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Bi-amp fronts vs. 7.1 surround


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Initial post: Apr 2, 2011 6:43:48 PM PDT
Mark says:
I've started reading a 37 page post on bi-amping the front speakers on a 7.1 AV receiver and can't take it anymore. Can someone simply reply if they have tried running a 7.1 speaker set up and switched to a 5.1 set up with bi-amped front speakers. Have you noticed a difference, either positive or negative? And was any change more noticeable in music or movie listening? Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2011 8:44:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 2, 2011 8:50:28 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
It depends on your speakers you are going to use for bi-amping. "Technically" using a subwoofer is bi-amping.

What happens when you set up a crossover BEFORE the amplifier...

On a bi-amping speaker that you set at 200hz(typical crossover in a 3-way speaker). You have X amount of power that only has to do 200hz and up. Think of your car, is it more responsive going up a hill, or down a hill. Removing 200hz and lower makes your amp work "going downhill".

Conversely...

When you have X amount of power and it only has to do 200hz and lower, again, the amp is working downhill, not uphill. You don't get much more absolute volume when you bi-amp. What you get is better transient response in your speakers.

The less work you give a given amount of power to do, the more control it ends up having.

To "bi-amp or not" is debated. It will always be debated.

In other words...do you want X amount of power running 20hz-20,000hz, or do you want x amount of power running 20hz-200hz, then another amount of x power running 200hz-20,000hz(by the way...starting at roughly 1000hz, for every 100hz lower in frequency, it requires twice as much power for the same volume....so....if you need 10 watts to make 1000hz 90db in volume, then 900hz needs 20 watts, 800hz needs 40 watts and so forth).

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 2:39:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 2:40:05 AM PDT
MikeT says:
Like all things audio the answer is very subjective and depends on many factors as to whether you will be able to hear much (if any) difference when bi-amping. Speakers (type, quality, placement, calibration), room acoustics, AV system, source material, and your ears are all relative factors.

What fronts do you have now? Are they capable of bi-amping? If yes, try it and compare yourself.
Or are you looking to replace your fronts with bi-amp capable speakers?

If you find you really do prefer bi-amp fronts you could always update your AVR down the road to a 9.1 or 11.1 unit and maintain your 7.1 setup.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 3:53:00 AM PDT
Mark says:
I just bought the energy cf-30 floor speakers with four post connectors that have the ability to connect two speaker wires and a denon avr-1911 that is capable of running a bi-amp set up for the fronts. I guess the real question becomes how much audio source signal is decoded for 7.1 playback? Is everything still 5.1, including blu-ray or has 7.1 decoding become common by now? If the extra surround speakers are not really contributing to the audio effect, I will try the bi-amp set up. Pardon my ignorance but I am in the upgrade phase of replacing an inexpensive 7.1 HTIB. Just wanted some real world experience before I yank out hidden speaker wires and re-configure my receiver.

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 4:42:37 AM PDT
MikeT says:
If the hidden speaker wires are for your 7.1 surround backs or presence speakers, I'd just leave the wires where they are in case you decide later to hook those up again. A quick bi-amp comparison can be simply running speaker wire across the floor for a few days as you compare and decide if you like it.

There is still very little true 7.1 material out there, but it is slowly growing. Then there is the use of "extended" surround by use of such DSP's as Dolby PLII Ex, etc... Personally I think such faux extended surround via DSP guess work adds very little to the audio experience, others feel differently. Actual source encoded extended 7.1 is a different story, when available.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 6:25:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 6:51:59 AM PDT
A/V guru says:
Before you bi-amp the CF-30 with the AVR-1911...

Go to the Energy(Klipsch) website and see what crossover they use. Those are either a two way speaker or a 2.5 way speaker.

If those are two way, the crossover is probably at least 1000hz...the highest crossover your Denon has is 200hz. It won't work well.
If those are 2.5 way, the second crossover might be 200hz...if it is, then it will work well.

Edit:

I just checked. You shouldn't use the Denon to bi-amp with. The crossovers(it is a 2.5 way speaker) are 2000hz and 1600hz.

And since the 1911 doesn't have pre-outs, you can't get an external crossover and two amps.

Lastly, the 1911 has DPL IIz(surprisingly though...it doesn't have Audyssey DSX) so it can do 5.1 plus height. I'd wire that up and watch a movie like U-571 [Blu-ray] . During that movie the "height" channel produces the "creaking" that constantly goes on in a sub from water pressure, freeing up the rest of the 5.1 for everything else.

