The sonic difference of bi-wiring your loudspeakers will be audible as long as you did your homework and matched the right speakers with the right amplification and source equipment. In other words, you can’t make a frog into a prince if you’re bi-wiring those hot-rodded new speakers with an underpowered amplifier or receiver.
Bi-wired speakers employ crossover frequency filters. With the binding post jumper bars removed the crossover frequency filters direct the high and low frequency connections from the amplifier to the corresponding connections at the speaker terminals.
Stereo speakers that are bi-wired have a cleaner sound because separating the amplification of the high and low frequencies lowers the distortion at the amp, sending a less distorted signal to the speaker’s crossover frequency filters.
When bi-wiring, two sets of speaker cables are used (one positive and one negative) for each channel. One set of cables is wired to the high frequency (tweeter) binding posts, while the second set of cables is wired to the low frequency (woofer) binding posts.
Speaker wires are connected to the loudspeakers via the binding posts on the rear of the loudspeaker -- usually, one red (positive) and one black (negative). Speakers configured for bi-wiring are different from conventional speakers, in that they have 4 binding posts -- 2 sets of positive (red) and negative (black) hook-ups.
High-end speakers use screw tighten binding posts that accept speaker wire terminated with spades, banana plugs or solid pins. Budget speakers use a push down lever that clamps down on the wire after inserting it into the connector.
Manufacturers ship new speakers with a jumper bar, which connects both positive and negative terminals together. This is done to allow the conventional 2 wire positive/negative configuration to be used if the user opts out of bi-wiring the speaker.
To bi-wire the loudspeaker, first remove the jumper bars. This is pretty easy as all you will need to do is loosen the connections and slide the jumper bars out from the binding posts.
Prepare your bi-wire speaker cable for the connections. If you purchased bi-wire speaker cable that’s already terminated with spades, bananas or pins, you can skip this step.
Un-terminated speaker cables will need to have the sheathing stripped back to expose the wire for each cable. Although not recommended, you can make the connections by just twisting the individual wires of each cable and attaching them to the binding posts. At a minimum, solder the tips to prevent fraying which can lead to signal loss.
It is highly recommended that you purchase spade, banana or pin connectors and terminate the cables using them instead. Take care when making the terminations to ensure that you can identify both positive and negative wires to eliminate having the connection to the amplifier out of phase.
Make the connections at the speaker terminals. Be sure to turn off and unplug all power supplies from the amp, source equipment and the speakers first. Connect the high frequency (tweeter) positive and negative wires to the high frequency binding posts on the speaker. Then make the low frequency (woofer) connections.
Make the connections at the amplifier. Many higher-end amplifiers have two sets of binding posts per channel and mirror the connections from the speaker terminals at the amplifier. Connect the high frequency wires from the speaker to the top row of positive and negative binding posts at the amp. Then connect the low frequency wires from the speaker to the bottom row of binding posts. Make sure the connections are positive to positive and negative to negative.
For amplifiers with only one set of binding posts per channel: at the amp connections, combine both positive wires together, then both negative wires. At the amp, connect the joined positive wires to the positive binding post, then do the same at the negative binding post.
Double-check all your connections. Turn on the amplifier and source equipment and test the system. What you are looking for is one or more of the connections being out of phase (positive connection at the amp or speaker crossed to a negative connection). This will degrade the sound quality significantly. To correct the problem, turn off and unplug the electronics again, go back to steps 3, 4 or 5 and re-configure the connections correctly.
The illustrations for this article show only one channel. The steps would be repeated to make the connections for the other channel.