Audio enthusiasts constantly search for any means to improve their sound systems. This leads to all sorts of special configurations of audio devices. One such configuration is bi-amping. In this article, we will show you how to bi-amp a speaker with two amps or simply how to bi-amp your speakers.
So what is bi-amping? Bi-amping is a great way to improve your audio system’s sound quality. In this setup, one of the amps manages the low frequencies for the woofer, and the other amp drives the tweeter and mid-range drivers. This allows for greater amplification and enhanced audio fidelity to the speakers without struggling to follow complicated steps or spending too much.
Let’s learn more about why we bi-amp speakers and how to bi-amp your speakers with two amplifiers.
That’s because a second set of terminals means you can separate the high and low-frequency signals coming from your AV receiver and route them selectively to the woofers and tweeters in your speakers — a process called bi-amping.
Why Bi-amp Your Speakers?
To understand why we bi-amp speakers, we need to first understand a little about the frequency spectrum.
Audio signals contain the entire frequency spectrum of audible frequencies – low, mid, and high frequency.
All three frequencies are required to create the regular tonality of music. However, when we have all these frequencies traveling along the same wire at the same time, we may end up with interference.
When we bi-amp speakers, we set up a separate amplifier for the bass connection and another one for the treble connection being fed into the speakers.
Now consider the fact that most multichannel AV receivers have seven or more built-in amplifiers (7.1 receivers).
However, the most popular home theater setup is the standard 5.1 surround sound layout which includes five speakers and one subwoofer.
This means in most cases, your receiver will have channels that are not being used. This provides an excellent opportunity to bi-amp your speakers using two amplifiers and two sets of wires to drive each. Once you have speakers that support bi-amping, you’re good to go!
Types of Bi-Amping: Passive vs Active Bi-amping
There are actually two types of bi-amping – passive and active bi-amping:
Passive Bi-amping: With passive bi-amping, we utilize the passive crossovers built into the speakers. In this case, each amplifier channel reproduces a full-range signal to drive separate high and low-frequency networks.
Active Bi-amping: With active bi-amping, the crossovers are active. The crossovers split the signal into high and low frequencies before it goes to the amplifier. From the amplifiers, the signal then goes to the speakers.
This means you bypass the speaker’s passive crossovers. This means that with an active system, you will have a separate electronic crossover in front of your two amps.
Can My Speakers and Receivers be Bi-Amped?
It is quite easy to determine if your devices can be bi-amped. Here is how you can make this determination for your speakers and receivers:
Can My Speakers Be Bi-amped?
To determine if your speakers can be bi-amped, just check the back of the speakers. If there are two sets of terminals, you’re good to go.
Can My Receiver Be Bi-amped?
To determine if your receiver can be configured to bi-amp, simply check the owner’s manual.
Many of the more popular receiver brands can be bi-amped. For example, almost all Yamaha AVENTAGE receivers and many RX-V receivers offer this functionality. A quick and easy check is to look at the rear panel of the receiver and see if it is marked “bi-amp”.
If everything checks out, your system can be bi-amped. Just follow the step-by-step process below to bi-amp your speakers.
1. Get The Tools Required
Before you settle down to start bi-amping your sound system, ensure you have the following:
- A 7.1 home theater receiver: Your receiver should be 7.1 or more if you have a 5.1 system. This way, we ensure it will have unused assignable amplifier channels if you have say a 5.1 system.
- Bookshelf speakers/Floor-standing speakers: Any pair of main speakers will do. Each of them should have a pair of input terminals (not wireless speakers).
- Speaker cables: You need four sets (two for each speaker). They should be of the same type and same length.
What Type of Wires Should I Use To Bi-amp My Speakers?
Please note that you should aim to choose the best type of speaker cable for you to make the right connection. There are a few types that you can use to connect your bi-amped speakers.
- Buy Bulk Wire: The best option is to buy bulk wire and then cut it into four equal lengths, and then, on each end, add banana connectors. You can then connect your gear securely.
- Buy Pre-terminated Speaker Cables: Even though this option is not as popular as buying bulk wire, it is another excellent bi-amping option that you consider if it suits your needs.
2. Power Down The System
Before you begin, you need to ensure the system is powered down. Firstly, ensure that both amplifiers are powered off. You can disconnect any power cables as well.
3. Prepare Your Speakers
Once you have the right tools, prepare the speakers for connection. First, remove the bridges connected to the binding posts of your speakers.
These bridges are brass jumpers linking the bottom and top speaker terminals together.
By doing this, you create enough space for connecting separate receiver channels to the appropriate terminals.
Additionally, this disconnects the high and low-frequency portions of the crossover network.
4. Adjust Your Receiver’s Settings
The fact is that you cannot bi-amp your speakers with two amplifiers until you enable the correct settings in the receiver by following the correct instructions.
To adjust it, go to the receiver’s menu. Check the speaker setup section and find the unused assignable channels. Designate them to bi-amp your speakers.
