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Should you really set your floorstanding speakers to large? (1 Viewer)

Emile

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I was watching the Avia guide to home theater and I noticed that when they talked about speaker settings they recommended that you usually should set your speaker settings to small even if you have floorstanding speakers. They recommended this because they said that 8inch woofers or less were technically not considered large, that large referred to woofers that were 10inch or +. My speakers have two 8-inch woofers in them so I was wondering how I should set these speakers. Do people here (for those with floorstanding)like to set their speakers to large or small, and what do you think about the above mentioned? Thanks for any comments.
 

Greg_R

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If you have a decent subwoofer you should set them to small. Reasons:
- Having multiple sources of low bass in the room can create a lot of peaks and nulls in the response, creating a setup nightmare
- Your main amps don't have to drive the low frequencies. This frees up a lot of power for the mains, resulting in better dynamics, greater headroom, lower distortion at higher SPL, etc., etc.
- Subwoofer can be optimally placed for low bass reproduction, main speakers cannot (w/o compromising imaging and soundstage)
- Subwoofer is better at reproducing low bass (driver, enclosure size, amp power, etc.) vs. a tower speaker.
 

Dan Joy

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OMG.... Please do a search on this subject as it has been discussed to ......
 

Charles Gurganus

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Greg, generalizations never work for all setups. I use Avia tone sweeps and I get good bass down to about 25hz using my NHT VT2 speakers run as large. Of course I biamp those puppies with 2 200 wpc amps. :D That is what the Avia tone sweeps are for. To see how different speaker setup options work out. The only sub I now use is to high pass my center speaker so I am able to run my 5 speakers as large with no sub set options. That does make BM for SACD/DVD audio a mute point.
 

Jim_C

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I ran my mains as Small for over two years. Over time I realized I wasn't happy with the way they sounded. I experimented with setting them to Large and I'm never going back. They sound SO much better.

I know it goes against conventional wisdom, most of which I wholeheartedly agree with. However, the most important thing in any setup is how it sounds to the owners ears. After two years of Small I've decided Large is the way to go.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that my Forte II's have a 12" woofer and a 15" passive radiator. They go down to 32hz with authority.

Every other speaker is set to small to let the SVS handle the bass.


Another thing I've found important to do is make sure you've got the phase between the mains and the sub correct. It made a huge difference in my system.

BTW, Dan's right, you should really do a search for this subject.
 

ChrisWiggles

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Just set em to small. The only people that should be setting them large have RIDICULOUS speakers, I.E full towers AND subwoofer towers, with the massive amps to power them, that would easily beat the crap out of many so-called 'subwoofers,' and keep even pace or better with an SVS. This argument has been hashed out, and there are those instances where some people should set them large, but unless your speakers can put out SERIOUS amounts of bass, or you have a pathetic sub in comparison, send the bass to the sub. It usually sounds much better, and the amps are far less stressed.
 

Brett DiMichele

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I am running AR9 mains Bi Amped with 100 Watts going to the
M-T-M and 500 watts going to the dual 10" Bass Reflex Subs.

How do you think I run them? :)

32Hz is the tuning FR of the 10's and they hit it with
absolute authority and they do dip down into the mid 20's
with "reasonable" output (Read: No they are not an SVS...)
But the output is more than adequate for what they are.

But I also plan on adding a standalone sub, in fact I have
everything I need to build the sub I have just been seriously
procrastinating..

If you have mains that you *know* can hit into the 30's
with 100Db or more of output and sound clean to your ears
then I see no point in running them small, that is completely
wasting thier design intentions.
 

Jorge UF

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I used to have the Klipsch RF3's which had 8" woofers and I found that setting them to small was definetely the best way to have them. The bass on them was not able to keep up with the svs, so the bass wasn't as smooth as I wanted. I recently upgraded to the Klipsch RF7's and they sound better when I have them set to large. I have the bass coming out of both the svs and the mains. The 10" woofers on them blend very nicely with the svs. It seems to just sound fuller when I have them set to large. So experiment with yours.
 

Doug_B

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The "sounds better" argument is fine, but it makes sense to at least arm oneself with measurements of bass response in one's room. If you have a sub already, try measurements of both setups. Also be conscious of the fact that with a small expenditure, one can equalize the bass response (or at least get better) with the sub option. In some cases, the mains may happen to have separate inputs for the bass, so equalization may be possible there as well. If after trying both setups, mains as large sound better, go for it. Besides, everyone doesn't have the same listening preferences.

