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Technical Note 02
How Large System Fonts Affect BassBox 5.1 and X•over 2.x

Originally, when standard display resolutions of 640 x 480 pixels (called "VGA" resolution) were the norm, there was only one size system font for Windows. However, this one size fits all approach was not adequate when IBM introduced its 8514 high resolution display system many years ago. At higher resolutions, such as 1024 x 768 (called "XGA" resolution), the system fonts became difficult to read because they appeared very small on the common 13 and 14 inch monitors of the day. So Microsoft added "large" system fonts to Windows.

Today typical desktop monitors are much larger and most computers are once again configured from the manufacturer for standard fonts (now called "normal" fonts). However, the user can still choose between the normal or large system fonts and some notebook computer users choose the large fonts because of their small high-resolution displays.

The Difference Between Large and Normal System Fonts
The large system fonts are approximately 25% larger than the normal system fonts. In order to accommodate the larger fonts, Windows must change its internal graphics resolution. Normally, Windows is set to an internal graphics resolution of 15 twips per pixel. (A "twip" is an artificial graphic unit created by Microsoft and used by programmers. A "pixel" is the smallest controllable point of light in the display system.) When large system fonts are used, the internal graphics resolution of Windows is usually changed to 12 twips per pixel. With fewer twips per pixel, the display is forced to use more pixels to draw an object. This has the affect of increasing the size of all system-level objects to compensate for the large fonts. Not only are the fonts 25% larger, so are the menus, buttons and even windows, themselves.

The Effects of Large System Fonts
BassBox and X•over were designed with the more common "normal" system fonts in mind. Many of the backgrounds and pictures in BassBox and X•over cannot be resized. How do they deal with this?

  • BassBox
    First, when BassBox first loads, it checks Windows’ internal graphics resolution. If it sees that the resolution is set to 15 twips per pixel, it assumes that normal fonts are being used and no changes are made. However, it assumes that large fonts are being used if it detects a resolution of 12 twips per pixel. In this case it will scale the main window down approximately 25% to force the main window to stay the same size it would have been if normal fonts were being used. Only the title window and main window are forced to stay at the normal font scale. All other windows in BassBox are allowed to increase in size as dictated by Windows’ internal graphics resolution. The reason that BassBox does not allow the size of the title window or main window to change is that the bitmap used as a background in the title window and the many bitmaps used in the tables and graphs of the main window are not scalable.
    However, the larger size of the title bar and menu bar may force scroll bars to appear because all of the objects inside the main window may no longer fit within the size of the Windows desktop. This may be a nuisance. However, it is simple to fix if the user is willing to switch to a higher running resolution. At the higher resolution all they have to do is drag the window size a little larger until the scroll bars disappear.
  • X•over
    X•over compensates for large system fonts only on the title window. The size of all other windows, including its main window, are allowed to increase. This means that some graphics such as the bitmaps used to draw the schematics will appear a little smaller in the enlarged main window.

How to Change Windows’ System Font Size
Important: We do not recommend that novice computer users attempt to change their Windows settings. Please seek the assistance of a qualified helper.

The most common way to switch from the large system fonts to the normal system fonts (and visa versa) is with the Display Settings dialog. In Windows XP, simply right click on an unused portion of the Windows desktop and select the "Properties" command from the pop-up menu. The "Display Properties" dialog will open. Click on the "Advanced" button on the "Settings" tab. You should now be able to set the system font size. The name of the setting may vary from one display driver to the next, depending on the manufacturer (ATi, nVidia, etc.). On many systems it is labelled the "DPI setting" and the normal system font is the "Normal size 96 DPI" setting.

We recommend that all desktop computer users configure their Display Settings for normal system fonts. If the normal fonts are hard to read, we recommend that the user upgrade to a larger monitor. Larger monitors can now be purchased for relatively low prices.

With the desire to display more information as opposed to less information, higher resolutions with normal fonts and large monitors will continue to be the ideal.


Technical Notes for
all of our products:

BassBox 6 Pro
BassBox 6 Lite
X•over 3 Pro
Typeface Collection
BassBox 5.1
X•over 1.0-2.x

Technical Support for the Woofer Tester 2
by Smith & Larson Audio:

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