What Does Bi Amp Speakers Mean?

Some wired speakers have two sets of terminals. But why is that so? Of course, only a single set of terminals is necessary. After all, this is how sounds are sent to a speaker. However, having an extra set of terminals is more than a matter of aesthetics. This literally means music to your ears.

What Does Bi Amp Speakers Mean?

With the second set of terminals, you can separate the low and high-frequency signals that come from the AV receiver and then route these selectively to the tweeters and woofers in your speakers. This process is known as bi-amping. Through this bi-amp capability, you will notice a better sound in your system.

What does bi amp speakers mean, then? Read on below to learn more about bi-amping.

What is Bi-amping?

Simply put, bi-amping is a practice involving the use of the active crossover network on an audio signal to allow the crossover to send low-frequency (LF) audio into one amp and high-frequency (HF) audio into another amp.

These amps are both connected to the speaker’s different inputs. The first amp is the one powering the tweeter in the speaker with the woofer powered by the second amp. With bi-amping, you will basically double the total power to the speakers because you will use two different channels for every set of binding posts.

You will get to enjoy more benefits because you provide more power to your speakers. These benefits include an increased overall output, lower chance of underpowering that can blow drivers, additional amp headroom for a fuller and cleaner sound and more bass extension from the more power-hungry woofers.

Bi-amping is essentially a way of increasing the power delivered to the speakers with your current amp or receive to save you from the need to go out and buy a pricier one. One more consideration here is that your speakers also enjoy an increase in efficiency since the crossover network has been split and there is no longer a need to waste power that will just be filtered out to stop the woofer from generating high frequencies and the tweeter from creating low frequencies.

How Does a Bi-Amping Setup Work?

Unlike bi-wiring which only uses a single amp, two amps are used in bi-amping. One amp is for the LF audio while the other is for the HF audio. As a result, the audio that will reach the tweeter is the HF audio as the LF audio reaches the woofer.

It is required to bi-wire a speaker to create bi amp speakers. There will be a total of 4 connectors on the part of the speaker and 2 connectors on the side of the amp.

Pros and Cons of Bi Amping Speakers

Bi amping speakers have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, and these are the following:

Pros of Bi Amping

  • You can expect clearer sound because the different drivers don’t struggle to function outside their frequency range.
  • Crossover processing of the frequencies takes place at line level rather than at higher speaker levels.
  • Every amp needs less work to function.
  • It is less likely to overload or blow the tweeters.

Cons of Bi Amping

  • The respective frequency ranges of the speaker drivers and active crossover will need calibration through the help of high-quality measuring equipment.

black and brown round speaker

How Bi Amping Came to Existence

During the 1930s, the early days of sound technology, the choice of component for amplifiers was the vacuum tubes. When the 1960s came, the semiconductor transistors for the solid-state ousted the tubes from their position as the primary amp element. These semiconductor transistors were cheaper and more durable.

The solid-state amps and tube amps both could not precisely reproduce the whole frequency spectrum. The tube amps have a hard time accurately reproducing low frequencies, while the solid-state amps have issues in the reproduction of the high frequencies.

Sooner or later, someone took the two elements and tried hooking up the tube amps that will drive the tweeters while the solid-state amps will drive the woofers. It is an early example of bi amping although this is not the only approach that you can take at all.

What are the Different Forms of Bi Amping?

Bi amping has different flavors, and these are the following:

Passive vs. Active Bi Amping

You can bi amp your speakers using several different ways. Passive bi amping involves hooking up two channels from the amplifier to each speaker. But there seems to be a general consensus that active bi amping is the most pronounced and effective method.

With this form of bi amping, active crossovers are splitting the signal into low and high frequencies before it proceeds to the amplifier. From there, the signal will go to the speakers. But in this particular scenario, there is a complete bypassing of the internal crossover network of the speaker.

It means that the active crossover must do a much better job or an equivalent at least than the own crossover of the speaker that was particularly designed for the cabinet and drivers of that specific speaker.

Unless you are a professional speaker engineer, or someone knowledgeable has designed the speaker where your active crossovers will be hooked up, it is not likely that will improve performance. What will happen instead is that you will provide a less than optimal frequency range to the drivers of the speaker.

However, if you got the right skills, the result will be a noticeable improvement when it comes to the integration, power, and frequency range of the drivers. If you ever wish to go this route, make sure you know exactly what you are doing.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Bi Amping

Two additional forms of bi amping can also be used in either an active or passive setup. A vertical bi amping is where you use two different amplifiers for every channel sent to the speaker. It can be an advantage since you will be able to use a more powerful amp for more power-hungry woofers and a less powerful amp for the tweeter. Remember, though, that this setup requires more tweaking to ensure that you match the levels between the two driver sets.

Horizontal bi amping is basically operating two channels off the same receiver or amp. The scenario where surround back channels are used to bi amp is the perfect horizontal bi amping example. This method is the most common since you don’t need to buy an additional amp.

If you want to improve the sound of your speakers, bi amping might be a method you might want to try.