What is best center speaker?

I have an HT set up with bryston 4b amps (4 ) an AV 9000 marantz a 65in HDTV and Piega P10 as fronts Piega P5 as back and the Piega Center. I have now blown the center twice and am tired of sending it back east to be fixed. I need a center that will fit in with the Piega and will take 200 to 400 watts and sound outstanding. Does a center like this exist? (The Piega center is a wimp)Thanks for your input.
Are you Running the Piega as "large" on your pre/pro or receiver? YOu NEED TO BE RUNNING IT AS "small"!(or 80hz or higher) Really, no reasonably/practical sized center channel can handle full range properly for home applications. Deep dynamic bass will distort the speaker's woofer(s) and it's most always audible. Really, for passive speakers especially, you need large woofers to handle dynamic 20hz bass info and such. Actually powered active woofers are what's needed to control such heavy info properly. That said, even the more robust centers need to set to "small", and have the bass sent to a more aptly prepared sub.
I am not so familiar with Piega's speakers ingeneral however. But I have seen there speaker(mains) at shows. I couldn't tell you how the speaker hold up dynamically. But they seem, well, delicate! I could be wrong. Still, the best thing you could likely do if you're sticking with Piega's for HT purposes, would be to configure the speaker for "small". If that's still posing a problem for your listening habits, I would consider NOT USING THE PIEGA SYSTEM AT ALL for movies! They're likely designed first and for most with less demanding music dubties in mind!(like Magnapan's and such, which are delicate in my experiences, and don't handle dynamics well.
You'd be better off(as with most people who have more dainty audiophile rigs) using the Piega's you like with Music dubties only(I'm guessing you like lots of pretty instrumentals, vocals,jazz, and light classical?...which I picture Piega's doing best really), and getting 5/7 matching dedicated HT speakers for movie purposes, maximizing both formats to their best potential for your purposes!
Sooooooo many people try to take their fav speakers they like so much for listening to Diana Krall with and enlist them for HT dubties! They often try to do the whole system (running speakers full range no less) for HT applications, and it most often(yes, most often), isn't so spectacular or effective! Dedicated HT speakers are going to do better in most applications, and should be strongly considered! You could mount some very very effective acoustic suspenstion HT speakers on the wall for excellett results for movies, getting the speakers entirely out of the way! With something like a B&K pre/pro, you could use the parametric EQ on board to flatten out the response of the speakers/system, and have great HT sound with proper set up!
Anyway, I understand your desire to use your music speakers for HT dubties. I used to have Thiel 2.3's/1.5's and SCS3 center un my HT/music system. I eventually got better HT results using some Klipsch SB1/2's (running tubes out of a pre/pro...Outlaw preamp soon to be added).
This is the very reason most audio mag reviewers have two systems!..they can mazimize what they want out of both music and movies.
IF it where my money/system, I'd keep the Piega's for what you like out of music, and go HT speakers for movies. I think many reivers/editors from mag's would agree.
Good luck
Totem Mani-2- used 5 of them in an HT system driven by Theta Dreadnaught (400 wpc into 4 ohms)- interal dual isobarik woofers- could take whatever I threw at it...
The best Center channel speaker is actually a third speaker the same as the other two front speakers.

This could present a problem if your fronts are large floorstanding speakers. If you are projecting on a wall screen you could have one under the screen. Bookshelf speakers are no problem with any TV monitor.

George Lucas uses five B&W Nautilus 802's all around to mix his 5.1 soundtracks. So his center mix assumes you'll do the same (use a regular speaker for a center).
Nick: You can't expect a relatively low efficiency speaker using two small drivers to do low bass and play loudly and do it cleanly. As such, you have to accept that there will be trade-offs with such a design and either limit the volume and / or the amount of low frequency information that you are going to send to the speaker. As such, the suggestion from Foreverhifi to run the speaker on the "small" setting may help, but i don't know if it will get you all the way there.

By the way, what are you "blowing up" on this speaker ? Are you killing the tweeter, one or both of the mid-woofers, part of the crossover network, etc ??? If you are taking out specific parts, such as the tweeter, ask Piega to change the slope and hinge frequency of the crossover to something a little more conservative. If it is the mid-woofers, tell them that you want a custom model with four mid-woofers rather than just two. They can series-parallel the drivers. While this will will raise the impedance, it also increase power handling / maximum SPL capacity. You've obviously got plenty of power since you are smoking the speaker, so the change to a higher impedance probably wouldn't hurt you any.

