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Thread: Large or Small

  1. #1

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    Thumbs up Large or Small

    I have my front Monitor 30 speakers and my center csi5 speaker biwired. I also have a powered subwoofer. I have a pioneer elite vsx55tsi receiver. Should I set my fronts and center to large or small.

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    Default Small on both.......

    This question has been brought up many times. The census agrees, set your front, center, and rears all small, regardless of their size.....for instance I have large floor standing speakers for my center channel, I still have them set for small. You can experiment both ways, but I would suggest small, as there are many movies out there that have an extremely dynamic punch during some scenes that could be harmful to your speakers...

    scott

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    Just as a note, ‘small’ and ‘large’ have nothing to do with the size of your speakers – it has to do with frequencies. When set to small your receiver can be given a low frequency setting in which to cut off at and this should be the same cut off rating but on the high side for your woofer (THX and Dolby both say it should be 80Hz but I have mine set to 60Hz). When you set your speakers to large the receiver will send the entire signal to the speaker – which is bad 90% of the time. Even for those with gigantic speakers!

    The only time you would want to set your speakers to large would be if they went down really low (like in the 20’s) AND you have no subwoofer (this is for HT’s). If your receiver does not have bass management options then it probably was hard wired at 80Hz.

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    It actually does have something to do with the actual, physical size of the speaker.

    The settings "Large" and "Small" are an attempt to help the basic consumer in the setup process.

    If you have "gigantic" speakers, and they can't handle a "Large" setting, you should not own audio gear. There's no reason a speaker couldn't be setup as large if it is infact, large. It's not that important that it doesn't extend down to 20Hz, as you would simply not hear it.

    Gigantic speaker is certainly defined in many ways, just ask my wife....if it's isn't invisible, it's gigantic.
    Last edited by dorokusai; 07-06-2005 at 10:22 PM.

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    most people don't want there mains to play the bass. even if they could, why wouldn't you want the sub to do this resposibility. Only set mains to large if you don't have a sub.

    don't get me wrong, the mains will play up until the xover point then the sub will play the really low stuff.

    all speakers small, with a good subwoofer
    all speakers large, with no subwoofer

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    Yes indeed, large and small were designed to aid the consumer (laymen) making speaker choices – from there on I will just have to disagree (OK I also agree with the wife part :) too).

    I have always been told that large simply meant speakers that could play undistorted from 20Hz to 20kHz while small represented those speakers that could not and required a subwoofer to fill in the lows. And as you said, size is merely a simplification not really having anything to do with its actual size of a speaker. I was merely simplifying what large and small meant.

    I also know most consumers cannot afford true ‘large’ speakers and even if they could I would still recommend then not use the large setting and thus by-pass the crossover (something most HTiB owners don’t know). My reasoning would be first, subwoofers were specially designed to hit the lows most other speakers cannot (with authority). Even RTi12’s cannot compete with a PSW1000 – so why even try (I would set the crossover at around 60Hz with this combination). Why push the RTi12’s so hard to do what the PSW1000 could do without breaking a sweat? IMO setting the crossover at 60Hz (the towers to small) would allow the towers to control mid bass and highs which it can do with much greater ease. Next, anything below 80Hz is effectively non-directional so no one will know where the bass is coming from. Secondly, and more importantly, is phasing issues. Every HT beginner is not going to know the problems that can arise from bass coming from different locations. Then there is the issue of too much bass being produced (if you can actually afford speakers that actually go down to 20Hz) which can add as much or more than 6dB.

    My wife says only men are so concerned with the size of their speakers. :)

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    It's up to you in the end, I prefer to use my speakers on full, I like the fullness of the sound, and like doro said, it won't destroy the speaker it just won't play the sounds (loudly) below its frequency range.

    Try out both settings and see what you like better.

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    I know I’m probably beating a dead horse here and I totally agree that the end user always should try different settings and placements to find what sounds good to them (which is the root of the matter).

