Center channel placement issues and picking a new system, HTIB or otherwise. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 12:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

I'm looking to purchase my first home theater system, but I'm stuck how to place the center channel speaker. Here's an image of my modest TV room for reference:


As you can see, the TV is on a console table that is somewhat higher than most TV stands (30") and has an unfortunate drawer immediately under the TV. Also, we have the couch positioned about 5.5 feet from the TV, as it is a somewhat small room.

So here are my constraints:
* The console table needs to stay where it is.
* We can't mount the TV because we are renting.
* Speakers can't be mounted on top of the TV.
* No wires to the rear speakers.
Also, I'd prefer not to raise the TV, if possible. We're already looking up a bit as it is.

As for budget, I'd like to keep the total cost under a grand. I'm used to cheap 50$ Logitech speakers hooked up to my TV, so my standards are somewhat low. Receivers, on the other hand, matter a lot to me; something solid and future proof.

I was thinking of the following solutions to the center channel problem:
1. Get a good receiver, maybe something like the TX-NR616. (I'm totally open to suggestions)
2. Get a wireless transmitter for the rear speakers, like the Soundcast SCS100
3a. Get one of the Sony speaker systems with their very low-profile center channel speaker, like the BDVN790W (without their terrible blu-ray player/receiver), and simply place the center speaker in front of the TV. I've heard these speakers in the Sony store, and they didn't seem too bad. Or perhaps another low-profile center channel speaker under three inches high (I don't know of any others).
- or -
3b. Get a better speaker system, like the Energy Take Classic, and place the center channel speaker under the TV, maybe flush against the drawer slightly angled up.
- or -
3c. No center channel. Invest in front speakers with excellent "imaging" (not entirely sure what that means). Also would need to pick out the sub and rears.

Any advice on the above would help me tremendously, as I've been stuck on this for weeks now. Thanks so much!
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 09:30 AM
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For now, I believe I'd begin with a 2.1 system, based around a decent receiver, and expand don the road.

By 2.1, I mean a left and right, and a subwoofer system. Center channel placement can oftentimes be an issue. And even though a proper center channel config is optimal, a comprimised center, or a low quality center wouldn't be a step in the right direction.

Ideally, you want three identical LCRs across the front, at the same height, wth their output energy directed toward the primary listening position. You don't lose a great deal of capability by simply using a phantom center (only L&R), and a decent 2.1 scenario is my advice.

I'm not well versed at advising high value/budget speakers, so I'm of no help in that regard,but many here can help, as well as the loudspeaker section of AVS here.

I'm of the opinion you'd geta great deal more performnce and enjoyment out of a $1K, 2.1 set-up than a comprimised approach including a center. Many have a dedicated center, and they're great,... and eventually, you can move toward that direction. But a decent receiver and sub will gooble up a lot of your budget, and are mor useful as this time. Additionally, the proper set-up, placement, and EQ'ig of your sub will go a long, long way toward great sound, ... and it's free. It just takes some investigation on your behalf. Be mindful good sound is all about the room. The room is the signle most important component, and elevating your room's acoustics, elevates all playback performance and enjoyment.

Small rooms benefit greatly from simple, inexpensive DIY room treatment. I'm getting way beyond the scope of this thead.


That's my two cents ...
Best of luck

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post #3 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 09:44 AM
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I agree with FOH that a good 2.1 system with phantom center is a great option.

If you decide you need a center channel, there are solutions for mounting atop your TV.
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post #4 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback.

So it sounds like I'd get better sound for my money if I compromise on a 2.1 system instead of a 5.1 system. If I were to primarily watch movies/tv or listen to music, I would probably take this approach. However, 5.1 or 4.1 sound (phantom center) is very important to me because my primary use for these speakers is gaming, and it helps tremendously if I am able to more precisely tell the location of a given sound. As such, I'd rather have lower quality speakers and a 5.1 system than better sound overall.

If I need to increase my budget, maybe to $1300 max, I'm OK with it if money is my limiting factor here.

Given the above, are there any other recommendations that you all can think of? Thanks.
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by constrapolator View Post

Thanks for the feedback.

So it sounds like I'd get better sound for my money if I compromise on a 2.1 system instead of a 5.1 system. If I were to primarily watch movies/tv or listen to music, I would probably take this approach. However, 5.1 or 4.1 sound (phantom center) is very important to me because my primary use for these speakers is gaming, and it helps tremendously if I am able to more precisely tell the location of a given sound. As such, I'd rather have lower quality speakers and a 5.1 system than better sound overall.

