Goodbye Center Channel - Page 15 - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #421 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
I've been center channel-free for two weeks now, don't miss it at all. IMO sweet-spot listening is superior with a phantom center—even with Atmos.
I've just tested my setup without the Center and I am in agreement.
It's going for sale.

Never thought I'd say that, but I was thrilled with the sound and dialogue with a phantom center.
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post #422 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 08:19 AM
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I'm running a phantom center and it is amazingly good, but I still consider it a compromise. I have no center because it is a bigger overall compromise to have one than not with my current video situation. But I will have me a center as soon as it is less an overall compromise than not.
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post #423 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Gooddoc View Post
I'm running a phantom center and it is amazingly good, but I still consider it a compromise. I have no center because it is a bigger overall compromise to have one than not with my current video situation. But I will have me a center as soon as it is less an overall compromise than not.
+1

As you know , for music there is nothing better than a well positioned stereo pair of full range speakers and one sweet spot to listen from (the golden triangle). Anything else including separate subs and you start dealing with significant challenges and often compromises.

For movies and MC music, the room acoustics and EQ become much more of a factor and the impact of the center channel is huge!. Better no center channel than a little missmatched one. IMHO

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post #424 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by turbineseaplane View Post
I've just tested my setup without the Center and I am in agreement.
It's going for sale.

Never thought I'd say that, but I was thrilled with the sound and dialogue with a phantom center.
Welcome to the club........... More isn't better, better is better.

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post #425 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by RMK! View Post
+1

As you know , for music there is nothing better than a well positioned stereo pair of full range speakers and one sweet spot to listen from (the golden triangle). Anything else including separate subs and you start dealing with significant challenges and often compromises.

For movies and MC music, the room acoustics and EQ become much more of a factor and the impact of the center channel is huge!. Better no center channel than a little missmatched one. IMHO
Exactly. Although a phantom is a compromise, with good mains it is better than anything but an identical center channel IMO.
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post #426 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by RMK! View Post
+1

As you know , for music there is nothing better than a well positioned stereo pair of full range speakers and one sweet spot to listen from (the golden triangle). Anything else including separate subs and you start dealing with significant challenges and often compromises.

For movies and MC music, the room acoustics and EQ become much more of a factor and the impact of the center channel is huge!. Better no center channel than a little missmatched one. IMHO
Your statement in bold type is factually wrong. And I've got a system that proves it.
As per your first sentence....most certainly.
I painstakingly took the time to find the right locations for my L/R.
And the sub is dead center(and the wall's mid-point) between the two. Perfect integration, plenty of bass.

As for the center(co-located with the sub) there is no compromise.
Nowhere in the room does the level of the dialog change, or become less than clear in any way.
But then again, my LCRs are pure custom. Although the center is not a physical match to the mains.

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post #427 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 10:26 AM
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Your statement in bold type is factually wrong. And I've got a system that proves it.
As per your first sentence....most certainly.
I painstakingly took the time to find the right locations for my L/R.
And the sub is dead center(and the wall's mid-point) between the two. Perfect integration, plenty of bass.

As for the center(co-located with the sub) there is no compromise.
Nowhere in the room does the level of the dialog change, or become less than clear in any way.
But then again, my LCRs are pure custom. Although the center is not a physical match to the mains.

Well - I'm absolutely no A/V expert, I just know that my testing in my setup yielded a better experience with no Center.

I'm sure it's different for all
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post #428 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by turbineseaplane View Post
Well - I'm absolutely no A/V expert, I just know that my testing in my setup yielded a better experience with no Center.

I'm sure it's different for all

There are plenty of centers that are a total compromise. Ones I would not take for free. And for people who have or have had those centers, an phantom would certainly be better solution.
But from what I've seen, many center channel problems are caused by poor placement.

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post #429 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 10:34 AM
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Ideally your center should be identical to your left and right speakers and at the same height. This is impossible for most people's TV setups with flat panels, but it is the ideal for movies to have a uniform soundfield and panning.

