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post #1 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Desperate for clear dialogue

I am setting up a home cinema for the first time, solely for the purpose of achieving clear movie dialogue. I want to hear the whispering and mumbling with crystal clear sound.

I am struggling. First let me post my setup and some pictures, a simple 3.0

Monitor C150 center
Monitor C150
Marantz 1501 receiver


(the front speakers in the picture are old ones which i now replaced stupidly. It did nothing to improve clear dialogue)

I've checked the wires and there should be no problem.

The center speaker has doorstops under it which i can use to aim it towards my ears.

I was told the rug would help.

I have tried Dynamic EQ and Dynamic volume. Dynamic EQ seems to muddle dialogue so i am mostly going without it. There is a slight improvement, but even on "heavy" It is not enough for quiet talking scenes. Turning up the center channel also turns up the action from it, which i dislike.

I really hope there is something obvious I am missing, but I find it to be quite terrible. I've got one week to send the stuff back, hopefully you can share your opinions.

My dream would be to have ONLY dialogue come through the center channel.
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post #2 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 02:05 PM
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Your problem is that everything is upside down.

Nothing immediately jumps out. I would move that table back as close to the TV as possible and move the center to the front edge of the table. I'm not familiar with the settings on Marantz receivers, but there should be some kind of loudness management settings. You can experiment with dynamic range compression and dialog normalization.

You could add a sub and high pass the center from 80-100 Hz so it's not having to try to reproduce the lower frequency signals.

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post #3 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 02:14 PM
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I have a feeling the Marantz is not firing up the correct CODEX, does the front tell you correctly you are playing DD/DTS etc?
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post #4 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 02:15 PM
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Out of curiosity, what's your budget to resolve all of this? I ask since you said that you had a week to sent the stuff back.
It may be that you need to consider replacing the center channel, among other options.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I am setting up a home cinema for the first time, solely for the purpose of achieving clear movie dialogue. I want to hear the whispering and mumbling with crystal clear sound.
I am struggling.
I really hope there is something obvious I am missing, but I find it to be quite terrible. I've got one week to send the stuff back, hopefully you can share your opinions.
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post #5 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I am setting up a home cinema for the first time, solely for the purpose of achieving clear movie dialogue. I want to hear the whispering and mumbling with crystal clear sound.

I am struggling. First let me post my setup and some pictures, a simple 3.0

Monitor C150 center
Monitor C150
Marantz 1501 receiver


(the front speakers in the picture are old ones which i now replaced stupidly. It did nothing to improve clear dialogue)

I've checked the wires and there should be no problem.

The center speaker has doorstops under it which i can use to aim it towards my ears.

I was told the rug would help.

I have tried Dynamic EQ and Dynamic volume. Dynamic EQ seems to muddle dialogue so i am mostly going without it. There is a slight improvement, but even on "heavy" It is not enough for quiet talking scenes. Turning up the center channel also turns up the action from it, which i dislike.

I really hope there is something obvious I am missing, but I find it to be quite terrible. I've got one week to send the stuff back, hopefully you can share your opinions.

My dream would be to have ONLY dialogue come through the center channel.
One thing I would try is to have the centre speaker flush with the front of that end table you have it on right now. Another thing you can do is bump up the trim on the centre on your AVR by 3dB.

It might also be helpful to know what volume levels you normally listen.
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post #6 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
... Turning up the center channel also turns up the action from it, which i dislike....

... My dream would be to have ONLY dialogue come through the center channel.
There's not much you can do about each individual program's sound mix. Whatever is mixed into the center channel is going to come out of the center speaker. Some producers emphasize sound effects over dialog so simply turning up the volume on the center channel won't help when sound effects are drowning out dialog. However, some producers emphasize dialog over sound effects so you shouldn't have an issue with this type of programming.
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post #7 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I really hope there is something obvious I am missing, but I find it to be quite terrible. I've got one week to send the stuff back, hopefully you can share your opinions.
It's possible that there's some mistake in the receiver settings where it's not processing the source signal correctly. Another poster had the same exact problem recently.
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...l-muddled.html

See if anything in that thread is useful for you.

If not, the quickest way to troubleshoot is to hit your closest Best Buy and take home a (preferably open-box) good quality center speaker and see if you're still getting lousy dialogue.

The Klipsch RP-600C would be a good bet.

BB gives you 14 days to return for a no hassle refund.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #8 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 03:32 PM
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The Marantz NR1501 slimline uses the basic Audyssey Mult EQ, so not XT or XT32.

