Setting an AVR for Large or Small Speakers

I have an Onkyo TX-SR805 A/V receiver driving Paradigm Monitor 11s (front L/R), CC-390 (center), Mini monitors (surround L/R), and PW-2100 powered sub. I found a page on the Audyssey website that recommends setting the speakers to "small" after running the auto setup and letting the sub do the so-called heavy lifting. But the Paradigm dealer and everyone I have ever talked to about this says you should always set the speakers to "large" regardless of their actual size/low-frequency response.

What do you think about setting full-range speakers to small as Audyssey recommends? The SR805 does not have a "Large/Small" setting; it lets you specify each speaker as "full-range" or set a crossover frequency between 40 and 200Hz. Where should I set the crossover for the speakers? If the speaker cutoff is (for example) 80Hz, should the sub lowpass be set to the same frequency? If I set the Monitor 11s to 80Hz, does that mean information below 80 Hz will be sent to the sub? Does the amp still send full power to the speaker even though it is set to small?

Kevin Hoeft

I totally disagree with anyone who says you should always set the speakers to "large" regardless of their actual size/low-frequency response—which means I agree with Audyssey that you should set the speakers to "small" when using a subwoofer, even if the main speakers are full-range. Why? First of all, if the speakers are not full-range, there's no point in trying to make them reproduce low frequencies.

Even so-called full-range speakers rarely reach as low as true subwoofers. In your case, the Monitor 11 specifies a low-frequency extension (the frequency that measures -3dB from the nominal level in a typical room) at 30Hz, which is pretty low, but not as low as the PW-2100, which specifies a low-frequency extension of 23Hz. I was unable to find the CC-390 on the Paradigm website, but the CC-490's low-frequency extension is specified at 43Hz, and the Mini Monitor's low-frequency extension is 42Hz. The specified on-axis frequency response (±2dB) of the Monitor 11 goes down to 42Hz, while the CC-490 goes down to 65Hz and the Mini Monitor goes down to 75Hz.

Then there's the issue of speaker location—the best positions for low-frequency drivers in a room are often not the same as the best positions for the midrange and high-frequency drivers. Redirecting all the low frequencies in a soundtrack to one or more subwoofers lets you optimize the bass performance of the room by placing the sub(s) independently of the main speakers. And because low frequencies are not directional—that is, you can't perceive the direction from which they emanate—they needn't come from the main speakers for the sake of imaging.

You're right that the TX-SR805 does not have "large" and "small" speaker settings per se. Instead, it lets you specify each speaker as "full-range" (which is equivalent to "large") or set a crossover frequency (which is equivalent to "small"). Unlike most AVRs, this one lets you set a different crossover frequency for each speaker individually, but I generally recommend setting it the same for all the main speakers as well as the subwoofer lowpass frequency.

The THX specification for crossover frequency is 80Hz, so that's where I'd set the speakers and subwoofer lowpass. You might want to try different settings just to see if they sound better—in particular, setting it a bit lower for the front L/R than the center and surrounds might work in your case, since the Monitor 11 goes lower than the others—but 80Hz is a good starting point.

To answer your last two questions, information below the crossover frequency is redirected from the main channels to the subwoofer. And the amp still sends full power to the speakers even though they are set to "small."

If you have an A/V question, please send it to

utopianemo's picture

For home theater purposes, setting those paradigms to small is totally preferable. On the other hand, two-channel music listening is one time where it's sometimes better to leave the towers on large and let them do what they were made for.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
For 2-channel listening, many people prefer to disable the sub and run the main L/R speakers full range, which is a viable alternative in this case, though I'd still be concerned about low-frequency room modes with the bass coming from the main speakers.
mailiang's picture

As Scott mentioned, even if the speakers are set to small the AVR amp will summoned full power to them. However, keep in mind that lower frequencies use more power. Setting your speakers to small and letting the sub do what it's designed for, will not only provide more flexibility when it comes to bass management, but it will also reduce the power demands on your AVR.


