Advice please re surround back (center) speaker

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Monte Fisher, Oct 5, 2001.

  1. Monte Fisher

    Monte Fisher Auditioning

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    I am on a budget -- please take this into account! I am going to buy a Sony STR-DE1075, and would like to know what sort of rear center speaker to get. Same type as center front speaker, or more of an ordinary bookshelf speaker (which the L/R rear surround speakers are)? If the latter, are there any common (= can be bought at e.g. BestBuy) brands sold singly? And in either case, recommendations for one not costing more than $200?
    (PS: non-helpful would be a response along the lines of "Nothing that costs under $500 is any good at all -- if you can't afford that, your only acceptable option is to kill yourself so your wife can buy a decent $30K system with the insurance money...".)
     
  2. jehelems

    jehelems Auditioning

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    Good question. I too am on a budget, and anxious to get ES/EX surround. Unfortunately, there's a huge price difference between 6.1 & 7.1 receivers. The THX spec is TWO powered rear surround speakers, preferrably dipolar (though direct radiating speakers are considered acceptible for THX-EX rear surrounds.) Therefore a 7 channel receiver is necessary for proper THX-EX (as well as DTS-ES).
    Only the Denon 3801/2 have 7 channels for under $1000. (But its mere four digital audio inputs are insufficient my home theater--DVD, DSS, PS2, HTPC, HDTV tuner, plus soon an X-Box. Meanwhile there are plenty of quality, affordable 6.1 receivers on the market.
    The Onkyo 787 manual suggests that a single direct radiating speaker be placed straight behind the listener. A Yamaha 6.1 manual adds that it be 6' from the floor and tilted toward the listener. It has been said that a single rear center can actually sound as if the sound comes from in front of you (hence the THX spec for dual rears.) Perhaps the tilt can help overome this effect.
    If I decide to go with 6.1 (I'm torn between the Marantz 7200 and Onkyo 797 or 898), I'd most likely go with a voice-matched bookshelf speaker (Polk RT35 in my case). If I were on a budget and in the market for speakers too, I would strongly consider Rat Shack's Linaeum's which are 50% off this week ($75 ea.)and have an intiguing "360 degree" tweeter (which would perhaps alleviate the directionality of the single rear surround.) Remember this rear surround is matrixed from the surrounds' signals, and is intended to provide extra ambiance and help pull the sound behind the listeners head. I suggest a modest, yet voice-matched speaker.
     
  3. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    I have the Marantz SR-6200 and decided to go with a centre channel for the rear. I figure the wide profile of the speaker will help disperse the sound, plus I think it looks better than having a single bookshelf in the rear.
    The centre is 4.5' directly behind the listener on a 26" table, tilted up slightly. Due to my room configuration I also have the LR surrounds at the rear pointed ahead, about 4' on either side of the centre (but a foot higher), which is probably less effective than having them on the side walls pointing in.
    Since I only connected it last night and only have one ES disc (Gladiator), I haven't had much time to test it. I can definitely tell where the speakers are when I use the receiver's test tone, and there is a noticable difference in 6-channel stereo compared to using only five speakers.
     
  4. jehelems

    jehelems Auditioning

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    Chris,
    Thanks for the feedback on your 6.1 setup. I'd love to hear more thoughts on Gladiator's ES sound. Specifically I'd like to know if you can confirm or deny any false frontal imaging of the rear surround.
    My only reservation with using a "center speaker" is that their timbre may be optimized for dialog (their primary duty), not surround effects. On the other hand the center speaker was initially responsible for accepting a matrixed left & right signal and blending the left-center-right image.
    I'm probably over-analyzing the whole thing, but I just want to be happy with my receiver investment for at least a few years (not an easy task in this age of rapid home theater evolution.)
     
  5. jehelems

    jehelems Auditioning

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    Oh yeah, how do you like your 6200? I'm strongly considering the 7200 (same as 6200 plus component switching.) A local high-end shop says the Marantz blows away any receiver even close to its price. I find it very impressive it uses the same Crystal DSP chip as an $8600 Lexicon MC-12.
    My reservations with the Marantz are its 100MHz fixed sub xover (too high), a commonly reported issue with S-video noise, its relatively low weight (my current 5-channel Nakamichi also weighs 32 lbs. but with one less amp & Onkyo's new 797 6.1 weighs in at 38 lbs), and this issue of a single rear surround speaker being satisfactory for EX/ES.
    Again I would appreciate your opinion as a Marantz owner.
     
  6. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    I love the sound of the 6200. There is no distortion when I really crank the volume with a high-intensity six channel disc like Gladiator, indicating clean & powerful amplification. Two channel sound is also excellent, and is the Marantz's strong suit. It's even better with the "Source Direct" switch engaged, giving greater presence to stereo music.
    False imaging happens when your surround speakers are aimed straight ahead and sound reflects off of the TV tube or front wall. Since my centre surround is tilted up, that is not a problem.
    A few of us discussed the 100Hz crossover, and it is a non-issue for most people. I have my mains set to 'large,' with every other speaker set to 'small,' and it sounds fine.
    S-video noise was a problem with early production units, but has been corrected (according to Marantz).
    My best advice would be to recommend Marantz, but to check out the S-video (and component video, if you're getting the 7200) in the store before you take the unit home.
     
  7. SpenceJT

    SpenceJT Second Unit

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    Location:
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    Real Name:
    Jeff Spencer
    I picked up an Onkyo TX-DS989 in the spring, and due to a severe space limitation, I found that the Ensemble IV (subwoofer & cube satellites), from Cambridge SoundWorks worked fantastic for me. They are small enough to mount, and be hidden on the back edge of my futon, and only cost $99 from www.hi-fi.com.
    I was originally looking at a small Boze sub/satellite, but they were $200 more, and didn't sound all that much better!
    ------------------
    SpenceJT
    "...now what's all this crud about no movie tonight!"
    - Thank you Mr. Lemmon
    [Edited last by SpenceJT on October 06, 2001 at 05:28 PM]
     

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