Movies/tv shows that make use of "height"...
Cars (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) - opening scene in the raceway, the crowd is all from the height channels.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Complete Series - the "constant drone" of the ship...is all from the height channel.

There are more...not just those two. A shock for me the other day. We have a Audyssey DSX/DPL IIz display in our office. Shawshank Redemption was on. I was showing off the Onkyo TX-NR5008 9.2-Channel Network Home Theater Receiver (Discontinued by Manufacturer) and the movie was on the scene where Andy is playing the opera over the PA system. When in the room he is in, the opera plays main channel. When it switched outside, the opera played from the height channel, to mimic being from PA speakers.

Posted on Apr 3, 2011 9:11:22 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 9:13:26 AM PDT
Mark,
I concur 100% with what MikeT posted. You could run a pair of wire along the floor and try it.

As for the question "will there be a noticeable improvement", I'm very much of the opinion that the bi-amp feature in the A/V Receivers and Pre-amps built for home use are relatively useless. I'll keep my reasoning simple. Bi-amping was initially invented for commercial applications, for the purpose of power economizing and performance. AV Receivers/Pre-amps built for home are setup differently and rarely entail the same kind of power considerations.

In the bi-amped commercial venue, various amps offering different amounts of wattage are designated to speakers and drivers in accordance with the power requirements of the drivers. A crossover seperates the audio frequencies, before arriving at the amplifier so that there is little wasted energy. These amps might be driven very hard when trying to fill large areas with sound, and getting the right amount of power to avoid clipping is critical.

Unlike the commercial setup, the AV Receiver/Controllers setup for home use DO NOT seperate the audio frequencies (utilize a crossover) before arrival at the amplifier. Instead, the SAME audio signal using two discrete amps instead of one is sent to each front speaker channel and a great deal of energy is then discarded as waste. That's a significant difference.

Also, most rooms in the home don't require a large amount of power to provide adequate volume. A 100 watt amp channel is plenty of power to drive most convential 8 ohm speakers. Even, if someone likes to blast the volume, bi-amping might be a detriment to performance. With the exception of a few brands and models, you'll overtax the power supply in an AV Receiver, if you try to drive four channels at high volumes for sustained periods. Most 100 watt Receivers are likely to provide between 30-50 watts per channel with all channels driven because the power supply is exhausted. Therefore, you might actually benefit from use of only two amps to drive the front speakers.

So, if anyone relates any kind of improvemment obtained by bi-amping with an off-the-shelf AV Receiver/Controller, I find their opinion to be suspect.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 9:36:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 9:52:29 AM PDT
A/V guru says:
UTI, I have no idea why you keep saying the crossover inside a receiver isn't used in Bi-amp mode. It isn't "bi-wire", it is "bi-amp".

Yes, in the AVR1911, when doing bi-amp, the crossover is used. The bi-amped channel(which uses the same amp channels as 6/7, height or bi-amp), it doesn't say "Matches the front channel". It is, essentially, a throwback to the days people owned non-powered subs(Polk RM series from the early to mid 90's).

That is all "bi-amp mode" is meant for in an AVR(mean all AVR, not just Denon here). To use the internal crossover for a non-powered sub, or if you happen to buy a pair of speakers like the Yamaha NS-A1738. That speaker has two side firing woofers that are set at 180hz. So when you bi-amp those off a receiver, you'd set the crossover at 180hz. Or, do what I did when I owned a pair. Ran the subwoofer output to a NAD amp to run them. Same difference either way.

To give you an idea here UTI. I bought the NS-A1738 at a garage sale. I bought, later, a Technics SA-DA10N. I ran the SA-DA10N in bi-amp mode with those NS-A1738. When I finally bought a digital out DVD player to pair with the SA-DA10N, I changed the configuration to standard 5.1. I then hooked up the NAD from the subwoofer out. The NS-A1738 sounded about the same either way(the NAD being a beefier amp than the Technics, but relegated to 180hz and under). I later sold the NS-A1738 and bought a pair of Infinity Crescendo 3007. Those went in the theater with the NAD at first. I then took the Technics SA-DA10N out when I bought a HD TV. Then I ran the Crescendo off the SA-DA10N like I originally did the Yamaha, pre 5.1 days.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 9:47:06 AM PDT
Mark says:
Thanks all for the responses. I think I'm leaving well enough alone. The new front speakers deliver a very noticeable sound quality improvement and maybe in time the extra pair of surround speakers will contribute when the movie technology catches up.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 9:54:29 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 10:13:03 AM PDT
A/V guru says:
You "could" get a speaker switch. Run a pair of 6/7 speakers and a pair of height. It only takes a few seconds in the menu to change the setting, then you can pick which pair you want by pushing a button on the speaker selector.

