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Set speakers to large or small?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Godvrey, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. Godvrey

    Godvrey
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    Not sure if I should post this here or in the speaker forum, but here goes....

    I've got a 5.0 surround setup using Wharfedale's diamond 9 series speakers driven by a Denon AVR2805, and i'm a little confused about how I should configure my speakers in the setup menu.

    The mains are diamond 9.1's with a frequency range of 50 - 24Khz, with the centre channel and surrounds having frequency ranges of 70 - 24Khz. I don't have a sub at the moment but will probably get one soon.

    Up till now, i've had the mains set to 'large' and all the other speakers set to small - mainly because I use the same system to listen to music and didn't want the amp to cut off low frequency sounds to my mains - but also because I don't have a sub. I'm a bit worried however that my speakers might be damaged by this setup when watching movies though, since the LFE signals will be sent to my mains effectively delivering them a current that they are not able to deal with.

    I suppose my question therefore is is this the case, or can I continue to set my mains to large and just suffer the problem that they will not produce the LFE sounds and I won't hear them until I get a sub?

    I guess i'm loath to set them to small since when I get a sub that will mean the sub will cut in whilst listening to 2 channel music - still, I guess i'd rather that than melt the speaker drivers!

    Cheers
     
  2. krusty

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    i would probably set to large if you dont have a subwoofer :) i tink the general rule is to set to small when you have a sub :smashin: also in a 5.1 system the signal the sub gives should be felt not heard.
     
  3. Eddy Boy

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    You can set the amp up so that when in Pure Direct that the sub is not on, only the front Left and Right.
    What you do is select Pure Direct then keep pressing the select button on the remote until SW appears on the Front panel, it should show FL then FR first, then use the left cursor button until you set SW to OFF. That way when either you select Pure Direct for that input you will have no sub, but when you go back to films it will come on.
     
  4. Cable Monkey

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    I think we need to sort the meaning of 'large' and 'small' regarding speaker settings on an amp. I presently have floor standers at the front and bookshelf speakers at the rear. They will all be set to large, not because of their relative size, but because of their frequency handling range. In short, full range speakers are set to large, irrelevant of size. Now a sub/sat combo is a different matter because the sub is supposed to handle all lower frequencies. In this instance obviously the setting is 'small'. There seems to be a lot of confusion when you supplement full range speakers with a sub. Some insist setting them to 'small' is the best option. I just think that is the easiest option to get a half decent sound generally. However the film is mixed as five/six/seven full range channels and one LFE channel. There is nothing magical about the LFE channel. With properly matched speakers and sensible LFE settings, no damage should occur if directed to the fronts in the absence of a sub.
     
  5. Godvrey

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    Yes I agree that the LFE channel is not the magical channel that people seem to think it is. From what i've been reading over on another forum the LFE channel is not the only channel that receives LFE signals. In a dolby digital mix, the main channels can also contain LFE signals, and really I think LFE simply refers to signal range from 20-80Hz. It was added to the Dolby specification as an overflow channel, to enable greater capacity for delivering bass without putting additional information across the other 5 channels which would have impacted upon the quality of those channels - but it does not imply that the other 5 channels (particularly the front channels) are not being sent bass signals within the 20-80hz range. So I guess the sub channel, or .1 channel, is going to deal with the majority of low frequency sounds, but not exclusively so.

    Cablemonkey - you said that you have set your surround bookshelves to large, which is similar to me setting my front bookshelves to large, because they are full range speakers. I agree that large/small settings have no relationship with the physical size of the speaker itself, but in my case although my diamond 9.1's are full range speakers they do not handle the 'full frequency range of 20 - 20khz. They operate from 50 - 20khz according to the manual, which means that in a HT setup they will be receiving frequency signals in the 20 - 50hz range that they cannot reproduce.

    So my question is - will that 20-50hz signal damage the speakers, since they cannot handle that frequency? I've heard really conflicting opinions with some saying that the speakers simply will not reproduce the lower frequencies, but some saying that the lower frequencies will actually damage the drive units. What do you think?
     
  6. Godvrey

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    Dude - I will check this out when I get home, but if you are right, may your name be sung in the halls of men for years to come.

