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Floorstanders for center channel?

Luxman Amplifiers India

sash

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Over a period of time, i have realized how important the center channel is in a HT. It is THE most important component and practically plays everything in a movie. Not sure why the manufacturers don't realize this and misguide consumers by producing center channels that are weaker than LR. Better these days with THX recommending a equal LCR setup but most consumers realize it only after they have bought the entire setup.
My story is not really very bad as the Magnat center channel is quite powerful and tries it's best. The dialogue clarity is superb with absolutely no coloration etc but i realize I would be happier with a beefier center.
So my questions are -
1. How about i get another tower for center channel?
2. What impact will this have on the receiver's power output? Right now, my entry level receiver does a good job of filling the room at about -5 volume level. Is there a chance the receiver might struggle (i'm no expert in this).
3. Say i place the tower on it's side, will it be bad for the speaker?
4. I can place the tower upright, no issues - will this be better.
5. I'm not really worried about aesthetics etc - i'm only interested in good sound effects.
6. Has anyone on this forum tried this? What are your impressions?
7. Also i do not want to try another "better" center speaker - mine is as good as any typical center speaker can get.
8. Any other suggestions you have?
 
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haisaikat

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It is your AVR that you should upgrade, in my opinion the V473 is grossly underpowered for your speakers Magnat 1000, at least Denon X3000 or above is required. Till then if your problem is only center channel and the related clarity of voice try increasing the volume of the center channel from your AVR control to a relative higher dB than the L/R.

Regarding your idea of using a FS has center, I think it will be more of a overkill for same performance since you will pay more the tweeter and built in crossovers of the FS that may not be put to use at all for producing midrage of the center channel.
 

sdurani

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The best centre speaker is another of your L/R speakers. Gives you a seamless and consistent front soundstage (sounds don't change as they move through the 3 front speakers).

FS placed vertically will give you better horizontal spread (everyone on the sofa gets to enjoy the same quality) than vertical spread (less bounce off ceiling and floor). Placing the same spread horrizontally will give you the opposite: sounds different outside the sweet spot and more reflections off ceiling and floor.

BTW, Magnat's floor standing speakers are slightly more sensitive than their centre speakers, so your amp will have an easier time driving the FS than centre.
 

sash

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@haisaikat - the 473 has been able to fill my room easily to commercial theater level loudness (i watch movies quite loud as i have a treated, dedicated room). And when that loudness level is reached, the volume in receiver is about -5 for blu-rays and about -17 for Indian DVDs. Since the max volume in receiver is +16 db or so, i guess that means the receiver has plenty of power to spare. Isn't that right?
My issue is probably as Sanjay mentioned the LR has an edge over the center. For example in Life of Pi, the tiger growls are very menacing when the sound moves to LR - it is as if there was a tiger right there in the room, i cannot adequately describe the feeling. In the majority of the scenes, the tiger is roaring from the center channel - it is still a tiger roar, no question, it is crystal clear nothing artificial but somehow the "chill down the spine" doesn't happen. I don't know if it is all in my head. Another thing i have noticed is that this feeling becomes apparent only when you are playing at theater level loudness and not while the volume is relatively low/medium - could this be a reason most people do not complain as they use these systems in living rooms where the opportunity to play really loud for extended periods is not there?
i also notice that the center is working very hard (driver movement) throughout the movie while the LR are relatively at ease.
@Sanjay thanks for the clarification on tower positioning - that settles that question.
Isn't the size of the speaker (larger drivers, more number of drivers) a factor in consuming receiver power? I would be extremely happy if the receiver can drive my towers as comfortably as it is driving the center today. Please confirm
 

Santy

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@sash
My responses inline

1. How about i get another tower for center channel?
Its a good idea. Check this site, they have some analysis, some portion of it supports this idea.
Horizontal Center Channel Speakers and Why They Should Be Avoided - Blu-ray Forum

2. What impact will this have on the receiver's power output? Right now, my entry level receiver does a good job of filling the room at about -5 volume level. Is there a chance the receiver might struggle (i'm no expert in this).
No. It will not. The CC of the AVR has same power handling as your other channels. But depending on sensitivity, the overall power consumed may be higher but nothing the AVR cannot handle.

3. Say i place the tower on it's side, will it be bad for the speaker?
No. But the off axis performance may affect listening at other positions than the sweet spot.