    Buuuuttttttt, I would like to reiterate, there is no real mystery or magic to acoustics – there really is a science to all this. The only real magic in this is finding that sweet spot between a tonally flat room and a live one that will suite your listening taste. So, let us set aside the fact that THX and Dolby both agree that regardless of actual speaker size satellites/center channel speakers should almost always be set to small and just go with pure ‘science’. As a former A/V Engineer for CBS I believe I can speak with some knowledge.

    Speakers set to ‘large’ on your receiver will bypass your crossovers – a feature you paid money for and will go to waist if not used.

    No, your speakers will most likely not be damaged by feeding them the entire spectrum of frequencies capable by your reliever – then again, as MJR stated, they simply won’t play them. So why send the extra power to speakers that cannot reproduce them in the first place? This heightens the likelihood of distortion and ‘weak’ sounding effects and music.

    Most novices will argue that their bookshelf speakers sound better in large mode when in fact they just sound louder – not better. The reason they sound louder is because of the distortion and compression. Bookshelf speakers rarely go below 50Hz, so anything they try to play (and they will try to play them on ‘large’ mode because you have bypassed the crossover) will only serve to hamper their dynamic range. Gone will be all the subtleness and nuances they were designed for.

    Set to ‘small’ the speakers will sound smother, tighter and not struggle with frequencies they cannot reproduce (loudly as MJR stated).

    So, what if you do have speakers that can go down to 20Hz – well, I would say you have speakers in the $2000+ range each. They will also most likely have 10” or larger side firing low frequency drivers (not simply woofers). These speakers would also have to have considerable piston area and compression to compete with subwoofers. However, if you did have these ‘gigantic’ speakers with the compression and piston area of a sub, 10”+ low frequency drivers and actually could get them to play down to 20Hz ‘flat’ (I would be impressed) then yes, you could set them to large – but as I stated above, then there would be no need for subwoofers anyway. :)

    For me, I would rather feel like I was wrapped inside a movie than fell like I was in one of those bass thumping cars with the volume cranked up. Its quality – not quantity.

    OK, rant over and I didn’t even get into the phasing problems of multiple low frequency speakers in a confined space or dB gain there of.

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    For the most part I like my speakers set to large to get a fuller more lifelike soundstage and not have to worry as much about blending a subwoofer to carry on the lower frequencies. It all depends on your speakers and what are behind them. Say you had RTI 12s running off a Yamaha AVR... I too would set them to small only to take the load off the yamaha because I know it will be hard on it otherwise. Personally I set everything in my ht to small except for my center because I find that the voices sound more real if I let the center do everything it is supposed to do and for 2 ch I have them set to large and I use a sub. (although I don't have the option to set my 2 ch system to small anyways :p)

    As for only setting your speakers to large if they hit down to 20 hz. I don't quite agree since even speakers such as the LSI 25s only hit down to 30hz ± 3 dB and they have an msrp of $3k usd / $4.5k cdn...

    The main point is to just try things out and find what kind of sound YOU like. It doesn't matter what we think but only what you like.
    Last edited by michael_w; 07-07-2005 at 03:35 AM.

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    Yep, totally agree on “sounds good to you”. I just wanted make sure people knew what small and large meant.

    The ONLY thing large and small means is the low frequency a speaker can reproduce can be managed by your receivers Bass Management. Why send the entire frequency range to speakers that cannot reproduce them and probably will distort the sound if you did? Using the large setting just tosses any real calibration of a home theater out the window – you won’t be able to manage your sound quality.

    Oh and you should not have to set your center to large to hear it better. There are better options instead of setting it to large. Did you setup your speakers with a Sound Level Meter using the test tones or a calibration CD/DVD? If not I bet if you did your center chancel problem would be lessened if not totally cured. Another trick is to aim the center toward the main listening area (you can purchase rubber feet to place on the front and use a rubber door stop(s) in the back to help aim it. You can use a laser pointer placed on top of your speaker to make sure it is aimed right. Centers rarely go down past 45Hz (most are in the 50-80Hz range) because once again, the industry standard says this is the typical cut off point where Bass Management takes over and your subwoofer kicks in.

    And I also want to clarify; this is mainly for home theater systems which gain the most benefit from bass management.