    This is exactly the functionality I was looking for!

    Cheers
     
  7. Cable Monkey

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    It shouldn't damage your speakers. You just won't hear the 20-50hz bit.
     
  8. spl23

    spl23
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    Seconded - how do you think we coped in the days before bass management? Your speakers got whatever your amp sent out. Low bass poses very little risk to a speaker, as it translates to very low speed movements of the drive unit. If you want to damage a speaker, try a high frequency square wave. (Or "clipping", as it is generally known... ;-) )

    I have floorstanding fronts, bookshelf rears and no sub, and all my speakers are set to "large" on my 3805.
     
  9. Jase

    Jase
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    All speakers small, all bass to sub for me and I wouldn't have it any other way. Why send a signal to a speaker that can't reproduce it when you can redirect it to a sub that can. ;)
     
  10. Cable Monkey

    Cable Monkey
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    He doesn't have a sub (yet). If you are going to give an answer, at least read the question.
     
  11. Jase

    Jase
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  12. Jase

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    In his particular case he'll have to stick to having the Fronts set to Large then but I'd leave all others set to small. If and when a Sub is added, switch it over to all speakers small, all bass to sub.

    And yes I did read the question or are we not allowed to post our thoughts on the subject?
     
  13. Cable Monkey

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    Jase, I don't profess to have as much knowledge as you or others here about the subjects in hand, but I do know how to read a question and try to give a relevant answer. Your comment and the response from mjf_uk did nothing in my opinion to reassure Godvrey, taking his particular circumstances into consideration. If you want to have a 'large vs small' debate we can start a separate thread in the speakers or subwoofer section for that. Lets try to keep things on topic. :)
     
  14. Timbo21

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    All thoughts will be monitored ;)
     
  15. Jase

    Jase
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    How can I argue with that when you tell me off so politely! :D
     
  16. Jules

    Jules
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    Many base management systems have an adverse affect on the speakers phase. For this reason, they will only sound well balanced when all the speaker settings match.
    Since very few of us have 5 matching genuine 'full range' speakers, setting all speakers to 'small' + sub is the most consistently appropriate advice.

    The worst thing you can do in systems with iffy bass management is to have some speakers set to 'small' and others to 'large'. As a Denon K-A1SE owner, I'd say that Denon's bass management implentation suffers badly here with phase shifts.

    However, if you have 5 (or 7) genuine 'full range' speakers, then you should set all to 'large'. The thing is though that if anyone really had such a system, they wouldn't need a sub!........ so generally, the advice is if you have a subwoofer set ALL your speakers to 'small'.
     
  17. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    I have to question your comment on leaving your speakers set on large will damage them.

    When setting to large you are not diverting the .1 information to them, that is still going to the sub. You might do some damage if you tell the reciever there is no sub, thus sending the .1 to the fronts & then turn the amp up. But just by setting them to large I feel will not damage them.

    If you have speakers that roll off @ 60/70hz on a stereo system & play a bass heavy record you will only damage those speakers if you play them at high levels, especially if the amp starts to clip. And this would damage them anyway, irrespective of the lower frequencies.

    T.
     
  18. Tv-Steve

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    hello to all, after reading this thread, and being something of a confirmed AV novice, I've got my self a bit worked up, as I've been running the main fronts of my B&W M-1 speaker package as large for a short time. I've set a crossover of 80 hz, freq range of these speakers is 72hz-50khz.

    They've been running at a low volume and only while playing with the settings using movies like return of the king and the infamous pod race scene form star wars. What chance if any is there that I may have damaged the speakers, what should I be listeneing for? I can get hold of a sound level meter if required??

    cheers
     
  19. Tv-Steve

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    cheers, mate all sats set to small now :blush:
     
  20. Jase

    Jase
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    Denon are one of the best in the Industry when it comes to Bass Management. I also own the K-A1SE and there aren't any phase shifts or issues with it's implementation when using the Fixed THX crossover setting in my setup. I can see the response on my subwoofers OSD and it gives a perfectly flat response around the crossover point. Granted, speakers, sub etc are all THX certified so they'll all work in harmony with each other.
     
