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  1. #1
    Forum Regular brad1138's Avatar
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    Center channel theory

    I have a pair of Athena S2s as my mains (for surround sys), they are very good speakers, especially when accompanied by a Sub. I use the matching C1 center. But the S2 is a better speaker than the C1 as far as sound quality and power handling. Wouldn't a 3rd S2 be better as a center channel? It would definitely blend better (not that the C1 doesn't blend well) and it handle base/power better.
    Home Theater:

    Emotiva UMC-200, Citation 5.1 running Mirage M-3SIs, Harman Kardon signature 2.1 running Mirage M-CSI (center) & 4x BIC V-52 (surrounds), 2 x Velodyne ULD 15 Series II Sub & Amp, PS3, PS4, XBOX 1, 2x Adcom ACE-515, Vizio E-701B-3

    2.0 setup:

    Schiit Freya Tube PreAmp, Citation 5.1, Mirage M3SIs, Onkyo DV-CP702 (CD transport), Schiit Modi Multibit DAC.





  2. #2
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    You are correct sir. If you decide to do this you will see what "blending" means. Not to mention the center channel is important to HT so the increase in quality and power handling will also be appreciated.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I don't totally agree. Center channels are made for dialogue and sound different than regular speakers. You will have to hear for yourself and see what you like better for movies. For me, I want the center channel to give the clearest dialogue when watching a movie. I've been to peoples houses who use a regular speaker for the center and I find myself struggling sometimes to hear all the dialogue.
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  4. #4
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    The advantage he would have with 3 matching speakers is timbre matching. Something you don't have Blackraven in your system. The coherency in the sound stage with all speakers matched is something you really need to experience to understand the sound advantage.. It would be a poor speaker not to be able to carry dialog properly. Most higher quality speakers who offer a matching center are exactly the same as the rest of the series except the cabinet has to be designed to lay on it's side. I mean, where would vocals be in music if a speaker couldn't reproduce decent dialog. If you're going to have a big honking center channel you might as well just use the TV speakers. With a mismatched center I truly believe it's no different than listening to stereo with mismatched left/right. Not only in movie's soundtracks is there panning where you want it to be seamless but there are times when all 3 front speakers may be playing the same sound, like rain or other effects that fill the screen, you would want it all to sound the same. I know some are willing to compromise and sometimes I wonder why some even bother with surround sound when I see their set up but timbre matching is optimum and recommended. What if the actor was talking in center screen then walked to the side, their voice would change if the speakers didn't match. With matching speakers, no change. I know I'm particular about what I listen to in music and movies but I really don't see how others tolerate this, and further more encourage others to do it.

    All of what I said is not so much directed at you Blackraven as a statement in general. You are not the only one who has mismatched speakers nor are you the only one to state it doesn't matter.

    If some one's dialog isn't coming through adequately they could try the "night" mode to see if the lower dynamic range might help. Or, try some of the various EQ and auto set up features being offered today.

  5. #5
    Sophisticated Red Neck manlystanley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    I don't totally agree. Center channels are made for dialogue and sound different than regular speakers. You will have to hear for yourself and see what you like better for movies. For me, I want the center channel to give the clearest dialogue when watching a movie. I've been to peoples houses who use a regular speaker for the center and I find myself struggling sometimes to hear all the dialogue.
    Or it could have been there amp as well. With my B&W 684's (with no center), I had problems understanding vocals with my Denon receiver. However, separates made them clear as a bell.

    Best Regards,
    Stan
    Listening/Movie Room: ADCOM GTP-500, XPA-2, Denon 3930ci, Front: Jamo C809; Surround: Klipsch R-5650-S; Back: R-5650-S; Denon AVR-687,. Projector: Sharp XR-32X.

    Family Room: Denon avr-687, Denon CD player, Klipsch RB-5II

  6. #6
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brad1138
    I have a pair of Athena S2s as my mains (for surround sys), they are very good speakers, especially when accompanied by a Sub. I use the matching C1 center. But the S2 is a better speaker than the C1 as far as sound quality and power handling. Wouldn't a 3rd S2 be better as a center channel? It would definitely blend better (not that the C1 doesn't blend well) and it handle base/power better.

    Get the closest matching center to your fronts....period. Preferably, one that timbre matches exactly (as mentioned above). Do not concern yourself with a title of 'center' speaker, get the best match even if it means getting the exact same speaker as your fronts, if positioning is possible...and your wife doesn't kill you!

