Advantage of a big center speaker - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 47 Old 01-29-2012, 02:29 AM - Thread Starter
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What is the advantage of using a bigger center speaker other than being able to have a louder max volume?

If i only have a rather small bedroom (15sqm), would it be pointless to upgrade my center speaker say from a polk audio RTi CSi A4 to an RTi A6? or paradigm CC-590 to CC-690

Say that I use my system for 90% movies 10% music
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post #2 of 47 Old 01-29-2012, 04:37 AM
 
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To go from an A4 to an A6 would not be worth it. The Paradigm's are a much better design with a vertically arranged midrange/tweeter, but do they match your fronts? If your fronts are part of Paradigm's Studio series then definitely upgrade.

Yes a bigger center will give more output in the lower frequencies, probably not needed for your room. A better center would be an improvement in sound quality though and the best match would be 3 identical speakers across the front. If you have book shelf speakers and can fit a third where you center goes that would be best. Otherwise one with a vertically arranged midrange/tweeter of the same series will work better than one with a tweeter between 2 woofers.
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post #3 of 47 Old 01-29-2012, 03:29 PM - Thread Starter
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i see. So I should only go for a bigger center if its a vertically arranged midrange/tweeter (not in line with each other)

I haven't bought any left/right speakers yet as I am initially looking for a good center first.

Would choosing what brand or series of front+centers be that crucial for HT given that I mostly use the system for movies only and hardly for music? like only 5% for music perhaps. Like would I know if its a paradigm fronts+center or a polk if all im using it for is watching movies and hardly no music at all?
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post #4 of 47 Old 01-29-2012, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joms View Post

What is the advantage of using a bigger center speaker other than being able to have a louder max volume?

If i only have a rather small bedroom (15sqm), would it be pointless to upgrade my center speaker say from a polk audio RTi CSi A4 to an RTi A6? or paradigm CC-590 to CC-690

Say that I use my system for 90% movies 10% music

Some observations of mine

generally, 4 -5 inch drivers perform better in the mid-range function (150-3000 hz which seem to be the critical range for the center channel) in terms of clarity, tonal and timbre accuracy than 6-8 inch drivers of the same series/line.. at the same time good quality 6 inch driver would perform better than a low quality 4 inch one .. which, unfortunately, means that to decide what is best one should listen and compare different speakers himself.

my opinion is still that couple decent 4 inch drivers in a center channel should be enough
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post #5 of 47 Old 01-29-2012, 05:12 PM
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IMO, timbre-matching and blending is more important than size. As long as you have a good MTM CC speaker that is timbre-matched to, and blends well with, your mains, don't sweat getting a larger CC speaker.

-----
Side note: I think Paradigm had a really good thing going with their older MTM (midbass-tweeter-midbass) center speakers. (E.g., CC-350, CC-370, Studio/CC, CC-470.)

Then they switched over to BT/MB (bass-tweeter-midrange-bass) designs (with small, ~4" midrange drivers) that - for me - "localized" midrange/dialogue far too much. (E.g., CC-290, CC-590.)

The CC-690 and -390, with their BMT/MMB (bass-midbass-tweeter/midrange-midbass-bass) designs, helped to "diffuse" the mids so that they sounded more like an MTM speaker.
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post #6 of 47 Old 01-29-2012, 06:48 PM
 
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Any MTM design placed horizontally is a compromise. If you don't have any speakers the best thing you can do is to get 3 identical speakers for the front and place them all vertically. I know that is not always practical but if possbile it is the best solution. A bookshelf with a midrange/tweeter configuration placed on its side will sound better than the MTM version of the same drivers. Matching the front 3 speakers no matter which speakers you use is important. I wouldn't switch brands or series between the front 3 speakers.

An MTM speaker will sound different when placed horizontally then vertically. The radiation pattern changes and the difference is audible. It is real easy to tell using pink noise which is often the noise your receiver uses for test tones. By using an a center with the midrange-tweeter arranged vertically with woofers flanking it helps to regain some of that radiation pattern as the woofers can be crossed over lower in the speaker compared to an only MTM design. This of course assumes the speakers are well designed in other areas, so it is not always an apples to apples comparison.