Scott Wilkinson's picture
And reducing the power demands on the AVR means it will play cleaner with less distortion.
Kris Deering's picture
I'm surprised that no one has brought up the point that this receiver features Audyssey XT for calibration. So instead of fretting over what is the best; Large or Small, why not just run the calibration process (use Audyssey's guidelines for the best results) and let Audyssey set the crossovers appropriately. It will determine the true in-room response of the speakers and set the crossover to where it should be. As for music, I side with Scott on this. I know most prefer to run full range but at the end of the day your room response plays a big roll in what your speaker can or can't do. With a receiver with Audyssey I would continue to use whatever they set the speakers at. It can't hurt. Some of the receivers with Audyssey have an Audyssey music mode (flat) that some find more appealing for music playback than their standard curve. Enjoy!
Scott Wilkinson's picture
...Audyssey is mentioned; Kevin is asking about running Audyssey and then manually setting the speakers to small. I assume the auto setup is ending up with "large" or "full-range" for the front L/R speakers, but this particular AVR doesn't have a "small" setting per se. To manually set the front speakers to "small," you have to specify a crossover frequency for each one. Hence his question.
K.Reid's picture

Notwithstanding issues concerning low frequency induced room modes, I prefer to listen to music without a subwoofer and run speakers full range. Why? Some subwoofers (particularly some models with large drivers) just cannot keep pace and rhythm with certain forms of music. A subwoofer can provide great bass foundation and weight to music, but not if it sounds disconnected, unnatural and lacks true integration with one's main speakers. This could be one of the reasons Paradigm went with smaller woofers in their Sub 1 and Sub 2 reference subwoofers as opposed to going with 15 or 18in bass drivers.

One key point with using subwoofers for music is to be sure that phase (if equipped) is set properly on the subwoofer. Usually there is a choice between 0 degrees and 180 degrees.

danne's picture

Chris from Audyssey says:
Maybe a better question is: "why did you buy a subwoofer"? If you want any bass playing from it (other than whenever the LFE track kicks in only in 5.1 content) then you should set speakers to Small.

This is not true for my Yamaha Receiver, I have set my speakers to large as they are capable of playing as much bass as my sub, and no matter what content I play, 5.1 or 2-channel, the sub is active and bass is played from both main speakers and the sub.

Audyssey explains that the bass is only sent to the sub if all speakers are set to small, but for me this isn't the case. I get much more bass with my speakers set to Large.

mailiang's picture

If you set your main speakers to large, in order to activate the sub you have to set the AVR's subwoofer setting to the plus (or LFE and mains) mode. However, in most cases, to achieve the most linear response, you are better off setting all speakers to small, as Scott mentioned above.


Kris Deering's picture
I understand the nature of the question. I've owned many products from Integra/Onkyo and any of the ones I've had with Audyssey perform the same way. The only reason they would set a speaker to LARGE is if the lowest crossover available on the AVR/SSP is higher than the measured response of the speaker. But if you felt that you're not getting enough bass presence, you could always raise the crossover. This won't effect the Audyssey correction and will probably give you more bass effect due to the nature of subwoofer bass output vs speakers. In the end either way is correct, it is just a matter of which sounds the way you want it to. As for the last post, it sounds like you have your setup in what I commonly see as a "Large + Subwoofer" setting. This means low bass information is sent to both the mains and the subwoofer. This should always result in more bass output since if the same signal is added to both, you should see at least a 3 dB gain. The only way it wouldn't be louder is if there were phase issues between the mains and subs that was causing cancellation.
jegascey's picture

Good Afternoon Mr Wilkinson

My name is Jerry Gascey and I am from Houston Texas. Can you please give me your honest opinion on the Sony SS-F7000, 6000, AND 5000 speakers. Even though these speakers are somewhat on the cheap side the reviews are well received across the board. Just by looking at the specs and you being the expert that you are how would you rate them?

Here is a link to the specs:

Would you choose a this setup based on four Sony SS-F7000 tower speakers as opposed to an in ceiling setup with
Niles 7" In-Ceiling Center Channel Speaker •
(2pr) Episode ES150 Series In-Ceiling Speaker with 6.5" Woofer

I know I may have talked too much but sometimes it's hard to get sound advice. Thank God I have been a Home Theater Magazine Subscriber going on ten years now.


Jerry Gascey

Scott Wilkinson's picture
I'm sorry, but I haven't heard any of the Sony models you mention, and manufacturer specs really don't tell you much at all about how good they sound, even if you have lots of experience. All three models have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, so they are not a difficult load for just about any amp.

I would definitely recommend floorstanding speakers over in-ceiling, especially for the front left, right, and center. You want the sound to come from in front of you near the screen, not from overhead. In-ceiling speakers are okay for the surround channels, but I always recommend that all main speakers come from the same manufacturer to minimize tonal differences, so i wouldn't mix Sony in the front with Niles for the surrounds.

goodfellas27's picture

So should DefTech Mythos ST be set to small? I have them alone with their back speakers. They have build in Subs: should I leave them at large or small? How would this affect speaker unique like ST?

