Crossovers are an essential component of any stereo or home theater system that produces high-quality sound. The problem is that understanding how they work and precisely selecting crossover frequencies for different speakers can be difficult to figure out.
Optimal Speaker Crossover: Step-by-Step
To properly adjust the crossover frequency for speakers, you must first determine whatever type of speakers you are using. If you know what type of speaker you have, you can work with the crossover range that is recommended for that speaker. Subwoofers, for example, should have a crossover frequency of 80 Hz, according to the manufacturer.
The remainder of this essay will take a detailed look at crossover frequency and what it is all about. Keep an eye out for the suggested crossover frequency for different types of speakers other than subwoofers, as this will vary.
What is Crossover Frequency?
A crossover is an electronic or electrical system designed to divide the sounds coming from a musical source and then provide the greatest output for a given speaker or speaker grouping. Most high-quality speaker systems include at least one sort of crossover as standard equipment.
On the other hand, crossover frequency refers to the point in time at which specific sounds will be lowered in volume or filtered out altogether. In audio, the crossover frequency is defined as the frequency at which the output of a speaker (or the input to an amplifier) is reduced by three decibels (-3dB).
Consequently, a crossover filters out the spectrum of sound that you would like to prohibit from reaching a specific speaker, but the filtering will only begin at a specific crossover frequency that has been defined.
What Are the Types of Crossovers?
Crossovers can be separated into passive (speaker) and active (electronic). It is unnecessary to use power to block sounds while using passive crossovers.
On the other hand, active crossovers necessitate the use of power and ground connections. Still, they provide greater versatility in managing the finer elements of your audio output. A closer look at both of them is provided here.
1. Active Crossovers
Each sound driver receives its amplification channel when using an active crossover. The available power and dynamic range (from softest to loudest) are substantially improved by assigning separate channels to the subwoofer, woofer, and tweeter. This allows you to have more control over the entire audio spectrum and the tonal response of your system.
Typically, an active crossover is connected between the receiver and the amplifier, filtering out any unneeded frequencies and ensuring that the amplifier does not waste energy by pushing them to higher levels. This guarantees that the amplifier may concentrate only on delivering the frequencies you want to hear from a given speaker system.
Aside from volume controls on the channels, active crossovers are equipped with sound balance settings that allow you to maintain the sound balance from all drivers. Some active crossover designs have additional sound-processing functions, such as equalization, which allow you to fine-tune the sound you hear until you are completely satisfied with the result.
The disadvantage of active crossovers, on the other hand, is that they require +12V, ground, and turn-on connections to function properly. Because of this, they are more difficult to install and configure.
If you have a little extra time on your hands, you should handle this challenge. The benefits exceed the complexity in setting up active crossovers, which is why most people are serious about their music choice for systems that have active crossovers. It is the most effective method of ensuring that your speakers continue to produce crisp and clear music at all frequencies.
2. Passive Crossovers
Active crossovers do not require a connection to an electrical power source to function. In-line crossovers and component crossovers are the two types of crossovers that can be used in this configuration. The latter is positioned between the amplifier and the speakers, while the former is positioned between the amplifier.
3. Passive Component Crossovers
These crossovers are designed to be included in the signal path after the amplifier. They are equipped with a tiny network of capacitors and coils and are placed close to the speakers to improve sound quality. A component crossover is a speaker system designed to offer the greatest performance possible right out of the box with little or no need for additional adjustments. They are also straightforward to install and configure.
A full-range signal first exits the amplifier when using a passive component crossover. It then travels to the crossover, divided into two distinct sections by the passive component.
The tweeter is responsible for sending high notes, while the woofer is responsible for sending mid- and low-range notes. When the tweeter sound is perceived as too loud for the woofer, most passive component crossover systems allow you to adjust the tweeter volume slightly.
Because it is filtering a signal that has already been amplified, a passive component crossover will waste electrical power when used. Heat is produced as a result of the undesired sounds.
It is also necessary to consider that speakers do not keep a constant impedance when they are playing audio signals. A passive component crossover’s crossover point or frequency response can be altered due to this. This can result in some variations in the definition of the sounds.
4. In-Line Crossovers
In contrast to component crossovers, which work primarily on speaker-level signals, in-line crossovers are connected before the amplifier. These crossovers have a cylinder shape and are equipped with RCA connections on both cable ends. They are designed to connect directly to the inputs of your amplifier.
When used in conjunction with an amplifier, in-line crossovers eliminate energy waste caused by the amplifier processing signals that are not required. So you won’t have to be concerned about circumstances such as high frequencies being handled by a subwoofer amplifier, for example.
Installing an in-line crossover system can significantly improve the sound quality of your system, which is especially beneficial if you have a component speaker setup.
But you should be aware that in-line crossovers are typically pre-set to a fixed frequency and cannot be changed. Aside from that, in-line crossovers behave differently depending on the amplifier being used. This means that the crossing points may be affected unpredictably.
Which Crossover Types Are the Best?
Having seen all of the different crossover types, you’re probably wondering which one to choose. Ultimately, your decision should be based on how serious you intend to take your sound system’s performance. If you intend to upgrade or expand your system frequently in the future, a separate outboard crossover is a good investment.
