Look for Keep 2 centre or start over?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Buying & Building' started by Chris Polhill, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. Chris Polhill

    Chris Polhill
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    Hello - first post in this forum.
    I have a fine pair of Castle Durhams that I am fond of. A cheesy little Tanoy centre and rear set and a Yamaha 5.1 pre amp and Rotel power amp combo.

    The centre has always struggled to keep up with the durhams (despite the pre amp holding them back by 10db) and is long overdue for replacement.
    A new Yamaha 5.1 reciever amp is on the way. My dilemma is...

    Should I look for a Castle Keep 2 centre and upgrade the rears OR start over on the speakers with something like Q Acoustics 2000i or 7000i or Monitor audio MASS 5.1 set ?

    TIA for any help or advice.

    Chris.
     
  2. dante01

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    Either get a centre that matches your L and R fronts or run your setup without a centre speaker altogether. Castle speakers are rather warm in nature so maybe not the best option to use in conjunction with a Yamaha amp? Foeget the mass which are more orientated towards the lifestyle market. The QA 2000i would be okay, but still on the warm side. Maybe have a scout around to see if you can acquire some Monitor Audio BX2 speakers cheaply?
     
  3. Gaspode_TWD

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    I'd recommend you try the phantom centre route as a first step. With the castles covering the full front sound you'll have a better idea how much the Tannoy is influencing the sound.
     
  4. captainpacific

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    Don't get sucked into the myth that the centre needs to be of the same make as the main speakers. The centre needs to compliment the main speakers. E.g. a decent Paradigm centre (less than £30 second hand) would provide the clarity that your Durhams may lack slightly.

    The important main point is that you (and not anyone else) enjoy the sound. If you are fond of the Durhams, stick with them. You already have something important (your speakers) that you like, so why get rid of them?
     
  5. dante01

    dante01
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    Bullsh*t.

    It is very important that the centre tonally matches the left and right speakers. If the centre isn't tonally matched then there will be discrepancies in tone as audio pans across the front soundstage. It isn't vitally important to match front to rear, but is important to maintain consistency across the soundstage! The centre speaker outputs a lot more than just dialogue and even dialogue is sometimes output to the left and right as it moves across a scene.

    The centre needs to match and not just compliment the speakers to either side of it.
     
  6. captainpacific

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    Agreed about the tonally matching - BUT, and it's a big but - that does not mean having to stick to the same manufacturer of speaker. OK, I used the word compliment, but you have more correctly used the phrase tonally match, but I meant the same thing.

    What you are aiming for is a seamless front soundstage, with everything working together so it sounds like there are no speakers there at all - just the sound, as if it was magically coming from one huge / wide speaker that could magically make every sound arrive at your ears naturally, as if you were really there.

    Many manufacturers use very similar components and techniques to produce as accurate a sound as possible. Inevitably there are many very similar sounding speakers out there from different manufacturers, so you do have an option of looking outside of the same manufacturer for your centre speaker.
     
  7. dante01

    dante01
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    Well good luck with matching a centre speaker from one manufacturer with the speakers made by another. You'll test several thousand and still not find a match. Most manufacturers now incorporate drive units specifically made for them that incorporate patented technology not used by other manufacturers. Even the same tech used by the same manufacture results in differences in tone outside of a range of speakers. Why bother looking outside of a range if the perfect match is the centre drom within the range? You appear to be suggesting the hardest route possible in ordr to solve an issue that is easily resolvable?
     
  8. captainpacific

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    I'm sorry but I have to disagree. I used to test speakers a while back and the whole group agreed that simply using a centre speaker of the same manufacturer was not a guaranteed route to a match, but more to do with manufacturer marketing strategy.

    Take Castle Acoustics, for example. They had several speaker ranges and 2 centres (the Keep and Bastion). The difference in sound between each speaker in their range is quite wide. So how on earth can only 2 centre options beautifully match all of those different sound styles? Also, a number of those speakers can be made to sound quite different simply by altering their positioning and/or changing their plinth gaps.

    We conducted some blind tests to see if various different centre selections could be spotted as mismatches, and the whole group was astounded at how many mixed permutations worked really well - and (crucially) better than using the same manufacturer centre!

