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  1. #1
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    Smile New Home Theater System

    Hello,

    I am attempting to put together a home theater system for a rather large 23X17 cathedral ceiling room. My current 2.1 setup includes a pair of sweet RS 4 infinity speakers and a lower end SONY receiver. The system will be used for watching DVDs and listing to CDs. My goal is to have it sound great for both applications. I don't mind upgrading a component from time to time but just want the sound to be awesome after this upgrade to a 5.1 setup.

    1) I am looking at a Pioneer elite 90TVX receiver. At 110w/channel is seems to have great power and sound. This should be my focus of the system and was wondering if anyone had an opinion on this receiver. At $650 it is near the top of my budget. I guess I was concerned that it didn't have the HDMI 1.3A connectivity. I was playing on purchasing an up-converting DVD player for round 1 and perhaps buy a Blu-ray machine in a year or so. I am sure that the setup will totally blow away my current system, but does anyone have advice on the receiver/DVD player choices I have made?

    2) We were not planning on mounting the center channel speaker and do not have a shelf for above the TV. It was suggested to place the center channel in the ceiling above the viewing/listening sitting area (~11 feet above). I think the idea is great as it will conceal the speaker, but can I expect a125W SpeakerCraft unit to perform well in this area of the room?

    3) For the rear speakers I was considering a pair of in-wall 100w SpeakerCraft MT series speakers. They sounded fantastic in the store when played alone. The sub I plan on implementing is an 8" Def Tech (300w?) unit at around $400. Are these going to fill the cathedral room when coupled with my RS 4 floor speaking and the center described above?

    4) I am thinking my current cheap 5-disc Sony CD player will be fine. I understand there is some new technology in audio recordings, but there are not many CDs taking advantage of it. A newer CD player will not enhance the quality of sound for my current CDs, correct?

    Thanks so much for your input!

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    Why get a DVD player to just go Blu-ray in a year? You might as well get the Blu-ray now. The Sony s300 is $499.00 and I just bought the Samsung BD-P1200 for $459.00 off Amazon.com. When you consider you will be buying a DVD player just to sit aside later, these prices aren't bad. You cannot buy a decent, or effective, upscaling DVD player for cheap either. So you might as well jump on Blu-ray now, if you are going to. The BD-P1200 is an excellent upconverting unit for standard DVD playback. It does lack some of the newer HD audio formats. Several new models are coming in the near future from Samsung, Denon & Panasonic, this might be a good time to jump.

    HDMI 1.3 is a waste to worry about. Nothing outputs the features you will need 1.3 for at this time. According to Dolby Labs website it is not likely that receivers will be compatible, or the discs allow, for digital decoding of the HD audio sources. What you want is a DVD or Blu-ray with multi-channel analog outputs. These outputs will assure your receiver to be compatible with whatever the machine will decode. Be sure your new receiver has the analog inputs. I'm not familiar with the Elite stuff, I personally have no respect for Pioneer but the Elite is supposed to be better. In that price range you may want to compare it to an Onkyo to see how it stacks up. Also there is a promotion where you can receive 5 free Blu-ray discs with the purchase of a qualifying player.

    I would not recommend putting your center that high. Can you put it under/below, the TV? Also for optimum home theater, your center should match your mains for seamless sound transition from speaker to speaker. I know you love the RS-4's, but you may want to consider an entire 5.1 speaker package. Maybe give Paradigm a listen. Ceiling and in-wall speakers should be an absolute last resort. If your center is too far from the screen, you will not be fooled into believing the dialog is coming from the characters you are watching. You didn't mention what size TV you had or what's around it. They also make center channel speaker stands, that may be an option if not too intrusive.

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    I overlooked your sub, an 8" in that size room is pretty much a waste. You need to look at a powerful 12", or maybe two.

    Doing a room that size, correctly, will not be cheap.

