Center Channel with Front Speakers [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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12-27-2004, 09:01 AM
I was wondering if I could us my front Polk Audio Rti8's and use them with a Csi3 center channel speaker for movies and music? Would this set up be ok with out having surround speakers in the back since I am limited on space. Would this be considered 3 channel stereo?

12-28-2004, 03:10 PM
That would depend on how well that current center channel model voice matches with your speakers, which are discontinued models. I would write to Polk and see which current center channel model they recommend, and which discontinued center speaker was the matching center speaker for your mains. Whether or not it's a good match depends on how well Polk's center speakers match with their mains to begin with, and whether or not the current models changed significantly from before. You want to avoid mismatches between the center speaker and main speakers, and should not feel obligated to hook up a center speaker just to have one.

As for the surround speakers, almost all home theater receivers have a virtual surround mode that works with three speakers. Use that mode if you can't fit surround speakers (although the positioning of surround speakers is not directly behind the listener, but more off to the side and slightly behind).

Three speaker stereo? I wouldn't call it that, but it's all semantics. Your receiver should have a DSP mode that allows you to listen to all of your sources through all three front speakers, but I would not necessarily do that. Two channel sources are mixed to create a phantom center effect, and force feeding a center channel will do unpredictable things there. A source with a discrete center channel like a 5.1 soundtrack will generally sound better with the output going through an actual center speaker, because the mix is optimized for that kind of playback.

01-06-2005, 02:33 PM
The Polk site recommends using either the Csi-3 or Csi-5 center channel speaker with the Rti-8's. Here's the link:

You should be able to go into the speaker setup menu of your receiver and set the rear speakers to "none" or "off". This will allow the information which was suppose to be sent to the rear speakers to be folded into the fronts instead. For stereo music sources, you can try listening with the center speaker activated, but as Woochifer pointed out, you may find that you prefer to listen to "stereo" sources in stereo (2 channel) as they were intended to be heard. You should be aware however, that the main purpose for having a center channel speaker is to anchor dialogue and other information to a video display for those sitting "out of the sweet spot" (hard left or right), so that it corresponds with what's happening onscreen. Otherwise, the sound coming from either the left or right main speaker can seem disassociated from the video image -- sort of like a ventrilioquist act. With stereo music sources, there is no such relationship between audio and video information, so there's really no advantage to using a center speaker for that type of listening... but like they say, whatever floats yer boat.