    Yes, it takes a little time to test a few options, but testing your speaker / component choices at a reputable / quality dealer is something any audiophile should do in any case.
     
  9. dante01

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    I think you'll find that Castle made two centre speakers to go with two ranges of speakers and not two centres to match all of their speakers irrespective of their range or series. It is noe rare for any of the manufacturers not to include a centre speaker that uses identical drive units as part of their range and ranges, but the home theatre market hasn't always been as well catered for as it is now. Many manufactures started out by only making one specific range for home theatre and only made centre speakers available for this rather than all their ranges.

    Could I have the results from you blind tests?


    Other than this, buy the matching centre and save yourself the time and effort of pretending that there's an alternative macth for you speakers. What a waste of time.

    The best centre speaker is a speaker that is exactly the same as the speakers used to the left and to the right of it, not one cchosen on its own merits and without taking into consideration its timbre when compared to the other front speakers. The only reason the front speaker is the way it is is to allow it to lay flat beneath a screen. Prior to dedicated centre speakers people used conventional speaker in the centre and usually the same make and type as the left and right speakers. In fact, there wasn't originally a centre dialogue channel at all and surround sound consisted of the fronts and one mono rear speaker.

    Centre speakers are not designed for dialogue and are nothing more than conventional speakers on their side. Why any need to go looking for a centre by any other manufacturer than the manufacturer who makes your stereo pair? If the centre is better then your existing speakers then need to replace your left and right speakers to match it. Why buy a speaker that use entirely different drive units, made from different materials and tuned differently? All you are doing by buying a better centreis emphasising the faults associated with your other speakers!

    Takes a little time? It is basically impossible to get a retailer to actually allow you to take a centre speaker home to actually test it in combination with your existing speakers. PLease stop trying to imply that you've experience of this because the facts of the matter suggest otherwise. Where exactly is this mythical retailer who stocks every make and brand of centre speaker and who allows you to test them at home?
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  10. frazk

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    Dante I always enjoy reading your comments on this forum. Always explained well and in detail, I think I'd trust just about anything you have to say!! Do you mind if I ask if you work in the industry or do you just seem to know everything?
     
  11. dante01

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    No, I neither work within the audio industry or the retail aspect of it. My interest is purely recreational and my experience fuelled by my inquisitive nature. I've had great interest in audio from a relatively early age and this later developed into a wider AV interest. I'm less audiophile these days, but still appreciate some of the lessons I've learnt, many of them learnt by the expensive mistakes I've made. It may appear as though I know everything, but I can assure you I don't and I'm still learning :)
     
  12. frazk

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    I've read many of your comments on here and learnt so much from you and the other members of the forum. Even when threads, like this one, have no real interest to me at the moment in time, if I see you've commented I'll have a quick read to see what else I can learn! Your input is much appreciated keep up the good work :)
     
  13. captainpacific

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    Actually, that is factually wrong. They made the Keep to provide a solution to all Castle owners wanting a centre - that was before 5.1, etc. really caught on. Castle (Skipton) took a while to realise the home theatre revolution was happening, as their expertise and passion was in music reproduction. The original Keep was a knee-jerk compromise response.

    The Bastion was a more carefully considered solution, aimed at the owners with floor standing fronts (Severn, Stirling, Conway, Harlech & Howard). Given how different those floor standers sound, to make a centre to meet that compromise was quite an achievement, but the Bastion was a decent stab at it.

    The Bastion didn't sell that well (presumably because of price and the lack of bulk sales of the bigger floor standers), so they focused on updating the Keep 2 at a lower price point. This was still a compromise speaker, not really designed to match any one of their ranges.

    They then (at last) produced a dedicated range of matching 5.1 speakers, but by then their commercial demise was already under way :(

    So, back to the OP - he has a pair of Durhams. These could be the old (Skipton) Durhams or the new Durham 3's. I have known the SKipton Castle organisation since the late 70's until their demise, but confess I have not heard any of the new IAG Castle's (although word on the street is not so favourable). I am a big fan of the Skipton Castle Acoustics, and have been fortunate to either own or audition many of their fine products. The old Durham and the Keep are included in that list that I have auditioned.

    More of that later ...
     