Here is an article which covers MTM designs.
http://www.audioholics.com/education...peaker-designs

While one can debate that they don't sit off axis, that poor off axis response should be treated with absorption on the walls so that off axis response doesn't muddy up the sound. In a non-treated room a speaker with a good off axis response is preferred, actually it is preferred in about any room. But in a treated room the poor off axis response can be dealt with.
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post #7 of 47 Old 01-30-2012, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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i see. what front+center speakers would you then recommend given that:

a) 90%movie / 10%music
b) budget of $1800 for all
c) can play loud (reference +5 probably)

note: I have an SVS PC13ultra + SB12NSD subs and soon a Denon 4311 or Onkyo 3009. My surround speaker is a pair of mission bipole speakers (not sure if ill change it later on)
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post #8 of 47 Old 01-30-2012, 11:19 AM
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A big speaker center will have a wider range. However, it may not be necessary if you have receiver that performs good bass management and directs those deep end of the voice spectrum to a pair of high end subwoofers.
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post #9 of 47 Old 01-30-2012, 11:44 AM
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When I was deciding on a center for my studio 100s, price was a serious consideration. So when I heard the CC590, I was sold on it for price. Listening to it, it just didn't match well with the 100s. I must of auditioned the center 3 times. The CC690 was $1700 and a tough thing to swallow. So I went back to the dealer armed with a bluray and some music. After spending an hour with the 690, I was sold. It was a seamless blend with the 100s. Studio 100s and 60s work best with the 690. Studio 20s and 10s can get by with the 590.

Get the center that best matches your right and left channel. The bigger speakers help dialog big time. The 690 is a monster center... Hell it weighs damn near 80 pounds lol. But don't get the largest center if your two other main channels are smaller. It's just going to throw everything off on you and force an upgrade.
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post #10 of 47 Old 01-31-2012, 09:04 AM
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I recently upgraded from a small center as I was constantly having trouble hearing the dialog and was always increasing the output on the center speaker under the audio settings. It is a purchase I will never regret other than it started me on a spiral that in the end saw my entire home theater upgraded. I am now a fan of going big for the center channel. The improvement in my movie enjoyment has quadrupled.

As for what to buy within your budget, I can only recommend what I have heard. The best system I have heard to date is the one currently sitting in my living room. Mirage OMD15 towers for L/R duty and a Mirage OMDC1 center. If you need surrounds, the OMD5's are excellent. If you do not have the room for the OMD15 towers, the OM5's are also an excellent match for the C1 center. The OMDC1 is a very big speaker and one that I am sure you will be happy with. Either the 5's or 15's coupled with the C1 will rock your world in a room that size. Vann's always has these on sale and you can return them if you don't like them.
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post #11 of 47 Old 02-02-2012, 09:53 PM
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The center and the subwoofer are the most important speakers for games, tv, and movies. Period.

Unlike half the music produced nowadays that is super compressed, films have a big dynamic range, from soft sounds to high impact peaks. Dishes crashing in the kitchen. A train hitting a car. Gun shots. Yells. A crescendo of classical music in a movie score.

Those dynamic peaks are "squashed" and distorted if you turn the movie up loud, on a system that can't handle them.

Most systems can't handle them.

You don't need a big center for extension down to subwoofer frequencies...because...you'll have a subwoofer (I hope!). You need a "big" (or rather capable) center that:
a) is sensitive enough that you don't need 1000 watts of power for those dynamic peaks, and

b) can handle enough power so that 100-200 watts doesn't make it "sweat" and compress and distort.

That's why I'm not sold on Paradigm's current crop of speakers, the Monitor Series 7. I'm sure they sound "sweeter" and more "refined" than the last version, but jeezus, they don't look like they'll handle a high power movie very well! (low sensitivity and power handling).

