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My Receiver, Crossover, and SVS Dilemma


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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Cameron Seaman

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Posted April 20 2002 - 03:42 AM

First off, here is a quick list of some of my equipment that will come into question in this post.
  • Sony STR-DA30ES Receiver
  • A pair of Infinity RS-5s used as fronts
  • 8" Atlantic Technology 162PBM Subwoofer :b
The first issue is with the receiver. Anyone with a 30ES or 50ES may be able to explain this a little better for me.

The main problem is the Sony 30ES Receiver has a fixed crossover. I cannot tell what it is set at, but in the past I was told that it was around 100Hz when speakers are set to "Large" and a little higher (125Hz-150Hz?) when set to "Small". This of course only refers to any situation when the receiver is not working with Dolby Digital. When DD is engaged, NO bass is sent to the Sub when speakers are set to Large while some bass is sent to the sub when speakers are set to Small. (For those with similar Sony receivers, this bass management is indicated when the "S.WOOFER" light is on.) There are some RARE occasions (I can only think of the AVIA subwoofer calibration chapters right now) where the receiver will be decoding Dolby Digital, have speakers set to "Large",and also have low bass sent to the subwoofer (S.WOOFER light ON).

Normally, and what I have found to sound the best,is to set my mains (RS-5s) to "Large" and my center and rears to "Small". Now, when I listen to music or watch movies in 2 Channel stereo or Dolby Pro-Logic, this setup works OK. The receiver still sends low bass info to my sub. Although I would prefer a lower crossover, like, say 80 Hz, this is acceptable.

It's a entirely different story when running Dolby Digital. With my preferred setup described above, the only low bass that gets sent to the sub is the LFE. Now I know I have towers, but IMO, they are in no way full-range speakers. I'd like to route the low bass to the sub, just like when using 2-channel and Pro-Logic. The only other option is to switch the mains to "Small" (which I used to do) but this option just sends TOO MUCH bass to the little subwoofer. When this option, it just seems like the AT 162PBM is working overtime and then some. So my decision has been to just leave the mains set to "Large" until I can upgrade my equipment.

Which is now what I am thinking of doing. I's like to buy an SVS. A 20-39 PCi to be exact. I know these are massive subs and will be an ENTIRELY different experience from an 8" sub. If I get an SVS, I'd like to be able to switch my mains to "Small" so I can get that low bass off the mains and to the sub. But, with my current problems with my crossover situation above, will I be asking too much from the SVS? With the fixed crossover of the Sony, it would be similar to having satellite speakers (which I don't). If the SVS can handle it (I'm sure it can), would I be hindering the performance of the 20-39 PCi in any way?

The ideal situation, for me, would to be able to crossover at about 80Hz. Is there anything on the market that would allow me to bypass the Sony Receiver's settings until I can also upgrade the receiver? Would Outlaw's ICBM work?

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Harold_C

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Posted April 20 2002 - 04:10 AM

I don't believe that Sony could get a Dolby license for the receiver if the bass management worked as you described.

I would set everything to SMALL, put the subwoower ON (not BOTH, or FULL, or MIX or any other term that implies the subwoofer and the front speakers are both reproducing the same bass).

If the sub is too loud with all the bass redirected to it, turn the sub down.

If you use AVIA to calibrate the subwoofer to the same SPL as the the other channels using the Radio Shack meter, you probably have somewhere around 4 dB of overall bass boost in the subwoofer levels due to the Radio Shack's C-weighting curves. Dolby recommends setting subwoofer levels with pink noise and a Real Time Analyzer. They further recommend that, if you use the SPL meter for setting the sub levels, you find where the sub matches the other speakers on the meter and then turn the sub down 4-5 dB as a rough estimate.

The problem is tha the Radio Shack SPL meter displays a lower SPL in the bass than is actually there. This is not a problem for measuring the main speakers, because the pink noise is bandwidth limited (usually to something like 500 to 2000 Hz.) However, this is problem because the pink noise signal played by the subwoofer is ALL bass and the weighting curve of the meter significantly affects the reading. Thus, if you are showing 85 dB on the meter, you are actually getting 89 db of bass output, depending on the frequency.

