Am I wasting money on the theory of Bi-amping?

As a long time audiophile I'm finally able to bi-amp my setup. I'm using two identical amps in a vertical bi-amp configuration. 

Now me not fully understanding all of the ins/outs of internal speaker crossovers and what not. I've read quite a few people tell me that bi-amping like I'm doing whether it's vertical or horizontal bi-amping is a waste since there's really not a improvement because of how speaker manufacturers design the internal crossovers. 

Can anyone explain to a third grader how it's beneficial or if the naysayers are correct in the statement?


@lonemountain, Perhaps you might want to reread my posts.Typical off the shelf active crossovers traditionally have not offered such compensation. The active crossover manufacturers would have had to know in advance what specific speaker parameters were to be considered. The possible variables would be nigh well infinite. As I previously posted; with DSP (and with appropriate measurements) post corrections become a much more practical proposition.

Bi-amping can be a bit complex, but let me explain it in a simple way for you:

Think of your speakers like a team of players in a sports game, and each player has a specific role to play. The internal crossover in your speakers acts like a coach, telling each player what they should do.

Now, in a regular setup (single-amp), one coach is in charge of both teams (high and low frequencies). But in bi-amping, you have two coaches, each specializing in their own team. Here's why people do it:

  1. Better Control: With two coaches, you can give more specific instructions to each player. This can make the players (your speakers) perform better because they're not confused by mixed signals.

  2. Less Interference: Sometimes, when both teams are listening to the same coach, they might argue or interfere with each other. Having separate coaches can reduce this interference.

  3. Power Distribution: If one team needs more power (let's say the low frequencies), you can give them a stronger coach (amp) to handle it, while the other team gets a different coach for their needs.

However, the naysayers have a point too:

  1. Speaker Design: Some speakers are designed with internal crossovers that work really well. In such cases, adding external crossovers and extra amps might not make a big difference, and it could even be a waste of resources.

  2. Complexity: Bi-amping can be tricky to set up correctly. If you're not careful, you might not get the expected benefits, and it can get expensive with extra amps and cables.

So, it's like having two coaches for your team – it can be beneficial if done right, but not always necessary. It depends on your speakers and your preferences. If you're unsure, you can start with a regular setup and see if you're happy with the sound. If you feel something is missing, then you can explore bi-amping later.

@unsound - You have a point there about active outboard crossovers, and there are very few available. Most active loudspeakers have a purpose built electronic crossover designed specifically for their speaker within their internal or external amps just like passive ones do. Outboard is not where you find most active loudspeaker’s crossover. It’s usually built into the same circuit board as the amps themselves. Its easy to implement the same level of quality throughout the entire signal path.

I think my point was you presented this as "passive crossover advantage is compensation built in" while that is certainly not what I have seen across a long period of time. Im not saying it doesn’t exist, but the typical passive crossover is a simple, passive device that cannot be adjusted and has no "processing". Maybe EQ? Is that what you mean by compensation?

Active is much more likely to include additional controls such as phase controls and individual [band specific] level controls to calibrate the drive units to work as seamlessly together as possible. This is the case with the brand I work with, ATC, and multiple other studio/home speaker companies. I have seen some companies offer full-on EQ within some of their control sets, in both analog and digital form, so a user can tailor a speaker to their liking. Now we are seeing a new wave of loudspeakers with room correction and/or adjustment software within their internal crossovers. Such companies are Genelec, Kii and Dutch and Dutch. This level of control or adjustment is not available in a passive crossover. This means that some common issues a designer chooses to address cannot be accounted for in passive crossover.

By the way, I am NOT advocating that passive speakers should be torn apart and modified- this is far too difficult for most of us to actually pull off without a lot of information that tells us exactly what to do. I am speaking about an active system designed as active by the manufacturer from the beginning with all the parts supplied vs a passive system of the same type designed as passive with all its needed parts. ATC does both active and passive so perhaps I am able to contrast these two ideas without getting lost in gear/brand/type differences.


Probably been mentioned, I didn’t read, too many replies.

Bi-amping with matching amps is of no audible value.

You could Bi-Wire (if that is what the speakers are designed for), that is a different concept: use 1 cable construction for mids and highs; use different cable construction for lows.

Bi-amp is to use what you think is a better sounding amp for mids and highs, needing less power than bass. And use a different amp, perhaps less delicate, but more powerful for the power hungry bass.

You could even mix tubes for the mids and highs and a SS brute for the woofers. Think of self-powered sub-woofers, they typically use SS brutes, perhaps class D to avoid heat while delivering substantial power, while the primary speakers are driven by a ’better’ amp, often tubes.

@lonemoutain, I think we are seeing the same thing from a different angle. The OP seeemed to suggest that he was considering biamping his speakers that have passive cross-overs already included, not active loudspeakers, as that would probably be moot.

 Acitve loudspeakers have existed for some time now, though they seem to be more prevalent in the pro sound market than in the home audiophile market. Though there has been more recent growth in available active speakers geared towards the home market, What you have stated regarding active speakers and true DIY projects are certainly true. But I think that for the home market, speakers with passive crossovers have traditionally domiinated the market place.

Passive speakers can be designed with equaization and/or with compensation for driver irregularities, impedance smoothing, containment rolloff, time and phase corrections with traditional passive parts. I'm not suggesting that this built in compensation is typically user adjustable. Most traditional off the shelf active crossovers only give a number frequency bands for drivers and slope options. Newer digital crossovers offer much more customization.