Mix and match brands in front speakers?

Marmorn

Novice Member
So, here comes another completely ignorant fool. Until today, I didn't know what a center channel is. Now you can guess who you're dealing with, right?

Anyway, I have a Left & Right Argon Alto 4 series speakers.

Edit: here's the link:

One active, one passive. I was at the store today, listening to some music on a pretty good soundbar speaker and I realized I'm missing this crispy, clear, spread-out sound quality. Got online and found out about these center channel speakers, and I see people generally don't recommend you to mix brands and series with them as it can get weird with movie dialogue and stuff. I will be watching movies and playing games as well, but primarily I want to listen to music on them. From spotify atm. I love rock, electronic, classical, jazz, folk, flamenco, blues... listened to Lanegan mostly for the last year, to give you an idea for the kind of music I like. Also The National, Nick Cave, Sigur Ros to name a few.

So, my question is...

Where can I go from here? What can I add to my current speakers that will improve my sound at home? Is mixing brands in your front speakers really that bad?

I'm asking because I'd really love to get a nice and noticeable awesome improvement in my sound system, and I'm ready to cash out about 400€ for it, but the center speaker in this line is only a 100€ so I'm not sure it will give me the quality jump I'm looking for. It's this one in question:

I don't want to replace the speakers I have unless that's really the best thing to do. Seems kind of logical to me that it would be better to add something since the speakers are literally all I have atm. But if that's the way to go, we'll part ways I guess.

The room I have them in is about 5x4.5m, and I'm usually on the couch about 3.5m away from them... sometimes nearer if I want it to be loud af. Walls are concrete, wooden floor with no carpets. Open hallway joins the room, no doors possible there.

Any advice is appreciated. Also, could you give me any suggestions where I could learn the basics about sound systems, acoustics and the like for a listen-at-home user, maybe even music maker? Like I said, I know 0 about the topic.

Cheers all.
 
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larkone

Distinguished Member
You want the same tonal quality across the three front speakers to make sure you have a nice even spread and movement of sound -which ideally means speakers from the same range from a manufacturer. Surround speakers are less important unless you have a high end system.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
From what you've said it doesn't sound like you have an AV amp. You need and AV ampllifier/receiver to drive a surround sound speaker system. I agree that you need a matching centre speaker, or you're better off without one.

Unless you want to spend several hundred pounds on an Av receiver and new front three speakers (unless you can buy a single speaker to match your existing two, which seems unlikely), you may be better off going for a soundbar and using that for movie watching.
 

Marmorn

Novice Member
From what you've said it doesn't sound like you have an AV amp. You need and AV ampllifier/receiver to drive a surround sound speaker system. I agree that you need a matching centre speaker, or you're better off without one.

Unless you want to spend several hundred pounds on an Av receiver and new front three speakers (unless you can buy a single speaker to match your existing two, which seems unlikely), you may be better off going for a soundbar and using that for movie watching.

Could I use the soundbar together with my L&R speakers, as a center let's say? Or only as standalone? For music listening purposes mostly, that comes first before movies for me.

Also, why do you say it seems unlikely I could find a matching speaker? I can just get another passive one from the same series, just like one of the 2 I have already, or a center. Isn't that what you mean? Would I need an AV amp for that already, with only a 3 speaker setup?


You want the same tonal quality across the three front speakers to make sure you have a nice even spread and movement of sound -which ideally means speakers from the same range from a manufacturer. Surround speakers are less important unless you have a high end system.

So, when you say surround speakers you mean at least a 5 speaker system with 2 in the back? Sorry for the dumb question ^^

So since I have very low end equipment, basically I should only think about the front 3 speakers and upgrading them, right? Not worry about sound processors and amplifiers? Or?
 
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DT79

Well-known Member
Could I use the soundbar together with my L&R speakers, as a center let's say? Or only as standalone? For music listening purposes mostly, that comes first before movies for me.

Also, why do you say it seems unlikely I could find a matching speaker? I can just get another passive one from the same series, just like one of the 2 I have already, or a center. Isn't that what you mean? Would I need an AV amp for that already, with only a 3 speaker setup?




