How to: Bi-Amping a Speaker

Bi-amplification, or bi-amping, is a technique which uses one amplifier for the low frequencies and a second amplifier for middle and high frequencies. This technique can allow users to take advantage of the strengths of each amplifier in its interaction with the speakers (i.e. use a 150 watt amp for the woofers and a 50 watt amp for the tweeter).

How to: Bi-amping a Speaker - The Klipsch Joint

The above figure highlights the mid and high frequencies being fed by a separate amp than the lower frequencies.

To properly bi-amp a system, the amplifiers’ power must be balanced and the speakers must be well within their frequency and power limits. This process should not be confused with bi-wiring, which uses a single amplification output source, but connects separately to the low frequency driver and to the midrange/tweeter.

True bi-amping involves hooking each amplifier to an electronic crossover that serves to supplant the passive crossover network built into the speaker (the passive crossover must be eliminated in order to achieve the advantages of bi-amping). This “active crossover” then connects to the appropriate speaker terminals; one for the woofer and another for the combined mid and high ranges.

How to: Bi-Amping a Speaker - The Klipsch Joint

The highlighted wires deliver the low frequencies from a second amplifier.

Some 7.1 and 9.1 system receivers give users the option to assign the unused surround channels amps to the front left and right channel speakers for bi-amping. Be sure to check your receivers capabilities before attempting.

If you do not want to bi-amp or bi-wire your speakers, you can simply connect your amplifier to one set of binding posts, then use jumpers (as shown below) to connect the low frequencies to the mid and high frequencies.

How To: Bi-Amping a Speaker - The Klipsch Joint

The copper jumper connects the woofers with the tweeters above so all speakers are powered by a single amp as opposed to bi-amping.

 

Note: Bi-amping is not a requirement for Klipsch speakers. Whether you believe it delivers an audible improvement is up to your ears.

How do you have your system configured? Let us know in the comments section below and feel free to ask questions!

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18 thoughts on “How to: Bi-Amping a Speaker”

  1. Where are the details? Like what type of amplifier might be best? Also, can you be more specific on why bi-amping would be used? The first paragraph seems very vague. Thanks

  2. The bi-amping was a Klipsch trademark on his speakers. In the 1970’s the biamping became a big hit but only audio engineers and musicians knew how to do it. Thats why Klipsch had the sale to those people while Altec Lansing sold to the single ampers.

  3. The biggest hurdle I see is where to find an appropriate electronic crossover. Although I am a Klipsch fan, I don’t own any Klipsch products. In fact, I have a bi-amped setup with my ESS AMT Monitors (1970s, with the Oskar Heil-designed Air Motion Transformer Bi-Radiating ribbon “tweeter”). I use my Marantz 2230 to power the low frequencies and a Dynaco ST-70 tube/valve amp to power the AMT ribbon mid/high frequencies. As to my stated hurdle above, I use a new/old stock ESS-branded electronic crossover (fixed to 800hz).

    You can see a lousy YouTube video I created of the setup here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNojKA2M9b4

    How does it sound? For a budget’ish/vintage setup, it’s extremely dynamic. There is a very distinct separation/split and a certain depth to the soundstage, such that going back to a passive crossover setup (using only the passive crossover connected to your speaker terminals and only one amplifier) sounded flat, dull, and singular. THIS, from the AMT ribbon which is anything but dull (and perhaps too harsh, according to critics).

    So, why am I commenting on a Klipsch forum? My good friend had a pair of RF-7 ii’s that he brought over one day. We placed them next to my ESS AMT Monitors, unplugged mine, then plugged in his Kipsch’s. At the time, I was using an Adcom GFA-555 for the lows and the same Marantz for the highs. The immediate difference was stark and dull, but it took the RF-7’s a good 10 minutes or more to warm up. The longer we listened, the more enjoyable they became. Slightly less dynamic than my ESS’, but that may just be the difference between the horn and ribbon. Source material was strictly vinyl on a Technics SL-1200. From that point on, I became a fan (though I still own my ESS’ and am not yet in a financial position to buy some RF-7’s).

    I don’t know where Klipsch recommends the crossover point on these speakers in a bi-amp configuration, but the ESS electronic crossover is fixed to 800hz and the RF-7’s sounded fantastic. That was a one night experience and it changed my friend’s life experience with audio.

    Here’s another two links to the current setup, which I’m soon disbanding for more power:

    Money for Nothing: http://iconosquare.com/viewer.php#/detail/932302386644861671_17158535

    Who Do You Love? http://iconosquare.com/viewer.php#/detail/932293287823753797_17158535

    Apologies for the lousy mic and iPhone audio, but a more properly calibrated setup will blow you away. Want an overly-technical explanation of why active crossovers are awesome and passive (built within the speaker) crossovers suck? Check out this excellent and engrossing and lengthy info from Rod Elliot: http://sound.westhost.com/bi-amp.htm

    -Jason

  4. I thought this was a good introduction for something I’ve heard about but didn’t realize how it could be done. I run a 5.2 system. Front/rear/center & 2 subwoofers. If I understand this correctly that leaves 2 channels of my 7.2 receiver unused and available to bi-amp the front speakers.

    The issue I have is presently use Bose Series 5 speakerswhich are not traditional 3-way speakers. I would think these speakers would not be biamp compatible. I’d appreciate any comments about this.

    Another thought would be – could I double wire the front speakers to use the unused 2 channels? Any thoughts?

    Thanks – I have owned Klipsch speakers in the past and now own K headphones and buds.