In some rooms and some subwoofer locations, this 4 dB boost may sound really good (for example, in a room that doesn't have a big 80 Hz resonance peak). However, in many rooms, this extra boost is too much.

In my room (with all SMALL speakers), I would say that Dolby's advice of dropping the sub level 3 to 4 dB below what the Radio Shack meter indicates with pink noise works pretty well for both music and movies. The bass isn't as in your face, but it is still very substantial when the recording calls for it. The sub tends to blend more seamlessly with the mains.

It's impossible to give you an exact subwoofer setting, because it is going to depend on the particular freq response curve of your subwoofer and room. Start with your Avia measured setting and then play around with reducing the sub level 2 to 5 dB.

#3 of 11 OFFLINE   LarrySkelly

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Posted April 20 2002 - 06:08 PM

Cameron: here is an older post of mine that might be of interest. I'm using an external cross-over, as follows:

Equipment:
Marantz SR8000, fixed x-over frequency at 100 hz
Subs: SVS 16-46CS x 2 with Samson 700
Crossover: paradign: X-30

Here is how I have it set up:

Marantx SR8000
- Sub='no'
- Front='large'
- Rear='small' (as I don't want to damage them, they're old B&W bookshelf's. If they were designed for HT, or a bit less 'delicate', I'd probably set rear to 'large'.

X-30 is a continuously variable crossover. You set the x-over frequency, phase, and gain (signal level). It has left/right inputs, which it blends into a mono signal for a sub. It routes all content below the x-over frequence to the sub, all content above the x-over frequency to a pair of high-pass out outputs, intended to be fed back into the receiver.

- Front's are driven right off the receiver speaker outputs as per usual
- Rears are driven off the receiver speaker outputs as per usual
- The X-30 is connected to the receiver's front/left pre-amp out. Since sub ='no' the LFE content is routed out the front's, to the X-30. The X-30 routes the content below the x-over frequency to the Samson amp driving the subs. Note that this means the receiver is routing the same signal out the front speaker outputs and out the front pre-amp out output.

Why did I do it this way? I wanted to use the subs to fill in some of the lower frequency for music, AND I wanted to use Source Direct mode. In source direct mode the receiver disables bass management completely, to get the purest signal, and the sub out is disabled. Once you hear it, you won't listen to music any other way, there is a very large improvement in the quality of the sound in source direct.

If I didn't use source direct I might still use the X-30. In my opinion the fixed 100hz x-over frequency sucks, you really don't want to be sending all that content to the Samson and the subs unless you have front's that need help in that area. I know the guys at SVS will say to set sub='yes' and front='small', so that you offload as much bass as possible from the receiver and front's, but I found the 100hz to be way too high.

So my subs and front's have an overlapping signal. Normally one would route the high-pass out signal from the X-30 to the receiver's left/right amplifer in, but I don't want anything to colour the signal going to the M-L's, especially for music, so I drive them directly off the receiver as per usual, and set the sub cross-over frequency pretty low so that they pick up the frequency where the M-L's start to drop off, minimizing the overlap. I usually have it set between 40-50 hz, so the sub level ramps up below there to fill in where the M-L's fall off.

There are better crossovers out there (e.g. Behringer), but I did not see any at local dealers. But I got a good price on the X-30 ($150 Cdn) and so far it seems to be fine. Really I'm just using it to control the cut-off for the subs.

Larry
Upgrading: 'What if this is as good as it gets?'

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Barry Barnes

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Posted April 21 2002 - 04:52 PM

Quote:
The main problem is the Sony 30ES Receiver has a fixed crossover. I cannot tell what it is set at, but in the past I was told that it was around 100Hz when speakers are set to "Large" and a little higher (125Hz-150Hz?) when set to "Small". This of course only refers to any situation when the receiver is not working with Dolby Digital. When DD is engaged, NO bass is sent to the Sub when speakers are set to Large while some bass is sent to the sub when speakers are set to Small.