    I normally do not recommend Klipsch, I personally find them offensive, but they are very sensitive which would allow you to fill your room with sound without tons of power. Some people like them a lot, it's a matter of what type of sound you enjoy. Depending on your sitting arrangement you may want to even consider 7.1, especially if you decide to go ahead with Blu-ray.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Brainstorm's Avatar
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    The best of the best subs to fill that room is an 18” JBL 4645C professional THX approved if you look around hard enough you’ll find a cinema supplier in the US and who knows you might score JBL 18” subs play loud and play low enough for that room and that room is very large to most modest size rooms here in the United Kingdom JBL is the word mate!



    Low Frequency Driver: 2241H
    Frequency Range: 25 Hz - 500 Hz (-10 dB)
    Power Capacity (Continuous Pink Noise): 600 Watts
    Power Capacity (Continuous Program): 1200 Watts
    Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL (1W, 1m, 3.3ft.)
    Crossover Frequency: 80-150 Hz recommended
    Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
    Dimensions (HxWxD): 1010 x 674 x 450 mm (39 3/4 x 26 1/2 x 17 3/4 in)
    Net Weight: 60 kg (131 lb)



    http://www.jblproservice.com/pdf/The...ries/4645C.pdf

    The clock is ticking in the background and Cal is mad as hell.

  5. #5
    His and Her Room! westcott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim_ny


    1) I am looking at a Pioneer elite 90TVX receiver. At 110w/channel is seems to have great power and sound. This should be my focus of the system and was wondering if anyone had an opinion on this receiver. At $650 it is near the top of my budget. I guess I was concerned that it didn't have the HDMI 1.3A connectivity. I was playing on purchasing an up-converting DVD player for round 1 and perhaps buy a Blu-ray machine in a year or so. I am sure that the setup will totally blow away my current system, but does anyone have advice on the receiver/DVD player choices I have made?!
    The only Pioneer I would consider is the Elite series so don't skimp here. Upconverting DVD players are overrated. I would be more concerned with getting a DVD player with great core performance like the Oppo Digital 981HD. As Peabody pointed out, the BD P1200 is also a remarkable SD and HD player and will kill two birds with one stone. I don't think anyone really knows what will be required to comply with HDCP and other copy protection schemes for audio and video in the future so if a receiver like the Integra or Onkyo with HDMI 1.3a and lossless HD audio support will future proof your system, then buying one could be a safe bet, especially if you are not one to upgrade every other year.


    Quote Originally Posted by jim_ny
    2) We were not planning on mounting the center channel speaker and do not have a shelf for above the TV. It was suggested to place the center channel in the ceiling above the viewing/listening sitting area (~11 feet above). I think the idea is great as it will conceal the speaker, but can I expect a125W SpeakerCraft unit to perform well in this area of the room?!
    Terrible idea. As Peabody said, your center channel should be as close to ear level as possible for realistic sound reproduction during panning and to avoid room interactions. In wall or in ceiling speakers are a real compromise and if you want quality sound as you stated in your first paragraph, a floor stander or bookshelf is going to give you better performance when properly placed. Sheetrock and wall studs are no match for a properly designed speaker enclosure and they offer no adjustment, once installed. Proper speaker placement is just as important, if not more important than the quality of the speaker and is a science unto itself. If you need some reference material on this subject, just ask.


    Quote Originally Posted by jim_ny
    3) For the rear speakers I was considering a pair of in-wall 100w SpeakerCraft MT series speakers. They sounded fantastic in the store when played alone. The sub I plan on implementing is an 8" Def Tech (300w?) unit at around $400. Are these going to fill the cathedral room when coupled with my RS 4 floor speaking and the center described above?!
    See comments above about in ceiling speakers (not recommended). I love Infinity speakers so I would go with the surround models that are recommended and engineered by Infinity to match your existing speakers. Timbre matching is important and companies like Infinity go to great engineering lengths to make them so. Mix and matching is not recommended for best audio performance. The only speaker that can really cross manufacturer lines are subwoofers but even they can be specifically designed to work best with a specific series of speakers. I would spend a big part of your budget on a quality subwoofer. I have a room that is very similar and it takes a lot of subwoofer to fill it. My sub is 650watts continuous and is FTC rated, with a dynamic range of 2400watts!!! It is money well spent if you love action movies and want a realistic performance.


