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  1. #1
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    When buying system whats the order i should buy in if i cant buy all at once

    I am pretty certein i cant get my whole system in one buy. I was wondering whats the items i should try to get first i know i have to have the mains to start off with but after that im a little confused on the best way to proceed. People have told me to get Mains, Sub, for good 2 channel stereo setup, Or Surrounds and waite on center channel and use phantom mode on reciever so i can stil watch movies with some sort of surround sound.

  2. #2
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Tough call - if u plan on using your system for music more than surround sound movies - get the sub obviously, unless you have big, bass heavy towers. . If its 50/50 music and movies, and you are only worried about how it sounds to u, get the surronds next. Phantom mode is pretty shoddy at times when you aren't perfectly seated in the sweet spot, and even then it's not all that great.
    That said, I believe the center channel will deliver the most benefit to sound quality, most of the time for multi-channel sources. Subs and surrounds don't receive nearly as muany signals as a center. It really takes the soundstage and imaging to a level that's not possible with 2 speakers.
    I'm just not sure there's as much "fun" factor as a sub shaking the room or surrounds whizzing objects past your head. I suspect that's something you'll have to decide for yourself - there isn't a right or wrong - just different priorities.

  3. #3
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    I agree--differing priorities

    I agree with Kexo that everyone will have their own order of importance for what each component offers. I think I recall that you have been eyeing the Paradigm 20s. I fall into the camp that would advocate a sub purchase to coincide with bookshelves. Again, this applies if music is your main interest, as fuller bass extension would be the goal. Just IMO...
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    There are a few ways to go about it. (all include shopping and listening to as many speakers as possible before you start)

    Option one - This is if music is the most important thing to you. Get the mains first. (sub if needed) Then matching center & surrounds.

    Option two - This is if HT is top on your list. Get 4 bookshelf (& 1 center) speakers from a company that makes matching mains that you like. Get a good sub. You can add the mains later and move the bookshelves around to go to 7.1 instead of 5.1.

    Option three - This is if you plan on slowly putting together an expensive system. Get 2 high quality bookshelves and a great sub. Save up for the center, 2 more HQ bookshelves and then kick butt mains.

    Option four - This is if someone thinks up a better way. Listen to them and decide what means the most to you.

    Don't forget to go listen first. Bring the same CD & DVD with you to all demo's.
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  5. #5
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    I'd get the mains and then listen to them for a while. You can try phantom center with only mains as well. If you feel that the dialog is convincingly coming from the center when you listen (as Kexo said, seating position is critical here) then you can pass on the center for a while.

    I added the sub last. And since I don't usually listen at really loud levels I don't feel it made a huge difference to my experience and I am happy it was added last. It certainly fills out some of the more bass heavy music, but for most of my collection I can live with out the sub. Placement for smaller speakers can help reinforce the low frequencies and is worth playing around with.

    If you like the action flicks, with lots of flying gismos or arrows/bullets whizzing by. Then rears are needed. I say you can get thrills with smaller less expensive rears if you need. If you also want pounding explosions you'll need the sub. If, instead, you listen to a lot of dialog oriented art/romance flicks, then you'll want the center so you can hear what they're saying.

    There's no right. But going slow and thinking about what you want in increments can keep you from making too many wrongs.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by darth2222
    I am pretty certein i cant get my whole system in one buy. I was wondering whats the items i should try to get first i know i have to have the mains to start off with but after that im a little confused on the best way to proceed. People have told me to get Mains, Sub, for good 2 channel stereo setup, Or Surrounds and waite on center channel and use phantom mode on reciever so i can stil watch movies with some sort of surround sound.
    I think your bank account has the final say so

  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Excellent Point!

    Quote Originally Posted by noddin0ff

    If you like the action flicks, with lots of flying gismos or arrows/bullets whizzing by. Then rears are needed. I say you can get thrills with smaller less expensive rears if you need.
    For Studio 20's, something like Paradigm Atoms used as surrounds would do 80% of the job at a fraction of the price until you saved up enough money. Atoms go for $100-$150 used, you'd get most of that back selling them later on.