4. I can place the tower upright, no issues - will this be better.
5. I'm not really worried about aesthetics etc - i'm only interested in good sound effects.
As long as it is not obstructing your display, you are good to go.


6. Has anyone on this forum tried this? What are your impressions?
I did the same experiment when I had Energy speakers (same series) to know if I needed a CC upgrade. But my puny CC was much louder and crisper (though the low end impact was missing) than my FS. May be it was more sensitive. But if you are happy with your LR more than your existing CC, then you could go ahead.

7. Also i do not want to try another "better" center speaker - mine is as good as any typical center speaker can get.
Problem is do you get a single floorstander separately?
 

haisaikat

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well definitely new learning for me, so can the OP not swap his Center with one of his L/R to see if that brings difference to vocals? Also he mentioned tiger roar but if there is a LF component in that will that still not go out to L/Rs?
 

murali

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As users of speakers, you are expected to be aware of something called 'acoustic lobing' or comb filter lobing. With different drivers and crossovers, there is always a dispersion pattern across any speaker.

A center channel speaker produces dialogues most of the time and hence needs to act as a point source of sound. That is why the best center speakers are always horizontal and coaxial in design, for example the one I use (VCC-5 from Vandersteen) where the dialogues always look to emit from the mouth of the person, whether the speaker is above or below or right or left of the screen.

So if your vertical floorstander is built on these basic principles, you may get away with it. As long as the dialogues appear to come out of mouths and not ears, it should be fine.

I presume we all watch our screens mounted horizontally and not vertically!

cheers.
murali
 

sash

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i feel there is this misconception that the cc is mostly only doing dialogues. No it is not. I have tested this very closely and the cc is doing majority of the work in a movie. Most of the movie's sound is sent there. Of course some goes to LR too but nothing like what goes to cc, that is why i got down to thinking about this. If cc is doing most of the work, shouldn't the best speaker be there?
@haisaikat, i'll surely try what you are suggesting i.e. switch center with L/R.
 

sdurani

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i feel there is this misconception that the cc is mostly only doing dialogues. No it is not. I have tested this very closely and the cc is doing majority of the work in a movie. Most of the movie's sound is sent there. Of course some goes to LR too but nothing like what goes to cc, that is why i got down to thinking about this. If cc is doing most of the work, shouldn't the best speaker be there?
Absolutely! There are times when 60-70% of the information in a movie soundtrack is in the centre channel. So the speaker reproducing that channel better be up to the task.

When Bell Labs was inventing "stereo" in the 1930s, it was originally intended to be 3 channels. The centre speaker was supposed to be the big floorstander or the main speaker in your radio console (makes sense since the most important information in a recording, movie or music, is mixed to the middle of the soundstage). This was supposed to be augmented with a pair of small satellite/bookshelf speakers spread apart to create a soundstage (those speakers didn't have to be big because critical information was almost never mixed to the left or right edge of the soundstage).

Ironic that many decades later, the centre speaker has almost become the step-child of most home theatre set-ups.
 

Santy

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i feel there is this misconception that the cc is mostly only doing dialogues. No it is not. I have tested this very closely and the cc is doing majority of the work in a movie. Most of the movie's sound is sent there. Of course some goes to LR too but nothing like what goes to cc, that is why i got down to thinking about this. If cc is doing most of the work, shouldn't the best speaker be there?

True. People generally believe that most of the effects are handled by L/R; the truth is the centre handles most of the effects apart from dialogues. That dosen't mean that we can have a smaller speaker for L/R. They all need to be equally capable or rather 'same' if possible. One reason why centres are designed to be placed horizontal is for obvious reason that it may be very difficult /impractical to place a tall speaker vertically making it obtrusive to the display.

If the centre speaker is so focused in delivering dialogues from a concentrated point in space, then by keeping it below or above the screen, we would probably hear the dialogues below or above it which I am sure is not desired. Moreover the vocal point of characters speaking in the movie is not always in the centre of a big screen. The true characteristics of a centre is to deliver sound uniformly so that it is heard equally loud in all parts of the room and we should *not* be able to locate the speaker. That is one characteristics based on which good CC speakers are rated. It is ok to be able to locate the left and right and surround speakers but *not* the centre.

@haisaikat
No, it is not true that low frequencies are bypassed to the L/R from the centre. In a true, discreet 5.1 playback, L/R will play only if there is a recording done in those channels just like surrounds. Whereas it is true that depending on the bass management setup, the low frequency sounds from all channels would be passed on to the sub. Only if you do not have a sub and the AVR is set accordingly, the low freq effects goes to the L/R.

