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Thread: To biwire or not, all things being equal?

  1. #1
    ErikM Guest

    Default To biwire or not, all things being equal?

    OK I get the no big SQ difference between biwiring or not, But my SHL5 have biwire capability.

    1. So all things being equal is there any reason Not to biwire? Lets for sake of discussion not worry about the extra cost, and lets assume the same cable for top and bottom no mixing and matching.

    2. internally is the crossover split into separate high and low boards or sections and joined only at the speaker terminals by the plates as are some speakers? Or are the wires from the binding posts joined at the crossover board?? (I'd love to see a detailed picture of the inside of a SHL5 showing this area)

    3. If there is no difference between biwiring and single why doesn't Harbeth just drop the biwire capability? As they have on other models? I don't buy the idea that marketing needs this feature since these days there are plenty of high end speakers that are single wire and most folks understand that a speaker is designed one way or the other. ie no one questions Thiel, or Wilson, or Dynaudio for being single wire. Also since I get the feeling that Mr. Shaw is a bit frugal I can't imagine why not change the production of SHL5 to single wire, Harbeth would save the cost of one pair of binding posts and the cost of the jumper plates, I mean it can't really be that hard to just drill one set of holes in the back instead of two.

    Any reasonable opinions are gladly appreciated :-)

  2. #2
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    Default Biwire - previously discussed

    Hi ErikM: Blessed Yuletide!

    You will find that this topic has been discussed ad nauseam in this forum and we all know Alan's stand on single speaker wiring instead of biwiring. You will find the below the link to an earlier discussion on the subject, as well as a photo of the prototype crossover. I think you will find most of the answers to your questions in this link.

    http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...light=biwiring

    Best Regards
    Dennis

    {Moderator's comment: many thanks for the link. Biwiring is a subject which bores use to tears. Much though we'd like to remove the biwire terminals from some of the older products, Harbeth policy is to resist making change to products selling well and where the dealer will have stock or demonstrators of the long-running biwire version. It avoids confusion.}

  3. #3
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    Default B-wiring option - Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikM View Post
    .... If there is no difference between biwiring and single why doesn't Harbeth just drop the biwire capability? ...... no one questions Thiel, or Wilson, or Dynaudio for being single wire.....Any reasonable opinions are gladly appreciated :-)
    Alan did mention about the idea of dropping the bi-wire terminals. He said so somewhere here in the forum or during the KL talk. I think bi-wiring questions often raised about those 3 manufacturers you mentioned. It is that we don't see them as they do not run an open forum but if you Google around you can find many asked the same questions before and would continue to do so.

    The most important thing to note is that bi-wiring terminals do not benefit in SQ (sound quality) but also simply having bi-wiring terminals do not degrade the sound. Even though, I don't use bi-wiring for my SHL5 but it gave me an opportunity to run some experiments with bi-amping (LF and HF). At the end of the day, it is the consumers who decide since the majority of them prefers bi-wiring. I would still like to have the option (to play around) if the price difference is marginal.

    ST

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ErikM View Post
    OK I get the no big SQ difference...

    ...If there is no difference between biwiring and single why doesn't Harbeth just drop the biwire capability? As they have on other models?...
    I already read from Alan that Harbeth had a demand, from the market, their distributors and their customers, to have bi-wire posts on the SHL5.

    Sebastien

    {Moderator's comment (again): the SHL5 is along standing product. To just decide overnight to drop the biwire terminals would be a foolish business decision and encourage much (more) anxiety when there is more than enough today in the audiophile market.}

  5. #5
    ErikM Guest

    Default Biwiring - the links are the deciding factor not the crossover

    Denjo thanks for the link I must have missed that thread. So after reading through all of the posts one thing I did notice was that Alan posted that the SHL5 crossover does electrically separate the high and low sections, and they are in fact joined only at the binding posts making it a true biwire/biampable speaker.

