Center Channel Needed?

My HT setup is currently biased towards two channel but I am running two fronts, a sub and two rears. I do not currently have the amplification or the speaker to run a center channel. The front speakers are the Aerial 10T's which are spaced 12 feet apart. The imaging during both two channel playback HT applications are super. I am not necessarily opposed to adding a center channel, but even at used prices, this addition would be somewhat pricy as I would need to get another amp and the center speaker. Would love some perspective from those of you that have added centers what I am missing from the current setup...will adding the center add a level of excitment and realism to HT playback? My assumption now is that running the processor in center channel phantom is just as good as adding a center due to the imaging the remiander of the system and the Aerials provide. Would especially love to hear from current 10T owners, but appreciate all feedback & comments.

In my experience, the center channel is more important than side or rear channels.

The Center channel (or dialogue) carries the voices of the actors and when set up properly, matches the action and position in the room the actors occupy (when dialogue is above or below TV, aimed at you).

I have on occasion, watched a movie with dialogue only and given the choice of dialogue only or all other channels (without), I would choose dialogue only.

For my movies I employ my stereo systems large front channels, plus dialogue and sides to make the most of the movie. But I find the story line of the movie is in the speech and with most decoders, that level can be changed to match your existing speakers. This allows changing dialogue output from movie to movie, keeping special effects from overwhelming the story line and plot.

As for cost, you can likely find a decent center channel speaker here at Audiogon and if you can assign the amplifiers you currently have, I suggest disconnecting both rear channels and using one of those to power your used dialogue channel as an experiment.

If you don't agree the addition is worth the effort, sell the dialogue speaker and continue as you have. If disconnecting rear channels is not a loss in your system, you are good to go as is. If you require all the above, search for an inexpensive amp for center and go for it.

For me, I recently bought a multi function receiver to do this job. I have all tube amps and big speakers for front, but using the Vandersteen dialogue and B&W in wall for sides. I experimented with everything from small transistor gear to all tube system and have decided that the current crop of receivers are adequate for dialogue and rear, greatly simplifying my system.

These HT processor-amplifiers are very inexpensive, less than a grand for the best ones and many offer video processing, AM-FM tuners and the latest movie sound processors in one small package.

Mine has over 100 watts per channel and is very effective, especially since the power supply is only having to operate three of the five channels. Still a bargain for the less than $575.00 I paid.
The center is important , for music but especially movies. I would suggest thet it is critical to use another 10 t or at least a cc5. if you cannot afford a cc5 then dont do it. The cc5 is a great center channel speaker and mates well with the 10. It is far superior to the cc3. Do NOT mis match the center with another brand unless movies are all you care about. Music reproduction will suffer . Its critical you stay in the Aerial line . Movies need surround information , period. The encoding process has progressed dramatically and surround sound atmospherics play a tremendous part in the movies conection with the viewer. The center and its integration is another issue . Its a matter of some disagreement on its placenment and proximity to the monitor. A prominent member of the audio community suggests 2-3 and possibly 4 feet behind the arc to facilitate what he calls" magic" in that a deep center image creates a larger more harmonious blend with real life perception assuming ones suspension of disbelief is engaged . Placing a center on a large monitor mostly negates the advantage in my opinion and i suggest staying phantom.
Yes the center speaker is important especially if anyone is not sitting in the sweet spot. Otherwise it sounds like the persom is speaking out of one of the front speakers. But this is a concern for movies.
I've tried many configurations over the last year...while all sounded pretty good..."with center" is far better as long as the center is a good match with the mains.

It's sometimes hard to get a good match because of placement issues so many people go with out...can't say I blame them.

My mains are Apogee Duetta Signatures which caused the problem for me also, moving to a projector allowed me to get rid of the mis-matched and horizontal center speaker and add a much larger (Apogee Centaur Minor) in the vertical position for a seemless match.

dialogue is crisp, clear and pin-point as needed....way above anything phantom could do. Having very clear dialogue allows for lower listening levels...a great plus as the dynamic range in movies is often waaaay over the top as we turn up the volume so that we can hear the often to quiet vocal mix.

Do I wish it wasn't so...yep

The center channel plays a very different role for movies than for music. My (good) system is used only for music, and my center channel is identical the the front left and right, consisting of a custom two driver subwoofer system and MG1.6 planar speaker. For music, the center channel is most important and should be as good or even better than the others. Obviously there would be no room for a video screen.

For movies, the center channel is mostly for dialog. A superb full range speaker is not the best choice. Dialog is more easily heard and understood if the frequency response is restricted, and shaped to emphasize a certain range.
Appreciate all of the responses. With a total of five weighing in, it appears that it is 5-0 in favor of adding a center to the current mix. Not sure I would be able to find just one 10T, so will begin looking for the Aerial CC5 Center. Thanks again for all of the well thought out & informational responses.
Matt , i would consider contacting Aerial directy and posing the single 10 t query. This company is very customer friendly . As I said however , a cc5 is a great center and mates well with 10 s.

I will weigh in with a slightly different perspective. My system is used for both movies and music, with music being the most important. My speakers are quite large and only about 9' apart. I can not impement an identical center speaker due to height restrictions. I have decided, after attempting to integrate a number of center channel options, that, in MY system:

1) A center channel (as I can implement it) is detrimental to music.
2) A center channel speaker (in my system) has small impact on movies - even those who sit on either side of the seating area hear dialog well centered. My speakers are well known for floating an outstanding image, and they handle the needs for phantom center beautifully.

So - every installation is different. Depending on your room, seating area, etc., you may not need a center channel speaker. (just my 2 cents).