How to Set Home Theater Receivers Large or Small, Find Your Right Speaker Setting

When setting up your home theater receivers, many people ask how they would determine the speaker setting size? The proper setup will be night and day in getting the best sound out of your home audio speakers.

Many receivers come with a way to automatically configure your system, like Yamaha‘s YPAO or SONY‘s Auto Calibration. They attach a microphone positioned at your preferred listening point hooked up to the receiver. However, the auto configurations for speaker settings are almost always inaccurate according to one simple logic you should use.

The important question to ask is do you have a subwoofer?
If the answer is NO, then your speakers size should be “Large”.
If the answer is YES, then your speakers size should be “Small” and you’ll need to set a crossover frequency.

The Large or Small term used in the industry is misleading in terms of what it’s actually doing. By setting the speaker size to Large, you are telling the receiver to send all sound frequencies to the speaker. When you don’t run a subwoofer for low ends, this is what you want in order to hear every frequency possible as put out by the speaker specifications. When you set the speaker size to Small, you then have the ability to set the crossover frequency for your low ends, thus telling your receiver to only send certain frequencies to your speakers and the lower end ones to your subwoofer. Your subwoofer is meant to product low end booms. It can relieve your main left, right, center or surround speakers the duty of producing lower-end frequencies, thus making them much more clearer as they concentrate on the mids and highs. Even if your fronts can product lower end sounds, it can’t do it at volume.

The most used crossover frequency is 80Hz, but you can set it to anywhere between 40Hz to 160Hz depending on what the receiver allows. The recommended range is between 80Hz to 120Hz. Some receivers will allow you to set the crossover for each speaker set while some only has a global setting. A good rule of thumb is set the crossover to at least 10Hz over the lowest frequency possible for the speakers.

There are cases where even if you have a subwoofer, you can set your front speakers to Large if they are high end speakers that can produce good low-ends, like the Polk Signature Series S55 floor speakers. However, you should try it both ways to see which way sounds better for you. At the end of the day, it’s your speakers and your listening environment.