Center channel good for music?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Ferran Mazzanti, May 7, 2003.

  1. Ferran Mazzanti

    Ferran Mazzanti Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi,
    just a simple qustion from a newbie that gets surprised.
    I recently purchased a new center channel for my HT equipment. The old one was too small and could not really match my fronts smoothly. SO I went to the local dealer, auditioned several ones, and ended buying an Acoustic Energy Evo Centre,which sounded pretty well. The dealer also told me this was a very good purchase, and checking on the internet I found pretty good reviews.
    Well then one day I tested that one for music. Just plugged it in a front connection in my receiver and throwed in some well recorded CDs. To my surprise, I could hear a nice music coming from it, but not as nice as one would spect from a really good speaker. I then went back to the store and said that to the dealer, whotold me that this was normal because center channels are suited mostly for voices and not for music. I then audtioned other, more expensive speakers he had and amazingly enough I could find no speaker delivering a really unveliabale sound for music, no matter how expensive they were. Put it in another way: I had the impression that for the same amount of money I could buy a very good front speaker doing nice music and nice voices, while center ones at the same price performed poorer with CD music.

    So my questio is: has anybody else had this experience? Is this a common thing everybody knows, or is it that I'm finally going nuts with all this speaker disease?

    BTW, in the end is not that critical because the Aegis performs really well regarding HT, and it matches nicely with my fronts which do good music, but still I'd like to know...

    Thanks for the info.
     
  2. Ferran Mazzanti

    Ferran Mazzanti Stunt Coordinator

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    Nobody has an opinion on that [​IMG] ?
     
  3. Chris A H

    Chris A H Stunt Coordinator

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    I find in my listening tests that a tonal match between the front three speakers has a greater affect than the quality of the speakers alone. That is, a great center channel speaker can sound poor if it does not match the R/L fronts tone-wise. This is why most people recommend using the same brand of speaker across the front.

    If you really want the best possible sound buy another of your front speakers for the center channel. This is not practical for most folks, but the real audio purists agree this is the best way to do it for music.

    Of course, if I really want to do some serious music listening, I'll just use 2-channels and run it source-direct! [​IMG]
     
  4. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Yeah, why would you want music coming out of a center channel? That's what stereo is for. [​IMG]

    Ok, off soap box. Chris hit it on the head - the "best" center channel is the same one as your mains. In a perfect world all five channels would be full-range and identical for the best reproduction of multi-channel music like SACD and DVD-A.
     
  5. Ferran Mazzanti

    Ferran Mazzanti Stunt Coordinator

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    Granted guys, you're completely right... but probably I didn't make my point clear or you missunderstood my point. I don't want my center channel to play music at all. As you say, I hear music from my fronts in stereo and sound direct mode... that's what it is there for, after all!
    But forgetting about this, I was just wondering about speakers being sold as center channels and their music capabilities. So far I've seen no center capable of doing music as well as other front channels at the same price, and I was asking about this. Am I the only one believing this?
    Actually the center I have is an Aegis Evo which does voices wondefully and match quite well my front speakers, but if I try to use it for music (just as a test, not on a regular basis) it is no longer THAT good (not bad, though, but worse than doing voices). Is this a common fact with center speakers? Just curious about that...
     
  6. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    I've got a pair of Infinity Interlude 60's and an Interlude 36c center channel. Both are 3-way designs using the same drivers. When I match volume, there is very little difference in vocal reproduction between stereo and DPLII Music. So, there do exist center channel speakers that are the equal of their left/right partners.

    With that said, I almost always play music in stereo mode, and it's always fun asking the wife or guests if they think the center channel speaker is on or not. They are almost always wrong [​IMG]
     
  7. StevieP

    StevieP Stunt Coordinator

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    Back when I was starting my first 5.1 system,I basically needed all new components.
    My old pro logic system was getting pretty "Long in the Tooth"
    Being cheap, I found a deal on 5 matching center channel speakers,(Cerwin Vega LS6C's) and a 15" sub from a local guy on E-Bay.
    I think I paid $400 bucks for all 6 items, and he delivered them to my home!

    I set up the new speakers with a recently bought Sony DE675 receiver (I know It was a "DE"[​IMG])and obviously, I did not know what I was doing. I fought with that setup and never could get it to sound as good as the old pro logic system! But it wasn't really totally bad.