  21. Ian J

    Ian J
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    If that is the case how come using a stereo amp that doesn't have bass management facilities and therefore effectively treats every speaker as "large" doesn't damage the speakers.
     
  22. Ian J

    Ian J
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    I doubt whether you will have damaged the speakers at all but they should be set at small as that is what should give you the best results. Any damage to speakers from overdriving them is likely to be highly audible.

    If you have access to an SPL meter I would strongly advise you to use it as ears are notoriously unreliable for setting up a surround system.
     
  23. Godvrey

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    Thanks for all the comments. Just out of interest I posted the same question over on the US forum, and the verdict there seems to be that setting the speakers to large should not damage them.

    The principle reason for this is that the crossover on the speaker should remove any frequencies that are potentially damaging to the speaker. Additionally people seemed to think that clipping was more likely to occur in the high frequencies rather than the low frequencies.

    I also checked on the Dolby Digital specifications website, and they state that all channels including LFE range from 20 - 20Khz.

    From a sonic perspective, I would prefer to set all my channels to small, and then direct any bass below 80Hz to the sub - when I get a sub, and when I am using the amp for HT. I think you either go 'all large' or 'all small' for HT, since the 10db gain mixed into all LFE DD soundtracks will be out of skew if some of the mains are set to large and their bass supported by the sub. The exception I guess would be if your mains are large enough to deliver subwoofer comparable bass - which mine are not.

    As for music, I only want the front mains getting a full range signal. Someone pointed out that I can disable the subwoofer when listening in my denon's 'pure direct' mode. I checked this and it's true, which means I don't need to run my sub when listening to stereo. What I would like to know though, is when I turn my subwoofer off in 'pure direct' does this disable the crossover settings assuming that my speakers are set to 'small' in the main speaker configuration screen? In other words, will my speakers get the full range signal if I disable the sub in 'pure direct' mode? In the main configuarion screen when you remove the sub, the mains default to large and you cannot set them to small - so does this happen for the pure direct specific setting too?
     
  24. Jase

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    Godvrey

    The Pure Direct/Direct Modes on the Denon's bypass all bass management, speaker settings and pass full range signals to the front channels regardless. As mentioned before, you can have the sub on or off in these modes, it's up to you.
     
  25. Jase

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    Dolby Digital has a frequency range of 3hz - 20khz for the main channels but the LFE channel is 3-120hz and hits a digital brick wall filter at 120hz i.e no 121hz info and above.
     
  26. Knyght_byte

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    right, firstly does the amp only have large or small settings? (im using a Denon 3803 which allows you to set large or small but then choose a crossover point for it between 40hz and 120hz in 20hz increments)

    If its just large or small then it splits that at 80hz usually.......so i'd go with this, if your front stereo pair hit 50hz or lower then set them to large, it wont damage them in the slightest due to their crossover.
    Now for centre and surrounds, WITH subwoofer available, to be honest if they dont go below 70hz i'd set them as small, if however you have no subwoofer in the setup, then i'd set them as large, providing they are proper hifi speakers, their crossover will stop them being damaged....if however they are satellite speakers, you should always set those as small because some dont have a proper crossover in them as they are supposed to be used with a subwoofer.

    I used to run a Sherwood DD/DTS surround receiver amp with a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 7.3's for fronts (floorstanders, 42hz lowest) a Gale Centre (60hz lowest) and a pair of Mission 700 bookshelfs (i think 50hz lowest).....no subwoofer...........7.3's were large, Gale was small, to begin with Missions were small.......however i felt a lack of presence behind me and in voices, so i set all them to large and it was much better.....none of them got damaged and they were used for a couple years in this configuration VERY loudly a good few hours a day.

    my current set up (Denon 3910DVD, 3803 amp, Monitor Audio Silver S6 floorstanders with 38hz lowest, SLCR centre 45hz i think, SFX side surrounds 60hz, Silver 2 rears 40hz...if memory servers correct) is setup as follows
    fronts as large, centre as large, sides as small, sadly rears too cuz the setup options wont let you have rears as large if sides are small.....
    my sub is connected and switched on as the LFE channel, but is also hi-level wired up to the main stereo speakers (its a REL Strata5 so it goes very low with style)......i've tried setting the sides and rears to large, but the sides seem to lose out as the sub doesnt kick in for them.....the rears are fine but they can handle it....