Through its internal menu system, configure your receiver to its bi-amp setting.
- Connect an RCA cable from the Pre-Out of your first amplifier to the inputs of your second amplifier.
- Connect the first amplifier to the top binding posts of your left and right speaker.
- Connect the second amplifier to the bottom binding posts of your left and right speaker.
4. Connect the Speaker Terminals to the Amplifiers
Once you have enabled the receiver’s settings as required, connect your speakers. Here’s how you do it:
Locate the terminals on the back of the receiver intended for bi-amping:
One set of your speaker cables should be connected to the front right and left outputs on the receiver in a secure manner.
The second set should connect to the bi-amp channels. To do this safely, follow these steps:
- Connect The Amps: Use an RCA cable to connect the Pre-Out of your first amplifier to the inputs of your second amplifier.
- Connect the First Amplifier to the Speakers: Connect your first amp to the top binding posts of the right and left speakers.
- Connect the Second Amp to the Speakers: Connect the second amplifier to the bottom binding posts of your left and right speakers.
This process is simple, but you need to be careful when connecting everything. we have included two illustrations below to show how you should go about it.
Remember that each of the speaker cables is carrying a full-range signal. You should generally not worry about which channels you plug into the bottom or top speaker input terminals.
However, it is a good practice to refer to the owner’s manual when bi-amping speakers with two amps to find out whether the manufacturer has recommended any connection point.
5. Power on Your Amplifiers
Now it is time to test whether you have correctly connected your audio system. To do that, power the amplifiers and then verify that the two amps are on the right input.
The audio source should be for the primary amp and the output of the first amp should feed into the analog input of the second amp.
6. Adjust the Volume Levels and Tone
Once you have established that the amplifiers are on the correct input, adjust the volume levels and tone control to match your listening preference.
That is all you need to do to start enjoying listening to your splendid bi-amped system. You have now successfully Bi-amped your amplifiers to your audio system.
Troubleshooting: I Followed the Instructions, But it Doesn’t Work. What Next?
We know that even the most straightforward process can go wrong. So, if you have followed all our instructions but haven’t gotten the desired results, we still have you covered.
Remember, in most cases, especially if you follow all the above steps, you will not need to troubleshoot.
Here is what you should do if you need help:
1. Ensure the System is Properly Powered On
If some of the equipment is not turned on, you may be mistaken that your connection has a problem.
The same applies when the volume controls are turned down. So, check the power switch and the receiver or preamplifier they are plugged into.
Besides, check your source equipment like an MP3 player, record player, CD, DVD, or any other.
Remember to turn your equipment on and off in the correct. Always turn on your preamplifier or receiver first and then power on your amp.
When turning the system off, you should do the exact opposite.
2. Ensure You Have Selected the Correct Source
Your receiver’s input selector should be set to the right source. For example, if you are playing a CD, it should set a CD.
3. Check Cables
Ensure all the speaker cables are in the correct working order and are in the right place. Check the cables between the amp and the stereo, the source equipment, and the home theatre system, and the amp and the speakers. If they are quality cables, ensure they are securely connected.
4. Check Circuit Breakers and Fuses
If the protection circuit has tripped, it will cut off the audio signal or power. To solve this, you need to determine why the power issue occurred and fix it before turning on the breakers.
Alternatively, you may need to turn the power off for some time if the circuitry detects too much heat.
If you are still unsure of the cause of failure, you can connect each piece of equipment to other gears separately to see if that makes any difference.
This is the time to replace cables with spares. This way, you will detect the pieces causing the problem and replace or repair them.
Does Bi-amping Improve Sound Quality?
Bi-amping is a great way to improve sound quality because it separates amplification duties between speakers so that each driver can be optimized for its frequency range.
Can You Bi-amp a Subwoofer?
Yes, you can Bi-amp a subwoofer. Bi-amping occurs when a receiver’s sub-out is connected to an active subwoofer.
Bi-amping is mostly about power consumption with some benefits in reduced IM – if the system is set up properly.
Does Bi-amping Bypass Crossover?
Yes. If you use two separate amps for your speakers, the crossover is bypassed because both speaker components are connected directly to their respective power amps.
Theoretically, this should mean that high frequencies will be amplified by one amplifier while low frequencies will be boosted by another.
This way, they’re never competing with each other like they would if there was only a single amplifier powering everything at once.
Can You Bi-amp a 5.1 Receiver?
It is possible to bi-amp a 5.1 surround sound receiver. However, it can be difficult for some receivers to handle the load of two amplifiers at once.
It is best to contact your manufacturer if you are looking into this option for your electronics setup.
Alternatively, you can check the user manual to see if you can find that information.
If your speakers have two sets of terminals at the back, you can bi-amp them by following the above steps.
In the unlikely scenario that it fails, you can use the given troubleshooting tips to solve the problem and be able to enjoy listening to your amazing bi-amped system. Good luck!