Identical L/C/R ... Why? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Identical L/C/R ... Why?

Why is it recommended to use the same exact speaker as a center channel in 3.1, 5.1, 7.2.4, etc. setup?

I am not trolling here. I'm hoping for a good discussion. It seems that most of the reasoning's I've seen have valid counter-arguments. Or am I crazy?

I still see it suggested often, while at the same time people say that the center channel is more important than the L/R in a home theater. So then wouldn't special attention given to the C channel be a good thing? Wouldn't a more efficient center speaker be desirable as it lessens the power required from the amp?
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post #2 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 10:28 AM
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I’m a little confused by this question.

Do you mean to say there’s no reason to get an LCR since your center always has to be better than your mains?

Or do you mean to ask why LCR speakers exist and why it’s commonly chosen?

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #3 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, I suppose the term "LCR" could refer to a speaker that has all of those channels built-in. I'm referring to typical setups in which there are discreet channels/speaker cabs placed throughout the room.
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post #4 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 10:48 AM
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honestly, i didnt. i tried to take the strengths of certain speakers and think what would complement them best

i heard that center channel does a lot of dialogue so i wanted clarity there
i knew my sub wasn't expensive so i wanted a lil bass in my front left and rights so i went with elacs or i could put kef q100's there


i love my set up

since i loved the chane center channel i bought i went ahead and wanted to see what the timbre matching was like so i bought more chanes to test. and i like my original set up with the chane center and elacs as fronts

i could play around with it more but within my limited time testing i didnt really notice any extreme benefit
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post #5 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
Sorry, I suppose the term "LCR" could refer to a speaker that has all of those channels built-in. I'm referring to typical setups in which there are discreet channels/speaker cabs placed throughout the room.

I know, you’re talking about speakers like Chane A2.4’s, CMT340’s, RBH R515’s etc.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #6 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 10:56 AM
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It's because as sounds pan from the left to the right, you want them to be seamless, so at a bare minimum you want the mids and highs to be the same driver but the identical speaker is the perfect match. Also, if a speaker doesn't have good vocal clarity as a left/right channel, then it's not good enough for those channels either. The same could be said for a center as fronts. A good speaker is a good speaker period, it should be neutral with neutral off-axis response as well.
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post #7 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 11:20 AM
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One of the goals for a home theatre is a great sounding, cohesive "front soundstage". Using matching speakers L-C-R across the front is a good way to achieve this (of course proper placement is vital also). The vast majority of horizontal center speakers are prone to lobing and their sound signature isn't "identical" to their L/R bookshelf or tower speaker counterparts.

It's also worth noting that identical speaker setups is what most theaters use, and, how movie/tv soundtracks are mixed.

Obvious caveats to the above "ideal" ...
- Most AVR's have some sort of auto room-correction/EQ software. This goes a long way to matching the sound signature between different speakers across the front (assuming the speakers are "close" to begin with.)
- Almost all home theater setups require compromises and that's fine. It's just a matter of choosing your compromises wisely
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post #8 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 11:37 AM
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This thread seems tailor-made for Zorba... wonder where he has gone to.

Anyway, both of the above posts basically mentioned the reasons. Ideally you don't get weird pans, where a car sounds like a little scooter in the center and a racecar from your left/rights. Some folks notice panning differences, some don't. Personally most pan differences don't bug me except for when voices pan -- then it can sound kind of weird.

But it's not like it's match or bust ... there are valid reasons for not matching too. The main reason why most don't do it is they can't... the same side speaker won't fit as a center. Most folks can't fit a vertical speaker in front of their TV.
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post #9 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
Why is it recommended to use the same exact speaker as a center channel in 3.1, 5.1, 7.2.4, etc. setup?

I am not trolling here. I'm hoping for a good discussion. It seems that most of the reasoning's I've seen have valid counter-arguments. Or am I crazy?

