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I have a roughly six year old Onkyo HT-S760 HTIB 6.1 system. The receiver is an HT-R510 and the matching speakers are all sturdy and wonderful.


Problem is that I recently had to drop from 6.1 down to stereo (2.1) because I have a 2 year old and 11 month old child at home and even my best attempt at running the rear wires (under carpet, along a baseboard, etc.) are not going to work because my girls will find something to pick at and put in their mouths. Running in-wall isn't feasible because I have a civil war era house with many walls that are just masonry and lathe.


Before you begin to think up solutions, I know it sux that I can't use all of my speakers - but the problem will go away naturally in 2-3 years as the kids age past that lets-put-wires-in-my-mouth age - and I'm already consigned to living without rear speakers until then.


My question is - is there any benefit to adding back in my center speaker (making my set-up 3.1)? I can add the center without any dangerous wire runs, but I don't think there's any reason to. First, if I continue to use the stereo mode, obviously I won't be feeding any signal to the center speaker, correct? Second, if I select a surround mode, the receiver will be outputing sound to the surrounds that aren't there, in addition to the center, correct? I am assuming this would hurt my overall sound quality, since the information going out the missing surrounds would not be channeled to my front speakers. That's assuming (perhaps incorrectly?) that the receiver would even attempt sending the surround signals out if the speakers weren't attached.


I'm pretty clueless on these audio issues, so any advice from the knowledgable folks in this section of the forum would be much appreciated. Any benefit to be derived from adding back in my center speaker and, if so, how do I need to configure the receiver to enjoy this benefit? Thanks.
 

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Actually, I would go ahead and add that center back in. Even though you won't have surrounds setup, you can set the receiver with "surrounds off" and the receiver will mix it back down to 3.1. Then you'll have the dialog clarity of the center channel on 5.1 sources, without having to rely on the left and right channels creating a phantom center, resulting in a smaller sweet spot.
 

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Yeah, as long as you turn off the speakers in the receiver's audio menu (setting surrounds and surround back to "off" or "none" or whatever it has as an off setting) it'll work. The receiver will know to reroute the sound to the fronts where needed. It won't be surround sound, of course, but the whole signal will be there.
 

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As the parent of a 3yr old the issue doesn't get better as the kids get older. Toddlers go from the "stuff in mouth" to the "take it apart and see how it works" stage at about age 2. We literally had to hide all the screwdrivers because my 3yr old wanted to disassemble anything with screws. Your 2yr old will be doing this soon if she's anything like my 3yr old. Don't let her see you change the batteries in her toys, that's how it got started with mine...
 
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