    Well I found HTF, and started reading, about the Sony "DE"
    receivers being basically not very good!
    So I saved up and bought a Sony DA3ES, and threw that into the mix. Much Much Better! Pretty good in fact, but still not where I wanted to be [​IMG]

    Much of that first system has now been moved to the bedroom, and sounds pretty good in there. (smaller room)

    Anyway, what I'm getting at is center channel speakers can sound pretty good given their enclosure size (and with a sub) But, I guess it's got a lot to do with what you expect, and what your driving them with! To me they were about the same as your average book shelf speaker.
    Note: Retail on the Cerwin Vegas was around $200 bucks EA new.

    Thanks for reading my vent:b But it's been fun, now that I look back on the whole thing
    Steve.[​IMG]
     
  8. Ferran Mazzanti

    Ferran Mazzanti Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, thanks for your opinions. I guess that what you say makes sense... just buy speakers from a 5.1 set and you'll have all of them matching the same kind of sound.
    Unfortunately I couldn't do that, simply because of the money I'd require to have 5 speakers as good as my stereo ones.
    maybe the problem is that I'm used to expensive stereo speakers and I can hear the difference when compared to center channels I've auditioned. Still and as I said, it's not a big problem because I really don0t use the center for music but only for HT. I'm running all speakers through a Marantz SR6200 receiver that sounds like an angel when put in Direct Source mode [​IMG]
     
  9. HienD

    HienD Stunt Coordinator

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    I watch/listen to a lot of 5.1 DD encoded concerts. Seems like only the vocals are sent to the centre channel, while music is sent to the l/r speakers. The surround speaker’s only gets the occasional music but mostly the audience noise. 5.1 sounds better then 2.1 DD in all my concert DVDs. I’m so use to listening to the 5.1 DD tracks on a 2-speaker system. As long as the centre channel only receives vocals, the speaker should be fine for listening to music with. Is this similar to what SACD and DVD audio disc do? I would love to listen to a SACD or DVD audio disc. but when the centre channel receives all the music, like in 5.1 stereo mode, it doesn't sound as good.
     
  10. Henry_W

    Henry_W Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok - I'll try to tackle this..

    I too went through several center channel speakers - I felt that (regardless of whether you listen to music there) they should be of the same quality as the mains, especially since their price was the same. Just wasn't so. I suppose that the design of the boxes and it's obvious deviation from the golden rule of dimensions that you get odd humps or dips and have a hard time getting consistency. Further, when there is a tone and/or timbre mismatch our ears can fool us dramatically into hearing other humps and dips.

    The end result? I built my own with Xover and speakers that match my mains and sides. The results - astounding, even as this config ages, I grow in my appreciation of the result. Clarity in dialogue and consistent rolloff to the sub.

    My caveat - when this is done the center as a fill for stereo is outstanding. It takes nothing away from the L/R segregation and delivers a very filling sound. I am a two channel guy from way back (no age related jokes please) and have finally understood Paul Klipsch's dedication to having a center speaker for stereo reproduction...
     
  11. Ferran Mazzanti

    Ferran Mazzanti Stunt Coordinator

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    Aha! That seems to agree with what I think... center channels are not as good as front/left ones, even if you pay the same. If that's true (and it seems I'm not the only one who thinks that) then I'm ok. As I said, I only use this for HT. Actually my taste is that I like more 2.0 for music than 5.1... and I'm happy with that since buying 5+1 expensive speakers costs more money than buying a couple of front ones. And that's what I'm going to do actually. I have in mind some nice PMC TB2 which sound incredibly fine (at least at the store [​IMG] ), while keeping the center and surrounds...
    But still, it's always the same. How can this hobby be so damn expensive and still make us buy things every now and then? One of this days my wife will kill me...
     
  12. Henry_W

    Henry_W Stunt Coordinator

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    Unfortunately I am not as in control of my addiction as you. I have the same mains, center (modified), sides, good sub and a different couple of small speakers for the rear. From my years of experimenting, this is the way to go for me - it is the cleanest HT, excellent music (I can go 2, 3, 4 or 5 channel) and once the whole thing is SPLed and volumes level, there is no further tinkering (if you have the good fortune to use an amp that remembers all settings by source). It also gets raves from the previously unconverted.

    As to the wife, unless the insurance policy is really big, she will find that she is better off by letting you do most of this purchase heavy hobby and not killing you. That way she will make you owe her the rest of your life (like watching, then imitating, Trading Spaces) - a much more valuable thing than money.....
     
  13. Myo K

    Myo K Stunt Coordinator

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    the omni cc sounds nice, once i was fooling around with my receiver and its wires and played around with the speaker wire placement, it took me two minutes to find out that my front bookshelf speaker were not connected, and only the center speaker was on and all that time i thought the fronts were playing. i was baffled.
     

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