Should I buy a centre speaker first?

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by IanB, Dec 13, 2001.

  1. IanB

    IanB
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    2 questions:

    1. Should I start my speaker purchases with a centre?
    2. If I buy more capable fronts, can I 'live' without a sub?

    I've not long had my DVD player so I'm now turning my attention to speakers. I was hoping to have a good look round in the January sales for matched 5.1 speakers as my Christmas bonus would be burning a hole in my pocket.

    However my Christmas bonus was so hot (apparently) it combusted before it got into my pay packet - so - no bonus. :rolleyes:

    My set up so far is simple: player, amp, front speakers, tv. When I watch a movie the speech is very low but the music and sound effects aren't, so I'm thinking I need to get a centre speaker first.

    Also, I'm wondering if I make my front speakers my rears, and buy better, bassy fronts (that I can use for audio also) can I live without a sub? (I know Spectre will totally disagree about the sub).

    (Side note about sub: I might have to live without a sub completely, there is absolutely no sound proofing between us and next door - I don't get on with them as it is and I don't need more aggro.)
     
  2. johna

    johna
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    I had this dilema for about year - in the end I bought a sub - WOW!!

    Buy one buy one buy one!
     
  3. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    I would recommend getting three matched front speakers as your first priority. Go for the best you can afford now - this is where the vast majority of sound you hear during a film will come from. Audition a range of speakers, as they often sound quite different from each other and go for the ones that you prefer - not what anybody else says. Also, a decent dealer should let you try at home to make sure you haven't made a big mistake - your living room might have quite different acoustics from those of your dealer's demo room.

    You can live without a subwoofer, but again, it does seem to be a preference thing. I can measure much more accurate bass levels in my system when I add a REL subwoofer to it, but just by listening I don't hear enough of a difference to justify the cost. Spectre, as you've already noticed, would totally disagree for him. Again, I would suggest you ask your local dealer if you can take a subwoofer home for a few days to try it with your system.

    As far as annoying your neighbours, just ask Phil about his neighbour's specs... http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=25793

    Cheers,
    Liam
     
  4. IanB

    IanB
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    Liam… you have answered my question.

    Thanks.
     
  5. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Have a look at floorstanders if you have the room as they tend to produce a little more bass and will produce a highly acceptable sound without a sub.

    I would suggest that you don't audition a sub as if you do you will want one.

    Voice matching of the front three speakers is fairly important but it doesn't matter quite so much for the rears and many of us started out with the old hifi speakers doing rear duty.

    Ian
     
  6. Lowrider

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    No floorstander replaces a good sub, get the sub first, then a good center, then replace your front speakers to match the center...
     
  7. Guest

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    Hold On this treads getting confusing.

    Right lets start again

    1) Whats your current budjet?

    2) What Equipment have you got at the moment

    3) What size Room are we talking about.

    4) Are you Married or do you ever what to get Married.

    Because if you dont have anying and just want to hear DD/DTS sound there are some nice (READ CHEAP) little systems to be had for £200-£300 which will start you off nicely.

    If your Married or have a small room then your NOT going to want floorstanders.

    Big floorstanders often sound Horrid in small rooms and require 3 up to 3 feet clearance from walls etc, And of corse women hate them.

    I generally beleve (althought you may not) that a Subwoofer is vital if not two. Floorstanders become unessessary.


    Well anyway answer the above and you may start to get more useful answers.


    Off the cuff 1st Good L/R, 2nd Surrounds, 3rd The best Center you can manage, 4th Subwoffer (the best REL you can afford) then look at the lot and see if the L/R need replaceing to match that V.Good Center you got.

    Why L/R will give you Stero straight away, Surrounds will add to the fun, Centers to 90% of the work, Bass adds dept to the sound and covers up weak L/R.

    Sorry I've just reread you post

    You say the Music and sound effect are louder that voices?
    This can offen be true do you use a sound meter and test disk such as VE?
    If not get one and check that the volume on the center is the same as the R/L (you could even make it a little Higher)
    Amp test tones and the ear may not be accurate due to the time between tones.
    But with a meter you have a number.
     
