Should I Override My Audyssey Auto-setup?

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Q I have an Integra DHC-80.3 preamp/processor with Audyssey MultEQ XT32. Reading the manual, I learned that I should set the speaker crossover to 80 Hz because “Audyssey recommends that speakers are ALWAYS set to Small when there is a subwoofer in the system.” This apparently allows for proper bass management and more headroom in the receiver or amplifier.  

So here are my questions. My speaker system is based around full-range B&W CM10 towers (powered by 250-watt mono amps) and includes a single subwoofer. Do I still need to choose an 80 Hz crossover point for my setup? Also, is there a point in upgrading to speakers with more powerful bass if I do cross them over at 80 Hz? —Bill Wong / via email

A I’m not sure of the context of that quote from the Integra’s manual, but when you run Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto-setup in your system the routine should select the appropriate crossover points separately for the front, center, and surround speakers. For example, when Daniel Kumin reviewed the DHC-80.3 for Sound & Vision, he noted the following about its automated setup: “MultEQ XT32 set the Integra DHC-80.3 pre/pro for a 40-Hz main-channels crossover, and 50 Hz for center and surrounds, all of which reflect honest assessments of my speakers’ abilities.” So, despite what Integra’s manual might say, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto calibration can indeed set speaker crossovers to points other than 80 Hz for the individual channels in systems that include a subwoofer. And it should be able to do so with a good degree of accuracy.

That said, 80 Hz is generally accepted as a good starting point for offloading bass duties from your main speakers, so you wouldn’t be in bad shape if you chose to override the Audyssey auto-setup and dial in that setting. It’s also true that such a setting will allow for greater amplifier headroom since the receiver or amp no longer has to drive low bass frequencies, which will now be handled by the subwoofer’s own internal amp. Not that you’d have a problem in your particular system—250 watts per channel is plenty of juice to power a relatively efficient speaker like the B&W CM10.

As for your second question, no—there wouldn’t be any point to upgrading to speakers with better bass if you’re simply crossing them over at 80 Hz. In that situation, your money would be better spent in upgrading your sub to a model with better extension and more powerful output capability.

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COMMENTS
techguy378's picture

With earlier versions of Audyssey you should always bump the crossovers to 80hz if they're set lower. The sub filter used to have higher resolution than the speaker filters. This is no longer the case with XT32. With XT32 the speaker and sub filters are of equal resolution. Also, the paper specs of your speakers do not apply to your HT room. Factors such as having carpet or hardwood floors for example can affect a speaker's bass output. Audyssey is measuring your speakers real bass based on your room acoustics.

esappy's picture

Mr. Griffin, I am confused by this statement in your answer to Mr. Wongs question: "I’m not sure of the context of that quote from the Integra’s manual, but when you run Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto-setup in your system the routine should select the appropriate crossover points separately for the front, center, and surround speakers." and this: "So, despite what Integra’s manual might say, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto calibration can indeed set speaker crossovers to points other than 80 Hz for the individual channels in systems that include a subwoofer." and here is why:
On Audyssey's own forum there is a thread started by Chris Kyriakakis of Audyssey in the "Audyssey 101" section that basically says "If your product has MultEQ or MultEQ XT then we recommend connecting all the subwoofers to the line level Sub Out of the AVR. The benefit of doing that is that the subwoofer channel filters in MultEQ and MultEQ XT have much higher resolution and so you will get smoother bass response. You will have to make sure that all speakers are set to Small for this to work correctly. Audyssey is not allowed to make this determination. The AVR manufacturer makes it based on the info it receives from the Audyssey measurements. This goes for XT32 also."

So based on this statement from Audyssey, the manual for the Integra actually agrees with what Audyssey recommends and that is to go back and set any speakers to "small" and to start out by using the 80hz recommendation regardless if the receiver/pre-pro (not Audyssey) set them to "large/full range". Also in Mr. Kumin's review of the Integra, he says that Audyssey set his crossovers for his speakers when that is contradictory to what Audyssey says. So am I missing something here?

