Large or Small Speaker? AV Receiver Settings.

When setting up your home theatre receivers, many people ask how they would determine the speaker size setting in AVR? The proper setup will be night and day in getting the best sound out of your home audio speakers.

Many modern receivers come with a way to automatically configure your system. They attach a microphone positioned at your preferred listening point hooked up to the receiver. However, the auto configurations for speaker settings are almost always inaccurate according to one simple logic you should use.


Do you have a subwoofer?

  • If the answer is NO, then your speaker’s size should be “LARGE”.

  • If the answer is YES, then your speaker’s size should be “SMALL” and you’ll need to set a crossover frequency.

The Large or Small term used in the industry is misleading in terms of what it’s actually doing. By setting the speaker size to Large, you are telling the receiver to send all sound frequencies to the speakers. When you don’t run a subwoofer for deepest bass, this is what you want in order to hear every frequency possible as put out by the speaker specifications. When you set the speaker size to Small, you then have the ability to set the crossover frequency for your low ends, thus telling your receiver to only send certain frequencies to your speakers and the lower end ones to your subwoofer. Your subwoofer is meant to produce low end frequency like explosions, revving engines, and sonic action you can feel in your chest and throughout your body. It can relieve your main left, right, center or surround speakers the duty of producing lower-end frequencies, thus making them much clearer as they concentrate on the mids and highs. Even if your fronts can produce lower end sounds, it may not do it at high volume.


The most used crossover frequency is 80Hz, but you can set it to anywhere between 40Hz to 160Hz depending on what the receiver allows. The recommended range is between 80Hz to 120Hz. Some receivers will allow you to set the crossover for each speaker set while some only has a global setting. A good rule of thumb is set the crossover to at least 10Hz over the lowest frequency possible for the speakers.


There are cases where even if you have a subwoofer, you can set your front speakers to Large if they are high end speakers that can produce decent low-ends. However, you should try it both ways to see which way sounds better for you. At the end of the day, it’s your speakers and your listening environment.