  14. captainpacific

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    So you suggest spending a bit of time trying to find the best result for something that you will spend hours upon hours enjoying (or not) for years is wasted? Well, I have no problem in others having different opinions - after all that's one of the strengths of a forum like this and variety makes life much more interesting.

    Of course, if we are talking about a dedicated range made by a particular manufacturer that was designed from the outset to be a matching 5.1/7.1 system, then of course it makes sense to keep it all matching. But the OP is not talking about that scenario here!

    If he has the old Skipton Durham, with its surprisingly detailed but relaxed sound, excellent dispersion and overall subtlety, the Keep 2 will be a relatively flat sounding board between them, probably resulting a a fair loss of that subtlety and building up (over time) an annoyance at the sssssssssss it produces on speach. The Durhams are like many of the old Castle's in that you could listen to them for ages without getting weary or feeling like the music is being pumped at you. The Keep 2 does not share that quality.

    I tested the Keep 2 and Bastion extensively in my system at home (yes, I will reveal the dealer later), alongside my Conway 3 fronts. Every manufacturer makes better models and not so good models, within its range of quality. The Keep is one of Castle's least good models IMO (and in the opinion of another huge Castle, Skipton fan - the dealer, who joined me for the test). Now, Castle didn't make rubbish speakers, so the Keep is OK, but that's relatively poor for old Castle's standard. It was made to a budget, which wasn't Castle's normal mode of operation.

    The centre speaker carries a huge amount of the content in most 5.1 productions. It contains a large proportion of the dialogue too. Aside from the desire to have a matching centre speaker, because it is such an important speaker it needs to be a damn good speaker too (relative to your other main speakers). A matching centre that's poor quality would be a bad choice. Why would you want to listen to poor quality sound? If the voices had hard edges and sssssssssssss all the time and it had other sound quality issues for music, you wouldn't be pleased that it matched your fronts that it has just ruined.

    You can find many better quality options at very reasonable prices than the Keep 2 to go with the Durhams, so that you enjoy your experience much more - which it's all about in the end.
     
  15. captainpacific

    captainpacific
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    That's not true. Centre speakers are designed with particular note to the fact that they will have to perform well with dialogue. Speech is a surprisingly difficult quality to reproduce accurately. It also suffers from the fact that of all the "musical instruments" it is the most familiar to us, because we hear it all the time. We are far more likely to notice poor speech reproduction than say the sound of a bassoon.
     
  16. captainpacific

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    I'm sorry you don't know a retailer who will work with you like this. Perhaps this is a by product of everyone buying online - relationships with local specialist dealers are not so easy to find. I knew 2 superb dealers when I lived in Cheshire - The Music Room (Deansgate, Manchester) and a shop (name escapes me - it was many years ago) in Alderley Edge. There were other too, I remember, but these two met all my needs. When I was in Bristol there was a great dealer on Whiteladies Road, but I forget the name (that was 35 years ago).

    When I moved south, I had no trouble finding a similar dealer in Southampton (Phase 3 Hifi) - the Castle fan I mentioned earlier. There is no need to stock every brand of speaker - that would be ridiculous, as is that statement, which is beyond pedantic extremism.

    Wherever I've lived I have had no trouble finding these people. Maybe that's just luck in those 3 cities, as I can't speak for places I don't know.

    By the way, I'm not implying I have experience of speakers and speaker testing, I'm stating it - because I have. In particular I have a lot of experience of the Castle speakers of this thread, which is why I responded to it and not to a thread on Wharfedale's (for example).
     
  17. twoeyedbob

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    Good response mr pacific...
    Generally though , i would have to agree with the earlier theory though that (ime) centre spkrs are very hard to Match if using a different make from the mains spkrs..
    I went through 3 or 4 , and while some seemed quite well matched at first,.. within a short time the differences became obvious and annoying..
    Generally speaking i would say stick to the same range of spkrs.. same design, same tweeter , you'll get away with a 1 " smaller woofer...
    Seems though that this is'nt a general situation and there doesnt seem to be many options..
    Either than the op possibly getting a hold of a spare pair and making his own centre ?
     
  18. dante01

    dante01
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    No they are not.