If you're only watching romantic comedies or mystery science theater, don't worry about it. If you want some movies to be scary, fun, and exciting, like they're supposed to be, then you should get speakers that have a 91dB sensitivity at least. For the midbass to not poop out, you do need larger woofer than 4".
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post #12 of 47 Old 02-03-2012, 04:16 AM
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I do use inefficient midwoofers for all my fronts, including the center. As for size, the midwoofers are all 7" diameter in .5 cubic foot cabinets, large by today's standards. Driving them with an XPA-3 they can get uncomfortably loud. To say that speakers must be at least 91db/watt/meter rules out almost all of the best speaker drivers. Of course if one doesn't care about music and only about sound effects than highly sensitive drivers would be preferred. I'll stick with my 89db/watt/octave L/Rs and 86db/watt/octave center.
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post #13 of 47 Old 02-03-2012, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post

Driving them with an XPA-3 they can get uncomfortably loud.

The Revelator midwoofer has 50 watt RMS power handling. We don't know what level of distortion that's at...none? 40%? Speaker failure?

Its peak watt handling might be 4x that, or 200 watts, so you'd think you'd be fine with your amp. But if the driver is distorting at a smaller fraction of those 200 watts, then you're going to get a harsher sound at those levels. EDIT: Recanting that compression occurs on peaks. Rather, peaks are too short to heat the voice coil, so compression is something we worry about on program levels.

And that's the thing: you said "uncomfortably loud," but distortion-free sound is supposed to be more effortless, where one is surprised to find out how loud they were playing. How do you know it's the volume that is loud, and not the distortion components (just because it's not crackling and warbling doesn't mean it's not distorting)?

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Of course if one doesn't care about music and only about sound effects than highly sensitive drivers would be preferred.

Ha, fair enough, since that extremist statement is only reasonable when I was painting a more extreme picture of picking only 91dB sensitive centers. I guess I'm being reactionary to the lack of awareness even amongst enthusiests about power compression. There are the majority of systems that are compressing on peaks at the users' chosen listening volume. There's a tiny minority of those that do not, either by virtue of greater sensitivity, or high power handling (as you're saying yours is), or both. So I guess I was compensating.
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post #14 of 47 Old 02-09-2012, 08:43 AM
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I wanted to mention that I'm taking back my previous position that one won't necessarily get the peak dB output one calculates.

I'd thought that power compression occurs on peaks, too, but I've learned it occurs on average / program power levels. Peaks are too short to heat the voice coil sufficiently.

So if you need 250 watts to hit the desired peak level, and that's within the max power handling of the speaker, and you have a 200w+ amp, you're probably going to hit those dB.

If you're RIGHT up against the speaker's max peak watt-handling, then you might wonder if the manufacturer derived that rating by "threshold of speaker destruction" or more ideally "onset of 3% distortion," which might be from the voice coil leaving the magnetic gap where there's the most linear flux.
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post #15 of 47 Old 05-08-2012, 05:01 PM
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Just thought I'd use this thread to ask a question about my old Paradigm CC-300 center speaker.

This speaker is very crisp and detailed, so there's no problem in that department but I find it lacks weight/bass. I'd love the dialogue to have a heftier sound to it. I have it set as SMALL. I was wondering if there is anything I can do to to achieve this? I was even thinking about buying a "normal" Paradigm speaker to use as the center.
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post #16 of 47 Old 06-18-2012, 10:14 PM
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You should play with placement. Might have a hole in the FR for the center. A tool like REW will let you see this.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
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post #17 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Majestyk View Post

Just thought I'd use this thread to ask a question about my old Paradigm CC-300 center speaker.


This speaker is very crisp and detailed, so there's no problem in that department but I find it lacks weight/bass. I'd love the dialogue to have a heftier sound to it. I have it set as SMALL. I was wondering if there is anything I can do to to achieve this? I was even thinking about buying a "normal" Paradigm speaker to use as the center.

