Buying a Centre Speaker

kolax

macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 20, 2007
9,186
115
So looking at buying a centre speaker (never had one, been living with 4.1 for last 5 years!). With most of my content now having AC3 audio, I think it is pretty necessary for the sake of dialogue at an audible level.


Wharfedale CR30C


Cambridge Audio S50

Those are pretty much my two options. Anyone familiar with either brand or model? I'm swaying more towards the Cambridge model.
 

jetlife2

macrumors regular
Apr 18, 2004
129
9
Cincinnati, Oh
essential

You really need one if you don't have one. IMHO the minimum setup is L,R, Center+SW.

I favor the positioning of the Center behind the screen. It gives an uncluttered experience. I did not want to see it staring at me over the top of the screen. So a factor for me was the physical dimensions and where/how to mount it. Not sure if that influences your choice between these two: but do read the dimensions and consider where it will go, most center speakers are quite sizeable.

After you install it it will be worth taking some time to rebalance the channels. I prefer more center-weighted and leave the surround for music and effects. YMMV.

Enjoy! I think you will be amazed what you have missed.
 

kolax

macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 20, 2007
9,186
115
Ah my setup is a 50" TV, not a projector with a screen unfortunately otherwise I'd love to position it right behind the screen.

Below my TV, I have the stand that contains my boxes, amp etc. They are shelves left and right, with the middle having a divider that acts as a support for the stand, so there's no way I could fit a centre speaker in there if I wanted.

I'm left with having to create a stand and have it above the TV angling down. I'm actually quite excited about getting a centre - I'm expecting more clarity with spoken dialogue with 5.1 sound!
 

brucewayne

macrumors regular
Nov 8, 2005
144
171
It's very important to find a center that matches the sonic signature of your left and right channel speakers. If they don't sound alike, a voice will change tone and 'weight' as it pans from left to center to right. It's not impossible to mix and match different brands to get good sound, but if your main speakers are 'forward' and the center you choose is 'laid back' (or vice versa) it's just not going to sound right.

From your post I assume that your main left/right speakers are 5+ years old. If you are happy with your current speakers, you might try to see if the manufacturer made a matching center and look for it on ebay/craigslist type sites.

If you must buy either the Wharfdale or Cambridge, see if you can take both home for a few nights to see which one sounds like your existing speakers. The easiest way to do this is to temporarily replace one of your main speakers with the center and play some music you are familiar with (in stereo).

If this is your first step in upgrading your entire system, buy the center that matches the rest of the speakers you like.

Both are reputable companies that make quality products, but only you can say which one sounds better to you. A buddy of mine loves his Klipsch speakers (horn tweeters), but they sound way too bright to me. He thinks my Polk LSi sound too laid back. Neither of us are right or wrong, we just have different tastes.

Good luck with whatever you decide!
 

kolax

macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 20, 2007
9,186
115
I probably do need new front speakers. I'm planning to go with Cambridge Audio and get the S70 fronts and matching centre.

I guess the surround speakers don't need to match exactly as they are more used for special effects rather than dialogue moving around the various channels?
 

Irishman

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2006
2,663
597
So looking at buying a centre speaker (never had one, been living with 4.1 for last 5 years!). With most of my content now having AC3 audio, I think it is pretty necessary for the sake of dialogue at an audible level.

Image
Wharfedale CR30C

Image
Cambridge Audio S50

Those are pretty much my two options. Anyone familiar with either brand or model? I'm swaying more towards the Cambridge model.
I'm guessing you've auditioned the two and are preferring the Cambridge?

----------

You really need one if you don't have one. IMHO the minimum setup is L,R, Center+SW.

I favor the positioning of the Center behind the screen. It gives an uncluttered experience. I did not want to see it staring at me over the top of the screen. So a factor for me was the physical dimensions and where/how to mount it. Not sure if that influences your choice between these two: but do read the dimensions and consider where it will go, most center speakers are quite sizeable.

After you install it it will be worth taking some time to rebalance the channels. I prefer more center-weighted and leave the surround for music and effects. YMMV.

