Center channel help


I am quiet happy with my 2CH set up but with my HT I feel my center channel (VA Oratorio) sounds a bit harsh at near reference level.

I have calibrated my system with pre/pro (Rotel RSP1068) internal test tones at MV=75. Based on what I read in another thread AVR test tones are with dialnorm of -31 dbfs which should mean that a DTS sound track played at MV=75 should be at ref level.

Now I watched LOTR-ROTK-EE last night and I found that with my MV setting between 66-68 its ok. Above that it begins to sound a bit harsh from the center channel.

I have the floor covered with carpet and I have already set the dip switch on the back of VA to "warm" rather than "neutral" as to me this sounds better and blends better with my mains.

Now my questions are:

1) Is my performance expectation too much. Am I listening too loud anyway and its not a speaker real speaker limitation?

2) Is it because my amp (Aragon 8008BB) can't provide enough current to the center channel?

3) Is it my pre/pro either running out of juice or its sonically not good enough? For people who dont know 1068 I would like to highlight that one of its faults is that you need to set the speakers level almost at max to get decent output (too less volts IOW).

4) Is it due to the fact that my mains are going through a tube pre and amp thats making them sound more smooth/less fatiguing to be bearable at extremely loud volumes? If this is the case I was thinking about putting behringer 2496 eq with tube setting in the middle?

5) Is it due to the paper drivers on the VA? I read in another thread that normally these have higher distortion than other materials.

Any help or ideas are welcome.

Thank you
Is sound bouncing off TV screen?

What are you using for LR speakers?
Either you are over driving the amp or the center channel speaker. I have all three LOTR and they were mastered very carefully on ATC speakers. It shoudl not sound harsh as there is no problem with teh soundtrack. IN fact, the only clipped signals on these DVD's is in the LF 0.1 channel, which should not be noticeable as it only occurs on explosions etc. (They over did some of the loudest LF stuff by boosting the digital data into clipping...hey after all it is the movies...).

Note that most Hi-fi domestic speakers compress and sound dull at extremely high levels of SPL. This can upset the balance between your center and your L and R channel if one set of speakers starts to compress before the others such as in the situation where center and L/R speakers are not matched and from same manufacurer.

I don't like the fact that you have your pre-amp at max volume...this should not be necessary and suggests a problem in line level matching somewhere.
I am using a pull down screen. Its bottom almost touches the back of the center speaker in pulled down position.

The L/R are Peak Consult Empress driven by a Ref110.
Have you tried rolling off you center treble? I use Rotel 1068 and Aragon 4004 amp for my mains.....I default my centers treble -2db.
It's your pre-tube sounding smoother and less fatiguing. Everything should match on all channels. Would you put a SS amp on your right channel and a tube on the left? Most of us know the importance of matching the L & R speakers on 2 channel system. Some go to extremes measuring speaker angles, speaker placement, exact speaker wire lengths etc... Home theater is just the same but you are adding more channels. The most seamless presentation will have identical speakers, amps and cables for all channels. Unfortunately there is not much to choose from for HT if you want to run a tube pre/processor. Products like this would make pretty good sense since SS amps are generally better for dynamics which are prevalent to cinema. The tube front-end would smooth things out as you have already discovered. Consider also that movies are non-stop sound for 2-3 hours. Anther option would be to just get rid of the center and enjoy your tubes in phantom mode.
Thank you everyone for your help so far.

Shadorne: Maybe another RSP1068 can affirm but AFAIK setting the channels to or near max is a common issue. Someone told me once that this pre/pro gain was low and this issue was a result.

Steuspeed: I understand and agree with your point of view but what is the remedy for this issue other than a phantom center? I guess this should be a fairly common scenario with 2CH on tubes and the rest of speakers on SS for HT. I guess compromise is necessary in my situation (different speaker as CC and also pre and amp) but how do I minimise?

Chadnliz: Thanks very much for the tip. I have had the pro for about 2 years but never knew that you could set the trims per channel. I guess I should have read the manual more carefully :-)

the contour for each channel is a great feature, you better read up as I bet there are more things you are not aware of on the Rotel.