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Best center channel options

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I am building a new home theater and in the process of purchasing all of the necessary speakers and other associated hardware.  I already have two R-28F towers for my main front speakers, and I have two R-14S surround speakers.  My subwoofer is the R-10SW although I do have a second Martin Logan 10" sub I could use if I find it necessary.

 

The room is wired for 5.1 so for the time being I am starting there but I may pull some new wires to upgrade to a 7.1/7.2 setup in the future.  The receiver I have is an older Onkyo TX-SR507 which I fully acknowledge is underpowered but I will be replacing that soon and it will be moved into a secondary location (separate topic down the road).

 

The room is currently setup with a 46" LCD but a projector will be coming soon (deciding which to buy).  Screen size will be approximately 120" and the room size is 31'D x 20'W however primary viewing/listening position is approximately 15' from the front wall with the surround locations being approximately 19' from the front wall. The remaining space behind is used for a gaming area so it doesn't really factor into the proper "listening area".  I mention dimensions so it is clear this is a larger space which helped explain why I opted to go for larger tower speakers as opposed to small wall mounted or in-wall options.

 

The current issue I have is that I need a proper center channel to finish out the system.  My two top options right now are the R-25C or the RP-440C.  Because this room will primarily be used for watching television and movies as well as some gaming with perhaps less than 5% of the time devoted to music, I know I need to invest in a good center.  From what I can find, the R-25C is the matching center for my towers and has dual 5.25" woofers.  It is rated at 100W.  The RP-440C on the other hand has four 4"woofers and can handle 150W, so it seems as if this would be capable of delivering a larger more robust sound.  There is also the RP-450C which is the version with four 5.25" woofers which in theory is capable of even more although I suspect that may be a bit overkill for my needs.

 

Does anyone have experience with these centers to know what would be ideal?  Obviously the R-25C is less expensive which would be appreciated however if I am really doing a disservice to myself by not stepping up to the RP-440C or even the RP-450C then I'm open to suggestions.  I hear a lot about "timbre matching" which suggests I should probably stick with the smaller R-25C but (with no disrespect to anyone here) a lot of what i have read elsewhere makes me think people just toss out phrases like "timbre matching" without bothering to actually listen to the speakers or they simply repeat what they heard elsewhere and consider it fact.  I assume any good receiver is capable of balancing speakers to the point the typical listener would be more than satisfied, so I just want to ensure I have enough speaker to fill the room and ensure I'm drawn into the movie/game rather than being distracted by substandard audio.

 

Any and all opinions welcome.

 

TL;DR option - Need help picking a center.  Top picks are R-25C and RP-440C.  Already have R-28F towers, R-14S surrounds, and R-10SW sub.

 

 

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Any and all opinions welcome. TL;DR option - Need help picking a center.

 

Funny! 

 

FYI if you would have led with that, most of us would have been asking for the more complete explanation w/pics, so you're good, but thanks for the option!  :lol:

+++

 

I am firmly in the "bigger is better" camp for center speakers.  Ninety percent of your dialog will come through the center, and dialog is 90% of TV and movies.  Get the best quality center speaker you can afford.

 

And welcome to the forum!  :emotion-19::emotion-21::cool:

Edited by wvu80
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I have R28Fs, and also some R15Ms and a R10SW for a sub in a 7.1 setup.  

 

I first had the R-25C, then purchased a RP-250C instead.

The R-25C is the matching center to that series, a slight downgrade from the RP series.  It matches perfectly to the 28Fs.

The reason I upgraded was that the RP250C has a titanium tweeter (which doesn't perfectly match) but the sound is better, and the frequency range is better - it goes much lower to around 62hz.  So even if crossing over at 80 it has more room to perform.

 

From what I've learned (which is still limited), the 440C in woofer surface area actually will match up similarly to the R25C or RP250C (4-4" woofers are about equivalent to 2 - 5-1/4" woofers).  The 450C on the other hand has 4 of the 5-1/4" woofers, so you have 2x the surface area there.

 

So my 2c - the R and RP series are close enough that you could get either the R25C, the RP250C, or the RP450C and be very happy.  It's really a matter of cost and what you want/need.  To me, for an extra $30 I got the RP series and in 2 minutes I heard the difference.

 

So my 2c again is either RP250C or the RP450C.  Both use titanium tweeters.  To match perfectly your existing system the R25C is built for it but the build is not as nice.  It's a slippery slope though to open the door to the RP series....

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The larger ones will have more beef on things like concert blu rays.  I can get my RC-64ii jumping pretty good with some kick drums.  Two 5's would be a big step down on things like that.  

 

But, many people like the smaller centers with two woofers better on things like voices, claiming it sounds more natural.  There are likely less lobing issues, you don't have two different crossover points, and some recordings with unnatural male voice boominess may be tamed a little.  

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I am firmly in the "bigger is better" camp for center speakers.  Ninety percent of your dialog will come through the center, and dialog is 90% of TV and movies.  Get the best quality center speaker you can afford.