I still see it suggested often, while at the same time people say that the center channel is more important than the L/R in a home theater. So then wouldn't special attention given to the C channel be a good thing? Wouldn't a more efficient center speaker be desirable as it lessens the power required from the amp?
The "ideal" is "identical."

And that includes identical height of all the drivers.

A horizontal center is not "identical" by definition unless you are using three centers as your left right and center and if you were doing that you'd shoot for a 3 way center channel with a raised tweeter.

In my system the "ideal" would be three towers but I have a "matching" horizontal center and I love the sound.

As I have a TV, not an acoustically transparent screen, I was forced to compromise and I'm satisfied but I recognize that three towers would have been even "better" from a theoretical standpoint.

The good news if you are able to do three identical bookshelves, (as an example), is that usual when speakers are sold individually the "matching" exact bookshelf is virtually always far less expensive.

In my tower situation the towers were $525 each 10 years ago while the center was $800.

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post #10 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I wondered if the reasoning was based upon how the tracks were mixed, so that makes sense. However, couldn't that issue be successfully mitigated, along with front sound stage cohesion, through the use of equalization and room correction? Basically, what I'm getting at is... does it really matter anymore? Obviously, it would be tough to correct vast differences, but if one is using all speakers from the same line, I don't see how the differences could be material, post AVR correction, these days. The lobing issue present from an MTM design, which may or may not matter depending on the user's room, is a whole other topic.

So let's say someone has three identical speakers and is having trouble with dialogue. The only option for that user would be to simply "turn it up," right? Boosting the center channel via AVR settings would hurt the cohesion. I suppose, in this case, it is simply "user (ear) error" lol.

Thanks for your replies and thoughts.
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post #11 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
Why is it recommended to use the same exact speaker as a center channel in 3.1, 5.1, 7.2.4, etc. setup?

I am not trolling here. I'm hoping for a good discussion. It seems that most of the reasoning's I've seen have valid counter-arguments. Or am I crazy?

I still see it suggested often, while at the same time people say that the center channel is more important than the L/R in a home theater. So then wouldn't special attention given to the C channel be a good thing? Wouldn't a more efficient center speaker be desirable as it lessens the power required from the amp?
The better question is, "Why not?" ...

If you can get identical speakers placed properly, your sound stage becomes nice and tight. No strangeness as you pan from left to right (or top to bottom, for that matter). Why would you want anything else?

Of course, all situations are different. The above scenario assumes that the budget is adequate to have all three speakers able to cleanly reproduce the complexity that only the center speaker is required to actually present. In situations where the budget is tight, it probably makes sense to spend a bit more for the center channel and less on the R&L. RSL, for instance has a more expensive CG23 for a center channel and less expensive CG3s for the R&L. The CG23 even has a bit of a boost in the vocal frequencies, to make dialog more intelligible. Is that a compromise or a smart choice? You be the judge.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #12 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Right. So really, the recommendation for ideal L/C/R should only be made in the case that the room is ideal, the user is calibrated properly (ha), etc. Cool.

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post #13 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
So really, the recommendation for ideal L/C/R should only be made in the case that the room is ideal, the user is calibrated properly (ha), etc.
No. The recommendation is for anyone that desires consistency. Has nothing to do with ideal room.
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post #14 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Doe Doe View Post
This thread seems tailor-made for Zorba... wonder where he has gone to.

Anyway, both of the above posts basically mentioned the reasons. Ideally you don't get weird pans, where a car sounds like a little scooter in the center and a racecar from your left/rights. Some folks notice panning differences, some don't. Personally most pan differences don't bug me except for when voices pan -- then it can sound kind of weird.

