesting, at least to me. It may be and likely is based on nothing more than, as Alan says, the effect of an uncontrolled test. But nonetheless, it's some people's belief that it makes a difference.

                    I'm not of that camp myself: back when I owned the bi-wireable HL-P3ES2s I tried them both ways, bi-wired and single wired, and I certainly couldn't hear a difference. So I decided not to worry about it, as there was clearly no point in doing so.

                    However, as long as Harbeth offers bi-wireable speakers for sale, the question is going to exist in some people's minds. After all, if you think about it, Harbeth's philosophy is at odds with the simple fact that they do have bi-wireable speakers in their product lineup. This may have been a marketing-driven decision years ago, or it may have been thought back then that it might have a performance impact, I don't know. And I expect redesigning a speaker is no trivial matter, so I understand why certain designs carry on. But until there are no bi-wireable speakers in Harbeth's lineup, there will be some clash between Alan's strong and clearly-expressed views on the subject and the simple fact that such speakers are being offered for sale by Harbeth. Until that situation changes, a certain amount of consumer confusion is inevitable.

                    And, as Alan says, anything that can be fiddled with by the end user is going to inspire in some people's minds the idea that a more "advanced" form of fiddling (e.g. wire links instead of gold/brass strips) is going to make a significant difference.

                    All just my humble opinion, of course.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Without offending anyone, taking all science out of the equation, imho at the end of the day, what might play a bigger part is for those who think there will be a difference, there will be, and for those who don’t, there will very likely wont be.

                      i remember many years ago (when monster became big), some friends used to experiment with different types of speaker cables and telephone wires in a haphazard environment. Were there learnings from it? Foremost in my mind were “groupthink” and “peer pressure”. my feeling is that there were too few of us wanting to look like we couldnt hear a difference and there those who kept quiet as well as those who felt there was a difference and didn’t keep their opinions to themselves. Second learning, I wouldn’t bother about seeking out the cables which were thought to be best.

                      The logic part of my brain says, there won't be a difference, the metal link is specified sufficiently and the distance between the posts is hardly anything to be worried about. i went to parts connexxion and ebay to look at some small bits of hardware eg supra etc. and was thinking of hooking up a couple of different patches to trial but gave up, knowing if there was any difference, it wouldn’t be something id wake up early just to listen to. third learning – most people are just too lazy to really bother about something which doesn’t have a big payoff.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by EricW View Post
                        Thanos, you're a smart and lovely man, but I'll respectfully (slightly) disagree with you. I'm not in the least bit bothered by this issue, especially as it affects me not in the slightest, not owning bi-wireable loudspeakers.

                        But it's a question, and it's apparently a real belief some people have that this makes a difference. The "why" of that is interesting, at least to me. It may be and likely is based on nothing more than, as Alan says, the effect of an uncontrolled test. But nonetheless, it's some people's belief that it makes a difference.

                        I'm not of that camp myself: back when I owned the bi-wireable HL-P3ES2s I tried them both ways, bi-wired and single wired, and I certainly couldn't hear a difference. So I decided not to worry about it, as there was clearly no point in doing so.

                        However, as long as Harbeth offers bi-wireable speakers for sale, the question is going to exist in some people's minds. After all, if you think about it, Harbeth's philosophy is at odds with the simple fact that they do have bi-wireable speakers in their product lineup. This may have been a marketing-driven decision years ago, or it may have been thought back then that it might have a performance impact, I don't know. And I expect redesigning a speaker is no trivial matter, so I understand why certain designs carry on. But until there are no bi-wireable speakers in Harbeth's lineup, there will be some clash between Alan's strong and clearly-expressed views on the subject and the simple fact that such speakers are being offered for sale by Harbeth. Until that situation changes, a certain amount of consumer confusion is inevitable.

                        And, as Alan says, anything that can be fiddled with by the end user is going to inspire in some people's minds the idea that a more "advanced" form of fiddling (e.g. wire links instead of gold/brass strips) is going to make a significant difference.