Then again, with DTS: X and Atmos the fact that your center channel is below the level of your TV and therefore the center of the image or the L/R speakers, is moot, because the speaker position in 3D (including height differential) can be compensated for. In a Typical LCR scenario with a center with horizontally arranged drivers below the TV, you can't have a smooth pan to localize sound objects. But with a spatially aware AVR that is no longer an issue, since you would still have the L/R be able to pan sound objects directly above the center channel, in the vertical plane.

But that ignores the fact that most centers biggest issue which is the fact that their drivers are horizontally aligned which causes wavefront misalignment / cancellation and smears the sound. Three bookshelves should be OK, or two center channels.

I actually like the idea of two centers, one (far) above and one below the TV. I like symmetry though.

I have a feeling the new crop of DTS: X AVRs with proper custom speaker layouts will result in improved imaging across the front soundstage.
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post #430 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 02:53 PM
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I'm not sure of the cause, but the problem I've always had with my Center (Definitive 8060HD) is that it physically was never "wide enough" and thus the sound *always* made me feel and notice that it was coming "from that box" below the Plasma.

No amount of aiming it and changing settings ever seemed to let my brain not notice that the sound came out of the Center speaker (voice dialogue I mean) and not from the screen itself.

It was particularly distracting if the person speaking on screen was on the far right or left of the picture.

Anyone else ever feel that way?

Using no center speaker at all is wonderfully tricking me into feeling like the noise coming out of a persons mouth on screen is actually coming from the general vicinity of their mouth.
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post #431 of 443 Old 04-15-2015, 08:22 PM
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I also do not miss having a center at all.
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post #432 of 443 Old 04-16-2015, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
I've been center channel-free for two weeks now, don't miss it at all. IMO sweet-spot listening is superior with a phantom center—even with Atmos.
Enjoying those new Thiels? Sounds like they have decent dispersion characteristics.
(Which is generally a hall-mark of PSB speakers ).
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post #433 of 443 Old 04-16-2015, 04:06 PM
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I have one flat-screen employing two bookshelf sized Spendor S3/5's using a phantom center, the other is my projection system, using a combination of Hales Transcendence speakers for L/C/R and Monitor Audio for surrounds.

The two channel Spendor system, flanking my Panasonic plasma, spread about 5 feet apart, produces the most convincing "coming from the screen" effect I've ever experienced. You really aren't aware of the speakers at all. And I am a real stickler about that issue. TheOne thing about small speakers, especially well designed ones, is just how much they can disappear and float the sonic image, and not only from a central seat. No matter where I sit, there is still the sense of a soundfield spreading across the TV, voices "stuck" to the screen. Many years ago when I set that system up, I'd originally wired for a center channel but it was pointless given the performance I have now.

In my projection system, the Hales speakers are also champions for imaging, and sonic neutrality. Paul Hales knew how to blend drivers seamlessly like few others (at the time) and I acquired the Transcendence Monitors and rare matching center channel. They sound remarkably similar, and some have remarked they've heard the most coherent sound on my surround system.

But it's definitely a compromise! I couldn't do an AT screen (didn't want to anyway for various reasons) and so I ended up with the dreaded "center below the screen." So, yeah, I can locate the dialogue down there sometimes. But you picks yer poison. This thread reminds me to give the phantom center a try for movies, just to see. I do it sometimes for music and it works quite well, with great center-fill. Though, the center channel is just so gorgeous sounding.

As good as my surround system is, it still doesn't do what I get from 2 channel system, in terms of the overall coherence and believability.

Yet there is one thing I find intriguing about listening with the center channel, at least this one: the sense of an expanded range of timbral voices. The center channels sounds similar to the L/Rs, but it's a better speaker, and sounds a bit different, a bit more rich. When I listen in 2 channel mode (talking about using the AV receiver, not my 2 channel amplification), I get the coherence of timbre and soundstaging. When I switch in the center channel it's like more timbral colors have been allowed into the sound - the differences between all the instruments in a jazz group or orchestra become...more different, more varied, more realistic in that sense. The subjective impression I get is that, in a way, a slightly different voice in the center channel actually adds this quality, it adds another range of timbre into the otherwise identical L/R speaker sound, so it's like it enriches the tonal palette.

