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Winno

To run a centre speaker or not...

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I run a 5.0 system for home theatre.

I don't run separate subs as my mains each have a 10" sub and claim they play down to about 27Hz. Plus I don't wish to have extra boxes. It works well and I'm happy.

 

I'm wondering if I can also dispense with my centre speaker. I sit front/centre and the system images and pans very well. Those sitting elsewhere couldn't care less about the sound so long as they can hear "stuff".

It'll free up a power amp I can then use for my rear dipoles if I dispense. Plus, my mains are run full range and should/could do a better job of centre information because of this, no?

 

What are your thoughts on going centre-less?

Anyone else doing this?

 

Thanks.

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I did throw out the center speaker, mostly because it was of much lower tonal quality than the fronts, but everybody's situation is different. Since you already have the centre running, you can easily compare the two setups. Just configure the AVR for 4.0 and see whether you like it.

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hmm well a can of worms but if you are only interested in your seating position and you are watching atv? and not a 120" pj screen then why not try it.

 

when you say free up for a rear dipole do you mean adding a "rear" speaker? that is 2 fronts,centre,2 side surrounds + 2 rears, so a 7.0 ?

 

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Give you opposite to consider

 

while using your system with centre right now ... just disconnect your mains or switch off power amp feeding them .. and see if even realise :D

 

amazing  amount of stuff comes from the centre ie in how it’s meant to be mixed

 

i have both 2.0 and full surround system with centre ..in same room and seperate rooms. So can explore both.

 

surround mixes can downmix but it’s a compromise. I’ve tried myself the phantom centre abd prefer a real centre ... it doesn’t need 10” woofers if run a sub. But unless keep head in clamp ... just moving your head off centre is going to wreck cues of whet it takes to create a sounfield that’s possible these days with use of discrete speakers :)

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Yeah, I’m with Al, it’s the most important speaker in the system.  I ran centreless for about 2 years, then put in a cheap but good quality centre and loved the improvement.  Recently I upgraded the centre to a beast and couldn’t believe the extra aural impact it has had from the last one.

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48 minutes ago, Winno said:

What are your thoughts on going centre-less?

Anyone else doing this?

A centre is not required, period.

I've been centreless for years.

But it all depends on your speakers and setup and preference.

So simple just try it, perhaps for a week or two and evaluate.

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I am centre speaker supporter. I think the speaker should be at least the same quality as side ones.  Power amp for centre channel makes nice improvement as well. 

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2 hours ago, Irek said:

I am centre speaker supporter. I think the speaker should be at least the same quality as side ones.  Power amp for centre channel makes nice improvement as well. 

Indeed I have done a few centre upgrades over years ... in ALL cases a centre was better than not having a centre. Better centre speakers were certainly better though.  Centre needs to be in same sort of league/scale though... no point using a little pea pod thing with large floor standers.  Not suggesting needs to be in same scale bass wise though as can use sub for that.

 

the other thing have found important is positioning of centre. As with any speaker it’s location location location :)

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Funny. I'm just about to put a centre into my lounge system along with rears. The rears I just because I can now I've had to buy an AVR. 

 

When watching movies with the family we turn the volume up when there is dialogue and then have to turn it down when there are explosions etc. Will see how we go

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as posted there are variables Mallard.. its not just a case of plonking down a centre.. can your avr set things up correctly, room acoustics, centre model etc.

 

my beef is with stupid manufactures that still think we live in the stereo era.. large over sized fronts with puny centres. most people can get by with good book shelf fronts and larger centres for ht in normal rooms imo

 

tried no centre in my ht room (with pj/screen not tv) and big fail.

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2 hours ago, Mallard said:

Funny. I'm just about to put a centre into my lounge system along with rears. The rears I just because I can now I've had to buy an AVR. 

 

When watching movies with the family we turn the volume up when there is dialogue and then have to turn it down when there are explosions etc. Will see how we go

good luck in your ventures mallard. hopefully the centre takes cars of vocals so you dont have to crank of volume ot hear them that makes explosions etc unbearable.

 

ps as a heads up audyssey dynamic volume can help with this which compensates for ears abilities at differing volumes... it has differing levels as well so can choose what best suits :) 

 

for general TV watching there is also dynamic volume ... though i wouldnt use that on movies as can result with freaky things like "quiet explosions" and such :D 

 

 

 

not sure what avr you run

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On 30/11/2019 at 10:22 AM, Winno said:

What are your thoughts on going centre-less?

If you have a small number of seats, and well setup mains (ie. they can deliver a center image that is of high quality - which requires equal level across all frequencies) ..... then you can operate quite successfully without a centre channel speaker.

 

Aside from those (potentially significant, mentioned above) pitfalls from not having C channels.   There can be some benefits.

 

Often a C channel will be (need to be) poorly located, which can detract from the image

 

Often a C channel will have a different frequency response to the main speakers.   This can even be the situation when corrected (eg. by Audyssey or similar) to the same axial response.... as the different speaker designs used, means the C channel has different directivity to the main speakers.

 

It can mean more $ can be put into the mains, if there's a budget ceiling.

 

49 minutes ago, betty boop said:

good luck in your ventures mallard. hopefully the centre takes cars of vocals so you dont have to crank of volume ot hear them that makes explosions etc unbearable.

If the dialog becomes hard to hear (or any different at all to hear) after removing the C, then troubleshooting should be attempted.

 

It isn't the expected behaviour for a correctly setup processor and speakers.

