Center Channels...

Todd Anderson

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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.
@Coy Ramsey, it's practically essential that you tweeter match your center channel... I'm assuming you're going to get new L/R channel speakers to match whatever you buy?

I can vouch for the SVS Ultra Center. Really nice speaker Good off-axis performance. Voices sound natural. Very happy with mine.
 

Todd Anderson

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VSX21-THX
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OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F
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.
You'll notice a notable difference as you move off-axis.. The CSIA6 does suffer a bit because of its design. I think you'd find that a RTiA5 really improved your overall experience... at one point I had an entire RTiA5 arrangement in the front of my room. Sounded really nice!
 

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This is an interesting idea Coy. Many less expensive center channel speakers have no or very little cabinet support or internal sound deadening material and will tend to sound chesty or less capable of producing such a large bit of the sound spectrum. I have a set of the Elac bookshelf speakers and they do pretty well actually although they do have a bit of cabinet noise. As they seem to know how to make very good sound even with some flaws in the speakers, your thoughts on an Elac center may be good indeed.
 

Coy Ramsey

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@Coy Ramsey, it's practically essential that you tweeter match your center channel... I'm assuming you're going to get new L/R channel speakers to match whatever you buy?

I can vouch for the SVS Ultra Center. Really nice speaker Good off-axis performance. Voices sound natural. Very happy with mine.
Yes Todd, the center would determine what L/R that I would buy. I don't think that the rest of my system (Polk in-wall/in-ceiling) matter much as the audio content is less and we just aren't that discriminating in our hearing. I'm finding a wide range of variation in center channel designs and what appears to be little commonality in their approach. 2, 2.5, 3-way are the prevalent concepts but driver size and cross-overs vary quite a bit. Two of the most highly regarded include the SVS Ultra and the Ascend Horizon but I may have just scratched the surface. My first upgrade is going to be the sub. Today I'm using an old Def Tech 600 the output of which is surprising in my reflective and squarish room.
 

Todd Anderson

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Emotiva XPA Gen3 2.8 multichannel amp
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VSX21-THX
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OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F
You're right, the rest of your system is certainly less crucial to match. Would it be ideal? Yes. But not as important as those front three channels. That's pretty much a no exception situation ;-).

Do you have a budget range in mind for your front three?
 

Coy Ramsey

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Yamaha Aventage RX-A660 AVR
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Front Speakers
Elac Debut 2.0 BS5.2
Center Channel Speaker
Elac Debut 2.0 CC5.2
Surround Speakers
Polk in-wall
Rear Height Speakers
Polk in-ceiling
Subwoofers
Def Tech 600 (upgrade pending)
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Episode ceiling speakers for 4 distributed zones
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Samsung
Screen
65"
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Logitech Harmony
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Yamaha CD changer, Roku 2 (upgrade pending).
You're right, the rest of your system is certainly less crucial to match. Would it be ideal? Yes. But not as important as those front three channels. That's pretty much a no exception situation ;-).

Do you have a budget range in mind for your front three?
I've allotted around $2500 for the L/C/R speakers so there is a lot of good competition to consider. Likely bookshelfs for L/R (sub supported) and a max height around 8" for the center (rules out the Ascend Horizon at 11"). Currently have Elac debut 5.2 across the front (cc is C5.2) so I guess that I'm starting pretty good at least as far as the budget end goes. Working with EQ on dialog and room décor to "soften" reflective surfaces, making small headway gains. Yamaha Aventage 660 avr (80 wpc) does not have pre-outs but I would consider an upgrade here if necessary but stay w/I Yamaha family as I use MusicCast for distributed audio. 80% movies/TV, 20% soft rock, not loud, not a big volume to fill (<2000ft3). Dialog is priority w/new setup and hope that good SQ comes along.
 

Todd Anderson

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Emotiva XPA Gen3 2.8 multichannel amp
Other Amp
VSX21-THX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F
Okay... yes, you have a great budget. I'm a big fan of the SVS Ultras... and I think they'd pair fairly well with the Polk in-walls/ceilings that you have. Not speakers that I'd say are bright, but their higher frequencies are a little north of neutral.

I'd also suggest giving GoldenEar a serious look. Fantastic speakers
 

phillihp23

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You'll notice a notable difference as you move off-axis.. The CSIA6 does suffer a bit because of its design. I think you'd find that a RTiA5 really improved your overall experience... at one point I had an entire RTiA5 arrangement in the front of my room. Sounded really nice!
Well I measured and the RTiA5 will not fit under the screen so that idea is out.
 

