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daddyo

Best center channel speaker

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I'm moving to new house and get to upgrade my home theater.   I'm 73 and have some high frequency hearing loss (typically display the subtitles).   We use our HT for 80% movies and 20% soft rock music.   I want to start the new system with a very good center channel speaker for dialogue and then build a 5.2 system around that center channel.   Listening area will be about 12 x 12 but open to around 20 x 20, hard floors.    Existing 5.1 is Def Tech in smaller listening area and it does a fair job, I'm looking for upgrade plus handle the added volume space.    Any recommendations on cc to start with ?

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What is your budget?  Do you prefer a modern style speaker or older heritage style?  Do you have any restrictions on speaker size?

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Willing to spend up to $1000 on cc if it is a significant improvement.    Style isn't a high priority compared to performance (dialogue).   Good question on size, should have 8" available under TV for height of cc.    BTW, would like to stay with existing AVR - Yamaha Aventage 660 @ 80 w/ch

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Klipsch RC-62II, I've seen them used in good shape on CL for $250-300. It's 8" tall. I got one and it's a very capable center.

Klipsch RC-64II, used $600-700+, new right at $1000. I don't know if you can find a better center for any money and it's 8" tall as well.

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I was curious if anyone would recommend the 64 ll.    It's a beast at >50#, has that big tweeter, and goes down to 60 Hz (so they say) which is good for a cc.   I'll be in Va. in a few weeks and may stop by Crutchfield to do a comparison with the DT9000 series.   I'm thinking that the Klipsch "brightness" may be just what I need to augment my hi-f hearing problems.   Thanks for the inputs.

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If you are starting from scratch, based on the center, I would have all 3 front speakers be the same.

 

Examples:

 

3 RB-81’s, 3 RP-280’s, 3 RF-7 III’s, 3 Forte III’s and so on. With a budget of $1,000, you can get quite a good center speaker, especially if you go used.

 

I just picked up 2 CF-2’s for $200 and I am probably going to go check out a single CF-2 for a center, this weekend. 

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Thanks K5SS.   Are you coming from the issues of having a horizontal M-T-M arrangement for the center or just the natural tonal balance of 3 identical front speakers ?    The esthetics/placement of that vertical center may be a problem to me (or wife).     My approach was to try to maximize the center and then pair up the L/R to the center.   Pls elaborate a bit more.

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I agree that ideally a matching lcr is best.  When u have only 8" under a tv though of course that can be a showstopper.

 

Im going to say something different than most.  I can point u to diy centers or klipsch ones that will do a great job.  But the real issue people have with center channels is how they are setup in a room.  They often have a lot of interference from wall bounce where center clarity isnt good no matter what.  This leads a lot of people to think if they get a really big center it will fix the issue.

 

At 73 im not going to lecture about room treatments...instead i will say that how you place your furniture in the room will dramatically impact the center sound.  Say you have a few plush chairs...placed strategically they will make any center sound better by absorbing some of the wall bounce.  Same for a carpet between u and the center channel.  Sound panels are ideal at first reflection points but furniture can do a nice job instead i.e. chairs mentioned before.

 

I have heard all of the klipsch consumer centers.  Although you want to pick the center first, i do  think it would be better to consider the front 3....whether they match or not....together.  

 

Many members here think the rp250c isnt the best.  They believe a 450c or rc64 (earlier series) are better.  I disagree and would argue they all are excellent.  Setup matters more.  

 

In a well setup or treated room i can make any center sound really good.  Understanding that interference from the room....walls, floor and even ceiling is the key to creating the clarity u want.

 

The best advice I have is to look up on google room treatment or acoustic treatment 101 and read about it.  Im again, not saying put up sound panels...instead learn how to best setup your room within the constraints you and you significant other have.  

 

So my shorter version is this - all the Klipsch centers are good.  It is the rooms they go into that need changing/enhancement.  I watch people go througha lot of centers thinking oh yeah that one has 2 8s or 4 6s....must be better. Maybe...maybe not.  What you want for the front 3 combined matters more.

 

People with rf7s like rc64s because it more or less matches in capability and timber, not just due to it being the biggest one.  

 

Right now i have an rp250c with rp160ms, and would not upgrade to any other, because it closely matches.  The only change i would make is to switch it out with another rp160m.  

 

I hope this helps.  

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Robo - very interesting and thought-provoking comments.    I was aware that new space is going to be a challenge to deal with since it is very open, high ceilings, hard floors, and various architectural features to deal with.   I had gone as far as considering some sort of area rug in the listening zone but not to think about how the positioning of furniture might impact the audio.   Obvious sound panels are not going to be approved by the "higher authority" but drapes, chairs, rugs, and/or sofas might get passes.   Good inputs - thanks.

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13 minutes ago, daddyo said:

Robo - very interesting and thought-provoking comments.    I was aware that new space is going to be a challenge to deal with since it is very open, high ceilings, hard floors, and various architectural features to deal with.   I had gone as far as considering some sort of area rug in the listening zone but not to think about how the positioning of furniture might impact the audio.   Obvious sound panels are not going to be approved by the "higher authority" but drapes, chairs, rugs, and/or sofas might get passes.   Good inputs - thanks.

