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Is Center speaker a waste of time with ProLogic ?


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12 replies to this topic

#1 of 13 BrianGC

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Posted April 16 2003 - 06:39 PM

Hi,
Will there be any benefit to having a center speaker on a Prologic receiver when you have just the front L/R and Center but no surround speakers?

Thanks,
BrianGC

#2 of 13 ChrisAG

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Posted April 17 2003 - 02:28 AM

Most dialogue is output from the centre speaker, which makes the presentation sound more natural if you are sitting off to the side (not directly in front of the TV).

#3 of 13 Michael Reuben

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Posted April 17 2003 - 02:36 AM

For movies I consider the center speaker to be the most important speaker in the system. Surround effects are fun, but the center speaker is where the story happens.

In fairness, though, there's a school of thought that prefers to replace the center speaker with a properly focused pair of left and right speakers to create a "phantom" center. The major limitation is that you have to be sitting in a "sweet spot" to get the effect. And I've long suspected that this approach is appealing primarily to people who don't have a really good center speaker. (There's a tendency to skimp on the center, but I'd spend as much -- or more -- on that speaker as on any in the system.)

M.
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#4 of 13 BrianGC

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Posted April 17 2003 - 05:48 PM

Quote:
For movies I consider the center speaker to be the most important speaker in the system


From reading the Beginner's FAQ, it seemed that ProLogic wasn't very highly thought of. So, I wondered if the Center speaker was as useful on a ProLogic system?


I think I'm going to get JBL N26II speakers, and the N Center if I decide to go with a Center. I'll most likely get one of the new Sony SA-WM500 Subs as well.

BrianGC

#5 of 13 Michael Reuben

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Posted April 18 2003 - 02:19 AM

Quote:
From reading the Beginner's FAQ, it seemed that ProLogic wasn't very highly thought of.

On the contrary, it was the state of the art for many years before the arrival of discrete multi-channel formats. When ProLogic processing first arrived, it was a major step up in HT sound.

M.
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#6 of 13 Andrew Pezzo

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Posted April 18 2003 - 02:59 AM

Quote:
There's a tendency to skimp on the center, but I'd spend as much -- or more -- on that speaker as on any in the system.


I could not agree more with this. Why would you skimp on a speaker that handles most of the audio in movies and TV?

#7 of 13 Bob McElfresh

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Posted April 18 2003 - 04:20 AM

Most people agree that the center is the most important, used speaker for HT.

But... you really want your front 3 speakers to be as close to identical as possible. More and more DVD's are sending dialog to the L/R speakers if the actors are shot wide in the scene. If the center and L/R to not tone-match (usually meaning designed to work together), it blows the illusion of being in the scene.

Some have argued, and I have to agree, that it's actually better to have 5 identical speakers for your system than trying to have a high-quality center, a step down for the L/R, then budget speakers for the rear.

So dont get the idea that you should buy a higher-end center. A set of budget but tone-matched speakers can do a great job and likely save some $$. (That you can put into a better sub for the impact it brings.)

Hope this helps.

#8 of 13 Danny Tse

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Posted April 18 2003 - 04:28 AM

I am currently using a Technics SA-690 Pro-Logic receiver (with two sub outputs!!) for my stereo setup. There's a Dolby Pro Logic 3 mode that one can chose, which folds the surround effects into the front L/C/R speakers. Haven't tried it yet though.
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#9 of 13 Michael Reuben

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Posted April 18 2003 - 07:41 AM

Quote:
Some have argued, and I have to agree, that it's actually better to have 5 identical speakers for your system

It's certainly a viable approach, but it's not always a practical one. For example, if you're using floor-standing tower speakers, getting an additional one to use as a center will present major positioning issues in most setups. Even if you have the space to stand a tower on top of your TV, directing the sound properly will be a major challenge -- and if the dialogue sounds detached from the screen, the illusion is destroyed just as effectively as if the speakers aren't properly matched.

Quote:
So dont get the idea that you should buy a higher-end center.

I don't think anyone here has suggested that. The point is simply not to skimp on the center.

M.
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#10 of 13 Phil Iturralde

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Posted April 18 2003 - 07:57 AM

Quote:
So, I wondered if the Center speaker was as useful on a ProLogic system?