Enjoy! I think you will be amazed what you have missed.
No, no, no! To the OP, please disregard this suggestion, UNLESS and only unless you have a projector and screen with an acoustically transparent material. Otherwise, having the center speaker (any speaker for that matter) positioned behind a HDTV will muffle the sound from it and destroy its imaging!

To the OP, do you have, or do you plan to have, your HDTV mounted on the wall? This might give you sufficient vertical clearance for your Cambridge center.

----------

I probably do need new front speakers. I'm planning to go with Cambridge Audio and get the S70 fronts and matching centre.

I guess the surround speakers don't need to match exactly as they are more used for special effects rather than dialogue moving around the various channels?
The degree to which surrounds are presented in a movie depends entirely on how it's mixed. You'll tend to hear more surround presence (ie, you'll notice it more) on sci-fi, action, horror, and CGI movies, and less in dramas and rom-coms.
 

kolax

macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 20, 2007
9,186
115
I'm guessing you've auditioned the two and are preferring the Cambridge?
Not auditioned them, but from what I read. I should audition them, but I don't think it'll be possible (especially since it depends what amp they'd use) given the store near me is pretty small with wooden floors.

No, no, no! To the OP, please disregard this suggestion, UNLESS and only unless you have a projector and screen with an acoustically transparent material. Otherwise, having the center speaker (any speaker for that matter) positioned behind a HDTV will muffle the sound from it and destroy its imaging!

To the OP, do you have, or do you plan to have, your HDTV mounted on the wall? This might give you sufficient vertical clearance for your Cambridge centre.
I don't have the TV mounted, it is sitting on a stand, and the stand has a bit in the middle to support it so there's nowhere to put the speaker on the stand. Underneath the TV would make the TV too high, so the only other option is to put it above the TV in a custom made frame.
 

brucewayne

macrumors regular
Nov 8, 2005
144
171
I guess the surround speakers don't need to match exactly as they are more used for special effects rather than dialogue moving around the various channels?
It's probably always better to have a matched sound all the way around (especially for music), but for the rears its not as important.

Humans are most sensitive to timber changes in voices, and as you said, it's not as common for dialog to pan from front to back. Also, the compromises usually made for rear speaker placement (due to furniture and room layout) may change their sound enough to nullify your attempts to match them to the front
 

takeshi74

macrumors 601
Feb 9, 2011
4,972
68
Not auditioned them, but from what I read. I should audition them, but I don't think it'll be possible (especially since it depends what amp they'd use) given the store near me is pretty small with wooden floors.
It is a must whether it's in store or in your home with the dealer allowing you to return them. You can't rely solely on what you've read.
 

garybUK

Guest
Jun 3, 2002
1,466
2
If you don't have space underneath your TV, you can always add two centre speakers either side but closer to the TV than your front L/R speakers, this is why a lot of higher end receivers have x2 front centre speaker connections + rear centre speaker connections.
 

Irishman

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2006
2,663
597
Not auditioned them, but from what I read. I should audition them, but I don't think it'll be possible (especially since it depends what amp they'd use) given the store near me is pretty small with wooden floors.



I don't have the TV mounted, it is sitting on a stand, and the stand has a bit in the middle to support it so there's nowhere to put the speaker on the stand. Underneath the TV would make the TV too high, so the only other option is to put it above the TV in a custom made frame.
You may have to start over with a new stand that lets you properly display your equipment in a way that respects your space.
 

kolax

macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 20, 2007
9,186
115
If you don't have space underneath your TV, you can always add two centre speakers either side but closer to the TV than your front L/R speakers, this is why a lot of higher end receivers have x2 front centre speaker connections + rear centre speaker connections.
Unfortunately mine doesn't have that option, just a single centre output.


You may have to start over with a new stand that lets you properly display your equipment in a way that respects your space.
I think I will have to buy a new TV stand - the one I have right now is only a couple years old and costed £150, rather frustrating, but I guess my own fault for not thinking about a centre speaker at time of purchase!
 

Dindorio

macrumors newbie
Jun 9, 2012
25
0
I am using this center speaker "KEF C6LCR Centre Speaker European Walnut", which is awesome. So, i am suggesting you to try this center speaker. May you like it.
 

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