 

I've heard this expressed a few times - spend the money on the center because that is what will matter more than anything.  So maybe going with the larger more expensive option would be best.  I just didn't want to risk overpowering everything else because if I have to adjust everything to tone down the center to prevent it from overpowering everything else, am I really taking advantage of the "extra" sound it is capable of?  Sort of liking burning 93 octane premium fuel in a Chevy Cavalier.... probably not worth it!

 

Thanks for the reply - more to think about.

 

 

I have R28Fs, and also some R15Ms and a R10SW for a sub in a 7.1 setup.  

 

I first had the R-25C, then purchased a RP-250C instead.

The R-25C is the matching center to that series, a slight downgrade from the RP series.  It matches perfectly to the 28Fs.

The reason I upgraded was that the RP250C has a titanium tweeter (which doesn't perfectly match) but the sound is better, and the frequency range is better - it goes much lower to around 62hz.  So even if crossing over at 80 it has more room to perform.

 

From what I've learned (which is still limited), the 440C in woofer surface area actually will match up similarly to the R25C or RP250C (4-4" woofers are about equivalent to 2 - 5-1/4" woofers).  The 450C on the other hand has 4 of the 5-1/4" woofers, so you have 2x the surface area there.

 

So my 2c - the R and RP series are close enough that you could get either the R25C, the RP250C, or the RP450C and be very happy.  It's really a matter of cost and what you want/need.  To me, for an extra $30 I got the RP series and in 2 minutes I heard the difference.

 

So my 2c again is either RP250C or the RP450C.  Both use titanium tweeters.  To match perfectly your existing system the R25C is built for it but the build is not as nice.  It's a slippery slope though to open the door to the RP series....

 

Agreed it is a slippery slope to some degree. I know there is always better but perhaps for my ears it won't really matter.  For the last few years I've just relied upon the speakers in my televisions while all of my equipment sat on shelves in a storage room so anything will be a step up from where I am now.  It is just hard trying to determine if the increased cost of the RP series is worth it.  I don't claim to be an audiophile but I do have a background in electronics and I do have a preference for quality, crisp sound.  I bought my towers, sub, and center all on various sales so perhaps I just need to be patient and see what comes my way for a center speaker.  I'm willing to pay more for a higher end center, but can I justify two and a half times more? That is the question.

 

The larger ones will have more beef on things like concert blu rays.  I can get my RC-64ii jumping pretty good with some kick drums.  Two 5's would be a big step down on things like that.  

 

But, many people like the smaller centers with two woofers better on things like voices, claiming it sounds more natural.  There are likely less lobing issues, you don't have two different crossover points, and some recordings with unnatural male voice boominess may be tamed a little.  

 

I believe the majority of my usage would be movies so primarily dialogue.  I have a few concert Blu-Rays but don't crank them up that much so for me it is more about clarity and not being distracted by poor audio quality.  I've used a few of those "home theater in a box" type systems where the center sounds like a lone tweeter with nothing to fill in the gaps - I don't want to risk that this time around.  I also don't want to get carried away if there is a high probability I won't take advantage of a much more powerful center.  I've heard some of the larger ones require a lot more power so that factors in to what receiver I go with too.... there goes the snowball effect.

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I'm known for my honesty around here so here it comes. Do you think your towers you have are fantastic? If so then get the r-25c and be happy with that. In audio I have come to love one simple term and that term is ignorance is bliss. If you have been listening to tv speakers for the last few years get that r-25c and be blown away. Is there better out there? Heck yes there is. But at what cost? Everyone's budget isn't the same. Want a perfect center? Build an at screen and buy you a third tower to match. LCR is king. Period.

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I'm known for my honesty around here so here it comes. Do you think your towers you have are fantastic? If so then get the r-25c and be happy with that. In audio I have come to love one simple term and that term is ignorance is bliss. If you have been listening to tv speakers for the last few years get that r-25c and be blown away. Is there better out there? Heck yes there is. But at what cost? Everyone's budget isn't the same. Want a perfect center? Build an at screen and buy you a third tower to match. LCR is king. Period.

 

 

Honesty???

 

And here all this time I thought you were known for your planking???

 

Rog

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I'm known for my honesty around here so here it comes. Do you think your towers you have are fantastic? If so then get the r-25c and be happy with that. In audio I have come to love one simple term and that term is ignorance is bliss. If you have been listening to tv speakers for the last few years get that r-25c and be blown away. Is there better out there? Heck yes there is. But at what cost? Everyone's budget isn't the same. Want a perfect center? Build an at screen and buy you a third tower to match. LCR is king. Period.

Honesty???

And here all this time I thought you were known for your planking???

Rog

touchè
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I've heard this expressed a few times - spend the money on the center because that is what will matter more than anything. So maybe going with the larger more expensive option would be best.

 

I just didn't want to risk overpowering everything else because if I have to adjust everything to tone down the center to prevent it from overpowering everything else,

 

am I really taking advantage of the "extra" sound it is capable of?

