Bi - Amping is it worth it ? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Bi - Amping is it worth it ?

It was said to me - bi Amping a 5.1 trumps 7.1.

Even if that's bs - should I bi amp my fronts?
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post #2 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:24 PM
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Do a search and you'll find this has been discussed many times.

My answer is "no".
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post #3 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:27 PM
 
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Waste of wire IMO doing passive bi-amping from an avr. 7ch may be an improvement over 5ch depending on speakers/room.....
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post #4 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:29 PM
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Don't see a benifit unless the speakers are truly designed for bi amp

That normally comes with larger rooms and larger speakers with 10-12-15 inch woofers.
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post #5 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicFlair View Post
It was said to me - bi Amping a 5.1 trumps 7.1.

Even if that's bs - should I bi amp my fronts?
My AVR can do biamping by setting the front wides/front heights to the second set of connectors in a speaker.

Guess what happens? Instead of full range signal being sent to the speaker via 1 wire, followed by the speaker doing it's own crossover thing, the AVR instead sends two signals over 2 wires, STILL BOTH FULL RANGE, to the speaker, which then DOES ITS OWN CROSSOVER ANYWAY.

Hah. Bi-amping? More like, bi-joking...bi-stupid-ing...

dangit.
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post #6 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mmiles View Post
Don't see a benifit unless the speakers are truly designed for bi amp

That normally comes with larger rooms and larger speakers with 10-12-15 inch woofers.
What difference does it make if the speakers are "designed" for it? Adding extra terminals and still using the passive crossover components is still just marketing trying to play on the benefits of active bi-amping. The avr still has power supply limitations.
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post #7 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 02:54 PM
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No
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post #8 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 03:11 PM
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Ric Flair joined AVS in 2006 so it's not like he/she doesn't know the answer to the question already. Flame thread IMO.

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post #9 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 03:20 PM
 
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That might be a bit unfair. He didn't even post for 5 years from what I see and that was mostly tv stuff for a while....and think its fairly recently he's been asking about audio. He does ask a lot of questions....and seemingly not a lot of research (or doesn't let on).
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post #10 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 04:37 PM
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^^^^
My comment was regarding bi amping in general and little to do with having an AVR.

As I mentioned some speaker systems are designed to be bi amped and some have to be bi amped with active crossovers.

IMHO consumer grade speakers with dual sets of terminals is marketing hype.

Now there are some high end products that can benifit from bi amping based on the driver selection.

Everything I've done in live sound environments is bi amped and or tri amped.
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post #11 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 04:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mmiles View Post
^^^^
My comment was regarding bi amping in general and little to do with having an AVR.

As I mentioned some speaker systems are designed to be bi amped and some have to be bi amped with active crossovers.

IMHO consumer grade speakers with dual sets of terminals is marketing hype.

Now there are some high end products that can benifit from bi amping based on the driver selection.

Everything I've done in live sound environments is bi amped and or tri amped.
He's looking for a $400 avr in another thread....
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post #12 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mmiles View Post
Don't see a benifit unless the speakers are truly designed for bi amp

That normally comes with larger rooms and larger speakers with 10-12-15 inch woofers.
The B&W 686 S2 is designed for bi amping
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post #13 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 05:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RicFlair View Post
The B&W 686 S2 is designed for bi amping
It is designed for passive bi-amping or bi-wiring....both of which are meaningless when powered by an avr. Separate amp/power supply with passive bi-amping is still IMO a waste of time/wire FWIW
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post #14 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by smurraybhm View Post
Ric Flair joined AVS in 2006 so it's not like he/she doesn't know the answer to the question already. Flame thread IMO.
??? I have B&W 686 S2 Bookshelves - I'm asking because I want to know should I go for a 5.2 AVR or a 7.2 for bi amping.
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post #15 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
It is designed for passive bi-amping or bi-wiring....both of which are meaningless when powered by an avr. Separate amp/power supply with passive bi-amping is still IMO a waste of time/wire FWIW
Okay so you're saying that sending two signals to one speaker is asinine because it's still ONE signal to each -right?
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post #16 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 05:54 PM
 
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Okay so you're saying that sending two signals to one speaker is asinine because it's still ONE signal to each -right?
As far as bi-wiring and passive avr bi-amping, yep, pretty much. The passive crossover elements in the speaker are still being used. Further, the avr has a single power supply for all its amps to draw on, so no real power advantage. It doesn't double power to the speaker, either, btw.