Actually it uses, MRAC (Marantz Room Acoustic Calibration) auto setup system (microphone included). So that may even be more basic than Audyssey Mult EQ. Could that be part of the problem?

I think the NR1501 is 10 years old.

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post #9 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 04:08 PM
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Raising the xo and level of the center speaker is the best you can do with the avr you have. Unfortunately, there's no way to increase only the frequency range that would target dialog.
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post #10 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 04:14 PM
 
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I just conquered this problem of not having a clear dialog, it's the speaker position. You have a low ceiling ( vaulted ceiling), your room might not be optimized for sound. Before getting into sound panels and all, try moving the L and R speakers farther apart or closer. Speaker placement is very very critical.


Try move the speaker forward from the clutter, just experiment. If all else fails, you might have to try sound panels and that can cost and it's a pain.
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post #11 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 04:19 PM
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Go into the Speaker Config menu in your Marantz and set Center to No. This will engage "Phantom Center" which will send the Center Channel content equally to the L/R speakers. You will then *hear* the Center Channel content as if it was in the center. This works best if you're seated exactly in the central seating position. If this improves dialogue, you can either just stick with it, or you can use that conclusion as the reason to upgrade your center channel speaker. A 3rd speaker identical to your L/R's would be ideal.

Craig

PS. You can download the manual for your Marantz receiver here:
https://www.us.marantz.com/en-US/sho...us=discontinue
See Pages 21 and 22 to read about the Speaker Config menu.

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post #12 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I am setting up a home cinema for the first time, solely for the purpose of achieving clear movie dialogue. I want to hear the whispering and mumbling with crystal clear sound.

I am struggling. First let me post my setup and some pictures, a simple 3.0

Monitor C150 center
Monitor C150
Marantz 1501 receiver


(the front speakers in the picture are old ones which i now replaced stupidly. It did nothing to improve clear dialogue)

I've checked the wires and there should be no problem.

The center speaker has doorstops under it which i can use to aim it towards my ears.

I was told the rug would help.

I have tried Dynamic EQ and Dynamic volume. Dynamic EQ seems to muddle dialogue so i am mostly going without it. There is a slight improvement, but even on "heavy" It is not enough for quiet talking scenes. Turning up the center channel also turns up the action from it, which i dislike.

I really hope there is something obvious I am missing, but I find it to be quite terrible. I've got one week to send the stuff back, hopefully you can share your opinions.

My dream would be to have ONLY dialogue come through the center channel.
Most Denon/Marantz have a dialog adjustment feature. Yours is an older model so that sure that was available for your unit. FWIW audyssey always sets my center too low so have to manually turn it up 3-4dbs.

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post #13 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 05:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pase22 View Post
Most Denon/Marantz have a dialog adjustment feature. Yours is an older model so that sure that was available for your unit. FWIW audyssey always sets my center too low so have to manually turn it up 3-4dbs.
I don't know about "most Denon/Marantz". AFAIK only the top models of Denon have the dialogue enhancement circuit. I use it with my X8500h to good effect.
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post #14 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 06:03 PM
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After experiencing similar frustrations with regard to dialog, I upgraded my center channel and bought a receiver with Audyssey XT32. I also needed to move the center a little bit forward to give it some clearance from the wall and tilt the center channel to point directly at ear level.
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post #15 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 06:51 PM
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This topic comes up regularly on these forums, churns a while and then goes dormant. It might be a candidate for a dedicated thread one day or a sticky. Until then, here are a collection of ideas gleaned from these forums which have worked in my system. That makes this anecdotal so YMMV when it comes to results in your system.

IMO (no more, no less) it seems to frequently be the case that there isn't one single thing that fixes the problem but rather attention to lots of small things that cumulatively make a substantial difference.

===

Use a dedicated center channel rather than a phantom center channel. A dedicated center will invariably do a better job and cover more seats in your listening space.

Finding and deploying a quality center channel will usually dictate how much you enjoy your home theater. Fortunately, there are lots of candidate speakers available with fans and detractors of each. Look for one that sounds natural and has good dispersion characteristics that cover the seats that are important in your home theater.

Carefully position all speakers, not just the center channel. A bad setup can create issues with dialog clarity. A good place to look for guidance is the Dolby web site here:

https://www.dolby.com/us/en/home/index.html

Avoid placing a center channel inside of a shelf or cubby since that can create reflections that degrade sound quality. A free-standing center channel below your display is often a good location, but some rooms accommodate that better than others.

