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Center Channel Timbre Matching vs Dispersion For Off Axis Listening

Do you prefer a timbre matched center speaker or a center speaker with a wide audio dispersion?


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luft262

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Do you feel it is more important that your center channel be timbre matched, i.e. from the same brand/model line as the mains, or would you rather have a center channel with a wide dispersion pattern so that off axis listeners can hear the center channel better. For example, if the model collection of your mains came with a 2-way design center speaker would you consider getting a different brand in a 3 way design to help with center audio dispersion?

This topic is plaguing my mind after watching Erin's video on center channel speaker dispersion in different speaker types. (link below) In the video it is shown that generally speaking a 3-way designed center speaker will have better off axis performance than a 2-way designed center speaker, which means for speaker collections that include a 2-way designed center a person is faced with the trade offs of timbre vs off axis dispersion when selecting a center channel for a given pair of mains.


On a side note, I understand that a center channel speaker that is not from the same brand/model as the mains could be timbre matched, but since most people aren't going to be able to test out a bunch of center channels to find one that's both a different brand and timbre matched I think for the purposes of this discussion timbre matched should generally mean matching the mains in brand and or model type.
 

TheBatsEar

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Luckily, i'm the only one before my center, so directivity is not really that much of a problem.
 

thewas

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Unfortunately those suboptimal typical MTM centers are not really timbre matched to the other loudspeakers of the same series as for that the off axis sound and thus directivity pattern must match too which is not the case.

So my answer would be, optimally use the same loudspeaker as the L/R ones.
 

sarumbear

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I want both options, hence I use the same speaker models for LCR.
 

Sancus

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I dunno what timbre matching means in this case. Matching the on-axis frequency response? That can be done with EQ, so I don't even see how it's a benefit at all to have it built into the speaker. On the other hand, as @thewas said, a speaker that doesn't match dispersion will never truly match timbre, and MTM centers never match dispersion.

To me they are products that exist mainly for space-restricted or extremely budget-restricted cases where the actual sound quality is less important.

Your scenarios, in order of desirability are:
1) A speaker with identical on-axis FR and dispersion as the center(so, an upright bookshelf, or an identical coaxial like a Genelec 8351B as I have).
2) A speaker with good dispersion and reasonably close on-axis FR.
3) A speaker with good dispersion.
4) A speaker with poor dispersion and reasonably close on-axis FR.
 

youngho

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Do you feel it is more important that your center channel be timbre matched, i.e. from the same brand/model line as the mains, or would you rather have a center channel with a wide dispersion pattern so that off axis listeners can hear the center channel better. For example, if the model collection of your mains came with a 2-way design center speaker would you consider getting a different brand in a 3 way design to help with center audio dispersion?
If you could not accommodate the same speaker brand and model as the left and right channels to serve as a center channel, why not choose their so-called bookshelf sibling model over the 2-way center channel one?
 
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luft262

luft262

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If you could not accommodate the same speaker brand and model as the left and right channels to serve as a center channel, why not choose their so-called bookshelf sibling model over the 2-way center channel one?
That would be optimal, but i would either have to place the bookshelf low and angle it up or place the TV higher on the wall. That's why most center channels are horizontal designs to fit under the tv for the best tv placement. It's a world of tradeoffs...
 

dougi

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I went to a surround system to improve localisation of vocals for the wife, who sits on a sofa on the side of the viewing area. So dispersion (and able to fit) were what I needed in a centre. People also say driver polarity is not important to be the same between the speakers. All I can say on that is since I went from LRs with inverted polarity for some drivers to ones with the same polarity all round, surround envelopment has been much better.
 

stevenswall

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I use a Kali IN-8 V2 center channel with Genelec 8260 monitors as the left and right.

They are tambre matched enough, and I voted for the second option because I don't want ultra-narrow dispersion from a busted center channel purposeful engineered to require vertical placement to cover the screen.

On another note: Not sure it's so much 3 way vs 2 way centers, but those who use coaxial drivers, and those that shouldn't exist.

In the ideal world everyone would use coaxial drives past a certain price point, as there are ZERO drawbacks unless you are using them as main monitors and can't get a large enough magnet for the tweeter to go mind bustingly loud within the limits of a coaxial design.
 

sarumbear

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That would be optimal, but i would either have to place the bookshelf low and angle it up or place the TV higher on the wall. That's why most center channels are horizontal designs to fit under the tv for the best tv placement. It's a world of tradeoffs...
Or you use a coaxial…
 

anotherhobby

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While it would have been nice to take all sorts of criteria into consideration when selecting my center channel, sometimes you are just boxed into a corner and you don't have a lot of flexibility. Also, there is not a lot of dispersion/measurement data out there for center channels compared to mains, so how would you know most of the time?

My TV is on a MantelMount over my fireplace, and I lower it when I watch TV. The center channel had to fit between the TV and the mantel, and be mountable to the MantelMount itself, so my center channel was selected with the physical spec being a very hard requirement, and then within that I was just looking for as good as I could reasonably get.

