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twynns
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bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I've done some searching for reference pieces on bi-wiring and bi-amping and have come up short thus far. If such a thread or document exists, can someone please provide a link? I've read Robt. Harley's book and he describes each in some detail, but not enough for what I'm looking for. If there isn't a high quality piece on the subject out there, editors please accept this humble request to think about a reference piece on this topic in an upcoming issue.

I'd be really interested in understanding the best ways (both electrically and acoustically!)to implement each in a system and what benefits, if any, and more importantly, what problems, might be introduced by each. It seems clear that bi-amping is a much more complex topic than bi-wiring. But it also seems intuitive (maybe naively on my part, though ) that the potential sonic benefits of driving mid and high frequency drivers w/ tubes and low end w/ SS could make for a pretty sweet sound. A technical understanding of the systems matching issues (impedance and gain issues? others...)and any other issues to consider--most importantly unintended problems introduced--would be extremely interesting. I think it would also be of great interest to hear whether or not you have found it to be worth the expense and trouble. Like lots of tweaks, if you can't hear it, then why bother...

Many thanks in advance for your consideration or links!

Kal Rubinson
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction


Quote:
I've done some searching for reference pieces on bi-wiring and bi-amping and have come up short thus far. If such a thread or document exists, can someone please provide a link? I've read Robt. Harley's book and he describes each in some detail, but not enough for what I'm looking for. If there isn't a high quality piece on the subject out there, editors please accept this humble request to think about a reference piece on this topic in an upcoming issue.

I'd be really interested in understanding the best ways (both electrically and acoustically!)to implement each in a system and what benefits, if any, and more importantly, what problems, might be introduced by each. It seems clear that bi-amping is a much more complex topic than bi-wiring. But it also seems intuitive (maybe naively on my part, though ) that the potential sonic benefits of driving mid and high frequency drivers w/ tubes and low end w/ SS could make for a pretty sweet sound. A technical understanding of the systems matching issues (impedance and gain issues? others...)and any other issues to consider--most importantly unintended problems introduced--would be extremely interesting. I think it would also be of great interest to hear whether or not you have found it to be worth the expense and trouble. Like lots of tweaks, if you can't hear it, then why bother...

Many thanks in advance for your consideration or links!

Bi-amping is simply an after-market attempt at what is offered by several manufacturers of active powered loudspeakers. So, if you are interested in this, the best sources are loudspeaker design references which deal with such speakers. Both Dickason and Colloms have chapters which cover the advantages/disadvantages and some design suggestions and guidelines.

Kal

k512
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Read this article: http://www.soundstage.com/synergize/synergize031998.htm and pay particular attention to paragraphs 8 and 9.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction


Quote:
Read this article: http://www.soundstage.com/synergize/synergize031998.htm and pay particular attention to paragraphs 8 and 9.

Ho hum.

Kal

twynns
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Thanks very much Kurt. Best piece I've seen yet. Still not as techy as I'd hoped for, but a good start nonetheless, and I really appreciate the link.

RW

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction
k512
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Mr. Rubinson:

Since the only response to the information in the link I provided has elicited only a smug, taunting, mocking, coy, and arrogant "ho-hum" quip from you... This would seem to strongly suggest that you believe you possess a far deeper, more sophisticated, and more enlightened understanding of the facts surrounding bi-wiring.

Therefore, Mr. Rubinson, please deign (ie, to condescend reluctantly despite the apparent affront to your sense of superiority) to share with us your considerable wisdom and insights in regard to this question.

Mr. Rubinson, please enlighten us: Take the time to share your expertise with us; give us your expert synopsis of the merits and demerits of bi-wiring.

Mr. Rubinson, in light of the fact that you serve as a Contributing Editor for Stereophile, I find it rather troublesome that you not only seem to be amusing and enjoying yourself by mocking my contribution to this thread, but that you also seem here to be enjoying being distinctly unhelpful, obtuse, and churlish. Indeed, this is behavior that I find unbecoming, inappropriate, and unprofessional for someone in your position within the ranks of Stereophile. Let me remind you that as a paying subscriber to Stereophile, I do believe that your current position as a Contributing Editor includes being helpful to Stereophile's readership.