    Centre speakers are made the way they are to allow them to more readily fit beneath a screen or TV and there's no other reason for their existence in the form that they have now become commonly associated with. They use the exact same drive units and crossovers as utilised within other peakers from the same range. Cinemas don't use a different speaker and many of the higher end home cinema speaker manufacturers simply supply the same speaker they use for the left and right as a centre. They are located behind the screen. Many manufactures refer to the speaker they retail as a centre as an LCR speaker, meaning a speaker that can be used as a left, a centre or a right speaker. This includes speakers most commonly associate with being a centre speaker because of its design. There's nothing at all special about a centre speaker apart from its design which actually compromises its performance when compared to more conventional speaker design layouts. The arrangement of the drive units on a centre speaker has nothing to do with making it perform any better than conventional speakers and is purely done that way it is done to facilitate a centre speakers positioning above or below a screen or a TV. You do not get better dialogue via a speaker designate as being a centre speaker when compared to speakers using the same drive units from the same range. AS already stated by me, the best centre speaker is one that is the exact same speaker as used to either side ot it, but this isn't always a practical solution and only a few retailers will sell you a single speaker from a pair.

    This is fact and fairly common knowledge.

    Please tell, who is the retailer who stocks all known brands and allows you to take them home for testing? I'm surprised to learn that a retailer is willing to even upack every centre in their stock to allow you to listen to them, let alone give you free reign to take anything you want away with you. Not even the retailer you've mentioned will actually do as you suggest.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  19. captainpacific

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    Yes, many of the more modern ranges are designed to be with their own kind - they were designed to be a "system". I forgot to mention one very important fact of what happened to me and how I started to "investigate" other possibilities.

    When I was looking for a centre for my Castle Conway 3's and the Keep 2 / Bastion test did not impress me, I sought advice from one of the senior Castle (Skipton) engineers. After explaining my reasons for not being impressed he chuckled and knew exactly what I meant. It was he who pointed me to Paradigm - a Canadian speaker manufacturer of good repute. I had never even heard of them before then, but he was right!

    You don't often see them on sale new in the UK, but they are about second hand. They also tend towards the Castle qualities of clean, accurate and detailed sound that is something you listen to rather than it hitting you. They tend to have great dispersion consistency (like Castle's) and an extended but tight bass (in the bigger models).

    When I tested the CC-290 with the Conway's we used a special recording of a series of consistent sounds traveling from left to right, and the lack of change in sound qualities was as if they were made for each other. On top of that the centre is a cracking quality speaker - much better than anything Castle ever produced.

    For the Durhams, the CC-190 might be a good s/hand option. I had one of those as my centre rear when my system was 6.1. I think I bought it on eBay for £15, and it was a pretty good speaker. Check out the various Paradigm reviews and you'll see I'm far from alone in rating their products. It's just that we don't know them in the UK.
     
  20. Gibberish

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    Hello guys...I'm sorry to hijack a thread but I'm trying to create a thread to ask a few basic questions in the AV Forum but I'm absolutely stumped trying to navigate this website...and it's running like treacle too, making everything very slow. Thanks for your help.
     
  21. dante01

    dante01
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    Post a new thread asking your questions within the forum this thread is located here:
    Home Cinema Buying, Setup & General Help | AVForums
     
  22. twoeyedbob

    twoeyedbob
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    go into browse...find the subject you wish to post on..
    and then find the 'new topic' button..
    it should (in theory ) be fairly simple..
     
  23. captainpacific

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    There's a lot more to speaker outcomes than drive units. E.g. the Castle Keep 2 has completely different enclosure / porting to its main speakers. If you seriously believe that a set of matching drive units and crossovers will guarantee a matching sound then I will just let you carry on believing that and leave it at that. I'm really not interested in winning an argument, but instead trying to provide some useful perspective for the OP about his Durhams and a centre choice.

    E.g. Castle made speakers that shared EXACTLY the same drive units and crossovers, etc, but had different sized cabinets and/or different drive unit positioning. The speakers sound quite different.

    I told you - those dealers I mentioned have all let me demo several items at home over the years, and a few amps. It's called building a relationship with your specialist dealer, rather than just using them to have a look at everything and then buying online at the cheapest option you can find. I'm not suggesting you do that - just that I know lots of customers do exactly that, so they get little in return from the dealer.
     