I do agree with the remainder of your statement about handing off the bass duties and gaining the extra headroom in the main speakers and that in sticking with the "small" setting, you are better off spending the money on better and/or more subs.

Lastly, something that I don't see referred to often is the setting of the LFE channel. In that same Audyssey thread, Chris also talks about the crossover settings for LFE are typically incorrectly set at 80hz also. While this may be a proper setting for blending subs and sats together, LFE extends up to 120hz. So an 80hz setting will actually cut out some LFE content. Could you please elaborate on this more. This sounds like I need to have 2 separate settings for movies and music.

Thanks
Eric

P.S. sorry for all the "quotes" :)

cdunphy's picture

there sure seems to be some holes in setup of home theater I know my def tech sm 55's go down to a solid 50hz and they are just book shelf speakers(that sound very good).I thought you sent lfe to subs and the full left right and center channels played full range with everything but LFE I thought left and right and center got full bass effects,Lfe was just for effects not the whole sound track if I keep talkin i'll be goin in circles if I ant already :-)
CD

LordoftheRings's picture

Eric's above comment is right on!

By manually change the speaker's x-overs, to our much better choice than Integra, we won't lose anything EQued by Audyssey. ...That is if we don't go higher than the the crossovers chosen by Integra.
But for example if Integra decided of a 100Hz crossover for a certain pair, by changing it manuyally to say 80 or 60Hz it won't affect anything at all (just don't change it to 120Hz for example - then you'll lose the EQ between 100 and 120Hz).

Capitch?

By the way, I use the DHC-80.3 SSP myself.

LordoftheRings's picture

And we should be able to edit our comments; for typos etc.
That is the minimum respect in 2014 on blogs and forums of the Internet.

esappy's picture

@LordoftheRings, from my understanding of Audyssey, this part of your statement is only partially true: "By manually change the speaker's x-overs, to our much better choice than Integra, we won't lose anything EQued by Audyssey. ...That is if we don't go higher than the the crossovers chosen by Integra.
But for example if Integra decided of a 100Hz crossover for a certain pair, by changing it manuyally to say 80 or 60Hz it won't affect anything at all".

By my understanding, when you perform an Audyssey calibration, the main speakers will be adjusted all the way down to whatever crossover point your receiver/prepro selected. So in your example, if the Integra chose a 100hz crossover point, then Audyssey will have calibrated those speakers down to 100hz. If you choose to select a lower crossover point, say the 80hz "standard", that's fine but understand that the Audyssey calibration stopped at 100hz and the range between 100hz and 80hz is now unprocessed therefore not optimized by Audyssey. Audyssey does not recommend you reset your crossovers lower after calibration because of this. But they also point out that if you believe this to be in error, then you should rerun Audyssey, adjust speaker locations, make room adjustments, or all the above. Now as far as adjusting the crossover higher than what your processor selected, you are right that you will lose that calibrated portion of the frequency range, but that is all you lose. So in the grand scheme of things this is very minor and most likely would be an adjustment made based on personal preference (e.g. better blending of sub/sats to your ear, want to play at ear bleeding levels so need less bass in mains, etc.).

Now I freely admit that my personal experience with Audyssey is limited to just my old (by consumer electronics standards) Denon AVR-3808CI. The Integra may behave a little differently, I don't know. But I have done some research on the best ways to get the most from Audyssey and this is what I believe to be correct. If you know this to be, in fact, incorrect, please provide the source so I may study up some more. All I am trying to do here is keep the facts straight as they get confusing in a hurry. Mr. Giffin's answer and Mr. Kumin's review both incorrectly state that Audyssey chose the crossover settings. The processor chooses the crossover settings based on input provided by Audyssey while performing the measurements. We need to have technically accurate information on how Audyssey really works to make better decisions on how to get the most out of our systems for maximum enjoyment. Afterall, that is the main reason why at least most of us spend the extra money for better gear. And yes, I am a bit envious of Mr. Wong's CM10's with 250 watt monoblocks. That would be awesome!

