Why we Recommend Setting Most Speakers to “Large” in Your Receiver or Processor

When using high level it's essential, but can also benefit most systems

The text below is a transcription of this video.

Hi, John Hunter with REL here. We get a lot of questions about home theater setup and receiver settings this applies to the actual menus within your receiver. Some of the approaches that we use, which are quite different than the usual. A normal receiver comes set automatically to small. The delays are set to zero.

The gains per channel are set to zero and that’s done to be as conservative as possible. Obviously, receiver manufacturers have to assume that a number of the people that are buying them are real rookies. They’ve never done this before, so they’re trying to set you up for success. If you want the best performance, however, and it’s a different way of going about it.  What we do is we’re adapting things from the actual professional transfer studio mode, where all five of the channels and a five, one are actually set to large to full range. This is a whole dialogue we’re going to have with the receiver manufacturer shortly, but at the end of the day, the way that Dolby conceived of theater was from multiple channels that were individually controllable running full range. Their definition of full range is incomprehensibly difficult to do in the home.  They expect 20 Hertz to 20,000 cycles, so full bandwidth at volume levels that are remarkable at 105 DB average, which means you’re talking about peaks in excess of 115 DB.

That’s allowed enough to hurt your ears, but the bottom line is if we can get all the channels as close to that golden mean as possible, we’ve got a chance to get what really is supposed to be heard coming out of the transfer studio. So, what we recommend is that you go to large on the speaker settings.  Go into your audio video receiver, hit menu, go to set up, select speakers

and you’re going to have a whole choice of things in front of you. Size is the first one you have to deal with and it will say small automatically right out of the gate. By setting it to large, you’re expanding the range that the main speaker is supposed to be able to handle. Now, a lot of people go, gosh, aren’t I going to blow my speakers up?

And the answer is, if you’re an idiot, you can. I can assure you if you’re determined enough, you can do it to speaker set to small too. So there’s a certain amount of judgment that’s required to play in this hobby. 99% of the people seem to have it because the exact same speakers that you use in your two channels set to full range, don’t seem to get blown up all that often.

So, we trust our consumers. We trust our customers to have good judgment and know what they’re doing and if it’s simply too loud and you hear massive distortion, Prudent person would turn it down a little bit. The reason it’s generally not an issue, and we’ve done this for 25 years, with six and a half inch, two way stand mounted speakers, right on up to the largest things.

Really small speakers probably should not be run at full. It’s, just it’s too much for them, but anything from your normal six and a half inch, two way works brilliantly.  What we do is we ask you to set those to large. The REL then connects up high level and 0.1. I’ll explain that in just a second. What the REL gives you is the ability to extend that speaker’s envelope. Let’s say a normal six and a half inch, two way that’s well-designed can get down to somewhere around 50 cycles.

That’s pretty deep. It’s deeper than you’d think. It’s around where the kick drum works, right, and the REL can then handle the octave or octave and half below that. And what that gives you is that Dolby golden mean of a speaker that’s truly full range. Getting down into the twenties, even the very low thirties is a significant improvement on something that sort of dies off naturally at 50 Hertz.

That’s all we’re doing, we’re advocating for what Dolby stood for, for years and years and years. There is however another signal that’s needed, and that’s the .1/LFE that’s  the RCA to RCA interconnect that plugs into the back of your receiver. It’s marked .1/ LFE and cleverly ours is marked 0.1/LFE as well. When you do that, you have the best of both worlds, because you’re able to have with a high level connection, a truly full range speaker.

And with the 0.1, those incredibly high intensity energy bursts that happen with special effects, especially in the military genre and science fiction stuff, which seems to be so much of the big colossus pictures you have both. You have a full range speaker now between your main speaker set to large and our subwoofer properly dialed in using the high level connection and when those suburb huge explosions happen, you also have a dedicated 0.1. In our case, our point ones have a separate gain control so you can get that perfect and your speaker blend perfect. So that’s the reasoning for doing what we do.

February 13, 2022 - Posted in: Sound Insights