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Polk Reserve R350 Review (Center Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 120 53.6%
  • Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 93 41.5%
  • Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 10 4.5%
  • Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 1 0.4%

  • Total voters
    224
OP
amirm

amirm

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Yeh, a good mix would leave some content in the left and right to give you a spacious sound. Alternatively a speaker with much wider directivity can help.
 

Vovgan

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I could always tell the sound was coming from a speaker just in front of and below the screen

I have experimented with center channel once and had the same impression. But it was a long time ago and I do not remember trying to tilt that speaker upwards. As I can see on your photo you did tilt it upwards, but that still didn’t make the sound come from the screen, right? The thought of buying a good center channel keeps haunting me from time to time, but before cashing out ~ $6000 for the speaker and a new TV stand it would be great to know if someone has found a good solution of adding center channel without loosing the effect of dialogues coming directly from the actors’ mouths.
 

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Chromatischism

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Yeh, a good mix would leave some content in the left and right to give you a spacious sound. Alternatively a speaker with much wider directivity can help.
Maybe that is the issue. The S400's are wide at +/- 60 degrees, but at the same time pinpoint imagers. Maybe there is something to those super-wide Infinity and Revel centers. Then again the Infinity RC263 is actually narrower than the S400 in the meat of the vocal range due to a narrowing it has from ~500-900 Hz but is much wider through the mid and tweeter range.

To be fair I have only done testing with Oblivion so far, which I thought would be a fine test. Morgan Freeman gives some great vocal test material there if anyone is interested. It does sound like vocals in that movie are entirely in the center channel, so maybe another mix will give different results.
 

Chromatischism

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I have experimented with center channel once and had the same impression. But it was a long time ago and I do not remember trying to tilt that speaker upwards. As I can see on your photo you did tilt it upwards, but that still didn’t make the sound come from the screen, right?
Yeah it still sounded like a localizable speaker, whereas phantom center causes me to forget about speakers entirely as the sound just floats right from the screen.

Now, keep in mind I am picky...really picky. And it wasn't bad at all, but noticeable. With that said I am going to try another movie.
 

Holmz

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After various "should be humour but instead real" posts I was looking at I missed your humour. Sorry.

Maybe we need a complex conjugate?

That isn't the only benefit of a center channel, though. An actual center is better than a phantom one, acoustically.

How so?

The Mrs was convinced that my 2 channel was playing out of the TV… I do not see how it could be better with a dedicated center channel.
(I know it probably can be, but I am not sure exactly how, unless the movie being mixed makes it easier as 5.x versus 4.x... or 3.x versus 2.x)

… The thought of buying a good center channel keeps haunting me from time to time, but before cashing out ~ $6000 for the speaker and a new TV stand it would be great to know if someone has found a good solution of adding center channel without loosing the effect of dialogues coming directly from the actors’ mouths.

^That estimate^ sounds high… but after looking… it seems pretty close.

It looks like my table will come in around $4500 with a TV lift, and that is making it myself ! (~2k to $2500 for the lift)

Which leaves me with $1500 for a center channel to go with it... most likely inside the table on a shelf.
 
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amirm

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The phantom center has its own frequency response error in a similar manner to MTM except that the distance is now much wider (i.e. the distance between the two speakers).
 

beagleman

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The phantom center has its own frequency response error in a similar manner to MTM except that the distance is now much wider (i.e. the distance between the two speakers).

I have found the phantom signal is only good when anchored to one seating position. The slightest movement and I hear slight phase and level changes.

The REAL center, it more forgiving when moving a bit left or right. I still hear that sound coming from a pinpoint area even when a few feet one way or the other.

Maybe we are all wired differently, but phantom center just sounds compromised to me.

But the clincher, I have an older 2.5 way Polk Center (LsiC model) with a ring radiator and fairly narrow dispersion, but I love how it is so strongly anchored.
 

Transmaniacon

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I’d be curious to see the Polk R400 measured. It’s got bigger woofers and the tweeter is offset some which should help. It would have been nice to see a 3-way Reserve center since they already have the drivers from the Legend series.
 

Chromatischism

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I have found the phantom signal is only good when anchored to one seating position. The slightest movement and I hear slight phase and level changes.

The REAL center, it more forgiving when moving a bit left or right. I still hear that sound coming from a pinpoint area even when a few feet one way or the other.
That is the gist of it.