Another misconception is that people think the sub handles only the low frequency effects of all other channels whereas it is a dedicated channel by itself and the sound engineers use it distinctively for some effects. That is the reason why Sub too is very important and people who believe that their floorstanders can replace it fully are so grossly wrong.
 
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Audio_Freek

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IMHO, Central channel is the only component which Enriches the HT Experience as it takes the Dialogue Part. I do understand that the HT not much concentrate on Central compared to L\R and Sub.

I dont have present idea to switch over to HT,But in future if i like to get a HT then probably Get a Mid range\Full range baffle which could color the Mid Freq.

The Central speakers are set to delivery the Vocal part , so Some Mid range and Full range only can give the best of the central output. say 500Hz to 2Khz or even 5Khzwhich doesnt not mess with LR
 

murali

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I am afraid there are some misconceptions being presented here on this subject and hence need to clarify the following:
It is true that the center channel (note "channel" and not "speaker") gives the major output in Dolby/DTS decoding, with many published figures of as high as 75% of the total sound. However, the bulk of this is dialogues and not background music. That is why all speakers designed for use as center channel take the maximum care to be as true to the dialogues as possible. A couple of points here are worth noting.

The question of whether one needs a center speaker or not is itself addressed first by knowledgeable people in this business. I have seen top notch systems without center speakers. As long as your two front speakers are high quality and can do the job of focussing and centering dialogues also, people tend to think twice before investing in a center speaker. Often, when chosen badly, the center speaker spoils the whole thing and I have seen demonstrations with and without it as in many cases, the entire sound was much better without it. That is why the rule of thumb is always to get a center speaker, when you decide for it, with characteristics as close to the fronts as possible. Though Dolby and DTS decode discrete sounds like a gunshot from somewhere, more than 90% of the time in a movie, there has to be a continuum in the whole sound emanating through all your speakers in front.

I have also been fortunate to see some of the "Highest end" HT systems with top-of-the-shelf speakers, processors and amplifiers where money is no limit. All speakers, the front and surrounds, have individual subwoofers to get the maximum sound encoded in the movies, even the slightest rustling of leaves. However, I have yet to see a center speaker connected to a subwoofer. That should tell you what sort of job it is supposed to do. In my case, I first had Vandy VCC-1, the small center speaker which was good enough with the 2Ce fronts. When I upgraded my fronts to Quatro, suddenly I found that removing the VCC-1 and with no center channel, it was much better and convincing. Then I went for the reference VCC-5 which is triaxial in that its coaxial tweeter/midrange are supported with a pair of woofers at the rear and the dialogues now suddenly appear so live and clear with the entire frequency extension.

So you can continue debating and arguing but as I mentioned now and earlier, buy the center speaker after making sure that it does not degrade your system, and when you buy, go for a matching one with your fronts, always the same manufacturer. That does not mean it has to be a vertical floorstander. Believe me, if you can put that "extra" money into your fronts, you may end up enjoying both music and movies!

Just my 2 cents and good luck to the true seekers.
murali
 

sdurani

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If the centre speaker is so focused in delivering dialogues from a concentrated point in space, then by keeping it below or above the screen, we would probably hear the dialogues below or above it which I am sure is not desired.
One would think that would happen, but our human hearing compensates. It's called the ventriloquist effect, where what we see overrides what we hear.

An excellent example, albeit with a different name: Try The McGurk Effect! - Horizon: Is Seeing Believing? - BBC Two - YouTube

It's only 3 minutes long but a must-watch for anyone who is curious about which is more powerful when it comes to hearing: our ears or eyes?
Another misconception is that people think the sub handles only the low frequency effects of all other channels whereas it is a dedicated channel by itself and the sound engineers use it distinctively for some effects.
Right, it is labelled a "subwoofer" output on most receivers, not a "LFE" output, for a good reason. The subwoofer gets a combination of derived bass (filtered from any speaker set to small) and discrete bass (from the .1/LFE channel of the soundtrack).
 

manoj.p

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One would think that would happen, but our human hearing compensates. It's called the ventriloquist effect, where what we see overrides what we hear.

