Has anyone ever tried two center channel speakers?


What are the pros and cons of using two center channel speakers?

I am using a full range Infinity Kappa 7 speaker laid on its side as a center channel. The other one is in storage. I have the room to lay the other one next to it and I have an extra amp to power it.
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Normally designers try to align vertically the tweeter and mid range for good reasons - you should really use your speakers the way they were intended (vertical)
Sorry to say this but:
1. Putting a speaker on its side will leave you subject to lobing and poor dispersion.
2. Adding another next to it will make all that worse.

Use one center speaker standing up or, depending on your setup, a center speaker with correct driver orientation and spacing.

There are many good reasons why the vast majority of quality speakers have their drivers arrayed vertically. Conversely, the vast majority of so-called dedicated center channel speakers are awful, having been designed to accommodate naive expectations and esthetic requirements at the expense of audio performance.

Kal
I'd never heard of lobing before this thread. I've used the speaker in this orientation for over a year with very good results. I had an Infinity Kappa home theater center speaker, it is an excellent speaker for a conventional sized room, it was just too small for my room. I happened to have an extra pair of Kappa 7.1's in storage....pulled one out and plunked it down and 'voila'. Now I've got myself a serious full range center channel. Standing the speaker up vertically is not a consideration and out of the question. It is just too big and tall.

Thanks for the input. I did a search for lobing in the forums here and found a lot of good info, explanations and opinions about it.

Since I have the extra amp and speaker and a huge room, I'll give it a shot anyway and see what happens. If it doesn't fly, I'll go back to business as usual.

....thanks again guys, I love this forum.
I once had two right channel speakers to the same effect.
I had 2 pairs of PSB Alpha A/V's that I used for my home theater system. Since I had an extra speaker after using one for each L/R/C, I tried putting two speakers in the center channel area. Oriented horizontally, with the tweeters out, it sounded much better than a single speaker. So much so that I opened the backs, bolted them together from the inside, and screwed the backplates back on. I then got another pair so that I could stack the L + R speakers as well, because I found it to be such an improvement.

I realize this runs contrary to what people have said thus far on this thread, but I experimented and found that it worked great. 6 years later, this is still my center channel speaker.

Michael
I'm with Michael--if it sounds good to you--go 4 it. None of the detractors should be invited to your home,a?
what about stacking the two on their sides??
Conversely, the vast majority of so-called dedicated center channel speakers are awful, having been designed to accommodate naive expectations and esthetic requirements at the expense of audio performance.

I cannot agree more! 5.1 movie soundtracks are ALL mixed and mastered in the studio with five identical speakers properly mounted at the same position in height. Phantom center more closely approximates what they hear in the studio then a center speaker at knee or chest height - ridiculously misaligned with the R and L channels which tend to be about waist height... a complex lobing pattern will occur due to what is often a one foot height difference between mid range drivers. (One foot is roughly 1000 Hz...so it is right at THE most sensitive range of your hearing...

If you can't mount the center channel properly (same as L and R channel) and your L and R channel speakers image well (as they should if they are audiophile quality) then I believe you are better off without one for a SMALL audience.

If you don't believe me then you should be able to fully enjoy your stereo music (as good as normal) with one speaker turned upside down...try it!!!
Butsy asked: "what about stacking the two on their sides??" Asked and answered: Twice as bad as one on its side. :-)

Kal
Stacking won''t work because the speakers are too big and they are trapezoidal in shape. The trapezoidal shape when laid horizontally naturally points the drivers upwardard and outward. My screen goes all the way down to the floor and stacking the speakers would obscure part of the picture.

I've read several opinions on the effects of lobing, and like a lot of things here on the 'Gon, there's lots of disagreement on its effects and detriment to the overall sound of your system. Some seem to think the effect is minimal and nothing to worry about.

As for laying a speaker on its side and getting poor dispersion. I haven't had that problem....I get excellent dispersion. A lot of stuff in audio is theory, or it may be factual.....nonetheless, if it sounds good, all the theory and facts go right out the window.

It pretty much comes down to if I like the way the two center channel speaker sound.

I will connect them this weekend and let you know what I think. Ordinarily, I wouldn't even consider two center channels, but my room is out of the ordinary.
Well, to get back to your original request: We have had several statements about the sonic problems with doing this and none about the advantages except for convenience. Of course, the bottom line is whether you like it or not but, judging from your acceptance of using a single horizontal Infinity Kappa 7 as a center, you may not be hearing, or caring about, what is so apparent to me.