Now then, why not tell us what you really know about bi-wiring?

Kal Rubinson
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

The arguments offered in the reference are old and familiar and that's what elicited my response. Most of them are completely unsupported. Even when there is a logical, theoretical argument, real differences are rarely measured or significant if compared with a well chosen single-wire setup.

I have yet to hear an improvement due to bi-wiring. That's not to say that all those who hear a change are hallucinating but there are many other explanations. In addition, except for cost, there's no downside to biwiring.

Kal

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I agree completely that a well chosen single run should take priority over bi-wiring for the sake of bi-wiring. I disagree with your comment that bi-wiring has no down side except for price. I think it important to bi-wire with cable that compliments the frequencies being handled by the driver, with consideration given to the cross-over frequency.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I have the Vandersteen 3A speakers. Richard Vandersteen says that he has conducted many tests and has found that bass definition and control are substansially improved by bi-wiring on these speakers. My experience supports this.
In general, I find him to be long on substance and not much interested in B.S.
I suspect he is more of an expert on the subject than certain other persons commenting here, since he has been personally voicing his speakers for 25 years under very controlled conditions.
I am sure that there are some speakers that benefit more from bi-wiring than others. I also suspect that anyone who says he has never heard any benefit from bi-wiring has possibly never really given enough attention to the subject to comment with authority.
I suspect Mr. Vandersteen can supply literature on the subject, if you care to request it.The phone number is 209-582-0324. He is sometimes available if you ask to speak to him personally.

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Contrast Vandersteen with Dynaudio, who spend a lot of time and care in developing their crossovers, not to mention their drivers, and who also rarely facilitate biwiring in their speaker designs.

In any event, if you are going to biwire, it should be done properly with cable designed to benefit the particular freqencies of the drivers utilized. Using a 9 gauge cable to feed frequencies above 4K would probably not result in better performance.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Hi, Commsysman -- every single speaker I have heard in my own systems over the past 30 years (assuming it is possible to bi-wire without removing their innards) has sounded better bi-wired than single wired. Defintion, clarity, and soundstaging have always benefited, in my experience, so I will double the cost of cables in a heart beat, if the speaker is set up to accept bi-wiring. Biamping? Probably the same deal, although I haven't tried it more than once or twice. With relatively insensitive speakers, or those that are really current-hungry, bi-amping provides the benefits of bi-wiring, and the additional benefit of reducing strain on your amp at the margin -- if your amp runs out of steam in the bass, you'll hear the strain all the way through the system. Which is why I will NEVER, EVER again buy insensitive and/or current-hungry speakers. The Triangles I have own recently have made in SO easy to get maximum performance out of medium-to-low wattage/current amps that I'll never go back to the behemoths with complex crossovers again. Cheers, Clifton.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Get yourself some ESL's and run them from 80Hz up. That way you don't have to worry about crossovers at all. Technically I am bi-amping. My subs run from 80Hz down and are powered by SS my ESL's are tube powered.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Audio freq's are not dependent on the piece of wire used. Current capacity, D.C. resistance that affects damping factor on a long enough run of speaker wire is. Niether capacitance or inductance are of any concern in a speaker wire. This is AUDIO, not RF, Micorwave, of high freq switching. AUDIO! Heard any "strand jumping" lately?

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Hi, Joe -- I love all the 'stats I have heard, especially the newer Quads. However, they tend to be unkind towards some of my favorite software. That is why I settled on the Triangles -- they exhibit many of the space and clarity characteristics of the new Quads, but have better bass, are easier to drive, and (for reasons I can only guess at) sound MUCH better on poor-to-mediocre recordings. I know, you're thinking, "well, they must be masking some distortion that higher-rez speakers let through." I don't think so, since my so-called "state-of-the-art," reference-quality, demo-quality recordings ALSO sound terrific. And there is no lack of transparency. I think a huge part of this is their amplifier-friendliness, but that's just a guess. Also, they are a bit more dynamic than most of the 'stats I've heard. The external X-over solution DOES solve many problems with speakers, 'stat or otherwise, that present difficult loads to amps, but it's just too much fussin' around for me. Color me "plug-n-play," the less tweaking the better. Cheers, Clifton.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction


Quote:
Audio freq's are not dependent on the piece of wire used. Current capacity, D.C. resistance that affects damping factor on a long enough run of speaker wire is. Niether capacitance or inductance are of any concern in a speaker wire. This is AUDIO, not RF, Micorwave, of high freq switching. AUDIO! Heard any "strand jumping" lately?