    Quote Originally Posted by jim_ny
    4) I am thinking my current cheap 5-disc Sony CD player will be fine. I understand there is some new technology in audio recordings, but there are not many CDs taking advantage of it. A newer CD player will not enhance the quality of sound for my current CDs, correct?

    Thanks so much for your input!
    If you are using a coaxial or optical digital output from your existing CD player, spending money on a new CD player will not buy you any improvement on audio quality. If you CD player only has analog outputs, then an upgrade to one of their Megachangers may pay big dividends for convenience and audio quality.

  6. #6
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    One other reason to go ahead with Blu-ray is when playing back standard DVD, you do, get better sound quality than you would get from a standard DVD player. The Dolby and DTS websites have an explanation for this, the experience I've had using a digital connection is a noticeable improvement, especially in sound effects. From what I understand using the analog outs would even be better but I haven't gotten around to hooking them up yet.

    As a side note I got an email from Circuit City telling me they have the Panasonic dmp-bd10a back in stock which runs $599.00 but comes with 5 free movies in the box and combined with the other 5 free movie promo, you can get a total of 10 movies. This unit comes with decoding of pretty much all the new HD audio formats if memory serves. It's also the only one so far to offer 7.1 analog outs. Reviews say it does a good job of upconversion but I can't say personally. Upconversion is good but it still falls way short of an actual HD disc picture.

  7. #7
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    Thanks a lot guys for all of your assistance. This forum is really invaluable. When you are talking about spending thousands of dollars, it is so important to talk to knowledgeable people that have experience. I guess the big stores don't know everything!

    Mr. Peabody - YES I do have room under the TV. We are customizing a "credenza" for the new system. My plan all along was to put it on one of the shelves just below the TV but the "kid" at best buy said that is a bad choice. Now, after reading your comments and doing some research on my own, it sounds like a good idea, even though above the TV might be a better choice (but not feasible in my situation). Also, thanks for the Bluray tips - I wanted one from the beginning but thought I could save some bucks. At $449, the Samsung appears to be a great buy!

    Westcott - So you really think my floor standing RS 4s would be a good base for my system? They do sound pretty good but it is so tough to tell with my wimpy Sony Receiver. I will begin researching Infinity speakers that will match my system. What is this whole Timbre matching and how will I know if the new line of infinities for the rear, center and sub will match well with my existing fronts? Also, hiding the rears is kind of important to us because we have an Adirondack themed room and don't want to have additional speakers exposed. If by some slim change Infinity makes in-wall speakers that are "sealed" (boxed), would that be a good choice? Also, if the infinities aren’t going to work, how would one even begin to start matching the RS 4s with another manufacturer? This stuff is tough!

    Lastly, it really looks like I may be purchasing a bunch of components on my own (scary). The plus of going with purchasing the components from the big stores was that I was hoping to have it all professionally installed. I really don't think I want to tackle the installation. Are there companies that would professionally install even if I didn't buy from them? Maybe I can buy the receiver from one of our reputable home theater shops (not the chains) and they can install?!

    Thanks Again!

  8. #8
    His and Her Room! westcott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim_ny

    Westcott - So you really think my floor standing RS 4s would be a good base for my system? They do sound pretty good but it is so tough to tell with my wimpy Sony Receiver. I will begin researching Infinity speakers that will match my system. What is this whole Timbre matching and how will I know if the new line of infinities for the rear, center and sub will match well with my existing fronts? Also, hiding the rears is kind of important to us because we have an Adirondack themed room and don't want to have additional speakers exposed. If by some slim change Infinity makes in-wall speakers that are "sealed" (boxed), would that be a good choice? Also, if the infinities aren’t going to work, how would one even begin to start matching the RS 4s with another manufacturer? This stuff is tough!

    Lastly, it really looks like I may be purchasing a bunch of components on my own (scary). The plus of going with purchasing the components from the big stores was that I was hoping to have it all professionally installed. I really don't think I want to tackle the installation. Are there companies that would professionally install even if I didn't buy from them? Maybe I can buy the receiver from one of our reputable home theater shops (not the chains) and they can install?!