Kal
I'm using 2 soliloquy sat-5's. I laid them on side with the tweeters in the center. It sounds amazing. I figured that I had the extra speaker, extra amp power and a 6 foot screen to fill. Remember that center gets the most work.
The bottom line is that it comes down to "balance". Everything is relative, and often comes down to compromises in the room, the equipment, the seating possition(s), and possible setup options. To say that you need to put your speakers in one location, because someone believes that "one particular" mixing studio has their system setup with the speakers at "waist high", or whatever, is assuming alot, and not really practical mostly. (I mean, you go to a large movie theater, where you know that the speaker system is going to be WAY WAY WAY UP HIGH, in relation to the seating audience, and you gotta know it's not usually going to end up that way in someone's home setup often! And, even then it's a compromise between the height you might want to listen music at, which may or may not be lower. Also, where's the screen height?--etc, etc.
Again, it always comes down to BALANCE!
I've heard people here on the forums say they think speakers
should be placed this far apart, and that high off the ground, or next to your side, 6ft up, or in the corners, or just behind your head for the side/rears, or having on directly behind your head for a rear speaker, or even having
multiple subs placed 1/2 way between the wall lengths, for bass mode cancelation. Then some say subs in corners, or just upfront, or just behind your chair, or dipoles vs. monopoles,...yada, yada, yada!!
My many many years of experience with all of this is this--It gets down to balance, and it's all a compromise! There is no perfect solution--just choices, options, and better solutions, given certain variables.
I will say however that there are certain guidelines to adhere to that will consistently yeild better results, IMO. But again, it depends. For instance, matching speakers across the front, at the very very least! Yes, ideally I want speakers arrayed the same, at same height. And usually I want speakers up higher for movie applications, as it produces a soundstage that gives more presence, and grandure to the scale! Kinda "larger than life" experience. But it depends. Same with speaker spacing and width of placement, in relation to the seating possition(s). How far apart? Well it depends on varaibles such as screen width/perspective, a balance of solidity of immaging you want, with 3 speakers playing up front, vs. two for stereo music, plus how much envelopement for multi-channel sound for how big of an audience, etc.
My main concern, first is however, is that the speakers all need to couple well in the room, in relation to the seating possition(s) for FLAT RESPONSE, and solid dynamic range. (also, critical coupling at the crossover to sub). This is THE SINGLE MOST IGNORED AREA of consideration when people place speakers!!! They put the speakers where THEY THINK they should go, irregardless of how well the speaker actually sounds in any particualar location, by itself!!!!!
I mean, what good is it to put a speaker, or center speaker, or whatever, where it's going to sound crapy? It's just going to pull the overall integrity of the system down, if it doesn't sound good where it is to begin with!
As for two center channel speakers, I'd say most would need to know all the variables, and to know what they're doing. You can easily cause more problems than you solve, by using two speakers in the center, if you're not aware of the variants in the room, seating, speaker design, comb-filtering, level matching, phase issues, etc, etc. For most I'd say stick with one well placed center speaker, that's balanced well for good response (yes, try to keep them on the same relative plane as L/R speakers, and arranged the same way, if you can), and anchored to the screen. But you do need to know what you're doing. And that takes experience, based on all the variables. Which you likely don't know.
Ah yes, there's no replacement for experience. If you want something done right, you go to the professionals! Otherwise, you get what you pay for (or don't pay for).
Nothing in "life's lessons" has changed in the last few thousand years. That goes with knowing how to set up an audio system for performance, either. good luck
Flrnlamb wrote (among other things): "My main concern, first is however, is that the speakers all need to couple well in the room, in relation to the seating possition(s) for FLAT RESPONSE, and solid dynamic range. (also, critical coupling at the crossover to sub). This is THE SINGLE MOST IGNORED AREA of consideration when people place speakers!!! They put the speakers where THEY THINK they should go, irregardless of how well the speaker actually sounds in any particualar location, by itself!!!!!"

Exactly. However, too many are putting things where they think they are "supposed to go" without understanding why. In addition, most do not have any way to know if the response is flat since they lack the tools to measure performance. They can choose ony what "sounds best" to them.

Kal
Magnepan recommends this in the manual for their MC1 panels designed for HT. They recommend wiring the in series and toeing them in to create a better image from more seats. I have not heard it, but know someone who has this configuration and loves it.
Dipole Maggies are horses of another color. The dual-center seems to work OK even though Magnepan continues to try to develop a center that both sounds right and will fit into a real room.

