Why set all speakers to small?

Why set all speakers to small?

In the realm of home audio systems, configuring speaker settings can be as intricate as tuning a musical instrument. One particular recommendation that often raises eyebrows is the practice of setting all speakers to “small” in audio receivers and processors. In this article, we will explore the rationale behind this approach, examining the benefits and considerations that make setting all speakers to small a strategic move for achieving optimal audio performance in many home theater and stereo setups.

  1. Understanding the “Small” Setting:

    The “small” setting in audio configurations refers to the crossover frequency, a point at which the receiver redirects low-frequency signals from the main speakers to a dedicated subwoofer. Contrary to its name, the setting isn’t about the physical size of the speakers but rather the frequency range they handle effectively.

  2. Managing Bass Distribution:

    One of the primary reasons for setting all speakers to small is the effective management of bass distribution. By directing low-frequency signals to a dedicated subwoofer, the system can reproduce deep bass more efficiently. This is especially beneficial in home theater setups, where a powerful and dedicated subwoofer can handle low-frequency effects, providing a more immersive and impactful audio experience.

  3. Relieving Main Speakers:

    Full-range speakers, while capable of producing a wide frequency spectrum, can struggle with the demands of reproducing deep bass. Setting speakers to small allows the main speakers to focus on midrange and high-frequency signals, relieving them of the burden of handling demanding low-frequency content. This often results in clearer and more detailed audio reproduction from the main speakers.

  4. Matching Speaker Capabilities:

    In multi-channel audio systems, speakers may vary in their ability to handle low frequencies. Setting all speakers to small ensures that each speaker, regardless of its size, can handle its designated frequency range effectively. This promotes a balanced and harmonious audio presentation, preventing distortion or strain on speakers ill-equipped for deep bass reproduction.

  5. Optimizing Room Acoustics:

    Room acoustics play a crucial role in the overall sound quality of an audio system. By employing a dedicated subwoofer to handle low frequencies, listeners have greater flexibility in optimizing subwoofer placement for ideal bass response. This can be particularly beneficial in addressing room modes and achieving a smoother bass output throughout the listening space.

  6. Enhancing Dynamic Range:

    Setting all speakers to small can enhance the dynamic range of an audio system. By allowing each speaker to focus on its specific frequency range, the system can reproduce both subtle details and powerful transients more effectively. This contributes to a more engaging and lifelike listening experience, especially in scenarios where the audio content features a wide range of dynamics.


While the practice of setting all speakers to small may seem counterintuitive at first, understanding the intricacies of speaker management reveals its merit in achieving optimal audio performance. By strategically redirecting low-frequency signals to dedicated subwoofers and relieving main speakers of bass duties, this approach promotes a balanced, detailed, and immersive listening experience. As enthusiasts navigate the complexities of home audio setup, the consideration of the “small” setting emerges as a valuable tool for achieving sonic harmony in a variety of audio environments.

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