Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 93

Thread: Biwire terminals and sound differences?

  1. #1
    Greg Guest

    Default Bi-wire or not?

    I'm going to buy new speaker cable. I left Naim for tubes so I no longer need the dreaded stiff, unwieldy Naca5.

    Since my HL-P3 are bi-wireable, for best sound quality should I bi-wire (external or internal) or simply single-wire with good quality aftermarket jumpers?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg
    I'm going to buy new speaker cable. I left Naim for tubes so I no longer need the dreaded stiff, unwieldy Naca5.

    Since my HL-P3 are bi-wireable, for best sound quality should I bi-wire (external or internal) or simply single-wire with good quality aftermarket jumpers?
    If you find even one electrical engineer who can explain to you why bi-wiring is a better approcah than single wiring, go ahead and try it (I haven't). Otherwise, save your money and single wire using the jumpers that came with the HL-P3. My view.

  3. #3
    Greg Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Mast
    If you find even one electrical engineer who can explain to you why bi-wiring is a better approcah than single wiring, go ahead and try it (I haven't). Otherwise, save your money and single wire using the jumpers that came with the HL-P3. My view.
    I agree. I don't believe in bi-wiring. I believe Mr. Shaw himself also once admitted that bi-wiring of Harbeths was a concession to industry trend, nothing more. I forget where I read that now but it stuck in my mind.

    HOWEVER, the bi-wiring terminals must now be dealt with. I probably should have been more specific in my original post. The stock brass jumpers are NOT the best thing sonically. So you are left with either bi-wiring (preferable an internal one lest you double your cabling cost) or aftermarket jumpers. IMO you still have one too many connections in there with jumpers (stock or aftermarket). I went ahead and ordered up some sensible cable with an internal biwire. Done deal.

    If you think the stock jumpers are fine then so be it. But I recommend you compare them to some bare stranded wire between the terminals at the very least. I think you'll be surprised at how bad those brass plates really are. It's a no-brainer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Greg,

    After jumping in with my two cents about bi-wiring it occured to me that this category might actually be meant to direct questions to Alan, not the users in general. My apologies to Alan - and all - if this is the case. And thanks for the suggestion to replace the brass jumpers with wire, Greg - I'll try that.

    Best, Ned

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    I have Model 30's. I am using Fulton Brown wire through a wall. The dealer who sold me the speakers suggested that replacing the jumper would improve the speaker. I had a 10' pair of Audioquest Midnight which my dealer redressed for bi-wiring. The improvement was pretty amazing for a pair of speakers I admired but the cable's stiffness was unworkable. The problem for me is getting a pair of cables which will go through my wall and then make a sharp right turn and be of reasonable cost and work with my Futterman OTL amp. My current choice is Audioquest Rocket but that is a $1500 solution.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    I would be curious to hear from those trying different speaker cables and different jumpers, what methodology you use for determining differences in sound. Also, would you characterize these differences as frequency related? This could be done through private messages if not of general interest.

    Ned

  7. #7
    Greg Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Mast
    I would be curious to hear from those trying different speaker cables and different jumpers, what methodology you use for determining differences in sound. Also, would you characterize these differences as frequency related? This could be done through private messages if not of general interest.

    Ned
    Interesting question but I don't think it's that simple, i.e., effect on frequency response. Personally I think the audiophile wire business is white collar crime, but personal experience in relatively inexpensive cable has shown that there are sonic differences to my ears. Note that I am a metallurgical engineer and natural skeptic so I guess that means you can trust my assessment.

    I say it's not as simple as frequency response because I think there are certain things you can't measure, only hear. Or, we haven't quite found the right way of measuring it yet. The same holds true when the discussion turns to amplification and the effects of high global feedback versus zero global feedback, tubes vs. solid state, and so forth.

    Back to cables, though. With cables, the choice of conductor material, geometry and dialetric all seem to come into play (then there's the quality and manner of termination, too). You can take two cables of identical geometry and conductor and use different dialetric and get a different sound. The Kimber PR and TC lines are an example that I've heard myself to sound different for this reason. The static inductance, resistance and capacitance play a major role, true, but I think there's more to it than that. As far as conductors, they also play a role IMO. For example, I will say that I've never liked silver plated copper as a conductor. It always sounds bright or "hi fi" to me, with a sharp enhancement to the leading edge of notes, like making guitar strings sound way too pronounced. Because the signal travels on the outside of the cable (at least the HF), having it pass through a coating layer of silver is not a good idea in my opinion.

    Before I get too far I guess I'll leave it at that.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Greg. My reason for asking is that I am finding that I generally don't hear differences between electronics and wire that others do, and wonder if methodology is the issue or simply the way I hear/listen. I would truly like to see more double blind tests conducted, but they are difficult to conduct properly. Leaving that aside, with speaker wire or jumpers, what I do is use one wire or set of jumpers with one speaker and a second with the other. Then I can set my Lavry DAC to mono and set my pre-amp to left or right channel and thus compare A with B. Does this make sense? I then generally start with a single instrument (the cello, since I play it) and then other single instruments with different frequency ranges and timbres - violin, voice, piano, etc., before moving on to larger groups of instruments. If I think I hear a difference with A, I always return to B to verify. Music is very complex, and we tend to hear it differently each time we listen anyway. Using this method I've not yet been able to distinguish differences betweeen the jumpers that came with my M40s and 10 gauge copper wire, but am still in the process of listening.