And before you say "the speaker selector isn't 'remote'"...
You have to get up to put the disc in the BD player. When you take the disc out, read the package...it will say 5.1 or 7.1. While putting the disc in, push the speaker selector.

By the way(a)..."height"(via Yamaha Presence, IIz or DSX) works on broadcast as well. FOX, ever since they made the switch to 16x9 on baseball and football, encodes the "crowd" into the height channel. I've also noticed some NBA games with crowd in the height channel. All those various "sound effects" you hear as well(like at Pacers games when they play the "race car noise") that goes into the height so it won't muddie the announcers.

By the way(aa)....DPL IIza and Audyssey DSXa are "on the horizon". You guessed it..."height/width" for the surround channels. Integra will have it first.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 12:16:57 PM PDT
Guru,
The crossover in the Receiver/Pre-amp is for bass management purposes, not for determining which frequencies the bi-amped channels will be outputting. The manuals are very clear about this. Some manufacturers also clearly state that turning the Receiver's bi-amp feature "on" sends the *same* audio information as the front channel. Denon isn't known for manual clarity.

There is NO information that indicates the bi-amp feature has anything to do with passive subwoofers. You are creating your own history.

Your statement -
"I have no idea why you keep saying the crossover inside a receive isn't used in Bi-amp mode. It isn't "bi-wire", it is "bi-amp"." -
tells me that you are confused, don't understand the difference between bi-wire and bi-amp, and *passive* bi-amp and an *active* bi-amp.

BI-WIRING is the use of a SINGLE AMP per channel. Two pairs of speaker wire are fed from from the amp to a speaker equipped with dual inputs.

I described what is known as a passive BI-AMP; TWO AMPS power each channel. A pair of speaker wires is routed from each amp to the seperate speaker inputs.

ACTIVE bi-amp utilizes a crossover to filter desirable frequencies before the audio information reaches the amps. PASSIVE bi-amp sends the entire frequency from the source to the speaker.

A simple google should validate my posting.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 12:34:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 12:42:43 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
And, in the Denon, the crossover you set, sets the frequency for the top(original channel 1/2) and the bottom(bi-amped).

So, in the AVR1911, the 1/2 gets your "crossover setting" and above.
And, in the AVR1911, the "bi-amped channel setting" gets your "crossover setting" and lower.

Period, end of discussion.

By the way. The Integra DTR 5.8 manual, on page 21, explains Bi-Amp mode. The Yamaha HTR 6180 manual explains it on page 32. The Integra DTR 7.8 explains it on page 23. What do they all share in common(along with EVERY OTHER RECEIVER) when they can bi-amp? It is explained, elsewhere in the manual, that the crossover you choose IS USED on the bi-amp channel.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 2:05:49 PM PDT
You do know that manuals can be downloaded in less than five minutes with a wireless connection and sloppy DSL service, right?

http://www.integrahometheater.com/own_manuals.cfm?cat=Receiver

The pages you cited for the Integra models demonstrate speaker wire connectivity and speaker setting. There is no mention of crossover settings. In fact, neither manual makes any suggesion of crossover when setting the bi-amp feature "on". Wouldn't that be expressly stated, if what you say is true? Wouldn't the manufacturer advise the user to match the crossover to the speaker in use? That would be *highly* important.

Apparently you thought that you could lie, just flat out lie, because I wouldn't check. Amazing. Are you posting here to help out a few folks or just feeding your ego?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 2:14:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 2:19:57 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
The picture tells me everything I need to know. What does the picture on page 21 show?

It shows "bi-amp channel" is for the woofer. It would say "it doesn't matter how you connect it", if it didn't matter.

And, apparently, you must have forgotten that I connected the old Polk RM3000 non-powered subwoofer to both the HTR 6180 and DTR 5.8 on the bi-amp channel and proceeded to adjust the crossover points. On both receivers(keeping in mind you have to set the suwoofer at least 80hz on the Integra) you could tell a difference in the woofer from 40hz to 200hz. You could also tell a representative difference between them on the upper frequencies. It is bi-amp, not bi-wire(or as you wish to spew, ACTIVE bi-amp).

