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(Setup: 2.1, Klipsch B-2 bookshelf speakers, BIC PL-200 subwoofer, Yamaha RX-v667 receiver, fed over HDMI)

In Windows 7, in the sound devices configuration setup, there's an option to set "full-range speakers".

If I enable this option, will Windows route these lower frequencies -solely- to my two front speakers, or will it duplicate these frequencies, sending them to these speakers, but also to the subwoofer? What is Windows actually "doing" with this full-range option (I.e., what's it setting the crossover at)?

What about when this same setting is set in the actual receiver itself? (like Yamaha RX-v667)

NOTES:

I've read that one shouldn't select full-range speakers with bookshelf speakers, as it's better to have those lower frequencies go to the sub, which is much better at handling them.

I set the "small speaker" option for my two fronts in my receiver, but I set the crossover at 80hz, as the B2 specs show that it has some "bass'ier" range than other bookshelfs, and I thought it'd sound a little better/more "full" by having the front speakers handle a bit of the bass. Not sure if this is sound thinking, though.

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Although this question does not deal with audio/video production, I do think it can be useful for others in a production capacity, such as setting up a mixing environment, or live sound reinforcement. The concepts, if not the specifics, are on-topic I think. –  JoshP Dec 18 '12 at 13:37
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2 Answers 2

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What is Windows actually "doing" with this full-range option?

Nothing.

If you set Windows to the full range option, it is not doing anything to the signal at the output. You're sending the full frequency range to the speakers. That's not to say the speakers themselves may not act on the signal though.

There are crossovers in the speakers themselves to send the proper frequencies to the tweeters and bass drivers (and mid drivers in a three way, etc).

Your B2s, are capable of handling frequencies down to 62Hz per the spec sheet. In practice, it will likely not perform stellar down at their limit. Having said that, most music doesn't spend much time at those frequencies either (though you haven't said what you're listening to on these speakers).

Another way to approach this question is, if you are going to employ a crossover to limit the LF going to the B2s, which device do you want to do the work? Do you want Windows's software crossover or the Yamaha's crossover (not sure if theirs is software or hardware)?

Personally, I'd go for the piece of audio gear rather than an operating system. Having said that, however, as a practical matter, unless you notice distortion, I'd send the full range to the bookshelves. Per spec, they're capable of handling most of the spectrum, and you can set the sub's crossover to fill in below. A little bit of duplication/reinforcement at those lower frequencies is not necessarily a bad thing.

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Much obliged. Given the 62Hz lower limit on the B2's, would you recommend setting the LFE crossover to 60Hz or 80Hz? I've thought it would be nice to have the B2's filling in a bit of the lower frequencies to mesh with the sub better, but I decided against it, thinking that it'd be better avoid scraping right against the edge of its limit (and thus, set the bass crossover at 80Hz). Thoughts? –  Coldblackice Aug 18 '13 at 18:23
    
@Coldblackice, I think your intuition is probably correct. No reason to have the B2s struggle when you've got a sub perfectly capable of handling the sub-80Hz space. –  JoshP Aug 19 '13 at 12:24
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The Full-range speaker option is only for speakers that are full range. Most do not cope well, which is why you have subs, mids and tweeters etc.

At higher volumes, sending full range signals to ordinary speakers can destroy them.

Generally, go with what the spec sheet for the speakers says for ranges, crossovers etc., although often there will be low or high pass filters built in to them.

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Would there ever be any kind of benefit to setting a full-range speaker to "small" (or a case where someone might want to)? It looks like my B2's might be considered full-range. I'm wondering if there'd be a reason why I'd not want to let them cover the lows of their frequency range, instead letting the sub handle it. (Why wouldn't someone want a speaker to cover its entire range of frequency, given that the subwoofer could also receive the same range to duplicate) –  Coldblackice Dec 18 '12 at 10:31
    
If you also have a Sub or a set of speakers with a low frequency response better than the full range ones, then yes. Also, if you wish to avoid annoying your neighbours at night, culling the bass this way (or any other way) could be polite :-) –  Rory Alsop Dec 18 '12 at 10:38
    
:) I do have a nice sub that handles it nicely. But, apparently these speakers have a bit of lower range ability. I'm wondering if there's any reason not to let them have access to the full frequency range of signal -- as long as the signal is duplicated, and the subwoofer gets it as well? –  Coldblackice Dec 18 '12 at 11:16
    
In other words, given that the full frequency range could be equally duplicated across all channels, why would you not want to just let every speaker receive the full frequency range? Won't they just not be able to play frequencies below their range, and those frequencies just won't be heard? –  Coldblackice Dec 18 '12 at 11:17
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Although I did say crossovers are built in to some speakers, generally you will lose quality passing the 'wrong' frequencies to a speaker as it will use power, move the cone, possibly distort etc. –  Rory Alsop Dec 18 '12 at 11:53
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