My pleasure to share the ideas.  Any Klipsch center will allow you to turn it up plenty.  Im more concerned you get that good setup to begin with as it will make a big difference and make you a lot happier.  If i can help further just let me know. 👍

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40 minutes ago, daddyo said:

Obvious sound panels are not going to be approved by the "higher authority"

One thing to consider IF you really want acoustic panels, you can do images of a wedding picture, kids, grand kids, etc. thru various sites. There are also a lot of stock images with various artwork as well.

Makes it a lot harder for the significant other to say no... :D

Here's one for example.....

https://www.acoustimac.com/acousticart/acousticart-custom-1

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Great feedback on working the room for acoustics and I have more investigation to go in this area.    

I'm also a bit smarter on the logic of having 3 identical front speakers vs a center channel.

2-way vs 3-way is another consideration.

What about tweeter technology ?   ie differences expected in dialogue due to horns, domes, ribbons, etc ?

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Tweeter type is a deep dive, major differences in sound quality, frequency range,  dispersion patterns and sensitivity.

 

Klipsch uses horns, which when well designed -- and Klipsch are -- results in a high sensitivity tweeter capable of excellent controlled dispersion.  JBL is another pioneer in horn tweeter designs.  

 

Each type has benefits and drawbacks, what often draws many of us to Klipsch is a very good response, excellent directivity and ability to drive them either with very little power...or, with a lot of power to easily reach reference volumes in theaters.  Many of the other designs are not capable of very high volumes or controlled dirctivity.  But in other designs many audiophiles prefer the sound over horns.  

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Before you buy....or....after you buy:

 

  • Turn up the volume of your center by about 2 to 3 dB
  • If it has a tweeter level control (a rarity today) turn it up
  • Pull your center forward, so there is no reflection or deflection off of the shelf it is on
  • Don't watch Trainspotting

 

Some of the literature indicates that frequencies between 1K Hz and 8K Hz are important for intelligibility, thanks to the fricative consonances having quite a bit of content in that range.

 

My high frequency hearing is still more or less O.K., but I sometimes have trouble with dialogue, especially rapidly delivered dialogue in a Cockney, Scots, Irish or other difficult British Isle accents.  In our HT, we have a modified Belle Klipsch center speaker (with an enlarged top hat to accommodate a K401 horn -- the one in the La Scala II).  Although the Belle speaks through an "acoustically transparent" [sic] projection screen, it was EQd by Audyssey, with the screen down and in the way, therefore gets some help in the high frequencies.  Also we have it high so the tweeter and midrange are the same height as the right and left channel tweets/mids, and the top hat is pointed down so the tweeter points right at the height of the average ear of someone sitting on the couch.  Even so, we have the trim turned up 2 dB on the center.    Anyway, with all of these efforts, the dialog is now clear with almost any film except Trainspotting.

 

We have a bedroom system incorporating a Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 (an excellent set of computer speakers with a sub) for late night television viewing.  The speakers have small dome-ish tweeters that are mounted in a sort of horn-like indentation.  If my wife is asleep, I play it very, very softly.  The high treble was too soft for me to pick up all of the dialog in difficult programs.  I installed an Electro Voice T35 horn tweeter just above the speakers, crossed them over at 3.5 K Hz with EV X36 crossovers, and wired in L pad tweeter level controls.  When we are both awake, they are set for flat, and sound great, but brighter and clearer than the Pro Media alone.  If my wife wants to sleep, I feel I have to turn the main volume control down, but I turn the horn tweeters up a bit.  Sometimes it sounds a little squeaky, but the dialog is clear.

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I upgraded my dell OEM computer speakers to the Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 this year and am amazed at the difference.   I always thought the dells were pretty good until I started using a headset with my computer.    With the Klipsch, they match the head set pretty well.    Even though it's a bit of apples/oranges that experience got me looking at the Klipsch line for our new house.

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Ok, now it is late 2019 and several things have changed for me.   I am now in a new house, not the one that I expected from early 2018 but a newly constructed one more to my liking.   HT room is an issue however.   14 x 14 x 9 sunroom with 2 window walls and 1.5 drywall and wood/concrete floor.   Reflective or lively to say the least (working on this utilizing furniture and rug).    Ended up with a 5.1.2 system with 2 connections for subs and in-wall/in-ceiling for surrounds and ATMOS.   For a place-holder I bought Elac debut bookshelf B5.2 for L/R and C5.2 for cc.   Elac's are good (great considering the sale price) especially for music but hearing issues still make movie dialog a challenge.   Looking for the next step up for the L/C/R.   CC needs to be less than 8" tall so that pretty much precludes matching 3 speakers across L/C/R.  Narrowing the field down to Ascend (Luna series), SVS (Prime due to cc height), Elac (Carina series) and Klipsch (tbd).    For Klipsch option, considering the RP series around a RP-404c.   The 404 is a good size for me but I am concerned about the 500/1500 hz cross-overs.   1500 hz seems to be a bad frequency to be handing off between drivers when you consider dialog.   Any comments or other recommendations ?

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