Originally Posted by jdsmoothie
If music makes up most of your listening experience this is perhaps a good option, however, if movies/TV do, then you're likely much better served using the center speaker as roughly 85% of all dialogue is directed to the center speaker. .
I'm going to to have to humbly disagree, or at least say "It depends". First off, greater than 50% of people listen to both TV and movies with nothing more than the speakers built-in to their TV, no center speaker at all, and they seem content with dialog just fine. In "Phantom Center Mode" the dedicated center channel found in Dolby and DTS sources is equally divided and sent to the front L and R speakers evenly. If they image well, which is dictated by their design, their lateral separation, their toe in, their tilt, their height, the listener's distance, and the general room acoustics, then sound information which should be center stage will magically seem to emanate from a mid-point between the two front speakers. The sound is unaware if it came from a movie, a sitcom, a video game, or a stereo music CD/SACD. Sound is sound.
The importance for a center speaker is the same now as it was when Bell laboratories first played with the idea for cinema use, decades before the release of the first stereo recordings to the general public, back in the 1930's: OFF AXIS LISTENERS. In a movie theater, 90% of the audience do not sit equidistant from the front L and R speakers, only the center column people do:http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_13_1/images/feature-thx-com-theater.jpg
The problem is the front speaker, L or R, whichever they are closer to, is louder and therefor the sound stage gets squashed over to that side they are sitting on. This can be disconcerting if there is visual action going on in the center but they only hear the action on their side of the theater. The center speaker fixes this by reproducing all the center stage information from a speaker which is unambiguously centerstage no matter where one sits. This applies to both home and cinema setups.
Depending on how large the viewing audience is and how far off axis they are, just the two LS50s may image quite well on their own. Gelly's problem is that these speakers can't be bought individually. Many people, including myself and the folks at THX, are of the mind that the center speaker should be exactly the same as the L and R, or at least made from the same manufacturer and designed to work as a package. [We'd never use different speakers for our L and R, now would we? Well adding a third should be thought of in the same way, despite all the various HTIBs which use some clumsy, oddball center. They are just dumb.] He's stuck because KEF doesn't make what he needs: a high quality, 5.25 inch Uni-Q dispersion pattern , $750 mini-monitor single speaker. Almost anything he could find might seriously compromise the soundstage focus and image localization compared to the two nice speakers by themselves, and indeed the center info is very important and constantly active. [Dialog is placed there by convention, too, but wasn't before the 1960's or so.]
Gelly, is it just you and another listener? or are there 3 or more viewers? With three or more I'd say unfortunately you want a center speaker, and sorry, I don't think there really is one that would work unless you can get hooked up with a buddy you talk into buying three pairs in total with you: he gets three and you get three. That's what I did with my fronts.Edited by m. zillch - 2/23/13 at 6:54am