Sound systems usually have subwoofers which are responsible for outputting the low frequencies of any sound played via the sound system.
These subwoofers have many parameters or controls on them that can be quiet confusing for the average person.
In this article, I discuss crossover and what you should set it to, because it has become a common question in my emails of late.
I’m going to provide the insight you need to set the right crossover so you get good quality audio out of you subwoofers.
With that said, let’s get into it.
What should I set my subwoofer crossover to?
The crossover frequency basically defines the highest notes the subwoofer will play.
You should generally set your subwoofer crossover 10Hz above the lowest frequency your subwoofer can handle. The typical crossover standard is 10HZ.
Most subwoofer manufacturers will specify the exact crossover parameters that work best with their subs.
Therefore, the first place you should look when considering setting up the crossover frequency is the subwoofer specifications that come it.
If you don’t have access to the specs then you should generally go online, specifically Google and just type in the make and model of your subwoofer followed by “crossover frequency”.
You should be able to yield some results that can be of help.
General definition of Crossover
Simply put, a crossover is a filter that splits audio signals into 2 or more frequencies allowing each split signal to be sent to the specific speakers that can play the audio most effectively.
Sub-woofer crossover is therefore the frequency at which your other system speakers rattle down to let the subwooder handle or play the Low-Frequency sounds.
In other words, the sub crossover acts as the frequency at which the speakers delegate the bass notes and LFEs to the sub.
Therefore, when the bass in the audio comes in, the other speakers tone down handing over most of the work to the subwoofer.
The opposite of this process happens when a high frequency sound plays. That is, when the high frequencies kick in the subwoofer rolls off and leaves other speakers to do most of the high frequency work.
This process happens so seamlessly.
Your speakers and sub-woofers work in harmony and smoothly to give you a great and balanced audio experience.
I’ve hit you with so many terms in this explanation so I’m going to discuss the Important terminology that one need know.
Low-Frequency Effects (LFE)
These are basically low-frequency, deep sounds that range between 3 and 120 Hertz.
Main & LFE
This is simply a crossover setting or mode on your receiver where the bass or deep sounds are sent to both the speakers and the subwoofer.
This is generally something most professionals will advise you against. It’s best you stick with the recommended subwoofer specifications.
Low Pass Filter (LPF)
This is simpy the point at which the high frequencies are cut off for the Low-Frequency Effects.
Low Pass crossover
This is the frequency at which the subwoofer will be working to reach the deep bass notes that a speaker can’t.
The low Pass Crossover usually ranges between 40 and 120 Hertz.
Any frequency above the Low-pass Crossover is reproduced by the main speakers for any sound sent to the subwoofer channel.
High Pass Crossover
This is the crossover frequency that is above the Low Pass Crossover where the speakers take over from the Sub.
If your subwoofer has a high pass crossover, you will not be able to change it.
Small speaker settings
A small speaker is a speaker that can only pass frequencies over a certain crossover point.
These speakers don’t have a full audio spectrum and can only pass the Mid to High frequencies.
Therefore, setting the receiver to “Small” for the front, center, and surround speakers helps you take advantage of the receiver’s internal crossover regardless of the speakers’ capabilities.
This is great if you have at least one subwoofer and will help you have a well balanced audio experience.
Large speaker settings
A large speaker can pass a full audio spectrum or in other words, can pass the Low, Mid, and High frequencies.
If you are using a 2.1 channel set up or if you have front towers with internal subwoofers, you can easilg leave the front speakers to “Large” so you take advantage of their full frequency range capabilities.
If you do this you should also change the sub setting to (LFE + Main).
This will basically distribute and delegatethe LFE and bass to the Sub-Woofer pre-out and the Front channels.