But it's not like it's match or bust ... there are valid reasons for not matching too. The main reason why most don't do it is they can't... the same side speaker won't fit as a center. Most folks can't fit a vertical speaker in front of their TV.
i noticed a panning non conformity last weekend , when watching "Hostiles" .. i started giggling to myself about how important it is to some .. it was only noticeable because i was aware of the phenomenon .. after experiencing it it still is *way* down on my list of HT issues..edit: all that being said .. if you can get 3 identical speakers across the front , why not, it certainly won't hurt performance (unless the speakers all suck)...
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The ideal, as has been stated, is the the LCR should all be vertically orientated to maximize horizontal dispersion and assure that people in seats off-axis get a very similar sound to those in the middle seats of the room. This not only optimizes panning for all seats, but also front soundstage imaging in general. This is difficult to achieve with a horizontal center as the horizontal center will have limited horizontal dispersion because of lobes, beaming and comb filtering.

As has also been stated, the ideal is also for all tweeters and midranges should be at the same height - ideally the same as your ears.

I accomplished both these goals with two towers, Polk 705s, for left and right, and a bookshelf, Polk 703, on my equipment cabinet. Not identical speakers in my case, but identical tweeters, midranges, orientation and tweeter heights. This compromise means that the screen needs to be about 7 or 8 inches higher than with a horizontal center, but for me, the better soundstage is worth the somewhat higher screen. And once you lean back in a recliner with your favorite beverage, it is all wonderful.

Different strokes for different folks.
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post #16 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Lp85253 View Post
i noticed a panning non conformity last weekend , when watching "Hostiles" .. i started giggling to myself about how important it is to some .. it was only noticeable because i was aware of the phenomenon .. after experiencing it it still is *way* down on my list of HT issues..edit: all that being said .. if you can get 3 identical speakers across the front , why not, it certainly won't hurt performance (unless the speakers all suck)...
I've noticed it in random movies/shows on occasion in the past, but really it's hardly a big deal. If anyone feels like testing for a pan and has netflix, a panning car driving effect occurs near the end of a Black Mirror episode (Men against fire, season 3, I think). It's not really noticeable even with a mismatch, and yeah, doubt it would bother most people.

Panning voices is where it can get into bothersome territory for me, where for instance a character sounds different from the left than the center. But that too is pretty rare.
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post #17 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 06:31 PM
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Panning voices is where it can get into bothersome territory for me, where for instance a character sounds different from the left than the center. But that too is pretty rare.
Genereally, by current convention, movie dialog is locked to the center channel even if the character speaking is to one side of center.

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post #18 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 06:45 PM
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I've noticed it in random movies/shows on occasion in the past, but really it's hardly a big deal. If anyone feels like testing for a pan and has netflix, a panning car driving effect occurs near the end of a Black Mirror episode (Men against fire, season 3, I think). It's not really noticeable even with a mismatch, and yeah, doubt it would bother most people.

Panning voices is where it can get into bothersome territory for me, where for instance a character sounds different from the left than the center. But that too is pretty rare.
panning voices is what i noticed at first in the show .. if i didn't know about "mismatch" i would have written it off as bad editing...

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post #19 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
So then wouldn't special attention given to the C channel be a good thing? Wouldn't a more efficient center speaker be desirable as it lessens the power required from the amp?
A good/great center channel should be a high priority in a home theater. The center channel and subwoofer(s) would be a coin flip for most people as the most important. Unless you are limited in power, there is no compelling reason to have a center that's more efficient than the other speakers. Efficient speakers will help in general if you are using a lower power receiver, but fixating on the center's efficiency isn't of any real importance,
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post #20 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Genereally, by current convention, movie dialog is locked to the center channel even if the character speaking is to one side of center.
Agreed, although on the rare occasion one will either get panning voices or simply some voices randomly coming out of the left/right speakers. Happens even with surrounds too.