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Mr. P., I checked out the magnepan centers and I don't like them. While they do match my 1.6's, dialog was hard to understand. Home theater for me is and after thought, as 2ch is my main focus. I only did a 3.1 system for the family and the most important part for my wife and I was to have clear, understandable dialog not correct timbre matching. And even though I really like my Adcom AVR, I miss my JVC AVR because it has a center channel tone control which is a great feature for fine tuning the tone of the center channel for different movies.

    I fully agree with you that it is best to match the timbre of all your speakers but if you cant understand what is being said then what is the point.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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  8. #8
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    While it is often said the center is for dialog, it is for dialog and everything else I want to steer to that channel. Clarity is a big factor, but timbre, frequency, and power matching your center speaker is very important, which puts a matching center channel front and center(no pun intended. Keep in mind, the best way to get good home theater sound, is to mimic the system the soundtrack was designed on. This is especially true about the three front speakers (I am sure not many people have the room for a surround array). A dubbing stage utilizes three matched speakers with equal power response, so that naturally precludes the common usage of a horizontally placed center channel. A horizontally placed center channel has lobing issues in the horizontal plane that makes it unsuitable for those sitting off axis of center.

    With three matching front speakers, dialog intelligibility should never be an issue except:

    A) It has not been properly calibrated to match the volume of the left/right mains.
    B) It is not sitting in an identical(acoustical) environment as the left/right mains.

    Having a timbre matched center speaker ensures that any panning of signals across the front(where are ears are more sensitive to the movement of sound) is smooth and does not jump across the sound stage. There are no holes in the sound stage where half left or half right signals reside(phantom images). More and more films have dialog that follows the characters or actors across the stage. A dissimilar speaker will not track this dialog accurately or smoothly.
    Sir Terrence

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  9. #9
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven
    Mr. P., I checked out the magnepan centers and I don't like them. While they do match my 1.6's, dialog was hard to understand. Home theater for me is and after thought, as 2ch is my main focus. I only did a 3.1 system for the family and the most important part for my wife and I was to have clear, understandable dialog not correct timbre matching. And even though I really like my Adcom AVR, I miss my JVC AVR because it has a center channel tone control which is a great feature for fine tuning the tone of the center channel for different movies.

    I fully agree with you that it is best to match the timbre of all your speakers but if you cant understand what is being said then what is the point.
    What you describe sounds to me like a poorly designed center speaker. If you cannot understand the dialog, then something is not right with the speaker, its placement, or how it has been calibrated.

    I have never had the problem of dialog intelligibility.
    Sir Terrence

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  10. #10
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    I suspect some people (such as Peabody) would rather switch off their center rather than have a 'mismatch' of front and center speakers. Personally I don't think timbre differences are such that you would actually notice it (at least not whilst watching something). I would rather have a mismatched center channel than none at all...

  11. #11
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    I suspect some people (such as Peabody) would rather switch off their center rather than have a 'mismatch' of front and center speakers. Personally I don't think timbre differences are such that you would actually notice it (at least not whilst watching something). I would rather have a mismatched center channel than none at all...
    If that is the case, I am with Peabody. Timbre differences are very noticeable especially during panning, and where there is music present in all of the front channels - which from my experience mixing occurs rather frequently in movies. We can train our ears to ignore anything. I would rather have no center speaker, than have a mismatched one. It's a compromise that I am not willing to accept.
    Sir Terrence

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  12. #12
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    We can train our ears to ignore anything. I would rather have no center speaker, than have a mismatched one.
    The reality is, you don't always have the option of having an exact match.

  13. #13
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    The reality is, you don't always have the option of having an exact match.

    true statement, but if you cannot match the center, i wonder if a phantom center is the best route....considering your sitting in the sweet spot. I lived with a phantom center for over a year and once you moved outside the sweet spot it never sounded crisp..not sure how to describe it like Sir TT does, but it didn't sound "right".

  14. #14
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    The reality is, you don't always have the option of having an exact match.
    Then you are probably better off without it.
    Sir Terrence

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  15. #15
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Welp...

    I use vintage and orphan brands for my HT/2.channel listening. When I was running Ohm 4's and when I'm running my ADS 1290's I don't have the option of a "matching" center channel because none exists. Some folks cobble something together but I've neither the time nor expertise for that. In response I've used non-matching centers that I believe provide me with good, intelligible dialogue. It's a compromise sure but I have run across nothing better.