    What you say about listening for the attack of an instrument is interesting, and something I'll listen for more carefully - especially with guitar and perhaps piano. For me, the main difficulty with objectve comparative listening is the complexity of music and also the fact that it evokes an emotional response. And, of course, that it occurs in time. With, photographs, for example, we can compare almost simultaneously. Again, I think what we hear and our emotional response to it is going to naturally differ each time we listen to a piece of music. For this reason, I wonder too if we shouldn't try to use music to which we don't have a strong emotional response; perhaps something contemporary, even atonal. (Might one conclude that because he dislikes an atonal piece of music more with A than with B that A is actually "better" than B??!!).

    Best, Ned

  9. #9
    Greg Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Ned,

    A lot of these minutae depend on the listener and how much he or she wants to "major on the minors". I have a tendency to do that. Perhaps I'm obsessive (or a typical audiophile, lol). Seriously, the emotional part is the key. But getting it depends on the listener -- I'm most involved when I'm hearing all that's on the recording. This resolution is what generally leads people to spend good money on speakers and so forth. However, with that resolution often comes thin or incorrect tonality and an "edgy" or "shiny" quality to the sound (the leading edge enhancement?). I think many "audiophile" speakers (especially American ones) have this quality. This also bothers me, which is why I am currently switching from Naim to tubes.

  10. #10
    Greg Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Ned,

    Here's an interesting report on cables you might be interested in:

    http://www.soundstage.com/pf02.htm

    Interestingly, if you surf some online audio review websites like Soundstage and Positive Feedback, you'll notice how the cable game has exploded in the last several years. Back 5 -10 years ago cables being reviewed were inexpensive and the reviews were honest. Now it seems like cables are only good if they cost big money -- and the reviewers make it sound like they'll solve all your problems.

    An audiophile friend of mine just emailed me about some Walmart cable he found that sounds better than the $1000 cable he was using. Walmart is a chain store. This Walmart cable is like $1 per foot.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Greg,

    "Edgy" or "shiny" qualities I also find intolerable in speakers and fortunately are not a characteristic of current Harbeth speakers. Recordings are another matter. Unfortunately, for example, too many of the recordings produced by John McClure for Columbia (many of the Bernstein recordings) evince this quality, though perhaps ameliorated somewhat in remastering for CD.

    Ned

  12. #12
    Greg Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    I just saw that you're from USA. Sorry about that -- of couse you know about Walmart. I was assuming you were from England for some reason.

    A lot of audiophiles like that edgy or shiny quality. I grew tired of it. Everyone hears different, though. I found Naim to have that quality but many don't. Those who do often migrate to tubes (as I've just done).

    Often it's the recordings that dictate the electronics as I'm discovering. Then cables come into play as "tone controls". I listen to a lot of rock so Naim, for its virtues, grew tiresome given the poor quality of most rock recordings ...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    143

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Greg,

    Nope, not from England though many of my favorite writers are; Anthony Trollop for one, and many of the writers of the mysteries I love to read. And, of course, now my favorite speakers.

    We have an on-line cable supplier here that has all manner of wire at reasonable prices (Blue Jeans Cable). I paid 79 cents a foot for my 10 gauge coppper speaker cable. They sell it in any length you require.

    For me, it's quite the other way around. My electronics/system determine what recordings I listen to. Transparency - lack of coloration - is what I seek in electronics. If a recording sounds bad through that, I look for a better recording. I don't, by the way, listen to rock and so don't know what the general quality of recording is in that genre; almost exclusively classical and some jazz. (I have a wonderful London blue-back recording of Ted Heath with band recorded at Kingsway Hall - and now I'm giving my age away).

    I think we're straying from the topic of Harbeth speakers now, so l'll just close by saying what I've said here before: getting Harbeth's in my system has greatly expanded the repertoire of recorded music I really enjoy. The late Romantic composers (Mahler, Bruckner, R. Strauss, etc.) really depend on subtle tone colors in effectively presenting their music. I never could truly appreciate this music until I got my first pair of Harbeths.

    Ned

  14. #14
    Hu Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    I tried bi-wire my M30 with Analysis Plus Oval 9, and tried Audio Note Lexus jumpers with both of M30 and P3, nothing gave better sound than the stock brass, for me both of them gave quite strange sound and unnatural sound.

  15. #15
    shseto Guest

    Default Re: Bi-wire or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hu
    I tried bi-wire my M30 with Analysis Plus Oval 9, and tried Audio Note Lexus jumpers with both of M30 and P3, nothing gave better sound than the stock brass, for me both of them gave quite strange sound and unnatural sound.