My experience with having gone through 4 or 5 different center channel speakers is that I don't like the way I lose the lower register of male speaking voices with them. I want to hear the baritone quality of Jeremy Iron's voice as well with a center speaker as I do through my Legacy Signature II front L/R speakers, set to a phantom setting. The biggest center channel I have tried so far was a Paradigm CC570v3, but I lost all the quality in male voices. If I could afford it, I would buy a Legacy Marquis, and be done with it, but it runs over $3000!

Yes, I know that my sub is supposed to take care of what the center speaker cannot produce, but I have not been able to find any crossover settings in two different receivers(Yamaha RX-V1800 and Onkyo 809) that will come close to replicating the vocal quality from my Legacy Signature IIs set to phantom.

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post #18 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 07:54 AM
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Some people think that bigger is better for center speakers.

Since the purpose of a center speaker is midrange center-fill, this is kind of dumb.

A center speaker should have a frequency range of 120 to 3000 Hz, and should not go much higher or lower.

4-inch drivers without tweeters will cover this range, actually, so most center speakers are times 10 overkill.

The sound QUALITY of those speakers is what is important, for good clarity.

I would definitely stay with the A4; I am quite certain that it will play as loud as needed with no distortion, unless the AMPLIFIER distorts, which has nothing to do with the speaker.
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post #19 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 08:05 AM
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Most people muddy up the sound by having the subwoofer set to go too high, where it overlaps the front speakers and creates problems. The subwoofer should NEVER operate at the same frequencies as the front speakers, and it should only be used ONLY at the frequencies that the front speakers CAN NOT reproduce!

A subwoofer should NEVER be set to go above 50-60 Hz or so, and the front speakers should be set to go down to 50 Hz, or 60 at the very least. Front speakers that don't go that low are inadequate and should be replaced.

As for someone's baritone voice, that is entirely above 100 Hz, and a properly set subwoofer is never going go that high or have any affect whatever on the reproduction of any human voice; that is ridiculous! The range of human voices is from 100 to 1200 Hz, and a baritone does not go down below 140.

A 4-inch driver can reproduce any human voice from top to bottom and anything larger is inappropriate and may not work as well.

The QUALITY of the driver is far more important than its size for voice reproduction.

Oddly enough, some speakers that cost several thousand dollars, which I have owned, sound marvelous for music and not always optimal for the human voice.

By the way, the best-sounding speakers I have ever heard for the accurate reproduction of the human voice are the Gallo CL-3 speakers, which I recently purchased.

One TV program we regularly watch, "Foyle's War", has always annoyed the heck out of us because it is so hard to understand the dialogue; the quality is bad and the British speech patterns don't help.

The first time we watched it using the Gallo speakers, we were unexpectedly amazed by the clarity of the soundtrack and the ease of understanding it. We knew the speakers were amazing for music, but we hadn't expected that.

Our previous speakers were fairly expensive, and very good for music, but didn't do much for dialogue.



Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrot View Post

My experience with having gone through 4 or 5 different center channel speakers is that I don't like the way I lose the lower register of male speaking voices with them. I want to hear the baritone quality of Jeremy Iron's voice as well with a center speaker as I do through my Legacy Signature II front L/R speakers, set to a phantom setting. The biggest center channel I have tried so far was a Paradigm CC570v3, but I lost all the quality in male voices. If I could afford it, I would buy a Legacy Marquis, and be done with it, but it runs over $3000!
Yes, I know that my sub is supposed to take care of what the center speaker cannot produce, but I have not been able to find any crossover settings in two different receivers(Yamaha RX-V1800 and Onkyo 809) that will come close to replicating the vocal quality from my Legacy Signature IIs set to phantom.
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post #20 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Some people think that bigger is better for center speakers.
Since the purpose of a center speaker is midrange center-fill, this is kind of dumb.
A center speaker should have a frequency range of 120 to 3000 Hz, and should not go much higher or lower.
4-inch drivers without tweeters will cover this range, actually, so most center speakers are times 10 overkill.
The sound QUALITY of those speakers is what is important, for good clarity.
I would definitely stay with the A4; I am quite certain that it will play as loud as needed with no distortion, unless the AMPLIFIER distorts, which has nothing to do with the speaker.