In this situation, relying on the crossovers that have been incorporated into the amplifier and receiver is not a good idea. While they are functionally adequate, they do not provide the same amount of control as an external or outboard device.
Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about losing the crossover if you decide to replace your amplifier.
What is a Crossover Slope?
The crossover’s filtering capacity depth is referred to as the crossover’s slope. It simply refers to how steep the crossover filtering might be when operating beyond the crossover frequency boundary. In the same way that a crossover frequency is measured in decibels, slopes are also measured.
When it comes to crossover slopes, the bigger, the better, it is important to note that a steeper or steeper slope indicates that the crossover is particularly successful at filtering out a certain sound frequency before it is sent out through the speaker system.
What is a Good Crossover Frequency?
A good crossover frequency is a range of frequencies within which the crossover can perfectly filter out undesired noises. Choosing a single crossover frequency for every speaker is difficult because there are so many variables to consider while making this decision. The good news is that several common frequency ranges will perform well in various situations.
- For subwoofers: 80 Hz is recommended for the crossover (low pass). A good low-pass frequency keeps the subwoofer bass focused while keeping any midrange sounds out of the mix. It is most effective for low-end bass.
- Ideally, the crossover frequency should be between 56 and 60 Hz (high pass) for main speakers. Low-end bass, which can create distortion, is filtered away at this frequency. This crossover is the ideal compromise when it comes to midrange bass capability and full-range sounds.
- For tweeters and 2-way speakers: When using high pass or high/low pass filters, 3.5 kHz is the ideal crossover frequency. This range is critical for these speakers, and anything below it will result in inferior performance.
- For midrange speakers and woofers: Typically, a 1-3.5 kHz frequency range is recommended for crossover (low pass). Most woofers and midrange speakers cannot produce high-quality sound above this frequency range. This is why they need to be supplemented with tweeters to avoid poor treble performance.
- For 3-way speakers: The crossover frequencies that are recommended are 500 Hz and 3.5 kHz. The middle drivers in a 3-way system are unlikely to provide high-quality sound at frequencies lower than 500 Hz or 250 Hz.
How to Determine Speaker Crossover Frequency?
You’ve seen some recommended ranges to work with for your speaker crossover, and now you’re ready to get started. To establish the crossover frequency, you must first understand the sort of speaker with which you are dealing.
If you can tell the difference between 2-way and 3-way speakers or between woofers and subwoofers, you can apply the crossover frequencies advised to them.
Here’s What You Should Do for More Specific Setting
Only the frequency response specifications for your speaker should be found on the speaker’s specification sheet. It will look something like “32-10,000Hz” or some other number within that range of frequencies.
With the remote, navigate to the setup menu on your receiver and look for the section of the menu that emphasizes the size of your speakers and the location of your crossover point. The procedure for locating this menu will differ from one product to the next. Therefore, you may need to consult your product’s instruction manual.
While you’re in the receiver’s menu, have a look at the speaker’s specification sheet and make a note of the lowest frequency it supports. Most 2/3-way speakers will have a frequency response of 30, 40, or 55 Hz; however, subwoofers can have as low as 20 Hz.
Pay close attention to the settings offered in the crossover adjustment menu on your television receiver. Now, multiply the lowest figure listed on your speaker’s specification sheet by two to get the maximum volume.
If the value is 30 Hz, the crossover point in your receiver’s menu should be 80 Hz, as seen in the following example: This is to be expected with a normal high-pass crossover of 12db/octave, which is found in the majority of receivers.
The frequency at which your bookshelf speaker gives way to the subwoofer is referred to as the high-pass crossover point (assuming you have such a configuration, for example). If the subwoofer’s low-pass crossover point falls within a certain range, it will begin to taper down to prevent playing a lot of mid-range noises.
In this case, the response from the crossover point down to where natural roll-off occurs in the speakers will be flat.
No sound will be produced as long as the speaker’s assigned lowest frequency is below the “roll-off” point. In other words, a speaker with the lowest frequency rating of 40 Hz will have a roll-off frequency of around 32 Hz.
How Can You Set the Phase and Crossover Frequency on a Subwoofer?
Here’s what you have to do to set the phase and crossover frequency on a subwoofer.
How to Set the Phase
It is necessary at this point to arrange all of your speakers so that they are all facing in the same direction as each other before proceeding. You will judge the sound quality more accurately if you take this technique.
You may wind up having subwoofers out of phase with one another in terms of phase alignment. When this occurs, the bass quality of each speaker will wind up canceling out each other’s bass quality, resulting in poor overall sound quality.
If your speakers are equipped with RCA cords, you will be unable to interchange the wires. In this circumstance, installing a phase switch is the most prudent course of action. This can be accomplished by positioning your speakers so that you can still hear them even if they are not completely installed in the entertainment case or on the wall.
After you’ve completed this, pay attention to the sound quality. If you are not satisfied with the bass, you can adjust the phase to 0 or 180 degrees to achieve your desired sound quality.
How to Set the Crossover
You can see from the examples above that if you don’t adjust your crossover frequency correctly, your subwoofer may be unable to concentrate only on delivering low-frequency notes or deep bass.