KikassAssassin's picture

If you don't have a separate subwoofer, you should set your mains to Large. If you're using them in a surround system with smaller center and surround speakers, set the surrounds to Small, so the bass frequencies from the surround channels will be sent to the STs.

Scott Wilkinson's picture
If you don't have one or more separate subwoofers, set them to Large so you hear as much of the bass as they can reproduce. You'll still potentially run into room mode problems, though.
Kris Deering's picture
This thread is bringing up some great discussion with a lot of questions. Crossover settings have always been a head scratcher for most and the typical answer is usually set them all to small with a 80Hz crossover and forget it. In most cases that actually works pretty well regardless of how big or small your speakers are. There are a lot of benefits in crossing over your speakers regardless of their size because of the taxing on the amps, the true capability of the speakers, distortion and room acoustics. But it is difficult to say what the ideal crossover is for any speaker because even if you look at the quasi-anechoic charts for a speaker, that has almost no bearing at all on the in-room performance from place to place. This is where real-time measurements come in. With solutions like Audyssey, ARC, Trinnov, etc, they do a lot of this for you and actually set the crossover at what it should be based on the measured in-room response. If you don't have an AVR or SSP with a room calibration system I would recommend doing some research into a cheap RTA system for measuring your speakers in room with test sweeps or just get a Radio Shack meter and a test disc with some tones. Speakers with built-in subs tend to play lower for obvious reasons, but if your battling room modes it may not make any difference. This is one of the biggest benefits of subwoofers since you can move the bass producing element (the sub) to the most ideal part of the room based on its acoustics. That way your not fighting a room mode. That is a battle that typically can't be won if the speaker or sub is in the wrong place no matter how much output or EQ'ing you throw at it. 99% of the time, an 80Hz crossover is going to be a solid solution to most issues. It really doesn't matter how big your speakers are. But if you find yourself with some time, test it out both ways. Find some material with a nice amount of low end presence and start with 80 Hz and step down. Find the crossover that sounds like the best mix to you and you really can't go wrong. Remember it's your system and making it sound the best to you is always the best way to go.
jeckyll's picture

It costs nothing to try multiple settings and ensure that you find settings that work for you, that sound the way you enjoy and make you happy.

Having said that, a couple of things that I think are important from my own experience (Onkyo 576 receiver):

1) Audyssey is great for in room correction, but I would not trust it for Large / small settings (or the equivalent crossover settings)

2) Setting a coss-over point that is about 10 hz above what the fronts can comfortably deliver. (this means small or equivalent setting)

3) Absolutely forget about the Onkyo "D-Bass" setting, which allows you to set the fronts to large but still sends the LF to the sub. Sounds great, works not so great.

4) Ensure you play with your setup. It's your setup. Listen to what other tell you but try it and listen critically to make sure you're actually enjoying the settings.

Enjoy :)

funboy's picture

Audyssey assigns a 12db / octave slope to the bookshelf and 24db / octave slope to the subwoofer - which doesn't add up unless you have speakers that add the additional second order crossover by design. What it actually does it lets the receiver manufacturer do the bass management which would be wrong for most non-THX spec'd speakers. Audyssey Pro and ARC don't have this arbitrary fault which flies in the face of all inherent reasoning for standard Audyssey to be "listening to the room" (not sure about Trinnov).

LordoftheRings's picture

1. Audyssey does not set the speaker crossovers; the Onkyo 805 does.

2. For Movies; manually reset all the speaker crossovers to 80 Hz.
I am sure that the 805 set them all to 'Full range'.

3. For Music (2-channel Stereo); use the 'Pure Audio' mode.
That will automatically disable Audyssey, and set your two front mains to 'Full range'.

4. Audyssey MultEQ XT in the 805 is fine with Movies, but for Music (after extended listening sessions and comparisons), I much prefer 2-ch. stereo music listening without it.
The reason? Because the mic (Onkyo's own 'puck style' mic) isn't that good. And 2-ch. Music is more easy to discern than Movies.
And with Movies, the sub is very important; so is the center channel. Audyssey XT is very fine there.

* If your receiver would be the next one after the 805 (xx6 or later series with the true Audyssey 'pyramid style' mic), then you can use Audyssey for music listening too.