Center channel location for best sound can collide with décor priorities. How this is addressed in each home theater depends on the parties involved in the decision. Try to err on the side of placement that gives then best center channel sound quality.

Try to eliminate obstructions between the listening positions and the center channel (e.g. tables, chairs, ottomans, etc.) since these can potentially degrade sound. If you aren't sure that there's an impact, try moving items out of the room one at a time and see if dialog clarity improves.

Verify that the center channel is aimed at ear level for the main listening position.

Consider judicious use of acoustic treatment for a room that's too lively.

Try removing the center channel grill to see if dialog clarity improves.

If your AVR / processor support it, be sure to configure speaker distance and size.

Try using the EQ system that comes with your AVR / processor. It can make a big difference in overall sound quality, including improvements in dialog clarity.

Check to see if your AVR / processor has the ability to increase center channel volume. Sometimes a dB or two can improve dialog clarity.

Experiment with Dolby Volume. It can potentially give a lift to dialog that's muddy.

Try lowering bass and increasing treble. It can improve dialog clarity with some material.

Recognize that there's going to be source material that just can't be rescued. It could well be the case that closed-caption is the best available option with really poor content.
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post #16 of 133 Old 06-24-2020, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyboy View Post
I don't know about "most Denon/Marantz". AFAIK only the top models of Denon have the dialogue enhancement circuit. I use it with my X8500h to good effect.
My low level Denon S710 has that feature. Only the S500 series (not sure about the S600 series) doesn't support it. The OP's AVR is 10 years old and I don't know if that feature was available or if his model doesn't support it.

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post #17 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post
I have a feeling the Marantz is not firing up the correct CODEX, does the front tell you correctly you are playing DD/DTS etc?
The receiver says "MULTI-IN"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Statz View Post
One thing I would try is to have the centre speaker flush with the front of that end table you have it on right now. Another thing you can do is bump up the trim on the centre on your AVR by 3dB.

It might also be helpful to know what volume levels you normally listen.
I don't like it very loud. 55-66 is the loudest I enjoy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
It's possible that there's some mistake in the receiver settings where it's not processing the source signal correctly. Another poster had the same exact problem recently.
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...l-muddled.html

See if anything in that thread is useful for you.

If not, the quickest way to troubleshoot is to hit your closest Best Buy and take home a (preferably open-box) good quality center speaker and see if you're still getting lousy dialogue.

The Klipsch RP-600C would be a good bet.

BB gives you 14 days to return for a no hassle refund.
I will look into that thread. However, I am afraid of buying another center as if that fails it is probably mean I will never find one, it's just me being picky. I'm kind of dreading to try a new one, as weird as that sounds.
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post #18 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:15 AM
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One option to consider is it may be reflections from your room. It looks like you have low sloping ceilings, and a hard floor, so with all those hard surfaces you may be getting reflections of the sound milliseconds apart from the first and second reflection points. Our brain struggles to determine what is the original sound in those cases and it often sounds muddy, or like the person on screen is mumbling. If that is the case, a new center channel speaker won't help, and you would need to add absorption to your reflection points.

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post #19 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I will look into that thread. However, I am afraid of buying another center as if that fails it is probably mean I will never find one, it's just me being picky. I'm kind of dreading to try a new one, as weird as that sounds.
That's what return policies are for!

Trial and error is an inevitable part of life. And you're right to be picky about the CENTER, since it does 70-80% of the HT/TV output and 98% of the DIALOGUE. It is *the* true workhorse/backbone of any HT setup and thus the absolute LAST place you should ever cut corners.

By all means, first make sure there is no error in your receiver settings or source settings, as happened in the thread I linked.

The Monitor C150 is a 2 way MTM, those can be hit-or-miss. A safer bet is a 3-way center, like the Emotiva C1 or C2, Infinity RC263, etc.

Like Polk, Monitor Audio doesn't offer a 3 way center until you get to their higher level series (Silver and Gold), the sneaky mofos---they want the consumer, who is easily bamboozled by the "timbre matching" sales lie, to upgrade all 5 speakers just to get one decent center!

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)

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post #20 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
The receiver says "MULTI-IN"
What are you using for your sources? Multi-In means your source is doing the audio processing.

