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when to set small vs large with receiver

6337 Views 90 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  Eyleron
I know you are suggested to set fronts to large if they are towers and bookshelves to small. I read that was mostly due to the speaker's ability to reproduce low frequencies. So, what classifies a large or small center? I have a Paradigm set up with monitor 7s and 370. I had those all set to large, crossover to 80hz. Now what I've noticed with a few newer DVDs (sometimes a rare handful of TV programs) is I get I guess clipping.


On iRobot, Smith's captain, on some of his angry lectures, I heard clipping (or slight distortion/crackling). Otherwise, the soundtrack was flawless. I also heard it on Fifth Element's latest release last month. I heard it quite frequently on that DVD. Now my local hi-fi guy who sold me the Paradigms told me a lot of DVDs are just encoded badly or compressed and that clipping is normal. His set up at his store with B&W& Marantz had some clipping on SW1.


So, is it better to keep the center set to small regardless of size? I changed it to small and noticed immediately, it had a higher pitched overall tone to it. So I basically paranoid that I may be affecting the speakers negatively by making them play frequencies meant for a 'large' speaker.
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There is no way you should be running Monitor 7s as "large" speakers. The only time you should ever consider running speakers as "large" in a home theater context is if you own TRULY full-range loudspeakers (as in strong response to 25 Hz) AND they can be positioned to provide a reasonably flat and extended bass response. Guess how often that combination occurs -- not very often.


Switch all of your speakers to "small". There is zero reason to be running your mains as "large" for home theater.
They go down to 33hz, that's quite low. My sub doesn't go much lower then 30hz so there isn't much of a gap. I was always told that towers were set to large because they could handle more bass output then a bookshelf speaker could.


So then I guess you also suggest the center be set to small?
There are 2 schools of thought and rynberg mentioned one of them. The other option is to run your mains as large because your mains may reproduce mid-bass better than your sub (it's possible). Same principle holds for centers too.


The AV guy is right about the tracks sucking... I hear crackling on a lot of DVDs. Godfather was horrible, and the plane flyover at the end of iRobot had crackling too.


-T
Quote:
Originally posted by Kid Red
They go down to 33hz, that's quite low. My sub doesn't go much lower then 30hz so there isn't much of a gap.
No they don't. :)


It's pretty safe to say that unless your taste in movies runs to period pieces, no speaker under $2000/pair should be run as "large". I'm sure there might be an exception or four, but that's the case in general. Your center channel should most definitely be ran as "small".
This is interesting. I have Mirage 595is towers for front L&R. I have spoken to Mirage tech support several time over the past few weeks as i have been upgrading the rest of my system. Their lead tech there is religious about setting *all* speakers to large. He says, "Why would you want to choke your speakers at some artificial point?" Despite a fair about of trial and error and reading, I'm still confused as to the actual, real-world ramifications of the small vs. large setting. Some say set all to large, others here suggesting setting virtually all speakers to small, even if they are large (like my 595is?). Looks like I'm going to have to play around with it some more, but I wish there were an easier way to compare the sound.


My setup:

Yamaha RX-V1500

FLR: Mirage 595is

FC: Mirage MCC-R

RLR: Mirage Omnisat

Sub: Mirage PS-10
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one reason to set speakers as small is to lessen the strain on the amps when bass is played


you will probably notice better highs and clearer mids when the deep bass is being handled by the sub amp
Quote:
Originally posted by rynberg
No they don't. :)


It's pretty safe to say that unless your taste in movies runs to period pieces, no speaker under $2000/pair should be run as "large". I'm sure there might be an exception or four, but that's the case in general. Your center channel should most definitely be ran as "small".
I'll have to test the Monitors 7s, to see what they go down to.


I was wondering if you could explain your position and reasoning? Why would I make the sub handle some of a person's voice when the center is perfectly capable? Why shouldn't the sub only reproduce the .LFE track? I've played with the center and there's a major mid bass drop off when I switch it to 'small'. Not sure I like it. It goes from sounding like it's coming from a full range speaker to suddenly coming from a satellite. I've had the towers set to large since day one, so I can't comment in their settings.


This argument is sliced right down the middle, so I'd just like the best argument from both sides so i can logically conclude which camp I'd like to join. I will conduct my own tests, but I'd also welcome some factual evidence, or even opinionated explanations.


Seems to me, we have full range speakers producing most frequencies and the sub picking up at 80hz. So, even with the fronts/center at large, there's still a cutoff at 80hz. I'm fairly confident, my Paradigms can handle 80hz. So what would be the benefit of cutting them off completely? Setting them to small would effectively be a what, 120hz cut off or so? I may as well not even have these huge towers then if I'm only going to be using it's tweeter.


As for amp strain, huh? You're saying I should handicap my speakers so I don't put my amp to work? So, don't put wood tires on the Jag to not push the engine? If that's an issue, then someone needs another amp, or they just need to turn it down some. Sounds like a cop out reason. Don't cross the street, you may get hit by a car....
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Quote:

Quote:
Alternatively, setting center and surrounds as "Small", the mains as "Large", subwoofer as "None", and implementing an external two channel crossover to the subwoofer is a valid, and in some situations an advantageous way to go.
Quote:
Originally posted by Kid Red
I'll have to test the Monitors 7s, to see what they go down to.
I'm not bashing your Paradigms, I own some P*s myself. But while your Monitor 7s will produce some content down into the 30s, but they will not produce strong output that low, nor will they like it. Removing the low bass demands will allow the speakers to play louder and more cleanly above the crossover frequency.

