I’m newly back to semi decent hifi (low budget) and through a reasonable amount of research and some sheer luck I needed up with a pair of unused 3030i’s with QA official stands off eBay for £220 the lot, and then splashed out on an Rega IO and Topping E30 DAC. I have to say I’m absolutely delighted with the set-up, the music just shines through and I forget I’m listening to a “system”. I’ve supplemented with an old Tannoy FX sub, which adds a new dimension to the bottom end but it’s my next upgrade, as I realise it‘s very much the weak point. And I love the design and finish of the 3030i’s - mine are English Walnut. I wholeheartedly recommend anyone with low budget looking for a first system to give this combo a test listen.
I’ll be getting a pair shortly for my Lyngdorf.
I had one a few years ago. I couldn’t fault it.
I think the general advice is not to use "stereo" speaker on its side for centre speaker duties. Even conventional "centre speakers" perform better when placed verically according to Big Daddy at blu ray. com and those nice people over at Audioholics. By all means use it in a vertical position for that purpose. Three of these up front would be pretty impressive.You can always use a single 3030i or a 3050i on its side if you have space. some people have used a single kef ls50 and sold the other.
Keep also eyes on BK P12-300SB if you have space. They go 346£ grade-b so not much more than XLS200, but from 18litre cabinet to 50litre and 10" to 12" driver be it music or movies the difference won´t go unnoticed! If too large cab consider also SVS SB1000 at 33x33x33cm (-10% discount from American Audio UK). Not a long ago one member returned REL T5i and kept SB1000 as it sounded fuller for 2ch listening. I don´t know your requirements, but just wanted to say heads up as some people fear larger boxes for some odd reasons. When i had BK Gemini II and heard XXLS400 briefly later it was so clear difference even at normal listening levels.
Marketing? I think I have had three 5.1 speaker set ups over the years and, in all cases, the centre speaker definitely did not sound like the the other two up front. The a/v receiver test signal sounded pretty consistent until it got to the centre - so much for seamless integration. My next set up will have three stereo speakers up front. Obviously, this will be a little more problematic with floorstanders but three decent bookshelf speakers with a sub ought to be sufficient.I have seen setups where people have used a single speaker from a stereo pair for the centre and be satisfied, even when a dedicated centre is available.
Some 5.1 systems have all 5 speakers identical so Im not sure the rationale that a dedicated centre necessarily performs better than a single stereo speaker. Ideally all front speakers should be the same for the best seamless panning effects.