    {moderator's comment: it would be completely illogical -- fraud -- to somehow link the crossovers internally but give the user the illusion that the only links were outside and under his control. The Harbeth biwire crossovers, all of them, are completely separated in the low and high channels so if you remove the biwire links from the back panel you will only hear the tweeter or woofer, not both.}

  6. #6
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    Default One readers opinion about biamping (not harbeth official view)

    1. Bi-Wiring - no advantage.
    2. Bi-amping - some advantage, but only because you have doubled the power to the speakers (if it's needed).
    3. Full Active running - much advantage, one amp directly coupled to each driver and the crossover before the amps. The amp(s) are not now fighting their way through the passive crossover(s). This, of course, is a very different product designed from the ground up.

    Conclusion: if you have a passive Harbeth (that's most of them) drive them from a decent stereo amp with a single pair of wires to each speaker. Unless the leads are long standard QED 79 strand will do fine.

    {Moderator's comment: we at HAL UK strongly disagree with your 3). There is no 'fighting' in the crossover at all. You have expressed your opinion, not a fact as we see it.}

  7. #7
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    Default Biwiring - a non-subject that will not gain you any sonic advantage

    I really wish this subject of biwiring would just disappear up its own terminals. I don't have many ambitions in life but killing this discussion by deleting the biwire terminals and reverting to just one input pair is going to be at the top of my 2011 New Year's Resolution list for the remaining models that still feature biwire legacy terminals! You've given me a real motivational boost!

    The terminals were fitted for one reason and one reason only: to give the user choice. Have I ever used them at exhibitions? No. Have I ever used them for critical listening? No. Have I ever used them during the design of the speaker? No. When we were offering the biwire terminals, right at the end of the design process (which has all been with single wire) I took a saw to the prototype PCB, cut in in half to isolate the bass and tweeter sections and then made a pretty PCB layout based on that. Did I listen to the biwired crossover before authorising production? No. Do I believe that even 0.00000001% of enhanced performance can be gained? No.

    Of all the subjects ranged over in the speaker arena, this one is a complete and utter waste of time - in my opinion. But what do I know about it? I only design the speakers ....... !

    Biwiring does do one thing very well though: it introduces the one and only, much appreciated 'fiddle factor' to allow individuals a physical and psychological interaction with their speakers. What else can you do to them other than dust and polish them?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Biwiring does do one thing very well though: it introduces the one and only, much appreciated 'fiddle factor' to allow individuals a physical and psychological interaction with their speakers. What else can you do to them other than dust and polish them?
    Listen to them?

    Let me correct myself: listen to the music they reproduce!


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    Default Biwire - Harbeth links and xover design expertise

    Harbeth is one manufacturer who knows how to design a passive crossover to be as benign as possible and, I'm certain, to design the two "halves" of the crossover circuit so that they don't react with each other. I'm afraid the same cannot be said for certain other manufacturers, where bi-wiring, and even more so bi-amping, made a noticeable difference, to the effect that single wiring the speakers concerned was a definite no-no (I'm not mentioning the model I have in mind, but the results were clearly audible and repeatable).

    I'm glad to see that the current links are gold plated. I don't remember them always being such, but it was a long time ago now and memory gets tricky.

    {Moderator's comments: no. the Harbeth-supplied links have always been gold plated onto brass, a specialist operation undertaken by a jeweller.}

  10. #10
    ErikM Guest

    Default Alan's view of biwiring!

    Thank you Alan. Not much else to say, is there :-)

  11. #11
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    Default Losses in speakers - electrical etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    {Moderator's comment: we at HAL UK strongly disagree with your 3). There is no 'fighting' in the crossover at all. You have expressed your opinion, not a fact as we see it.}
    Of course there is no "fighting" in the crossover: I used an anthropomorpism. (I attributed human behaviour to a machine.)

    There is, however, at least an insertion loss: a fact as anyone sees it, and not an opinion. Energy is lost in the crossover and is dissipated in heat. How significant the losses are in the whole range of engineering compromises made in the design of a loudspeaker might though, be down to opinion.

    The science seems well outlined here

    http://sound.westhost.com/lr-passive.htm

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    Default Passives etc.

    As I see it, it's the execution which is important and there are still some speakers out there where bad design is used as a positive selling point. The secret I think, is to balance the design of the crossover so that its insertion is as evenly benign as possible across the frequency range as possible.

