Timbre Matching - Just good Marketing??

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Garrett V, Feb 20, 2004.

  1. Garrett V

    Garrett V Agent

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    Is timbre matching a real plus or just good marketing by the speaker manufactures? In review of a lot of the the mid priced speakers (Boston, Paradigm etc, etc ) they all tout buying center speakers to match their front speakers. And they all have a long list of floor and bookshelf speakers to chose from but typically only a very small selection of center speakers. And in general, the center is cheaper than the fronts. However, its is generally agreed that the center is the most important piece. So your buying a $300 - $400- $500 center and then fronts that could cost more than double that?? Does that make sense since anywhere from 65% to 75% of the movie experience comes from the center channel?

    Is it more important to buy a really good center speaker and worry less that if they are timbre matched or if they are from the same manufacturer??

    Is this timbre matching issue more hype to make sure you buy your entire set from the same munufacturer??

    Would love to hear opinions, thanks.
     
  2. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    If, ... your priority is Home Theater, then it's no mystery why IDENTICAL timbre-(voice)-matched speakers all-around would enhanced the 100% seamless surround Blockbuster DVD Movie experience, ... it's based on Dolby Labs (the creator of 5.1 HT) 5.1-Channel Production Guidelines:

    If it's good enough for the DD/DTS-5.1 / 6.1 Mixing Engineer, ... it's good enough for me!!!

    Phil [​IMG]
     
  3. Mike_Skeway

    Mike_Skeway Second Unit

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    Matching is a real plus when the dialog pans across the front, or when effects pan from one place to another. It really does make a difference. It also makes a difference with MC audio.

    A good center is always a plus.
     
  4. Michael Patrick

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    I dont think you need a specific center channel speaker. You could use an alike speaker and the sound will be fine. I use a Polk bookshelf speaker between two other Polk bookshelf speakers and Im pleased. I just happened to come across only one of a model I like very much so I use it. I had a different brand (Sony) as a center channel and it did not match well timbre-wise. It took more adjusting to get it right, but never blending as well as all the Polks together.
     
  5. Shad R

    Shad R Supporting Actor

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    yea..try cerwin vega fronts and a nice Klipsh center. Youch.
     
  6. Lee-M

    Lee-M Stunt Coordinator

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    It's not just smoke and mirrors: I went throught two centers from the same company (Klipsch) that were not matched to my Fortes, and the mismatch was very noticeable... more so on the center channel that was less like my mains than one that was similar.

    Sounds that pan across the soundstage change in character with mis-matched speakers, and sounds that are stationary, but locatable somewhere off-center (by blending the output between the center and one of the mains) sound just plain wrong.

    It is unfortunate that current (larger) speaker design does not seem to allow for a center with exactly the same drivers as the mains (size for placement on a tv or entertainment center appears to be the reason).

    I look forward to the day when I can spring for 3 La Scalas for my front soundstage... great sound dispersion with those big horn mids...
     
  7. Mitch_J

    Mitch_J Stunt Coordinator

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    Personally I think they should all match across the front at least. As Phil Iturralde stated, If it's good enough...

    As far as cost. Magnepans MMG C (center) cost as much as their MMG W (fronts) for the pair.
     
  8. Ryan Tsang

    Ryan Tsang Second Unit

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    Is there a list of good "panning" sequences to demo timbre?
     
  9. TimMc

    TimMc Stunt Coordinator

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    IMDAO, it does make a difference if the center and mains are significant mis-matches. I've heard both ends of that spectrum, and even I could hear the difference...

    It gets a little more difficult to talk absolutes as your criteria change or when the overall sound of the center & mains is very close. For critical, glued-to-it listening then vocals and pans can just seem "off" when the speaker match isn't right. Humans do seem to be attuned to human voice (duh!) so when a main character moves from left to right and their voice changes along the way (her voice, usually - it seems more noticable on female voices to me) you get pulled out of the movie and into analyzing the gear. To me that makes HT and MC audio less satisfying.

