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Sibilance after Bi-wiring

Adam W.

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2020
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I recently decided to experiment with bi-wiring. I bought a set of Canare 4S11 Star Quad cables with locking bananas (2 on one end 4 on the other).

I had been using regular 14AWG OFC cables with banana plugs (along with the standard jumpers that came with my speakers).

After connecting the new cables to my Cambridge CXA81 and Wharfedale Diamond 11.4s, I noticed an increase in sibilance. It’s quite annoying sometimes.

Sibilance was present before, at least on some recordings, but only at what I would consider to be normal levels.

Any idea why?
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
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Purely psychological, compare the 2 cables via a double blind test and you will find no difference between them.

If it’s really bugging you just put the old cables back in and sit back and enjoy the music.

Alternatively pop over to a dealer and listen to some hardware combinations that don’t irritate you with sibilance. (Unless cheap and nasty changing cables is futile if you are looking to improve the sound (Although flat earthers will try and convince you otherwise)

You can also try moving the speakers in case you have a room resonance at that frequency.

Bill
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
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I think it’s a bit condescending to say it’s just psychological the difference he’s hearing.

He‘s made two changes - the brand, and biwiring. One can argue about clarity or ‘space’ or ’air’, but sibilance is something I’ve experienced and is entirely unpleasant and offensive - it’s not something you can just imagine easily. If one experiences pain is that imaginary? Bad sibilance is very nearly painful to the ear.

One mistake he’s very readily made is using ‘2 on one end 4’. The CX81 has two sets of speaker connections so why is he only using one for biwiring? That may well be his problem right there.
 

Adam W.

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2020
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Believe me, I’m not someone who thinks speaker wires make a big difference. In fact, I wasn’t expecting any difference whatsoever. I was experimenting.

After reconnecting the old cable and jumpers the excessive sibilance disappeared.

My wife, who isn’t particularly interested in sound, asked why it sounds like people are singing with a speech impediment. She wasn’t aware I had changed wiring.

About bi-wiring: I was told that even though my amp has outputs for two sets of speakers, if I use both of them to power one set of speakers the power output will change from 80W at 8ohms to 40W at 8ohms. Apparently this would not be good enough for my Wharfedale speakers. Is this incorrect and would it be perfectly acceptable to use both A and B outputs at the same time?
 
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manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Believe me, I’m not someone who thinks speaker wires make a big difference. In fact, I wasn’t expecting any difference whatsoever. I was experimenting.

After reconnecting the old cable and jumpers the excessive sibilance disappeared.

My wife, who isn’t particularly interested in sound, asked why it sounds like people are singing with a speech impediment. She wasn’t aware I had changed wiring.

About bi-wiring: I was told that even though my amp has outputs for two sets of speakers, if I use both of them to power one set of speakers the power output will change from 80W at 8ohms to 40W at 8ohms. Apparently this would not be good enough for my Wharfedale speakers. Is this incorrect and would it be perfectly acceptable to use both A and B outputs at the same time?
I read the CXA81 manual, and it’s not very clear, in fact they don’t mention biwiring at all.

Correspondingly, if you trawl through any FAQs on the Cambridge website they don’t seem to believe in biwiring.
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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There are some amps that connect A and B speaker pairs in series so as not to reduce overall impedance. Bi-wiring using the 4 terminals of such amps would be a very bad idea.

If your amp connects A and B pairs in parallel* (as most do), you can use both pairs of terminals to bi-wire, no problem.

* You know it's parallel if, with pairs A + B selected, your single pair is working.
 
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12th Monkey

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Aug 31, 2015
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I think it’s a bit condescending to say it’s just psychological the difference he’s hearing.
Certainly as it's someone who's only just started posting.

The 'flat earther' term is lazy and cheap too, and I'm not singling anyone out here as it gets used almost as much as 'snake oil'. When I polled on the subject, the majority replied that they felt cabling could sometimes make a difference. Whether we are right or wrong, I suspect that almost all of us understand the merits of vaccination, know the Earth is round, know that we went to the moon, that 9/11 wasn't an inside job etc etc.