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    For my center setup I used an spl meter and test tones. I've tried both small and large and large just sounds better to me since my crappy receiver has a minimum crossover setting of 100hz. It is about 5 feet from my head and exactly in front of me as well as being ear level. There is only one seat in my room :) I'll try it again as small since I have a new subwoofer in the mix now and re-callibrate things.

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    Ahhhh, OK – 100Hz cutoff is not great and limits your options dramatically :( Sometimes I forget there are many different systems out there and I assume people can cut all the way down to 40Hz on their crossovers. If it has a dB setting (-10 to +10dB) for each speaker maybe you can lift it up a dB. What is behind the center channel? In my daughters room I got some 2” thick foam paneling cut to the size of the speakers and covered it with a polyester lining (with spray adhesive) and it effectively help the L/R channels by placing it 8” behind each speaker since they are in cubbies with partial board behind them which shoots the acoustics to hell. Now they sound much better – no more reverberation and because they are much clearer now the sound stage is much cleaner and easier to hear.

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    You're not particularly simplifying anything, just explaining the same thing over and over.

    There's a reason a crossover exists in a speaker, it's pretty fascinating to read about the actual design of a loudspeaker as oppossed to the instruction manual of any given AVR.

    You are also assuming that everyone wants a subwoofer, or HAS a subwoofer. In addition, acoustics, and the preparation of a room for flat response SANS EQ and/or room equalization is the last thing most consumers even think about.

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    I read alot of books, I set my speaks large.

    RT1

    Have a nice day.
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    I like crunchy peanutbutter.

  16. #16

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    Me too...
    RTi10
    CSi5
    RTi28
    SVS PB12-ISD2

    Denon 2106(pre/pro)
    Adcom 5503(200x3)

    Audioquest Diamondback ICS
    Kimber Kable 8tc biwire(mains and center)

    "Don't let your silly dreams fall in between the crack of the bed and the wall."
    -J. James

  17. #17

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    Originally posted by dorokusai
    You're not particularly simplifying anything, just explaining the same thing over and over.

    There's a reason a crossover exists in a speaker, it's pretty fascinating to read about the actual design of a loudspeaker as oppossed to the instruction manual of any given AVR.

    You are also assuming that everyone wants a subwoofer, or HAS a subwoofer. In addition, acoustics, and the preparation of a room for flat response SANS EQ and/or room equalization is the last thing most consumers even think about.
    My first post to the original poster was pretty simple I think and right to the heart of the matter. It is also 100% fact based on guidelines established by THX, Dolby Digital and dts backed up by industry professionals and supported by electronics manufactures – and is not my opinion. I did not assume anything; I clearly stated that in two events they had speakers that could play in the ‘subwoofer’ range or did not actually have a subwoofer this advice would not apply to them. It became complicated because people insist their non-large speakers sound better set to large – which is empirically false.

    As for speaker crossovers, they do not just cut off a signal at a certain frequency; there is a slope for which they begin to drop. Depending on the quality of the electronics that slope can be gradual to more sharp and in most cases the AVR is better designed to manage those cutoff points. Like I said, there is no magic or mystery to this.

    What does room acoustics have to do in this case with setting your speakers to large or small? Acoustic treatments will not make your bookshelf speaker play beyond its designed frequency response.

    Hey, to each their own. And like I stated, I just wanted to give the original poster the facts verses my feelings or intuition.

    Originally posted by reeltrouble1
    I read alot of books, I set my speaks large.
    I am always willing to learn more – could you point me to some of this reading material?


    Originally posted by PolkThug
    I like crunchy peanutbutter.
    Well, it’s a scientific fact smooth peanut butter tastes better :p
    Last edited by MaxxuM; 07-07-2005 at 05:08 PM.