    Thanks Again!
    My best advice is to try to contact Harman International directly and get their advice. I have never tried this but they are the experts when it comes to their products like Infinity. I have not checked their product line lately but I am sure they will have a solution for you. I would suggest getting the AV receiver and subwoofer first, wiring up what you have, and then decide if you are happy with your existing equipment before buying the rear surrounds and center channel. If you are pleased with the upgrades, the decision for rear surrounds and center channel may be a whole lot easier and far less stressful, knowing that you are heading down the right path.

    Timbre matching, in its most stripped down definition, is the sound produced that defines how differenent instruments and voices sound. A speaker with good timbre will make a bass saxaphone sound like a bass saxophone, and not like a tener sax or something in between. This is a very crude analogy but I think it conveys the idea. Usually, these speaker systems are designed so they have the same timbre, and usually the same sensitivity\efficiency. That is so as the power level\volume goes up, all the speakers volumes go up in a linear fashion at all volume levels. i.e. if the volume were to go up on the receiver but all of a sudden the center channel is not as loud as the left and right channel. Not a good thing.

    I am sure you can find someone to install whatever you buy but it would probably go smoother if you use an installer that is a dealer for, lets say, your Infinities to do the work. Depending on where you live and how complicated you want to make the installation, you may even find a forum member that lives close by that would not mind helping you do it yourself or doing some of the work for a fee. Running wire is not rocket science and with some simple tools, you can do it like a professional. Cable trays are another option and many of them can be hidden or installed, just like baseboards so very few holes have to be punched in the walls.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    As others have said, avoid the in-wall speakers if at all possible, and above all avoid an in-ceiling placement at all costs. You might find that in going with that approach, you've spent a lot of money just to take step backwards in audio quality. In my listenings, I've found the Speakercrafts very lacking compared to comparably priced bookshelf and on-wall speakers. An independent home theater installer should be able to demo other options for you. Generally, you should be aware that an in-wall installation might look good, but does not always result in an optimal alignment. And it takes away any options for simple rearrangements at a latter date.

    The center speaker is always a tricky proposition since the TV typically goes exactly where the center speaker would ideally go. Don't go too far overboard in trying to cram a center speaker into a tight or awkwardly aligned space, or going with center speakers that poorly match with what you use as the main speakers. I would simply try to find as close a match as possible, and try to rearrange the area to reasonably accommodate the center speaker. Otherwise, you're much better off without a center speaker altogether if your room conditions and speaker choices create a significant mismatch between the center and main speakers.

    As far as Blu-ray v. upconverting DVD. I would actually wait until the prices drop further on Blu-ray players. They are very well on their way to hitting the $300 price point by the end of the year. In the meantime, if you already have a DVD player, just use that one and let your new receiver handle any analog-to-digital video upconversion in the meantime (assuming that the Pioneer Elites are capable of this). Even if the receiver does not do analog-to-HDMI upconversion, figure that a new upconverting DVD player with HDMI output costs less than $100, and the prices on Blu-ray players will likely drop by at least that much by the end of the year. At this juncture, it pays to wait.

    For the first step, I would focus on upgrading the receiver and finding a matching set of speakers that you're happy with. Your receiver probably won't make the biggest difference in sound quality, but it will likely significantly simply the connectivity between the different sources and allow you to use HDMI-enabled components (which minimizes the cabling you'll need in the back).
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by westcott
    The only Pioneer I would consider is the Elite series so don't skimp here. Upconverting DVD players are overrated. I would be more concerned with getting a DVD player with great core performance like the Oppo Digital 981HD.
    Actually, the lower end Elite models are often identical to the higher end Pioneer models. The only difference is the face plate, dealer network, and warranty length. Also, the Oppo 981HD is an upconverting DVD player, so choosing that one would not be doing without the upconverting feature (which I'll agree can be overrated and a redundant feature).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    One other reason to go ahead with Blu-ray is when playing back standard DVD, you do, get better sound quality than you would get from a standard DVD player. The Dolby and DTS websites have an explanation for this, the experience I've had using a digital connection is a noticeable improvement, especially in sound effects. From what I understand using the analog outs would even be better but I haven't gotten around to hooking them up yet.
    A Blu-ray player will likely provide improved audio quality with Blu-ray discs, but not with DVDs using a digital audio connection. With Blu-ray discs, aside from the lossless audio formats (7.1 PCM, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD), they can also include upgraded versions of the usual compressed audio formats (i.e., using 640k DD instead of 384k/448k DD, and 1.5k DTS extracted from the DTS-HD signal rather than the half-bitrate 768k DTS more commonly used on DVDs).

