Originally Posted by NuSoardGraphite
Regarding the CS8, how is the clarity compared to other similarly priced center channels? If it will be an improvement over what I have now, I might just pull the trigger on one soon and start my upgrade process with that (I really want to replace my center and if I am going to upgrade to the Core series I would rather stay in series for the center if it is an improvement over what I have now)
I figure, I would chime in since it's kind of hard to find a review on the center channel CS8 and I just went way too deep down the rabbit hole trying to decide on this one or not.
Short answer: They are very clear and full for music and movies! However on some music tracks if you use the center speaker the vocals can get swallowed by the instruments and don't have the effect they could.
Long answer below:
From my standpoint I am someone who built a budget system in stages while I was dead broke, so I am someone who like most people are trying to get the most quality out of every dollar I could. Whenever I read these forums I get the impression that many of the people here sit in their living room with a snifter of brandy and gush over there B&W speakers that they paid $1000+ per speaker for. Where as I'm someone who if I stay in over a weekend and it's one of those glorious 3 paycheck months I can justify spending a few hundred on something I am going to enjoy. Typically this means your "entry level +" speakers you would find at BB or Fry's. I only tell you that because everything is so subjective in audio that it is important to see things in perspective.
With that out of the way. I recently updated My Denon 888 to a s910w and was updating my Sony cn3000 speakers I picked up on sale a while ago to finish off my 7.1 system. I am using the sony b3000 for the fronts and b1000 for the surround and back. On a side note I would put these speakers among the best bargain you could have gotten back in the day and I still love their sound. For me I was choosing between the Polk Audio CS, the Klipsch r25c and the CS8.
I swung over the the local fry's and took over their listening room when they weren't paying attention and hooked my phone into their system to listen to certain tracks. The polk and Sony were very comparable with the Sony's being a little more pronounced to me when listening to them side by side. The Klipsch sounded a bit more clear because the vocals in "Aloe Blacc's The Man" seemed separated and put out "in front" of the rest of the audio which I kind of liked. The Sony and Polk where flatter in comparison. I switched to Beethoven and found that what I liked about the Klipsch at first I hated in the second. The piano became very strained and pronounced and didn't work well (to my ears) with the rest of the symphony. Since my Denon has been described as a "bright" receiver I went with the sony, half due to brand loyalty and keeping the same tonality and half due to the price point.
Once I got it home I am extremely happy with the quality. I tested them out with a large variety of formats. From action movies like Transformers to Sports like Golf and Baseball to quieter dialogue driven films everything from the audio standpoint sounded crisp and clear. I think the secret is in the mix of the audio. When something is designed for a center channel the dialogue sticks out very well and plays quite nicely.
Then I played a bunch of different types of music and this is where the clarity really comes in. I listened via Bluetooth with Dolby surround on like an average Joe. The plain white T's Hey there Delilah sounded fantastic when it came to the guitar. You could not only hear the fingers slide across the guitar strings but it was clear enough that you could hear the friction from the texture of strings. Similarly with regards to cymbals in "Dog Days are Over" the crash not only made the generic cymbal notice but you could hear the metal and it's movement all without being straining. I think the warmth of the speakers help create an atmosphere for the music as opposed to getting sound in 7 different directions if that makes sense.
The gripe that some have voiced regarding the lacking of "Grunt" i say is a valid one. Though not a deal breaker for buying these but I feel with things recorded in stereo without the center channel being promoted in the mixing of the audio the dialogue/vocals, while still very clear, can get over-matched by the other parts of the audio. In tracks like "You can't always get what you want" and Angels and Empire, where the vocals play an important part in the emotion of the piece, it loses some of it's effect because the vocals aren't in the forefront of the sound.
All in all I would say pull the trigger if you are looking for a speaker in that $200 range that will give you a full range of audio. You won't be upset, especially if you are eventually going to slowly upgrade the rest of the speakers. From what I've read and heard the core series is a phenomenal set of entry level speakers and if the CS8 is the weak link it is still very good.