Is it possible to use left/right rear speakers as center channel?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by atomarchio, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. atomarchio

    atomarchio Stunt Coordinator

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    Is it possible to use my left and right in-wall speakers in our living room as center channel speakers?


    I want to improve the spoken dialogue but I don't have much room around my TV to add a center channel speaker.


    I don't want the surround sound effect and these left/right in-wall speakers would be much closer to where we're actually seated in the room.


    I am using a Sony Receiver STR-DA3500ES receiver in my setup.



    Please let me know. Thanks.
     
  2. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    There are several problems with what you describe.


    First of all, the center channel is a single audio channel and "splitting" the signal to two speakers could severely damage your receiver. Best case would be your receiver shutting down and going into protect mode.


    Secondly, the dialog and center channel NEEDS to be anchored to the screen. Yes, 99% of dialog comes out of the center channel, but that's not the only thing that comes from the center. Any front soundstage effects bleed from the left and right speakers to the center. That will sound REALLY strange if a panning effect starts front right, then comes from beside you, then goes back to front left.


    Finally (and most importantly), the center channel speaker is arguably the single, most important speaker of a surround sound system. Why compromise with it? You're already disappointed in your system's performance because you don't have a center channel speaker.


    I think you're better off solving the problem, rather than introducing more.


    What kind of speakers are your fronts? Can you provide a budget and either picture of what sort of space restrictions you're dealing with, or exact size requirements for your center channel speaker?
     
  3. atomarchio

    atomarchio Stunt Coordinator

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    My front left/right speakers are B&W 6160's. Here is a photo. I have some room in front of the TV sitting on the mantle but only about 4.5" inches height and 3.5" deep.


    Another option where I've circled is to install a center channel above/behind the top of the TV.


    Given my 2 options (assuming I could find something in front of the TV to fit), which one would work better?


    Please let me know. Thanks.
     
  4. Jason Charlton

    Jason Charlton Ambassador

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    Wow - I see what you mean. That is a challenge.


    The overall issue we have here is that you want the improved sound clarity and overall performance that a well-designed surround sound system can provide (except you don't want the surrounds), yet your room design will not accomodate the setup that you need.


    Actually, who designed the room, anyway? It's odd that you have a surround sound system with inwall front speakers, inwall surroundspeakers and no center channel speaker whatsoever. If that was professionally done, you should get your money back.


    Placing the center channel speaker on the wall where part of the speaker will be physically blocked by the TV is not a good idea. Again - your goal is to improve performance, yet you're willing to put a speaker behind the TV?


    A center channel speaker should be placed below (or in some cases above) the TV and should be able to project sound unobstructed to the listener.


    In addition, since all three front speakers often produce the same parts of a soundtrack, it's important for them all to share the same tonal qualities - called "timbre-matching". This is achieved by getting all three speakers from the same speaker manufacturer and usually the same product line. In your case, the speaker you should use is the CWM Cinema 6 (another in-wall speaker) but clearly you have no place for this.


    Realistically, your best bet is to try and find a smallish center channel that can fit on the mantle in front of the TV. Perhaps call B&W and see if they can recommend a model that will sound decent with your fronts.


    One final thought - have you verified that your receiver is set up properly since you're running a system without any center channel speaker? Dig out the manual for your receiver and check the speaker setup. The center channel should be "off". Chances are this is the case, otherwise you would get virtually no dialog at all, but it's worth a shot.


    Hopefully you'll get something that will help your situation. Sadly, I feel this system was not designed or set up with your needs in mind, and the "best" solution is likely costly and time-consuming.


    Good luck.
     
  5. atomarchio

    atomarchio Stunt Coordinator

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    You're right. I don't want to go with center channel behind the TV.


    Tried calling B&W but that's pointless. They don't answer the phone. And the dealer I bought the product does not want to sell me a single speaker. "They are not in that business" and suggested I go to Best buy.


    Problem is that I can't find I small enough speaker to fit. It has to be 4.5" height and 3.5" deep.

    Any suggestions on a speaker I can buy where you don't have to go through a dealer who wants the service business also?


    Please let me know. Thanks.
     
  6. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    Angelo


    I am quite surprised with your experiences with B&W and the dealer who sold you your front in-walls. I had a totally different experience with the B&W dealer who I dealt with. While they did total custom designed and installed HT, they also took the time to deal with retail customers like me who where in the market for individual components and help to design a do it yourself system.

    I also find it very strange that your B&W dealer would not sell you a single speaker. Since B&W sells many lines of HT speakers they have many models of center channel speakers that are sold as a single unit. In fact if you look at a B&W catalog all of their speakers are sold as a single unit. While you would have to find out if they are timbre matched to your L&R the model XTC or the FPM5 look like slim center channels that might work for you. In the current state of the economy I find it strange that any businees would pass on a sale and tell you to go to BB.
     
  7. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    I know Bose is frowned upon and ridiculed here, but the only Bose product I've ever owned is my center channel speaker and I've been quite happy with it. It's the Bose VCS-10 Center Channel speaker. It's only about 3 inches high and 16 inches wide. Looks like it might be a good option for you if you're not completely against owning a Bose product.

     
  8. CB750

    CB750 Screenwriter

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    I doubt that the Bose center would be timbre match to the B & W In walls.
     
  9. Adam Gregorich

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  10. smithb

    smithb Screenwriter

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    Have you tried putting your receiver in its "virtual/phantom" mode where it simulates a center channel from the left and right? Don't know if you have experimented with this yet, but it might at least be worth a try.
     

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