    anyway, im just typing all this because im bored...lol

    but seriously, setting proper hifi speakers to large wont do damage, if you run any speaker too loud then of course it risks being damaged, that counts for normal hifi as well........however i say get a sub, once you got one you cant go back...lol
     
  27. Timbo21

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  28. spl23

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    Let's look at a few facts:

    1) Every decent hif-fi speaker designed over the last 20 years can handle bass down to 20Hz - that's the lowest frequency CD can produce. You may not be able to hear 20Hz from them (see below) but you can quite happily send it to them.

    2) If you keep the amplitude the same, and drop the frequency, the amount of energy you are feeding the speaker *decreases*. Therefore, if a speaker can cope with a certain amplitude signal at 50Hz, it will be under *less* stress with a signal of that amplitude at 5Hz. If the 50Hz signal didn't blow it, the 5Hz signal is even less likely to do so.

    3) The reason that small speakers have comparatively high "lowest frequency" specs is due to the physics of bass reproduction - due to the low energy inherent in bass signals, you need to move a lot of air to be able to hear bass, and the smaller your drive unit, the less air you can move - therefore, you can't get low bass out of a small speaker. The drive unit is moving, but it is too small to move enough air for you to be able to hear it - that's why subs tend to have big drivers. The "lowest frequency" spec is not "don't send signals below this or you'll damage the speaker", it is "you won't hear this speaker reproduce any signals below this, so you may as well not bother sending them".

    The only way bass can blow a small speaker is if you crank up the amplitude hugely to try and compensate for the poor bass response of the speaker - and that isn't the bass blowing the speaker, it's the high amplitude. If you sent higher frequencies to it at that amplitude, they'd blow the speaker even faster.

    So, setting small speakers to "large" will only lead to damage if you massively boost the bass amplitude to try and compensate. There is a possibility this will happen if you use automatic room compensation on the Denons, but they are limited in the amount of additional boost they can apply, so it really isn't likely. If you really want to be safe, set your smaller speakers to "small" when running the room compensation, and then set them to "large" when you've finished.

    As I said before, it is *much* easier to kill a speaker with treble than it is to do so with bass. Any high amplitude signal can induce mechanical clipping and damage a speaker, but low frequencies are *less* likely to do this than high frequencies.

    I am using JPW Minims as surround channels on my 3805, they are set to "large" as I have no sub, and I can assure you that they are *not* being damaged in the process.

    Just remember - it's the energy in the signal that damages a speaker, and low frequencies have less energy than high frequencies. The only potential problem is trying to compensate for a small speaker's poor bass response by overdriving it.
     
  29. Timbo21

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    Nicely put spl.

    mjf,

    Av amps have bass management so lower frequencies can be sent to the speaker best suited for the job, to suit sub/sat systems. I don't think, however, that it was invented to stop damage to your speakers. If it was there would be explicit warnings.

    Additionally, when I do auto setup on my 3805, why does it set my Quad 11L's,
    which are -6db @ 45hz, to large if it is going to damage them?

    T.
     
  30. spl23

    spl23
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    Did you actually read what I read? If you send a bass signal to a speaker, whatever its quoted frequency range, the bass driver will move in response to that signal. I never claimed that it wouldn't try to reproduce it - I said that, on a small speaker, it wouldn't move enough air for you to hear it.

    If we're bringing common sense into it, try thinking about the energy of a signal. If the amplitude is the same, which makes a speaker drive cone move further and therefore faster - a high frequency signal, or a low frequency one? It is obviously the low frequency one - draw the waveform if you don't believe me. This isn't rocket science - it's basic physics. Low frequency signals have less energy than high frequency signals of the same amplitude, and it is excess energy that damages a speaker.

    And if you want to question people's education - I have a degree in engineering from Cambridge, am a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and a Chartered Engineer, and have been working as a professional engineer for nearly 15 years. With all due respect, you don't seem to understand enough of the science behind this to support your arguments, and are giving misleading advice as a result.
     

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