    Now that being said, I had a chance to score a Platinum Audio Studio center that "matches" my PAS 3's currently in the basement. At some point I'll swap out the ADS 1290's and have a "matched" front. I will then see if I can see a measurable difference in the two set ups. Perhaps I'll have the "ah ha" moment you guys are talking about.

    Worf

  16. #16
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    .......................Hi All" I would like say that!!??.... but before I say this................
    Let me Preface what I'm going to say by assuring all the Posters of this thread that i don't mean to be Condescending in anyway as i respect your posts!!....

    OK" Isn't it Also true that the performance of the DVD or BR player also has a lot to do with this problem (sound wise in every which way??)... As I was in the same situation" and after up grading to better players" (Both in the area of DVD & BR) I find that watching A movie has become more enjoyable SRS wise!! hence I stopped wondering why am I using a center channel with dual 6.5 woofers, 4" mid range and tweeter! and I couldn't hear anything...... so to speak.
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  17. #17
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by winston
    .......................Hi All" I would like say that!!??.... but before I say this................
    Let me Preface what I'm going to say by assuring all the Posters of this thread that i don't mean to be Condescending in anyway as i respect your posts!!....

    OK" Isn't it Also true that the performance of the DVD or BR player also has a lot to do with this problem (sound wise in every which way??)... As I was in the same situation" and after up grading to better players" (Both in the area of DVD & BR) I find that watching A movie has become more enjoyable SRS wise!! hence I stopped wondering why am I using a center channel with dual 6.5 woofers, 4" mid range and tweeter! and I couldn't hear anything...... so to speak.
    I didn't understand a word of that

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    I didn't understand a word of that
    You're not alone

  19. #19
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    My mains (Angstrom Modular Three) far outweigh my center (PSB Century 100ci) in terms of performance, yet I haven't experienced anything but great sound from all three. They work together great and I always enjoy what I'm watching. I will try and pick out timbre related issues, but I would have to say I'm happy.

  20. #20
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    Wink my bad

    Quote Originally Posted by audio amateur
    I didn't understand a word of that
    Sorry about not queueing my post much better!! Anyways i did not mean to !!

    what i was trying to say in the first paragraph is I don't opposed any one replies to the thread because I respect y'all opinions.

    In the second paragraph it's all about the center channel and dialog so I was making the argument obout improvement to the dialog in the center channel with an up grade to a higher level DVD or BR player" because in situation that was all i needed to do. and how i rediscovered my center channel my for the first time.

    (and lastly today is the super bowl sunday ten blocks away from my house the party is every were in miami !!)
    Chet Baker-Trumpet
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    produced by...Orrin Keepnews...

  21. #21
    Forum Regular winston's Avatar
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    Smile blaim it on the Saints

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    You're not alone
    Sorry about that Mr P"... it's the Saints 31 colts 17 fault I lost!!
    Chet Baker-Trumpet
    Pepper Adams-Baritone Sax
    Herbie Mann-Flute
    Bill Evans-Piano
    Paul Chambers-Bass & Connie Kay-Drums
    (....ALONE TOGETHER....) DEC. 30 1958
    produced by...Orrin Keepnews...

  22. #22
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    yet I haven't experienced anything but great sound from all three.
    That's basically how I feel

  23. #23
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Reading this thread prompts me to wonder...is this type of center design only for aesthetics?



    In other words, is this a compromised design that would this actually be outperformed by an exact match of the front speakers, which look like this?


  24. #24
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    I believe there is a purpose to the inherent twin-woofer design of center channel speakers

  25. #25
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    ... A dubbing stage utilizes three matched speakers with equal power response, so that naturally precludes the common usage of a horizontally placed center channel. A horizontally placed center channel has lobing issues in the horizontal plane that makes it unsuitable for those sitting off axis of center.

    ...
    This is what I've always heard and don't doubt it. Still, it is the common practice and not many seem to complain about the results.

    My center is a DIY that I find reasonably satisfactory with not-exactly matching L+R's. See a picture below; my crossover is 2nd order with the tweeter polarity reversed, so the two drivers are in phase, at least electrically. Is a single mid-woofer preferable to two? My guess would be you will get better side to side dispersion with one.


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