I have a pair of Focal Aria 936's as my mains, and I'm using a GoldenEar SuperSat 60C for a center channel. On top of the brand/size/driver/etc mismatches, the center also ends up being 14" closer to the MLP than the mains when the TV is lowered, and the center channel sits about 4" lower than the Focal's midrange, and about 10" lower than the Focal's tweeter. This all seems to add up to what should be a complete mess, but I am surprised about how well it actually sounds. It's impressive what room correction software (Audyssey in this case) can do to straighten stuff out.

IMG_9507.jpg


IMG_9505.jpg
 
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luft262

luft262

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While it would have been nice to take all sorts of criteria into consideration when selecting my center channel, sometimes you are just boxed into a corner and you don't have a lot of flexibility. Also, there is not a lot of dispersion/measurement data out there for center channels compared to mains, so how would you know most of the time?

My TV is on a MantelMount over my fireplace, and I lower it when I watch TV. The center channel had to fit between the TV and the mantel, and be mountable to the MantelMount itself, so my center channel was selected with the physical spec being a very hard requirement, and then within that I was just looking for as good as I could reasonably get.

I have a pair of Focal Aria 936's as my mains, and I'm using a GoldenEar SuperSat 60C for a center channel. On top of the brand/size/driver/etc mismatches, the center also ends up being 14" closer to the MLP than the mains when the TV is lowered, and the center channel sits about 4" lower than the Focal's midrange, and about 10" lower than the Focal's tweeter. This all seems to add up to what should be a complete mess, but I am surprised about how well it actually sounds. It's impressive what room correction software (Audyssey in this case) can do to straighten stuff out.

View attachment 185736

View attachment 185737
We have very similar mains lol! I've got the 926's.
 

sarumbear

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While it would have been nice to take all sorts of criteria into consideration when selecting my center channel, sometimes you are just boxed into a corner and you don't have a lot of flexibility. Also, there is not a lot of dispersion/measurement data out there for center channels compared to mains, so how would you know most of the time?

My TV is on a MantelMount over my fireplace, and I lower it when I watch TV. The center channel had to fit between the TV and the mantel, and be mountable to the MantelMount itself, so my center channel was selected with the physical spec being a very hard requirement, and then within that I was just looking for as good as I could reasonably get.

I have a pair of Focal Aria 936's as my mains, and I'm using a GoldenEar SuperSat 60C for a center channel. On top of the brand/size/driver/etc mismatches, the center also ends up being 14" closer to the MLP than the mains when the TV is lowered, and the center channel sits about 4" lower than the Focal's midrange, and about 10" lower than the Focal's tweeter. This all seems to add up to what should be a complete mess, but I am surprised about how well it actually sounds. It's impressive what room correction software (Audyssey in this case) can do to straighten stuff out.

View attachment 185736

View attachment 185737
Impressive TV mount, but if you can make such a change, can’t you then move in a proper speaker below the TV that will match your towers?
 

anotherhobby

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Impressive TV mount, but if you can make such a change, can’t you then move in a proper speaker below the TV that will match your towers?
What "proper speaker" that will match my towers would you suggest that could be moved in there? The Focal one is 100% no go (and it's not very good), and how would you know it matches? It cannot be mounted between the fireplace and the mantel due to heat. It cannot be any deeper than 4" or it will stick out beyond the mantel and have the same heat problem with the fireplace is in use. I looked hard and would love ideas.
 

sarumbear

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What "proper speaker" that will match my towers would you suggest that could be moved in there? The Focal one is 100% no go (and it's not very good), and how would you know it matches?
I used the word loosely. Compared to any centre speaker that can fit the area you have between the TV and the fireplace a decent size speaker will “match” your towers better.
 

Larry B. Larabee

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The jury hasn't come in on the importance of uniform horizontal directivity, yet. Timbre is good because few speakers have it to begin with and nothing else makes instruments sound real more than this. Play everything at realistic levels and you can forget about the details.

(edit: is luft262 stalking everyone?)
 

anotherhobby

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I used the word loosely. Compared to any centre speaker that can fit the area you have between the TV and the fireplace a decent size speaker will “match” your towers better.
This comment honestly doesn't make any sense to me. No speaker can go below the mantel due to heat, so the constraint is between the bottom of the TV and the mantel. The SuperSat 60C uses nearly all of that space. Again, what would you put there?
 

sarumbear

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This comment honestly doesn't make any sense to me. No speaker can go below the mantel due to heat, so the constraint is between the bottom of the TV and the mantel. The SuperSat 60C uses nearly all of that space. Again, what would you put there?
If you want to watch the fire and the film at the same time then yes, but isn’t that asking too much? Besides, you can’t bring the TV down over the fireplace while the fire is on, so what’s your point?
 
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