Active bi-amping with an actual separate crossover from a speaker with drivers not connected to their passive crossover elements is another thing altogether....and still not usually something the average home setup would find worth employing, more for dedicated theater setups with the proper gear and time spent setting it up well.
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post #17 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 10:25 PM
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I think the only reason to biamp would be if the speakers didn't have it's own internal passive crossover, and even then in order to not send the same signal to both drivers, you would need some kinda MiniDSP that let you add an 80hz low pass filter and a 2.5hz or there abouts high pass filter for the midrange driver, and a 2.5hz low pass filter for the tweeter, and a 80hz high pass filter for the subwoofer.
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post #18 of 72 Old 03-20-2016, 11:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicFlair View Post
??? I have B&W 686 S2 Bookshelves - I'm asking because I want to know should I go for a 5.2 AVR or a 7.2 for bi amping.
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
Adding extra terminals and still using the passive crossover components is still just marketing trying to play on the benefits of active bi-amping. The avr still has power supply limitations.
True regarding power supply, but for the OP the question of power supply is still relevant. Whether using the bi-amp function or not, a 7.1 is almost certainly going to have better power supply than a 5.1 if in the same make/model line and might have superior amplification power out per channel also. Not so certain for makes from separate companies with disparity in performance between them.

Quick estimate of 60% of the power supply AC consumption is usually all available for power out to speakers, taking losses and non-power-amp circuitry into account, if comparing modern receivers with typical class AB output stages. Comparing the input power on 5.1 vs 7.1 might reveal that a choice does matter, even if the power per channel is identical and both are rated to drive 2 channels within distortion limits. Comparing dynamic headroom dB might also reveal a difference.

The caveat is that even doubling of power output only amounts to 3dB of extra volume, so it has to be a marginal case of lower speaker efficiency and/or larger room size for this sort of minor difference to matter.

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IMHO consumer grade speakers with dual sets of terminals is marketing hype.
Sort of. Some amps with active crossover can still benefit. Any analog anomalies from the crossover are still there because the crossover is still there, but splitting the bandwidth with active crossovers too can improve the power delivery while reducing intermodulation distortion. Even pro active bi-amp might involve 3-way speaker with the mid and treble passively crossed over and driven from a single amp, so there is nothing inherently wrong with such approach. It is a compromise.

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I think the only reason to biamp would be if the speakers didn't have it's own internal passive crossover, and even then in order to not send the same signal to both drivers, you would need some kinda MiniDSP that let you add an 80hz low pass filter and a 2.5hz or there abouts high pass filter for the midrange driver, and a 2.5hz low pass filter for the tweeter, and a 80hz high pass filter for the subwoofer.
You meant 2.5KHz? FTFY

Your statement reflects the straightforward approach that pro audio applies. Such systems are designed with band-limited speakers similar to consumer subwoofers, but with discrete devices that cover all frequency ranges when combined with each other. The benefits of bi-amp include less demand on the power amplifier output stage and lower level of harmonic intermodulation in the amp and driver.

My receiver will do active crossover, but the catch is if the system gets confused in firmware setup e.g. power failure during setup adjustment, it can actually drive full-band signals to both woofer and tweeter and maybe burn out a tweeter driver. Seen this happen in person but I tested the function using the split terminals with crossover still in circuit and not in danger of losing a tweeter, thankfully. So after experimenting with it I abandoned the idea of ever using a receiver for bi-amp and decided to only consider when using equipment that reliably handles such setup.

