Silly Question - Does a centre speaker need to go in the centre?


Standard Member
I am considering buying a Denon AVR1910 and pairing it with a set of Kef2005.3 speakers. My LCD TV is mounted on a chimney breast above a multi fuel stove. Heat is not a problem for the tv as the heat from a stove is radiated from the back. I have a solid oak beam underneath the tv with is 4" high and 6" deep.

My original plan was put the centre speaker on the oak beam. Problem is that the Kef centre speaker will be as deep as the beam and I'm not sure how this will look. Also although the tv is protect from the heat of the stove, I would be worried about a speaker on the beam.

Would it be possible to have the centre speaker to the side of the chimney breast? Is there any clever setup in the amp to cater for this?



Distinguished Member
The centre speaker ties all the vocals and sound effects to the screen. Putting it to one side is going to give you a very funny effect with all the voices etc seeming to come from one side of the screen. The reciever will not be able to compensate for this although if you do not have a centre in can create the illusion of a centre speaker (phantom) from the L/R speakers.
You would be better to put the speaker above the screen and central than put it to one side. If this can not be done then I would not have a centre at all but let the L/R speakers create a phantom centre instead.
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Active Member
Yep, what he just said. If your fronts are anything like well-positioned then you're better off with no center speaker than a badly-placed one.


Distinguished Member
Yep, what he just said. If your fronts are anything like well-positioned then you're better off with no center speaker than a badly-placed one.

Lechacal's point is perfectly valid and far more common than you might think. It is sometimes referred to as Phantom Center.

In essence, you tell your amp that you have a 4.1 system instead of a 5.1, and that implies that the center speaker is gone. The Center channel is then routed to the front speakers.

This works best if the front speakers are somewhat close to the TV, and evenly spaced on each side of the TV. The distance from the TV, I think, is less critical than the fact that the speakers are evenly space on the left and right.

How well this works depends on the quality of your front speaker. It will always work, but it works better with better fronts.

Just a few thoughts.



Standard Member
An interested read from some papers i have in regards to surround setups in the studio enviroments. Much more accurate and informative than a lot of the audiophile rumours which spread about. I figure simulating the circumstances the sound was mastered in to get the most accurate representation of a movie or audiotrack!! Ta, Pat

Centre speakers in music mixes said:

In video applications, with left, center and right channels all set to deliver equal output, the ear tends to hear dialog as coming only from the center channel. It’s a psychoacoustic effect because all right and all left channel signals are fed to the center.

In Dolby Pro Logic, the center channel information is derived from sum and difference information encoded in the left and right channels. The very attributes that make this matrix-type system viable for video application make it less desirable for music-only reproduction. In practice, there is a hard center dialog channel but there is also a sort of phantom mono channel developed between the left and center channel and the right and center channel. This between-channel phantom mono image exists because so much of the information contained in each channel (left and center or right and center) is identical. Hence, mono. In the few music-only recordings encoded in Dolby Pro Logic, the derived center channel could lead to some drastic changes in spatial perception.

We discovered two, already available solutions to the large “wall-of-mono” effect produced by Dolby Pro Logic when playing audio-only material. The first is easy. Most home audio Dolby Pro Logic receivers will let you take the center channel out completely by putting the receiver in the “phantom” (no center channel) mode. It preserves the classic stereo effect of the front channels while adding rear surround. This method works well with most stereo-only recordings which have no surround encoding. But it’s much better if the rear channels have true matrix (mono) surround (like applause) encoded in the mix.

The second method of using Dolby Pro Logic gets the center channel back into the mix. Most of these same home audio receivers have an audio-only surround mode which significantly attenuates the output of the center channel in relation to the left and right. The audible benefit here is that the mix sounds like a stereo only recording but the center image like a vocalist becomes a center. There is no image wander, as the frequencies changefor instance. And the classic listening “sweet spot” expands dramatically, allowing for accurate soundstage and instrument placement when listening far off-axis.



Standard Member
front speaker positioning:

The front L/C/R speaker drivers (excluding subwoofer) should be at ear level of listioning position throughout if possible, but most importantly tweeters. If the cabinet must be laid on its side, have the top end (tweeters) on the inner side and the mid/low drivers on the outer side in relation to the video source. ALL FRONT SPEAKER TO LISTENER DISTANCES MUST BE THE SAME, in order to retain time alignment.

Surround Placement:

to minimise room mode reflection, place the speaker so that the 'middle' distance between tweeter and mid cone is 80% from the floor, with the tweeter ON THE BOTTOM! (see pic). Note the arcing of the front speakers, maintaining the time alignment of the front image.

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