    Truth be told you could do the same with a center channel as well - it's not optimal, but I've done it before and much preferred the mis-matched center to Phantom Mode.
    Paradigm (and companies in general) tend to build "signature sounds" into all their models - so at least partially matching is possible.

    FWIW I wouldn't go cheap on the sub. That's one piece that will wear its shortcomings on its sleeve. Get a decent (not necessarily expensive or large) sub when you decide to buy one.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Grandpaw's Avatar
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    Maybe I read it wrong but I don't think his question has been addressed yet! I read it as what parts of a SYSTEM should I get first, not what order do I get my speakers in. I read it as needing the whole system., Jeff

    I would think giving a budget, the type of listening interests, movies or music. and what size room it is going in might be some helpful information to give to get a more appropriate answer to his needs.
    Last edited by Grandpaw; 08-17-2006 at 11:53 AM.
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  9. #9
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Do you see yourself playing with SACD/DVD-A in a near future?

  10. #10
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    1. I would buy the receiver and some good headphones first.
    2. Then I would buy a pair of very good fronts.
    3. Next would be a good DVD/CD player
    4. Rear/surround speakers would be the next purchase.
    5. A sub woofer or center channel speaker depending on the low frequency extension of the main speakers.
    6. Center channel or sub whichever not purchased at step 5.

    The question was what order to buy things!
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  11. #11
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    just a thought...

    When you buy your front mains, if multichannel sound (either music or HT) has any place in the future, I'd strongly suggest you purchase the matched center at the same time. When models change there's no guarantee the new center will match as well as the one designed for them.

    Likewise, for HT it's not mandatory, but for MC music it's really, really nice to have the rear surrounds from the same manufacturer's line. It's that timbre matching thing again. Music is less forgiving than HT here.

    You can add virtually any sub at any time in the future. Matching is not an issue here.

    Nothing else in the chain is as dependent on matching as the speakers.

    ...just my thoughts. YMMV
    Last edited by markw; 08-17-2006 at 02:19 PM.

  12. #12
    Da Dragonball Kid L.J.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    When you buy your front mains, if multichannel sound (either music or HT) has any place in the future, I'd strongly suggest you purchase the matched center at the same time. When models change there's no guarantee the new center will match as well as the one designed for them.
    Mark's gotta point. I had a heck of time tracking down my C-C3 center. Shoulda got it from the start. To make a long story short, I had to make a 80-90 mile drive to get it.

    I contacted Energy about just using the new center from the RC line and was told it was not as close a match as the C-C3.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Markw nailed it down. While I think that you can get do fine without a center speaker, and are better off with no center speaker than a severely mismatched one, the most important consideration in buying a center speaker is the timbre match. And if a speaker line gets discontinued/updated, the new version might not match up as well. Given that reality, the center speaker should be a priority. If not for the need to timbre match the center speaker while it's still available, I would actually put the center speaker behind the surrounds and subwoofer in importance.

    The surround speakers are not quite as critical a match, and you can get away with mismatched speakers as a temporary measure if you have some spares lying around. But, once you've timbre matched your surround speakers, there's no turning back.IMO, the split surround effect is what makes modern home theater what it is. Before DD 5.1 came along, you did not have this kind of total envelopment. Use whatever speakers you can,so you can get a hint of what surround's all about.

    The timing of the subwoofer to some extent depends on the bass response from your main speakers. The Studio 20s produce a decent amount of bass for their size, but they do not go anywhere near that lower octave that you find with the LFE track on movie soundtracks. In your case, a subwoofer might be a somewhat higher priority. Between the surrounds and the sub, I would go with the surrounds, but that's my own preference. Your priorities might differ.
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  14. #14
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    Well thanks for all your help these boards have helped me alot in deciding what to purchase im going to go with the Fronts and surrounds for now later will add sub and center not sure which order prolly if right price for center comes along that would be priority because like he said earlier subs dont have to match

  15. #15
    Forum Regular Grandpaw's Avatar
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    There are a few things that you might want to consider before you get started on this project.

