Q: I am thinking about upgrading my AVR/speaker setup with a Marantz NR1608 AVR and Definitive Technology BP9000 speakers—specifically, the BP9020 or BP9040—and CS9040 center-channel speaker to go with my existing DefTech DI 5.5R in-ceiling surrounds. I don't have room for towers and a separate subwoofer.

Here are my questions:

1. Since I am not using a separate subwoofer, should I use only speaker cables from the AVR to the BP9000 speakers and set them to "Large" in the AVR? Or should I also connect the LFE outputs from the AVR to the subwoofer inputs on the speakers and set them to "Small" in the AVR?

2. Should I run Audyssey in the NR1608? The DefTech manual recommends setting up the speakers manually rather than using the room-correction function in the AVR. If that's the case, how can I take full advantage of the EQ for the rest of my speakers? With my previous AVR, the Marantz SR5008, and a separate subwoofer in my 5.1 rig, Audyssey made a big difference in how my system sounded.

3. Is there a noticeable difference between the BP9020s and BP9040s in bass output? I keep reading the BP9040s don't sound as good as the BP9020s or BP9060s. The BP9060s are too big for my living room, so it has to be the BP9020s or BP9040s. I prefer the BP9020 because of the size, and I will be adding the A90 Dolby Atmos modules later.

This is for a living-room setup with openings to other areas of the house. I am not a bass head; 30 Hz and up is fine for me. I'm hoping the BP9020 will work; if not, I'm willing to go with the BP9040s. I have 8-foot flat ceilings, so I think the A90 modules with the new Marantz AVR will give me some sort of Atmos or DTS:X effects.

I appreciate any help you can provide.


A: I do not have any direct experience with the DefTech BP9000 series of tower speakers with integrated powered subwoofers, so my response is based on general experience. I hope other AVS Forum members with direct experience with these speakers will chime in here.

Regarding your first question, I recommend trying it both ways and see which configuration you prefer. First, connect only speaker cables and set the speakers to "Large" and subwoofer to "No" in the AVR, then play something familiar. Next, add the LFE connection and set the speakers to "Small" and subwoofer to "Yes." In the first case, the speaker's internal crossover will direct low frequencies to the internal powered subwoofer, while in the second case, the AVR's crossover will perform that task.

I don't know the speaker's internal crossover frequency to the subwoofer, but I presume it's fixed at one value, probably 80 Hz. By contrast, the AVR's crossover is variable, which means that approach is more flexible. Thus, I assume that using the AVR's crossover would ultimately yield better results.

On the other hand, the BP9000-series manual recommends the first approach. If you prefer the second approach, the manual says, "We highly recommend setting the crossover point in your receiver/processor to 80Hz or below to avoid disturbing the delicate blending between the subwoofer and midrange. In addition, careful balance between the subwoofer output level of your receiver and the bass control on the back of your speaker should be considered." Those are good points, and DefTech certainly knows the inner workings of its speakers, so perhaps the first approach would end up being better in this particular case.

Regarding your second question, the BP9000-series manual says, "Use the manual speaker setup functions in your receiver or processor to set speaker configuration, speaker distance, and channel balance...We recommend that you do not use your receiver's auto setup functions as they can be ineffective in setting up and adjusting speakers with integrated powered subwoofers." A bit later, it says, "For advanced instructions on Intelligent Bass Control, including integration with room-correction software (e.g., Audyssey), please visit our website or give us a call."

I couldn't find any info about this on the DefTech website, so I gave them a call (actually, sent them an email). Here's their response: "Quite often, we find that auto-calibration systems built into most receivers get confused with bipolar speakers and integrated subwoofers. In our testing, the distance and delay settings are often incorrect. Additionally, an out-of-phase error is common. The reason is that some of the sound has already been reflected from several room boundaries before it gets to the AVR's microphone (as is the nature of bipolar speakers), which doesn't allow the receiver to provide the best settings.

"However, while auto-calibration can be problematic with bipolar speakers, we have done some internal testing that suggests Audyssey running from Denon or Marantz receivers works really well with the BP9000 series in auto-calibrate mode, even in unfavorable rooms. Our recommendation is to use a Denon or Marantz receiver with Audyssey and give it a try. If you encounter problems, you can always resort to manual setup."

I agree; try it both ways. Run Audyssey and listen to something familiar, then reinstate the default settings and do the setup manually. If you do a manual setup, you can adjust the EQ for each speaker individually with the Graphic EQ in the NR1608. However, this is not a trivial process.

Regarding your third question, the BP9020 is spec'd down to 28 Hz, while the BP9040 is spec'd down to 22 Hz, thanks to its dual 8" passive bass radiators. That might not seem like much, but it really is, especially since the BP9040's output at 28 Hz is probably much higher than the BP9020's output at the same frequency. Both have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms and a sensitivity rated at 92 dB/W/m, so the NR1608's 50 watts/channel into 8 ohms should provide plenty of volume.

I haven't read that the BP9040 does not sound as good as the BP9020 or BP9060, but perhaps other AVS Forum members have. If it's true, then the BP9020 is the obvious choice for you, especially since you say you're not a bass head, and you can't fit the BP9060 in your room.

The A90 Atmos module will work fine with an 8' flat ceiling. The NR1608 offers Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding, and it provides seven channels of amplification, so you can't have more than two overhead channels in a 5.1.2 configuration.

I invite AVS Forum members who have direct experience with the DefTech BP9020 or BP9040 to post comments about what they would recommend with either of these speakers.

If you've got an AV question, please send it to [email protected]