Sometimes I get into listening in surround mode. Other times I crave the coherence and organic quality of my 2 channel mode.

Oh, one thing about AT screen systems: I've found that even AT systems aren't necessarily a cure for the center-channel locating problem. Often enough, I've found myself quite aware of exactly where the center channel is coming from behind the screen, and once I do it doesn't always seem like it's coming from the actor's mouths, who move all around the screen, while the dialogue stays put in that spot behind the screen in the center. (Which of course can be ameliorated by rigorous attention in designing the set up, but I'm just noting that even opting for an AT set up isn't, to my ears, an automatic solution to my issue of identifying the center channel sound).
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post #434 of 443 Old 04-16-2015, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 4DHD View Post
...Nowhere in the room does the level of the dialog change, or become less than clear in any way.
But then again, my LCRs are pure custom. Although the center is not a physical match to the mains.
My neighbor has the 3-way Primus 5.1 with 4 towers and the dedicated center on top of his (tallish) stand with the (smallish) TV sitting on top of the center speaker.

I am green with envy.

Infinity did a superb job of matching that center speaker to the mains even with its non-ideal placement and smaller drivers. It uses two 3" midrange side-by-side and a 1" tweeter above them, with two 5" woofers to the outside. The baskets/guides are scalloped/flattened so they can merge as tightly as possible and fit into the smallest baffle practical.

It simultaneously incorporates enough diaphragm for natural and efficient sound, and eliminates phase cancellation by keeping the drivers so close that they reinforce each other at their operating wavelengths.

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There are plenty of centers that are a total compromise. Ones I would not take for free. And for people who have or have had those centers, an phantom would certainly be better solution.
But from what I've seen, many center channel problems are caused by poor placement.
I have both issues. My center is widely spaced horizontal WTW (the waveguide on the tweeter is huge) and my stand is low enough that even with the center speaker on top it aims at my stomach. I cannot tilt it either because the TV is sitting on top of it.

It sounds just awful lower down between the shelves even though I can tilt it in there. Boom boom boom!

At least it is an improvement over the post-cash-cow rebadged version I used to have installed. Somehow shortening the depth by two inches really trashed the sound.

Even though the WTW is identical match to the MTM in the towers, the 2-way design pollutes the mid bass. Male vocals are most affected. The horizontal WTW also creates strong phasing.

Still, it is a better compromise than the bookshelf version I tried. Despite the tonal quality being more natural and non-phasy, taking away one of the 5.25" drivers really makes it sound 'boxy' somehow. It seems that is just not enough woofer for a good sounding center.

I tried phantom center. In here, sitting so close and frequently off-axis, the sound stage collapses to the nearest l/r tower, so I went back to using the center and just live with the compromise.

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Originally Posted by RLBURNSIDE View Post
...with DTS: X and Atmos the fact that your center channel is below the level of your TV and therefore the center of the image or the L/R speakers, is moot, because the speaker position in 3D (including height differential) can be compensated for.
My Onkyo TX-NR929 has 'screen centered dialog' that helps with localization to the TV, but frankly it sounds unnatural to me. I only use it to boost dialog for night listening with 2-channel sources. It sounds almost like mono when turned all the way up.

When the projector screen is deployed I do not notice the center speaker being below the screen. The 11.1 ambiance of neo:x seems to fix that, at least when the program has enough bit rate to expand the ambiance without hearing gerbils chewing on concrete everywhere. Somehow though the effect is not as convincing with the smaller LCD. Having the ambiance so far from the borders of the screen spoils the effect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbineseaplane View Post
I'm not sure of the cause, but the problem I've always had with my Center (Definitive 8060HD) is that it physically was never "wide enough" and thus the sound *always* made me feel and notice that it was coming "from that box" below the Plasma.
Yes, well I found that having a poorly designed center speaker was the cause of that problem for me especially one with too few/small drivers, not enough frequency bands (2-way), phasing due to widely spaced midrange transducers.

