setting speakers to small or large?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by allan espinoza, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. allan espinoza

    allan espinoza Stunt Coordinator

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    well i just purchased a full line of athena speakers of asf2s for mains with asc1 center and the b2s as surrounds. well, my question is that i have heard that if you are using a sub that you should always set your speakers to small so that your sub can do all the work. is this true? Do i run a higher risk of blowing the speakers set to large? Will all bass be lost in mains if set to small? also, what is an ideal crossover to be set? thanks
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Yes, set your speakers to small if you have a sub. Yes all the bass will be lost to the mains when you do this. That is what you want since the sub is far better at reproducing low frequencies than the mains.

    Try the different crossover settings to see what works best in your room. Depending on your speakers and room you'll find different settings are good.
     
  3. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    This is a repeat of my explanation from an earlier thread:

    Unless your main speakers are truly capable of reproducing very low bass (not many are), most suggest setting the speakers to small. This does three things:

    1) It let's you keep the mains from straining to reproduce bass that they were not meant to handle (not really that critical because most speakers just roll off this bass, meaning it just never gets played).

    2) Allows your sub to handle the frequencies it was made for, freeing up your mains to handle the frequencies they were made for.

    3) Stops your receiver from trying to power the juice robbing low bass frequencies to speakers that cannot handle them. Since your receiver is now shunting all low bass to the sub out, it does not have to send the power for that low bass to the mains. Thus it has more reserve power for the mids and highs.

    Also this:

    The biggest drawback that everyone falls into is the "small" vs. "large" nomenclature. Nobody wants to set their speakers to "small" because it sounds pathetic. We'd much rather set them to "LARGE", cause that's big and macho and "I wouldn't have bought big towering speakers if I thought they would be set to 'small'". Get over it, it means nothing. If need be, get your dose of macho jocksize comparisons from your sub. Better yet, buy an SVS or Hsu tube and receive penis envy galore from all those that own "girly-man square" subs.



    Note - Some still set their speakers to "Large" no matter what the capabilities are and are pleased with the sound. Can't say I agree, but I've not heard their systems and if they like it, it's OK with me. Try it both ways.
     
  4. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    Allan,

    Generally, you will want to set your speakers to "small" since your subwoofer is probably much more capable than your main speakers at reproducing low frequencies.

    The low frequencies of any speakers that are set to "small" in your receivers' settings will be redirected to your subwoofer. The definition of "low frequencies" depends on the crossover, which is often configurable in the receiver. The crossover frequency should be set somewhat higher than your main speakers' rolloff point, but I'll leave it to someone else to say how much higher.



    Actually, the opposite is true. If you set all your speakers to "large", then the only sound coming out of your subwoofer will be the dedicated LFE track (.1) when watching a DVD. Also, any low frequencies that are beyond your main speakers' capabilities will be lost.

    That's why generally, the "small" setting is the way to go.

    --Nathan
     
  5. Max F

    Max F Second Unit

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    I set mine to large because my receiver won't let me select a crossover less than 100 hz, which is unexceptable [​IMG]

    Set your speakers to small and then try a crossover at 80 hz and then 60 hz - see which sounds better to you.
     
  6. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I take exception to that (ha ha ha pun intended). What's so magic about the sounds between 80 and 100Hz and your mains that makes it worth losing everything below 60 for?
     
  7. MikeyWeitz

    MikeyWeitz Supporting Actor

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    I have JBL E80 towers, a Pioneer receiver 811 receiver with 100 HZ being the lowest crossover point and I still set me mains to small 99% of the time. The only time I set them to large is late at night when I DO not want any bas coming out of the sub (live in an Apt).
     
  8. Max F

    Max F Second Unit

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    80-100 hz is arguably directional. I'm the type of guy who would prefer stereo subs, if i had the money. The main thing is that i've tried my system many different ways, and the way i have it sounds much better.

    I'm not loosing anything under 60 hz. I'm not sure what your talking about.
     
  9. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    You are losing all bass that is not LFE that your speakers cannot handle. 60Hz is his estimate, it would really depend on your speakers. If you set your speakers to small, all this bass that is normally sent to the mains, centers, and surrounds is routed to the sub. With it set to "large", any non-LFE bass is sent to the non-LFE channels and if those speakers cannot handle it, it is not heard.
     