If you have mains that you *know* can hit into the 30's with 100Db or more of output and sound clean to your ears then I see no point in running them small, that is completely wasting their design intentions.
This really highlights a key point. If shopping for new speakers, I recommend selection based on the speakers' mid and high freq performance, and relegating low freq output to a separate sub, which can be positioned with more freedom and can typically be equalized. If you get such speakers that also have good low freq response and have the $, then you have more options with which to experiment.

Note that if you listen to analog sources (e.g., prefer analog outputs), you may have less options for bass mgmt, assuming you don't want the signal going through A/D and D/A conversions. It can be more limiting if your system is doing double-duty with HT, which may further constrain your sub configuration relative to your mains and controller. Outboard crossovers may be a reasonable solution here. In my case, I use an ICBM between my controller and amps for all my music sources.

Doug
 

AllenLC

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Now this is suggested to me for my specific equipment but the principle is something to ponder. I am no expert and do not want to get between my Audio experts and the AVAI engineers opinions but when I went to ALL large, I too will never go back. I think it is not the dimentions that matter, but capabilities of the equipment. I own Dahlquists and speakers and Onkyo Receiver & DVD. See gear in header.

The bass is quite remarkable on the QX6 and my preference would be to run them as large. Do try them both large and small though to see what you prefer. The advantage of running them as large keeps all the channels discrete and gives the best overall clarity. The advantage of running them as small is that it eases the work load on the Onkyo receiver; the bass frequencies would be re-routed to the subwoofer output so the Onkyo has an easier workload of just having to reproduce the mids and highs and the heavy duty bass work is done by the amplifier in the subwoofer. My opinion though is that just muddles the subwoofer up by having to try and reproduce more information than it has to. I think your Onkyo has plenty enough horsepower to run them as large.
Regards,
Marc
 

ChrisWiggles

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Well, this statement is a feeling I'm sure most people have, but you have to do what sounds and works best, regardless of what your sub/speakers/component X is designed for. For instance, I have an SVS, and since the theater side of things is still a little ways off yet, I only use it for music. As such, I have it blended in with my speakers, with volume at about 1/4 or less, and crossed over low. Am I taking full advantage of my SVS? No. Not even close. But it's blended in right, and sounds great. As much as I feel i wanna "take advantage" of it's bass capabilities and blow out my hearing, that would totally ruin the music. I don't want the floors shaking every time clapton taps his foot, or when someone hits a triangle.

For most cases, unless your speakers keep AT LEAST even pace with your subwoofer, set them to small for movies. For music of course, I'd not do the A/D-D/A conversion, and run them full, and then blend the sub in a little for those lowest octaves, which if you have good floorstanders, may not be a whole lot, but that's what works best. If you have a sub running with your mains as well as a separate sub, then obviously I can see setting them to large, but even if you have powered towers (towers with built-in powered woofers) it may be best still to set them to small, simply because you have more flexibility with properly placing your sub instead of having the bass tied in with the mains that are placed for a slightly different purpose, and you can also get some crazy nulls and cancellations going on.

YOu have to realize that a lot of the bass you hear when everything is set to small is coming from the main channels, not the LFE track. If your mains can't put out some serious bass down low in the 20s and 30s, you could very easily be losing a lot of that simply because an otherwise amazing speaker can't really be expected to handle THAT kind of bass well, if at all. Try a variety of things, but I think most people will find that setting everything to small is simpler, easier on all the equipment involved, and better sounding. A regular receiver trying to push all that bass can be very taxing, and even witht he powered towers scenario chances are it'll still sound better set small. Of course, all of this assumes that one has a sub that is a good performer. If you're pairing a computer sub with towers, then I guess my advice has no merit, but for most cases people have good subs. At least around here anyway.
 

Cees Alons

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If you have mains that you *know* can hit into the 30's with 100Db or more of output and sound clean to your ears then I see no point in running them small, that is completely wasting their design intentions.
I do not agree with that:

(1) Manufacturers generally give the frequency response measured at 1 Watt, or so, and at 0 degrees Celsius. As soon as the speaker has to produce more Watts (and when the coil gets warmer), it won't be able to maintain that performance.
The subwoofer can!

(2) The frequency curve as given is already -3db down at the ends.

(3) 30Hz isn't enough for proper bass performance - classical music or HT, it doesn't matter.

