Originally Posted by Twylight
I'd like to start a separate threat about center channels with some thoughts of my own:
1. Do you need a matched center? for HT? for music?
It depends on your definition of "need". For HT, it anchors dialog to the center of a wide display. This is very desirable when there are going to be people watching from viewpoints that are off to the side. For stereo music, it's more debatable. For surround-sound music with discrete channels, it's best to have speakers corresponding to the channels designed into the soundtrack.
2. Its very hard to do the above without an AT projector setup or a very high TV mount so most people buy a horizontal center.
Which introduces its own soundstage problems, of course.
3. 5 channel music - identical speakers all around?
It depends on the recording. Some recordings have the listening position among the performers. They're best served by identical, timbre-matched direct-radiating speakers all around. Others place the listener more traditionally, with the performers in front and ambient sounds from the recording venue coming from the sides and rear. Those recordings can be well served by a conventional HT speaker layout, with dipole or bipole surround speakers.
4. HT...does it really matter? The 5.1 and 7.1 center channel mix is simply not very dynamic in comparison to LR...as long as they are leveled match its not a huge deal...is this its own flame war?
The speakers still should be timbre-matched. While it's not as critical as for music, substantial changes can be distracting when a sound source seems to move around the listener.
5. If your mains are incredible and you get a good image...why bother? go phantom center and call it a night...
As mentioned above, it depends on where the listener is seated.
6. Can your processor handle a phantom center correctly? ive had drama of no mix going to the mains...and with a big screen it just doesn't mesh right without a center (120")
Supposedly, mine can, but I have a reasonably well matched center speaker and prefer to use it.
7. If you have a center with less range than your mains, does it matter? LFE crossovers can be set at 80 to 150 in many rooms and improve things anyways.
Yes, it matters for timbre matching. Also, frequencies in the upper range of what you mention are somewhat directional. If your subwoofer is well off to the side, it might be noticeable. Also, many subwoofers don't do so well at that high a frequency.
8. I do agree you want them at least similar (like from the matching line of speakers or era from the brand)
Sometimes you need to do better than that. Listen to the speakers individually while calibrating them. When you play white (or pink) noise through your speakers, they all should sound the same.
9. If you are a believer - what kind of range do you want? flat to 30hz? seems excessive in DTS HT.
It depends on your listening preferences. If you want to listen to stereo music with just two speakers active, you want them to be as flat as possible as low as is reasonable. Very few people listen to stereo organ music, however, so 40-50 Hz often is adequate for music listening. If you use a subwoofer, the subwoofer's upper range and the other speakers low frequency range have to have a significant overlap.
Center channel doesn't matter much, but my receiver is annoying with phantom and I like the center coming from the center of the screen, not a 15 foot wide sound stage. buy a center that is close to matching and be happy.