  10. allan espinoza

    allan espinoza Stunt Coordinator

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    ok, so I will go ahead and try out different options to see what fits best. Thanks for all the comments.
     
  11. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    Hi Allan,


    I have almost the same setup, AS-F2's at L/R, an F1 at center (one of the blessings of a FP display, a real center [​IMG] ), and AS-R1's in back. I agree with the excellent advice you've received so far; setting everything to "small" and sending all bass to your sub is be the best way to not only ensure that you don't "throw away" any bass that your mains can't handle, but that you get the smoothest room response from a single source of bass.

    The bass capability of your impressive front array is not wasted, though, as they will have much better clean dynamic capability than a set of "bookshelf" speakers and, additionally, their ability to produce bass at and well below the crossover frequency (assuming 80-100Hz) will help lessen your ability to locate the sub by maintaining the receiver's intended slope. I'm currently running an SVS PB10-ISD sub in this room (incredible deal, btw) situated to my left in a rear corner only two feet from my couch and, thanks to the bass from the fronts and the clean output from the sub, I can't locate it aurally.

    I do occasionally set everything to "large", but only with SACD multi-channel music for which I prefer to set my player to "MC direct" mode, bypassing any processing/downsampling of the signal...each channel, including sub, is sent direct as encoded on the disc. The Athena fronts perform spectacularly well in this capacity, their prodigious yet smooth output doing justice to anything I throw at them. In a MC music role, I consider a sub somewhat superfluous given this speaker suite...but don't tell anyone.

    Here's a great article on LFE:

    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...pril-2000.html
     
  12. Max F

    Max F Second Unit

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    When i listen to music my sub also plays everything less than 100 hz (that the way it works with my receiver).

    For HT, my mains start to drop of around 50-60 hz so I'll loose some non-LFE bass there (not sure how much is there anyway with movies). My sub is playing LFE and the bass from center and surrounds. For HT, it would be better to change my speakers to small, but i'm too lazy to get up and change it everytime i watch a movie.

    I do about 70% music 30% movies. The sound of the sub and mains with music is much more important to me. If you do set your speakers to large just don't tell anyone...
     
  13. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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  14. Neil McCaulley

    Neil McCaulley Stunt Coordinator

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    Here is a question for you guys regarding this subject.

    When I first bought my system. I wanted to purchase the floor-standing Infinity 3-way speakers. Turns out, that with everything else I bought that day, (HDTV, Receiver, Pro-Scan DVD Player, 14-Guage Wire, EVERYTHING!) I just did not have the money to buy them. Instead, I have the 2-way bookshelf speakers that came with the Onkyo Home Theater package. Well, with setting the speaker size to SMALL, even when you have a 3-way, floor-standing speaker (which of course has a tweeter, mid-range and woofer), aren't you defeating the whole purpose of owning a good-sized, floor-standing speaker? I mean, why pay the extra dollars for that extra channel in the 3-way (the woofer) if you should not use it in the first place?

    Can someone explain the logic as to why you would not LFEs emitting from the floor models AND the sub? Would this not result in a more immersive LFE environment during movie time?
     
  15. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Very, very few floor standing speakers can handle deep bass like a sub and even if they can, the positioning of them can lead to cancellations due to not being colocated. Since bass is non-directional, having it playing from more speakers causes more problems with cancellations than it adds benefits with "immersive" LFE. Given this premise, see all the answers above.
     
  16. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    Did you read my post?
     
  17. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    As I said above Jack, the biggest hurdle in convincing people to set their speakers to "Small" is getting over the fact they do not have "Large" speakers. All the logic, technology and advice in the world just can't get a guy to admit he has something "Small".[​IMG]
     
  18. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    I still can't face the fact that my subwoofer driver is "underhung".
     
  19. Neil McCaulley

    Neil McCaulley Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for your response. I did not know that bass coming from more than one source could cancel out the noise. Would it be safe to say that the reason 3-way speakers are made in the first place is exclusively for those who do not have a dedicated LFE power subwoofer source? Also, since I do have a powered LFE sub, would there not be any good reason to upgrade over time to a 3-way floor-standing speaker? One more thing, if it did not make sense for me to get a floor-standing 3-way someday, what would be an upgraded 2-way speaker that is of very high quality?
     
  20. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    No, this would result in nulls all over the room cancelling the low frequencies out. In some situations it might sound better, but those would be rare.
     

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