    First I have to admit that i could not afford Harbeth C7 so I have to live iwth a pair of spendor Sp3/1p, i agree, best sound is with the stock brass. with different amp, even different spendors, different source, anythign other than the stock just make it sounds 'funny' 'not right' 'werid' .

    I guess it could be due to the fact that the brass jumper being part of the cross over which is deisgned for. (my wild guess) so i will only tick with stock.

    but there is an other things to consider, do u plug in the LF or the HF?

    I like it direct in LF more. how about u guys?

  16. #16
    Bill C Guest

    Default Biwire terminals and sound differences?

    Hello Alan,
    When voicing the M30, I assume you used the brass jumpers supplied with the speakers. However, which set of speaker terminals did you connect the speaker cable to? The top or bottom pair? I've noticed a significant difference in sound between the two and was wondering which way the speakers were designed be used. Thank you very much.
    -Bill

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    South of England, UK
    Posts
    4,028

    Default Biwire terminals and sound differences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill C
    ... which set of speaker terminals did you connect the speaker cable to? The top or bottom pair? ...
    Bill - During the entire design process I did not use any form of bi-wire arrangement at all - right up to the point of production, when for the user's convenience, the crossover was electrically isolated between bass and tweeter and connected to independent terminals on the rear panel.

    If you can repeatedly and definitely hear a difference then I am at a loss as to understand why and it needs serious investigation. It can not - repeat can not - be due to 27mm of brass bi-wire link. Of that I am absolutely 100% certain.

    Do bear in mind that when making A/B comparisons there must be no break in the sound you hear at all. Not even 1/10th of a second. If there is your brain will interpret the sound/no sound/sound as a change in frequency response. That's how our ears work.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  18. #18
    Bill C Guest

    Default Re: Biwire terminals and sound differences?

    Thank you Alan. There is definitly a difference in sound between using the upper and lower terminals. When I connect the speaker cables to the bottom pair of terminals, the sound is somewhat warm and laid back or non-fatiguing with very little "air" or high frequency energy. When connected to the top pair of terminals the sound is much more detailed with a great deal of high frequency energy and is a bit too bright and intense in my room. I tried removing the jumpers and used a short length of the same wire I use for the speaker cable (Regular 10g Belden Wire) to connect the upper and lower terminals. In this case the sound did not change between the top and bottom terminals, but retained that bright/intense sound on both. I have not tried bi-wiring. I can only conclude from this that the brass jumpers are influencing the sound of the higher frequencies. My room is small (10'X14') which is why I chose the M30's, thinking that the smaller speaker would be more suitable for my room. Thank you.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    South of England, UK
    Posts
    4,028

    Default Re: Biwire terminals and sound differences?

    I firmly believe that you are convinced that you hear a difference, so, for all practical purposes, there is a difference.

    But I can say, quite categorically, that providing the standard brass bi-wire links are clean and firmly trapped by the binding posts that there is no possibility whatsoever that driving the upper as opposed to lower terminals will make any difference to the sound - or the measurement for that matter. In the great scheme of things, considering the vastness of the universe and the dispersion of electrons through that unimaginable space, the last inch or so of brass can not and does not make a difference to the sound. Promise.

    I appreciate that this seems contradictory to what you have, and truly believe to have found. My point is that I don't disagree that you perceive a difference, but that difference is not from the bi-wire links or the selection of terminals but from some other, probably more mundane matter. It would pay you to really seek that out by diligent experimentation as you could so easily waste time and money chasing other bi-wire or connection links 'solutions' which may well degrade not enhance your listening.

    During the design phase of a speaker I have total disregard for the niceties of wire arrangements - the crossover is breadboarded, all the listening tests and technical work finalised, then fitted to a nice neat PCB and wired to the back panel's terminals accordingly. That formulae is then duplicated precisely in production, and there is neither measurable nor acoustic difference between the lash-up prototype (see attached rat's nest photo) or the final neat production PCB.

    That's how I find it; please double check and revalidate your results! There is an explanation for what you hear but it is not the one you think it is!

    I should add, that in the year since we introduced the HL Compact 7ES3 (which has been very successful for us) there has been not one single customer comment that we have deleted the bi-wire connections. But it has demystified this aspect of the design and simplified the user's set-up.

    >
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  20. #20
    Bill C Guest

    Default Re: Biwire terminals and sound differences?

    Thank you for the quick reply Alan. I'm stumped. I also tried placing both speakers next to each other in front of my listening position, set the preamp to mono, wired one speaker to the top terminals and one to the bottom, and had someone switch back and forth from left to right speaker while I was blindfolded. I had no trouble picking which speaker was wired each way. The jumpers are clean (new) and seated properly as you suggested. I think my small room may exagerate the differences making them easier to discern. Anyway, I would be interested in hearing from others who have checked this with their speakers to see if it's just me. Thanks again,
    Bill

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •