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Good Center Speaker for under $400

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm looking to build a 5.1 system, but want to make sure that I have a quality center, and build around it. Space limitations require me to have a horizontal center. What are some of the good models out there?
post #2 of 23
You want your center speaker to be from the same mfg, and same line, as your front speakers. So pick your front speakers and build from there.
post #3 of 23
+1. If you have space limitations for your CC speaker, find the best possible one:
- that falls within those limitations;
- that fits your budget; and
- for which you can buy matching mains (and, ideally, matching surround speakers).
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well my thinking was that I would match my mains to my center, as I feel like it's more difficult to find a high quality center than mains.

For example, I've heard great things about BW 685 and series, but it seems the matching center isn't that great.
post #5 of 23
The matching main for the 685's is the htm62. It's the larger htm61 that seems to get a bad rap.
post #6 of 23
The HTM62 isn't much better. It has a mediocre sensitivity of 85 dB which might explain some of the lack of quality. Another 685 is pretty much the best center. Of course, most can't fit a vertical center in their setup.

In any case, what speaker lines have you been considering?
post #7 of 23
A buddy of mine had 685s and an HTM62 up front, but he was disappointed with the HTM, so he ended up replacing it with another 685. He is very satisfied with the results. smile.gif
post #8 of 23
I know the 685 seems to be the preferred center across the 600 series. Is that generally true across other brands? Are you better off using a matching bookshelf speaker as opposed to a horizontal center speaker?
post #9 of 23
Have you considered the KEF Q300? Because it has a single concentric driver, unlike most speakers you can lay it on it's side without affecting the sound. (On it's side the Q300 is 8.3" tall, the same height as the Q series dedicated horizontal center.) Three Q300's would allow you to have identical speakers LCR.
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Is that generally true across other brands? Are you better off using a matching bookshelf speaker as opposed to a horizontal center speaker?
Dunno. FWIW, I tried using a Paradigm Mini Monitor with my Monitor 7s, and I also tried a Monitor 3 with them, and neither bookshelf speaker sounded quite as good as my CC-370 did.

And while I haven't tried a Studio 20 with my Studio 60s, I can't imagine that it would sound better than (or anywhere near as good as) my CC-690.

Just my 2¢... smile.gif
post #11 of 23
A high quality center is a vertical tower, followed by a vertical bookshelf. If space limited then I would go with something with a coaxial driver like a kef q300 and lay it on its side.
post #12 of 23
A studio 20 probably sound much better than a horizontal center. You are compromising for looks and saving space. Maybe the huge 690 be more dynamic and have more output. Not worth having worse everything else.
post #13 of 23
The Cambridge S50 is very good and is only $198.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
A studio 20 probably sound much better than a horizontal center.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Quote:
... Maybe the huge 690 be more dynamic and have more output. Not worth having worse everything else.
The 690's sound is deep, rich, full and always crystal-clear. That may be "worse everything else" compared to a Studio 20, but I'll gladly take it.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
I've been looking at the Kef Q series, focal chorus, and some offerings from aperion. I have considered a kef q100/300 on it's side, but how is that any better than the kef centers? As they both use the same concentric driver.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by petabread View Post

I've been looking at the Kef Q series, focal chorus, and some offerings from aperion. I have considered a kef q100/300 on it's side, but how is that any better than the kef centers? As they both use the same concentric driver.

The goal for the front sound-stage (LCR) is an even, consistent and unified sound (not the beefiest center). This is best achieved by having identical speakers LCR across the front.

But in reality almost all home audio systems have compromises, so it comes down to knowing and choosing your compromises. Examples ...
- If you have a dedicated home theater room and the budget and space for it identical speakers all around is ideal for HT/TV surround listening.
- For some people music listening is more important that HT/TV surround, so they may get large towers for their LR mains for optimal stereo music listening. Or they may opt for a 2.1 setup.
- If your AV system is in your living room then space restrictions may mandate your using a horizontal center speaker and smaller surround speakers, or, budget may necessitate smaller surround speakers.
All the variations are good - it just finding what works best for you wink.gif
post #17 of 23
Horizontal center speakers are inferior to vertical aligned drivers. That is a fact. A studio 690 may sound great to your ears but if the drivers were vertically aligned they would sound better. Better on axis, better off axis. Wider doesn't mean better dispersion.

There is lots of information out there which can explain why in better detail than I can explain. The kef centers are better than most because of the coaxial driver, however still inferior to a vertical alignment or a single pointsource like the kef q300
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
If I could, I would get matching LCR, but like I said, horizontal center will be necessary. I understand they're compromising sound for space, but what are some of the better horizontal centers? Besides the Q100/300 already mentioned.
post #19 of 23
Not much out there. Revel c12 looks decent design. I normally don't recommend stuff I haven't heard personally. But since revel c12 is a step up from the infinity center, I can confidently recommend it. I have listened to the kef q series as well. I would recommend that too.

As long as you know that you are compromising. Many actually believe horizontal centers to be superior.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
A studio 690 may sound great to your ears ...
Yes, it most definitely does.
post #21 of 23
if you can still find them the def tec clr 2002 and the def tec clr2000 were consided very good speakers at the time.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by petabread View Post

If I could, I would get matching LCR, but like I said, horizontal center will be necessary. I understand they're compromising sound for space, but what are some of the better horizontal centers? Besides the Q100/300 already mentioned.

You could still get the Q200C and a pair of Q300s for the L/R speakers. Ascend Acoustics makes a decent MTM center in the CMT-340SE center. You could pair that with the CBM-170SEs or even better, the CMT-340SEs.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Any reviews on the Focal Chorus centers?
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