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Center Speaker (1 Viewer)

mikeIvan

Auditioning
Joined
Dec 12, 2004
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3
How necessary is the center speaker in Dolby 5.1? What is the effect of not using one? I really dislike the appearance of one sitting on top of my beautiful new HDTV. Thanks for any help for this newbie. ;)
 

James Phung

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 4, 2004
Messages
409
For HT, 60% of the sound comes from the center. If you don't have a center speaker, the receiver will send out the center channel information to the L and R fronts so you will be having a "phantom" center setup.
 

Jeff Gatie

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
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The "phantom" center method can work, but it has a very small sweet spot, so any viewers that are not within a narrow angle of view will not get the effect. If you have a viewing area that is in any way spread out, the phantom center will not work. Get the center speaker, as stated, as much as 60% of the sound comes out of it (mostly dialog, very important).
 

AlanZ

Screenwriter
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Sep 15, 2002
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AJ
I've used a phantom center for over a year, and I disagree that it's necessarily a "narrow" sweetspot. Essentially, it's the same as listening to two channel material. If you are within the sweetspot for two channel, you'll be in the sweetspot during HT in phantom mode and the dialogue will be centered to the screen.

The most valid point I've heard about the phantom center pertains to having a certain number of people viewing at one time, where one or more viewers (who care about the sound) are outside the ideal listening area.

Only way to know if you like it is to try it :)
 

SeanA

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 16, 2003
Messages
329
I believe the center is the most important speaker for almost all DD or DTS movies. It definitely feels artificial if the dialogue is not coming directly from the TV.

There are some beautiful speakers out there, that in my opinion look much better than most TV cabinets. Why don't you shop around and find something that matches nicely with your TV ?
 

Jan Strnad

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 1, 1999
Messages
1,004
IMO, a center channel speaker is one of those things that you do without and think everything's just fine, but once you get one, you wonder what took you so long.

Jan
 

Matt_Smi

Second Unit
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Apr 11, 2004
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327
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I agree, I have been using a Phantom center for around three years as I did not want to bother spending money on a center that would not match my fronts (I use old Advents). It does not bother me and I think it sounds fine, but I know once I upgrade my speakers and get a center I will realize what I had been missing.
 

AlanZ

Screenwriter
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Sep 15, 2002
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North Georgia
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AJ
A lot of it has to do with the quality if spekers you are running up front, too. To my ears, the Paradigm studio/cc took away a little bit from running the studio/100s by themselves in phantom mode. The studio/100s are excellent speakers with a very large soundstage and solid imaging. When I had my Paradigm Montitor 5s and 11s, I needed the center more to fill in the gaps. With the Magnepans I use now, I'm not even thinking about a center.....in fact, the majority of the people on the Magnepan forum I browse from time to time don't either. So it really just depends on personal taste, quality of your mains, and how many people are listening......but like I said earlier, you won't know what you think until you try it yourself. But also remember that you are not losing any of the information by using a phantom center......that info gets sent to the mains. You're not missing out on any of the audio track or dialogue.

I have small Magnepans up front right now, and the other day I added some of their smaller wall mounted speakers to the rear. So I recalibrated my system. When I did I noticed the coolest thing......Using the rat shack meter, when the THX optimizer test tones on the Star Wars disc, when it went from L, to C, to R, it read right at 75db for each speaker.......why is that significant? Well, because when it ran the tone for the center channel, it was the same decibel level but it sounded like it was coming from an entirely different speaker in the middle of the screen. It was awesome. If your speakers can't do that, then chances are you'll want a center.
 

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