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Quick suggestions for center channel please.

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Matthew Will, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. Matthew Will

    Matthew Will Well-Known Member

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    Hello,

    So to complete my 6.1 system I bought a cheap KLH center channel off of ebay. I noticed in the loud battle scenes of LOTR:ROTK and Saving Private Ryan that the dialogue was severely drown out. So once I build my Atlas ported sub I'm not going to be able to hear any dialogue.

    I'm looking for something around the 100-150 dollar range. I am running an Onkyo 601 receiver. Also please consider that I have a friend who gets discounts at Bestbuy since he works there. From the bestbuy website the brands for center channels that they deal with are JBL, Athena, Klipsch, Bose, Sony, and Yamaha. DO NOT suggest bose to me. I will not buy their stuff.

    Other then that what should I be looking for? Thanks. Matt
     
  2. Jonathan T.

    Jonathan T. Well-Known Member

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    i don't think there is much danger of anyone suggesting blose to you around here, lol. Of those brands listed I would buy JBL, Athena and Klipsch. You don't say what your other speaker are, but Athena and JBL are more likely to blend well with other brands, IMO.
     
  3. Brad_See

    Brad_See Well-Known Member

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    I like my JBL EC35 and it's in your price range. Actually I don't know what it would cost you from BB. I got mine in that price range from www.bhphotovideo.com. Ubid has some for auction right now too.

    brad cook
     
  4. trey-m

    trey-m Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure the dialog is only quieter in loud battle scenes? I'm thinking the center would always be too soft- not just some of the time. Try switching over to stereo mode to see about how loud the dialog should be. If you think your center channel was "severely" drowned out, I would check your settings on the receiver. Unless your center is bad, getting a different speaker isn't likely to suddenly give you a lot more volume out of it. (Unless maybe your center channel's impedance is different than the other speakers?)

    If you decide you need a new center, oftentimes people try to match their center speaker as closely as possible to their front mains. This usually means try for the same brand/style as the mains.
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    I agree with trey-m. Have you calibrated your system (so each speaker is playing at the same level)? It may be that your center is not setup correctly.

    I also agree that you should consider a speaker that does or will match your mains for the front soundstage to be seemless.
     
  6. Arthur S

    Arthur S Well-Known Member

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    As you have found out, the key with center channel speakers is diaglogue clarity. If you are placing your center channel on top of a direct view CRT or even worse, a CRT RPTV, the screen tends to reduce clarity.

    What this means is finding a center that has no rise in the 80Hz to 200Hz range. Unfortunately most centers have such a rise. It is almost impossible to tell what a center is going to sound like from specs.

    Personally, I would try to find the brightest sounding center you can find.

    Right now I am having good results using a small Cambridge Sound Works 2 way, two driver speaker meant as a L/R in a sub/sat system. Measuring only 9 inches high 5 inches wide and 4 inches deep, it has more natural voice (especially male voice), than either of the 2 "regular" centers that I have, both of which are $250 models from Boston and Klipsch.

    A lot of people end up boosting their center speaker volume 3 db hotter than front L/R just so they can hear the dialogue.

    Ideally, 3 (or even 5) identical speakers will give you the best match, but people typically don't go that route. Most people want a horizontal center for appearance sake.

    What you are talking about is a macro type issue. Identical is more of a micro type issue.
     
  7. Matthew Will

    Matthew Will Well-Known Member

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    I'll try calibrating for sure. I thought I did though.

    Anyways the problem with trying to match my speakers is I kinda already have and don't want to. I am running Adire Audio HE10.1 kits for the rear surrounds. Then I have KLH 3 way 15" speakers as mains. The center channel and rear centerchannel are both cheap KLH center channel speakers. I bought them just to have something really quick and cheap once I got my Onkyo 601 receiver.

    Anyways the reason I don't feel like matching the speakers is because I don't feel KLH could provide me with anything better.

    I've been building my home theater over the past few years slowly piecing things together. One year was the receiver and projector, before that the KLH mains from years ago, Adire HE10.1's, and this year I'm building a 6-7 cubic foot ported tempest subwoofer with 250 watt plate amp. I'm worried I won't hear much dialogue once that bad boy fires up. Which should be very soon.

    I'll have to watch a few movies to make sure I am correct in saying that the dialogue gets drown out. I really noticed it in the D-Day scene of Saving Private Ryan. Perhaps we weren't meant to hear all the screaming and more of the explosions?

    I appreciate everyones suggestions so far. Does anyone have any others I can look at? $100-150 range. Thanks. Matt

    P.S. - I use a Dell 3200MP projector not a RPTV CRT so that is not a problem.
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    One thing too, the center should be pulled all the way to the front edge of whatever it is sitting on, or even have it hang a bit over if possible. If the speaker is sitting back a few inches, the sound will reflect directly off the surface in front of it and that can affect clarity considerably.

    I don't understand what bright or price has to do with the situation; You are looking for a center that has good clarity, particularly in the middle to lower midrange where vocals are primarilly, within your budget. I'd look for something that has response to at least 60Hz.

    I boost my center about 1dB. It is an identical MTM to my mains, laid horizontally.

    It does sound like your center can't keep up with your mains, but bass should not "drown out" the center.
     