Coy Ramsey

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My AV System  
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Yamaha Aventage RX-A660 AVR
Other Amp
4 Yamaha WX50 amps for MusicCast distributed audio
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony X700
Front Speakers
Elac Debut 2.0 BS5.2
Center Channel Speaker
Elac Debut 2.0 CC5.2
Surround Speakers
Polk in-wall
Rear Height Speakers
Polk in-ceiling
Subwoofers
Def Tech 600 (upgrade pending)
Other Speakers or Equipment
Episode ceiling speakers for 4 distributed zones
Video Display Device
Samsung
Screen
65"
Remote Control
Logitech Harmony
Other Equipment
Yamaha CD changer, Roku 2 (upgrade pending).
This is an interesting idea Coy. Many less expensive center channel speakers have no or very little cabinet support or internal sound deadening material and will tend to sound chesty or less capable of producing such a large bit of the sound spectrum. I have a set of the Elac bookshelf speakers and they do pretty well actually although they do have a bit of cabinet noise. As they seem to know how to make very good sound even with some flaws in the speakers, your thoughts on an Elac center may be good indeed.
My hearing is far from good - hi-frequency loss, tinnitus, just plain old, etc. - and I am by no means an audiophile listener. E.g. we auditioned a couple of different speakers recently at Crutchfield and could barely discern a difference between a $500 pair of horn tweeter speakers and a $2000 pair of ribbon bookshelfs. I bought the Elac's (BS5.2 & CC5.2) because of decent reviews and a great sale price. I tried them out in my old home (beside a Def Tech ProCinema 600 system) and they were definitely a step-up in music over the DT but, I thought, a bit harsh with dialog especially when playing older source TV material. Good enuf for starting out in the new house but I was a bit concerned. In the new site I haven't found that same harshness in dialog to be an issue so something has changed … I have been spending more effort on EQ and maybe a bit smarter on general setup. I think that I have been able to improve dialog legibility but not enuf yet to drop the subtitles, which is my goal. I'll continue to work with the Elac's and meanwhile also investigate the technology around what might make a great cc. My first step is to upgrade the sub which might let me raise the handoff freq to the sub and take some of that task off the cc drivers (at least that's my idea).
 

Todd Anderson

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Denon X8500H
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Emotiva XPA-5
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Emotiva XPA Gen3 2.8 multichannel amp
Other Amp
VSX21-THX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F

phillihp23

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How much room do you need?
:)It's kinda comical. To make my story short.....My new projector vertical adjustment was 9" off from my old projector so I had to buy a drop extension. In regard to space under my screen I would need 9", to use a tower RTiA5 as a center channel. Essentially if I raised my screen 9" I would not need a drop extension for the projector and could fit a RTiA5 as a center. But ultimately I have front heights above my screen which does not allow me to raise the screen....no front wall space left. I'm at my rooms limit with speakers and gear....:rubeyes:
 

Todd Anderson

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Location
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My AV System  
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Denon X8500H
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-5
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Gen3 2.8 multichannel amp
Other Amp
VSX21-THX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F
Oh, for sure! I'm in the same boat. It's crazy how the math works out that way. What you need is an AT screen that covers those front heights... PROBLEM SOLVED! :T:spend: I assume you're loving the new set up?
 

Coy Ramsey

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Jan 6, 2019
Messages
25
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha Aventage RX-A660 AVR
Other Amp
4 Yamaha WX50 amps for MusicCast distributed audio
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
Sony X700
Front Speakers
Elac Debut 2.0 BS5.2
Center Channel Speaker
Elac Debut 2.0 CC5.2
Surround Speakers
Polk in-wall
Rear Height Speakers
Polk in-ceiling
Subwoofers
Def Tech 600 (upgrade pending)
Other Speakers or Equipment
Episode ceiling speakers for 4 distributed zones
Video Display Device
Samsung
Screen
65"
Remote Control
Logitech Harmony
Other Equipment
Yamaha CD changer, Roku 2 (upgrade pending).
Okay... yes, you have a great budget. I'm a big fan of the SVS Ultras... and I think they'd pair fairly well with the Polk in-walls/ceilings that you have. Not speakers that I'd say are bright, but their higher frequencies are a little north of neutral.

I'd also suggest giving GoldenEar a serious look. Fantastic speakers
Thanks for your suggestions Todd. The Ultra cc would be my leading candidate if it didn't exceed my height restriction. I've looked at the GE line a few times as they typically get good reviews and I had a Def Tech system which uses a similar design scheme (same guy as I recall). I do get a bit frustrated when I research GE as the information seems heavy on marketing and light on technical specs. Likely just a personal quirk of mine I suppose. I'll give them another look thanks to your recommendation.
 

Todd Anderson

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Thread Starter
Joined
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Messages
5,747
Location
Balt/Wash Metro
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Denon X8500H
Main Amp
Emotiva XPA-5
Additional Amp
Emotiva XPA Gen3 2.8 multichannel amp
Other Amp
VSX21-THX
Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
OPPO UDP-203, Panasonic UB9000
Front Speakers
SVS Ultra Towers
Center Channel Speaker
SVS Ultra Center
Surround Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround
Surround Back Speakers
SVS Ultra Bookshelf
Front Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Front, Top Mid-Front)
Rear Height Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation x4 (Top Middle, Top Rear)
Subwoofers
dual SVS SB16s + dual PSA XS30s
Other Speakers or Equipment
Behringer 1124p; Aura Bass Shaker Pros; SuperSub X
Video Display Device
JVC NX7
Screen
Carada Cine-White 0 gain
Other Equipment
LG Electronics 65-inch B6 OLED, Sony 65-inch X900F
Yes, Sandy Gross was involved with Def Tech (and Polk). His GoldenEar speakers are amazing!
 
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