The issue with bi-amping or tri-amping, the elephant in the room, is that getting proper crossover integration is challenging enough when dealing with only a subwoofer. Adding bi- or tri-amp on top compounds the complexity markedly. Without a treated room and measuring equipment, bi-amping is going to add just about zero benefit and might actually sound worse just by virtue of how difficult it can be to set up.

The worst case performance scenario with passive bi-amping is that the original passive crossover implementation is preserved, keeping the consumer out of trouble. In that respect, the practice of giving consumers a false choice between mono amp and bi-amp that amounts to only bi-wiring with both amps driving identical signal and not getting any headroom benefit might be a sort of kindness. IMO that is better than giving consumers active bi-amp and letting them flounder in their ignorance of how to properly integrate a crossover, especially without any measuring equipment to confirm their setup is optimized let alone any expertise to rationally evaluate the tradeoffs. Those with the expertise will just sidestep around passive bi-amping entirely so it really does no harm at all and maybe some good by satiating the curiosity of those without the expertise to do active bi-amping anyway.
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post #19 of 72 Old 03-21-2016, 01:42 AM
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I'm certainly no expert on the topic in any way. But in very certain situations bi-amping can, and will, be a benifit. On the sonic side or economic side. Or both.

First, in OP's case, I'm quite curtain it wont be worth it. Waste of cable and channels. And that will be true for almost all cases.

My self are running bi-amp, and soon QUAD-AMP. But I have very specific reasons for it.

In my case, the first and most important reason that I Bi-Amp is that my crossover is sitting before the amp-side. My speakers are DIY and it's both cheaper, easier and more flexible to cross-over with a DSP before tha amp. This obviously requires you to amplify the tweeter, midrange and the woofer drivers separately.

So, why am I going to quad-amp?
Well, for now my speakers does not have built in woofers, so my low frequencies are going to a traditional sub-woofer. But in the coming weeks I'm going to upgrade my speaker with two thirsty 10" woofers per speakers to make the true full-range speakers. To drive these two woofers in parallel, I would need to deliver at minimum 200W @ 4ohm to each pair. And my amplifier is not powerful enough for that. So instead of buying new more powerful amplifiers, I'll use two spare amp-channels for that.

I think these two sceranios describe two cases where bi/tri/quad-amping is going to be needed. And it's not a question of which sound better or worse, IMO it's first a question of if it's going to work at all or not. It's the internal design of the speaker that determines this, not the fact that it has 4 terminals on the back side. IMO this is mostly a snake-oil thing.

Most consumer-grade speakers, including quite a few pretty damn expensive ones, will drive the whole speaker just fine with the 80-100w amplifier built in the users receiver. The amount of cables does not change that.

P.S, I do not mean to "brag" a bout my setup, I just thinks it describes the two important scenarios where it actually matters to amp speaker driver-separately. I have attached a diagram of who it works on my speakers. The the high, mid & low range are infact differnet signals, so they need to be sent to the speakers separately. And the woofers need more power than I have, so they'll get two separated low range signals to compensate for that.
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post #20 of 72 Old 03-21-2016, 02:58 AM
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I'm certainly no expert on the topic in any way. But in very certain situations bi-amping can, and will, be a benifit. On the sonic side or economic side. Or both.

First, in OP's case, I'm quite curtain it wont be worth it. Waste of cable and channels. And that will be true for almost all cases.

My self are running bi-amp, and soon QUAD-AMP. But I have very specific reasons for it.

In my case, the first and most important reason that I Bi-Amp is that my crossover is sitting before the amp-side. My speakers are DIY and it's both cheaper, easier and more flexible to cross-over with a DSP before tha amp. This obviously requires you to amplify the tweeter, midrange and the woofer drivers separately.

So, why am I going to quad-amp?
Well, for now my speakers does not have built in woofers, so my low frequencies are going to a traditional sub-woofer. But in the coming weeks I'm going to upgrade my speaker with two thirsty 10" woofers per speakers to make the true full-range speakers. To drive these two woofers in parallel, I would need to deliver at minimum 200W @ 4ohm to each pair. And my amplifier is not powerful enough for that. So instead of buying new more powerful amplifiers, I'll use two spare amp-channels for that.