So, when you say surround speakers you mean at least a 5 speaker system with 2 in the back? Sorry for the dumb question ^^

So since I have very low end equipment, basically I should only think about the front 3 speakers and upgrading them, right? Not worry about sound processors and amplifiers? Or?
A true centre channel is fed a discrete dedicated signal as part of a surround soundtrack. They come in various formats on broadcast tv, streaming services or disc, but generally consist of core 5.1 channels soundtrack (.1 being a dedicated bass channel) in a variety of different formats, with other channels often available if you have the amp and speakers to access them. If you don’t have surround sound then there will normally be a stereo mix that accompanies it in PCM or Dolby Digital 2.0 format which can be played by anything.

In order to access the surround soundtrack you need a surround sound decoder which will either be built into a sound bar, or an AV amplifier. If you want separate speakers beyond stereo and therefore access any of the additional dedicated channels of information you’ll need an AV amp.

You couldn’t use a sound bar as a centre channel with your stereo speakers, they aren’t designed to work that way. The sound bar will reproduce the whole surround soundtrack, and create a pseudo-surround sound effect (which can be very effective).

If you want a centre speaker (even if you don’t want to use rear speakers or a sub) then you need an AV amp.

When you talk about your stereo speakers and one being active and one passive, do you mean that one has all the connections and amplifiers built in to it, and the other connects to it via a regular speaker cable? That would be a ‘powered’ speaker system, which is different to active. What model is it by the way? If that’s the case then as the passive ‘slave’ speaker is intended to be used with the powered ‘master’, I would doubt that the passive ones can be purchased on their own, but if they can then great, you can use your existing speakers. You’d need an AV amp with pre-out sockets, you take the front L&R pre-outs to an analogue input on your master stereo speaker, and you’d hook up your centre speaker directly to the AV amp.
 

Marmorn

Novice Member
A true centre channel is fed a discrete dedicated signal as part of a surround soundtrack. They come in various formats on broadcast tv, streaming services or disc, but generally consist of core 5.1 channels soundtrack (.1 being a dedicated bass channel) in a variety of different formats, with other channels often available if you have the amp and speakers to access them. If you don’t have surround sound then there will normally be a stereo mix that accompanies it in PCM or Dolby Digital 2.0 format which can be played by anything.

In order to access the surround soundtrack you need a surround sound decoder which will either be built into a sound bar, or an AV amplifier. If you want separate speakers beyond stereo and therefore access any of the additional dedicated channels of information you’ll need an AV amp.

You couldn’t use a sound bar as a centre channel with your stereo speakers, they aren’t designed to work that way. The sound bar will reproduce the whole surround soundtrack, and create a pseudo-surround sound effect (which can be very effective).

If you want a centre speaker (even if you don’t want to use rear speakers or a sub) then you need an AV amp.

When you talk about your stereo speakers and one being active and one passive, do you mean that one has all the connections and amplifiers built in to it, and the other connects to it via a regular speaker cable? That would be a ‘powered’ speaker system, which is different to active. What model is it by the way? If that’s the case then as the passive ‘slave’ speaker is intended to be used with the powered ‘master’, I would doubt that the passive ones can be purchased on their own, but if they can then great, you can use your existing speakers. You’d need an AV amp with pre-out sockets, you take the front L&R pre-outs to an analogue input on your master stereo speaker, and you’d hook up your centre speaker directly to the AV amp.

First of all, thanks for taking your time to explain all the basics to me. I really appreciate it. .1 is the dedicated bass channel, who knew ^^ (no sarcasm)

Yeah, it's a powered system as you describe. One has the amp built into it and the other speaker is just connected to that one. It's these speakers: ALTO A4

Ok so, I'm just confused by this one thing. Why do you imply it's a necessity to buy another of these passive ones individually? I'm pretty sure it's possible and they are also selling them separately, but they have a dedicated passive centre in the line as well:

Do you think it would be better to get one more passive like the one I have already but for the centre?

Regarding the AV amps, would you also recommend to use one from the same line of products or is it more leisurely about mixing brands there? The other poster confirmed what I heard that it's not good to mix brands in the front speaker setup, so I'm wondering if that also goes for the amp.

If the choice is brand-free, would you have any recommendations in the 300€ range for the amp?
 

DT79

Well-known Member
First of all, thanks for taking your time to explain all the basics to me. I really appreciate it. .1 is the dedicated bass channel, who knew ^^ (no sarcasm)

Yeah, it's a powered system as you describe. One has the amp built into it and the other speaker is just connected to that one. It's these speakers: ALTO A4

Ok so, I'm just confused by this one thing. Why do you imply it's a necessity to buy another of these passive ones individually? I'm pretty sure it's possible and they are also selling them separately, but they have a dedicated passive centre in the line as well:

Do you think it would be better to get one more passive like the one I have already but for the centre?

