Center Channels...

Todd Anderson

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Tony V.

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Hi Todd, I can fully agree with what you stated in that article. The center channel is the most important speaker in a multi channel setup but implemented wrong can do an injustice to your system.
Ive gone from using a somewhat cheap Acoustic research center channel to a better Klipsch to my current matching EV Century 500 and can attest to the differences in each. By far the EV has given the best and seamless integration. Imaging and presence is really good even when sitting off center it still keeps the sound centered without affecting the imaging of the Left and Right channels
 

Todd Anderson

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That's interesting, Tony. I think, ultimately, center channels seem to be a lot like subs... upgrades frequently give major benefits! It's one of those speakers that can be easily exposed.
 

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You Are right Todd in your findings and I agree with you. My problem has always been the fact that most speakers are sold in pairs and I’ve never really wanted to buy an extra pair to have a matching center. When it came to my Dahlquist I just went phantom. I now have Klipsch mains and a semi matching center that is huge so it really does well as a center and because it does use a horn for the tweeter, it is not fussy about having to be on axis while listening.

I find that too many center channel speakers are small and even though they may be of the same make as the mains, they can never sound the same. I had some B&W mains, large ones, but the center channel had smallish components and the cabinet was not as well made. The sound was way different than the mains. This seems to be the norm and I do not understand why manufacturers cannot offer reasonably priced, well made center units that can come closer to the sound and output of the mains.

So you and Tony suggesting the use of three matching speakers up front is the best way to go.
 

Kal Rubinson

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So you and Tony suggesting the use of three matching speakers up front is the best way to go.
I fully concur. My initial experiences were video-driven and, to be honest, I was not very committed to HT. So when I started to listen to multichannel music, I became quite dissatisfied with the well-matched and decent MTM center in the system. My first stab at improvement was to replace it with a spare 2-way bookshelf speaker from the same series. The difference was an ear-opener!

Since then, I have committed myself to using 3 matched floor-standers for L/C/R in both of my systems and would not consider swapping in a "dedicated" horizontal center for technical and subjective reasons. Of course, that creates problems tor the video display but I am still not very committed to HT, so who cares?
 

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IMG_3227.jpg
I agree Kal, it meant pushing my screen up a little on the higher side to clear the top of the EVs but well worth the sacrifice.
 

Todd Anderson

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It’s really tough to fit three towers across a front soundstage, unless you have an AT screen. But worth it if you can.

I’ve never played around with a bookshelf in place of a center.

Currently, I’m running an Ultra Center. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by it. I would like to squeeze one more Ultra Tower I. It’s place. I’m going to look at available space to move my screen up (when I re-assemble my theater room)
 

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I could do this as well as I do not have a pj screen and I have designed the display mount high enough so the bottom of the display is just above the speakers. When I can afford it, I will do 3 matching speakers. Dialogue, panning and especially music videos need to have a seamless front wall of sound. I am close now but close can be improved upon.
 

Negatron

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Good reason to go AT screen Todd!
It’s really tough to fit three towers across a front soundstage, unless you have an AT screen. But worth it if you can.

I’ve never played around with a bookshelf in place of a center.

Currently, I’m running an Ultra Center. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by it. I would like to squeeze one more Ultra Tower I. It’s place. I’m going to look at available space to move my screen up (when I re-assemble my theater room)
When I had my last setup it was a huge difference IMO to have all 3 front speakers identical, and the next biggest thing for the Home Theater experience is to have a AT screen. A AT screen is the next step to a true HT, and I do not mean for a the size of the picture (which it does too), but the sound is so much better when the sound is coming from behind the screen IMO.
 

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Hi Todd, I can fully agree with what you stated in that article. The center channel is the most important speaker in a multi channel setup but implemented wrong can do an injustice to your system.
Ive gone from using a somewhat cheap Acoustic research center channel to a better Klipsch to my current matching EV Century 500 and can attest to the differences in each. By far the EV has given the best and seamless integration. Imaging and presence is really good even when sitting off center it still keeps the sound centered without affecting the imaging of the Left and Right channels

"The center channel is the most important speaker in a multi channel setup but implemented wrong can do an injustice to your system."

