Large vs Small speaker settings on Onkyo 797

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jay Sylvester, Mar 12, 2002.

  1. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2002
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's my setup:
    Onkyo 797
    Polk all the way around (front L/R: RT800i, front/rear center: CS400i, surrounds: f/x500i, sub: PSW350)
    The sub is connected via the LFE RCA output.
    The primary use for this system is home theater with occasional CD listening. I've heard that all speakers should be set to "small," but since all of my speakers can produce full-range sound, wouldn't setting them to small cut off certain frequencies? I would think that since DD/DTS soundtracks offer discrete full-range channels, a person would want all speakers set to "large" to get the maximum effect. Or am I mistaken in the purpose of the large/small setting?
    I'm a little confused on this issue, so some help would be appreciated. Maybe this belongs in the speaker forum, I don't know.
    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    Actually, NONE of the speakers you mentioned can reproduce full range sound. Each of them has a low frequency cutoff. Your mains do not reach below 40Hz, so you would do fine to set them small or large. If you set them to small, then there was no real reason to go with a floor standing speaker. The FX go to 50Hz, again not full range. Even your sub only goes to 38Hz, which is not much lower than your mains.

    Since you do mostly HT listening, you would be served better by a better sub and setting all your speakers to small, IMO.
     
  3. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2002
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    I guess I assumed a looser definition of "full range." I didn't realize that to be considered full-range a speaker had to cover the entire audible spectrum, just most (or almost all) of it.

    I originally purchased the front pair last winter at a price I couldn't refuse. The rest of the setup was added later to complete the package.

    So if I set the speakers to small, where exactly does it cut off?
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I didn't mean it to be so black and white, but your mains probably do come close enough to full range for music, and most likely music will sound better without the sub.

    Unfortunately, I am not familiar with where the 797 does it's crossover, but it is likely either 100Hz or 80Hz or adjustable. Since your mains roll off at 42, and the sub is 38, so frequency wise, there is less of a benefit anyway. You will, however benefit from freeing up some power for the receiver by setting the 800s to small so that the lower frequencies are routed to the sub, letting it's amp handle the hard work.

    I think your best bet would be to set the 800s to large, sub=yes, and the rest small. This should work for both HT and music. I normally run my mains (Paradigm Mini monitors) as large for music because they sound better with full range sent to them for that, and small for movies.
     
  5. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2002
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    So even though all the channels in DD/DTS are discrete, if I set the surround speakers to small the low frequencies will be re-routed to the sub by the receiver along with the LFE channel?
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    Yes. Bass is more or less omnidirectional. Proper placement and calibration should make it so that you cannot place the location of the sub or rather, where the low frequencies are coming from, within the room. Give it a shot. You may find that you do or don't like it that way. Do what sounds best to your ears.
     
  7. Duncan Barth

    Duncan Barth Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2000
    Messages:
    60
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've got a 797, so I figured I'd chime in with my $0.02.

    The crossover is set at 80Hz, when speakers are set to 'small,' with the remainder sent to the sub.

    The best setting for you? Well, I recommend just playing with it, and seeing what you like better.

    I've got Paradigm Studio/20s as my front speakers, which go down to 50Hz or so. For HT, I've got the speakers set to 'small.'

    For serious music listening, I like the sound better with the speakers set to 'large' and the sub off. (My sub doesn't blend in as smoothly as I'd like with the mains; and I'll trade bass extention for accuracy in music any day)
     
  8. Jeff Keene

    Jeff Keene Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2000
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    0
    The best advice I was ever given was, "Buy a better sub".

    Most "full range" speakers aren't. That is, they are not flat down to 20 hz or less and do not give you the entire musical (or moviecal) picture.

    I have read several times (and my experiments support) that a crossover should be set about 1 octave above the lower limit (at +/- 2-3 db) of the speaker in question. The frequency doubles with each octave, so if your mains are rated at 40hz, I suggest starting with a 80hz crossover. The reason is that a decent crossover is not a brick wall, but a blending point and the blending (nice and technical, eh?) occurs over an approximate octave.

    I disagree respectfully, but wholeheartedly with the statement, "If you set them to small, then there was no real reason to go with a floor standing speaker." People who follow this advise tend to buy satellite speakers rated down to 80, thinking that they are covered with a standard THX crossover. In truth, even with a great sub, there will be a "hole" right around that crossover where you will simply not get all the dbs you need to ensure a flat response.

