Center Channel Needs A Boost!

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Charlie Miller, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. Charlie Miller

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    I have done some research and have been wondering what the best approach would be. I use a Marantz 8200 receiver(6.1) for music and HT. I love the sound of this receiver for music listening (particularly SACD). In general I am happy with the HT side of things, but I find the center channel speaker is sometimes harder to hear (seemingly lower volume and less punch than the left and right speakers and not always an effortless blend with the front left and right). I was watching Matrix Reloaded the other night and the dialogue was noticeably soft and kind of hard to hear. I should point out that my front 3 speakers are Polk (about 89db or maybe 90db sensitivity). RT800 towers left and right(biwireable or biampable) and a CS400i center channel(biwireable or biampable). Could this be due to the speaker itself or the source material?
    Following are the different approaches that could be used to alleviate this problem:
    1. Add a stereo amp (approx 100-125w/channel)to the
    center channel in a biamp configuration and call
    it a day for now.(Receiver will power the rest)
    Maybe in the future add a larger stereo amp for
    the front left and right.
    2. Add a larger 3 channel amp (200w+ x 3)to the
    front 3 and let the receiver power the 2
    surrounds and the back channel.
    3. Add a larger multi channel amp(200wx5)
    and let the receiver power the last channel
    and act as the preamp.
    I am leaning toward choices 1 or 2. I know people on this forum have used all these these approaches, but I am not sure which would have the most noticeable and positive effect now and for future use. Maybe I should be looking to another remedy. I have no immediate plans to change equipment. Speakers maybe in the future.
    Opinions from people with a similar type setup, or anyone who has made these choices would be appreciated. Thanks for any info anyone can offer.
    Charlie
     
  2. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Charlie, I don't mean to sound like a smart-aleck, but have you tried simply increasing the center channel volume? I've noticed some people sternly advising that one never alter their speaker levels after doing a set-up with test tones, but hell, if you can't hear what you paid for this advice doesn't reflect real-world listening conditions or soundtrack recording practices. I just use the test tone set-up as way to create a volume "baseline"--then from there I adjust as needed from movie to movie.

    LJ
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Well, the FIRST thing to try is adjusting the placement and orientation. Bring the center out flush with whatever it is sitting on, or even overhaning an inch or so. If possible, tilt it toward the listening position. This costs you nothing to try.

    Second, as mentioned by Lance, is to calibrate with an SPL meter if you haven't already. I adjust to taste as Lance says - I calibrate, but I find that I end up tweaking the surrounds down and the center up about 1dB or so. I don't find I need to do this from movie to movie. After I get it to my liking, I find it works for most everything, but there are the odd movie or two that have poor/quiet dialogue. This costs you ~$40 for the meter and some time, and is well worth it.

    If those fail, I'd say talk to your Marantz dealer and see if you can borrow an MA6100 for the center to see if that makes an improvement.

    I'm using an 8300, BTW.
     
  4. Charlie Miller

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    LanceJ-
    I have calibrated via Radio Shack SPL meter, but it is certainly worth kicking the center volume up a db or 2. Thanks for the suggestion, I will see if it helps.

    John Garcia,
    Another good suggestion, I will try some reorientation. As you say, cheap and easy to try. BTW, John how do you like the 8300? How long have you had it? What type of speakers are you running with it?
     

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