    What are your priorities? Are they more toward music or is home theater where your main interest are?

    What size room will you be trying to use this system in?

    What level of interest do you have in audio equipment? Some people are served well by a home theater in a box, some are happy with a middle of the road system and some people want a high quality system and are happy with nothing less.

    After you get some idea of what your level of interests are and what your finances will allow I would then think you have a good place to start at.

    The higher your interest and budget are the slower you may want to proceed in getting your equipment. If your interest in the hobby is high then regardless of your budget, I would think you would be better off going slow and not be getting unhappy with your equipment before you even finish getting your first system put together.

    If you get anything above a home theater in a box you are going to have an investment in equipment so do your research , ask questions and above all listen to different components to see what YOU LIKE BEST. Take your time have fun and good luck in your journey, Jeff

    These are things you might want to know first and then follow the advice you were given on the order the equipment should be bought in. Don't get the cart before the horse. I think you need to have an idea of what to buy BEFORE you worry about the order your purchases should come in. I would also like to add..... Welcome to the forum!
    Last edited by Grandpaw; 08-18-2006 at 04:38 AM.
    I decided years ago I was only going to have two types of days...Very Good Days or just Plain Good Days. I just refuse to have bad ones!!!, Jeff

  16. #16
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    thanks Grandpaw. I agree thats why i just can get the fronts and surrounds now as much as i would like to have a sub too i know its better to save up and get the one i really want. I will primarly be using this for Movies cant waite to sit down and watch all the Star Wars Saga and LOTR. This is going to be a slow process for me but when its done hopefully i will be happy with it. I will be on here alot over the next several months getting ideas as i continue with putting this system together. Thanks again all Forum members who have helped me in this process

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Grandpaw's Avatar
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    In your original question of what order to buy equipment I would just like to add my thoughts on that. I would like to think that I have a decent speaker system and I would just like to say that in my opinion the speaker that made the most difference and improvement in my home theater system was the center channel.

    This is the fourth and final center I will own. It is hard to explain but the sound I get out of this speaker makes the voices sound exactly like I was in a theater. The other three I have had over the years gave me the voices but not the BIG sound you get in an actual movie theater.

    Different people will give you different opinions but for me the most important speaker when listening to movies is the center channel. Others will say the surrounds or the sub but for me a quality center made the most difference. I would put a quality center that matches the two front on the list before getting the surrounds or sub. As already mentioned getting a match across the front is very important. I would get them at the same time to insure the same sound field accross the front. This is just my opinion and you can throw in in with the rest that were given.

    I would like to add that when listening to music I only use my front two towers only, no surrounds, center or sub. The speakers I use handle the bass just fine by themselves.

    Just remember that each person has their own preferences when listening to music or movies. The thing you need to do is find out is what you like and buy the best you can afford that fits into your budget. To me getting the best you can for your budget is the goal. No matter how great your system ends up there will always be a better one our there so just get the best YOU can afford, Jeff
    I decided years ago I was only going to have two types of days...Very Good Days or just Plain Good Days. I just refuse to have bad ones!!!, Jeff

  18. #18
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Just for the sake of playing devil's advocate

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Markw nailed it down. While I think that you can get do fine without a center speaker, and are better off with no center speaker than a severely mismatched one, the most important consideration in buying a center speaker is the timbre match. And if a speaker line gets discontinued/updated, the new version might not match up as well. Given that reality, the center speaker should be a priority. If not for the need to timbre match the center speaker while it's still available, I would actually put the center speaker behind the surrounds and subwoofer in importance.
    Not to down play the significance of a matching center (I did say earlier it would do the most work, but get the least "wow"credit) I think we have to separate theory from practice. And I say this only to provide food for thought, as it contradicts my preferred order of system building - which is get the matching Center asap.