  9. MikeLi

    MikeLi Well-Known Member

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    If you can swing it, try the Onix Rocket 200 (bigfoot) I have had several centers and this by far is the best. No more volume changing between the action and dialog sceens. I was and still amazed at this thing. AV123.com
    take a look..
     
  10. VinhT

    VinhT Well-Known Member

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    I feel this is irresponsible advice. When a typical center channel speaker that exhibits neutral frequency response is placed on top of a television, there will tend to be an excess around 300Hz. This is due to the placement of the speaker, not the speaker itself. Fortunately, many of the loudspeaker designers of better brands are cognizant of the issue and will engineer a mild dip in order to achieve neutrality when such placement is used. Hint: Ascend, Paradigm, PSB, and Revel are examples of brands that offer well-engineered center speakers.


    Matthew,
    For your budget, I would recommend a Harman International product. That means JBL from Best Buy, or Infinity from Circuit City. Although I strongly suspect that the symptom you are reporting is directly related to either the KLH speaker or a calibration issue, being more specific about how you have setup your center speaker in your listening environment will allow us to better help you.
     
  11. Matthew Will

    Matthew Will Well-Known Member

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    Center Channel Setup - It is 20" from the wall and 17" up on an old tv stand. From my listening position it is 12-13 feet and I have it set at +3db. At high volumes things do sound chattery and harsh. Matt
     
  12. VinhT

    VinhT Well-Known Member

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    This will not sound pleasant since you use a projector, but I would suggest raising the speaker (to ear level or higher) to see if the situation improves at all. Just temporarily of course, as I imagine it would get in the way of your screen. This will help to determine whether it is merely a placement issue or the speaker.

    Also, is there a wall directly behind the seating area?
     
  13. Arthur S

    Arthur S Well-Known Member

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    Having experienced the hard to understand dialogue effect (like a lot of other people) I found out what I know through trial, error and reading. In a test of Klipsch speakers, the reviewer noted that a forward midrange was a bonus in a center channel speaker. Why? Precisely because it helped with dialogue clarity. If I find the review I will post his exact words.

    IMHO a center that is bright to the point just short of sibilant is the way to go.

    Vinh

    I agree, having the speaker as close to ear hight as possible would help. But also, as it seems he has a projector that is going to be difficult.
     
  14. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Look at the Athena AS-C1 at BB. The sale price is down to $78 now and you can always return it in 30 days if you don't like it. Athenas are normally bright, but not as bright as Klipsch.

    Sold out on the website but your local store may have one in stock. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1051806304282
     
  15. billybob_jcv

    billybob_jcv Well-Known Member

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    I'm also boosting my center about +1 dB from my mains. I have calibrated using a Radio Shack meter, but due to location restrictions, my mains are too close together for my listening position, and it seems like the effects coming from the mains were a bit too loud compared to the dialog from the center. It wasn't a clarity issue, it just seemed to need a bit more volume during "active" scenes (e.g. Master & Commander battles).

    I really like my older Boston VR910 center that I bought off eBay for $130. Very clear & smooth dialog. Used Bostons are a fantastic deal.
     
  16. Ed Kerns

    Ed Kerns Active Member

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    Greg, I don't mean to hi-jack the thread, but can anyone tell me where I might find the Athena center for under $100? I have 2 BB's near me (in Michigan) they both have the speaker as 'clearance' and they both have it priced in the $130 range. Odd since about a month ago it was "instant rebated " at about $90. Again, sorry for the aside [​IMG]
     
  17. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Show them the price on their own website. The price is $77.99 when you add the item to your shopping cart. They have to match it, it is their website.

    And if the item is open box, they should price it even lower. I got my second C1 lowered to $64.99 since it was open box and then used this coupon at checkout for an additional 30% off. I was out the door for under $50.

    They had a pair of open box B1's also and I could probably gotten the same deal but I didn't need them. Should have purchased them anyway to save for future use.

    Good luck!
     
  18. trey-m

    trey-m Well-Known Member

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    Since raising the center speaker to ear level is usually not possible, slightly tilting the speaker up so that the tweeter points toward your ears has a similar effect.

    Tilting might even be more effective than boosting the center channel a few dB. The reason for this is because the sound waves emitted from off axis speakers (those not pointing at your ear) roll off faster at higher frequencies than lower ones. So with boosting, the attenuated high frequencies will be brought back up to the desired level, but the mid and lower frequencies which aren't attenuated as much will be brought up to too high of a level. Tilting avoids this problem.
     
  19. Scott Merryfield

    Supporter

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    Unfortunately, Best Buy will not match their own website. I had them refuse a $5 price match on their own website for a DVD (I even asked for a manager). Using logic in this case did no good. Needless to say, Best Buy lost me as a customer forever over a $5 price match with their own website.
     
  20. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Wow, I've used their website before to price match and it was never a problem. Guess it depends on the manager or location. When I bought my first AS-C1 I got it for $122 in store and I returned 3 times within 30 days to get a refund because they kept lowering the price on the website each week. They had no problem giving me back the difference.

    It should be in the computer at the lower price, perhaps they haven't updated in store?

    When I bought the open box C1 I told them the website had it on sale for $88 and there was no reason to buy an open box item for the same price. So he checked and talked with a manager and lowered it to $64.99 and then I used my 30% coupon after that.

    Yeah, if I had your issues with BB, I wouldn't go back either.
     

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