I've tried it and it works OK. Dialogue is not as focused as with a dedicated center channel.
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I think with your speakers and if you are seated centered between the speakers then you will probably find the phantom works as well as having a center. It will be virtually impossible to get a center to match to the A-1. I did the same thing with Martin Logan Monoliths, but part of the reason was I did not want to corrupt the soundstage for 2 channel listening with a center channel right in the middle of the soundstage.
i did the Phantom center in my room and loved it. i think the effectivness of the Phantom center depends on how optimized your room is for 2-channels. if you already have excellent center fill and depth then any center channel speaker will likely detract from the 2-channel performance and not contribute much for multichannel music performance. if you primarily watch movies then i would go for a center channel as dialog benefits from it.
how are you doing the center channel electronics? does your multi-channel preamp have that capability?
Yep - me too - if your speakers image well then no problem at all - it will actually sound better than having a center on the floor or above the TV as you won't mess up the image from the mid/treble frequencies from your mains, which will be at totally different height from the center. Yep you heard correctly - phantom will be BETTER for a single viewer properly centered.
Of course if you need to entertain a crowd then a center channel is an absolute necessity for off axis listeners - to anchor the sound to the screen - of course surround speakers also become a problem with a crowd too - dipoles are often best for rears and surrounds in this case.
On the other hand...there is a school of thought that 2-channel material is improved by using a derived center channel. I belong to that school, and have belonged since before multichannel was invented.
But I refer to music. Where video is involved the difficulty of placing the center speaker is a significant consideration. Especially if the center speaker is to be the same make and model as the main speakers (which it ought to be).
My response is to only use a center channel for dialogue heavy movies, and SACD. I elevate the center channel on another stand for multi-channel music, it is matched with the front speakers and it is important to precisely match the levels and height. Otherwise, it is best to do without the center. With orchestral music and a proper set-up of the center, it is better, with a holographic wide front image. Multi-speaker set-ups are frought with problems and are develish to get right!
Great responses. Yes, I have thought about running phantom center channel for a while. If you are going to do it properly your surround system has to have it as an option or you will loose all the voices without a center. With the dispersion of the A-1's I thought they would be optimal for phantom center setup.
As an earlier poster mentioned, matching the A-1's to a proper center channel might be tough, I actually have considered purchasing a single large maggi, laying it sideways on the floor and running it as a center. There is also the Martin Logan curved center which is a nice piece (hybrid ribbon and small cone) but I think I might try it without a center first to see if it's better than with.
Rears I am planning on using a set of the C1 maggi's but someone mention dipoles which might be an option. Anyone using the C1's maggi's for the rear? I wanted to stay planar/electrostat for the whole system for matching purposed but wouldn't be apposed to going dipole. I was just concerned about the match though it may not be nearly as important for rear fill.
Concert video will be watched in 2 channel most likely as well as music only so it would only count for film.
Just remember unless you use the exact same speaker for the center as you do for the mains - then it is automatically a form of compromise....for a single viewer or a couple on a sofa well back from the speakers then Phantom is the lesser of evils,IMHO. Of course phantom is a form of compromise too...
interesting on the maggie on the side info. MYE actually makes a stand for it on their website for just such a setup. I don't doubt the factory told you not to do it, just interesting they build a stand for it. Also wondering why the speaker would care if it's straight up or laying down.
I agree there is a compromise when going with different speakers. But it's difficult to get an A-1 as a center channel :-). My next closest thought was a maggie.
Another point..Although I am a strong advocate of having a center speaker identical to the mains, this reflects my music listening. For movies there is some advantage in a center speaker with limited and/or shaped frequency response which makes speech more inteligible. Such a speaker is easier to place, and does not have to be regarded as a compromise (for movies).
I dont think useing a unmatched center is a cut and dry compromise and respectfully say that is a sorta snobish view. I run a matched center but have not been able to in past for various reasons and if you pay careful attention to what you picking it can be just great, speakers or Processors with volume pots and tone controls further makes matching easier. While I dont want to get into the Blind Test debate I doubt many would be able to call out a carefully selected non matched center if the had no knowledge of what they were hearing. Get what you can afford, do your best to mate it and purchase a better option when one presents itself. For your system I would say if you want to try an option for center look into the Eminent Technology center channel, I ran a Magnepan center with my Innersound Stats and liked the reaults.
I will ultimately be running front projection in the room but I like your thinking. I am going to run a surround for movies. I do like the rear fill, doors slamming, cars running past, that sort of thing. My goal was to just eliminate the center if possible during movies. The A-1's have a really wide dispersion and sound stage so I thought they might be perfect for going without a center channel. Either way, I think I will give it a shot, see if I am missing anything. Might save me from having to purchase a 3 channel amp and a center channel :-)!
I would try phantom mode first and see if you like it. Phantom mode worked well for me, but only when I was sitting dead center. As soon as I sat off to one side, the dialog ended up localizing to the main speaker I was sitting nearer. I ended up getting a center channel because I want to be able to sit anywhere on the couch when I watch movies, and because I want guests to have a great experience as well. If you end up trying a center channel, make sure you use a *matched* center speaker as well as identical amplification and cabling on that channel. In my setup, watching movies with a center channel sounds so much better, I wouldn't go back to phantom mode. In fact, I now exclusively listen to stereo music in Meridian Trifield mode, but that's fodder for another thread!
I would love to run a matched center but the A-1's are 7 ft. tall and 39" wide. That is one of the reasons I was thinking of running phantom in the first place. The A-1's also deliver and exceptionally large stage with a huge sweet spot. This may work well with the type of system I am trying to put together. But your right about just trying it and seeing whether or not it makes sense. My wife and I are usually the only ones watching together and the kids don't care about sweet spots :-)! So going phantom just might work in this case. The A-1's are a tough match. Some of the ideas listed above where a single Maggie on it's side though members have mentioned the company frowns on the idea and that it may not be good for the speakers.
martin logan produces a nice hybrid center channel with ribbon and small drivers which may fit the bill. I also thought about running Quad ESL 57's as center channel. They are not too tall and well know for their remarkable mid-range though it may be a shame to use such a beautiful speaker as a center.
I know there are many who love surround sound and use it as their primary listening system. I don't want to start a 2 channel vs. 5/7 channel war, that has been done in many other threads. What I am interested in is how essential speaker matching up front is. I may be splitting hairs here and worrying about nothing. The A-1's are a tough match so it may just make sense to not worry about matching them and pick up a decent center channel, realize there will be some inconsistencies and leave it at that. Matching the center channel with the correct power is another tough call. To purchase just one monoblock for a center just to match the left and right may not make sense from a cost standpoint since the A-1's are so hungry for power the center channel may be a little overwhelmed with 400W of power.