Is It Best to Biwire?

To Doug Schneider,

I noticed in your photos of the KEF LS50 that it is single-wire only, which led me to want to ask your opinion of what you thought about biwiring. Every single speaker that I've tried biwiring on, which included several British, American, and Canadian models, has sounded worse to me than single-wired. Any slight increase in clarity was always offset by a more disjointed and less-coherent sound, as if I'm listening to a separate woofer and tweeter, rather than one coherent whole. Your thoughts would be welcome.

Happy listening,
Doug Mencoff

Your question is one that often comes up, but there’s no easy answer. Still, I can share my thoughts and experiences.

In the past, I’ve read some articles about the supposed technical benefits of biwiring, which usually has to do with back EMF from the woofer(s), but the topic rarely, if ever, comes up with speaker designers. In other words, it doesn’t seem that important to them. What’s more, it often seems that putting dual sets of posts on the speakers is more to satisfy consumers who may wish to biwire, or even biamp, just for the sake of it, not necessarily to increase performance. As a result, I usually just run a single set of wires to the speakers, even if a biwiring option is available.

Occasionally, though, I do come across some instances where the designer wishes to have the speakers biwired. When that happens, it's usually accompanied by an explanation, so I oblige and drag out a second set of cables because I figure that if they're emphasizing it, there must be a kernel of truth to it for that design (at least I hope so).

What to take from all that is this: You’re probably right that it doesn’t really help with most speakers, so you’re probably better off with the best single set of wires you can afford. But in some rare instances it might be beneficial to biwire and foot the bill for an extra set of wires; however, I’d check with the designer and get the reason why beforehand, just to make sure. . . . Doug Schneider