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    Originally posted by MaxxuM
    Well, it’s a scientific fact smooth peanut butter tastes better :p
    I was with you till that last comment, now I know you are a crackpot. Texture and taste go hand in hand -

    Crunchy is where its at..... :D

    Michael
    Mains.............Polk LSi15 (Cherry)
    Center............Polk LSiC (Crossover upgraded)
    Surrounds.......Polk LSi7 (Gloss Black - wood sides removed and crossovers upgraded)
    Subwoofers.....SVS 25-31 CS+ and PC+ (both 20hz tune)
    Pre\Pro...........NAD T163 (Modded with LM4562 opamps)
    Amplifier.........Cinepro 3k6 (6-channel, 500wpc@4ohms)

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    Originally posted by MaxxuM
    ... It is also 100% fact based on guidelines established by THX, Dolby Digital and dts backed up by industry professionals and supported by electronics manufactures – and is not my opinion...
    Instead of reading guidelines aimed at selling HTIB. Try reading guidelines aimed at sound engineers, for surround mixing. From what I have found/read on the internet: typically in a movie theater the front speakers fall off by 40hz, and the surrounds are either 60hz or 100hz.

    Personally, what sounds best to me on my system. After trying numerous combinations of small, large and crossover settings. Is I have all my speakers set to large except my center, and I have my crossover set to 60hz.

    It is worth experimenting to find what sounds best to you, on your system. Use the all speakers set small with a 80hz crossover as a starting point. Then start comparing different settings.
    Last edited by TheReaper; 07-07-2005 at 09:57 PM.

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    Originally posted by TheReaper
    Instead of reading guidelines aimed at selling HTIB. Try reading guidelines aimed at sound engineers, for surround mixing. From what I have found/read on the internet: typically in a movie theater the front speakers fall off by 40hz, and the surrounds are either 60hz or 100hz.

    Personally, what sounds best to me on my system. After trying numerous combinations of small, large and crossover settings. Is I have all my speakers set to large except my center, and I have my crossover set to 60hz.

    It is worth experimenting to find what sounds best to you, on your system. Use the all speakers set small with a 80hz crossover as a starting point. Then start comparing different settings.
    First I would like to say that I agree, people do have to fiddle with the setting to find what sounds good to them – however these standards I speak of are very well established and not promotional.

    Regardless of what some theater speakers can and cannot do each of these three companies (DD, THX and dts) all certify a theater by coming in to calibrate each screening room. THX calibrate all their theaters at 80Hz regardless of what each speaker is capable of. Ever notice how that THX logo comes up – well, your local theater paid Lucas a heap load of money for that calibration. Speaker placement, acoustics and decoding equipment must also be certified. If a theater does not pay for these services they cannot show these brand names at the onset of any movie. DD and dts are significantly cheaper for theaters to afford btw.

    Now, if do not believe me ask your local theater manager/owner who comes in to calibrate their sound/video systems and then speak to that person and tell them what you just told me. I am more than willing to bet they will tell you exactly the same thing.

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    Originally posted by MaxxuM
    My first post to the original poster was pretty simple I think and right to the heart of the matter. It is also 100% fact based on guidelines established by THX, Dolby Digital and dts backed up by industry professionals and supported by electronics manufactures – and is not my opinion. I did not assume anything; I clearly stated that in two events they had speakers that could play in the ‘subwoofer’ range or did not actually have a subwoofer this advice would not apply to them. It became complicated because people insist their non-large speakers sound better set to large – which is empirically false.

    As for speaker crossovers, they do not just cut off a signal at a certain frequency; there is a slope for which they begin to drop. Depending on the quality of the electronics that slope can be gradual to more sharp and in most cases the AVR is better designed to manage those cutoff points. Like I said, there is no magic or mystery to this.

    What does room acoustics have to do in this case with setting your speakers to large or small? Acoustic treatments will not make your bookshelf speaker play beyond its designed frequency response.

    Hey, to each their own. And like I stated, I just wanted to give the original poster the facts verses my feelings or intuition.
    We don't really contribute to this forum with half-truths and made up ideas, but you're new here so you wouldn't really know. I realize that you're trying to establish a point, and it's almost there. Thanks for getting involved, this is what it's all about.

    I commented on acoustics because you mentioned your worthwhile project, and it's simply a statement. I never stated that it had anything to do with a speaker being large or small.