Usually not an issue, but with mismatches it can sometimes be noticeable and odd. I doubt many here would recommend big mismatches though ... like super warm sides + super bright center.
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post #21 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 07:28 PM
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I've worked in this industry since the birth of the center channel and I've never owned anything other than three identical front speakers all in a straight line just under the TV. This is also how Dolby does it in their test labs.
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post #22 of 50 Old 01-29-2019, 07:46 PM
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It's actually more important than ever now given the introduction of object based audio. In the Dolby Atmos and DTS-X media or demos it's nothing for a single 'object' to move across all speakers throughout your home theater. You don't want voices, sound effects, or sounds to change in pitch, clarity, tone as they move across your speakers. IE - a home theater with matching Klispch front towers with 8" drivers and then your ceiling speakers are little 6" alt brand in-wall speakers.

I've personally found that 11 cheap Mackie C200 speakers - all matching, all the way around make for a home theater package that hits WAY above it's price range (7.1.4). Same thing goes for the all matching Behringer XL PA speakers which a couple friends have now built their theaters with, and @imagic introduced to the masses. I've upgraded to 13 matching JBL speakers now. (9.1.4) I wouldn't personally go back to non matching speakers for home cinema now that I've experienced what matching speakers can do to the cohesiveness of the whole surround sound experience. It isn't hard to fathom why matching speakers is optimal. You can get away with matching L/C/R and matching surround/height as a option, (heck you can get away with anything you want) -- but IMO, all matching is the optimal way to go if you really want to pursue the very best surround experience, and can acquire and place all matching competent speakers.

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post #23 of 50 Old 01-30-2019, 08:14 AM
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I know, you’re talking about speakers like Chane A2.4’s, CMT340’s, RBH R515’s etc.

No, he's not.

Yes, speakers with that design are often called LCRs, but the OP is only using the term L/C/R to describe the front 3 speakers and he means any identical front 3 speakers be they bookshelfs, LCRs, towers, or whatever.

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post #24 of 50 Old 01-30-2019, 08:15 AM
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No, he's not.



Yes, speakers with that design are often called LCRs, but the OP is only using the term L/C/R to describe the front 3 speakers and he means any identical front 3 speakers be they bookshelfs, LCRs, towers, or whatever.

Oh okay I see now.

Leave it at 8 ohms and call it a day :)
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post #25 of 50 Old 01-30-2019, 11:31 AM
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many (most?) people make this mistake:
the sound of L/C/R should be the same!
but the sound at the various listening positions is generated by the speakers together with the room and their placement within.
-> 100% exactly the same speakers don't automatically deliver exactly the same sound and some demanded specifications are even contrary, believe it or not.

I try to explain:
in a typical living room (at least in Europe) used for HT the L/R front speakers are located near the side walls. To avoid early reflections from the side walls these speakers should disperse the sound more directed horizontally.
On the other hand the midrange and tweeter chassis in a typical tower speaker are nearly 3ft away from the ground. 3ft is about the critical distance. The human hearing distinguishes between one sound and sound+echo at about 5ms which equates to 5.5ft or nearly 3ft forth and back.

the requirements to the center are different. It's only right to exist is to supply the people beside the middle listening position. The side walls are "far away", so the center should equally supply the whole horizontal angle range from side to side.
but because in many rooms the center is located nearer to the floor than the 3ft (see above) the dispersion vertically should be restricted.

short:
fronts: horizontally normal to narrow, vertically normal
center: horizontally wide, vertical narrow
and ideally they sound identical but don't need to be identical.

3 identical speakers are ideal in a huge room with >>3ft (and identical) distance to both side walls and an acoustic transparent screen only.
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post #26 of 50 Old 01-31-2019, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Spidacat View Post
A good/great center channel should be a high priority in a home theater.
Depending upon your seating arrangements a centre may not be necessary at all. I haven't used one in many years and feel no loss from it's lack of presence.



Horizontal MTMs should be avoided as they have a poor polar pattern; some nulls in response at various angles depending upon geometry.

