Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman
Maybe these manufacturers should explain some of this stuff better, and create a pure direct+subwoofer (or something like that) option.
I think a lot of people new to receivers may not intuitively understand that bass management usually gets turned off in direct mode.
I gave up on such modes years ago UNLESS I specifically want to run my L/R speakers full range. And everyime I try that, I prefer the bass management option. Which is why I think (unless maybe you spend a lot of money on really good full range speakers?) playing music with the subwoofers on and bass management active will work better.
Which means buying full range speakers may be a waste of money? I am considering going back to all bookshelf speakers next speaker switch I do. I gave gone back and forth, and now feel the main benefit to full range speakers is (a) no stands (I dislike stands) and (b) no second guessing whether your bookshelf speakers are going low enough.
(I expect disagreement on my points which is fine, maybe someone can explain where I am wrong.)
I've always heard this argued as a room size thing - basically if you have a bookshelf that can reach something like 60hz in a test bed that doesn't mean it'll do it across a big huge space where a tower might. Then again, I have seen (and own) towers that go over a cliff at 60hz as well, so I don't know how apt I am to believe that rule of thumb (mostly based on experience and stuff I've read).
I think it overall depends on the room, the speakers you pick, as well as the supporting equipment (subwoofer(s), processor(s), room treatment(s), etc). You can get good results with either, and either has it's shortcomings. I like tower speakers, mostly for the reasons you've listed - I also tend to preference stereo listening modes at lower volumes (in a lot of cases the subwoofers won't even trigger - I know, heresy!). Aside from that (admittedly very weird) scenario, I doubt there's a clear-cut (as in non-preferential) answer that fits all users.
Regarding the "pure direct" question - I sometimes rely on the feature (again, stereo listening modes), if I want the subwoofers off. And yes, I really do mean that.