 

Your point is well taken.  It's hard to express what a quality center does for the overall sound if you haven't heard it. 

 

To me it's the same difference if you and I talked face-to-face in a normal voice across a dinner table.  The smaller center sounds like the same conversation in the same tone of voice but from across the room when you have to raise your voice to be heard, and then even with the raised voice your not exactly sure what is being said.

 

Sort of liking burning 93 octane premium fuel in a Chevy Cavalier.... probably not worth it!

 

 

You are on the right track but it's an imperfect analogy.  It's more like owning a Corvette and putting low octane fuel in it.  Sure, the Vette would run but you would lose power and the valves would rattle.  It would run much better on high test.

 

The larger center is high octane for your nice Klipsch speakers.  Don't worry about losing performance your AVR's room correction like Audyssey will do the magic of making all the speakers play nice together. 

Edited by wvu80
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Well if your gonna go big then just go past the reference premiere and get either thx ultra kl-650 or a palladium p-27c. Problem solved.

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It's not about going louder, it's about getting cleaner, clearer sound.  And yes, bigger is generally better.  But you do want your collection of speakers to be timbre matched.

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If you consider used it would help budgetwise. The 28f has 2 8inch woofers...not many centers are too big for them. More a factor say u find a r25c for 150 a rp250c for 200 or a 450c for 400ish? Which do u choose? Find a good used deal imo. 450 is a big boy do you have room even? As scrappy says for u or me we are very happy with the 25 or 250c

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A lot to think about - but you have all helped me and I appreciate it.  

 

I do like the sound from my R-28F towers.  They are a nice step up to what I've been using the past few years.  However I know in the scope of things they are considered lower end and yet I'm completely satisfied.  Perhaps I could match the center and be happy - I can always upgrade down the road.

 

I'll probably just start watching pricing and if I see a deal on a good center it will help make the decision for me.  I'll also check CL and see about used, but in my area I don't have much luck since I don't live in a major metro area.  You never know though... can't hurt to browse.

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A lot to think about - but you have all helped me and I appreciate it.

I do like the sound from my R-28F towers. They are a nice step up to what I've been using the past few years. However I know in the scope of things they are considered lower end and yet I'm completely satisfied. Perhaps I could match the center and be happy - I can always upgrade down the road.

I'll probably just start watching pricing and if I see a deal on a good center it will help make the decision for me. I'll also check CL and see about used, but in my area I don't have much luck since I don't live in a major metro area. You never know though... can't hurt to browse.

sounds like a plan. And also lots of places you can order from with solid return policies. Wouldn't hurt to try the r-25c out in your home and see what you think.

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Its not just the woofer sizes and number it is the horn size that really counts. From the pictures it looks the rp450c has the largest horn. I cant tell if the rp250c and rp440c share the same horn but to me that would be the decider. Largest horn in the same series is always going to be better.

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And timbre matching matters-to an extent. If the ops primary focus is on improving dialogue for tv and some movies I would suggest get the rp450c. It may not be a perfect timbre match but will definitely achieve what the op wants.

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And timbre matching matters-to an extent. If the ops primary focus is on improving dialogue for tv and some movies I would suggest get the rp450c. It may not be a perfect timbre match but will definitely achieve what the op wants.

see this is where I get right back into the ignorance is bliss thing. If the OP has been listening to tv speakers for the last three years don't you think the r-25c would be a huge upgrade? Personally I think the RP-450c is a horrible center channel. BUT I have owned much higher quality center channel speakers. So thats why I feel that way.

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And timbre matching matters-to an extent. If the ops primary focus is on improving dialogue for tv and some movies I would suggest get the rp450c. It may not be a perfect timbre match but will definitely achieve what the op wants.

see this is where I get right back into the ignorance is bliss thing. If the OP has been listening to tv speakers for the last three years don't you think the r-25c would be a huge upgrade? Personally I think the RP-450c is a horrible center channel. BUT I have owned much higher quality center channel speakers. So thats why I feel that way.

 

Yes the r25c is a huge upgrade compared to tv speakers. But I have heard the r25c and cannot recommend it over the rp line if they are also being considered. I have heard the rp250c and it is better than the r25c, I would like to think the rp450c would again be better.The mains are still big speakers and in my experience a larger center will sound better between towers. 

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Well after a lot of consideration I ended up going with the RP-440C.  I was looking out for the RP-450C but wasn't able to find one at a price I felt was a good value.  I found a great deal on an open-box RP-440C that I really couldn't pass up since it was only $50 more than the R-25C.  It might be a tad overkill for my needs, but I doubt I'll have any regrets about going with an upgraded center.

 

It has shipped to me but I haven't received it yet.  Looking forward to getting it setup and testing everything out as a complete system.  Within the next two weeks I'll make my final decision on a projector (I'm checking for sales and deals daily) and on my receiver.  Leaning towards an Onkyo TX-NR646 but not fully committed yet.  

 

Thanks for all of the advice and suggestions.  

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