                        All just my humble opinion, of course.
                        Dear friend Eric,
                        We don't disagree at all. Together with Kittykat, we all had the same position as to rather keep a wholistic approach to sound itself and not to minor details, as the discussed issue. But, yes, you are quite right about the "wonder why" brought to consumers' minds when seeing both bi-wire and single wire terminals used. At this point, what really becomes essential IMHO of course, is the matter of avoiding some serious expenses of buying double wire lenghts, as you don't have this dilemma with single wire terminals. Just like you, I had the same speculation when I bought the SHL5s... And I did the tests, and was trying to listen critically, and brought friends to help finding any differences, and ...finally went back to the point where Alan was suggesting in the manual... The result was a loss of an amount spent to buy double lengths of speaker wire. Could have spent it in buying three dozens of cd titles for my precious classical collection...
                        Well, everyone has to personally try and come to an opinion, then we all exchange them for the general good.
                        Best Regards from a very very tortured Greece (Ahhh!! This crisis...)
                        Thanos

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Last words on biwire links ..... a summary

                          The last few posts I think summarise nicely this issue of biwire links. Perhaps we can once and for all draw a line under it with these observations: (in no particular order)
                          • If you want to believe in biwire links, cables or any other accessories then you will hold views that no amount of persuasion, logic or any other external force will budge

                          • My views - merely as the designer - are of little value or relevance against the avalanche of hearsay, folklore and marketing surrounding these and similar subjects

                          With that said, what remains is the mystery of why Harbeth, as a commercial company with the usual profit motive, would declare certain accessories - including biwire link - to be 'good enough' as supplied with our speakers, turning our back on the commercial (profit) possibility of wringing a few more dollars out of our users for after-market upgrades and tweaks. That can only mean one of two things:

                          • Harbeth's management have gone barking mad and can't see a commercial opportunity when it stares them in the face or ....

                          • Harbeth's management can afford to take a long term view of their business based on delivering real, solid value and that taking a maverick position regarding tweaks is actually very good for business as it clearly and unambiguously differentiates the Harbeth brand core values from others.


                          You decide!!

                          Looking forward to meeting our audio friends in KL tonight at this wonderful hotel.

                          Alan /Kuala Lumpur
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                            ...If you want to believe in biwire links, cables or any other accessories then you will hold views that no amount of persuasion, logic or any other external force will budge...
                            First, recent studies in the medecine department reveal that the placebo effect works in 80% of cases in which it is use. Yes, we can believe that the same can happen in audio.

                            Second, has I will receive my SHL5 in the month, I will try them both way (single and biwire). Quite skeptical, but just curious.

                            Sebastien

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              The weird thing about the placebo effect is, it's real. That is to say, your belief in something to some extent actually makes it so, i.e. creates measurable changes in the body.

                              I recently heard of another example of this on a radio program where a behavioral economist being interviewed referred to a study that measured people's brain wave patterns when they were drinking wine that they believed was cheap, versus wine they were told was expensive. In fact, it was the same wine. But here's the funny thing: when subjects drank the wine they believed cost more, they actually experienced more pleasure - measurably - than when drinking the "cheaper" (identical) wine.

                              The implications for fancy cable, biwire links, super expensive stands, etc. is obvious. If people believe they work, then they will - not in any measurable scientific way in the external world, perhaps, but in the sense of having an real (and measurable!) effect on the subjective experience of the perceiver, and perhaps affecting his/her level of pleasure (positive) but also possibly anxiety (not so positive). Conversely, for people don't believe that such things work, because there's no scientific or logical explanation for how they could work, then they simply won't.

                              We are strange and complex creatures, and perceive what we expect to perceive, as much as what's actually there. The thing is that a perception may actually have a scientific psychological and physiological reality whether or not there's anything happening externally that a measuring instrument would pick up. It's just that that particular "reality" is completely internal to the perceiver.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                expectation bias...

                                FWIW my expectation with the HL-P3s was that the sound would not depend on which posts the wires were connected to... if there was a difference I would have expected the bottom posts to be better (this is what is recommended in the Harbeth instructions). Hearing any difference at all came as a surprise to me.

                                So it is a Good Thing that the P3ESRs have a single pair of binding posts - whatever variable was at play, we don't need to worry about it any more.

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