    The guidelines are simply guidelines, not absolute truth. If you believe them in their full capacity then, for example, you would be a THX slave or DTS slave....not both. You won't see any theatres stating "...Amazing THX AND DTS sound!" but you will find ALL of us HT folks running both formats. You can only setup your room so much until you get to the fact that you must address larger issues, IF there is a "problem" to begin with.

    A speaker being large or small, is a small issue. It's not hard to get great performance from a system, the measurement of that is wholly on the individual. There are some of us, freaks, that think WAY too much about it.

    Just because a speaker doesn't pull 110db at 30hz, doesn't make it ineligible for a large setting, that's just ridiculous.

    The slope of the speaker crossover is the better factor as it's a design application, not an electronic adjustment. The filter in an AVR has a slope just like a crossover. I would love to hear your thoughts on how and AVR slope pattern and adjustment is better than a speaker's crossover. More flexible? Sure, no ****, that's a no brainer, but that's about all you got, and it's not inherently "better" per se. It performs a function to integrate it into a consumers enviroment, as you NEVER really know what's going to connected to it, that's all, nothing magical or mysterious. If your speaker can't handle it, then you must adjust. You can't blame the speaker for the media involved.

    If there was no magic or mystery to audio then we wouldn't have this forum huh? Or the 100's of other forums talking about this or that. Or a Polk Cable Swap Program....blah blah.

    Reaper and Mike are on the page, as it's really subjective on the owners end, and simply not always factual, or per the guidelines. Ah, the beauty of this hobby rears its ugly head again. They go with what sounds best, AMEN.
    Last edited by dorokusai; 07-07-2005 at 11:05 PM.

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    Sorry, I guess I’m just a little frustrated – the concepts are not crossing over here. To put it in an analogy, many auto people would be frustrated with a neighbor that owns a Lamborghini and listen to them grinding the gears every time they take it out.

    A home theater should be an experience and that experience would be heightened if their systems were setup properly. Using industry standards as a guide does not make you a dittohead, just wise IMO.

    Setting your speakers to large forgoes the AVR bass management – would you buy a car and not adjust the seats or buy a piano and not tune it? Effectively that is what people are doing. You’re setting up your receiver and just hoping everything will be tuned right.

    Even considering telling a person with Monitor 30’s, a subwoofer and a capable reliever to experiment setting their speakers to large seems audacious to me. They cannot reproduce the sound the subwoofer can nor should they even try. If he set his crossover at 60Hz he would loose what, 5Hz which the sub would more than fill.

    OK, rant over this time. If anyone has a specific question about setup (like why they think their bookshelf speakers sound as good with lows as their sub) then I will be more than willing to put my 2 cents in.

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    Ok, now you are using vehicle analogies, no thanks. Run the flag up, run with it man, you're on your own.

    Happy Listening!

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    I don't want to jack phlinnie's thread here but I will answer your question. There is about a 3 foot space behind my CSI 30 and then a wall with a window in it. Here is a picture... my fronts are much differently placed now and sub hadn't even been made when that picture was taken but you get the picture. BTW that blue thing is my bed above the systems.



    O and crunchy is much tastier.
    Last edited by michael_w; 07-08-2005 at 01:46 AM.

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    Ok, I just recently finsihed playing around with this for a long time on my setup. I went back and fourth going from small to large and with every single crosover point you could think of and i eventually ended up leaving my speakers on large. In my expereince it gave me a much more fluid transistion between my sub and my front speakers. When i set them to small no matter what crossover it was set at there was still an audible gap where the fronts would kick out and my sub would kick in. They way i have it set up now it sounds like all of my bass is coming from my front speakers and that my subwoofer is not even playing. I love how smooth of a transistion that setting them to large gave me.

    Just as a refrence i am using rt55i's as my fronts in this setup.