I suspect you are hearing much more strand jumping than I am. The cables I use are designed to minimize this and are of a solid core design. Not that there is anything wrong with a well designed, stranded cable...like Cardas.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Or a well designed and priced 12ga, FLEXIBLE, doesn't oxidize SoundKing 100ft roll, no designer box or felt lined nonsense, comes on a plain metal roll, maybe the roll leaves residual magnetism and it affects the sound? I just invented a new aduio product, the PACKAGING for magic wire, audio grade boxes!!!! $29.99 maybe a bit more now from Parts Express. If there was any problems, I would say I would hear it. WHISPERS take some current...There is no sound in a piece of wire. There is no such anomoly as "strand jumping"...only exists in the nice colorful ads in magazines. And just what insulation did you listen to today?

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

"designed to minimize strand jumping" ya gots to exolain how that is done, and what AUDIBLE effects with and without this mysterious anomoly in a piece of WIRE. Please, explain, I'm new to this stuff. And i thought I had a pretty good sounding setuup, with some Legacy Whispers, and a few pretty good amps (4200W RMS) But now you think it has a problem with WIRE, what shoudl I do?

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I'll try to explain this for you. Solid core conductors that are not configured in a stranded fashion are...well...not stranded. Let me try to explain this in another way; stranded wire is a whole bunch of strands of wire wrapped around each other to form the size of conductor desired while solid core conductors are NOT a bunch of wires stranded together to achieve the desired size of conductor.

If you are with me so far...strand jumping can be negated by not using strands of wire and instead using solid conductors that are placed in a configuration that minimizes or eliminates them from touching one another.

Pretty simple stuff, huh?

As for what type of wire I would suggest for your system, well, I think you have exactly the type of wire your system warrants. I see no need in trying to improve upon what is obviously very satisfactory to you. Maybe experiment with some automotive jumper cables?

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction


Quote:

...strand jumping can be negated by not using strands of wire and instead using solid conductors that are placed in a configuration that minimizes or eliminates them from touching one another.

Would cat5e cable meet those specs?

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

What is "strand jumping"? that is my question. It is not in any electrical design books that I can see, and it appears only in some magazines that seem to advertise wires that cure this situation, does stranded wire say, used in a portable lamp, have strand jumping, how does this effect the operation? Is strand jumping a design that an electrical engineer discovered or a ad manager? Please explain "strand jumping"

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Why is "strand jumping" only happening in teh speaker wire, not teh wire inside an amp or pre amp? Many use stranded wires, and or ribbon flat cables, do the jumpers only know to do it in the speaker wire? Is it just an audio business anomoly, or do these jumpers jump in a radio or tv? Do strand jumpers do it in a computer, with flat ribbon cables, that are stranded in nature?

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Cat 5e is obsolete use Cat 6...I understand that the jumpers are becoming resistant to old cures, kinda like bacteria and anti biotics. That brings up another QUESTION, if I have too many wires designed to minimize/eliminate "strand jumpers", will they eventually learn in my system, how to jump again in my wires? do i need to continualy update, upgrade my wires, to fight smart jumpers?

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I believe cat5e is a stranded cable. You might check to see if it can be ordered with solid conductors like cat6.

Here is a link that you might find useful.

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Can strand jumpers be talked out of jumping? Cat 5 Cat 6, are twisted and turned for a REASON, it's high frequency, data pulses that are effected by the wire...Cat 6 is solid? huh? and double huh? do you know what this stuff even is?

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

In the "Cable" forum, I linked to some really good articles regarding cable design.

Cardas, Audioquest and Tara Labs (when Tara's site isn't acting up) has some really good technical measurements and data regarding cable design.