If I need to increase my budget, maybe to $1300 max, I'm OK with it if money is my limiting factor here.

Given the above, are there any other recommendations that you all can think of? Thanks.

I understand.

Then you could utilize the extra budget for two modest rears for a phantom center, 5.1 config. It's somewhat a common approach not to utilize a center, as it does present significant comprimises if executed poorly. You're better off without a center, than poorly executed, low quality approach, in a comprimised location. A L&R set-up will not have significant negative issues with regard to localization for a single listener scenario. Also, one can get away with quite modest surrounds without much problem.

A dedicated center is theoretically ideal for off center, multi-person viewing, ... as it anchors solidly the material mixed for the center channel and psycho-acoustically anchors that content visually to the screen. There's additional elements too, but that's for another discussion.

Could you describe your useage inapprox percentage? Gaming, movies, music, web-based, etc? What about playback volume tendencies, and what are the dimensions of the room?

Thanks

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post #6 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Great, thanks. It sounds like the phantom approach might be the right way to go.

As for the usage, I'd say it's the following:
60% single-player gaming, oriented directly in front of TV.
5% music. Usually while working on something away from the theater, in the kitchen or my desk.
25% Web-based TV shows, in two channel stereo. My wife and I sitting on the couch, off-center from the TV maybe 25 degrees.
10% high-quality movies, same two-person seating as above.

Playback volume is usually moderate. We tend not to play things too loud so as not to bother our neighbors, who share a wall.

As for the dimensions of the room, it's a shared living room and dining room. So facing the TV, it's about 26' left to right, with the TV on the left side. It's about 9' high (standard ceiling height, I think) and 13 feet front to back, with a desk behind the couch.

Also, I've noticed that there are a few options where a small center channel is possible. For example, the Bose (which I believe is frowned upon over here) and the cambridge M525. Do you believe that, regardless of the system, a small center is out of the question?

Thanks!
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 02:52 PM
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Generally, it's recommended that your center should be as good, or better than your front left/right speakers. It really should be the best speaker in your setup because it will produce the majority of sound (during movies, TV, gaming, etc.). If you feel tempted to skimp on your center channel, just go with phantom until you can afford to do it right.
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Alan, I'll definitely follow your advice and, should I choose to get a center, I'll be sure to get one of equal or better quality than the other speakers.

The systems I mentioned all have the same speakers (except for the subwoofer, of course), so it would seem that I might be able to get a center channel if I get one of those. Or are these systems inadvisable in my particular configuration for other reasons?
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 04:48 PM
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The Energy Take Classic system is very well recommended around here for an entry level system from what I've seen. I have no personal experience with such systems, though. I got into HT about 25 years ago and have had my current speakers for almost 20...haven't been shopping for speakers in a really long time. biggrin.gif

And, yes, the Energy system has all matching satellites so you would have no issues with timbre matching and such with your center. Should be able to get a pretty good system for under $1000 that way.

If you're not averse to refurbs, I just got a Denon 2113ci from Accessories 4 Less that I've been very happy with. That would get you the AVR and speakers for about $150 under budget. wink.gif

Did you check out the center channel mounts I linked to? You think something like that would work for you?
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-24-2013, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Alan, the receiver you mentioned looks perfect! I just ordered it smile.gif

As for the center channel mounts, I'm regrettably unable to mount the speaker on top of the TV, so I still need to look for alternatives. I'm also looking into another TV, the samsung UN46D8000, which I'll have a chance to test out soon. I'm skeptical that it'll offer better 3D than the LG I have, but if it does, then I may be able to raise it a bit and find the 4 vertical inches needed to place an Energy speaker there. (If you look at the LG TV, it has this annoying bar in front of the TV that prevents a speaker from easily being placed in front).

What do you think about the SoundCast wireless transmitter? Do you think that'll work out OK?

Thanks
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post #11 of 12 Old 01-25-2013, 08:20 AM
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You'll like the 2113. If you want to learn more about it, or have any questions, head on over to this thread.

Sorry, but I know next to nothing about wireless networking. If you ask over in the Denon thread I'm sure someone will have an answer for you - I've seen it discussed multiple times.
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post #12 of 12 Old 01-27-2013, 12:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I think I've solved it. After a lot more reading, it seems the Cambridge Minx speakers seemed perfect for the job. Got the SoundCast transmitter, S325 speaker system, and the Denon 2113CI. I went wildly out of budget with the speakers, but I guess I'm just weak willed. smile.gif
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