    The "close enough" speaker match is tougher. I've heard a jumble of Axiom & Paradigm speakers that sounded fine during pans. There are any number of speaker lines that have similar characteristics and that can often be tweaked close enough to work just fine (depending on your criteria again). Your ears will tell you when it doesn't work - if they aren't complaining then the match is working. (BTW - why does it seem that Klipsch is often mentioned as part of the worst mismatches?)
     
  10. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    My own experience has been that, mismatched speakers can sound fine, until you listen to matched speakers in the same rig.

    I had a combo of B&W, KEF, and Klispch, and was happy enough, but always wondered how a matched set of Series 1 B&W 600s would sound. So, off to ebay for a CC6 center, and to the used market for a pair of 601s to go in the rear, all to match my 604 mains.

    Lest just say I will not be going back to mismatched speakers again any time soon.

    For me, the biggest difference seems to be across the front. With my 604s and a Klipsch KV-2, I always was aware that the center was high up on the TV, and on a different plane then the L/R pair. It was distracting, and while tolerable for movies, it wrecked the front soundstage when listing to MC music.

    With the B&W center, I get a much better illusion that I am listening to a cohesive whole in front, rather than sound coming from three speakers at different locations.

    Of course, YMMV, but I would definitely say that identically matching speakers, or as in my case, timbre matched speakers is worth the effort to do so...even if it takes some time to put it all together.

    BGL
     
  11. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    Just about any blockbuster DD/DTS-5.1/6.1 Action/Sci_Fi DVD(s) will have some excellent panning effects.

    Here are some suggestions (from over 27,000 DVD's) ...

    Front Pans:
    • A Bug's Life
    • Man in the Iron Mask (Leonardo DiCaprio)
    • Dante's Peak
    • GalaxyQuest
    • Mystery Men
    • Tron
    • Toy Story I & II

    Front and 360-degree Surround Pans:]
    • Star Trek 1st Contact
    • Star Trek Nemesis
    • Daredevil
    • Spiderman
    • U-571
    • Dragonheart
    • Star Wars I & II

    Phil
     
  12. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    My experience about timber matching is I had a set of Jensens Speakers for front l/r, Small Design Acoustics for center channel and some Sony Bookshelf speakers for the rear, it sound find until I got the Platinum Audio all around and what a difference. The pans are so clean and seamless. No marketing gimmick, just plain fact.
     
  13. Mike_Skeway

    Mike_Skeway Second Unit

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    LOTR:FOTR has a very good dialog pan scene. Sorry I do not have the chapter # off hand. Shows off mismatched fronts very well.
     
  14. TimMc

    TimMc Stunt Coordinator

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    From what I remember, Shrek has a couple of scenes with decent pans (Donkey & Shrek walking, I think?). Star Trek - Nemesis had a number of places where the pan was practically was immersive. Also, for 360-degree pans I think there were a couple of tracks on Peter Gabriel's Secret World Concert DVD where the 360-pan effect was enhanced (forced?) and you could really compare speaker-by-speaker all around.

    Timber matching does matter - no doubt. It's a matter of degree for just how close is close enough. In the "big room" there are matching Paradigm Studio's (mostly - v3s across the front, v2s in back) that seem truly seamless. That's where I listen critically and where it matters most. In the much more cozy den is the "mongrel match" of P-digm Monitor center & Axioms around - that's close enough for company, etc. until you replace the Axioms w/ Mini Monitors. BTW - the Axioms give a larger(?) soundfield and are punchier, but the Minis are smoother and overall blend more seamlessly. But unless you listen often and are listening just for the differences, the mongrels never got any complaints...
     
  15. cabreau

    cabreau Second Unit

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    Think of imaging this way...as an IMAGE, which is why they call it IMAGING.

    Go to Best Buy and look up at that huge movie screen they have that's on like 12 different monitors in a tic-tac-toe array. One picture spans across all of the monitors. Now picture the top center screen being a 19" tv while the rest of them are like 50" diagonals. How good is that overall IMAGE going to look?
     
  16. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    I think you may be referring to the scene when Saruman is using the Palantir to communicate with Sauron and Sauron says "build me an army worthy of Mordor". When Sauron says that the sound pans from the front to the surround speakers and sounds amazing. If you can hear Sauron's voice all around you and behind you without being able to localize it, you've set up your system just right [​IMG]
     

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