How To Set Crossover Frequency For Speakers and Subwoofers
Properly managing your processors and receivers is critical if you want to get the best audio performance from your audio system. properly managing your audio system will require frequency control. Most systems will recommend 80 Hz. However, not all system are easy to tune to that frequency. So, we will discuss specific tips to help you to get it right when you need to set the Phase and frequency on your speakers and subwoofers. Of course, these tips are general and therefore not specific to any brand or type of subwoofer.
Setting Speaker Phase
In order to eliminate distortion in your audio system, one of the most important considerations is phase. Speaker phase is a major determinant in how your overall audio system sounds.
What Is Speaker Phase?
You may be asking ‘what is phasing?’ Well, let’s explain in simple terms. When you are producing sound from multiple sources, such as two or three speakers, there is a risk of being out of phase. This means that each source could be contradicting the others. What do we mean by contradicting? Well, speakers produce sound by vibrating back and forth in a constant cycle. If speakers are in phase, then they are vibrating at the same rate back and forth and at the same time (the vibrating cones move in the same direction and at the same rate). When speakers are out of phase, it can lead to much distortion. For example, when subwoofers are out of phase with each other, the bass quality coming from each speaker will effectively cancel out that of the other. This results in poor quality sound.
To get your speakers in phase, you will need to do the following:
1. Set all of your speakers so that they are facing the same direction.
2. Ensure that speaker wires are aligned (wires are connected to the same terminals). In some cases, speaker wires cannot be switched. These speakers normally have a phase switch that you can use to switch around the polarity.
3. Now carefully listen to the quality of the sound from your speakers that should be in phase. If it still sounds muddy or distorted, then flip the phase either to 0 or 180- listen for quality- and that should be it!
Setting Speaker Crossover
Speaker crossover is probably the most misunderstood yet critical speaker-related setting in an A/V receiver or other audio systems. Speaker crossover is a component of every speaker, expect full range speakers and speakers controlled by software. In fact, crossover is a component of many other audio systems including amplifiers, receivers and subwoofers. Most importantly, speakers with more than one driver in their enclosure require a crossover.
What is Speaker Crossover?
Crossover is the frequency at which speakers begin to roll off, and the subwoofer starts outputting bass notes and LFEs. Explained differently, crossover is where the unfiltered audio signal is divided according to a predefined upper or lower frequency threshold. Explained another way, crossover refers to the point at which your receiver stops sending bass to each of your speakers and starts sending it to your subwoofer. In other words, speaker crossover ensures each audio driver is provided with the signal range it was designed to best reproduce. as an example, crossovers ensure that tweeters only receive the highest frequencies and that subwoofers receive low frequencies. Because of this, crossover ensures that each audio device only received the frequency ranges that it is designed to handle. not any of the lower ones this driver was not designed to reproduce. As you might imagine, crossover is rather important!
If your system has an EQ feature, it is best to leave the system alone and simply set the EQ. However, if you want to set crossover manually, here’s how you can go about it:
- Check the speaker’s tolerance range/frequency range. If you don’t know the range, use a subwoofer matching tool. This tool will recommend the ideal SVS subwoofer for your speakers and tell you the best crossover frequency.
- Now set the crossover point 10 Hz higher than the low end of your speaker’s tolerance range. In other words, set the crossover point roughly 10 Hz above the lowest frequency your speakers can cleanly handle. Keep in mind that the most common crossover frequency recommended (and the THX standard) is 80 Hz.
- Now carefully listen to the speakers an subwoofer. You are listening for a smooth transitioning between the subwoofer and the speakers. The blending/transitioning should sound clean and seamless. When this happens, you won’t be able to localize the bass and everything will play in unison.
- In some cases, you might notice issues such as a bass bump at the crossover frequency. If you notice this, try adjusting the volume control to match the output of your main speakers.
How Do I know My Systems Frequency Range?
In most cases, your speakers manufacturer will provide specs that indicate where your speakers stop producing bass. As an example, you may see something like “Frequency Response: 60Hz-20kHz.” What does this mean? The manufacturer is indicating that the speakers can play to 60Hz, but often the bass is much weaker at its lowest-rated point than it is in the rest of its performance range. Because of this, you will want to move the number up by 20Hz or so to be on the safe side.
The numbers below highlight general guidelines for speaker/subwoofer crossover frequencies
- On-wall or tiny ‘satellite’ speakers: 150-200 Hz.
- Small center, surround, bookshelf: 100-120 Hz.
- Mid-size center, surround, bookshelf: 80-100 Hz.
- Large center, surround and bookshelf: 60-80 Hz.
- Very large center, surround, bookshelf: 40-60 Hz.
- Tower speakers with 4”-6” woofers: 60 Hz.
- Full Range Tower speakers with 8”-10” woofers: 40 Hz or Large/Full-Band.
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