The internet is full of interesting reading on cable design and how they effect sound reproduction. Of course, it would require effort on your part to actually read about something that you already know so much about.

Instead of reading about cables, you might want to write to them and explain how their measurements and test data are flawed.

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Which one of those cable compaines changed teh lables on thier special wires to say made in U.S.A., when in fact they bought chinese wires, and re tagged them? It just wasn't "strand jumping" that was an issue, it's kinda like illegal. Again, can a strand jumper be talked out of it? But in teh case of a company that is using Chinese wires, labeld U.S.A., they wouldn't understand, they talk Chinese...And how do Chinese wires conduct English audio, where is teh translation taking place? chinese electrons are different then u.S. electrons, another audio problem? that's why most of my stuff is made in the u.S., so there is no electron translation issues, mucking up the sound.

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Tara Labs was the company with legal issues regarding outsourcing the construction of some of their cables. I'm not familiar enough with the case to comment on what exactly transpired. I was told it involved the construction of some of their inexpensive stuff.

Regardless, that has little to do with Matthew Bond's extensive experience and test measurements with regard to cable design and more to do with the operation of the company.

Matthew Bond wrote the best white paper on cabling I have ever read and is certainly at the forefront of cable design theory. His vacuum design cables are ultra expensive and probably the most transparent cable ever designed. So much so, that very few systems can handle them and he dragged his heels on releasing them for that very reason.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

What does that mean, few systems can handle them? How do the cables hold a vacuum over time, is there a continuous pumping, do they use a turbo pump or a dry pump? What vacuum level, how many Pascal?

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

At teh forefront of cable design? the ad for Kimber Cable claims that...hmmmm, forfront of ads or what? Why would a fine company, allow the mislabeling of items, violtating FTC rules? If they cheated on that "minor" issue with running the company, what else is not to be trusted? hmmm, could "facts" put in this WHITE PAPER be hyped, exagerated, hmmmm, you know like a once burned, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, or run for president of the U.S. If you have teh abilty to hear electrons jumping in a pice of wire, what kind of speakers and electronics do you have, and what kind of hearing abilty do you have? sound impressive, really. I guess my system doesn't allow strand jumpers to be audible. I use wires from teh King...SoundKing, stranded, flexible, and probably lotsa jumpers, but maybe teh jumpers are good jumpers, or sympatico to my needs and desires. Maybe my jumpers are tiem aligned, with my room acoustics, a bounce here, a jump there, cancel each other? Maybe my system is too powerful, and teh littel jumper buggers are gtting fried going down my wires, since I have 4 mono amps cranking 4200W RMS...those littel buggers ain't got a chance, maybe my watts are faster than the jumpers and frying them before they have a chance to JUMP!!!! I have found the cure, lotsa WATTS....

commsysman
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Back in the early 1980s the business of "strand jumping" or multipath distortion was a hot topic, the theory being that some electrons take a path through several contacting strands and therefore take longer to arrive at the speaker than those that take a direct path through a single strand.

If this was happening, you could easily see it on an oscilloscope placed across the speaker while a square wave of say 10khz was applied to the cable. The pulse would be rounded off and extended in the time domain.

This effect is insignificant at audio frequencies. This is easy to prove. It is VERY significant for a coaxial digital connection, however; big issue at that much higher frequency, along with impedance mismatches and connector issues.

One manufacturer who tried to flog this nonsense came out with cables made from #8 Litz wire, which has plastic or lacquer on each strand to insulate them from each other; this was his "solution" to this non-existent problem. The only problem was that these cables demonstrably made every speaker sound like crap for some reason.

A #14 lamp cord from your local hardware store should be the worst case for this kind of distortion, if it existed, but it works just fine unless you are running over 100W per channel. Just make sure you SOLDER it thoroughly at both ends to a gold-plated connector to avoid the long-term effects of the copper wire or connector oxidizing.

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Bi-amping is so 20th century...Quad amping (4 amps in mono 2 per side) is ths way to go. using some phase inverters from AVA.

JoeE SP9
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

They only thing my ESL's have been unkind to was Sugar Ray. I bought the CD took it home and it sounded like my whole rig was sick! I use this as a demo of how bad a recording can sound. Nothing else I have ever played on my rig has sounded this bad.