If you purchased an integrated system that included an EQ feature, it’s possible that the crossover between your subwoofer and the rest of your speakers was set automatically. If this isn’t the case for you, you can manually adjust the crossover on your computer. Here’s how you go about it:
In either case, consult your subwoofer’s user manual or the manufacturer’s website to determine the low-frequency end of its frequency range.
- Set the crossover point 10 Hz higher than this frequency range (or go with the recommended 80 Hz).
- To ensure that the sound is crisp, pay attention to how smoothly the transition occurs between your subwoofer and the rest of the speakers.
- If you notice a bass bump at the crossover frequency, adjust the subwoofer level so that it is as close as possible to the sound from the other speakers in your setup.
Some Examples of Outboard Crossovers You Can Buy
Some of the best outboard active crossovers you can find in the market today include:
- Provides three Filter circuits for a variety of set-up options
- Variable Low Pass: 32Hz to 250Hz, Variable High Pass: 40Hz to 400Hz.Bass Generator : Frequency response 10 Hz to 20 kHz, ±1 dB
- Frequency Multiplier: x1 or x20, Selectable Slope: 6dB or 18dB / octave
- Independent Front and Rear Level Controls, S / N: ≥ 85dB
- DC-to-DC Power Supply, Outputs for 3-Way or Front, Rear and
The Planet Audio EC20B 3-Way crossover features three filter circuits, allowing users various configuration options. It has a variable low-pass frequency range of 32 Hz to 250 Hz and a variable high-pass frequency range of 40 Hz to 400 Hz. An additional feature is the presence of a bass generator with an operating frequency range of 10-20,000 hertz.
Additional features include remote and independent front, rear, and subwoofer volume and level controls.
- Professional stereo 2-way/mono 3-way crossover featuring state-of-the-art Linkwitz-Riley filters with 24 dB/octave
- Additional subwoofer output with independent Frequency control
- Absolutely flat summed amplitude response, zero phase difference
- Individual output Gain controls for all bands
- Individual output Mute switches for easy band adjustment
With its Linkwitz-Riley filters and 24dB/octave gain, the Behringer Super-X Pro CX2310 is a professional stereo 2-way and mono 3-way crossover well-known in the audio industry. It produces a flat summed amplitude response, ensuring no phase discrepancy between the input and output signals.
The system configuration also includes additional subwoofer output with independent frequency adjustment. When configuring your system, the separate output gain controls and mute switches provide you with greater versatility.
- Continuously variable crossover frequency with multiplier switch
- Separate inputs for front, rear and subwoofer
- Front and rear high pass outputs
- Non-fade low pass output
- Subwoofer bass boost
A constantly changeable crossover frequency, as well as separate inputs for your speakers and subwoofers, are included with the XV-6-V15 6-Way. In addition to providing non-fade low pass output, it also provides front and rear high pass outputs. It is equipped with a multiplier switch. Thanks to the bass boost feature, it will also aid in the delivery of seamless and airtight bass from your subwoofer.
- Parallel Input System - The front stereo input signals can be sent to the rear crossovers as well as delivered to the SUB crossover to create a 3 way audio system with only a pair of stereo inputs from your head unit
- Selectable Crossover Slope - The SX310 gives you a choice of 6dB or 12dB per octave
- Bass Boost - Custom tune the center frequency for the bass boost. This will hit hardest at the right frequency with the least amount of distortion
- Phase Shift Selector - Depending on your subwoofer, its location or enclosure, your subwoofer might have overlapping sound waves causing cancellation. This feature will correct your out of phase issue
- Independent Channel Output Level Controls - Improve the spatiality of the system by getting the right sound levels in each range of the frequency spectrum
The SoundStorm SX310 is a crossover with a plethora of features. An optional parallel input method and a switchable crossover slope are included. By adjusting the center frequency, you may offer the deepest bass possible with little or no distortion while improving overall sound quality.
Is the placement of your subwoofer creating cancellation of sound waves as a result of overlapping sound waves? The phase shift option on the Sound Storm SX310 is intended to cope with any “out of phase” difficulties that may arise.
You may adjust the spatiality of your sound setup by using the system’s channel output level settings. The brand provides a three-year warranty, one of the most extensive in the industry.
Should You Install a Crossover Frequency on Your Own?
If you have a thorough understanding of all of the principles covered in this article, you will be able to install an external active crossover frequency with confidence. The user handbook for any of the systems you purchase should assist you with your decision.
For those who find the whole thing too technical, it is best to stick with built-in crossovers or, at the very least automated variants of the same model year and model year. On the other hand, a professional sound engineer should be consulted if an active crossover frequency can improve the overall quality of your audio system configuration.
When you hear the term “crossover frequency,” you might think it’s some technical jargon that belongs in the background. This is true for the vast majority of people. For audiophiles, on the other hand, every improvement that can be made to the overall sound is significant.
How about ensuring that all of your speakers are only transmitting the frequencies for which they were designed? It’s a great approach to improve the overall sound quality. The crossover frequency for all speakers in any audio system can be tuned using the instructions provided above.
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Last update on 2023-12-01