Training, Crossover, Pass-Through

Career Training
I am interested in learning home-theater installation as a career path. Can you suggest a training program I should look into?

Carmine Abbate

The best training program I know of is offered by THX. Tech 1 is a 1-day intro, Tech 2 is a 2-day hands-on lab focusing mostly on audio, and Video Calibration is a 3-day hands-on class. I've taken Tech 1 and Video Calibration, and they are excellent, though pretty intensive—get ready to drink from a fire hose! Go here for more info.

Otherwise, I recommend trying to find an internship with a local installer. You probably won't get paid much—if anything—and you'll be given much of the grunt work, but you'll learn the ropes in a practical setting.

Crossover Query
My Onkyo TX-SR605 receiver is connected to Sony SS-F5000 front and rear towers, SS-CN5000 center, and a Yamaha subwoofer. Once I let the automatic calibration do its thing, the towers are set to full-range. Should I leave them set to full-range or manually set the crossover frequency specified for the speakers? Leaving them at full-range gives me more bass.

Jerry Gascey

In general, I recommend designating the main speakers in most systems as "small," even if they are capable of reproducing the full range of audio frequencies, and let the sub handle the lows. This is because the best placement for the low-frequency transducer (i.e., speaker) is usually different than the best placement for the mid- to high-frequency transducers.

The SS-F5000 is spec'd from 45Hz to 50kHz, while the SS-CN5000 is 85Hz to 50kHz, so these speakers can't reproduce the low bass needed by many movie soundtracks and music recordings. You might think you're hearing more bass if the SS-F5000s are designated as "large," but you're really not hearing the lowest octave of sonic information—instead, your brain is "filling in the gap" with what it thinks should be there.

I definitely recommend that you designate all five main speakers as "small" before running the auto-calibration function and let the receiver route all frequencies below 80Hz to the sub.

Please Pass the HDMI
I am planning to use an Onkyo TX-SR606 receiver in my home-theater room. Like many other receivers, this one has HDMI "pass-through." My understanding is that all the video sources can be hooked up to the receiver's inputs and a single HDMI cable can run from the receiver's output to the input on the projector without any loss of video quality.

This seems like a good way to hook up the components, because it would save the expense of buying multiple 30-foot HDMI cables to run across the room. It would also be simpler for my family to operate the system because they would only have to select the input source on the receiver to change from, say, the cable box to the Blu-ray player. Do I understand this "pass-through" correctly?

Alan Hurley

By Jove, I think you've got it! However, the term "pass-through" is not really accurate in this case. What you're describing is more correctly called "HDMI switching." Some receivers do, in fact, pass the HDMI signal through the receiver without processing it in any way, which is the real definition of "pass-through," but others apply various processing to it.

In any event, connecting all your sources to the receiver and connecting one HDMI cable from the receiver to the projector is exactly how modern receivers are designed to work. In fact, you can connect not only HDMI sources, but analog sources to the receiver's inputs, and the receiver will convert them to HDMI for output to the display.

One point of caution—30 feet is probably too long to run a cheap HDMI cable without a booster of some sort. I use a 10-meter Ultralink HDMI cable that works fine, but long cheap cables can cause "sparklies," dropouts, and other picture problems.

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to

ender21's picture

Just an additional note regarding the Crossover question for the Onkyo TX-SR605: The Onkyo receiver automatically designates any speaker whose -3dB point is measured at 80Hz or below as "Full Range." Silly, I know. So re-running auto-cal with "80Hz" as your setting (for example) will automatically change those settings back to "Full Range" again. So make sure you manually change the crossover point to something in the area of 70Hz to 90Hz *after* you run Auto-Cal. The Onkyo's crossover settings are either "Full Range" or a number of designated frequencies. There is no "Small" setting.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Thanks for the info, Ender! I didn't know that about the Onkyo AVRs. This is what I love about the Ask HT blog—the combined knowledge of our readers far exceeds any one person's.

Jerry Gascey's picture

So if i need to deignate the frequencies for each speaker then why do I need to designate them between 70hz and 90 hz if my towers are spec'd at 45hz to 50khz? Isn't 80hz within that range? Maybe I am confused. The higher the number the louder the sound is right?

ender21's picture

No worries Scott! I enjoy all your posts so glad my experience with Onkyo/Integra gear can help out a little!Jerry, Scott no doubt has loads more experience than I at crossovers and what's proper, but I'll give your questions a shot: if your speakers' -3dB points are at 45Hz, then it's a good rule-of-thumb to have your crossover points be about a half-octave above that, or 67.5Hz. Since the Onkyo doesn't offer 67.5Hz as a selection in the menu, you're stuck choosing 60Hz, 80Hz, or 100Hz as the closest settings to the half-octave rule of thumb. I wouldn't go *down* to 60, but instead would go *up* to 80. But the frequency response doesn't have anything to do with volume. It's representative of what frequencies can be played through your speakers, from low low bass (pipe organs or explosions), to high frequencies (cymbals on a drum set.) Volume is independent of that. -Rick

Scott Wilkinson's picture

What Rick said...

Matt Wright's picture

Thanks Steve,I have had the same question about persuing a career as an installer, so this was quite helpful :)

Scott Wilkinson's picture

You're welcome Mark ;-)

rick hawkins's picture

Is there any way 2 trick my toshiba lx177 video processor 2 think it is receiving a 1080p signal from a1080i 720p source? I am using Onkyo 606 as a hdmi switching system.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

There's no way to "trick" the TV into thinking it's receiving a 1080p signal from a 1080i/720p source. And the Onkyo will not upconvert SD signals to 1080p, only 1080i. Why do you want to "trick" the TV into thinking it's getting 1080p?

Bill's picture

Hi Scott and others, my front, center and surround's frequency responses are 38, 48, and 45Hz, does this mean I should still make all of them small, during calibration? I ran Pioneer's MCACC, it listed all of them as large. But based on what you said, would I be better off on changing all of them to small? I have changed them all to small as of yesterday, but still wanted to see what you and others say about crossover settings. thanks.

ender21's picture

My take on it is that yes, you want to set them to Small. While 38Hz is pretty low, that's the -3dB point of your speaker's frequency response. So it's already down in volume by 3dB once it reaches that frequency. Additionally, there is still a fair amount of information in many movie soundtracks that go below 38Hz, so sending that to the sub for reproduction is advisable. And finally, it takes the load off your amp for those speakers and shifts it to the powered sub which is designed for that task, allowing your speakers' amp(s) some headroom for other things if necessary. JM2C, Rick

Scott Wilkinson's picture

What Rick said...again!

Bill's picture

thanks guys. it's been crossed over as small speakers, as soon as I saw Scott's explanation. I watched a little bit of Casino Royale on blu ray, and it could be a mental thing, but the bass seemed slightly tighter. again, I do not have a frame of reference since I have not played Royale pre 80Hz cutoff, but that is what I have noticed thus far. Thanks.

Andrew's picture

I hate for you to have to be repetitive, but I find some of this difficult to graspSo using the rule of thumb you mention above for the Crossover. I have some Canton GLE 409 and they are rated (from their website) at 20hz - 30khz. I should set the Crossover 1/2 an octave higher, so 30. Therefore a crossover of 40 should be set on the Onkyo receiver(I have the 606)?Also after running the Audessesy auto-cal, it set all my speakers in the negative db. (I think it's under speaker calibration). The fronts are at -12db. Is this normal?Finally what about the subwoofer, I have it set between the 0db and +3db. Is this fine?

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