I think these two sceranios describe two cases where bi/tri/quad-amping is going to be needed. And it's not a question of which sound better or worse, IMO it's first a question of if it's going to work at all or not. It's the internal design of the speaker that determines this, not the fact that it has 4 terminals on the back side. IMO this is mostly a snake-oil thing.

Most consumer-grade speakers, including quite a few pretty damn expensive ones, will drive the whole speaker just fine with the 80-100w amplifier built in the users receiver. The amount of cables does not change that.

P.S, I do not mean to "brag" a bout my setup, I just thinks it describes the two important scenarios where it actually matters to amp speaker driver-separately. I have attached a diagram of who it works on my speakers. The the high, mid & low range are infact differnet signals, so they need to be sent to the speakers separately. And the woofers need more power than I have, so they'll get two separated low range signals to compensate for that.

You are confusing the issue. He is talking about passive biamplification and you are talking about active biamplification. They are completely different issue. Incidentally, I don't recommend active biamplification for home audio either. Few consumers can get a result that is better than what the speaker designers built into the passive crossover.
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Reading this thread is like watching 'Groundhog Day'.

We have all been here before, we have all been here before...
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post #22 of 72 Old 03-21-2016, 07:01 AM
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You are confusing the issue. He is talking about passive biamplification and you are talking about active biamplification. They are completely different issue. Incidentally, I don't recommend active biamplification for home audio either. Few consumers can get a result that is better than what the speaker designers built into the passive crossover.
I totally agree with your point. And want to clarify that my goal was to emphasize a situation where bi-amping actually comes to use. And that this in very specific situations. As you say, in active bi-amping. Which is very unusual in manufactured speakers, but not so uncommon in the DIY community.
In most or close to all other situations bi-amping has no advantage. Passive bi-amping in many cases, or even worse, bi-wiring does not effect neither the power, nor the signal delivered to the drivers in the speaker. And therefore is a waste of cable, and maybe amp-channels depending on how you interconnect.
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I totally agree with your point. And want to clarify that my goal was to emphasize a situation where bi-amping actually comes to use. And that this in very specific situations. As you say, in active bi-amping. Which is very unusual in manufactured speakers, but not so uncommon in the DIY community.
In most or close to all other situations bi-amping has no advantage. Passive bi-amping in many cases, or even worse, bi-wiring does not effect neither the power, nor the signal delivered to the drivers in the speaker. And therefore is a waste of cable, and maybe amp-channels depending on how you interconnect.
I can only think of one instance where 'passive bi-amping' function on a receiver is potentially of value: where desiring to put the same signal into two separate rooms with appreciable power from one receiver driving the speakers in both rooms. Sort of like a/b/a+b speaker selector on e.g. 4 ohm capable stereo receiver, except both pairs of speakers driven bi-amp are always on, and all amps are loaded at e.g. 8 ohms as opposed to parallel connection of 4 ohms. Sort of like zone 2/3 in modern multichannel receiver except bi-amp demands 2.0 sound mode always active (or 2.1 with subwoofers in both rooms) and also allows for both analog and digital sources regardless of whether that function exists in zone 2/3 or not, while sacrificing the capacity to drive two separate programs in the two separate rooms.

The primary consideration in the DIY bi-amping community is that some form of DSP is commonly used to design crossovers now anyway. Before DSP, there were adjustable analog active crossovers, with switch selector for type and order of the crossover filter and potentiometer for crossover frequency adjustment. DIYers used (or constructed) such active analog crossovers too way back when and they are still used in some actively bi-amped speakers that are driven by a preamp out signal instead of a speaker out.

There are only a couple of important distinctions between the DIY and pro speaker development model. One is the availability of anechoic chamber for fine-tuning the crossover in a neutral environment (though newer digital measurement techniques are making this less of an issue) and a second is the need to reduce the cost of the final product by translating the active crossover into a passive crossover.