    Phil

    1. Phil, thanks for reaching out. While the Bose Acoustimass 5 System is a closed system and will not allow biamp capability. We would also not recommend sending two different outputs to the same speaker input – this will create a short circuit, likely destroying the amplifier in your receiver and creating a fire hazard.

  5. I have Klipsch Reference 62 speakes Bi-Amped to a Denon 2809 AVR.

    The Denon amp has a bi-amping mode that adjusts the power between the highs and mids.
    It’s hard to know if it’s made a noticeable difference or if I’m just trying to think there’s one.
    I set up a 5.1 system with multiple listening positions and was more than impressed with the result.
    If anything I believe an improvement has been made when listening to music.

  6. AV-receiver: Pioneer Elite SC-65, 5.1 surround sound set-up w/Klipsch RF-3s Bi-amped. Honestly, I cannot tell if the speakers sound better bi-amped or not. But I’ve got 9 channels, and this is one way to utilize them. The other two channels are feeding ceiling speakers in a 2nd zone.

    I agree that this wasn’t really a “how-to”, but a “what is”.

  7. I have Synergy 3s, in a 5.1 system. I have a 7.1 Onkyo 809 AVR that supports Bi-amping so I use the otherwise unused surround channels to Bi-Amp the 809s.

    All I know is it sounds great! It can’t be a bad thing using additional power amps means more headroom for each bi-amped channel. I don’t usually get to those volume levels where this might be needed, but on occassion I do get up into extremely high volume levels, certainly pushing the amps, and I would guess this helps prevent clipping.

    Can I prove it? No.

  8. I have a pair of KLF-30’s and two Yamaha M-85 amplifiers. My McIntosh 117 pre-amp has two pair of output jacks. So in my system I connect one output to each amp. Then I run speaker wires from one amp to the high end of the speakers and from the other amp to the low end. Not sure if this is the “optimum” configuration but is seems to sound fine. The M-85’s are rated at 260 watts per channel so I guess I have 520 per channel in my system. Comments?

  9. I am bi-amping my RF-3’s with a Denon AVR X-2000. I wired the main amp to the top speaker terminals and the Zone 2 amp to the bottom terminals. I have set the speaker setting for both amps to “Large” and to the same crossover frequency.

    The article above states “…bi-amping…uses one amplifier for the low frequencies and a second amplifier for middle and high frequencies.”, but Klipsch does not specify which speakers work off of the top and bottom terminals nor do they specify the crossover frequencies for each, only an overall frequency range for the entire speaker. They also say to use the bigger amp for the woofers and the smaller amp for the tweeter ( all channels have the same power on the AVR-X2000), so I am assuming that the two woofers are wired together to the bottom post and the tweeter to the top post. I would like to know what the crossover frequencies are so I can set the correct crossover for each.

  10. Why? The advantage of bi-amping is that it is generally regarded as improving performance. In a purely mathematical calculation, you can potentially get the acoustic output of a 200W amplifier with two 50W amplifiers. (In practice the crossover frequencies rarely line up that well.) It also reduces power losses (by removing the passive crossover), but then you substitute power losses of adding another amplifier. The disadvantage is that you will need an amplifier for each driver. Some esoteric views include being able to choose and amplifiers that sound better with bass/treble for the different frequency bands, or mixing solid-state and tube amps. In a practical sense, bi- and tri-amping is best left for closed systems or installed systems. However, if you are a tweak by nature then setting up a bi-amped system can provide endless hours of enjoyment.
    How? Usually this is done with an electronic crossover or DSP between the mixer/preamp and the power amplifiers. If you can exactly match the response (including the phase response) of the passive crossover with the electronic crossover, then the system will end up sounding (essentially) the same. In practice, if you don’t have a way to get good before/after measurements, then it’s almost impossible to duplicate the sound from the factory. Stock crossover networks are rarely “textbook” or “cookbook” filters.
    Professional Installation speakers that are intended to be bi- and tri-amped (quad- etc.) will usually have a recommendation for the crossover filter settings. With home speakers, that will rarely if ever be available from the manufacturer.

  11. Bi amping optimizes amplifier power for the best sonic response of the drivers. 18″ top out about 500 hz, 15″ about 1200 hz crossover points. Best not to run horns to low due to excursion of the voice coil and the loading of the horn throat. I like 10″ cone midrange berrilium tweeters

  12. I have a question. I’m installing a sound system in the lounge of the home and I plan to use just two bookshelf sized speakers which are wall mounted, and a 12″ passive sub. I have an amp running the main speakers but I’m indecisive about what to buy as the second amp for driving the sub. Should the sub amp be more powerful than the main amp, or should it be equal power as the main amp? I read somewhere that subs require more powerful amps, something to do with more air needing to be moved at lower frequencies in order for it to be as audible as the higher frequencies. Thanks! :)

  13. Hi there,

    I have just purchased an old Technics Amp, 5 disc cd changer and tuner.

    I need help in how to wire up the speakers?

    Basically the amp is set up for bi wireable connection, so it has high and low frequency connections.

    My question is how do I do the opposite to which is mentioned above?

    In other words, how do I connect the bi wireable amp to SINGLE input speakers (2 speaker ports in total) please?

    Would really appreciate a speedy response?

    Kindest regards,

    Glenn

    1. Glenn Vialli Lovatt, thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, in order to utilize your amp’s bi-wiring capability, you would need speakers that are bi-wire capable. This means the speaker would need a dual input (four terminal posts total). It is likely that the amplifier will allow you to set it up for single terminal speakers. If you can let me know the model of the amplifier you purchased, I’m happy to investigate this further.

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