• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Most important channel and speakers in Home Theater

Most important channel and speaker in Home Theater


  • Total voters
    67

gags11

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 8, 2019
Messages
180
Likes
273
#1
What’s most important for HT, center, fronts, or the rest?

The reason I post this, I think center is by far the most important channel and speaker, imo. Would like to here opinions on this.

if so, would love to see Amir measure and compile some center channel measurements.
 
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
691
#2
L C R are the most important ones for movies, yes. They get most of the signal and oftentimes the center is working on it's own during dialogue scenes.
 

Blumlein 88

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
11,991
Likes
17,907
#3
I think the fronts are more important than the center though the center is important. You can have great clear dialogue on the center and obviously that is important, but if the front pair are substandard everything happens in a smaller, less detailed, less enveloping space. The envelopment is what makes for an immersive experience and the center doesn't do much for that. The surrounds finish the envelopment, but the front pair must be good for it to work well overall I find.
 
Last edited:

peng

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 12, 2019
Messages
1,816
Likes
1,452
#4
For speakers, the center is important in terms of the ability to produce clear dialogue to your mlp, and also power handling because for movies, more often that not, there are higher power demand on the center channel speaker, all else being equal.

Other than that the front left/right, imo are more important in terms of accuracy, i.e. lower distortion, better FR, on and off axis etc., for overall enjoyment.
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Messages
58
Likes
127
#5
I have always preferred phantom center setups. Even when I used identical LCR speakers. IMO, you loose the soundstage and depth that are present in so many productions when you use a center. Even more so in music and concert BluRays/DVD's..

If you're seated offside from best listening position, then of course a center can help lock the dialogue. Not a problem for me though, cause I'm always in the sweetspot..:cool:
 
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
691
#7
Center speaker is only relevant if more than 1 person watches the movie because then, no one sits in the focal point of the sonic field generators. :p
 
OP
G

gags11

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 8, 2019
Messages
180
Likes
273
Thread Starter #9
For newer formats like Dolby or DTS, I think dialog comes imbedded in the center channel only. It needs to be down mixed to get that from the fronts. This was my understanding.

In addition, I have noticed that the center handles way more than just dialog. It handles significant amount of music and sound passages, but of course it depends on the original mix. In some cases the front speakers are producing what seems like background sound and passages. And sometimes devoid of midrange. Of course, this is again dependent on the mix. I’m referring to anything with original 5.1 and up, DTS or Dolby.
 

MakeMineVinyl

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
1,528
Likes
2,168
Location
Santa Fe, NM
#10
I have always preferred phantom center setups. Even when I used identical LCR speakers. IMO, you loose the soundstage and depth that are present in so many productions when you use a center. Even more so in music and concert BluRays/DVD's..

If you're seated offside from best listening position, then of course a center can help lock the dialogue. Not a problem for me though, cause I'm always in the sweetspot..:cool:
I totally agree with this. Although LCR was the original concept of 'stereo' in the early 1950s (the compromise of 2 channels came later in that decade), I have found repeatedly that the presence of an active center channel completely destroys stereo imaging, depth and width. Although the center speaker was originally intended to provide just those qualities in the early 1950s (and many if not most original music master recordings were 3 channel), it doesn't work in practice. The presence of a center speaker calls attention to itself.

For home theater where many people are off-axis, and obviously in a movie theater where most people are off-axis, a discrete center makes total sense.

Fun fact: originally (the early 1950s) the word 'stereo' was supposed to be restricted to 3 channel (LCR) recording - 'binaural' was reserved for 2 channel reproduction.
 

FrantzM

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 12, 2016
Messages
2,363
Likes
3,376
#11
A center channel is ESSENTIAL for movies. The oft-repeated, but not factual point, that phantom center channel is enough doesn't hold scrutiny. Someone posted some times ago, on ASR, the the FR differences between phantom and discrete center speaker. It wasn't even close, to use an expression dear to audiophiles.
I disagree also with the , again too often repeated point, that the center channel carries most of the sound. No! It doesn't, in my experience, I watch about a movie or more per day, it (center) carries part of the sound scene but mostly the dialogue.. The rest is carried by the L and R.. As for surround it is good to have similar speakers but ... For Atmos, I make do with a pair of Bose 161 on the ceiling, it seems to work. I will go toward a pair or more of LSR305 on the ceilings .. when I move to 708 up front ... :).

Peace...
 
Last edited:

Thomas savage

Major Contributor
The Watchman
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
10,085
Likes
15,152
Location
uk, taunton
#12
I think the fronts are more important than the center though the center is important. You can have great clear dialogue on the center and obviously that is important, but if the front pair are substandard everything happens in a smaller, less detailed, less enveloping space. The envelopment is what makes for an immersive experience and the center doesn't do much for that. The surrounds finish the envelopment, but the front pair must be good for it to work well overall I find.
Assuming the most important is the differing potential over a stereo 2 channel setup its got to be the center channel or the subwoofer.

I voted subwoofer as to me thats the biggest upgrade if I were to chose between a 2.1 setup and a 3.0 setup .

I'm perfectly happy with voice over stereo myself.
 
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
473
Likes
691
#13
That depends on how one treats their family, housemates or guests... there is always a sweet spot or area. ;)
Sure, let the guest sit in it when you want to show off.
My friend did that with me and I immediately fell in love with the Focal sound. :D

When we watch, we both sit at the sides of the center, so both our heads are as close as can be (at least half the head), instead of one sitting in center and the other off center. Sharing the spot, so to speak.

For newer formats like Dolby or DTS, I think dialog comes imbedded in the center channel only. It needs to be down mixed to get that from the fronts. This was my understanding.
Correct.
Most AVRs do that automatically when Center is set to "none".

A center channel is ESSENTIAL for movies. The oft-repeated, but not factual point, that phantom center channel is enough doesn't hold scrutiny. Someone posted some times ago, on ASR, the the FR differences between phantom and discrete center speaker. It wasn't even close, to use an expression dear to audiophiles.
In my nearfield setup, I notice no difference with or without a center. It may be more relevant for couch setups, when the mains are further apart but with my Focals, I often get the eerie effect that the voice comes directly out of the screen.

I voted subwoofer as to me thats the biggest upgrade if I were to chose between a 2.1 setup and a 3.0 setup .
If you have the ability to let the big boy off the chain, definitely.
Nothing will have that much impact (pun intended) during action scenes.
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
45
Likes
21
#14
I watch a lot of DD movies and for me, the Center Speaker is the most important...........long short. For MP3 music, I set the AVR on Multi Channel.
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Messages
10
Likes
17
#16
Front L&R. Prefer phantom center most of the time (not always). IMO you can have a rewarding experience with good L&R's and phantom center, but if you ditch the L&R you're listening to an expensive soundbar. Pass.
 

Chrispy

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
1,945
Likes
1,520
Location
PNW
#17
Are we talking a third speaker (identical LCR) or compromised centers? :)
 

Beershaun

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
921
Likes
857
#19
Front left/right are most important to me. If I had to pick one thing to add to my TV only setup first it is left and right speakers. (Which is what I did in real life). Everything else comes after that.
 
Top Bottom