    I'll come back to "get a better sub". The point of all of this rambling is moot if your sub only goes down to 38hz. While I agree with John that there is a benefit in "taking the load off your mains", it still won't do much toward the goal of flat response / full range. A good sub (I love my SVS) will take you from a bit above the crossover down through the lower bass without dropping the ball. A good sub such as the SVS will also be musical enough to "sound right" when listening to good music. A cheaper, boomier sub will "sound wrong" and would be worse to my ears than the roll-off you would hear with the sub turned off.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 1999
    Messages:
    11,571
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    NorCal
    Real Name:
    John
    I didn't get into that much detail, but I agree with Jeff. My mains roll off around 50hz, my x-over is 100Hz - fixed on my receiver. Sub is set to it's max x-over (~150hz) because the receiver is only sending 100Hz and below, with a portion of the octave above, as Jeff said. I don't know what the slope is on the receiver, but I get a good blend.

    I ALWAYS recommend getting mains that do AT LEAST 60Hz or lower, regardless of x-over point and preferably at least a 6-1/2" driver. I can't stand small speakers that only cover down to 80-100Hz, often with 4" or smaller drivers. Yes, they can handle the power, but they aren't convincing for music and they make the sub do more than it really needs to, IMO.

    My point with there being less need for floorstanders, is that one can often find similar bookshelf speakers that cost less and will cover to the 50-60Hz range. Not too many that will go down to the 40Hz and below (with a 6-1/2" driver) but there are some.

    A good sub goes a long way too. Have not ordered my 20-39 yet, due to unforseeable circumstances (bad car accident) but it is very close.
     
  10. Jeff Keene

    Jeff Keene Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2000
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cool. Yeah, I'm not all that familiar with many bookshelf speakers. The ones in particular I was thinking of are the B&W 805's which made my short list last fall. They were rated to 80hz, and my pre/pro at the time had a hard 80 hz crossover, so I was worried. I ended up going with Thiel 2.3's, which are rated down to 37hz. It was emotionally difficult to set them as "small" speakers after spending > $3k for each floor-standing pair, but it turns out that I like this better than large, no sub (even for music). The subs (a pair of SVS Ultras) take over nicely from there, and I'm loving life.

    I'm on the list for an Outlaw 950, which will allow me to set the center crossover at 100 (my center is rated to 50). I'm interested to see if I notice a difference, and whether I'll like it. I've noticed no problem with the center currently set at 80.

    When the phantom 950 appears, I'll also try setting the main crossover down to 60hz, to see how that sounds.

    So, I guess to the original poster, the answer to the question, from my point of view, is that you should set the mains to small, and get yourself a nice SVS sub (Duncan says the receiver in question has a 80hz crossover, which seems right for your mains).

    I had some rather inexpensive Klipshes (Klipsh's?) before the Thiels, and the SVS's almost made me think I didn't need new speaks anymore (though the funding had already passed committee, so...). The sub I had before I took the SVS plunge was an Infinity 250. While I thought it was going low and sounded loud, it was causing a "muddy" upper bass sound that I was blaming the Klipshes for. It sounds to me that your sub might be your weakest link. (Sorry, I truly do strive to give advice that doesn't involve spending $$$)
     
  11. Jeff Keene

    Jeff Keene Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2000
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jay -

    Another thought. To make any of this relevant, you'll need to set your sub and speakers all to the same level, using test tones (preferably from a source disc like Video Essentials, which can be rented) and an SPL meter, to make the "small" + sub combo sound right at all.
     
  12. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2002
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for all of the great advice everyone.
    I purchased my sub before I found this forum, otherwise I would've gone with an SVS, which everyone seems to rave about. Having spent what I did on my current sub, I suppose I'll stick with it for a while until my budget allows for an upgrade. I hope the prices of the SVS subs stay as reasonable as they are now. I'd post it in the selling forum, but with everyone here being so knowledgeable, I doubt I'd get anywhere near what I paid for it. I guess I could try selling it on ebay; I'd probably get full retail [​IMG]
    I did purchase an SPL meter, Avia, Video Essentials, and the new one from the Avia folks (the name escapes me now). I did a quick calibration of the speaker levels, and was surprised at how much improvement I heard in sound localization. Now that all of the speakers are equal, sounds seem to be coming from their appropriate locations in the soundstage, rather than just happening "somewhere back there." I lent the discs and meter to a friend at work so he could go through the whole calibration process with his setup. When I get them back I'll finish with the sound portion, but I'm holding off on the video stuff until I get the replacement for my wacked out Wega.
    It also sucks that I can't really push my system to see what it can really do (I live in an apartment building). Oddly, my home theater might be the thing that finally gets me to grow up and buy a house.
     

Share This Page