Are My AVR Settings Correct for My Speakers? Ask the Editors

avr settings

Q: I just upgraded my front and center speakers, and I want to be sure I’m getting the optimal performance from them and the entire system. In particular, I want to be sure my AVR settings for speaker size and crossover are correct for my speakers. I’ve done a lot of research and found many different recommendations. I know it ultimately comes down to my own preference, but I want to be sure I’m not setting things up completely wrong.

My AV receiver is the Marantz SR5011. My speakers are all from Definitive Technology: BP9040 (front LR), CS9040 (center), BP8040ST (side surrounds), ProMonitor 1000 (rear surrounds), ProSub 800 (subwoofer). In the AVR, I have all speakers set to “Small” with the following crossovers:

Front: 40 Hz
Center: 60 Hz
Surround: 100 Hz
Surround Back: 100 Hz

Subwoofer Mode: LFE
LPF for LFE: 120 Hz

I use the system primarily to watch TV, Blu-rays, and 4K movies.

– Robert

A: This is an interesting question, since the BP9040 and BP8040ST have integrated powered subwoofers. The BP9040 is spec’d to reach 22 Hz, while the BP8040ST is spec’d down to 25 Hz. So, they can be considered “Large” as far as the AVR is concerned. One argument for using the “Large” setting for these speakers is that it lightens the load on the ProSub 800. One argument against doing it this way is that these speakers are not necessarily placed in the best locations for low-frequency sources, which could lead to a muddy, boomy sound. I suggest you try it both ways and see which you prefer.

If you end up designating these speakers as “Small” in the AVR, you can set a fairly low crossover for all four of them. However, if the “Large” setting sounds too muddy and boomy, a very low crossover setting might as well. In that case, I’d start with the THX recommended crossover of 80 Hz and perhaps try lowering it little by little to see where the muddiness becomes objectionable.

The CS9040 center speaker is spec’d down to 50 Hz, so it should definitely be designated as “Small.” A crossover setting of 60 Hz is probably okay, but I’d set it to 80 Hz. Frequencies below the crossover still get to the speaker, though at reduced levels as the frequency decreases according to the rolloff slope of the filter. If you set the crossover to 80 Hz, frequencies down around 50 Hz are pretty much gone from the signal being sent to the speaker. The ProMonitor 1000 is spec’d down to 47 Hz, so it should also be designated as “Small.” I’d set the crossover for those to 80 Hz as well.

Your Subwoofer Mode setting is correct. In that setting, low frequencies from the channels with speakers designated as “Small” will be redirected to the subwoofer, while speakers designated as “Large” get full-range signals. If you were to set it to “LFE+Main,” none of the speakers would get low frequencies, regardless of their size designation. This doesn’t matter if all speakers are set to “Small.”

Setting LPF for LFE to 120 Hz is fine. The ProSub 800 is spec’d from 20 to 150 Hz, so you could set it to 150 Hz, but the LFE signal has virtually nothing above 120 Hz—or even 80 Hz, as far as I know.

Of course, other AVS Forum members might have other ideas, which I welcome in the comments.

Update: In some of the comments, readers are recommending that you run the Audyssey room-correction process provided by the Marantz SR5011 instead of setting the speaker sizes and crossovers manually. That’s certainly an option, and I’ve heard it improve the sound in certain rooms dramatically. However, it doesn’t always get everything correct, such as speaker sizes and distances, in which case you need to manually tweak the results. Also, I’m kinda old-school and prefer to set things manually if it’s practical. If you’re curious, run Audyssey and compare that with your manual settings.

Another suggestion in the comments is to connect the subwoofer outputs from the SR5011 to the LFE inputs of the BP9040s and BP8040STs, which drives their built-in subwoofers separately from the main speakers. You can then set all main speakers to “Small” with crossovers of 80 Hz, and the subs in the tower speakers still get all the low-frequency information.

I didn’t include this in my response for a couple of reasons. First, the SR5011 has two subwoofer outputs, and you have five subwoofers—four in the towers plus the ProSub 800. You could use “Y” splitters on the AVR’s two subwoofer outputs, but that leaves the ProSub 800 without a signal. (I do not recommend ganging multiple “Y” splitters together.) Also, as I said earlier, the towers might not be in good locations for low-frequency sound sources.

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