  8. IanB

    IanB
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    1. No budget at the moment (Christmas bonus been cut) so I'm looking perhaps at £100? to spend now
    2. Player: Technics A10
    Amp: Technics SA-AX730 (100w per channel)
    Front speakers: Technics Sb-LV500
    3. Room size: 14ft x 14ft (living room)
    4. Marital status: Married (so perhaps I'll have to revise my budget in No 1 ;) )

    If it were an ideal world I would be adding a sub to my set up, however the realities of my house disable me from having such a powerful source of bass. So I am going to have to say a sub is out of the question.

    Therefore my fronts need to reproduce the best bass possible.

    But I'm not going to afford those yet so surely I would be better buying a centre to add to my fronts to allow me to hear the voices clearer?
     
  9. Matt F

    Matt F
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    Uh, I don't understand this statement - what you seem to be saying is that, for example, a pair of PMC FB1 floorstanders could not replace say an REL Q200/Q201. Well, that's interesting because the RELs bass roll-off at +/-3db is 25Hz and the PMCs is 22Hz - in other words, the PMCs go lower.

    Don't get me wrong most floorstanders do not go as low as a good sub and the few that do are very expensive (£1400 or so for the PMCs) but they DO exist.

    Matt (Q200E owner - just so that you know I'm not anti-sub)

    p.s. and don't be taken in by the figures on the new REL website as they have started quoting frequency responses as +/-6db which is a bit naughty in my opinion as it makes the figures look a lot better compared to the +/-3db figures that most manufacturers use (and which REL used to use until recently).
     
  10. PIL

    PIL
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    I have no sub - live in a flat - and have floorstanders for L&R. There is plenty of bass, they are Celestion Ditton 66 Studio Monitors and the specs say they go down to 18Hz, so at the moment I'm not missing a sub. (I won't be auditioning one though in case I want one.)
     
  11. Lowrider

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    I mean affordable floorstanders, plus it is very dificult to accomodate those really full range speakers in a living-room, the subs are quite easy to place without causing room ressonances.
     
  12. Guest

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    14 by 14

    With small rooms like this Subwoofers can be MORE desirable not less.

    the new REL's are really small and give good bass. When Good floorstanders are going to take up much more room and be less flexable in placement.

    So Id get Replace the L/R with smallish speakers(dont ask me which) then stick a sub someware discreat.

    Dont worry but the bass annoying next door. If your system is to loud that would be the case no matter what you do. It more about quality sound in a small room.
     
  13. slingshot

    slingshot
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    I have a sub, but it's not something I couldn't easily live without, but I guess it depends on you main speakers.

    Just for reference a friend and myself went and listened to a demo of my setup (Rega Jura's) with and without various subs, 1 M&K and 2 Rel's a Q201 and a Rel Strata III. And to be honest both of us agreed that on some films it made a big difference i.e. Saving Private Ryan and others no sub actually sounded better.

    In the end I bought an IPL DIY kit, since I really didn't think I would be getting value from these 700 quid + subs.

    However after just reading Patsy's post I'd definatley suggest trying small cheap speakers i.e something like Tannoy MX1's with a reasonable sub, if you are buying new main speakers and they fit in your budget.
     
  14. Guest

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    Slingshot Tell us about that IPL sub what was the build like, and how does it sound/compair with a simular REL. I've being thinking of buying one myself enableing me to get a top range sub for little money.

    Are they as I suspect DIY REL's
     
  15. slingshot

    slingshot
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    Not sure how long the thread acrhive is kept for, but there was loads of posts a while back about IPL subs, someone even did a direct comparison complete with measurements against a REL Strata.

    I've never done a back to back comparison between it and any other sub, but I didn't think it sounded noticably worse than any of the 700 quid plus subs I'd listened too.