Quote:
Originally posted by Kid Red
I was wondering if you could explain your position and reasoning? Why would I make the sub handle some of a person's voice when the center is perfectly capable? Why shouldn't the sub only reproduce the .LFE track? I've played with the center and there's a major mid bass drop off when I switch it to 'small'. Not sure I like it. It goes from sounding like it's coming from a full range speaker to suddenly coming from a satellite. I've had the towers set to large since day one, so I can't comment in their settings.
Well, first of all, with the typical crossover of 80 Hz, there won't be dialog/vocals going to the sub -- the bottom of the male speech range is above 100 Hz. 80 Hz is actually lower in frequency than many people realize. The sound of your center shouldn't change a lot unless your crossover frequency is set too high (and you have a center with serious low frequency output, again, rare) -- what is your receiver set to?

Quote:
Originally posted by Kid Red
Seems to me, we have full range speakers producing most frequencies and the sub picking up at 80hz. So, even with the fronts/center at large, there's still a cutoff at 80hz.
NO! With the speakers set to "large", there is NO cutoff. They are run full-range with no filtering, right on down to below 20 Hz if the soundtrack has it. Also a few odd soundtracks (like Waterworld for example) have no LFE track and all of the bass is in the main channels. Without crossing over the fronts in this case, you would be missing out on significant bass information.

Quote:
Originally posted by Kid Red
I'm fairly confident, my Paradigms can handle 80hz. So what would be the benefit of cutting them off completely? Setting them to small would effectively be a what, 120hz cut off or so? I may as well not even have these huge towers then if I'm only going to be using it's tweeter.
You're not cutting them completely, the crossover should be set to 80 Hz or so. This is in the bass range, you are hardly only using the tweeter!

Quote:
Originally posted by Kid Red
As for amp strain, huh? You're saying I should handicap my speakers so I don't put my amp to work?
As most people use receivers with questionable amp sections (pretty much any receiver below $1500), this is a very valid concern. I know that my Denon runs much hotter when I listen to music with "large" fronts vs "small".


If you had large speakers capable of truly belting out 30 Hz AND they were positioned in the room for smooth low freq response (almost impossible), then you could run them as "large". Trust me, with your speakers you should not be running them large. You are missing out on significant bass content and unnecessarily stressing both the speakers and your receiver.


xwilliam: The person you are speaking to at Mirage is a clueless moron, IMO. I wouldn't trust anything he had to say.
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rynberg- I have my Marantz set to 80 hz. You made some valid points, I will try the small settings and give it a whirl. I also contacted Paradigm just to gauge their official stance concerning their speakers.


I get plenty of bass with the current set up, the monitors can knock pretty hard and I enjoy their fullness. But, I am not a A/V god, so I will listen to your suggestions and set them to small. I'll try out ROTK this weekend which should be a good test.
Quote:
Originally posted by T-Bone
There are 2 schools of thought and rynberg mentioned one of them. The other option is to run your mains as large because your mains may reproduce mid-bass better than your sub (it's possible). Same principle holds for centers too.


The AV guy is right about the tracks sucking... I hear crackling on a lot of DVDs. Godfather was horrible, and the plane flyover at the end of iRobot had crackling too.


-T
Cool, thanks. I was hoping it wasn't my paranoia that my tweeters were blown or something.
The more I think about this, what's the point of having these big towers if they are handicapped when set to small? Would not a bookshelf speaker be just as adequate if it only has to cover bass to 80 hz? Not sure why I should not eBay the towers and center and get smaller bookshelves and center?
No, because the common rule-of-thumb is that a speaker should have good response for an octave above or below the crossover point. In general, you will get better sound at an 80 Hz crossover point with speakers that have decent response down to 40 Hz than you will with less capable speakers.
I had always run my mains (vintage Polk Monitor 5"s)"large".........until last night.


Taking the advice here,and seeing nothing to lose in trying it,i set my mains to "small".


wow! What a difference.My bass is much tighter. The sub is receiving more bass info and i had to recalibrate and turn it down.


I have not yet experimented with music in this configuration and may prefer mains set to "large" for 2ch. stereo.
I enameled paradigm for their official stance and here was the reply-

Quote:
I suggest that you try both settings to see if you have a personal

preference for the way the system sounds on one or the other.


The first thing to do is determine and note the subwoofer cut-off frequency

settings (for both the large and small settings) that produce the best blend

with the front speakers.


Once you know them, then listen to the front speakers using both settings

(resetting the subwoofer cut-off for each, of course).


Playing the system on "large" is fine if that's what you prefer. Keep in

mind that the receiver/amplifier has to be able to deliver more power on

this setting because bass frequencies require considerably more power to

reproduce than mid and high frequencies.


If your receiver/amplifier is modestly powered (100 to 130 watts/ch), the

room is fairly large and you like to play the system at very loud levels,

using the small settings lessens the power demands being placed on the

receiver/amplifier and allows it to operate a bit more efficiently.
So, unless you are in a tiny room or have a massive amp, you should run speakers as small I take it. You can run as large if you want, but it seems to be mostly a power issue. My receiver is 110 w/channel so I will go with the small setting for a while and see how I like it.
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I've read many times the reasoning about setting speakers to small. I've tried it both ways. I've finally settled on:

2ch music - direct - no sub;

TV via PL II or DTS NEO - small, to give the thin TV signal a little oomph;

DVD via DD 5.1 or DTS - large - I found that redirecting the lower frequencies made the lower end somewhat harsh; using large settings sounds much cleaner to me.


Of course, it may have a lot to do w/ my towers being somewhat better (KEF Q11) than my sub (JBL PB10). And, as rynberg noted, room acoustics have a lot of effect.


Doug
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dougette- could it be your sub is boomy? I read a review on your JBL and it said it was boomy and it needed to be placed just right for preferred sound.
Now I have a question... What would you set your speakers to if you have no sub-woofer??? my fronts are Paradigm Studio 60's, center 470 and Mirage Omni 50's for surrounds... Thanks in advance...


Harold
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