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I normally run my system with AR performance series voice matched speakers. PS-328's being my mains. They're nothing that great, but serve the purpose. I have some PA gear that I've been migrating into the mix. Essentially I'm using three beefy Peavy rack mount amps (two of them bridged to drive Yamaha 18" subs) and one of them to power the mains. Just for giggles I put some Avatar PA-15's in parallel with the AR PS-328's as the mains (net 4 Ohm load per channel, amp driving at 350Watts RMS per side).


The Avatar PA-15's have a 15" Emminence Kappa and a true horn. I've found them to have quite good sound in comparison to just the PS-328's. (so far I've only been able to listen to 2 channel stereo in reference mode). My concern is that now I've lost that "voice matching" that I had when I had all AR speakers. I'm considering replacing the center channel and perhaps the rear also. And I may add 7.1 too. But I'm wondering if the voice matching is important? I know that my center channel is inadequate as at times I've noticed that speaker distort. But if I replace and decide to stick with the front mains that have horns, should I try to build a similar center channel with the horn? Or any other suggestions on a good center channel? Or would you recommend not using the PA gear at all in a HT application?
 

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In the final analysis, if you like it, its OK.


You will never get the illusion of a 360-degree soundfield unless the speakers are voiced the same. But that does not mean the experience will not be enjoyable. It will just not be optimum.


There is another aspect that you may want to think about. The PA speakers probably have great bass response and a fairly hot high end. If there is a weakness, it is probably in the midrange detail. Unfortunately, this is the most important area for home theater.


That is why speakers designed to reproduce music that rely on large woofers to extend bass response do not make good home theater speakers. The midrange detail is not ideal for reproducing human voices. Intelligibility is greatly reduced compared to a speaker designed with midrange performance in mind.


Keep in mind that, while bass response is important, 85% of information in HT is in the midrange.


If you had to use the PA-15's, you might be better off getting left, right and center channel speakers and use the PA-15's for the rears. I know that sounds crazy, but the results could be dramatically better.


As for 7.1 here is what I recommend to clients: Get 5.1 done right first. You are undoubtedly working on a budget. Getting 7.1 channels will probably mean getting lower quality speakers. This is a big mistake.


7.1 is nice, but keep in mind that the mastering labs that create multi-channel music and HT are primarily 5.1 channel studios.


This is the advice I give clients, even when it means they will purchase fewer speakers. But I know they will be happier on the long run and can eventually add the additional channels at a later date.


Remember, the weakest components in any music/ht system will always be the speakers - and by wide margin! Get the best you can and build from there. Don't worry about anything else. You will be happier in the end.


- Jim
 
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