That final step of passive crossover development adds no value to the DIYer who just runs one or two systems and can handle them all in a multi-channel DSP without the hassle of impedance-matching and re-tuning the passive network, and the analog issues in the passive crossover just degrade the performance anyway.

Yes, we have all been here before. Still important to inform the OP that the only thing he will gain from passive bi-amping is a redundant set of speaker wires and a hole in the budget leaking funds that could go toward more performance where it matters.
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post #24 of 72 Old 03-21-2016, 08:13 AM
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... He will gain ... a redundant set of speaker wires ...
Working in IT, I can't see how I could have overseen the fact that you get redundant cabling to the speakers by passive bi-amping.
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post #25 of 72 Old 03-22-2016, 12:05 PM
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Working in IT, I can't see how I could have overseen the fact that you get redundant cabling to the speakers by passive bi-amping.
Yes, frustrating to have to keep pointing this out, but there it is. Passive bi-amping is less than useless and just competes with other areas of potential improvement.
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post #26 of 72 Old 03-22-2016, 06:35 PM
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Working in IT, I can't see how I could have overseen the fact that you get redundant cabling to the speakers by passive bi-amping.
But you're not, especially if you consider it like LACP failover. If the LF electronic section fails, the signal will be lost from this and you'll only get a full range signal to the HF terminals on the back of the speaker, with nothing going to the LF.
You will certainly have another cable in situ, but you'll need to reconfigure to use it solo.
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post #27 of 72 Old 03-22-2016, 06:50 PM
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In my case, the first and most important reason that I Bi-Amp is that my crossover is sitting before the amp-side.
This is the only way biamping is of benefit. Passive biamping is a waste of time and effort and will bring no sonic benefit.

My system is also DIY and my mains are 3 way with each of the 15" midbasses being driven by their own amp channel. I have subs under them as well. Out of curiosity, what drivers are you using and how do you have the system formatted?
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post #28 of 72 Old 03-23-2016, 12:18 AM
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This is the only way biamping is of benefit. Passive biamping is a waste of time and effort and will bring no sonic benefit.

My system is also DIY and my mains are 3 way with each of the 15" midbasses being driven by their own amp channel. I have subs under them as well. Out of curiosity, what drivers are you using and how do you have the system formatted?
The plan for my speakers are partly copyrighted, so cannot be very detailed (havn't reread the ToC for a while).

But the speaker i run now is a LXmini, built and designed by Dr. Siegfried Linkwitz. That is a two way dipole speaker. Built on one 6" Aluminum Cone Woofer and one 4" Curv Cone Full Range Drivers, both from SEAS. External crossover by DSP.
Now upgrading (got my package yesterday ) to the model called LXstudio, which is the same design but adding a free standing baffle with two 10" Aluminum Cone Subwoofers, also dipole.

more info here: http://www.linkwitzlab.com/LXmini/Introduction.htm & http://www.linkwitzlab.com/LXmini/LXstudio.htm
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post #29 of 72 Old 03-23-2016, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by barreth View Post
The plan for my speakers are partly copyrighted, so cannot be very detailed (havn't reread the ToC for a while).
Right.

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Originally Posted by barreth View Post
That is a two way dipole speaker.
I'm well aware of Linkwitz. It's not a dipole, it's an omni. Below 700Hz it's a sealed monopole, and above " the polar response tends towards cardioid behavior" to quote his own site.
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post #30 of 72 Old 03-23-2016, 12:54 PM
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The only time I found biamping worth it was when I ran a tube amp to my mids and tweeter and solid state to my bass drivers. That was to mix and match the benefits of both kinds of amp.

The other reason to do it is to use active crossovers rather than a speakers passive crossovers.

Anothe reason is if you have two real wimpy amps. But if your amp has enough headroom you won't notice a difference.

If you are bi-amping using two different channels on your receiver, I'd reckon it's likely a waste of time.
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