Just experiment, and see what you prefer. Me, I just shared with you what I found out about my 805 after extensive experimentation.
And the 805 has enormous power in two-channel listening mode; truly. ...Full range front mains. ...8-Ohm and 4-Ohm loads.
Check the review from Mark Fleischmann in the HT issue of February 2008 (avail. online).


P.S. Hi Scott & Kris. :)

P.P.S. And if you can, use a mic stand with a mic adaptor, for best results.
A camera tripod is inferior. And in particular with that Onkyo 805's mic (black hockey puck style).

P.P.S. I wouldn't use that Double Bass feature from your 805. Ever! It destroys everything that is good in life! Lol

plainretab's picture

Your recommendation to set the AVR's LFE low-pass filter at 80 hz conflicts with Audyssey's recommendation, I believe. Why not set it at 120 hz?
At any rate, 120 hz seems to be the generally accepted setting on AVS Forum.

Their Audyssey set-up guide says to: "Raise the low-pass filter setting (usually incorrectly identified as a crossover) of the LFE
subwoofer in the receiver / processor to 120Hz, if allowed." after calibration.

mailiang's picture

Although the 120hz setting may be accepted by some AVS members, many members including myself, caution that you if you set the crossover too high, you will have localization problems. If you have small speakers 120hz may be a good staring point, however, in many cases, lowering the setting to 100 or 80 hz renders the best results.


plainretab's picture

I think the AVS Forum folks are correct. I posed the question on that thread and was directed here:

If you set the low-pass filter to 80 hz, you're throwing away everything between 80 and 120 on the LFE track. It doesn't get re-directed anywhere. So 120 hz is the correct setting.

LordoftheRings's picture

What you're talking about just above is the LPF for the LFE channel only.
Then yes, you set the 'LPF of LFE' to 120 Hz (LFE channel: .1 only).

* But all the Speaker Crossovers, you set those at 80 Hz.

==> These two very different settings don't affect each other.

mailiang's picture

There are about as many opinions at AVS on the subject of how to set the proper crossover as there are threads.

From Ed Mullen, long time HT professional, who is a former writer for Secrets OF Home Theater And High Fidelity, and currently Director of Technology for SV Sound, one of the most popular and highly reviewed ID sub manufacturers. He is also a well known and respected member at AVS.

"There are common subwoofer set-up errors that could be causing some problems with calibration. Double check all of these things in The AVR or Pre/Pro:

All speakers set to small.
*Crossover set to 80 Hz.
Subwoofer set to on/yes.
"LFE + Mains" or any other channel remix options set to off/no.
Dolby Dynamic Range Compression (DRC) aka Midnight Mode circuit set to off/no.
LFE Channel (the ".1" in 5.1) is enabled (Pioneer MCACC). This is not the subwoofer channel.
LFE channel level is set to maximum (i.e., unattenuated) value.
THX (or any other) bass limiter circuit set to off/no.
Subwoofer pre-out level to -5 (on a scale of -10 to +10).
THX Ultra 2 Boundary Gain Compensation is set to off/no.
Standing Wave (Pioneer Advanced MCACC) feature is set to off/no."

80HZ is certainly not a fate of compli, but it's usually a good place to start. Setting the cross too high often causes localization problems unless you are using speakers that are fairly small. Depending on the speaker response, setting the filter below 120 hz more often then not does not exclude those frequencies. Your cross over is part of a slope, it's not a brick wall.


plainretab's picture

Most AVRs output a mixture of signals to the subwoofer. There's the soundtrack's LFE channel (.1 channel). Added to that are low bass frequencies that are redirected from the main, center and surround channels when those channels are set to "small".

Dolby Digital's LFE (.1) channel carries bass information from 120 Hz on down. So the low-pass filter for the subwoofer should be set at 120 hz if you want all the LFE channel sounds to be reproduced. If you set it at 80, the .1 channel sounds between 80 hz and 120 hz are thrown away.

The crossovers for the main, center and surround channels can be set at 80, 60 or whatever. Any frequencies below the crossover setting are redirected to the subwoofer. I call them crossovers instead of high-pass filters because that terminology would imply that the frequencies below the cutoff are thrown away.

mailiang's picture

If you are referring to the LP filter, then yes you are correct. Many modern AVR's already default to that setting. It's also best to either defeat the SUB'S crossover (many subs have this feature or an LFE only jack) or just set it all the way up. That way you will avoid any double filtering below the SUB'S crossover point and generating a slope that is too steep. This would create a similar issue to what I believe you refer to as a cutoff effect.