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Is bi-amping worth it?

Many a speaker owner asks this question. I have speakers that are capable of bi-amping but will I gain any benefit out of it? According to Rod Elliott of ESP the answer is a resounding yes!

Basically Bi-amping is a technique which uses one amplifier for the low frequencies, and another for mid and high frequencies. The choice of crossover frequency is not too critical, provided that the amplifier powers are properly balanced to achieve the maximum benefit, and the drivers used are operating well within their frequency and power limits.

Here are the main benefits of bi-amping he lists
  • Effectively (up to) twice the 'real' power of the amplifiers themselves
  • Reduced intermodulation distortion
  • Elimination of the low frequency passive crossover, its inherent losses, potentially poor linearity and crossover point inaccuracy
  • Reduction of the difficulty of the load presented to the power amplifier
  • No padding is required to align the driver sensitivities, so we are not simply wasting power
  • The damping factor is greatly improved for both the low and midrange loudspeakers
  • Complete freedom from any interaction between the loudspeaker driver (and its environment) and the crossover network
  • Cost savings, since complex passive crossover networks are not needed
  • Bi-wiring is included free!
  • The flexibility to choose amplifiers which are at their best within a defined frequency range
  • Ability to match amplifier power to the exact requirements of the drivers for maximum overall efficiency
Here is the down side of bi-amping
  • Two power amplifiers are required for each channel of a stereo system
  • An electronic crossover is needed
Now the advantages are certainly very nice but consider that on the down side you need to almost double your electronics cost plus an electronic crossover.

Here is a nice graphic explaining how bi-amping works.

Figure 1

Note that bi-amping should not be confused with bi-wiring which looks like this and does not deliver the same benefits as bi-amping.
Figure 5

Should you bi-amp your system?
Well it comes down to what it always comes down to, if you have the money and your spouse will let you then why not.

Otherwise get yourself a really nice Receiver or Pre-amp and Amp and of course a Great set of speakers and you'll do just fine.

To read the entire well written but VERY technical article click here.

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