Centre voice problems


Active Member
As I read more and more on this forum, it seems that many of us are having problems with the clarity of the dialogue of films and programmes

I have suffered with this for years and keep upgrading different parts of my system to try and cure the issues. I use sky for 99% of my viewing/listening and have noticed that when watching HD channels some of the audio is sent as Dolby Digital 2.0 and some as DD5.1 why is that, if programme makers are using HD cameras surely an extra couple of microphones are not going to alter the bank balance by much?

Do you think that the clarity is due to the actors not speaking clearly?
Could it be the way Sky are uploading and dwnloading the signals?

My Arcam AVR600 can change the DD2.0 to a "fake" surround sound - the clearest is DTS 6.0 but still far from perfect?

Why do speaker manufacturers sell you a package and the centre speaker is smaller than the left and right?

I have B&W CDM9NT's as left and right (which I love) and a CDM CNT as the centre (which only has one smaller mid range driver)
Should I look to replace my CNT with a 2nd user 9NT - would that improve things?
Should I bite the bullet and buy a B&W HTM2D (giant centre speaker!)
I assume that keeping with B&W would not alter the soundstage

I would like to upgrade my L&R in the next couple of years and keep admiring the B&W803D's - would I do better to wait a bit and buy 3 matched 803's for the fronts?
I do have room under the screen for the 803's so height is not a problem obviously all three tweeters would then be level so should give a fantastic sound.

Or do I save my money and use subtitles - we had them on last night whilst watching Public Enemies :facepalm:

All your views would be welcomed



Distinguished Member
The cause is not the source (although I can't speak for Sky), but a combination of the inadequacies of the centre speaker, the room, and the centre speaker's positoning in competition with the TV. That final issue is also the reason the centre speaker in a set is typically much smaller.

The only real resolution is to use an acoustically transparent screen with a matching triplet of decent speakers (e.g. the suggested 803D) behind. You have a screen.

The other thing to not do is try to turn 2.0 into pseudo-surround; this degrades the audio quality and introduces problems not present in the original, thus hindering comprehension.


Well-known Member
As a first option, I'd see what happens when you play with the settings on your AVR. Try turning the centre speaker up, even if you've put it through an auto-setup already. Or have you already tried this?
Why do speaker manufacturers sell you a package and the centre speaker is smaller than the left and right?
I'd imagine that's because of the common dual-purpose setup of home cinema and stereo music. With a pair of full-range floorstanders you improve your performance for music. You don't necessarily need as much space inside the centre cabinet, or such big driver, as it doesn't need to reproduce frequencies as low as full-range audio.

For broadcasts that are in 2.0, you might find better performance by playing them in their native stereo format. Just because you have all the speakers, you don't need to use them all the time!

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