Are Center Channels the most challenged ???

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by SeanA, Oct 28, 2003.

  1. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    I've got a Wharfedale surround speaker system. Mains are Emerald 97's, Center is an Emerald, and the Surrounds are Diamond Anniversary. For the most part, I really love the sound from these speakers for 5.1 movies or just stereo... but the center channel speaker seems a little weak. I notice occasional glitches from the vocals. Mostly the vocals distort or buzz slightly when the sound peaks. I guess I am wondering if this is inherent to the recording or is it that the Wharfedale center channel speaker is incapable of carrying the vocals cleanly ??? I am also wondering if this is a common problem with center channels ? I have heard some discussion that horizontal placement of drivers is not ideal, but I don't understand why this would be.
     
  2. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    Why would you think it was the speaker or recording and not the amp? What you're describing sounds more like an amplifier problem.

    If it was the recording it would not be a universal problem - you might get it with a recording or even a few recordings (unlikely) but it wouldn't always be there.

    A way to test whether it's the speaker would be to try a different speaker as a center (even one of your surrounds.) and see if the problem is solved. If the problems are still present (it won't sound exactly the same as before, but listen for the buzz and distorted vocals or something similar), then it's not the speaker. Of course, if the noise isn't there, the speaker is most likely to blame.

    If it's just a little bit of an annoyance, it might be loose speaker grills, loose speaker components, or something located next to the center channel that is vibrating due to the speaker. I had a clock that was on top of my center. The glass in it caused a buzzing at certain volumes. I moved the clock and the problem was cured.
     
  3. VinnieR

    VinnieR Extra

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    For most movies, at least 50% of the sound comes from the center channel. Nearly all dialog is there as well as sound effects and even some music. The center channel is critical. Matching the sound to the left and right fronts is critical as well. When sound effects (such as a car or horse or whatever) move from one side of the screen to the other through the center, it is irritating to have the sound timbre change from speaker to speaker.

    Rather than switch out one of the surrounds to check the center channel, use one of the fronts. If you determine that the speaker is the problem, consider using another front speaker as your center channel. I am not familiar with the Wharfedale line, but if you can use a front channel as a center, you might be better off. Don't worry about laying a speaker designed for vertical mounting on its side. It will work just fine, mechanically. The only problem might come in if your fronts are very tall towers. Laying one of these horizontally might put your driver array so far off center that the sound would be unbalanced. Alternatively you could use a smaller main speaker as your center, if Wharfedale makes one.
     
  4. PhilBoy

    PhilBoy Second Unit

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    SeanA,

    I had noticed the same thing regarding the centre channel distortion mostly on 'oversaturated' vocals and had posted this question in another forum...

    I had thought that perhaps it was my centre speaker, but I noticed the vocals peaking (especially with DD, not as much with dts) with 2 different receivers Panasonic & Yamaha. Then I tried using my Sennheiser headphones for the same DVD's, same peaking ocurred with the mixdown from 5.1 to stereo.

    It happened with both digital & analog connections.

    In the another forum I had asked if on some DVD titles the centre channel mix was mastered at a higher volume due to the dynamic range of vocals vs. effects sound volume. Some dialog is very quiet. I thought that perhaps in order to compensate for the quiet passages the centre audio track had been oversaturated, no one could answer.

    I find that TV series on DVD are the worst for this...
     
  5. JamesCB

    JamesCB Second Unit

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    PhilBoy,

    I have noticed this as well with several movies. I also tried it in 2 channel and it is still there. Apparently most people can't hear this anomaly. It is kind of annoying to me because I have posted this question too, with no answers. People usually say it is the amp, wires, speaker, no one really knows. I personally beleive it is in the program material and there's not much you can do about it. Thankfully it isn't that common.
     
  6. Paul_Ptaaty

    Paul_Ptaaty Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I have also heard what you are talking about. On my older lower quality set up, I never noticed it. It is a weird peaking type sound quaility to a voice every now and then, happens no matter what the setting or volume. However it is pretty rare, and I am trying to think if I have ever heard it on a high quality newer blockbuster...

    I may not be talking about the same thing, but I am quite sure what I was hearing is due to the source material (DVD)
     
  7. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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    I haven't heard that type of anomaly with my center channel speaker which is same brand with my fronts, but a lower model. What I found surprising when I first started to use my setup was, most of the audio in almost all DVDs come from the center channel which makes it more challenging for the center speaker than the fronts. But the center speaker specs are almost always weaker than the front speakers' and the speakers are smaller. OK, if you are using a sub the specs challenge is solved but still it makes me wonder why the DVDs are recorded this way. Why are most of the explosion type effects are directed to center instead of fronts I don't understand.
     
  8. Rick Lyon

    Rick Lyon Stunt Coordinator

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    I hear it on my Paradigm CC-170. I thought it was my Onkyo clipping or maxing out so I got a Marantz 7300ose. It does it too, sometimes. As I discovered at the paradigm dealer (who was testing the Marantz and his CC-170) during the pod race scene in SW 1, there's a crash scene towards the end where during the peak of sounds, the alien screaming and the explosion, you hear a crackle. I said "see, that's what my cc-170 is doing too!" He said "oh yea, that's the DVD compression". He went on to explain that quite a few DVDs have that crackle it certain scenes, certain pitches, etc.

    So it's the recording, not your amp or speakers (assuming it's the same thing I experienced [​IMG] )
     
  9. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    "I had thought that perhaps it was my centre speaker, but I noticed the vocals peaking (especially with DD, not as much with dts) with 2 different receivers Panasonic & Yamaha. Then I tried using my Sennheiser headphones for the same DVD's, same peaking occurred with the mixdown from 5.1 to stereo.
    It happened with both digital & analog connections."

    You can't do better testing than that. Obviously it's the mixing of the recording. I am "testing" a 525 and on some DVD's the center channel track is bad enough to drive me from the room. It isn't noticeable when the center channel isn't the primary source. It is most noticeable in dialogue sequences. I tried adjusting the delay settings and that helped with some recordings but not all. It grates on my nerves. I never had this problem with my 520. I thought it was some kind of problem with the amp or processor of the 525...Maybe it is. Maybe the processor is too accurate and relays the information in it's original bad mix. All I know is I can't stand it.
     
  10. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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