The purpose of a center channel is not limited to "midrange center fill".

While it's clear that despite being told this numerous times you have no desire to learn anything here, for anyone who wants to confirm what the center channel's output consists of, simply take measurements. That will quickly put this "debate" to rest.
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post #21 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

Most people muddy up the sound by having the subwoofer set to go too high, where it overlaps the front speakers and creates problems. The subwoofer should NEVER operate at the same frequencies as the front speakers, and it should only be used ONLY at the frequencies that the front speakers CAN NOT reproduce!
A subwoofer should NEVER be set to go above 50-60 Hz or so, and the front speakers should be set to go down to 50 Hz, or 60 at the very least. Front speakers that don't go that low are inadequate and should be replaced.
As for someone's baritone voice, that is entirely above 100 Hz, and a subwoofer is never going to have any affect whatever on the reproduction of any human voice; that is ridiculous!

More misinformation. Not only are you completely incorrect about what the max sub range should be, you speak as though you believe that speakers have hard cutoffs rather than rolled off frequency response.
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post #22 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 08:28 AM
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I'll put my information up against yours to a panel of qualified experts any time, and I think you would be embarrassed by the results.

Also, please don't characterize what I supposedly believe in such a ridiculous manner. That is nothing but a cheap shot at me that has no place here.

The day I can "learn" anything from what you have "told' me will be an amazing day indeed; one does wish to consider the source before one takes much notice of unsolicited unusual opinions.


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Originally Posted by bfreedma View Post

More misinformation. Not only are you completely incorrect about what the max sub range should be, you speak as though you believe that speakers have hard cutoffs rather than rolled off frequency response.
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post #23 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 08:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I'll put my information up against yours to a panel of qualified experts any time, and I think you would be embarrassed by the results.

Also, please don't characterize what I supposedly believe in such a ridiculous manner. That is nothing but a cheap shot at me that has no place here.

The day I can "learn" anything from what you have "told' me will be an amazing day indeed; one does wish to consider the source before one takes much notice of unsolicited unusual opinions.



So other than cheap insults, care to refute my posts with actual data points? Do I really need to post graphs of center channel output? Or link you to the literally hundreds of posts on these boards where your theories have been debunked.

Sorry, but it's you who is operating outside of both accepted theoretical and practical methodology and best practice. It's easy to see why in this post - you absolutely refuse to believe that what you "know" is largely incorrect. That you consider my posts about center channel purpose and sub xover "unusual" speaks volumes about your divergence from accepted audio science.
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post #24 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 09:44 AM
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I went from a larger center to a smaller one and the sound is much better but also because I upgraded the speaker (or at least I think I did, sounds better!).

As stated I really think it comes down to the driver itself, if 2 4" drivers are matched up against the same 2 6" drivers, you can most likely fill more space with the 6" drivers. Is it necessary depends on your room size and conditions.

My smaller center is crystal clear and fills a rather large room really well. I would first pick the best speaker you can before I worry about size
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post #25 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 11:32 AM
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Why do movie theaters use a center speaker that is just as large and full range as the left and right speakers? I am trying to replicate the full sounding voices like I hear at the movies.

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post #26 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 12:06 PM
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Well, I use 3 Center Channel speakers (CLR-2002) in a L/C/R setup, all 3 placed vertically, and you should go that route too if you need that "effect".
The L/R sides both have good musical VX-11 subs (as opposed to one-note subs) that make music and dialogue sound wonderful.

