Do you REALLY need a centre channel for movies?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Karim Nogas, Oct 26, 2001.

  1. Karim Nogas

    Karim Nogas Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    After reading the journals at www.audioperfectionist.com , I tried implementing some of the advice, namely positioning and the removal of the centre channel.
    I must say that getting rid of the centre speaker has made the biggest improvement in audio quality I have ever seen in my system. Next on the list would have been the time I bi-wired everything.
    I had been using Mirage's top of the line speaker, the OM-C2 which has been around for a long time.
    I'm not going to suggest this is for everyone but it doesn't take much to try. If you aren't satisfied with dialogue (as I haven't been for ages), just tell your receiver that you lack a centre speaker.
    The dialogue is now no longer anchored to the middle, and seems to flow much nicer with the scenes. The dialogue is softer and clearer and there seems to be more of a 3-D effect.
    See for yourself.
     
  2. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 1999
    Messages:
    2,249
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I've noticed alot of DVD's are capable of being decoded to a "phantom" center-channel and still retain a sense of directionality. When you have a DVD that anchors so much to the screen, either it's because it is "centered" or poorly mixed, with not enough effects going to the left/right main channels. But, properly balanced, a center-channel should meld with the left/right mains and be seamless. So, do you really NEED a center-channel? It boils down to your system. Some systems handle the conversion to phantom better than others. I've heard some that sound unnatural and distracting and others that sounded like yours...seamless and seemingly correct.
    Bruce
    ------------------
    [​IMG]
    Welcome aboard the Satellite of Love
     
  3. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2000
    Messages:
    5,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Without a center channel, you get a really small "sweet spot" for proper imaging of a "phantom" speaker in between the two.
    Adding a dedicated center speaker gives a much bigger area for localization of dialog, etc, to the screen.
    ------------------
     
  4. Karim Nogas

    Karim Nogas Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hmm...
    The seating outside the boundaries of the speakers still receives better sound than before.
    It is softer though, so maybe that's just my preference.
    Or maybe it has to do with using bi-polar mains as opposed to conventional front-firing speakers?
     
  5. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Deleting the center speaker with most receivers result in DD or dts 5.1 being downmixed to 4.1 and if your not in the sweet spot, dialogue will be localized to the left or right.
    I also believe on some movies you lose image, and dynamic quality because your L&R now have to also carry the dialogue.
    If your exactly in the sweet spot this may be OK.
    But as for me I love my center speaker for 5.1 movies!
    ------------------
    Sean
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said.......I drank what?"
     
  6. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2001
    Messages:
    1,422
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Dallas
    Real Name:
    Thomas
     
  7. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 1998
    Messages:
    8,332
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Neil Joseph
    Not just dialogue but about 60% of the entire soundtrack comes from the centre channel. If the soundstage was bad, perhaps is was because of either positioning, or the speaker itself.
    ------------------
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~orange1[​IMG]
    ------------------
    My Favourite Movie
     
  8. Henry Carmona

    Henry Carmona Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2000
    Messages:
    1,299
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    San Antonio
    Real Name:
    Henry Carmona
    Here we go again [​IMG]
    ------------------
    [​IMG] "Charlie don't surf."
     
  9. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 1998
    Messages:
    2,343
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Adam
    If you're sitting directly between the main front channels, then turning the centre channel off is a perfectly acceptable option, with some real advantages.
    It eliminates any timbre matching problems between the front and centre channels, potential volume differences and height disparities. From experience it often significantly improves the front soundstage, and improves dialogue clarity.
    Adam
     
  10. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    quote: If you're sitting directly between the main front channels, then turning the centre channel off is a perfectly acceptable option, with some real advantages. [/quote]
    This is the only exception.
    I still feel that you may lose something from the downmix.
    I think the ultimate 5.1 front soundstage would include 3 (L,C,R) of the EXACT same speakers the Exact same distance apart and the same height. This would probably be as ideal as it gets for true 5.1. I dont think it could get anymore seamless than this.
    ------------------
    Sean
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said.......I drank what?"
    [Edited last by Sean Conklin on October 27, 2001 at 04:44 AM]
     
  11. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2001
    Messages:
    398
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I realy agree that a center channel usualy adds to the HT experience...but in some cases... running Phantom center can be better. In casses where you dont have a proper center- IMO- phantom would be better. Having a timber matched system is always best...but I think there is no cut/dry answer here...
    ------------------
    So far, So good, So what
    http://members.cardomain.com/bugers
    http://thomas2307.homestead.com/thomasworld.html
     