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post #27 of 50 Old 01-31-2019, 01:02 AM
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you need to differentiate...
IF you use a center it should get high priority, like the avoidance of a horizontal MTM alignment as you mentioned.
but if (all of) you (maybe with just one or two "guests") sit nearly in the sweet spot of the front speakers you can do fine without the center speaker

unfortunately a lot of people believe it's ok to save some money with a "cheap" center and "destroy" the sound of their decent front speakers.
i have many SACDs with 4.x sound or with 5.x where the center doesn't get the solo voices and reproduces just "surround sound". The producers know that many people are using poor centers compared to the front speakers.
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post #28 of 50 Old 01-31-2019, 01:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Mickey Mouse View Post
you need to differentiate...
IF you use a center it should get high priority, like the avoidance of a horizontal MTM alignment as you mentioned.
but if (all of) you (maybe with just one or two "guests") sit nearly in the sweet spot of the front speakers you can do fine without the center speaker
That's a more verbose version of what I said.


You only need a centre for listeners well off centre axis to ameliorate the Haas effect.

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post #29 of 50 Old 01-31-2019, 07:26 AM
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Identical L/C/R ... Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
Why is it recommended to use the same exact speaker as a center channel in 3.1, 5.1, 7.2.4, etc. setup?



I am not trolling here. I'm hoping for a good discussion. It seems that most of the reasoning's I've seen have valid counter-arguments. Or am I crazy?



I still see it suggested often, while at the same time people say that the center channel is more important than the L/R in a home theater. So then wouldn't special attention given to the C channel be a good thing? Wouldn't a more efficient center speaker be desirable as it lessens the power required from the amp?


Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
I wondered if the reasoning was based upon how the tracks were mixed, so that makes sense. However, couldn't that issue be successfully mitigated, along with front sound stage cohesion, through the use of equalization and room correction? Basically, what I'm getting at is... does it really matter anymore? Obviously, it would be tough to correct vast differences, but if one is using all speakers from the same line, I don't see how the differences could be material, post AVR correction, these days. The lobing issue present from an MTM design, which may or may not matter depending on the user's room, is a whole other topic.



So let's say someone has three identical speakers and is having trouble with dialogue. The only option for that user would be to simply "turn it up," right? Boosting the center channel via AVR settings would hurt the cohesion. I suppose, in this case, it is simply "user (ear) error" lol.



Thanks for your replies and thoughts.
Room correction can’t do anything for a crap center speaker that has very different sonic qualities from the sides. And it matters more than ever, now that multichannel content can send full bandwidth audio to any speaker.

The need for a comparable speaker, as I mention below, is that in most multichannel film/tv entertainment, the center speaker is working much of the time, and has both dialog and sound FX passed through it. If you had a wimpy center, voices would sound fake compared with music and sound fx from the side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Genereally, by current convention, movie dialog is locked to the center channel even if the character speaking is to one side of center.
True, but once in a while a voice is on the side, probably mixed for an offscreen actor. Because of dialog and sound FX, I feel the center speaker gets a lot more “use” in some films than the sides, and so should be as capable as the side speakers.

Another example is a monophonic movie that is mixed to 1.0, or 2.0 and the user decodes with Dolby Surround/PL II to direct the monophonic content to the center. IMHO you want a center speaker that is up to the job of playing the entire soundtrack. (Think of all those great films with Bernard Herrmann soundtracks, like The Day The Earth Stood Still.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by p3trol_h3ad View Post
Right. So really, the recommendation for ideal L/C/R should only be made in the case that the room is ideal, the user is calibrated properly (ha), etc. Cool.
Nope, not at all. The quality of the sound heard by the listener can’t be “corrected” by a room if the speaker isn’t up to the task for all the content it gets.

Also if the center speaker is different from the mains, “room correction” or equalization software may try to make it sound like a different speaker, perhaps in a way that’s less efficient for it, so that poor speaker is probably limited, not using its full potential.

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Last edited by ChromeJob; 01-31-2019 at 10:59 AM.
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post #30 of 50 Old 01-31-2019, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Mouse View Post
center: horizontally wide, vertical narrow
no
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