IMHO, to understand why a Center channel is useful, one should understand and consider the sound format, Dolby Surround & Dolby Surround Pro Logic, ... that is being decoded in your Home Theater environment (DVD's, Laser Discs, video tapes, TV broadcasts, etc.).

From Dolby Labs website...

Quote:
Dolby Surround is the consumer version of the original analog Dolby multichannel film sound format. When a Dolby Surround soundtrack is produced, four channels of audio information-left, center, right, and surround-are matrix-encoded onto two audio tracks. These two tracks are then carried on stereo program sources such as videotapes and TV broadcasts into the home, where they can be decoded to recreate the original four channels and the surround sound experience. Thousands of feature films on home video, as well as many television shows, are encoded in Dolby Surround.

Dolby Surround Pro Logic is the technology that decodes program material encoded in Dolby Surround; it is built into virtually every home theater audio system. Like the professional decoder units used in cinemas, Dolby Surround Pro Logic reconstructs the original four channels-left, center, right, and surround-that were encoded onto the program material's stereo soundtracks.

So, as Michael Reuben revealed, for years, ... DPL HT setups - was the 'state-of-the-art' consumer's de facto Home Theater and a properly setup DPL HT System included a Center Speaker.


Quote:
... actually better to have 5 identical speakers ...

This agrees with Dolby based in their 5.1-Channel Production Guidelines: which reads ...
Quote:
3.2.1 Front Speakers (pg.24)
To promote good imaging, all three should be identical, just as conventional L and R stereo speakers must be matched. If all three cannot be the same model, the center speaker may be a smaller model from the same product line.

3.2.2 Surround Speakers (pg.25)
Whenever possible, use the same speakers all around to achieve uniformity.

So, I bought six JBL Studio Series S26s, to anchor the Fronts, Side Surrounds, Rear Center (pair wired in-series) and a timbre-(voice)-matched) JBL S-Center, ... so I can playback the encoded blockbuster 5.1 & DD-EX / DTS-ES-(matrix/discrete 6.1) DVD(s) and achieve near 100%** 360-degree Front, Center , Side Surround & Rear Center timbre-match seamless surround effects. Posted Image This setup is very effective because you can hear the intricate precise pin point location, anywhere within the 360° sound field around you that the Dolby Labs DD-5.1/6.1 Mixing Engineer encoded in the DVD mix (Lord of the Rings / DD-EX; Star Wars I & II / DD-EX; World is Not Enough / DD-EX; Stargate UE / DTS-ES-discrete; Rush Hour 2 / DTS-ES-discrete; etc.)

Phil
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#11 of 13 BrianGC

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Posted April 18 2003 - 02:15 PM

Well, I see this thread got moved. Not sure why, in my mind it started off as a question about my prologic receiver setup.

Anyway, I did mention above I was considering the JBL N26IIs and the N-Center. I guess I left out the part about the tight budget. My receiver is a Sony STR-DE315 and I don't want to replace it at this time.

I suppose my real question should have been would adding the Center be a waste of money at this time when I can't install the surround speakers for now on my ProLogic receiver. Sounds like it would be worthwile to have it, even without the surrounds.

99% of the time I've had the receiver, the only thing hooked to it was headphones. But I recently got my 1st DVD player (Pan CP72) so the thought of getting some decent speakers came up.

Thanks,
BrianGC

#12 of 13 Andy Kim

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Posted April 18 2003 - 02:31 PM

Hi,
I think when you go from stereo to a pro-logic center, you'll notice that a whole wack of what you're going to be hearing will come from the center channel (more so than 5.1).
Pretty much everything if not all things in-phase will come from the center.
When I converted from stereo to prologic, I did notice the sound stage decrease. The lateral pans (sounds going from left to right and vice versa) were less pronounced when I introduced the center channel. But with the center, the dialogue is fixed on the screen so that's good.

#13 of 13 BrianGC

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Posted April 19 2003 - 04:16 PM

Quote:
The lateral pans (sounds going from left to right and vice versa) were less pronounced when I introduced the center channel


I wonder if you would notice the same effect if you had a newer receiver but still only used the Front L/R, Center, and Sub? I might possibly get a new Budget 5.1 receiver, but I can't stress Budget enough. lol

BrianGC


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