    With DVDs, you're still limited to 384k/448k DD and 768k/1.5k DTS or two-channel PCM (up to 96/24 resolution). The digital audio output with a DVD should be no different with a Blu-ray player with the basic 5.1 audio. Where a Blu-ray player might differ would be with the analog audio output, where higher quality DACs and other internal components might make for an improvement over your existing receiver.
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-A1030
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Sony UBP-X800
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
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    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR44 and WVB
    Logitech Harmony 700
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    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

  11. #11
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    You've already received a lot of good advice, so I will elaborate on just one point that might need a little more clarification for you. With regard to timbre... one commonly used analogy to describe timbre is to think of musical instruments: Identical notes played on a piano, trumpet, and guitar can be distinguished from one another because the instruments themselves sound different. Each instrument has a "sonic signature" that imparts characteristics traits to the music being played. Similarly, audio speakers do the same thing. Ideally, they would be completely transparent to the original source, but in reality and as a practical matter, that is an unobtainable goal. The contruction, design, and materials used to make a speaker all combine to contribute to the speaker's sonic signature or "timbre". If you think about it, if audio speakers had no timbre or sonic signature, there'd be no reason to prefer one over another. They would all be perfect transparent reproducers of the original source material. So the idea of timbre matching is nothing more than putting speakers with the same or similar sonic signature together in a system. The benefits of timbre matching speakers is significant.

    In your case, the ideal speaker to achieve this goal would be another RS4, but of course placement limitations and aesthetic considerations most likely make this an unacceptable option. The best that you can do is probably to look for smaller speakers in the RS line. They should have similar construction, materials, and drivers -- in fact -- they were most likely built to be timbre matched by design. You should be able to find these used on ebay or elsewhere, and the good news is that they shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. If this isn't a suitable alternative, then as one person has already suggested, you may want to consider starting over and putting together an entire "matched system" from scratch.

    One other point that was mentioned by Woochifer is the choice of a center channel speaker. As he pointed out, if you can't find a center speaker which is "matched" well to the front mains, or if it can't be placed well enough to achieve a good matched sound, then you are better off to omit it and let the mains produce a "phantom" center image just as they do in stereo music listening. Hope this helps. Good luck.

    Q

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    Wooch, what you say makes sense and it would be difficult to A/B standard DVD playback but from movies I have been familiar with it sure seems like there is a difference. Also, from what I understand the upscaling on inexpensive DVD players is a waste. I know the upconversion on my LG, $189.00, is not noticeable. In fact, the LG playing through HDMI was not as good as my Denon 1600 through component.

    Infinity of today is not the Infinity of when the RS-4's were made. The suggestion of finding the smaller versions, like the RS-2 and put them end to end, in the place of the center was a good idea and the only thing I'd do other than getting a whole new system.

    You might want to take a look at www.crutchfield.com they are a online/catalog retailer who carries several brands of receivers and other equipment. They can set up installs and their website has a lot of informational articles. Last check they weren't very stocked up on Blu-ray though. It will be interesting to see if the prices do go down. The Denon's aren't going to be cheap, starting out at $1k.

