I have a new Marantz SR7013 receiver coming in soon, and like most people here, I tend to calm my impatience by reading through the online manual and imagining which settings I will use.
One feature that interests me is Center Spread. My old-old receiver (Pioneer Elite Sc-05) had this feature, but had a similarly confusing description of its intent in the user manual.
Per the User Manual
Center Spread expands the center channel signal to left and right front
speakers to create a wider frontal audio image for the listener. It is
optimized and designed primary for playback of stereo music content.
Now this confuses me greatly for some reason. If its intended for stereo music, how can there be any center channel data to spread from the center in the first place? Isn't stereo by definition just the front L/R? Is this relying on some advanced processing to attempt to 'extract' a fake center channel from the source?
The reason I find it so confusing is because to me, the way I'd actually WANT to use this feature, is to spread the center channel to the sides a bit when watching movies, including SFX and dialogue. Wouldn't it make more sense in that case, where you actually have input center channel source signal?
My old Pioneer Elite had a feature called "Dialogue Enhancement" that basically did this. The Marantz has a Dialogue Adjust feature but it seems different, its only supporting DTS:X where there are sound objects.
Along the same lines, the Pioneer Elite had some related features that the manual seems to describe backwards as well. This leads me to believe maybe I have some fundamental misunderstanding about these types of features in general.
For example, from the Pioneer Elite SC-05 Manual, the setting 'Center Width' is described thus:
Provides a better blend of the
front speakers by spreading the
center channel between the front
right and left speakers, making it
sound wider (higher settings) or
narrower (lower settings).
Then there is a footnote below this clarifying:
Only when listening to 2-channel sources in Dolby Pro Logic IIx
Music/Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode.
Again this is like a contradiction to me. If you are listening to 2 channel sources.... what need is there to spread the center, which has no signal? Wouldn't this feature actually be better suited to listening to at least 3 channel content where you just want a wider soundstage, or if maybe your center speaker is not as high quality as your L/R? There is even another feature 'Center Image' on the Elite that has the same strange footnote, but says it only works for:
Only when listening to 2-channel sources in Neo:6 MUSIC/CINEMA
Can anybody help clarify these seemingly contradictory settings? Most importantly, since the Marantz does not seem to have 'Dialogue Enhancement' that works like the Elite, will the 'Center Width' setting be able to work on 3+ channel formats to spread the center channel (including dialogue) to the front L/R?