What Is a Subwoofer Crossover Point?

And how does it affect your listening experience?

Speaker with illustrated musical notes coming out of it

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Every A/V receiver on the market has a built-in subwoofer crossover point, which refers to the frequency below which sound is sent to the subwoofer, and above which sound is sent to the main speakers. Think of it as the tonal point where sound is relegated to either the subwoofer or the main speakers. Most receivers allow you to adjust this point, but few subwoofers offer this control natively.

How the Crossover Point Affects a Sound System

The problem with not being able to adjust the crossover point is that the fixed level is typically 80 Hz. That works fine with larger speakers, but on smaller one it will send too much bass, making them distort and prematurely wear out.

If the crossover point is higher, say 120 Hz, that might save the small speakers but it will leave a "sonic hole" between the sub and the main speakers. This presents as an overly boomy vocal response without much mid-range clarity. If the system has no way to filter low frequencies out of the main speakers, then the main speakers may distort from excessive low-end frequencies.

Some systems allow you to adjust the internal crossover point to a preferred frequency. The only downside is that you have to run a line-level connection from a preamp to the subwoofer and back to the amp. If you don't have a separate preamp and amp, you'll need a receiver or integrated amp with preamp out/power amp in jacks.