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post #21 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
The receiver says "MULTI-IN"
Are you using the analog multi-channel connections? If not, how is the BluRay player connected to the receiver? Do you have the BluRay player's digital output set to send PCM or Bitstream? I suggest setting it to Bitstream so your receiver can do the Dolby or DTS decoding. Then your receiver will read "Dolby Digital" or "DTS", or whatever codec you use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I will look into that thread. However, I am afraid of buying another center as if that fails it is probably mean I will never find one, it's just me being picky. I'm kind of dreading to try a new one, as weird as that sounds.
If all else fails, try phantom CC as I described above just as an experiment to see if it helps. Doesn't cost anything to try it. You can always turn the CC back on.

Craig

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post #22 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Like Polk, Monitor Audio doesn't offer a 3 way center until you get to their top-shelf (Gold) series
The Silver C350 is a 3-way. I had inquired about it during my own quest for a different CC, and no one seemed interested to even offer any insight on that one.

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post #23 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:43 AM
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best 2 way MTM I have had in my system is the Ascend Acoustics CMT 340C

I recently got the Infinity RC263C and it is the best center I have had in the system. its big. a steal at sale prices. and recommendable at list ( 499) unfortunately currently sold out.

as for alternatives, the Emotiva C1 or C2 are often recommended. I can't recall a negative review.

So putting brands aside, I would recommend a 3 way speaker over a 2 way, and a "Nested" tweeter configuration - tweeter is elevated over the woofer horizontal axis. also described as: W t/m W...

good luck.

also worth a mention, if for nothing else but looks, are the Tekton Design center based upon their 7 driver array...

also of note is ...the guy who does extensive measuring - totally blanking - a Revel center has preformed the best in his tests. so much so that he built his whole 7.x system based upon that...

good luck

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post #24 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Ryan Statz View Post
The Silver C350 is a 3-way. I had inquired about it during my own quest for a different CC, and no one seemed interested to even offer any insight on that one.
Missed that one. Just looked it up, $975...ouch!

I guess KEF is not the only ridiculous price-gouger with 3 way centers, lol.

~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #25 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
Missed that one. Just looked it up, $975...ouch!

I guess KEF is not the only ridiculous price-gouger with 3 way centers, lol.
It still would have been way less than the R2c - which is one reason why it was under consideration. Without any info on the sound signature/performance, I wasn't willing to take that chance. I probably wouldn't have even batted an eyelash if it was 1/3 the price, though.

With the KEFs, I at least had a pretty decent idea on their sound, especially in my space, so it was less of a gamble.

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post #26 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 09:27 AM
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A couple other 3 way centers are the SVS Prime and the Aperion Novus. The feedback for SVS Prime is a little hot and cold, so I’m not sure what to think about that option. The reviews I’ve seen of the Aperion Novus center have been pretty strong, but I haven’t seen any real user comments.
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post #27 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I just set my PS3 to Dolby Audio, the receiver recognized It but sadly no noticeable improvement for me.

Also, I think I might have messed up by posting here as I am from North Europe, so the center I need has to be purchasable from there. I tried posting in AVforums but they seemed very insistent on a phantom center, which to me did not really solve the problem.
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post #28 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
Also, I think I might have messed up by posting here as I am from North Europe, so the center I need has to be purchasable from there.
Just look for a 3 way center then, that will greatly improve your chances.

If you're able to get delivery from Amazon.de this is a good bet:
https://www.amazon.de/Canton-GLE-455...6V6/ref=sr_1_3
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~ Are you a "geek hobbyist" obsessed with squeezing out that last 5-10% improvement? The economy will thank you...especially the Chinese one. Or are you more of a get-set-and-forget "casual user" who simply wants to increase your enjoyment of movies, TV and gaming? Relax, HT isn't rocket science, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg---especially if you ignore the aforementioned vocal minority. And remember to smile...it's just a silly hobby, after all. :)
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post #29 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 03:42 PM
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As Zorba mentioned 3 way is the way to go.

Another Canton 3 way with a bit better tweeter but more money of course.

https://www.amazon.de/Canton-03594-C...s=ce-de&sr=1-1
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post #30 of 133 Old 06-25-2020, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasmi View Post
I tried posting in AVforums but they seemed very insistent on a phantom center, which to me did not really solve the problem.
It might, though. Try it, and also try just moving your centre forward on that table you have it on in the photos. That'll cost you $0.

Home Theatre: Marantz SR6014 | KEF Q750 | KEF Q650c | KEF Q150 | HSU ULS-15 MK2 | Sony XBR55X900E | PS4 Pro | Xbox One S | Nintendo Switch

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