An excellent example, albeit with a different name: Try The McGurk Effect! - Horizon: Is Seeing Believing? - BBC Two - YouTube

It's only 3 minutes long but a must-watch for anyone who is curious about which is more powerful when it comes to hearing: our ears or eyes? Right, it is labelled a "subwoofer" output on most receivers, not a "LFE" output, for a good reason. The subwoofer gets a combination of derived bass (filtered from any speaker set to small) and discrete bass (from the .1/LFE channel of the soundtrack).

Same effect when you put that exotic cable/power conditioner into the mix, especially if that's what the end user into.

"Mind sees what it wants to see" - From Da Vinci Code.
 

sdurani

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Same effect when you put that exotic cable/power conditioner into the mix, especially if that's what the end user into.
Yup, and there's even a name for that: expectation bias. This is why wine tasting competitions are done blind, so that none of the judges can be influenced by seeing the labels.
 

Santy

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It is drifting away from the topic but it is indeed nice to discuss: 2.0 vs 5.1 for movies. There are good no. of people who enjoy movies in 2 channel. According to me, that's just a preference. There could be many reasons why such a preference could be fostered. IMO, may be because they
- are more into music
- could not find a matching centre (or it is unavailable)
- wish to make use of the existing high quality stereo speakers
- are unwilling to set up a parallel system for movies
- do not wish to congest their rack or wire too many cables around
- want to spend more on upgrading their 2.0 rather than expand
- cannot do justice to the quality of speakers with an AVR they could afford
- find great inconvenience in swapping the inputs to speakers or finding a solution
- were never exposed to a high end dedicated HT system

One great advantage of the centre channel is that it reduces the intensity of passages on the other main channels. It is a kind of load distribution or separation. Like a truck with 10 wheels take more load than that with 6. Less intensive passages delivered to each speaker means less headroom consumed, enhanced dynamic range hence less distortion and more clarity esp. at high volumes. Take for instance, an intensive action scene where there are lot of gunshots, explosions, sound of debris falling and jets swooshing, amidst of which the characters converse. As the L/R shares quite some load of the action, the dialogues coming from the centre will be still heard crisply which may be lost or subdued if everything is throughput on just 2 channels.

A CC also helps in keeping the action/ dialogues locked to the centre. If it was not there, those who are sitting on the left would find that dialogues are coming from extreme left which again is least desired.

You can very well save the cost on a subwoofer and surrounds too and still enjoy your movies. Come to think of it; you don't need an AVR either in that case. But sorry, it is nothing but a compromise.

Having said that it is very important to have a matching centre. Having an identical centre (the original topic) seems to be a great option. In my system all main speakers are same, so I write from my own experience. I have tested switching off the centre in the AVR which divides that channel into the L/R but I can't stand it one bit. I feel I am crippled. May be it is just me.
 
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manoj.p

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Well, the choice is clear if one has the option to choose the center speaker. Center speaker is less affected by room boundaries, gives solid center image (rather than depending upon L/R to provide a image) and less effect from left/right reflections.

Now the question is - whether to use a L/R speaker as a center speaker. It is a best choice. A horizontal center speaker is always called a "matching" center to left/right speakers. It's not exact and is always inferior due to its horizontal orientation. Its dispersion is better in vertical plane, but sufferers a lot on horizontal plane. Now the vertical dispersion is of no use, because our ears are in the same horizontal plane. Santy has linked the article in last page, if anyone has doubts about it. There is a reason all the movie theaters have identical speakers as L/C/R.

Another advantage of L/R speaker as center is that we get a seamless front sound stage. So, when audio pans from one speaker to another, the sound is seamless. Also, the in between imaging of speakers, say between left and center or center and right is seamless and quite solid. The audio is now not only left/center/right, but anywhere in between as well. You can see this effect on a big screen where the speakers are also spread quite apart. Several pixar movies have the audio panning between speakers, like Brave, Cars, Up etc.

I have been using the L/R speaker as center since 2010 and will never go back to a horizontal center speaker. Not only for dispersion, but for seamless front stage.
 

sash

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i guess it is time for me to start looking for a single tower in the series. Will try with the dealers in b'lore.
 

manoj.p

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i guess it is time for me to start looking for a single tower in the series. Will try with the dealers in b'lore.

Before you do that, hook up one of the tower as center channel and see how the vocal's sound or you are getting the roar (Life of Pi) as you desire. I am sure you wont be disappointed, but try it out. It's not going to cost anything. :)
 
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