There are two ways of being scientifically-minded:

1) To stick to theory, and to resist what you view as being unsubstantiated and contrary to present understanding. This is the anti-cable stance.

2) To accept that scientific understanding is imperfect, and to place significant emphasis on observation. Ideally this would be done on a double blind basis, but then most of us who have experienced differences aren't trying to rewrite the world's understanding, we're just trying to get the best sound for ourselves. There's no burden of proof when you don't care whether someone else accepts what you say.

It's easy to say that this is delusional, and it'd be a brave person who said that their senses were absolutely foolproof, but labelling with 'flat Earth' is just grafting on risible opinions to someone whom you disagree with - it's a straw man argument.

Interestingly, there was a section on hifi in this month's BBC Science Focus magazine. It acknowledges the contentiousness of cabling, but concludes (of analogue cables) 'there is more evidence that cables can have an impact on sound, if you have a system transparent enough.' As the magazine's title suggests, this is not a receptacle for delusion or conspiracy theory.

Back on topic (with apologies for deviating) - glad you found someone else noticed, and that you can get rid of it!
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Certainly as it's someone who's only just started posting.

The 'flat earther' term is lazy and cheap too, and I'm not singling anyone out here as it gets used almost as much as 'snake oil'. When I polled on the subject, the majority replied that they felt cabling could sometimes make a difference. Whether we are right or wrong, I suspect that almost all of us understand the merits of vaccination, know the Earth is round, know that we went to the moon, that 9/11 wasn't an inside job etc etc.

There are two ways of being scientifically-minded:

1) To stick to theory, and to resist what you view as being unsubstantiated and contrary to present understanding. This is the anti-cable stance.

2) To accept that scientific understanding is imperfect, and to place significant emphasis on observation. Ideally this would be done on a double blind basis, but then most of us who have experienced differences aren't trying to rewrite the world's understanding, we're just trying to get the best sound for ourselves. There's no burden of proof when you don't care whether someone else accepts what you say.

It's easy to say that this is delusional, and it'd be a brave person who said that their senses were absolutely foolproof, but labelling with 'flat Earth' is just grafting on risible opinions to someone who you disagree with - it's a straw man argument.

Interestingly, there was a section on hifi in this month's BBC Science Focus magazine. It acknowledges the contentiousness of cabling, but concludes (of analogue cables) 'there is more evidence that cables can have an impact on sound, if you have a system transparent enough.' As the magazine's title suggests, this is not a receptacle for delusion or conspiracy theory.

Back on topic (with apologies for deviating) - glad you found someone else noticed, and that you can get rid of it!
Someone who’s just been posting? I think you’re being a bit condescending to the Op. I don’t disbelieve in A/B testing but often it’s not required to know that something is wrong.

I‘ve had about over a dozen different pieces of Hi-Fi over the last 12 years, and I’m neither here nor there about cabling - but the OP made two significant changes - one of which was an unconventional way of biwiring, and which Cambridge Audio doesn’t really believe in anyway.
 

manicm

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May 1, 2008
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Sorry, maybe I wasn't clear - I was agreeing with you - I meant the OP who was being patronised, not you!
I‘ve just realized that, but I believe you’re still being a bit condescending to the OP. He made two significant changes, which may well have caused the sibilance. I believe what he heard was true.

1. He only biwired on the speaker end. Maybe he could have tried using both sets of terminals on the amp. On the other hand Cambridge Audio doesn’t believe in biwiring.
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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I‘ve just realized that, but I believe you’re still being a bit condescending to the OP. He made two significant changes, which may well have caused the sibilance. I believe what he heard was true.