    I've had some powerful active monitors at home and heard some even bigger ones in a Sales manager's home and found the sound incredible, but not necessarily something I'd like to live with day-in day-out. This is where I love my ancient BBC monitors and the modern Harbeths I've heard, where you can relax into the music reproduced and just not worry about the technology involved.

    So, to summarise my rambles above, I'd confirm that, in my opinion and experience, Harbeth speakers are something special, offering very high quality drive units which are properly behaved and therefore not needing excessive crossover shenanigens to work properly and the crossovers themselves, carefully designed to have as little [unwanted] effect on the signals passing through them as possible.

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    Default Biwiring - future strategy.

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ... I don't have many ambitions in life but killing this discussion by deleting the biwire terminals and reverting to just one input pair is going to be at the top of my 2011 New Year's Resolution list for the remaining models that still feature biwire legacy terminals! You've given me a real motivational boost! The terminals were fitted for one reason and one reason only: to give the user choice. ...

    Biwiring does do one thing very well though: it introduces the one and only, much appreciated 'fiddle factor' to allow individuals a physical and psychological interaction with their speakers. What else can you do to them other than dust and polish them?
    Brilliant! Single terminals throughout the range! I have opined before that this would be a terrific move on Harbeth's part. Some may be seeking a "fiddle factor" type product, but I suspect that those people for the most part are not Harbeth customers.

    What's the point of a "choice" when that choice is meaningless? Give us the best possible product, make it as simple as it can be, and let the fiddlers go elsewhere. Biwire terminals are inconsistent with Harbeth's rationalist, science-based mandate, and should go.

    {Moderator's comment: the 'choice' you mention dates back to the late 1980s when we first applied the bi-wire terminals as it was deemed a sales necessity at the time. Fashions change, we don't. And we really do not like to make changes to a successful, respected running product as any businessman will know. If you were a Harbeth dealer with paid-for demonstration models how would you feel if they did not represent what the consumer would actually receive? Peed-off at having to sell them cheap and invest in fresh up to date stock that did. Dumping the bi-wire terminals might seem to you like a trivial matter but it has serious ramifications through the distribution chain *for a current model*. We do know what we are doing. We will not be hurried. We'll make the change when we think the time is right and we have the entire sales network on-side. And not a moment beforehand.}

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    Default

    No one is hurrying you, Mr. Moderator. Naturally, Harbeth as a company will do as it deems best, taking all factors into consideration. However, I would point out that Harbeth has to some extent created the question for itself by introducing three consecutive new models all with single-wiring only. That alone makes it rather obvious what view Harbeth takes purely as a matter of technical merit. So to some extent it's the presence of both types in the lineup that raises the question, even if it is technically irrelevant as to whether the extra pair of terminals are there or not.

    Also, maybe in the 1980s Harbeth still needed to be concerned about fashion. Now, I think of it as a company that is so defiantly unfashionable that it is almost a kind of fashion in and of itself.

    {Moderator's comment: I have already explained to you why the dealer network do not want change. Kindly drop the subject.}

  15. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    ...Harbeth has to some extent created the question for itself by introducing three consecutive new models all with single-wiring only. ... I think of it as a company that is so defiantly unfashionable that it is almost a kind of fashion in and of itself.
    Mod1 called me and mentioned this posting. I'd like to make it abundantly clear Eric that you were permitted to rejoin this group {*} only recently because you reassured us in writing that you would avoid controversy and commercial issues. This issue has no simple binary solution. It is a very sensitive commercial matter mainly about timing. With over 40 distributors and each distributor having ten or more retail dealers, that means there are hundreds of pairs of Harbeth biwire-fitted speakers in stores, paid for by the retailers. It would be ethically wrong at this difficult time in the global economy to oblige them to dispose of perfectly good, working demo or sales stock and oblige them to re-equip with new speakers the only difference being the reversion to two terminals. So we cannot and will not even consider that. It just would not be fair on the retailers whatever you may think as an individual outside the audio industry.

    We will not be discussing this here beyond the comprehensive answers I have given. We have said all there is to say and more. And we are disappointed that my words are not acceptable to you, a non-Harbeth customer as the final words on the matter. I'll hand over to Mod1 to proceed from this point.

    {Moderator's comment: on third request}
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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