Thanks
Eric

esappy's picture

To Mr. Wong, if I were fortunate enough to have your gear, here is what I would would do. I am assuming based on your question that your Integra set the crossovers to your CM10's lower than 80hz, I would start by keeping the settings as is and watch some action packed movies. With 250 watts from a monoblock to each CM10, that is plenty of power to get LOUD. I would watch those movies at whatever volume you are comfortable with (this is different for everyone) and listen for any signs of distress or compression of sound from the mains. I would then switch the crossovers to 80hz and watch those same movies again (or selected movie scenes). Again listen to it at your preferred volume and take note of how the sound is now. As Mr. Griffin stated, you will take some stress off the mains and this will give them more headroom and they may sound even cleaner or smoother leading to a more enjoyable experience. Ultimately it is up to you as it is your system. I am also going to assume in your second question that you are looking at a possible upgrade. I would definitly keep the CM10's as your mains and instead spend the money and get a second sub. I think that would provide a bigger/better upgrade for your system. It has become pretty widely accepted that 2 subs are better than one. This is what I currently have and would never go back to a single unless upgrading the subs specifically and could only afford one at a time. But that is just one mans opinion. Experiment and have fun with it.

Regards,
Eric

LordoftheRings's picture

From your last above post Eric you are perfectly right.
I made a mistake; it's by manually choosing a higher crossover to the one chosen by Audyssey that is correct to do, and not by going lower. Sorry about that.

I wanted to edit it but it is not allowed to edit our comments, and each day I want to post a comment I have to log in again, and I never remember my password!

So, my two intelligent requests to S&V staff:
1. Give us the permission to edit our comments; say 30 minutes.
2. Keep us log in by giving us that option.

Sincerely,
Bob

LordoftheRings's picture

Audyssey does not chose the speakers x-overs; the pre/pro or receiver does! Fact. And each brand have their own way to determine that, in conjunction with Audyssey (Onkyo/Inegra, Denon/Marantz, NAD).

If your pre/pro chooses Full Range for your left and front speakers; you can manually select afterwards x-over of 80Hz and you won't lose the Audyssey EQ at all as it will be redirected to your subwoofer(s). Fact.

If your pre/pro chooses a 40Hz crossover for your surround speakers, you can re-select a 80Hz crossover instead, and between 40 and 80Hz the EQ done by Auddyssey is redirected to the sub, along with what is EQued below 40Hz; down to 10Hz.

You cannot change the crossover for another one that is lower; and that's where I made a mistake before.
Say your receiver (or Integra DHC-80.3 pre/pro) chooses a 60Hz x-over for your two front mains, you cannot select Full range or a 40Hz crossiover for example; then you'll lose the EQ calibration between 60 and 40Hz or between 60 and 10Hz. Fact.

Eric, you can easily verify this in Audyssey FAQ (Audyssey's own website) and/or in the official Audyssey thread over at AVS (Audio Video Science) Forum.

Now I am sure, if someone thinks otherwise, please speak up. :-)

LordoftheRings's picture

I made a bunch of typos above, but unfortunately I cannot fix them! Fact.
I find this very annoying, and it doesn't invite the public to have discussions with S&V staff on their articles and reviews.
This tells me that the world we live in needs fixing, and starting right here. :-)

If I was a professional reviewer at Sound And Vision (ex Home Theater Mag), I would want to have an Editor; or a way to edit my reviews, articles, etc., like in a professional public life.

This blog is as much important, and there is no reason that we cannot edit our comments.

Please fix this or I will lose interest in sharing at a place where we are indeed invited to do so, but with that major disadvantage, which is unfair, unprofessional, and just plain a gross oversight.

Best regards,
Bob

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