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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Hack #47. Bi-Wiring and Bi-Amping Speakers

You've probably been told by your home theater buddies about how they've bi-wired their speakers—or maybe they've bi-amped them—or both. Learn what all these "bi" terms mean, and which you want to put into play in your system.

The best way to figure out if you want to bi-wire or bi-amp your system is to understand what each is.

Active Bi-Amping

Active bi-amping occurs when you have an active crossover unit between your preamplifier and amplifier that splits the full-range signal coming out of the preamp into a high- and low-frequency signal. So, right off the bat, we're talking about a pretty high-end system.

Then these split signals are fed from the active crossover to two separate amplifiers (or two different channels on a single amplifier) and are amplified completely separately.

Tip

This separation of amplification is why even the best receivers can't perform active bi-amping; they don't have two channels for any one speaker.

By separating amplification in this manner, your high- and low-frequency signals stay completely independent from the very beginning of the signal chain. They get amplified separately and passed down a dedicated speaker cable—one cable for the highs and one for the lows.

When these two signals are fed into a speaker, they must go into a speaker specially wired to accept two discrete signals and route them to the proper drivers in the speaker. These speakers will have no internal crossover circuitry—all signals sent ...

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