    I'm coming from having used mismatched centers and surrounds before - not "grossly mismatched", but mismatched enough. IMO, based on personal experience, if a speaker is comparable in overall performance (ie, not grossly outclassed by the mains) even a dramatically different timbre can produce far superior results to Phantom center channels which are far too limited. Timbre-matching is such an unreliable concept in practice anyway.

    When I started out with HT, we were told 75% (or some ridiculous figure) of all sound was delivered by the CC ( center channel, i'm typing with 1 hand here, cut me some slack). Timbre matching was said to be imperative to creating a uniformly consistent soundfield. It is in a vacuum, no doubt. The problem is timbre is skewed so drastically by so many small factors (including placement proximity to walls, tv screens, angle off-set, crossover topology, room acoustics, etc) that calling any speaker line-up's models all '''matched" (whether voice or timbre ) is quite misleading IMO. They're only reliably matched in an anechoic chamber under exactly the same conditions. The rest of the time it's hoping for the best.

    So why is it the recommended approach? Simple, most buyers can't measure or control the other factors affecting relative timbre, so the starting point (in this case the supposed timbre matched speaker) is relied upon too much. Hey, if you have to make a decision, at least make one you can defend with logic, right?
    Manufacturers know this and continue to exploit it. It's the only logical step one can make in most cases.

    Problem is this is a case where logic is betrayed quite often by real world results.

    I've done enough of my own measurements on my own speakers to know that there's significant variation of timber (one of bass, mids, or highs, almost always gets mauled) just from moving the speaker a few feet, changing the speakers nearfield environment, or even the mic's angle. That's life - we deal with it.

    Here's the kicker - the in-room timber of the front left speaker WILL be different from the in-room timber of the matching front right. And you bet your life the resulting phantom center image will have a completely different timber as well, most likely anything BUT matching.

    So, what's my point? Well, I'm not really sure I have one. Except the thousands of people who use mismatched cc's or surrounds and completely enjoy their system aren't necessarily as dumb as I use to think. And I can't help but wonder how much looks/symmetry/matching brands impact the judgement of those who use matching centers. I honestly believe if we could create an experiment where Phantom center mode was compared to a quality, but completely timber-opposite (if that concept even exists) dedicated center channel, that 50% or more would still prefer the mismatched center, because of the other benefits a dedicated center provides.

    So, a mismatched center for temporary use might very well sound a helluva lot better than phantom mode to you. Or maybe not. I'm in the camp that hates it for home theater if it can be helped - sounds too distracting and lacking to me, not only messing up the center, but negatively affecting the front mains, too. YMMV

    But honestly, with paradigm, I wouldn't worry about being able to find a matching center later on because of model changes or whatever - especially Studios. How long are we talking here? Take a look at the frequency in which old models pop-up on ebay, audiogon, etc. It's kind of like finding ball joints for a 91 Ford Tempo - nobody will ever have a problem there. Well, maybe not that easy.

    Best thing you can do is in-home demos to see which temporary step sounds best to you. Don't eliminate any options until you hear for yourself.

    Or make the safe (not always best) choice and just get the matching CC.

    I love revisiting old topics!

  19. #19
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    WOW Kex,

    How long would this have been if you still had 10 fingers to type with?
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  20. #20
    Big science. Hallelujah. noddin0ff's Avatar
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    I'd still advise just getting the mains and listening for a bit to decide which is going to bug you more, not hearing the dialog or not hearing bullets whiz by.

    It will depend on your setup how convincing the phantom center is. For a while, to compensate for lack of a center speaker, I had to rely heavily on the dialog enhancement feature in DD DVD players...And boost the mid-highs on the equalizer on the AV...