  24. Gibberish

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    Thanks Dante...I think I might be able to manage that now...much appreciated.
     
  25. captainpacific

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    Yes, yes, yes!!! Absolutely - I'm glad we can agree on something. So when they are dealing with that compromised situation, they will try various options (driver positioning, porting options, cabinet changes, etc, etc, etc) to try and achieve the best possible quality outcome possible. They tweak it as best they can, and it ends up a different speaker than the mains.

    Sometimes they are more successful than other times, so we have a range of quality of outcomes.
     
  26. dante01

    dante01
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    Sorry, please go and make your assumption that centre speakers are in some way specially tuned for dialogue in the speaker forum. I'm sure you'll be very disapointed at the number of very experienced individuals who post to inform you otherwise. Why would any manufacturer want their conventional speakers to be any less accomplished with dialogue and since when wasn't the audio associated with the centre not full range audio? The only reason for the differences associated with centre speakers is to more readily allow them to be placed above or below a screen. They use the exact same drive units and crossovers and their physical design actually compromises their performance as opposed to enhancing it. Even the bracing is the same so exactly what is there about them that improves upon their performance in relation to dialogue? Their orientation leads to driver interference.

    Vertical vs Horizontal Center Speaker Designs | Audioholics

    Center Channel Speaker Design Additional Considerations | Audioholics
    [​IMG]

    Their design is a compromise and not fascinated in order to improve upon dialogue or audio in general. If it were then why do vertical speaker generally out perform those orientated horizontilly?


    MK don't even make a centre speaker:
    [​IMG]

    MK Sound | Why choose MK?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  27. captainpacific

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    I didn't say the main upright speakers are less well tuned for dialogue. Where did you get that from?

    As your latest post and links confirm, centre speakers are different from the respective main upright ones - they are constrained by the need to be horizontal and small enough to fit in most people's arrangements. As your links confirm, they have other issues to solve around horizontal dispersion, etc. So they become different speakers.

    One different speaker will never sound exactly the same as another different one, regardless of how much is similar. Why you would assume they are so similar is beyond me - you must be looking at an example where they are quite similar and assuming all manufacturers do the same.

    Take this one: Conway 3 - Classic Series - Castle a downward firing reflex ported floor speaker. How on earth do you think they can match that in a centre speaker just by keeping the drive units, etc. the same? It sounds different just by adding a set of thin spacers at the bottom. The centre is a 3rd order sealed enclosure - the centre design is nothing like the main.

    So, when the compromises of having to make a horizontal speaker are facing the manufacturer, they have to work out how to get the desired sound quality back (in the new design) to get as close as possible to their main speaker. When doing so they will bear in mind it will be impossible to get it back to be exactly the same as the main speaker - it is now a different speaker. They will also bear in mind that, in trying to ensure the sound qualities are as good as they can make them, they will try especially hard to ensure speech reproduction is the very best it can be, because they know it will be relied upon to perform especially in that area. They will not be happy making a good musically sounding centre that is rubbish on speech.

    The point is that changing the speaker to make it a horizontal centre speaker effectively ruins their prized upright starting point, so they have to work at it to make it work - as your own links state.

    Also, the "speaker" should really contain the space around it and all the reflections that will happen before the sound reaches the listener's ear. Put a rear ported cabinet against a wall and then away from it and you will see what I mean - it will be a completely different sound. Even if you had a simple (one driver) main speaker that could be put sideways as a centre, the siting differences will make it sound different.

    I have one question for you. Have you ever auditioned the speakers the OP is asking about - the Castle Durham or Keep 2? Or have you just got a bee in your bonnet? I don't see you refer to the OP's query very much in terms of the Durhams that he has or the Keep 2 that he is thinking of buying.
     
  28. captainpacific

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    Crucially, THIS thread is about decisions to make trying to retro choose a centre for speaker fronts that do not have a bespoke centre in their design range. The Durham was made without any thought of a centre.

    Advising someone to simply find a centre with the same manufacturer badge on it is poor advice in this specific case. In my similar case (Conway's) even the senior engineer of the manufacturer agreed! If you think you know better than him about his own speakers then carry on, Dante, to have your rant.

