Quick Speaker Tune-Up


Hey Folks, here is is Christmas gift for all of you Audio Nuts like me. We all know that part of the fun is “Hot-Rodding” our system, especially when the  cost is under $5.00. OK, so here goes – this may not apply to all of you but it will to a few.

Most of the speakers made in the last 10-15 years in the $300 and up group are equipped with not just 2 speaker connections, but 4 – Two Red & 2 Black. The reason for this is to allow you the user to connect directly to the Tweeter midrange and bass driver, allowing unshared signal to go to each driver. The true system of operating this design is to have 2 stereo amplifiers, one running bass drivers and one running tweeter midrange. In doing this, you are allowing both series of drivers to have abundant current during peak music signal which will provide a more detailed, flowing sound.

When this design first hit the market – during the 80’s, many receivers and integrated amps offered A & B speaker inputs allowing the connectivity for 2 pairs of loudspeakers. In this scenario, speaker A could be connected to the Tweeter/Midrange while speaker B would be used to feed the Bass. Depending on your amplifier design and the amount of current in the amplifier, this would indeed make a positive difference in the performance of the speaker. The negative of this situation is that when running 2 pairs of speakers, your receiver amplifier could run into “melt-down” as the impedence could dip well below 8 ohms. One way to fix this is to “bi-Wire” the speakers by running a speaker wire that has a stereo pair of wires to connect at the amplifier, but splits off into 4 wires at the speaker end. (It is expensive though)

In most cases, the decision was made to simply run one pair of  good quality speaker wires and leave the speakers with the gold jumpers connecting both sets of speaker inputs and here goes the hint (and it’s a powerful one).

A few years ago, during a move I was the proud owner of a pair of Castle Durhams which had 2 sets of speaker inputs. Somehow, during the move, the jumpers which are typically a single gold strip, came away from one speaker. When I move, the first thing that I do, (after checking the toilet to make sure it works and there is a fresh roll of paper) is to set up my hi-fi. Set up the electronics and speakers and low and behold, one set of connectors was missing. I had just purchased a new roll of good speaker wire and made my own “jumpers” as I knew that the jumper would be somewhere in my audio stuff. We were all happy as we had music to listen to to “help us through the day”. Later that evening when we were relaxing, enjoying a nice sip of Ontario wine (it’s good stuff) I noticed that one of the speakers was a little off. One speaker lacked the detail of another and the spaciousness was less apparent in one side of the room. All factors were taken into consideration, furniture placement, plants etc. and then I simply exchanged speakers (left to right). The imaging was off a bit as castles had a distinctive way of set-up,  however the speaker that was using speaker wire as a jumper was much better. Taking that into consideration, the jumpers on the other speaker were then replaced with the same speaker wire as the one done earlier in the day. Speakers were properly set-up to Castle instructions and I now had a totally different set of speakers. Castle Durhams were good speakers outright but by just doing this small change, the speaker went from Good to Exceptional! Why?

Here is a simple explanation. I’m sure that many of you have experimented with speaker wire and have heard the difference when a system is equipped with a heavier speaker wire. The thicker the wire, the more strands, the more strands, the more information will travel through which means  More Music! The sound is better detailed, bass more refined, the sound has a much greater sound stage – like it really works!!  I’m sure that this sounds a little off, because the gold jumpers look much more impressive as they are usually large, flat, gold connectors. The reality though is the speaker sees only one wire. Using a 79 strand piece of good wire (about 3.25 / ft) you have increased the amount of info to the speaker by a factor of 79. That’s almost 79 times more info! And your cost…. $3.77 or about 2 Euros!

Well gang, that is a second Christmas gift to you. Do me a favour, if you travel frequently to or live in Toronto drop in and see us, coffee is bad but it’s hot, cookies are stale but the conversation is usually good and we have some really excellent used LPs for sale.

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season

gord@allthatjazzhifi.com or www.allthatjazzhifi.com