  21. #21
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    Yeah the CC470 is what people said would match my 20's its not to hard to find. Or i could go with another 20 for my center that would be about 230 cheaper but i hear conflicting answers on that subject some say its better so im not sure which way to go either with another 20 in the middle or the 470. it just seams two speakers in the center would be better than one. Placement is not a problem i can put either one on top of my projection TV

  22. #22
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    WOW Kex,

    How long would this have been if you still had 10 fingers to type with?
    That wuz the pain killers talkin' guys, honest - I vaguely remember posting it...some good points tho

  23. #23
    Da Dragonball Kid L.J.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Not to down play the significance of a matching center (I did say earlier it would do the most work, but get the least "wow"credit) I think we have to separate theory from practice. And I say this only to provide food for thought, as it contradicts my preferred order of system building - which is get the matching Center asap.

    I'm coming from having used mismatched centers and surrounds before - not "grossly mismatched", but mismatched enough. IMO, based on personal experience, if a speaker is comparable in overall performance (ie, not grossly outclassed by the mains) even a dramatically different timbre can produce far superior results to Phantom center channels which are far too limited. Timbre-matching is such an unreliable concept in practice anyway.

    When I started out with HT, we were told 75% (or some ridiculous figure) of all sound was delivered by the CC ( center channel, i'm typing with 1 hand here, cut me some slack). Timbre matching was said to be imperative to creating a uniformly consistent soundfield. It is in a vacuum, no doubt. The problem is timbre is skewed so drastically by so many small factors (including placement proximity to walls, tv screens, angle off-set, crossover topology, room acoustics, etc) that calling any speaker line-up's models all '''matched" (whether voice or timbre ) is quite misleading IMO. They're only reliably matched in an anechoic chamber under exactly the same conditions. The rest of the time it's hoping for the best.

    So why is it the recommended approach? Simple, most buyers can't measure or control the other factors affecting relative timbre, so the starting point (in this case the supposed timbre matched speaker) is relied upon too much. Hey, if you have to make a decision, at least make one you can defend with logic, right?
    Manufacturers know this and continue to exploit it. It's the only logical step one can make in most cases.

    Problem is this is a case where logic is betrayed quite often by real world results.

    I've done enough of my own measurements on my own speakers to know that there's significant variation of timber (one of bass, mids, or highs, almost always gets mauled) just from moving the speaker a few feet, changing the speakers nearfield environment, or even the mic's angle. That's life - we deal with it.

    Here's the kicker - the in-room timber of the front left speaker WILL be different from the in-room timber of the matching front right. And you bet your life the resulting phantom center image will have a completely different timber as well, most likely anything BUT matching.

    So, what's my point? Well, I'm not really sure I have one. Except the thousands of people who use mismatched cc's or surrounds and completely enjoy their system aren't necessarily as dumb as I use to think. And I can't help but wonder how much looks/symmetry/matching brands impact the judgement of those who use matching centers. I honestly believe if we could create an experiment where Phantom center mode was compared to a quality, but completely timber-opposite (if that concept even exists) dedicated center channel, that 50% or more would still prefer the mismatched center, because of the other benefits a dedicated center provides.

    So, a mismatched center for temporary use might very well sound a helluva lot better than phantom mode to you. Or maybe not. I'm in the camp that hates it for home theater if it can be helped - sounds too distracting and lacking to me, not only messing up the center, but negatively affecting the front mains, too. YMMV

    But honestly, with paradigm, I wouldn't worry about being able to find a matching center later on because of model changes or whatever - especially Studios. How long are we talking here? Take a look at the frequency in which old models pop-up on ebay, audiogon, etc. It's kind of like finding ball joints for a 91 Ford Tempo - nobody will ever have a problem there. Well, maybe not that easy.

    Best thing you can do is in-home demos to see which temporary step sounds best to you. Don't eliminate any options until you hear for yourself.

    Or make the safe (not always best) choice and just get the matching CC.

    I love revisiting old topics!

    Great points Kex, but I'm having a hard time grasping everything.

    Can you type it all again, please..........

  24. #24
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    For You?

    Quote Originally Posted by L.J.
    Great points Kex, but I'm having a hard time grasping everything.