There seems to be alot of misinformation going around about these receivers. It's partly Sonys fault for not including anything about bass management in the manuals for these models...

At any rate, the Sony DA30ES and DA50ES cross over the subs at 100 Hz when the Speakers are set to small. If you set all speakers to small (as you should if you own a decent subwoofer) it will send ALL the bass below 100 Hz from all those channels to your subwoofer, including LFE.

When the speakers are set to Large it sends full range to the those speakers and doesn't cross them over at all. In this situation the Bass that comes from the Sub would be LFE ONLY and the bass intended for the speakers that are set to large would be sent to those speakers. Hope this clears things up as to how your receivers bass management works.

As to your question about the SVS subs, they will work as per normal with your receiver. You would simply run a coax RCA cable from your receivers subwoofer "out" to the sub and bypass the crossover that is built into it, or turn it's xover frequency as high as possible if a bypass switch is not an option.

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Harold_C

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Posted April 21 2002 - 05:17 PM

Quote:
At any rate, the Sony DA30ES and DA50ES cross over the subs at 100 Hz when the Speakers are set to small. If you set all speakers to small (as you should if you own a decent subwoofer) it will send ALL the bass below 100 Hz from all those channels to your subwoofer, including LFE.


That is exactly the way a Dolby Digital processor should work and, as far as I know, the way all of them do work!

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Tom Vodhanel

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Posted April 21 2002 - 05:29 PM

Barry,

so when do we get some feedback on the hsu/svs comparison? You have the single 20-39cs with your own amp right...about 200w?. I'm wondering if the 39cs can stay close to the biggest hsu in your room? From what I've heard from one or two other vtf-3 owners...it is a really powerful woof!


TV

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Barry Barnes

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Posted April 21 2002 - 10:01 PM

Quote:
Originally posted by Tom Vodhanel
so when do we get some feedback on the hsu/svs comparison? You have the single 20-39cs with your own amp right...about 200w?. I'm wondering if the 39cs can stay close to the biggest hsu in your room? From what I've heard from one or two other vtf-3 owners...it is a really powerful woof!

Yes. It IS a powerful woof! While it edged out my SVS in a couple of areas, the SVS kept up VERY well, especially considering the price difference. I know you have alot of respect for Dr. Hsu as I see you recommend his products all the time to the "box crowd". I'd have to say he really did another good job with this one. It's a very powerful and very musical sub.

I planned to write a more thorough review on the VTF-3 by now, but I was hoping to get my hands on some lower test tones. The AVIA disc we were using only goes down to 20 Hz and it easily surpasses that. A fellow forum member may come by with his Stryke Disc next week and then we can really see how "low can it go".

My initial impressions are that this thing goes VERY low... It also throws down some incredible bass that is visceral as the huge wave just rolls across the house. During our initial viewing of the "ice crystal scene" in Titan AE we cranked it up and everyone just started laughing and shaking their heads and going "Oh My God!". Posted Image

It just gets impossibly deep and loud with zero audible distortion. One of my buddies dubbed the VTF-3 "the bottomless pit" because it just kept getting lower and lower and seemed impossible to "bottom". It would be impossible for me to say if it gets any "louder" than my SVS, because they both go much louder in my room than anyone was able to stand. In other words we all cried uncle before either of the subs did... They are both insane woofers and both you guys should be proud. Posted Image

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Cameron Seaman

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Posted April 22 2002 - 01:22 AM

Quote:
At any rate, the Sony DA30ES and DA50ES cross over the subs at 100 Hz when the Speakers are set to small. If you set all speakers to small (as you should if you own a decent subwoofer) it will send ALL the bass below 100 Hz from all those channels to your subwoofer, including LFE.


Thanks for the clarification Barry. It's hard to tell what exactly is going on when the receiver doesn't tell you and makes you guess! From what I hear the newer ES models are much better when it comes to adjusting bass management.