I tried horizontally mounting two towers above the TV and still the sound was not so good, plus the panning collapsed toward mono with two MTM arrays abutted end-to-end. Widening the center speaker did not help anything, trust me.

11.1 ambiance extraction seems to help some with the localization problem though, even with poor center speaker design. My center is 1/3 up off the floor and my wides are 1/3 down from the ceiling, so my projection screen is totally surrounded. Works for me.

I suspect that Atmos etc. will resolve the localization issue for many as RLBURNSIDE suggested, but again it seems minor compared to the sound of a poorly designed or placed center.
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post #435 of 443 Old Yesterday, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by RLBURNSIDE View Post
Ideally your center should be identical to your left and right speakers and at the same height. This is impossible for most people's TV setups with flat panels, but it is the ideal for movies to have a uniform soundfield and panning.


I actually like the idea of two centers, one (far) above and one below the TV. I like symmetry though.
Years ago I had two centers, above/below...placed the image dead center of the 65" screen. Both vertical centers. I did not like the look.

But went back to using just one and a mod at that. Vertical center with a circle cut out around the tweeter/mid so I could rotate that T/M module to have the box horizontal and the T/M still vertical.

With that mod and its placement the MB driver is just slightly higher than the MB of the L/R towers. And slightly tilted up for the tweeter/mid, which also makes them time aligned.

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post #436 of 443 Old Yesterday, 05:35 AM
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Great thread. I too am stuck with considering to go with a CC or no CC. Moving to a larger house in July with a very large family room (18x25x10 or so and open to kitchen just as big) that is the focal point. Fronts will be a good 15-16 feet apart, TV is going above a fireplace. So I'm stuck putting the CC on a shelf above the fireplace (as low as possible, but still too high and likely angle it down a bit), then having to move the TV even higher up the wall which will drive me nuts I'm sure.


Speakers are Cat 8C's, currently bought 3. But may end up trying them in phantom to see if I can get away with it. Problem is of course the couch on the side wall, and the size of the room which would require much more effort from the L/R with no CC, and now I have to look into Steve C's comments regarding DRC.


Here's a sketchup I created.



 

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post #437 of 443 Old Yesterday, 06:15 AM
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^^^^ When it comes to setting up in a main room, that room having a FP, is a total PITA.
Being that where the FP is located is usually how one wants to orient the sound system.

I have known people to place their system on a wall 90* to the FP, which is how I had a free standing gas stove in my last house.

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post #438 of 443 Old Yesterday, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbc View Post
Great thread. I too am stuck with considering to go with a CC or no CC. Moving to a larger house in July with a very large family room (18x25x10 or so and open to kitchen just as big) that is the focal point. Fronts will be a good 15-16 feet apart, TV is going above a fireplace. So I'm stuck putting the CC on a shelf above the fireplace (as low as possible, but still too high and likely angle it down a bit), then having to move the TV even higher up the wall which will drive me nuts I'm sure.


Speakers are Cat 8C's, currently bought 3. But may end up trying them in phantom to see if I can get away with it. Problem is of course the couch on the side wall, and the size of the room which would require much more effort from the L/R with no CC, and now I have to look into Steve C's comments regarding DRC.


Here's a sketchup I created.


I could not look that high upwards to such a comparatively small TV, it would be like being in the nosebleeds at the movies (except minus the small screen).

I'd put the center channel above the TV so you can lower the TV so people don't crank their necks so much, and angle the center downwards.

