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Why a center channel...

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Lowrider, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    I always had my VCR connected to the stereo and, of course, the sound was much better but, it was always weird not to have any sound coming from the TV.

    So the center channel was very welcome, we just have to make sure it´s timbre matches the fronts, or we will get two different voices for each real one...

    Music:

    The other day I was showing my AV to some friends, going thru some of my 50 music DVDs (films I mostly rent), the sound was a little different (I had a few drinks), only when I played Santana (his guests speak between tracks), and I couldn´t hear that, I went to investigate.

    Somehow the house keeper had disconnected one of the central wires (now she can´t even get close the AV)... But it made me realise how little info came from that speaker. From then on I started to glue my ear to the speaker trying to understand what it is used for...

    And I realised it plays mostly voices, everything else comes from the fronts (with very few exceptions)...

    Conclusion:

    Ideally the center and fronts should be same speaker, power and cables (it would make matching a piece of cake, except for the difficulty of placing one of the fronts on the TV).

    But all we need is a center that plays voices very well (from Isaac Hayes to Sarah Brighton), with the same timbre as the fronts, so we can save a lot o money...
     
  2. Jase

    Jase
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    My Kef THX speakers are supposed to match each other perfectly but in reality there is a slight difference as the centre channel version has a slightly different design and does not drop as low as the left & right versions (80hz as against 70hz for the L & R).

    Ideally you would have EXACTLY the same speaker for the centre as you do for Left & Right. The Kefs can be bought with a vertically mounted centre speaker (same as the others) but in most cases this is impractical (certainly in my case). Most people need the horizontally placed centre speaker.

    If you had a Projector & screen this wouldnt be too much of a problem but if you have a TV (as Antonio says) you´re going to have trouble sticking a vertical speaker on top of it!!

    The centre channel is the most important speaker IMO. Without it, it just doesnt sound right. More so if you´re not sitting in the absolute perfect position dead centre of the two main speakers.
     
  3. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    The original purpose of the centre speaker is to produce dialogue in movies so that the audiences' attention is focussed on the screen. This is in the days of Prologic where the centre channel was 'matrixed'. This means analysing the sound in the left and right channels and extracting the sound which is at the same volume in both and sending it to the centre speaker.
    Since the sound sent to the center speaker exists in the left and right channels, the 'phantom' option was given where no centre speaker is present and the left and right speakers played the centre channel aswell.
    Since the centre was desribed as being for speech, a lot of speaker manufacturers made centre speakers designed specifically to reproduce speech. A mistake in my opinion.
    In Dolby Digital the centre channel is separate from the left and right and I tend to hear all manner of effects and music as well as speech. Hence the centre speaker is compulary and needs to be capable of producing the same kind of sounds as your left and right. And you are correct, 3 identical speakers across the front is the best solution. Infact 5,6 or 7 identical speakers is often the correct solution - though some people prefer di or tri-poles for the surround speakers.
    Now stereo music usually has different instruments panned across the two channels. E.g. rhythm guitar left, keyboards right, tom toms and cymbals spread between the left + right. With the Bass, Kick drum, Snare and lead vocals usually centered (or offset slightly). Generally if you listen to stereo music with a surround sound system in prologic mode, too much of the music emanates from the centre speaker. You should switch your amp to stereo mode so that just the left and right speakers are being used.
    Or use DSP modes in your AV amp which cater for stereo sources and create surround sound e.g. DPL II and DTS Neo.
     
  4. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    I do use DPLII a lot, but set center = L/R (no center) as the signal would be matrixed and, in my opinion, spoil the music stage...

    Of course DPLII movie is best left as standard (I can´t change it anyway)...
     
  5. Reiner

    Reiner
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    The center locks the sound (dialog, effects) to the screen, this makes a huge difference when you sit off-axis (i.e. not in the sweetspot) or move around on your couch / sit with more than one person on the couch.
    Therefore a center is IMHO essential and the phantom mode can only be considered as a bad compromise.
     
  6. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    I agree for movies, not as important for music, even 5.1
     
  7. bob007

    bob007
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    We want to listen to movies as they are intended to be listened too, why not music.
    My collection is 99% stereo, and this is how i want to listen to them.
    IMO any of the DSP functions applied ruins the listening experience.
     
  8. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    BOB,

    I do use the center channel for music 5.1, just think it doesn´t have to be as good as the fronts, (as long as it is well matched, timbre and frequency response), cause there is less content coming thru in most DVDs...
     

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