1. He only biwired on the speaker end. Maybe he could have tried using both sets of terminals on the amp. On the other hand Cambridge Audio doesn’t believe in biwiring.
As an independent referee:
I can vouch for the fact that Monkey wasn't being condescending to anyone - quite the reverse in fact.
Also, to be honest, whether Adam connects to the same or both sets of terminals at the amp end will be irrelevant - he's effectively doing the same thing either way.
And if CA don't recommend bi-wiring it's because it's (arguably) of no benefit.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it if you've got spare terminals and cable - if only to make use of the greater cross-sectional area of conductor on offer.
 

shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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Hi,
If you have connected to the amplifier output A and B connections, then what appens when you deselect the B output ? so the speakers are only powered using the A output.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Gray

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Nov 27, 2015
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Hi,
If you have connected to the amplifier output A and B connections, then what appens when you deselect the B output ? so the speakers are only powered using the A output.

Regards,
Shadders.
I don't think he's used the B terminals yet Shadders.
But if / when he does, he'll be able to disable woofers or tweeters from the front panel - one way of temporarily killing sibilance :).
 
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Romulus

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Nov 21, 2014
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Usually when I read that someone's system brings out sibilance my immediate reaction is the sound is too resolving in a wrong way. After all I have never heard sibilance in live music?
 

Adam W.

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2020
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Thanks to everyone for responding. Don't worry, I only cried a little :)

I understand the topic of cables can be quite controversial.

I will experiment with using both A and B terminals when I have some time. I have some additional 14AWG cable and banana plugs so it's not a big deal.

I will likely stick to using single wire.

Aside from that, could there be a technical/scientific reason why sibilance may have been more prominent using the Canare 4S11 cable and/or bi-wiring in the way I did?
 

abacus

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Sep 24, 2008
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Not unless the cable is damaged or of poor quality, however looking on their website it looks like a quality cable, also the details given on their site prove that it will not make a difference to the sound in your usage situation.
Bill
 

Adam W.

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2020
68
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I found the following information on the Cambridge Audio website:

"What would the power output of the CXA be if I connect two pairs of speakers?

When you connect two pairs of speakers to an amplifier, the combined impedance is actually halved. So, when two pairs of 8Ω (Ohm) speakers are connected, the overall impedance becomes 4Ω, even though the individual impedance for each speaker remains unchanged at 8Ω.

With this in mind, the CXA61 has a power output of 60W RMS per channel into 8 Ohms, increasing to 90W RMS into 4Ω.

This quoted amplifier power rating is per channel. If you attach 2 pairs of 8Ω speakers, the overall impedance halves to 4Ω, so you'll be sending 90W per channel. This is of course then split between the two speakers attached to that channel, sending 45W to each speaker.

For the CXA81 the same as above will apply but as the CXA81 outputs 80W RMS which is increased to 120W at 4Ω. This means you will get 60W for each speaker when two pairs are used with the CXA81."

Does the same apply when connecting both terminals to one set of speakers?
 

Al ears

Moderator
I found the following information on the Cambridge Audio website:

"What would the power output of the CXA be if I connect two pairs of speakers?

When you connect two pairs of speakers to an amplifier, the combined impedance is actually halved. So, when two pairs of 8Ω (Ohm) speakers are connected, the overall impedance becomes 4Ω, even though the individual impedance for each speaker remains unchanged at 8Ω.

With this in mind, the CXA61 has a power output of 60W RMS per channel into 8 Ohms, increasing to 90W RMS into 4Ω.

This quoted amplifier power rating is per channel. If you attach 2 pairs of 8Ω speakers, the overall impedance halves to 4Ω, so you'll be sending 90W per channel. This is of course then split between the two speakers attached to that channel, sending 45W to each speaker.

For the CXA81 the same as above will apply but as the CXA81 outputs 80W RMS which is increased to 120W at 4Ω. This means you will get 60W for each speaker when two pairs are used with the CXA81."

Does the same apply when connecting both terminals to one set of speakers?
So biwiring speakers in this fashion is a waste of performance and money......
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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So it will still output 80W at 8ohms?
Hi,
Yes - still 80watts with one pair of speakers.

You could disconnect 1 set of bananas at the speaker end, so it is 2 bananas at the amplifier end, and 2 bananas connected at the speaker end, to determine if the sibilance has been reduced.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

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