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Bass Management: Recommendations

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In my opinion, I feel that one of the best speaker configuration for the typical large living room is as follows:

Main Speakers: *Large
Center Channel Small
Rear Channel: Small
Subwoofer: Yes

* assuming bass capable speakers are utilized.

The reason why I champion this type of speaker implementation is that in most cases, due to Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF) or other cosmetic reasons, you are not going to be able to implement large bass capable speakers for the rear channels. Even if you were able, it would be difficult to distance yourself from the rear speakers, given the proximity of the rear wall to your couch, if the speakers were at ear level from the listening position, without being able to localize them. The same applies for the center channel. Most people don't have the shelf space to implement a large center channel speaker. In addition, even if you were to utilize a large center channel speaker, placing it above the TV will surely reduce the bass capability of the speaker and thus undermine what you were trying to accomplish. That being said, I believe it is best for the Main speakers (assuming large bass capable ones), or the subwoofer (if optioned) to produce the bass from the rear and center channels. In addition, I really feel that in a large room, such as your living room, the ultimate combination for critical two-channel audio is large bass capable speakers with a musical subwoofer. Large speakers tend to blend better with a subwoofer in larger rooms, assuming proper phasing, which can result in a seamless transition of bass between the speakers and subwoofer.  If too much bass gain is realized at frequencies where the subwoofer and main speakers overlap, active equalization can help to overcome this. 

Alternatively the user may wish to bi-amp their main speakers running the woofers as dedicated subs playing the same info as the other powered subwoofer all feed from the subwoofer output of the A/V receiver/processor.  Then you can apply a single correction curve to all subs simultaneously which will achieve the best blend and also allow you to maximize the standing wave reduction benefits multi subwoofer systems offer when playing identical signals and amplitude levels strategically placed in the room.

Choosing the Right Receiver / Processor

When you venture out on the market in search for your new Receiver or Processor, make mental note of how the unit handles bass management. If the unit does not have the bass management features that suite your speakers and/or application, don't buy it. Make the retailer aware of your concerns as they will surely get back to the manufacturer and will hopefully lead to design improvements in future models. Most importantly, make sure you get the right stuff for your hard earned dollars!

Key Definitions

LPF: Low Pass Filter. Blocks high frequency content from speaker.
HPF: High Pass Filter: Blocks low frequency content from speaker.
Large Speaker: Bass capable speaker able to produce full bass frequencies down to about 20 Hz.
Small Speaker: Speaker, usually bookshelf type, incapable of producing bass frequencies below 60 Hz with much authority or freedom from excessive cone excursion or distortion.
Subwoofer: Dedicated speaker, usually self powered, designed to produce bass frequencies only.

 

 

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