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 2:57:17 PM PDT
The picture tells you how to hook up speaker wire and reminds you to remove the jumper on your speaker. Nothing more. Why would they go to the trouble of displaying two diagrams.

What you don't know is that I hooked up two sets of full range speakers to my Yamaha Receiver's front and rear surround channels with bi-amp feature enabled. I left the speaker jumpers in place and ran speaker wire to bottom terminals. Guess what? FULL range audio in each speaker! PASSIVE bi-amp!!

LOLOL!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 3:15:29 PM PDT
"The Integra DTR 5.8 manual, on page 21, explains Bi-Amp mode. The Yamaha HTR 6180 manual explains it on page 32. The Integra DTR 7.8 explains it on page 23. What do they all share in common(along with EVERY OTHER RECEIVER) when they can bi-amp? It is explained, elsewhere in the manual, that the crossover you choose IS USED on the bi-amp channel. "

So you didn't remember writing this in a previous post before you posted this:

"The picture tells me everything I need to know. What does the picture on page 21 show?"

You stated "It is explained, elsewhere in the manual, that the crossover you choose IS USED on the bi-amp channel."

And then failed to provide a page number. Just move right on.

""The picture tells me everything I need to know."

Just to let you know. I didn't read a single thing you wrote about your projects. The poorly constructed descriptions are problem enough. That aside, they offer no empirical information. Anybody with an ounce of sense knows that.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 3:34:26 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
The Yamaha HTR 6180 does not do that. Which receiver did you use?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 3:58:05 PM PDT
How do you know, you've never tried it. Have you? I have the 663 if it helps.

Keep going. I already have the next response planned. Know exactly what your next *argument* will be.

The thing is.. You are the kind of liar who can't keep up with your story and/or don't even care to. You pronounce, get refuted, and just move on to the next pronouncement.... Apparently not even realizing that it contradicts the previous.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 4:20:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 4:27:00 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
That is because you set your 663 wrong dude(actually have to check, I read the 6180 manual).

When you select bi-amp...here are your choices(cause you have to select bi-amp first)...

Presence.
Zone B.
Front B.
None.

When you bi-amp, you have a choice of "full range B" or not.

Yours functions the same way. When Bi-Amp is on, you have a choice as to full range B or separated frequency...if you set it up correctly.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 4:43:04 PM PDT
"That is because you set your 663 wrong dude(actually have to check, I read the 6180 manual)."

Oh, okay. Well you go check it for me. Get back to me and let me know when you are sure. And how about providing a page number in the 6180 manual. Or is this another piece of your imagination?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2011 4:49:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 4:53:08 PM PDT
A/V guru says:
Page 33 of the 663 manual.
Page 87 of the 6180 manual.

Zone B is how you get "full range" turned on.

And yes, I am aware "extra speaker" is different that bi-amp. Bi-amp runs through the crossover, that is why it is separate. Or there would be no point whatsoever in the hook-ups being separate.

Posted on Apr 22, 2012 6:34:14 AM PDT
I hate to contradict a self-proclaimed guru, but UTI is right. The bi-amp feature of AVRs will play the full frequency range in all four channels. The crossover setting is for bass management of the subwoofer vs. front speakers. E.g.: when set to 100Hz, any signal below this frequency will be sent to the subwoofer ONLY.

To quote the Denon AVR-1912 (which I own) manual as to the advantages of the bi-amping feature:
"A bi-amp connection is to connect separate amplifiers to the tweeter terminals and woofer terminals of speakers compatible with the bi-amp function. This prevents the back electromotive force (returned force without output) of the woofer sent to the tweeter, which affects the sound quality of the tweeter, and you can enjoy playback with higher-quality sound."

Whether or not this feature will actually provide any benefit for YOU is a complex topic, depending on a range of factors. If you have bi-amp compatible speakers, then you are quite likely to hear a difference using this feature - but that doesn't mean it is is a change for the better! One thing to be aware of is that the weak link of an AVR is usually the power supply, and by enabling bi-amping you are placing more strain on this link. One thing is certain: if the power supply runs out of juice there will be distortion, which is noticeable and potentially damaging to speakers. Again, to emphasize UTI's point: for there to be a real benefit to bi-amping you need to use separate amplifiers and ideally an active crossover - complex stuff where you need to know what you're doing...