A compromise would be time-intensity trading the L/R speakers. I plan to experiment more with this and have a separate Audyssey profile for that, with markings on the floor for the right speaker angles when guests are over, complete with a wider measurement pattern for bass over all of the seats.
 

krabapple

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I have found the phantom signal is only good when anchored to one seating position. The slightest movement and I hear slight phase and level changes.
The REAL center, it more forgiving when moving a bit left or right. I still hear that sound coming from a pinpoint area even when a few feet one way or the other.


Yes, that is benefit of a real center that most people who use one know about and recognize.

What's much less known (though jj has written about it a few times) is the phantom center error Amir notes.

For music I use a two-way center speaker that's identical to my L/R, and at the same height, and vertical like the other two. This is 'correct' LCR channel configuration. For movies I lower the C to below the TV, and tilt it upwards. In the family room where most TV watching occurs, we just use a soundbar + subwoofer.
 
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Chromatischism

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For music I use a two-way center speaker that's identical to my L/R, and at the same height, and vertical like the other two. This is 'correct' LCR channel configuration. For movies I lower the C to below the TV, and tilt it upwards. In the family room where most TV watching occurs, we just use a soundbar + subwoofer.
Can you localize the center speaker with movie dialogue?
 

krabapple

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No more so than if I had a horizontal center mounted under the TV. The tweeter is pretty much in the same place. My TV is mounted so that the middle of the screen is at eye level.
 

Chromatischism

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No more so than if I had a horizontal center mounted under the TV. The tweeter is pretty much in the same place. My TV is mounted so that the middle of the screen is at eye level.
But with phantom center, it's less localizable?
 

pseudoid

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I should be biased (owning R350) and I should NOT have tried to draw further conclusions by comparing an apple ($600) with an orange (@$230).
But apples and oranges are both "fruits"; so, I tried to compare the @amirm' (always accurate measurements) test-result graphs vis-à-vis (mano-a-mano?) >> R350 (MMTMMM) versus S30 (MTM+Port).

I failed to draw any type of meaningful conclusions from those 2-sets of graphs, even using dual 27" monitors side-by-side comparo!
I am willing to ($$ = no object) choose the R350 over the S30, if I were to go strictly by the measurements. Less THD measurements.

Like in a crap-shoot; in this instance, I have little chance because I have no advance knowledge of how (and for what purpose) the content of media was produced.
Having never heard the S30 in combination w/my (lame *ss) equipment, I can only say that the R350 can probably be made to positively contribute to the mids in my listening room. But only if R350 can be tamed by feeding it a center mono mix (L+R) w/calibrated yet reduced levels.
In my system, the R350 may be beneficial in certain movie tracks using dolby-flavor, yet I don't find oppressing it with EQ-in-the-loop is worth the extra processing or my time.
 

sword

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Yeah, Infinity and Emotiva nearly cornered that market since the discontinuation of the Polk LSiM 704c and 706c. A third player with a thoughtfully designed center would be interesting, and Polk seems to be it, albeit at a slightly higher price. Not 3-ways but they have an offset tweeter, at least.

View attachment 161266

View attachment 161267

I'm not the biggest fan of the ring radiator tweeter but people always rated the LSiM speakers highly.

SVS and Monoprice (Monolith) also have affordable 3-way center speakers.
 

sarumbear

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pseudoid

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Yes. That is the idea. The person speaking is aligned with the speaker.
Like the tail that wags the dog?
I would have some serious explaining to do, if the missus asks me why I am laying on the floor!
"Oh, It's Okay! I was told it's all about the horizontal distribution, Honey!":oops:
 

mhardy6647

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Like the tail that wags the dog?
I would have some serious explaining to do, if the missus asks me why I am laying on the floor!
"Oh, It's Okay! I was told it's all about the horizontal distribution, Honey!":oops:
Given the above: Do yourself (indeed, yourselves) a favor and don't invest in a pair of Polk's modern version of their SDA ("Stereo Dimensional Array" -- sort of akin to Bob Carver's Sonic Holography of decades back but implemented at the loudspeakers) "Legend Series" L-800 loudspeakers.
Unless, of course, you happen to be on, e.g., a bobsled team ;)

index.php

7gd0c3u23tfj.png
 

GimeDsp

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Given the above: Do yourself (indeed, yourselves) a favor and don't invest in a pair of Polk's modern version of their SDA ("Stereo Dimensional Array" -- sort of akin to Bob Carver's Sonic Holography of decades back but implemented at the loudspeakers) "Legend Series" L-800 loudspeakers.
Unless, of course, you happen to be on, e.g., a bobsled team ;)

index.php

7gd0c3u23tfj.png
HAHAHAHA

Most awsomeness.
 
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