By Lam Seng Fatt
A chain of events led to this post. Someone had posted something about cross connecting speaker terminals on the Hi-Fi Talk group on Facebook and then later, another audiophile had posted about cross-connecting his ATC speakers in the ATC Loudspeakers Club on Facebook. He said it was the best way to connect his speakers and he had also seen the salesman in the hi-fi showroom connecting the ATC speakers that way.
I have read about this tweak before and I know one speaker cable manufacturer that recommended this method of connecting to the speaker terminals.
Feeling inspired, I tried cross connecting the speaker terminals today. My ATC SM50 floorstanders have three sets of terminals for tri-amping or tri-wiring.
For years, I have connected the terminals this way — from bass terminals to mid terminals, I used a pair of Audience jumpers. From the mid terminals to the top terminals, I used thin silver wires to give the often dark-sounding tweeters a bit of sparkle.
I have noticed that if I connect the speaker cables from the power amp to the top terminals, the sound would be a bit bright. Connected to the bottom terminals,, the sound would be bassy. So I connected the speaker cables to the mid terminals for the best tonal balance. I have noticed the same phenomena with PMC speakers that have three sets of terminals too.
Today, I plugged the positive (red) speaker cable to the positive terminal on the top row and the negative (black) speaker cable to the negative terminal on the bottom row. This was according to the scheme that the ATC owner had recommended on Facebook.
It was a simple matter of plugging the speaker cables to the middle terminals (my normal method of termination) and then plugging them in the cross connecting way to compare the sonic differences.
I chose the Dire Straits On Every Street CD and played three songs Fade to Black, The Bug and You And Your Friend several times.
Using my normal method (speaker cables connected to the mid terminals), the sound was a bit laidback and relaxed. Tonally, it was quite balanced.
However, when I cross connected the terminals, there was an immediate pick up in terms of dynamics and speed. The pace seemed faster and I was moved to nod my head with the rhythm, especially with the fast-paced The Bug. The sound was also more forward, but the depth increased and the layering of instruments and singer improved greatly. Also, there was more clarity and the images were better etched out while the tonal balance was still quite neutral.
With such an improvement in sound quality, cross connecting will be the new norm for me.
You too can experiment and it does not cost anything. If your speaker has two sets of terminals for bi-amping/bi-wiring, you just have plug the positive speaker cable to the positive terminal for the tweeter and the negative speaker cable to the negative terminal for the woofer. Remember to keep the jumpers connected.