Kal
personally don't like maggies for HT. They don't excell in dynamics and inpact, are lowish sensitivity, and don't do well for "off-axis" listening, I find. But oppinions will vary.
For what its worth I have Three pair of Totem Winds pair for the rears and the center and pair for the fronts
the fronts are my powered by two channel and and I have a multi channel amp for the other to music /concerts sound great. I need no sub.
I have Martin Logan speakers in a home theater, with a Logos center speaker. I am thinking of replacing the Logos with two Areus i speakers for the center. Any thoughts?
Mitch4t,

Two center speaker arrangement would be best in your case, because of the fact that the center speaker is on it's side and the drivers are not aligned vertically. However, by putting the two speakers on their sides in a mirror image arrangement with the top tweeters of the two speakers next to each other, the vertical misalignment will be neutralized.
Redwoodgarden, excellent concept. I'll give it a shot.

thanks...I appreciate the tip.

mitch
Iv'e been using two RadioShack Minimus speakers (marked RCA 40 5002) for some time now as none of the center channels speakers I tried seemed to properly reproduce dialogue or have decent soudstage. Were sitting on top of display on each upper edge. Per your idea (Mitch4t configuration) I shoved my 8" Zingali fronts up against left and right sides of TV, toed them in 30 degrees, wired them in series, put the small speakers where the fronts were and aimed them out a bit. WONDERFULL...best center speaker integration Iv'e heard. Just wish I could afford $21,000 for six more Zingalis and really do this up right. Will post thread when everyting gets worked out using lesser surround speakers for everything else, you never know intil you give it shot, best wishes all, Mike.
Mitch4t wrote: "However, by putting the two speakers on their sides in a mirror image arrangement with the top tweeters of the two speakers next to each other, the vertical misalignment will be neutralized."

No, it won't. The additional interference may be less polarized but it will, in fact, be worse.

Kal
Years ago as part of a project we had with the Motion Picture Academy (or whatever it was called then) I was invited backstage at the theater where they screen for the awards. The speakers were setup to fire through the screen.

At least Stewart makes such screen in sizes suitable for HT, and there are probably others as well. This would seem a possible solution for those who insist on a center channel that matches the mains exactly. Not sure how the sound is affected by these screens. The screen at the Academy seemed very porous, but I doubt you could get away with that at the close sight distances of an HT.

Incidently, a foolish colleague had convinced someone at the Academy that our famous reserch institute could bring technology to improve the sound of their films. Of course he only priced himself into the contract. My role, as an expert in psychoacousitcs, was to size up the situation and try to assuage a discontented client. A meeting with the technical movers and shakers of the studios soon convinced me they knew far more about movie sound than we or anyone we were likely to bring to the task did. Of course we had world famous acousticians, physicists, and chemists, but not with expertise in sound for movies, nor was such expertise priced into the contract. My advice was to waive all charges, terminate the contract, and appologize. That's what we did.

db
How about taking the two identical center speakers and putting one above and one below the screen, with the idea of trying to get the image closer to the center of the screen. I suspect it would depend a lot upon where you sat in relation to the two but has anyone tried it?
Aren't most center speakers aimed to rediate up towards the listeners, obviating the need for an above screen speaker?
Hi Mitch
Eleven years ago in my clients home theater we used two center channels.
One above and the other below the screen. We used Mc Intosh speakers with great results. The dialogue is more focused than with only center.
To this day it is still very impressive.
Aren't most center speakers aimed to rediate up towards the listeners, obviating the need for an above screen speaker?

It seems to me that most speakers are designed to point straight at the listener which would mean the ideal place would be the center of the screen (like a movie theater), but that's not practical for most systems. That leaves either above, or below as other limitations dictate. However, as you may be implying, just below on a stand pointing slightly up does seem to be the most natural.

Eleven years ago in my clients home theater we used two center channels.
One above and the other below the screen. We used Mc Intosh speakers with great results. The dialogue is more focused than with only center.
To this day it is still very impressive.

That's what I was curious about, I wondered if the two speakers would vertically image or if it might just get too diffuse. It's interesting to hear that it can work, I'd like to try it sometime.
Two vertically-oriented speakers placed above and below the screen will provide a centered phantom image with minimal horizontal interference and lobing. Place them horizontally and/or displaced laterally and real problems arise.

Kal
The Mc Intosh center speakers were a meant for horizontal placement.
Sorry but I do not know the model number any more.
Rugyboogie wrote: "The Mc Intosh center speakers were a meant for horizontal placement."

Most are meant for horizontal placement but, despite that, few are designed properly for that orientation. (Spoken without knowledge of or bias against whatever McIntosh speaker you are referring to.)

Kal