How to improve center channel intelligibility.



Greetings all

I'm relatively new to HT, but with a strong background in 2 channel, and am seeking some thoughts from other experienced users re setup options etc, as I ponder the integration and or separation of my 2 channel plus AV setup.

I am presently running centreless, i.e. in phantom mode for DD/DTS 5.1, as I have a rather expensive pair of 2 channel stereo speakers doing double duty for AV usage, and a matching centre speaker is somewhat out of reach $$ wise at the present time.

I do notice sometimes that dialogue is not quite as clear as i would like, re the leading edges of transients of voice etc, and am wondering if a center channel speaker would help improve intelligibility. As it would of necessity be an unmatched brand, would I be likely to lose as much as I could possibly gain, as regards left to right channel pans etc through the center, i.e. different tonal balances etc. I am under the impression this is important for music surround, but less so for HT, as the center is supposedly mostly dialogue.

I would like to improve the intelligibility of the center, if possible, with the least possible tradeoffs re mismatches of tonal balance etc.

Many thanks,

All comments appreciated.


John... :)

Ian J

I don't know whether you have the same arrangements with dealers in Australia but in the UK many of the better dealers will lend you equipment to try it out in your own home. This sounds to me to be a prime candidate for a home demo.

The centre channel is mainly dialogue but as people move from left to right onscreen the voice will pan from left to right too. This will be more annoying to some than others and will also depend on the extent of the missmatch.


Distinguished Member

Logicly, if you have a good set of stereo speakers - perfectly capable of reproducing a mono signal with full fidelity - I don't see why they can't produce the phantom centre mono signal from A/V equipment with the same fidelity.



With one or two viewers watching from the centre of the room, you don't need the centre speaker or the hassle of matching its response to the fronts. The centre speaker makes the dialogue come from the right place wherever you're sitting; good for family viewing. From the middle of the sofa, I actually can't tell for sure if dialogue is coming from the centre or the fronts. But move to the end of the sofa and I certainly can.


Greetings all

I am in between a bit of a rock and a hard place, in that I have only one room at my disposal currently, to do duties for both 2 channel and HT use.

I currently run a Naim 2 channel setup, with SBL's. My current thoughts are that they are not the most suitable speakers for HT, due to their back to the wall placement and the limitations that imposes upon sound staging etc.

For music, that is not an issue, however, for HT where a large and immersive sound field seems to be of primary importance re that vital being there factor, their relatively limited sound-staging abilities are.

I have thoughts of saving for the Naim matching center, but it is very expensive, and whilst it may improve the dialogue intelligibility issue, I'm less sure that it would improve my system overall in the sound-staging stakes.

I'm currently using Tannoy MX2's for rears, and am thinking of adding the center for the reasons I've outlined.

Hope this clarifies my thoughts a bit.



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