Very well said, Tony. It was also pointed out to me that the center channel carries the most energy in a film soundtrack since whenever you see something happen in the center of the screen (dividing the picture into 3 roughly equal parts, left, center, and right) that's all coming mainly from that center speaker. The quality of the center channel can make or break the immersive film experience.
 

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It was also pointed out to me that the center channel carries the most energy in a film soundtrack since whenever you see something happen in the center of the screen (dividing the picture into 3 roughly equal parts, left, center, and right) that's all coming mainly from that center speaker.
Much more true than you’d think. Try watching a movie with the center speaker disconnected. It’s a real eye (ear?) opener.
 

Todd Anderson

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It really is in the 70% range. Crazy, right? With that being the case, you'd think the companies would come up a totally unique design. Personally, I'd like to see a speaker that approximates the size of a center channel sitting on a stand. Something that's more like a large square or wide rectangle. It could come with a kit of adjustable legs or feet for near limitless positioning... but might also afford more designers the ability to eliminate some of the issues with horizontal designs?
 

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The center channel is the most important speaker, although I have had great success using a phantom center with some speakers. Of the dozens of center channels I have owned or auditioned, this is my favorite:

https://www.axiomaudio.com/vp180-center-channel-speaker

The "high power" version never does anything but deliver amazing power. We are watching Game of Thrones, Season 6 right now. Tyrian and Khaleesi are talking in a large castle room, and their voices are not only crystal clear, his voice has authority and the ambience of the room is quite audible. Look for a center channel that can move serious air, has a response curve flat to 40 Hz, and can handle lots of power without compressing.
 

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At present I use a Klipsch KLF-C7 for my center. Twin 8” woofers astride a horn loaded titanium dome tweeter. I have not heard any chestiness from this center and I have never found it giving up the ghost on any material. I love it.
 

Craig Chase

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Jack - That is a great center channel. I had one with the Klipsch Belles 15 years ago and have the RC-64 II now. It's a tremendous performer, and the difference between it and the Axiom is pretty minor. It meshes very well with the LaScala's.
 

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Jack - That is a great center channel. I had one with the Klipsch Belles 15 years ago and have the RC-64 II now. It's a tremendous performer, and the difference between it and the Axiom is pretty minor. It meshes very well with the LaScala's.
I cant imagine how good this center would sound with the LaScala's. I do bet that the RC64 ll is an awesome center and makes sense for a home theater unit.
 

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I love the idea of a W-T/M-W for any speaker because nothing will ever be to busy to do it's job if crossed over properly. But for a center I think it's overkill. I have a 5.1 set up and when I listen to music, I do so in all channel stereo mode, but I turn my center down to about -3 which is balanced SPL wise between my two L/R towers. When I'm watching a movie however, I run my center a little hot, +3 to +4, but I'm only asking for clear whispers and vocals from my center at that point. Center is all about vocals in a movie and more of a 'fill the hole' when music is the name of the game. I want a strong male baritone from my center without any 'vibration' if that makes sense.!? I cross my center over about 120Hz which still carries well into the 80Hz range and that's as low as I want my center to go, ever. I have towers to carry me lower and a big ole 18" sub to bring down the house, but the center in my channel line up is all about clarity for vocals. Either fortunately or the opposite, I'm only 9ft away from any one speaker in my room, so for me it's all about levels, SPL levels that is....