 

On 30/11/2019 at 10:39 AM, betty boop said:

while using your system with centre right now ... just disconnect your mains or switch off power amp feeding them .. and see if even realise :D

Well... of course.   You must be joking, as this will be quite obvious.... and clearly isn't the way to "test what it will be like".   Yes, most of the important content is in the centre speaker .... but there is no reason to imply (unless average speaker setup) that it won't be presented well by the L+R.

 

However, after instructing the AVR to have no C speaker connected, and setting any "phantom", or "width", etc. setting in the processor appropriately.....   then it (as mentioned caveats) can even sound improved, due to the typical poor design and locations of C speakers ... or even just simply due to a different design than the LR speakers.

 

On 30/11/2019 at 10:39 AM, betty boop said:

But unless keep head in clamp ... just moving your head off centre is going to wreck cues of whet it takes to create a sounfield that’s possible these days with use of discrete speakers

This is nonsense.

 

There is no more (or less) need for "head in a vise" whether the processor is configured for LR, or for LCR.    The only caveat is that the LR setup have correct (ie. equal) frequency response and level in the seat in question.    This sounds like a simple caveat.... but many people's systems do not, unless you are sitting in a reasonably limited set of seats.

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On 30/11/2019 at 11:17 AM, Satanica said:

But it all depends on your speakers and setup and preference.

Indeed.

 

If one spends the time, configuring a system so it can be instant switched back and forth, between LR and LCR .... with everything else equal.    It is clear to hear that the difference can be inaudible.....  but in the real-world (ie. when not done carefully, or when all else is not equal) ...... then it can (of course) be noticable.

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Usually when one has more than 1 pair of speakers in the room (next to each other) and only 1 pair is actively used, it is often recommended that the unused pair be shorted - negative and positive terminals connected by wire). Doing so will minimize the magnetic field interference from the unused pair. However, to really remove magnetic field interference, the unused pair should be physically be removed away from that area. Minimum safe distance is roughly 3 meters away. 

 

A centre speaker sitting between the front left and right speaker will exert an adverse interference over them. 

 

Even if the centre speaker is connected to an amplifier, it is not really shorted, regardless if the amplifier is powered up or not. 

 

For those who are running a 2-ch audio system and m-ch system in the same location and both using the same pair of front left and right speakers, and your priority is quality of the 2ch, it is best to physically remove the centre speaker. 

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As others have said, you should try it and hear how it sounds. I think panning and imaging will take care of stereo stuff without centres but you may have a different experience for movie, again dependent upon your AV receiver.

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On 01/12/2019 at 5:30 PM, hopefullguy said:

as posted there are variables Mallard.. its not just a case of plonking down a centre.. can your avr set things up correctly, room acoustics, centre model etc.

 

my beef is with stupid manufactures that still think we live in the stereo era.. large over sized fronts with puny centres. most people can get by with good book shelf fronts and larger centres for ht in normal rooms imo

 

tried no centre in my ht room (with pj/screen not tv) and big fail.

Agreed. I have a dedicated HT room with a 7.2 speaker set up and think I could never go without the centre, and it must be at least the equal of my others speakers. I'd consider the centre and the subs as the most critical for movie watching, even though the other channels are giving you the surround effect. I also "downgraded" from large floorstanders as mains to standmounts in the same series as my centre. As my entire HT system is crossed over at 80hz, I see no reason to have large mains... unless using for 2ch as well, which I'm not.

 

In my family room system we run a 2.1 system and watch casual TV through it as well. I do get frustrated if I ever have to sit off centre or want to lie down etc, even though the quality of the sound leaves my HT room for dead, a centre channel cannot be underestimated for surround sound.

Edited by blybo

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For movie, centre should be ranked first. 

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If the centre speaker was the most important in a 5.0 or 5.1 system then logically it would the hardest to phantom whereas it's seemingly the easiest provided you're sitting in the middle of the Left and Right.
Try removing the Left, Right, Surround Left or Surround Right and see how you go about phantoming it from the remaining others.

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I know everyone has their preferences and for me . . . .a good quality centre, tonally matched to your l and r channels makes a massive difference in my setup.  I have tried with and without and will take a centre channel any days of the week over a no centre.  Try it and see what you prefer . . . . theyre your ears and your room afterall

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In my testing in my room I found the Phantom Imaged Centre only worked for one person sitting smack bang in the middle of the L & R speakers and was every bit as good as a real centre - in fact it was better since the phantom image was exactly tonally matched to the L & R.

 

however as soon as I moved off-centre the phantom imaging failed.

 

So unless you only have one central listening positioning a real centre speaker is almost certainly a must.

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1 hour ago, niterida said:

In my testing in my room I found the Phantom Imaged Centre only worked for one person sitting smack bang in the middle of the L & R speakers and was every bit as good as a real centre - in fact it was better since the phantom image was exactly tonally matched to the L & R.

 

however as soon as I moved off-centre the phantom imaging failed.

 

So unless you only have one central listening positioning a real centre speaker is almost certainly a must.

Same here.

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Talking about mismatched centre to left and right fronts, I have an Usher S525 centre and S520 rears running with Magico S5 left and right fronts. The Magicos retail for about 100 times the Ushers but honestly, the Ushers blend beautifully with them.

I initially had the Ushers in another setup and thought I was content with the Magicos alone for movies with my JVC projector. One bored day, I tried the Ushers in the mix and I've never removed them.

I now realise the centre speaker, to me , is the most important speaker for movies. This is especially true if the family is watching movies together.

Amplification is critical though. I use an Accuphase A-70 for the Magicos. To integrate well you need a similar level of grunt and control for the centre as you do for the left and right. I use an Elektra Theatre HD to  power the Ushers and it helps them integrate really well with the SQ of the Magicos.

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