phantom center front

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by miles archer, Mar 14, 2003.

  1. miles archer

    miles archer Auditioning

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    hello--

    I'm considering krufting together a 5-channel listening setup (for movies exclusively), now that I think I can make it happen with the 4 speakers I already have. I know you can contrive a 'phantom center' by adding the channel in equal parts to the L and R,

    but how is this done, in the practical sense? is it a receiver function? would/could you use a separate mixer (my mains are self-powered)?

    I've seen phantom center fronts belittled on these forums, but here's my thinking: I get a perfectly coherent stereo image from my 2 speakers now, especially considering that the image only needs to be about as wide as my video monitor. I can see that a center speaker would be called for when the screen is 60' wide and the front row is 20' away, but that's not the geometry of my living room. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

    --thanks for your thoughts
     
  2. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    Well here's my thinking: if I were building a system from scratch I'd use a phantom center. If I had $1000 to spend on speakers up front a pair of $500 mains running phantom would probably sound better than a trio of $333 speakers.
     
  3. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    Not using a centre channel speaker is a perfectly acceptable way to listen to movie soundtracks (assuming the listener will be in the 'sweet spot' directly between the front left/right pair). Doing so totally eliminates any concerns about timbral matching; I've done this myself in the past with great success.

    In the receiver's setup menu simply select 'Off', 'Phantom' or 'None' for the centre channel and you're done. Zimple.

    Adam
     
  4. miles archer

    miles archer Auditioning

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    great. that's just what I wanted to hear. I'm already looking at a new dvd player with a built-in decoder. I'll be all set up for upgrades next! (all I've got: stereo amp for the surrounds, two self-powered fronts, and a dvd player)

    wish me luck calibrating that, and thanks for the affirmations--
    --miles
     
  5. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I'd like to chime in here also in support of a phantom center. I definitely prefer there to be a center, but phantom center sounds great too. The main drawback, of course, is that if you're not centered, the soundstage will all shift to the side you're sitting on, so unless it's just you watching a movie, anyone else that's not centered won't really have the voices coming from the center of the screen. That being said, I just watched the Bourne Identity from the sweet spot with 4 speakers, and it was amazing. Now in your case, I am a little weary because you don't have a surround receiver...



    A surround receiver handles the downmixing when necessary, but I'm not sure if a DVD player with built-in decoders will. I would think so, but then again, I've never had to deal with that, and those DVD players are relatively rare nowadays. I think it'd be better if you got yourself a real DD/DTS receiver, even if the fronts are fully self-powered. And when you say they're powered, I'm assuming that's what you mean, rather than just powered bass drivers where you still have to drive the rest with an amp. If you already have a DVD player, it really would be better to get a receiver instead of another DVD player with built in decoders.
     

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