Recently however I auditioned the Sonus Faber Toy speakers and the vocal representation is very nice. a forward sounding speaker as the experts call it. But how good would it be over a whole 2 hrs movie would be something to be explored.
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post #27 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtrot View Post

Why do movie theaters use a center speaker that is just as large and full range as the left and right speakers?
For the same reason you use identical left and right speakers. Whether the soundstage is made up of 2 speakers or 3 speakers or 5 speakers, sounds should remain consistent as they move from left to right. With that in mind, you'd want all front speakers to be the same. When that's not possible, the goal should be a centre speaker that most closely matches your L/R speakers. Why would you want the middle of the soundstage to sound any different than the left or right side of the soundstage? Personally, I wouldn't use a centre speaker that I wouldn't feel comfortable swapping with my left or right speaker.

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post #28 of 47 Old 06-19-2012, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

For the same reason you use identical left and right speakers. Whether the soundstage is made up of 2 speakers or 3 speakers or 5 speakers, sounds should remain consistent as they move from left to right. With that in mind, you'd want all front speakers to be the same. When that's not possible, the goal should be a centre speaker that most closely matches your L/R speakers. Why would you want the middle of the soundstage to sound any different than the left or right side of the soundstage? Personally, I wouldn't use a centre speaker that I wouldn't feel comfortable swapping with my left or right speaker.

I agree. My question was more directed to those who seem to argue that a small center speaker with limited frequency range is the way to go. What you posted is exactly why I am no longer using a center speaker. It always seemed I lost so much of the vocal range with any of the 4 or 5 center speakers I have tried.

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post #29 of 47 Old 06-21-2012, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mtrot View Post

I agree. My question was more directed to those who seem to argue that a small center speaker with limited frequency range is the way to go. What you posted is exactly why I am no longer using a center speaker. It always seemed I lost so much of the vocal range with any of the 4 or 5 center speakers I have tried.

Your problem with the center channel sounds more like an issue with your receiver settings and what frequencies are being sent to the center channel, unless you have only tried small limited range center speakers. I have a center with two 5.25" drivers and a 1" tweeter and it sounds fantastic. It is only rated to go down to 85hz, so I still have it set as SMALL on the receiver. I noticed a huge difference (by ear only) between the Dolby Music and Neo Music (the winner!) settings on what gets sent to the Center channel, so you may want to give a center speaker another chance and just find the setting you like for different listening conditions.

During movies, with 5.1 or with Dolby ProLogicIIz on, the center really helps to localize vocals to the screen when the actor is in-frame, but still allows those out-of-frame to be heard from the left, right, and surround channels. During TV watching it helps to boost dialogue clarity because it better separates the dialogue from background noise/music of shows, the difference is the biggest for shows on the Travel Channel, Food Network, Discovery, Science, HGTV, and similar programming when a show's host can be located in noisy enviroments.
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post #30 of 47 Old 06-28-2012, 10:24 AM
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Phantom Centers

For one listener dead center in sweet spot, I don't think a separate center speaker will help to separate center channel content better than a phantom center would, all other things being equal. Meaning, the center speaker must be of the same caliber and positioned as well as the other two front speakers.

 

But, for people far off-axis, sitting to the sides of the theater, the phantom center doesn't work as well. The two speakers being of unequal distances will make the timing be off between the front and right speakers trying to generate a phantom image. And the soundstage will be more heavily dominated by the near front speaker, with the center channel content being more diminished.

 

Weak Centers

Still, that pain might be less than the harm done by using a weak center speaker with respect to the other front speakers. If you like to run the system louder with peak levels over a 100dB, so you bought two front speakers with a 10" woofer and 6" mid and two tweeters, or a horn, the you will be disappointed by a center with a couple three inch mid-woofers, or even a couple 6" woofers. The center will have become the weak link in the chain.

 

And it's not just voices coming out of the center. Explosions, orchestral pieces, laser beams, the pounding of horse hooves, etc.

If you use a disadvantaged center speaker versus capable more stereo fronts, you're saying, "I want high output for the front-left and front-right sound channels, but for 60%-80% of the movie (coming from the center channel), I want it to clip, sound harsh and strained and not as loud."

 

Or, you just don't turn movies up loud, and thus you don't make much use of those capable stereo fronts in cinema mode, and you reserve them for stereo music. Which is cool...but people should be aware of their system's goals and limitations.
 

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