What’s the Correct Crossover Setting for My Sub?

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Q I have owned receivers from Onkyo, Pioneer and Yamaha. With each one, the sound always seemed muddy after I used the auto-calibration function for speaker setup. In my experience, I get much better sound when setting all speaker crossovers to 200 Hz, or the highest available setting. Expert opinions I’ve read on the subject say this is wrong, though I’ve adjusted two friends’ systems in this way and they agree with me that the sound is better. Am I correct? —David Bone

A Tapping your AV receiver’s auto-setup/calibration doesn’t always result in an accurate crossover settings—the point where bass reproduction duties are handed off from the main speakers to the subwoofer. As you’ve discovered, in some cases the sound, post-calibration, will be muddy. If this is the case, it will be better to start from scratch and adjust settings manually.

For most speaker rigs, the THX-recommended 80 Hz crossover (the default Small setting in your receiver’s speaker setup menu) is a good starting point, even with ones that use freestanding towers for the front L/R channels. Some receivers also give you the option to custom-adjust the crossover point for each speaker—typically in the 40-200 Hz range. The setting you select should vary depending on the capabilities of your speakers. For systems with small satellites—ones with a 4-inch woofer, for example—you’ll want to set the crossover in the 120 Hz range. For tower speakers with large (usually side-mounted) woofers, this could extend as low as 40 Hz.

While you say you’ve had good results with a fixed 200 Hz crossover setting, I see two potential problems with that scenario. The first is that much movie dialogue and vocals on music is in the under-200 Hz range. (Male speech typically ranges from 85-155 Hz, female speech from 165-255 Hz.) If your system is configured to low-pass frequencies at 200 Hz, voices can bleed into the subwoofer—a speaker that’s not optimized for speech reproduction.

Another issue is that not all subwoofers deliver significant output at frequencies extending up to 200 Hz. So, depending on the capabilities of your sub, you might experience midbass leanness if your receiver’s crossover is set at that level.

StargateNH's picture

Always love the question/ answer posts. They are the best! Thanks

instybob's picture

I just play with my settings until it's pleasant to ME. I start with standard and go from there, usually making lots of moves. It's my home theatre and I get to do it just how I like it.