    I bought the complete kit with all the pre-cut MDF bits, and everything fit perfectley, I didn't need to do any further cutting. I took me about 1/2 a day to build the cab and then about 1/2 a day to put the veneer and wood stain on. Did it with pretty basic tools, a screwdriver, drill and hammer. You can either glue or screw the cab together, i did both, using the screws too hold it in place while the wood glue dried. I then bought a couple of tins of wood stain and mixed them to produce a colour (cherry) as close to the main speakers as possible.

    It looks pretty good, and is fairly compact, and I'm more than happy with the sound, in actual fact I think if you find the threads nobody actually had any real negative comments on the sub other than it didn't go quite as low as some of the more expensive subs.

    The built-in amplifier offers similar options as most other subs, seperate inputs for low & high level, with level control for each, and a frequency roll off control.

    I don't think they are exactley DIY Rel's, the driver is almost definatley not the same as used by REL, and it's probably about the same size as a Q100, but with a downwards firing speaker like the ST series.

    Anyway if you need any more info give me a shout.

    Slingshot

    P.S. And don't forget people are always impressed with your wood working skills in making a nice coffee table.
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I don't believe for a minute that Ditton 66 can go down to 18 hz. Most Rel subs struggle to do this let alone a standard speaker. I have heard few if any main L and R speakers that can produce bass like a proper sub can (15 -25 hz). If you are dealing with the top subs (top Rel, M and K, Velodyne and Paradigm) then I have heard NO speaker that can compete with their bass.

    I have some new KEF Ref 4-2 and ceteinly wouldn't claim these produce any real bass below 35 hz and these are BIG well thought of speakers. Bass from a sub isn't the soft stuff between 50-100hz, it is gut renching in the 20-40hz bracket. Few speakers reach this area at all. If they can most struggle with current amplifiers to do this, as well as the rest of the frequencies, at the same time. That is why most subs are active.

    If you think you are hearing the bass on DVD from 66's then you are missing a whole section of the audio spectrum. A sub will give you a whole new experrience, if you can get it into the flat without annoying your neighbours.

    Borrow a quality sub and see what you are missing;)
     
  17. slingshot

    slingshot
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    Wonder what we really are missing, I think my sub only makes a massive difference on a few DVD's. I wonder how low a lot of these soundtracks go, and if a lot aren't remastered to sound good on a Mitsui all in 1 600W mega-system.

    I'll agree a few DVD's do make good use of low bass i.e. matrix, U571 and most DTS discs seem to, but a lot of other discs don't even seem to be stretching my centre speakers 80Hz cut off point never mind push a sub down to 20Hz.
     
  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    If there is no sub info you will not hear it, if there is sub info (great examples liste above) you still won't hear it as the system can't reproduce the lowest notes. Bass is more important than just reprocing the lowest cannon explosion. A proper actice sub will take the 'load' off the main speakers and will make them sound better, however I am getting away from the point I originally wanted to make:

    Buy a centre first, most important channel IMHO.
     
  19. Matt F

    Matt F
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    Nic, that's why I specifically quoted the PMC FB1s as, unlike the lovely KEFs Ref 4-2's you recently purchased (you luck fellow), the PMCs can genuinely go down to 22Hz. I agree that your amp needs to be up to it as well - one of the matching Bryston monoblocks would probably do the trick (but at a cost).

    One thing a pair of genuine full range floorstanders won't allow you to do, however, is adjust the bass (i.e. bugger about with the level and upper frequency roll-off) and I do wonder if this is why people tend to think these speakers don't produce enough bass - in other words many people (me included) probably have their subs up a bit too loud than is technically accurate because we like the rumble etc.

    As for the Ditton 66s, the only tech spec I could find does say a frequency range of 18Hz to 40Khz but no +/-db figure is quoted so it doesn't mean a lot. However, they are bloody great big speakers and they have both a 12inch driver and a 12 inch auxiliary bass radiator :eek: so I think it's fair to say that they move a fair bit of air!

    Matt.
     

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