Regarding the AV amps, would you also recommend to use one from the same line of products or is it more leisurely about mixing brands there? The other poster confirmed what I heard that it's not good to mix brands in the front speaker setup, so I'm wondering if that also goes for the amp.

If the choice is brand-free, would you have any recommendations in the 300€ range for the amp?
They look nice. OK I'm with you now - they also sell a range of passive speakers and have a dedicated centre model. Yes that would be suitable. Typically speakers from the same manufacturer have a common sound signature. Really one identical to the passive one in your stereo pair would be ideal, but the dedicated centre speakers tend to be oriented horizontally for convenience. I'm sure that would work fine.

This is the cheapest AVR that richer Sounds do that has a pre-out (would connect front L&R pre-out to the L&R aux input on your master speaker). Marantz NR1710 (Black)
Of course it may be possible to shop around and find something cheaper, or there's always second hand if you want to keep costs down.

You can set rear speakers and sub to off in the menus, and all sound should be remixed into the front three.
 

Marmorn

Novice Member
They look nice. OK I'm with you now - they also sell a range of passive speakers and have a dedicated centre model. Yes that would be suitable. Typically speakers from the same manufacturer have a common sound signature. Really one identical to the passive one in your stereo pair would be ideal, but the dedicated centre speakers tend to be oriented horizontally for convenience. I'm sure that would work fine.

This is the cheapest AVR that richer Sounds do that has a pre-out (would connect front L&R pre-out to the L&R aux input on your master speaker). Marantz NR1710 (Black)
Of course it may be possible to shop around and find something cheaper, or there's always second hand if you want to keep costs down.

You can set rear speakers and sub to off in the menus, and all sound should be remixed into the front three.

Why is it that you think another identical passive would be better than the center for that role?

Also, is music more often mixed nowadays with a Center channel or is it still predominantly L & R? In other words, would the 3rd speaker add anything to my music listening experience, or would it only serve movies & games?
 

DT79

Well-known Member
Why is it that you think another identical passive would be better than the center for that role?

Also, is music more often mixed nowadays with a Center channel or is it still predominantly L & R? In other words, would the 3rd speaker add anything to my music listening experience, or would it only serve movies & games?
Surround sound is best when there’s a seamless handoff between speakers, which you only get if they sound exactly the same. At its best it creates the feeling of being in a seamless ‘bubble’ of sound. Any slight tonal differences will diminish this effect. But to be honest, I’m being a bit OCD here, the dedicated centre from the same brand will be absolutely fine.

Music is normally still only mixed in stereo, although you can get music mixed in surround sound, sometimes on dedicated disc formats (SACD, DVD-A), also on Blu-ray, and some streamed (Dolby atmos mixes). If your music is in stereo then there is no centre channel information, however an AV amp will probably have a mode for utilising all the connected speakers for stereo music sources. It won’t be very authentic, but you might like it.
 

Marmorn

Novice Member
Surround sound is best when there’s a seamless handoff between speakers, which you only get if they sound exactly the same. At its best it creates the feeling of being in a seamless ‘bubble’ of sound. Any slight tonal differences will diminish this effect. But to be honest, I’m being a bit OCD here, the dedicated centre from the same brand will be absolutely fine.

Music is normally still only mixed in stereo, although you can get music mixed in surround sound, sometimes on dedicated disc formats (SACD, DVD-A), also on Blu-ray, and some streamed (Dolby atmos mixes). If your music is in stereo then there is no centre channel information, however an AV amp will probably have a mode for utilising all the connected speakers for stereo music sources. It won’t be very authentic, but you might like it.

Don't worry about ocd, I was honestly curious and it makes sense what you say. I'll see how it sounds in the store I guess. I'll ask them to show me how it sounds with 3 of the same speakers so I can compare. Got to test my ear, right ^^

Thanks for your help. It really cleared up some things for me.

Also, I have to say, that's an amazingly cute dog ^^
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I'm a horses for courses and stereo, which is still the mainstay of music, should be portrayed as stereo and not upmixed. It's different with multi channel formats such as SACD DVD-A and Blu ray audio. On those formats you can find the vocals are centre and if mixed well they can be very effective.

As far as a centre speaker then it should be from the same manufacturer and model range so that timbre is preserved.
 

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