Stereo Guy wants center channel

Ok, first time poster here. I'm looking for 2 suggestions and I'll get to those shortly.

Here is what I'm currently running. I listen to a lot of music and this is in a 1600 sq ft loft. This is why I'm running two subs.

sources are DVR, apple tv, playstation for blue ray and compact discs

ONKYO TX-8511 - 100 watts per channel solid state - Purchased 15 years ago in college

Infinity Kappa 5.1 Series II mains - will take 150 watts per channel and are 90db sensitivity - Purchased 15 years ago in college. I've replaced the 8" woofers once.

dual Martin Logan Abyss subs - Purchased 6 years ago.

I'm running each sub with speaker level inputs off the bi-amps on the Kappas. So I'm running full range into the kappas, which naturally fall off at 50hz and the subs pick up the bottom end. I'm quite happy with this arrangement and don't want to change this aspect of the system.

Please excuse me if my terms aren't correct as I haven't researched this stuff in quite a while. I've never been interested in home theater before, however I'm finding something annoying watching movies with this system. The dialogue is at a much lower level than action sequences and I find myself constantly turning the volume up for dialogue and down for action. So I'm looking to add a center channel to my system and a receiver that does home theater stuff. I'm not really interested in adding rear speakers because I largely listen to music and I just don't care that much right now. I just want movie watching to be a little more enjoyable. So my plan is to run 3.1 and my understanding is that 5.1 receivers can downmix to 3.1 to satisfy my need.

I don't know anything about current receiver technology accept that the HDMI switching stuff interests me. I like the idea of running all the HDMI into the receiver and only having one HDMI into the television. I also know that it used to be that integrated circuit amps were crap and solid state amps, like the little Onkyo I have were somewhat better. Perhaps the newer digital amps, like in car audio, exist in home products? I don't know.

I'd like a substantial center channel and it seems like a no brainer to pick up a used Infinity Kappa Video and run that as my center. It should match well with my mains and is 89db sensitivity, so very close. I'm not opposed to having speakers in the unit repaired if this is a good center channel choice.

I'd like a stout amplifier. My mains will take 150 watts and that center will take 150 watts, so I'm not opposed to spending money on something with decent power. When I get out of this loft and into a house, I'd probably be interested in running rears and would probably just pick up another pair of Kappa 5.1's.

So based on all this I'm looking for the following recommendations.

Reciever (I'll also consider multiple components here, but would rather keep it simple)

Center channel

Just to clarify, the receiver should push full range to the mains and run the center for now. And it will push rears sometime in the future.

My ears are open :-)
Emotiva would seem to have something right up your alley: the UMC-200 prepro and one of their XPA-3 power amps.

This will get you a very capable processor with very good sound quality mated to a reasonably-priced powerhouse 3-channel amp. And if you ever decide to expand the system to full 5.1 surround, you already have a very capable preprocessor. All you'd need to add is a 2-channel amp to the mix.

Total for both is $1400. You could, of course, save some bucks by getting them used. And with their long warranty buying used is not much of a risk. Emotiva products have a 30-day in-home trial and a 5 year warranty....

FYI: CAMBRIDGE AZUR AVR RECEIVER -- several different models to choose from.

CAMBRIDGE prides itself by providing superior audio excellence over esoteric gizmos, buttons, and cryptic fleeting features, which IMO is preferred.

GOOGLE the great reviews and go audition one if you have a chance.

It swayed me enough to purchase their top unit two years ago in a head to head comparison with the top ARCAM kits. The Arcam is a very, very fine kit by any measure, ignoring its past buggy issues. The CAMBRIDGE AZUR AVR holds itself well by providing 90++% of that superior ARCAM audio performance in the top ARCAM kit; at a small faction of the ARCAM cost.

Highly recommended.
Donnatronious, I found a 6 month old UMC-200 right here on Agon for $499, not a bad price but you may be able to bargain him down another $50 or so since Emo has lowered the price of a new unit from $699 to $599...

I have the Emotiva with a Mac amp. Amazing sound and video. The remote on the Emotiva is one of the worst ever. I bought a harmony within 2 days.

As far as speakers are concerned: Buy the amp/pre first or a receiver if you like. Even a $500 Denon should be quite an improvement. Almost any one will let you select how many speakers. DO NOT BUY THE CENTER YET. You may be amazed at how good things sound with a newer amp.

Now, when you decide on a center speaker, which will make a world of difference, do yourself a favor first and try to compare some newer speakers to your Infinities. Things have changed a little in 15 years. More importantly though is getting an exact match for the front 3 speakers. The sound should be seamless across the front channels and you won't get this unless you have speakers designed to match soncially.
Elevick, I'm not sure why you are so dissatisfied with the UMC's remote, it doesn't look that bad to me. The buttons are logically placed and of different sizes so that usage in the dark should be fairly easy.

Having just switched from an Emotiva UMC-1 preprocessor to an Integra DTR-60.5 receiver one big thing in Emo's favor is their on-screen menus. It is very easy to switch from Input to Input and make adjustments to the settings. You can pull up a screen with the settings for one Input and then quickly switch to the same settings for another Input - very logical.

In contrast, the Integra forces you to back out of the settings screen all the way to the Main Menu in order to get to the settings for another Input. That is piss-poor user interface design.

I also like the fact that the Emos allow you to make on-the-fly adjustments to the sound settings right from the remote via dedicated buttons. Need to bump up the subwoofer's output by a few db? Simple, press the Sub Up/Down buttons. The Integra forces you to pull up the on-screen display and drill down thru several menus in order to make such simple adjustments.

These are the kinds of things that most folks do not notice when making a purchase and they make a big difference in the day to day user experience and satisfaction...

Are you sure you have your sources set up correctly? I'm not too interrested in HT so I may be wrong, but its possible you may need to set your sources for 2 channel playback, if you can. If they are set for 5 or 7 channels, that will definately cause the problem you now have. Most of the dialog is being sent to a speaker that doesn't exist in your system. Also, if you have settings for volume normalization and phantom center channel, that may help too. I watch all of my movies in 2 channel and don't have any problems.
Hmm, is there no way to quite responses on this forum? Anyway...

I appreciate the responses here.

Zd542 - I think you might be onto something. Here is how I set it up. I run the HDMI from all my sources into my television, and then I just run one set of stereo RCA out of the television into my Onkyo. I think this may be the culprit?
The Cambridge Azur units look interesting.
Zd542-one better than rca from the tv is to use toslink or hdmi from the tv to your new receiver.

RW-A backlight would have been wonderful. Maybe my mind is going but I don't use the remote enough to memorize it for dark use. The UMC is still great sounding and excellent with video.