The confusion for me comes in the difference of handling bass in other sound formats.

Quote:
When the speakers are set to Large it sends full range to the those speakers and doesn't cross them over at all. In this situation the Bass that comes from the Sub would be LFE ONLY and the bass intended for the speakers that are set to large would be sent to those speakers. Hope this clears things up as to how your receivers bass management works.


That's exactly right, but when using anything else other than DD, the bass management works a little diferently. For example, if I listen to a CD in 2-channel mode, and the speakers are set to LARGE, the receiver does, in fact, send some bass to the subwoofer. If set to small it sends a greater amount of bass to the sub. I could be wrong, but this sounds like 2 different crossovers to me.

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Tom Vodhanel

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Posted April 22 2002 - 02:48 AM

That's pretty much the feedback I've heard too,

It might be ego...but I would like to think the good doktor looks at SVS and goes..."Ok, let's see how they like THIS" And then we see killer feedback on the vtf-3 and we go "OK,let's give him one of THESE"...

Nothing pushes the performance envelope like healthy competition(which can only benefit the HT enthusiast Posted Image ).


TV

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Barry Barnes

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Posted April 22 2002 - 04:24 AM

Quote:
That's pretty much the feedback I've heard too,

It might be ego...but I would like to think the good doktor looks at SVS and goes..."Ok, let's see how they like THIS" And then we see killer feedback on the vtf-3 and we go "OK,let's give him one of THESE"...

Nothing pushes the performance envelope like healthy competition(which can only benefit the HT enthusiast ).


TV



Posted Image LOL. I was thinking the same thing. I think he went straight after you guys. I will admit I was a bit hesitant to report my findings but your attitude is wonderful Tom, you guys are amazing and I agree with your assessment on competition. Your company and Dr. Hsu are doing more to push the Subwoofer value/performance ratio than any other products on the market. Posted Image

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   SVS-Ron

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Posted April 22 2002 - 06:26 AM

Barry,

As Tom said, thanks for the update. We were just about to send you a note reminding you we'd agreed to extend your trial a bit since the VTF-3 was inbound last we'd heard.

I can't recall which amp you are using to power the 20-39CS. A spare amp channel you had I think (don't have my database up at this location, it wasn't a Samson I don't believe)? As you noted on price, and the fact the CS is a passive sub (at least somewhat dependent on the type power behind it), your comparison should be helpful for any folks in a similar situation. We HATE it when we hear about perfectly good amp channels in a home theater going to waste! Just that fact practically gave birth to the entire CS line. Nothing warms out hearts more than finding out what had been a "useless" amp (or at least a channel of one) is now being put to good use.

Still, done again we might insist you take a 20-39PCi (about $200 under the list price of the Hsu if I recall right, don't know what you got it for though?) to allow an easier, "like", test for you. As Tom said though, just being in the same room, with what has GOT to be a very good sub from Hsu, is good enough for us. I think everyone knows the "take that" Tom alluded to from SVS will probably end up being the PC-Plus line due out in June from us. Is there any doubt the consumer is the ultimate benefactor when the web allows for such a free exchange of ideas and comments (both good and bad)?

Needless to say, based on our agreement to give you time with both it's still not too late to have us pick up the SVS if you and/or the Mrs. decide the 20-39CS didn't quite "get it" in all the important areas for you.

Fire us an e-mail if you want to take any other actions in this regard. Every time we go into the ring with a respected opponent in this business (be it in the room of a "regular" customer, or a pro reviewer) we take all comments seriously. The fact your feelings are based on actual experience with two key products in this market means one heck of alot more than some of the "Monday morning quarterbacks" that sometimes discuss our gear (or any gear for that matter)... with little or even no experience with it. Despite our reputation for getting a bit testy when folks that have not seen, much less heard an SVS, start to comment on them, experiences like yours are considered gold inside SVS.

Again, thanks for the feedback.


Ron


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