    Can you type it all again, please..........
    Anything for u LJ...here goes:

    Not to down play the significance of a matching center (I did say earlier it would do the most work, but get the least "wow"credit) I think we have to separate theory from practice. And I say this only to provide food for thought, as it contradicts my preferred order of system building - which is get the matching Center asap.

    I'm coming from having used mismatched centers and surrounds before - not "grossly mismatched", but mismatched enough. IMO, based on personal experience, if a speaker is comparable in overall performance (ie, not grossly outclassed by the mains) even a dramatically different timbre can produce far superior results to Phantom center channels which are far too limited. Timbre-matching is such an unreliable concept in practice anyway.

    When I started out with HT, we were told 75% (or some ridiculous figure) of all sound was delivered by the CC ( center channel, i'm typing with 1 hand here, cut me some slack). Timbre matching was said to be imperative to creating a uniformly consistent soundfield. It is in a vacuum, no doubt. The problem is timbre is skewed so drastically by so many small factors (including placement proximity to walls, tv screens, angle off-set, crossover topology, room acoustics, etc) that calling any speaker line-up's models all '''matched" (whether voice or timbre ) is quite misleading IMO. They're only reliably matched in an anechoic chamber under exactly the same conditions. The rest of the time it's hoping for the best.

    So why is it the recommended approach? Simple, most buyers can't measure or control the other factors affecting relative timbre, so the starting point (in this case the supposed timbre matched speaker) is relied upon too much. Hey, if you have to make a decision, at least make one you can defend with logic, right?
    Manufacturers know this and continue to exploit it. It's the only logical step one can make in most cases.

    Problem is this is a case where logic is betrayed quite often by real world results.

    I've done enough of my own measurements on my own speakers to know that there's significant variation of timber (one of bass, mids, or highs, almost always gets mauled) just from moving the speaker a few feet, changing the speakers nearfield environment, or even the mic's angle. That's life - we deal with it.

    Here's the kicker - the in-room timber of the front left speaker WILL be different from the in-room timber of the matching front right. And you bet your life the resulting phantom center image will have a completely different timber as well, most likely anything BUT matching.

    So, what's my point? Well, I'm not really sure I have one. Except the thousands of people who use mismatched cc's or surrounds and completely enjoy their system aren't necessarily as dumb as I use to think. And I can't help but wonder how much looks/symmetry/matching brands impact the judgement of those who use matching centers. I honestly believe if we could create an experiment where Phantom center mode was compared to a quality, but completely timber-opposite (if that concept even exists) dedicated center channel, that 50% or more would still prefer the mismatched center, because of the other benefits a dedicated center provides.

    So, a mismatched center for temporary use might very well sound a helluva lot better than phantom mode to you. Or maybe not. I'm in the camp that hates it for home theater if it can be helped - sounds too distracting and lacking to me, not only messing up the center, but negatively affecting the front mains, too. YMMV

    But honestly, with paradigm, I wouldn't worry about being able to find a matching center later on because of model changes or whatever - especially Studios. How long are we talking here? Take a look at the frequency in which old models pop-up on ebay, audiogon, etc. It's kind of like finding ball joints for a 91 Ford Tempo - nobody will ever have a problem there. Well, maybe not that easy.

    Best thing you can do is in-home demos to see which temporary step sounds best to you. Don't eliminate any options until you hear for yourself.

    Or make the safe (not always best) choice and just get the matching CC.

    I love revisiting old topics!

  25. #25
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darth2222
    Yeah the CC470 is what people said would match my 20's its not to hard to find. Or i could go with another 20 for my center that would be about 230 cheaper but i hear conflicting answers on that subject some say its better so im not sure which way to go either with another 20 in the middle or the 470. it just seams two speakers in the center would be better than one. Placement is not a problem i can put either one on top of my projection TV
    Don't forget to do you best to place all three front on an equal vertical plane, that is, they should all be placed as close to the same height as possible to create a more coherent soundfield.

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