(4) When you set your mains to "small", lets say using a cross-over frequency of 80Hz, that doesn't mean they won't see any frequencies below that. In fact, I generally recommend good speakers that can go as low as 40Hz or 30Hz to make sure nothing is lost there (depending on the type of low-off filter, the performance at 80Hz is -3db or -6db, meaning that at 40Hz it's still -9db to -15db. It's not much, perhaps, but it's not zero either). And it's more between 40Hz and 80Hz, of course!

(5) Higher frequencies "riding" on lower frequencies (if the mains have no woofer) can cause the "doppler-effect" distortion (higher frequencies produced by a cone that's facing the listener moving forward and backward). Better have them produced by a separate woofer cone - or a separate subwoofer!

Cees
 

Michael R Price

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Brett, do you really think the 10's in the AR9s are better than an AV12? Finish the subwoofer and tell us what you think. :)

I was going to post a little explanation of why setting to large can help avoid subwoofer response problems and is still a compromise from optimum performance, but somehow I lost it. Suffice it to say that a) your subwoofer can most likely produce better bass than any of your other speakers and b) reducing the load on your speakers will make them sound better regardless of their design intentions.
 

Brett DiMichele

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Mike,

No I don't think they are *better* but I do think they are
pretty damned good and Tom N's testing only proved what I
already knew.

The 10's in the AR9's are no slouches for music.. Sure
they are never going to hit 20Hz at 100 or more decibels
of output but for music how low do you honestly need? Aside
from the largest of pipe organs what else hits 20 or even
25Hz?

I see absolutely nothing wrong with the way I run my mains
(large) having 75-80Db of output at 25Hz is plenty enough
for me and nothing is overpowering anything.

The AV-12 on the other hand will outperform them and it
will be far more musical in a sealed enclosure than the
dual 10's in bass reflex will ever be.. But considering
they are good 10's they hit fast and solid.. Bass Drum
sounds just as it should.. Why do you think I haven't been
in a mad rush to build a stand alone sub?

I am actually doing dual AV-12's that will sit below line
array's.. I decided that I just want a music only system
and forget this integration crap for 2 channel and home
theater.. The 9's will stay for movies but the AV-12's
are going to be used with B-G Ribbons and MCM Carbon Fiber
5.25's in line array as soon as Jon Marsh gets his Modula
IV design finished.

Cees,

The 9's use a side firing subwoofer it's not a woofer it is
a true sub in every sense of the word.. there is no HF
riding on lower frequencies and the Mids are completely in
thier own chamber sealed from the sub..

I stand by what I said fully because "for me" it's the
right setup.
 

Michael R Price

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"I decided that I just want a music only system
and forget this integration crap for 2 channel and home
theater..."

Good idea Brett. But, I think you'll want to use a subwoofer for movies too. I'm happy enough with my towers for music... I don't even have a sub! (I just wish I did. At this point my time/money is better spent on other things.) BTW, I envy your even *planning* a BG-based line array. :)
 

Cees Alons

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The 9's use a side firing subwoofer it's not a woofer it is a true sub in every sense of the word.. there is no HF riding on lower frequencies and the Mids are completely in their own chamber sealed from the sub..
Well, they've done that right :emoji_thumbsup: . That's the proper way to do it! And of course, it takes care of that part of my remarks.

Cees
 

Mat_M

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My 2 cents: A lot of it has to do with the quality of your sub as well as how much power you have to your mains, plus the performance capabilities of the mains. In my case, I have a piece of crap Infinity sub that has a 100W plate amp. My mains have 12" woofers and I power them with an amp that can output 300W at 8 Ohm. So in my case, after running several hours of combos with mains set as large/small, and my sub set as on/off, the best sound to me is with the mains as large, and center/rears as small. I disagree with people who say set them small no matter what. If you have a crappy sub (like me) and speakers that can output bass clean at high SPL levels, try them at large...you may never go back:)
 

Richard Cook

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Having blown tweeters twice thru having the setting on large with my towers, my advice is definitely set to small and let the sub take care of the bass below 80hz a la THX
 

EdNichols

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Feb 15, 2003
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I am going to ask a real dumb question in that my cheap reciever does not have the small and large option. It does have a crossover setting for 80, 100, & 120 hz. I have mine setting @ 80 hz. Do the recievers that you are talking about have both small and large setting and the crossover setting? I guess I do not see the need for both.
 

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