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    You guys are the BEST! I contacted the manufacturer and they have said that there are no speakers currently in production to match the RS4s. I think I will let them RIP. They have been the best, but I know the future is bright. I have been to my local specialty shop and the rave seems to be Paradigm and B&W. We are looking at bookshelf speakers as we are building a "credenza". I love the Paradigm Titans but they are a tad large. I also LOVE the B&W 686 speakers, which are more suited to the unit and sound awesome! Is it just me or are these little speakers a cut above the highly touted Titans????

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    Both companies have great reputations. Speakers are a personal and subjective choice, so if you feel the 686 sounds the best to you, then that should be your choice, no matter what input one here may give.

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    you might consider having a small alcove built into your wall above your Screen that is just big enough for a center speaker to fit in flush with the wall (and have grill cloth sewn to match your wall - if you want) -- you would have lots of options on speakers that way - and you could be assured the center channel is in an optimum place -- I know you said the thought of buying stuff on your own is scary but since you are talking 5.1 you might consider trying to find a used high end surround receiver from the 5.1 era -- there are lots of them for sale and many of them are probably powerful enough to fill up your room with sound -- some of the earlier receivers had minimal rear speaker power -- on the rear speakers you could also consider strategically place bookshelves or building a couple of very small shelves to hold just those speakers -- 2 years ago I opted for an older 5.1 set up for a smaller room but I bet it would work fine in your room -- I decided I was either going to go with an Elite Receiver, a Carver or an early THX certified reciever ( like the huge Kenwood) -- as things went I found a Carver 880 receiver which works great in my smaller room -- I also went with vintage Carver center and surrounds but went with Norman Lab towers for the mains -- -- I do a lot of listening with just them -- a set up like this might save you lots of money and be fun for you to look for -- I spent less than $450 for all of it ( Carver 880 Ebay $127 -- carver center and surrounds $80 at a fleamarket -- norman labs $15 at auction - need refoaming $70 - -- I have since bought lots of vintage 5.1 stuff and have 4 systems going for less than the price of one new one -- if you are concerned your speaker won't cut it up front -- use them as rears and buy a new set up front this would save you some money -- I know my stuff is not perfectly matched -- but 99.9% of the people in the world would never notice the differnce in Timbre across the system -- I do have several center speakers which I do a trail and error listening with the front speakers for movie watching -- they need to sound similar or it can be annoying -- the rears are far less critical -- the biggest problem when buying the old stuff is getting it fixed if it breaks -- but for the money -- you can usually buy more for what it would cost to get it fixed -- Sorry for the long post -- good luck --- BTW -- I have had a ball finding this stuff --there are deals out there if you are patient -- FI -- this past week end I bought a pair of Polk Monitor 12 series 2 speakers for $50 on Craigs list -- they were a great buy - I once bought a pair of JBL 4311B monitors for $10 at an estate auction -- I still use them in a rocking surround system hooked up to my computer

  16. #16
    His and Her Room! westcott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waltband
    you might consider having a small alcove built into your wall above your Screen that is just big enough for a center speaker to fit in flush with the wall (and have grill cloth sewn to match your wall - if you want) -- you would have lots of options on speakers that way - and you could be assured the center channel is in an optimum place --
    Placing a speaker in a wall or alcove should be a last resort. The best speaker placment is away from the walls, and in many cases, several feet.

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    When I had my previous TV my center was on a shelf that rested on the top of the TV. The TV was an old style RPTV. Then I have my current Toshiba DLP which is too wide to keep the bridge that went across my two tower entertainment center, so I had to place the center below the TV on the Tosh's stand. The center sounded better, response wise, on top of the TV, but now blends better with the mains, below the TV. Below the TV is not a bad placement. In fact, depending on the shelf, it could be even better. My shelf is too narrow to try isolation or any other help. I did set to small which helped some.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by westcott
    Placing a speaker in a wall or alcove should be a last resort. The best speaker placment is away from the walls, and in many cases, several feet.
    I agree with this as a last resort -- he hasn't said why he didn't want a center speaker so I assumed it was cosmetic -- the flush wall matching speaker was an option not based audio acoustics (shame on me) -- I could have just as easily suggested a built in of some sort but that leaves a lot less options -- oh well --

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