Originally Posted by bwillcox
I don't disagree that my situation with this particular system may be different from others (I presented it as an extreme example), but I feel that to say one should always set their speakers to "small" is misleading, at best. I have 5 other systems with Yamaha AVRs from 5 to 11 channels (all with more conventional speakers) and as I previously said, I find it best to set the sizes according to the actual response capabilities of the speakers. I've not run into power problems (significant or even noticeable distortion) with this approach yet.
Setting speakers to 'SMALL' has nothing to do with the physical size of the speakers, how much one spent on them, how intelligent the individual is or any other 'misleading' connotations. Setting speaker(s) either 'SMALL' or 'LARGE' is very specific in a pre/pro/receiver and that is to implement bass management or not. 'SMALL' means implementing bass management while 'LARGE' means no bass management. Another way to look at is: enabling re-direction of the bass frequencies.
There are significant benefits to implementing bass management in a 5.1/7.1 system, as well as with the new object audio formats of Atmos and DTS:X. The vast majority of users would benefit with bass management set to ON (i.e. speakers set to 'SMALL'). There will be exceptions such as yourself, but there are few things to ask when setting the fronts to 'LARGE'.
Is one comfortable that the 0.1 channel is being re-directed to the fronts if there is no sub? The reason being is that this sub channel is mixed +10dB hotter than the other channels. I.e. in terms of sound reproduction at the same SPL and frequency, a +10dB increase means 10x more power that the fronts will have to carry. In some movie soundtracks, the 0.1 channel can go down to low single digit frequencies - are the fronts capable of cleanly reproducing this? Try the opening scene of the blu-ray title called Live,Die, Repeat (Edge of Tomorrow
) at below reference level and slowly increase up to reference level if possible. When other channels are set to 'SMALL', the bass frequencies below the crossover will also be re-directed to the fronts. If the house curve has a low frequency gain of +XdB due to preference, is there sufficient headroom available in the system?
The question one should be asking is within the listening room and the particular setup, at the desired volume level is the system capable of reproducing the full range of frequencies in the movie soundtrack when the fronts are set to 'LARGE'? If one has done the homework, verified this through tests and can honestly say yes the system can handle it, then by all means set the front speakers to 'LARGE'. The majority would be better off with implementing bass management and set the fronts to 'SMALL', so this is not a wrong recommendation.