If you are wondering if you should invest in an extra set of cables to use bi-amping, I would recommend that you instead consider staying with single-amping and upgrading to good cables. The single most important factor with a speaker cable is its resistance and inductance properties. The easiest way to improve this is to increase the thickness/gauge (cross section size). E.g. going from a 1.5mm2 cable to 4mm2 should result in an audible improvement in good systems. If you focus on that (rather than all the marketing mumbo-jumbo from high-end cable manufacturers) you fill find that good cables need not be expensive at all.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 24, 2012 5:52:22 PM PDT
Fredrik,
There is one bi-amping option with an AV Receiver that should reduce the chances of taxing its power supply and clipping the signal. The setup requires an additional two channel amp and pre-amp outputs on the Receiver. The second amp is connected to the Receiver pre-outs. The second amp will then provide plenty more current without taxing the Receiver's power supply.

This method wasn't mentioned earlier because I was busy responding to the completely non-sensical posts of AV Guru. Think about this explanation given by the self-titled Guru:

"in the Denon, the crossover you set, sets the frequency for the top(original channel 1/2) and the bottom(bi-amped)."

That would be ludicrous implementation on the part of the manufacturer - using the Receiver's subwoofer crossover as a bi-amp filter too. The Receiver's highest sub crossover setting is around 200Hz. How many speakers use a filter at or below 200Hz? Probably a VERY small percentage. Consider all of the two-way tower or bookshelf speakers which usually filter the tweeters and woofers above 2kHz. And the great many 3-way tower speakers that filter around 400-800Hz. Those are very common speaker crossover filters.

Completely ridiculous. The Guru:
""The Integra DTR 5.8 manual, on page 21, explains Bi-Amp mode. The Yamaha HTR 6180 manual explains it on page 32. The Integra DTR 7.8 explains it on page 23. What do they all share in common(along with EVERY OTHER RECEIVER) when they can bi-amp? It is explained, elsewhere in the manual, that the crossover you choose IS USED on the bi-amp channel. "

There was nothing in the manuals stating that.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 5:31:43 AM PDT
UTI,
Thanks for the comments. I generally try to live by this rule: "Oh Lord, please help me keep my big mouth shut until I know what I'm talking about" :)

Excellent point about pre-outs. This is why I'm looking to sell my 1912; it doesn't have pre-outs. In fact, most affordable AVRs don't. It's ironic to me that only the more powerful AVRs have it, but I guess this is due to the added (manufacturing) cost of the pre-outs. The only ones I've found so far at a comparable price-point as the 1912 are from NAD and Marantz. The smallest Denon AVR to have it is the 3312. See, as I mostly listen to music but still want to be able to enjoy home cinema on occasion I really have no need for an expensive AVR. That's why adding a power-amp for the front channels is the perfect setup for me.

Technically, though, using a power amp with the pre-outs isn't neccesarily bi-amping. (Just to be clear: bi-amping is when you use two amps to drive one speaker.) What you're probably referring to is to use the AVR for the tweeter and the power amp for the woofer. I think in that setup you have to be very careful that the power amp matches the amp in the AVR. A more common way to do it is simply to have the power amp drive the front speakers in the surround setup and let the AVR handle the rest. This would obviously still be single-amping of the front speakers. Again, the consideration is what offers better sound: bi-amping with less than ideal components, or adding a high-quality power-amp. I'm pretty sure the latter will be the best improvement in most cases. A great thing is that you can get the power-amp second hand.
You can obviously also add two power amps, but then technically what you have is two mono amps (one for right and one for left channel). Note that many power amps can be bridged so that they often offer more than twice the power as a mono amp (e.g. some I've seen offer 150WPc in stereo, but 400WPc in mono).

The purists will argue that the pre-amp in an AVR is poor quality and that in order to enjoy high-quality sound this component also needs a step up. One possible alternative for those concerned about this aspect could consider finding a high-quality integrated amp that also supports operating as a power amp. So, when you listen to music you use it as integrated. When you use it for home cinema you engage the power amp feature (usually a button on the front) and use it with the AVR. Best of both worlds - one more remote though :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 7:47:49 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 4, 2012 7:48:42 PM PST]
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Discussion in:  Home Theater forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  38
Initial post:  Apr 2, 2011
Latest post:  Apr 22, 2014

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