Even better, put the TV on the side wall as others have mentioned, at the proper height (the center of the screen should be at eye level, or maybe a little higher)., and have all three of your catalyst speakers oriented vertically and on the same level so the front soundstage is coherent. Then get some proper blackout shades for behind the couch so you can watch during the day without seeing reflections in the presumably glossy TV (most are glossy these days, right?).

Basically, just rotate your living room by 90 degrees counter clockwise in that picture. And rotate the center channel to put it vertical. There are lots of nice options for TV stands out there, although a lot of them make the mistake of making a place for the center channel to lie on its side, which is IMO awful due to phasing. There's no way around that issue, it's just physics.

Then just put a nice painting of your dog or your favorite landscape or family portrait above the fireplace, like it's supposed to be. Not sure it's even such a great idea to begin with, to put TVs directly above a place for FIRE.

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A phantom center is like a phantom girlfriend. Same benefits.

Perception is reality. Right Manti?

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post #440 of 443 Old Yesterday, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
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Great thread. I too am stuck with considering to go with a CC or no CC. Moving to a larger house in July with a very large family room (18x25x10 or so and open to kitchen just as big) that is the focal point. Fronts will be a good 15-16 feet apart, TV is going above a fireplace. So I'm stuck putting the CC on a shelf above the fireplace (as low as possible, but still too high and likely angle it down a bit), then having to move the TV even higher up the wall which will drive me nuts I'm sure.

One thing I always like to mention to people with a FP.
That is IF the FP is actually being used, the heat is most certainly NOT a friend of electronics; audio/video, makes no difference.

If at all possible, I would rotate the system so the screen, LCRs are not around the FP. You also benefit of having better placement of the screen and center.

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post #441 of 443 Old Yesterday, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
The two channel Spendor system, flanking my Panasonic plasma, spread about 5 feet apart, produces the most convincing "coming from the screen" effect I've ever experienced. You really aren't aware of the speakers at all.
My exact thoughts regarding my HTD Level 2 Towers that live on either side of my 60". They completely disappear, and I would swear the actor is right in front of me speaking........... Those that haven't, or don't want to try it, don't know what they're missing.

For me, with my system, and in its layout, removing my center was the best 'upgrade' I ever did.

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Originally Posted by RLBURNSIDE View Post
I could not look that high upwards to such a comparatively small TV, it would be like being in the nosebleeds at the movies (except minus the small screen).

I'd put the center channel above the TV so you can lower the TV so people don't crank their necks so much, and angle the center downwards.

Even better, put the TV on the side wall as others have mentioned, at the proper height (the center of the screen should be at eye level, or maybe a little higher)., and have all three of your catalyst speakers oriented vertically and on the same level so the front soundstage is coherent. Then get some proper blackout shades for behind the couch so you can watch during the day without seeing reflections in the presumably glossy TV (most are glossy these days, right?).

Basically, just rotate your living room by 90 degrees counter clockwise in that picture. And rotate the center channel to put it vertical. There are lots of nice options for TV stands out there, although a lot of them make the mistake of making a place for the center channel to lie on its side, which is IMO awful due to phasing. There's no way around that issue, it's just physics.

Then just put a nice painting of your dog or your favorite landscape or family portrait above the fireplace, like it's supposed to be. Not sure it's even such a great idea to begin with, to put TVs directly above a place for FIRE.
TV on the side isn't doable per the Mrs. However, I am considering whether I put the cc above the TV and angle it down enough. Possibly build a good portion of it into the wall. Would have to figure out how to fix the stud supports though, and insulate well. Might be doable but def not simple as you can see below.

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Originally Posted by pbc View Post
TV on the side isn't doable per the Mrs. However, I am considering whether I put the cc above the TV and angle it down enough. Possibly build a good portion of it into the wall. Would have to figure out how to fix the stud supports though, and insulate well. Might be doable but def not simple as you can see below.


Only place a speaker into a wall if its an in-wall speaker.
Looking at the framing pic, there is plenty of backing.
Just wall mount the center, having the center baffle forward of all other objects on the wall is what you want.

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