If you want to avoid all of this, switch over to running another P10 for your center channel. That is, if it is possible. I agree with Sugar that running identical or a near identical center speaker to what you are running for the mains seems to work best. Piega may cut you a deal on a single P10 since you've already had problems and it may be cheaper for them to help you out than to have to repair the speaker under warranty. That is, if they are covering the repairs under warranty. Sean

PS.. Forever: You might be surprised how well my low efficiency, low impedance "audiophile type" center channel speaker does in terms of bass extension and high spl's while retaining good clarity. Then again, with 800 watts driving two 8's, a dome mid and dome tweeter in a 4+ cu ft cabinet, it's not exactly "under-powered" or "little" : )
I guess I must be lucky. I have the Von Schweikert LCR35. I don't use a sub so all speakers are set for full.I actually get some rumbling out of this center when I use the THX set up. (At the begining of some of these THX movies.)---This, when the tone is for your sub part of the test---Yup,out of this center speaker. AND, yes it is a clean bass sound.
I think what determines this is how low the speaker goes. I can't remember how low. It's on Albert's site,I just remember the spec. is better than for Aerial cc3. AND this center is twice as musical.
This problem should not happen with any decent center speaker. If you are going to stick with this system get a third speaker the same as your mains as one person suggested. Otherwise go with another system. I have the Revel Voice center and it take whatever is thrown at it. It uses much of the same drivers as the mains.
George...I run my HT system "full" and use a sub. The sub adds to the sound instead of replacing it.
Ksales: I agree that this "shouldn't" be happening, but we don't know all of the variables involved. The system could be severely out of calibration with the center being relied upon to provide the majority of information, the room may be VERY large, so more power is required to achieve the required spl's, etc...

Having said that, i have a hard time figuring out how people "blow" speakers, especially woofers. I have POUNDED very generic drivers with GOBS of power and never had problems with them. My Brother had built some 5 1/4" two ways using generic car stereo speakers that cost him about $40 total. He drove these with 200 wpc and throttled them on a daily basis playing "metal" and hard rock at very high SPL's. He did this for months and months and never had a problem.

In both cases ( his and mine ), we are talking nothing less than sheer physical and electrical abuse. If a commercially built product can't take what i would consider "normal" use, it is either built using parts that are below a "very generic" level, the designer has NO idea what they are doing or a combo of the two. Sean
How 'bout phantom mode?
Best center channel speaker is no center channel speaker. I base my answer on almost 8 years HT experience first with laserdisk, then with DVD. I've used my system every which way, no center channel, with a center channel, for movies and surround music. Differences without center channel range from none to far superior depending on the source.

Boston Acoustic Good Ol'e (Discontinued) VR-12 Center Channel - COULD HANDLE YOUR LOAD.
Thanks all for you input. I have bought a Wilson watch center. This is a good match with the Piega speakers and I can push the watch past any place I would want to go.
PS it was the ribbon that burned up. The ribbon in the PC4 center just can not take the Bryston at 250 watts. The P5 and P10 work well and can play any movie at any sound with the Brystons even working in mono or 400 watts.The Wilson watch can play all day at any sound with any movie and can keep right up with the Piegas
Russ 1: I agree that the lack of a center speaker CAN work better in many systems. This will depend on the mains being used, how far apart they are, the seated listening distance, if everybody is sitting in the "sweet spot", how the source is recorded / mixed, etc...

It is not uncommon for a center channel to corrupt the presentation. This is especially true if someone is running good sized mains and only has them spaced apart by 6 - 8 feet or so. I've seen WAY too many installations like this. I think that too many people are "fooled" into thinking that they "need" a center from looking at advertising and listening to money-hungry sales people.

In my particular installation my mains are over 12' apart, so a center channel does help to anchor dialogue in movies. At the same time, side to side special effects are more pronounced due to the wider spread of the speakers. If the speakers were a few feet closer, i wouldn't bother with a center. This is one of those things that is system / room dependent. Even if one doesn't have a dedicated HT room or system, just watching movies in stereo with "decent" speakers spaced a bit apart is a BIG improvement in most cases. Sean
I would think that the best CC would have to do with what gives the best Dialog without clashing with the other speakers in the setup.

I would think that Magnepan would make the best Dialog speaker ,but I agree with what someone else stated about having a thoird main speaker or something close.

As for myself I have all Modified NEARs and for the CC I will get 2 of there bottom of the line speakers which will have virtually the same drivers I have throughout my system.All use the same Tweeters and once I find the values of all the Caps I will outfit all the XO's with the same type of SoniCap Capacitors ,Inductors and resistors(Matched).
You can get it in piano black..
My friend powers it with a 1000W Boulder monoblock.