Center Channel on an Integrated Stereo Amplifier


Background: I have an integrated 2 channel amp for stereo listening. I added a sub to it with a direct connection to the terminals on the back of the amp (2.1 setup right now). 
I also want to have a Center Channel that I can connect and disconnect when I want (so I can listen to the 2 channel for music and have the center channel connected for movies). I have a really good amp, so I would love to be able to use that amp to power the speakers when watching movies (and power the center channel too if possible!). 

Question: What is the best way for me to get this done? 
For me to have a 3.1 setup - a 2 channel integrated amp with 2 speakers, a sub, and a center channel WITH connectivity options so I can disconnect the center channel whenever I want. 


Thank you all for your help,
Shawn 
shawnpmathew
Why would you do that,a good 2 channel setup will center the image of movies or tv just fine.
@kdude66 - It does sound great! But I recently heard a 5.1 setup with an amazing center channel and it blew me away. A center channel makes a huge difference, and if this is possible to do I think it would be good to investigate it.

Do you not agree? 
if you sit between the main speakers I would not do it
to me it often sounds great at first, but after a few hours, much less great...
A 3.1 or 3.2 setup can work really well.

But I'm not clear on how you are processing/sending a true center channel signal and which amp (or amps) you are using? Can you elaborate?
@jl35 - I do sit between the main speakers. They are set up now pointed in toward a sweet spot. 
Thanks for the advice
@david_ten - I do not have a processor to send a true center channel signal to the center channel. That's why I am asking the question, so someone can guide me on which processor can do what I am looking to do. 
I have a pair of ML speakers driven by a PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium Integrated amp, and I also have a REL R-505. That is my 2.1 setup. 

I want a  way to add another channel (a center channel) to this setup. 
There's no way to extrapolate a center channel with a 2 channel amp. I'm also not a big fan of center channels. I'm of the opinion that speakers should be heard and seen, but not identified. Music and tv systems play very different kinds of material and I think the design objectives are different. 
the other issue is matching the center to the mains...I'm actually in the process of turning my 5.1 into a 2.1
After having 2 complete home theater systems,I went right back to good ole 2 channel 8 or 9 yrs ago.

I don't miss it one bit.

Give us details of your system and maybe we can help you with the setup to get you closer to the sound that you think you desire.

Kenny.
@shawnpmathew:

I agree with the other posters on the thread that it is probably best to stay with 2.1.

HOWEVER, To answer your question and to address your needs, I, and I believe others, will need some more information.

1. Where is the 3.X channel signal coming from? The TV? The Cable Box? Another source?

2. What is that signal being transferred over? HDMI? Another type? For example, if you are using the Optical out of a TV, in many cases it will be limited to 2.1 channels.

Please know that I am not suggesting that you do this, but simply answering what you have posted in your thread.....

The simplest solution is to replace your PrimaLuna with an AVR.

[Again, I am not recommending this, but it is a solution.]

If you keep your PrimaLuna then you need to have something that switches seamlessly between 2ch and HT. The PrimaLuna may allow for bypass or passthrough, and if this is the case, then it can still serve as a hub. However, that will still mean that you need something to process the extra channel signal and an amplifier for the additional channel. Further complicating things is keeping everything 'sounding' the same since you will have to match the center to your L/R speakers and (less so) the amp and cabling and volume across all three channels.

The above para is a quick, short take on the complications one gets into with the type of setup you are looking for, which is why most don't go to the trouble. The results are very good when done right, but it is usually a pricey road.

You haven't mentioned which DAC you are using with the PrimaLuna, but an option I considered to get to true 3.1 was the new OPPO Digital UDP-205 directly feeding an NAD M27. The NAD has 7 channels and if I needed to biamp speakers, I would be able to use 6 of those, and likely a 7th for extra sub duties, since the OPPO is .1 only.
And then factor in what the money spent on the center channel could do to improve your 2.1    curious if you listened to the 5.1 as a 3.1 also...
Okay, here is my entire setup so far:

1. Martin Logan Vistas - Speakers
2. PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium Integrated - Amp
3. REL R-505 - Sub
4. Simaudio MOON 300D - Dac
5. Emotiva ERC-3 - CD Source
6. Simaudio MOON 180 MiND Streamer - Dedicated Streamer
7. Panasonic DMP-BDT220 - Blu-Ray player

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/6604


I am looking into getting a Martin Logan electrostatic center channel to match my speakers.
On top of that, what should I look into?

And if you guys have any suggestions on how to improve my system, I am all ears :)

Also, after reading all the replies it looks like I am going down the wrong road. If I want a home theater experience, I should do a home theater.. Not try to make my 2 channel listening system into a 3.1
Thanks for the advice!


