This issue comes up occasionally.
The reason this comes up, is because it's a serious issue.
Originally Posted by Elihawk
If you are thinking about running dual centers on either side of the TV, why not just run a phatom center with your L/R speaker!? You are already loosing some of your directionality by placing the centers, well, not in the center!
Ideally, the suggestion of placing your center in brackets above the TV would be best...
+1 .. absolutely right
Dual centers create more problems than they fix, theoretically a disaster, in practice even worse, sorry.
Please, I intend no offense whatsoever, but I'll be brutally honest. That said, have you consider the nuclear option? What I mean is clearly there's acoustic issues w/clarity, etc (there's also other execution errors visible too), would you consider redesigning that front wall for audio instead of aesthetics? I get it, I do. There's a reason architects, marketing gurus, decor magazines, etc, place TV above a fireplace, surrounded by gorgeous built-in custom shelving that house loudspeakers .... it looks great and has an appealing visual component
. That said, everything else is compromised. The display/TV is in the wrong place for use, front L&R sound like they're in boxes, no good option for a center channel.
Ideally, the TV needs to be where the fireplace is, the L&R need to come out of their enclosures. The TV is up against the ceiling, huge screens can be all the way up at the ceiling, but not a small display such as this. The center
of the display is about the 20% mark off the ceiling, that creates problems for many viewers, perhaps you've grown accustomed to it, and that's fine too, I don't know if I could ... maybe. Again, please I don't intend to offend, I merely want to be honest. If you hadn't expressed clarity issues with vocal intelligibility, etc, I don't believe I would point these out.
If it were me, and I had one eye on my wife's concerns, and one eye on increasing the clarity, I'd stop using the fireplace, and lower the display. I'd bring the L&R out into the room where they need to be and place a CC either directly above or directly below the display. If moving the display is not an option, simply getting the L&R out of the shelves, and into the space where they belong ... will increase clarity significantly and they will image as well as their design will allow. The acoustic issue at hand is the manner in which loudspeakers radiate their output. They radiate sound in all directions until well up into the midrange, this creates secondary reflections all around the speaker from within the shelving and adjacent surfaces.
This creates a smearing in time ... of the recorded event, all types of busy secondary reflections are launched toward the listener. At the source recording, the film/music, etc, the vocalist excites the air and the microphone receives the energy ... then thru the electronics chain ... then in your room the speaker reverses the effect and reproduces the vocal... plain and simple. However, instead of your speakers reproducing the vocal and that wave-launch excites the air and proceeds toward the listener, the output is encountering acoustic distortions
prior to even getting a couple feet from the speaker. Up until this point the signal has been handled so carefully, then it's processed, or filtered by the cavity and surrounding in which you've placed them.
Ideally, you need to bring your speakers out into the room, and toe them in somewhat ... axially toward the LP. They will have greater clarity, and image dramatically better than placed inside the shelving. If aesthetic concerns trump the audio concerns, I get it. If you can't bring them out, at least bring the speaker out to the front edge (nothing should be even or in front of the front edge of the speakers), and entirely fill the area all around the speaker with fiberglass, acoustic cotton, or even rock-wool. This will reduce the level of interaction of the cabinet, but only somewhat.
This clarity issue and the effect of less than ideal loudspeaker placement within furniture, shelving, or simply too close to an adjacent boundary, is quite common. The effect is essentially no different than if the lead singer sang from inside the cabinet ... it simply colors the sound in a negative manner. It sounds like they're inside a cabinet. One can easily hear it and understand it, the intent and majority of the content is perceived because we're quite adept at hearing through acoustic distortions. However, the details, imaging and clarity is smeared, due to the multiple corrupted paths encountered, diffraction ... instead of the speaker radiating into free space.
That's the science involved, this is a science forum.
I truly hope this helps, regardless which approach you ultimately pursue. If you'd like very specific details regarding the absorption of the cavity, PM me I'd be glad to help in any way I can with materials selection, etc.
Best of luck