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

My wife bought a new vehicle the other day that came with XM radio. I'm thinking, hey, cool. Well, I now know just how bad digital can sound. This stuff is completely unlistenable.

XM radio is to music what Sin City is to motion pictures...the barometer from which to measure all things worthless.

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

You speaking about the programing, or the audio quality? I loves my SIRIUS..Got Howard on right now, how can you listen to regular FM radio?, remember when FM took off (I do, WNEW Scott Munie, etc.)well FM is in the tank lattely, and AM was left way behind, now Satellite will do the same to FM. Unlistenable, is most of teh programing on FM, AM is a vast wasteland, of static and nosie, and babling morons, like Limbaugh, Hannity, and numerous others. There are some clunkers on sattelite too, but more good than bad.

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I spent a few minutes running down the channels and they all sounded lifeless. I switched over to FM just to see if her sound system was really that bad and was relaxed to find out that no, it was the XM that killed the music.

I admit that I am increasingly gravitating toward analog, but XM really managed to take the life out of the music in a way I had not ever heard.

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Maybe you are using the wrong WIRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freeze the line cord, heat up the antenna, add some PTFE to the case of the XM receiver. Didn't you get teh XM specific cabling package from Simbuyata Cabling Enterprises, they have a "white" paper on just how teh grain structure is different when listening to FM versus XM..you see, when the first letter is changed in teh system, you MUST have wires to deal with it!! And you thought you knew what you where doing!!! come on, get teh right wires for the ting

Monty
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

I've learned not to criticize anything my wife buys. I'll tell you guys that I think it sounds horrid, but when my wife asked me what I thought about it, I gave the safe answer, "That's neat!"

I don't think cables are gonna do the trick, they would never see enough time to settle...unless...hmmm...I wonder if I could run a wire from the battery....12 Volt DBS!

gkc
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Hi, Monty -- smart choice, on the wife thing. As for the radio? My ears agree with yours. Eight years ago, I bought a Fanfare FM tuner, all fancied up with Kimber silver wire and other foofaraw. I got a nice demo discount from Ambrosia, but it still cost me $1100 (the same piece, today, is around $1500). I winced at the price at the time, but I never regretted it. The local classical and jazz stations sound as good as my CD's, with real soundstaging, clarity, and depth. Not QUITE as good as my LP's, but surprisingly close. I was thinking about getting XM, but when I heard it on a friend's system, it sounded sanitized, vapid, dead. There was no noise, no hash, but all the life had gone out of the music. Worse than digital. I wonder why more people don't hear this. It seems obvious enough -- you don't have to sit down, concentrate, and listen like an "audiophile" to hear the difference. Cheers, Clifton.

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction


Quote:
Maybe you are using the wrong WIRES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Freeze the line cord, heat up the antenna, add some PTFE to the case of the XM receiver.

It's more likely DUP, that the disappointing sound from XM is due to the aggressive lossy compression they use, in order to pack so many channels in the limited bandwidth. I believe the average data-rate for an XM stereo channel is around 64kbps, which is okay for spoken word but inadequate for high-quality music.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

WonkoTheSane
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

John, (or anyone else that might happen to know)

Is the bit rate similar on all the satelite providers?

Wonko

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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction


Quote:
Is the bit rate similar on all the satelite providers?

Pretty much, to the best of my knowledge, or even lower. We published a piece on the website a while back, on the methods XM uses to maintain as much quality as possible despite the low data rate. But in the end, there's no substitute for bits!

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

JoeE SP9
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

Hi Clifton,
I have kept my old Accuphase T101 tuner for the same reason. The only things that come close to its sound and build quality are the Magnum Dynalabs and I'm not so sure about the build quality. My T101 is a large as many receivers and weighs more than most of them. Of course it's only analog but like your tuner it's almost as good as an LP. FM over the air can sound very good. I bought my tuner in 1985.

CECE
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Re: bi-wiring & bi-amping; facts and fiction

That was my 3 posts, I forgot to login......I was an undocumented ALIEN.

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