A really good balance LR/RR L/C/R makes all the difference in the world if/when sitting/standing in the middle of my room. Also the right media shows and tells a story. For example: Peter Frampton - 'Do You Feel Like I Do' is a freekin awesome song for representing a sound stage, or a live one! The center of my room is heaven when that song plays, when I have it all balanced properly, you're just there, at the concert! All just my 2 pennies I found between the cushions, but I think M-T-M is about all anybody really needs in a center channel, and 5 1/4" woofers with a 1" silk dome tweeter will make most folks very happy indeed. I have 6 1/2" woofers in my center and I needed to pull some base out of them. I think the center should do little more than just talk to you as clearly as possible for movie watching and then blend perfectly between F/L and F/R speakers when switching to music so as to not really know it's there but also not feel like something is missing. As with most things in life, moderation matters and balance is key.

That was/is a good article Todd, then we have things like Def-Tech building active 8" subs into a center channel and ooooh my....... Venue venue venue.

Cheers
 

Todd Anderson

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It's hilarious that they altered the author to "By Hometoys"... I wrote it as part of freelance gig with Aperion four years ago or so. Since I essentially sold it to them, I guess they own the rights. Looks like our friends at Hometoys have taken some liberties!

Like your thoughts and insights @t3t4 . It really is all about balance. If you can make it make it work with your system, that's all that matters.

Ultimately, for me, I like gear that gets out of the way and allows me to enjoy myself. It doesn't necessarily have to be the absolute best, but needs to get the job done without reminding me it's there ;-)
 

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It's hilarious that they altered the author to "By Hometoys"... I wrote it as part of freelance gig with Aperion four years ago or so. Since I essentially sold it to them, I guess they own the rights. Looks like our friends at Hometoys have taken some liberties!
Lol,,,, I had questions that I really didn't want to ask about that, and yet with this world wide web full of user names, who knows? No worries and no matter, still a good article!

I'll second gear that gets out of the ways, if only my stuff was on wheels......?!

Cheers :popcorn:
 

Todd Anderson

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Lol,,,, I had questions that I really didn't want to ask about that, and yet with this world wide web full of user names, who knows? No worries and no matter, still a good article!

I'll second gear that gets out of the ways, if only my stuff was on wheels......?!

Cheers :popcorn:
It is kind of weird. I know that Aperion has it attributed to me on their site. But, that's not always the case. There's a lot of ghost writing that goes on out there... especially with retail type gigs where a company will put a sales rep's name on something. Meh... doesn't really matter at the end of the day.
 

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The main reason that, regardless of how big and inexpensive they get, I'll never replace my projector/AT screen with a panel.

I absolutely love having my LCR identical and located behind the screen. I wouldn't give it up for anything.
 

Todd Anderson

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I don't blame you one bit, thrill!
 

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I just dug up to an old link to an article I'd written for Aperion Audio... about Center Channels, some do's and don'ts, and alternatives.

https://www.hometoys.com/article/2017/02/get-the-most-out-of-your-center-channel/36058/

I'm curious to see what members are running and to read about their center channel experiences!
Interesting tread going back a couple of yrs. I am currently evaluating (spec-wise) different center speakers for dialog clarity, comparing to my current Elac C5.2. We are not particularly discriminating listeners (old ears) and don't listen far off-axis BUT dialog clarity is very important to us. As such, a good 3-way speaker might be technically the best answer for our needs - smaller dedicated mid-range, cross-over out of the vocal range, etc. Currently looking at Elac (several models), SVS, Emotiva, Ascend, etc. There are many other considerations; ie price, size, impedance, wattage but do you have any recommendations on a good size for the mid-range driver (they vary from 3" to >5") or the best frequency range (ie 500 to 2500 hz) to consider as "optimum" for cc vocals ? I know it will eventually come down an in-home evaluation but I would like to narrow the field down and I haven't seen much discussion devoted to these areas of measurements related to dialog. The center would drive my decision on the front L/R as well.
 

phillihp23

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Interesting thoughts. If I had the space I would probably use the same tower for center as L/R main. I currently use the CSIA6 center. Maybe I will test a RTiA5 as a center....will have to see if it fits under the screen. Currently my L/R mains are RTiA9. The RTiA5 is aproximately 8.25” shorter. It contains the same two mid/woofer and tweeter as the CSIA6 just in a slightly different arrangement and vertical.
 
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