    Alternatively, do please comment on the specific problem raised by the OP - the Durham, Keep 2, etc. The more informed views received about those specific products, the better.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  29. dante01

    dante01
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    The question was: "Look for Keep 2 centre or start over?".


    The title of this thread is not exclusively "what centre to use with the existing speakers" nor did the OP pose his initial post in such a way to suggest it was his only endeavour.

    If the op doesn't want to replace his existing speakers then he obviously has no option other than to use a mismatched centre speaker, but there's nothing preventing him from replacing the entire front three with speakers that do match. He will not find a match from another manufacturer for his existing speakers and looking for one is no way as easy as you portray!

    and yes, you do imply that centre speakers are in some way specifically tuned for dialogue and therefore give better dialogue performance on several occasions:

    Which is utter and total crap.


    I've a question for you…

    have you ever heard any other speakers apart from those owned by the OP and where exactly are you getting your incorrect information about centre speakers from? You have a very authoritive tone to your posts, but much of what you relate is incorrect. A centre speaker will perform no better with dialogue than any other and is in fact compromised when compared to conventional speakers, both in relation to dialogue and any other type of audio.

    Yes, I've heard Castle speakers, they are very soft (warm) and not to everyones taste. Why is it of importance for me to have heard them? It doesn't change a thing and the facts are still the facts as far as centre speakers go. Irrespective of whether I've heard the op's speakers or not, the importance of having a centre that matches the other speakers at the front is the same regardless of the make brand or timbre of the speakers in question. If the OP does keep his existing speakers and uses a centre sourced from another manufacturer then it will not match and it will be a compromise. As unfortunate as it might be, the obvious solution is indeed for the OP to replace his current speakers with something that allows him to more readily obtain a matching centre speaker.

    And no, I will not follow your direction as to what I post and I will comment on what I see fit to comment upon within the remit of this board and while observing its rules. If I see fit to correct you when you are wrong then I will do so. The reply I posted to the op was in direct response to his question and posted in advance of your post telling him the advice given was a myth! You're the one championing a non existent cause with poorly thought out advice, not me.

    As to rants, why the hell the need for multiple succesive posts when the one reply will suffice. Do you assume that this makes you look more authoritative?
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  30. captainpacific

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    Ah - Dante, I have made a mistake. I didn't realise you must be a deity.

    In your narrow world of black and white, right and wrong, with no possible alternatives (especially not if you don't agree with them) you always know best. I'm sorry, I didn't appreciate your position.

    When I achieved a fantastic solution, with the help of the esteemed experts at Castle, with trying only 2 speaker options, I must have been dreaming or living in a parallel universe, because you have stated it would take listening to "several thousand" speakers. Two is surely impossible if it takes "several thousands". Did I forget those other few thousands? Oh no, has my memory gone?

    When I spent only a little time achieving this superb result that I have enjoyed listening to immensely for years, I must have been dreaming, because you have stated it is a complete waste of time. You must be right - how could I have wasted so much time like that, testing a couple of speaker options and chatting with and learning from renowned experts in their field? I will try not to waste time doing such things in the future. Fancy spending time with true leaders in their field and learning from them - what was I thinking? Taking their advice to try something different - OMG, how open minded must I have been - shocking!!

    Those dealers who let me demo equipment at home - ah, they must have been when I visited a galaxy far far away, because you have said that's impossible. Silly me, those shops were on Tatooine, and the dealers concerned must have been aliens, because no humans could have done such a thing. Yes, come to think of it, they were very friendly for humans and unbelievably they enjoyed open minded exploration of ideas, and this formed the basis of the relationship with them. Wow - that really is a strange galaxy ... it must be far far away...

    How dare anyone suggest a potential solution that has worked for them and has been suggested by esteemed experts in their field, if it does not agree with your limited black or white options? How silly can that be, I'm really sorry about that. Of course, anything other than your solution will be a mismatch, even though others have achieved success with only a little effort - they must be from a different universe in which the laws of physics dante do not apply as they do here. Silly me for not spotting that.

    Of course, if the OP uses a centre of a different manufacturer "it will not match and it will be a compromise". You must be right - all those other successful examples of doing so are from a galaxy far far away ... where open minds and alternative solutions are possible, and when suggested are not shot down by those who have not tried them. That sounds like a fun galaxy to me.
     

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