  12. Rich G

    Rich G Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2000
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    With music videos I prefer it off. Or at least turned down from level matched. I think it draws too much attention to itself. I also think much of this has to do with proper mixing at the studio. If 60% of the sound is in the center, wouldn't two speakers be better than one, ususally smaller, speaker. I think the answer is yes except for viewers sitting to the sides. (not a problem for me he he. I have a rule: whoever buys the stuff gets the sweet spot)
    In the HT I use all five speakers, except for music video. In MY system in the basement (used for sports and music) I sold my three front speakers and never replaced the center when I bought new mains. I don't miss it at all, although I haven't watched a DVD down here.
    Just my 2 cents,
    ------------------
    Rich G.
     
  13. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 1999
    Messages:
    4,948
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  14. JohnDG

    JohnDG Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2000
    Messages:
    238
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    IMHO some movies require a CC.
    If a receiver allows one to adjust the "phantom" CC sound, fine. If not, then there are times you'll wish you had one.
    jdg
     
  15. Mario_C

    Mario_C Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2001
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It is obvious by some of you posts that you did not take the time to read the article before posting.
     
  16. Chris PC

    Chris PC Producer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2001
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have noticed a weird affect using a center channel because now the sound comes from above the TV, rather than a phantom between the front speakers, right from the TV type sound. I liked my TV's crappy speakers only because they were mounted directly beside the TV tube. My front left and right speakers and the center channel speaker have identical drivers. 6T fronts, 9C center and 2B rears.
    I think the reason I notice a weird sort of sound using a center speaker might be because my left and right speakers are lower than the center which sits atop the TV. This is pretty much unavoidable. I may try to match the height a little better, but I had a weird idea.....
    What about if I used one 9C center speaker atop the TV and one 9C center below the TV? I know that is more money and I'll need to amp it different, but it would seem to me that it would plant the dialouge right smack in the middle of the display screen.
    Any ideas whether this would work and sound good?
    [Edited last by Chris PC on October 27, 2001 at 09:24 PM]
     
  17. Chris PC

    Chris PC Producer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2001
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Any ideas at all? I think one on top and one below would work. Its just a question of whether its worth it money wise. Does it produce a good enough sound to make it worth the cost of 2 center channel speakers and an extra amp or two? Plus of course, is there any problem using 2 speakers that way. There shouldn't be any problems with combing if the speakers are at an equal distance from the listening plane, but it still might fuzzy up the sound with 2 sources that far away? Its not like you're putting them both immediately beside the TV to the left and right. I thought about that, but its too much like the fronts and wouldn't work like above and below would.
    Anybody?
    [Edited last by Chris PC on October 28, 2001 at 08:45 AM]
     
  18. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ideally for perfect imaging and to obtain NO horizontal dispersion problems(inherent with most Horizontal center speakers) put a 6T right below the TV if possible.
    If not possible put the the 6C right below the TV, I moved my Center right below the TV, it ended up 2 inches below the stock TV speakers and it did wonders for my 5.1 movie imaging and made the speaker more transparent. Putting the speaker below the TV should make it much harder to localize and should not draw attention to itself.
    I think 2 6C's would be too much of a pain in the a$$ and may actually over emphasize or draw too much attention to the center channel. But then again maybe not. It just seems like it would cost to much for this experiment if you were disappointed with the results.
    ------------------
    Sean
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said.......I drank what?"
    [Edited last by Sean Conklin on October 28, 2001 at 12:03 PM]
     
  19. Chris PC

    Chris PC Producer

    Joined:
    May 12, 2001
    Messages:
    3,975
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The speakers I am using are 6T front left and right towers which are 38 inches tall and a 9C center which is very big too.
    I might try to put the 9C center below the TV, but thats tricky. I would have to raise my TV. Either way, I think the center speaker won't be inline with the left and right front speakers.
     
  20. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,720
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    No, you won't be able to put the center in line with the L&R but you could get a 12" stand or whatever size would put the center speaker at the desired height, BBuy has some adjustable stands.
    I have found the center speaker sounds much more natural and transparent(dialog seems anchored to the screen instead of above the screen)"Below" the screen.
    Yes it may seem a little awkward to have the center out front, but for "Ideal" speaker placement, all your front speakers should be pulled out in front of the TV screen.
    ------------------
    Sean
    "I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates who said.......I drank what?"
     

Share This Page