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post #1 of 5 Old 07-30-2014, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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How critical to match center channel to fronts?

I have an Aerial Acoustics CC3 front channel speaker (3-way: 2x7" woofs & 5" mid & 1" titanium dome tweeter) that was extremely well reviewed by Stereophile and other publications, when I purchased it a over 10 years ago. My front channels at the time were an old pair of audiophile speakers (Artemis Eos) and despite their different tonal qualities I was quite satisfied with the total effect in a 7.1 surround set-up. However, a blown woofer has rendered my fronts unusable and I'm in the market for a new pair of front channel speakers to match to the Aerial CC3. The stands that I use with my existing Eos are excellent but will not work with the much smaller bookshelf speakers that I've looked at. meaning I may have to add new generic stands (about $150) to my purchase.

I'm looking at the following options:

B&W CM5 & stands - $1500 after typical dealer's discount. These are highly reviewed 2-way bookshelf speakers with a 6.5 woofer. I listened to them and quite like them. They didn't have a lot of lower end but what they had was very tight.

B&W CM8 - about $2000 after typical dealer's discount (no stands needed). These are 3-way floorstanders with a 5" midrange and 5" woofers. I observed much more lower end than the CM5s but with the trade off of a bit of boominess.

Aerial Acoustics Model 5B & stands - a little under $2300 after typical dealer's discount. These are 2-way bookshelf speakers with a 7" woofer. The tweeter is a 1" titanium unit. It's been updated somewhat to what came in the CC3, but should still sound quite similar. This speaker design is almost 10 years old now.

I haven't been able to demo a pair of the 5Bs and I will not be able to demo any of these speakers with my existing center channel CC3. How critical is it to have a complementary set of speakers across all 3 front speakers. Will I experience a major increase of smoothness if I go with the Aerial 5Bs due to their 9expected) similar sound or will the cheaper B&W CM5s do just a good job for less? Is it more important to have a full-range pair of fronts like the CM8s that go down an extra octave or two. I had originally set my budget at $1500 but wonder if I should bite the bullet and spend a little more for a better blend of a fuller range. Any advice would be appreciated.

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post #2 of 5 Old 07-30-2014, 10:27 AM
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Since you have a sub, I think it's less important to have more "full range" fronts (floor standers). The sub should fill in the bookshelves nicely.

As for matching - I don't know. I'll leave that to those who have more experience A/B testing matching vs non-matching centers.

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post #3 of 5 Old 07-30-2014, 10:30 AM
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With a sub you don't need to have full range speakers, and a sub is better at the low frequencies anyway. I would focus on a good pair of bookshelves, and something from Aerial is probably going to match better than B&W. I would go with the 5B since you have a good center that you like already.

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post #4 of 5 Old 07-30-2014, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transmaniacon View Post
With a sub you don't need to have full range speakers, and a sub is better at the low frequencies anyway. I would focus on a good pair of bookshelves, and something from Aerial is probably going to match better than B&W. I would go with the 5B since you have a good center that you like already.
Thanks for the input. If the price were the same I'd go with the 5Bs in a heartbeat but they're abut 50% more than the B&W CM5s, hence my dilemma.

BTW, Room size is 19ft x 13ft x 9ft and will only be used for movies, TV & sports. I don't really listen to 2-channel music in this room.
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-30-2014, 10:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktoolsie View Post
Thanks for the input. If the price were the same I'd go with the 5Bs in a heartbeat but they're abut 50% more than the B&W CM5s, hence my dilemma.

BTW, Room size is 19ft x 13ft x 9ft and will only be used for movies, TV & sports. I don't really listen to 2-channel music in this room.
You may want to just sell your center and replace the whole front sound stage then. However if you are able to get those CM5 at Best Buy, they have a 14 day return policy so no harm in trying them out and see what it sounds like. Later on you could get the matching B&W center.

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