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Having trouble blending center channel

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Mark M. Smith, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. Mark M. Smith

    Mark M. Smith Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I just recently had some cash available so I upgraded my slightly odd system (2 Axiom M3Tis for mains and some old, crappy speakers from an Aiwa shelf system pressed into service as surrounds) with a new center channel (Axiom VP100). After setting everything up, measuring out to double-check that the mains were properly placed, calibrating levels, etc. and giving myself some time to become adjusted to it I'm finding that the center channel seems rather too "forward". Now, I realize that most surround programs put a lot of information into the center channel and that's not my issue. Rather it's that the center channel almost always seems a bit louder, a bit more upfront than the other front channels. At the same time the center channel also seems to have a certain hollow harshness to it. Getting close things seem ok, but at the primary listening position the sound often seems like it recorded in a box.

    I've tried moving speakers around a bit to try and see if a bit of minor tweaking would help, but that hasn't really shown much difference. I'm very limited in where I can place the center channel as the only available spot is on top of the TV and it's a bit narrow on top so there isn't any room to really move it forward or back. Double-checking my calibration the center channel is set 2 decibels lower than the other front speakers to achieve reference.

    Part of the issue I think may be in my room. Roughly it's 11'x20' with 8' ceilings. The room design is very inflexible so the TV and couch are both pressed up against the wall in opposition to each other along the long walls. At the left and right rear on the couch side are open doorways to the kitchen and a long hallway respectively. The left side wall (from the couch) is a sliding glass door and the front right corner is cut off at an angle and contains a fireplace.

    Pretty much the room is a disaster as there are loud, pronounced echoes with a strong metallic "tang" to them that can often be heard when standing and speaking normally. I suspect that the ventilation grates may have something to do with this (it's a long shot, but covering them with some t-shirts seemed to have some effect), primarily the metallic element, there are two of them, spaced about 3 feet apart up by the ceiling above the couch.

    This is a rental so there's nothing permanent that can be done and rearranging furniture isn't really an option due to the nature of the room: the fireplace blocks most of one wall, the sliding door makes the other off-limits, the room is too narrow to put a couch across in the opposite direction, and likewise too narrow to pull the couch out away from the wall.

    Thus my question is two-fold: 1) How best to integrate the center channel, is there something obvious I've missed or are there any tips to getting it to blend more smoothly? 2)How to correct for the problems in room acoustics as they are likely affecting the ability of the speaker to blend well, seem to be affecting the tone and preventing it from matching as well as it should, and honestly affecting everything in the room to begin with.

    As for the budgeting on this, this is the really fun part, I'm pretty dirt poor. Not long out of college and still looking for a job. My monthly budget is only $800 and after rent, utilities, food, etc. I'm looking at a very small amount of dispoable income. College poor, in other words. I can swing some cash around when needed, but basically I'm looking for solutions that are inexpensive with a good rate of return for the money that I put into them. Decorating isn't much of an issue within reason (my girlfriend has no problem if I wanted to buy fridge-sized speakers or put up some fabric panels, but big chunks of foam are probably out) and since I'm the primary decorator rather than my girlfriend there's pretty much no WAF to take into account.

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