Thanks again for all the help!
Shawn
@david_ten - To answer your questions: 

1. The 3rd channel would come from my Blu-Ray player 
2. The Blu-Ray player connects to my DAC via optical cable. 

If I were to do it, I would keep my PrimaLuna. I do not want to replace that amp. And it does allow for a bypass or pass-through 
Nice system. Trying unplugging all the video components when listening to music. That was a recommendation from Charles Hansen of Ayre. Works for me. Unplug streamer too when listening to CD
@jl35 - That is very interesting. I will try that this week and let you know if I hear a difference. Thanks for the suggestion! 
I reread some stuff above and I think I understand now:

I have my Blu-ray player go to a processor (which I need to purchase), and send the front signals to my PrimaLuna so that can power my main speakers.
And for the other speakers (center and rears whenever I decide to get the rest) I will have to purchase a multi-channel amp that I can send the signals to through the processor and that connects to all the other speakers. 

And then I have my CD source which will send signals directly to my PrimaLuna, so I have to option of listening to stereo. 

This gives me the ability to switch between 2 channel and home theater! 
Does that sound right? 
Hi Shawn.

Yes, more or less. : )

Here are some additional 'things' to consider.

It may be time to upgrade your BDP. Higher models will provide analog out, which may allow you to avoid purchasing a processor. And if you are going that route, it might be wise to go with a UDP/UHD player so that you are more future proof.

I'd also check to see what is output via Optical/Toslink. Some sources will allow for multichannel output, but MOST are only 2.1.

As I said earlier, the most cost effective way to move forward is to purchase an AVR which will provide you with up to date processing, can serve as a hub/switch, and offers you amplification.

Otherwise you are looking at a number of components and the needed extra cabling. This is a good path, just one that is more expensive.


@david_ten - Great, I understand. Thanks for the advice and clarification! 
And if I were to upgrade by Blu-ray Player you would recommend the Oppo player? 

I think I am going to take your advice! I will get a receiver - Looking into Pioneer Elite receivers unless you guys have other opinions on what I should get. 

To connect to the receiver I will go from my blu-ray to the receiver with an HDMI cable, and that will allow for the multi-channel output. 
And I will use the receiver's pre-outs to connect the front speaker outputs to my PrimaLuna which will send the signal to my main speakers, and have a separate connection from the receiver to the center channel. 
And an HDMI out from the receiver to the TV for video. 
@shawnpmathew:

Hi Shawn. OPPO is a good choice, but there are others as well. It depends on the feature set you are looking for and your budget. If you go the AVR route then you don't have to spend as much on the player. On the audio end, the main difference in choice will be whether you want to utilize the onboard DAC in the player or the DAC in the AVR.

I've had good luck with Panasonic and Sony, but ended up becoming a dedicated OPPO user due to their 'higher end' audiophile players. In terms of OPPO, which I am currently familiar with, the 203 will be a good choice if you go the AVR route. Other companies also have good offerings for about the same or less (in price).

If you skip the AVR, then I would recommend trying out the 205. OPPO has a very reasonable return policy and you can test the 205s performance for CD playback, computer based audio, etc., and its DAC vs your current Simaudio DAC and streamer, and  CD/BD player.

You might be very surprised. If that makes it happen for you, you can keep the 205 and get an older previously high-end AVR for pennies on the dollar and use it for amplification purposes only. And then bring in the center channel.

If I were making the decision, this is the route I would take. If the OPPO outperforms your current components you will have One Box replace Three Boxes. If it doesn't, return it and you are likely only out shipping fees.

The above is in relation to audio alone. In addition, you will be getting top of the line Video processing as well as a truly universal disk player.

On the current AVR side, there are many well reviewed choices across a wide budget range.




In terms of AVRs, I haven't been  familiar with Pioneer Elites for years now. My last AVR was a Marantz. Before that Sony ES and before that Yamaha. I think you will have a number of good choices. One I would recommend looking into is Anthem.
@david_ten - Just a little confused...
Why should I upgrade my blu-ray player? Are you saying my current one doesn't have the ability to have its audio output multi-channel formats? 
If I get a receiver with HDMI in's and out that will be able to carry video and audio, so I should be able to get my multi-channel sound through that, right? If that's true, then I might not need to upgrade my Blu-ray player yet. 

Anthem's are expensive! Great reviews though... 
Your current BDP will output multichannel via HDMI to your receiver.

The argument for upgrading is only if you want to get a more up to date BDP (and more specifically a UHD with current video processing) and possibly more output options, like analog out.

You can also output audio via HDMI from your TV, if it allows for it.

Your budget is of course a factor. If you want to keep your spend lower, then only invest in the new receiver. The other path(s) are options you could also pursue.


The main reason a center channel sounds better on movies is that they tend to use it primarily for the voices in order to "bring them out" (eg higher volume, closer miking) and these can easily be correlated with the folks being portrayed, which tend to be center staged.

The most straightforward way to get what you want would be to buy an older AV preamp with a pass-thru.  Use it for movies, keep your current preamp, and use it for your stereo listening with no audible deterioration.  Your sub, if it has both line and speaker inputs, could use the line input from your AV receiver, and the speaker inputs you are now using for stereo music.
I finally got this setup working!

Check it out :D
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/6604

Thank you all for all your help :)
Congratulations. Pics look terrific. And you sound happy!