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Must Rear Surrounds Match Front & Centers?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by punman, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. punman

    punman Active Member

    Feb 16, 2009
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    I got a flat screen TV in October, HD TV in December, then I caught the Home Theatre bug and bought a new receiver and speakers. I started by purchasing the KEF iQ2 centre and used the EPI 100s that I had lying around (since the eighties) for left and right fronts with no surrounds.

    Then I added the KEF iQ5s for up front a week ago and am experimenting with the EPIs for the surrounds. I do like the KEF, by the way. I have a cheapie subwoofer that I want to upgrade in the summer but that is another issue. Harmon Kardon 146 AVR.

    I was thinking of KEF iQ1s for surrounds when they next go on sale. I can afford to do that but maybe it is wasting money if I can use my EPIs. But maybe EPIs are so radically different that I should not put them to use in the KEF scheme of things even if they are functioning properly. Maybe my EPIs are "too much" speaker for surrounds with the KEFs and I should use the EPIs for something else? For those not familiar with the EPIs, they have an 8 inch woofer and one inch tweeter and stand 21 inches tall. A good sized bookshelf speaker

    Even if you know nothing of EPI please respond to how important you think it is that the surround speakers match the front by the same brand/line.

    I am finding with the EPIs I have to set the surrounds to +5 dBl on the AVR to get comparable loudness. I don't want the speakers to compete against each other - that is why I wonder if the KEF iQ1s would be more compatible for home theater. Or maybe the EPIs are fine for the little audio that comes from the rear speakers?
  2. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

    Jun 28, 1999
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    Central Arkansas
    Real Name:
    While it is nice to have timbre-matched surrounds, they are not as critical as the center channel and left and right mains. Ideally, you want a seamless soundfield when panning from left to right across the front speakers. Using the same brand and family of speaker (timbre-matching) will achieve this. Since the surrounds are behind you (or they should be anyway), your ears are much more forgiving. Besides, the surrounds are used primarily for filler and effects. Pretty much any speaker will work as a surround and as long as you calibrate all five channels, you should get pretty good results. If it sounds ok to your ears, you might want to use your existing speakers (EPIs) as surrounds and invest the money you would have spent in a Blu-Ray player some new movies!
  3. Torgny Nilsson

    Torgny Nilsson Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2003
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    It depends on what you use the speakers for: if you use them for surround music, then you should consider identical, or at least timbre-matched, speakers all around. If you use them for DVD movies, then it is less important, but it can still make a difference and the difference is becoming more and more noticable with improvements in DVD sound. If you just use them for TV, then it probably won't make any difference.

    As stated above, while your surrounds don't have to match your fronts, the more closely matched all your speakers are, the more accurate and seamless your surround sound will be. Identical speakers all the way around are always the best choice, with timbre-matched speakers being the second best choice.

    The only exception is the sub. It does not matter if your sub is made by the same company that makes your other speakers. In fact, you will probably get better sound if you buy a sub from a specialty sub maker rather than from the maker of your other speakers.
  4. bmeyer6472

    bmeyer6472 Member

    Feb 16, 2009
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    I don't consider myself an expert on this, but I have achieved excellent results, to my ears anyway, with Klipsch speakers in the 3 front positions, and some older Boston (acoustics) speakers for the surround and back surround speakers. My sub is a Velodyne ULD, also older. So for me, it isn't critical to have them all matching. Try what you have, and if you don't like the result, try something else! [​IMG]

    One thing that made a huge difference in my setup was when I got a pre/pro with the Audyssey setup. Beat the heck out of my attempts to do the same with a Radio Shack sound level meter.


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