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    Originally posted by MaxxuM
    Sorry, I guess I’m just a little frustrated – the concepts are not crossing over here.
    You post an answer to the question, stating your position which is fine. But when it is not universally accepted, you proceed to "school" us on the error of our ways. While we may not be A/V engineers at CBS, many have considerable knowledge of electronics, speaker design, audio and home theater. These same folks have spent considerable time and money on their rigs and are not just "setting up your receiver and just hoping everything will be tuned right". A little condescending...don't you think?

    To use your auto analogy (which doro has deftly run away from), your suggestions are like buying a new car and always having it tuned and serviced to the mfg. specs. Don't ever tweak anything or try anything different since they have obviously set up the car for optimum performance and not following the manual would be audacious. Tell that to SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) who represents 5,700 automotive aftermarket companies with annual sales of $30 billion.

    You obviously have knowledge of H/T and your opinions are welcome. You could be an asset to the forum but if you get frustrated because knowledgeable people don't accept your position, then your time here will be contentious at best. Hang around, forget your frustrations and it is possible that even you might learn something from the members of this forum.

    And BTW I also have RT55is and CS400i set to large (after much testing, tweaking and metering) so I guess I must just think they sound better that way....
    "Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right." - Ricky Gervais

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  27. #27

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    Right on Shack.

    You missed the point of my post their new one.

    Let me expand just a bit.

    I read alot of books, I set my speaks to large.
    Because.....................thats the way I like it.
    Because.....................its sounds best.
    Because.....................oh, never mind.

    Have a nice day.

    RT1
    REEL TIME THEATRE
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    BillyBags Rack
    MIT S1/3 cables
    Shunyata/PS Audio/Virtual Dynamics Power Cords


    Everthing Matters...Tubes Rule...and It's Over until it's Not Over

  28. #28

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    Another thing to consider is that all AVR's do not have the same options, and rooms have different effects on sound.

    My Onkyo crosses over at 80hz (non selectable) If I set the speaker to large, my speaker gets its full range signal with nothing added and no sound comes from the sub for my front speakers.

    Ideally I would like better bass management so I could set the crossover point to 60hz for all speakers. (to try and tame a massive room induced bass hole I have at 65hz)

    On my bosses NAD reciever (T762), if he sets his front speakers to large, it sends the the bass from any speaker set to small to both the sub and his front speakers. LFE output is sent only to the sub.

    I am just pointing out that AVR manufacturers to weird things in their design and setups as well. Any blanket statement about an unknown speaker/AVR/Room combination should be taken as a starting point and nothing more.

    That being said, I would say initially setting all speakers to small (reguardless of size) and sub to on would be a great starting place and should be the baseline that you compare all other settings to.

    Michael
    Mains.............Polk LSi15 (Cherry)
    Center............Polk LSiC (Crossover upgraded)
    Surrounds.......Polk LSi7 (Gloss Black - wood sides removed and crossovers upgraded)
    Subwoofers.....SVS 25-31 CS+ and PC+ (both 20hz tune)
    Pre\Pro...........NAD T163 (Modded with LM4562 opamps)
    Amplifier.........Cinepro 3k6 (6-channel, 500wpc@4ohms)

  29. #29

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    Point taken Shack; and yes there are a lot of opinions on arbitrary words like ‘best’ and ‘good’. I apologize for anything that might have offended – it is a passionate thing our hobbies and a worse mania when our experiences in those things are stoked.

  30. #30

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    Michael(McLoki), on the depression near 65Hz which apparently even the BFD hasn't corrected: if this is actually a "hole" rather than just the area between two room peaks at say 60 and 70Hz, then a suckout related to the sub driver's distance from the walls or from the drivers of the other speakers may be the cause. The wavelength of 65Hz is just over 17'(1130/65)and when sound at that same frequency from another driver about a half-wavelength away reaches it, they're out of phase and a partial cancellation results. A similar effect occurs when a wall or other room surface is about a quarter-wavelength away so that the back-and-forth distance the sound travels after bouncing off the wall is again about a half-wavelength. So, if your sub driver is about 4-5' from a wall that could be part of the problem, as would being 8-9' from the drivers of your front speakers(which would still have some output at 65Hz despite the 80Hz crossover). Experimenting with these distances might be helpful if you haven't already done so.

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