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Need a center channel for my LaScalas AL5


JAGX
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Whatever you do, don't skimp on your center.  In a home theater environment, nothing is overkill in regard to a center speaker.  I tried several different traditional center speakers and wasn't 100% happy until I added another Heresy to match my mains.

 

I would absolutely go without a center (which I did for a long time until I found a 3rd Heresy) than put something in the mix that was massively outperformed by your LaScalas.

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Very good perspectives, but this brings up another issue. 😭

 

As I mentioned earlier, I am using a Denon Receiver which is powered. It also has pre-amp outs, which I thought I could eventually use to combo with a Decware tube amp for the LaScalas, which would be nice for music. If and when I add a center channel, I don't have another pre-amp out for that channel. In other words, eventually, I would have two LaScala's on a tube amp, and a third center speaker on the Denon stock power.

 

So, I could keep all speakers on the Denon and skip the tube amp (probably the easiest). Hard to say if that is worth it, since I would need to try the tube to see if it makes a difference to me.

 

Any other options, how odd would it be to mix and match L/R and center with different amps (even if it was a third LaScala or other heritage speaker)?

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not odd at all.

 

the way I did it was to MANUALLY switch from tube amplification amplification when I went from 2.1 to watching Home Theater or 5.1 channel music. You only have to manually switch two leads if you are using an AVR for a preamp, but I was using a tube preamp so I had to switch those leads also... not really that big of a deal.

 

as my system stands now, I will probably eventually build a dedicated 5.1 system in my space using Focal in walls so that I dont have to be switching leads... yet to be determined.

 

Ultimately, it's not worth giving up that beautiful 2 channel Heritage/tube amp synergy for convenience.

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I was never really happy with a center speaker for my AL5’s until I got a third one for the center.  I have tried a RC-62 and RC-64 III and while they worked it was not a flawless front stage until I got the center AL5.  Just a note if you all don’t realize it is you can order just one AL5 from Klipsch.

You do need to plan accordingly for the large footprint, so in my case I just modified my rack to fit it in.  The rack has since been shortened and narrowed.

 

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On 7/15/2022 at 9:47 AM, JAGX said:

how odd would it be to mix and match L/R and center with different amps (even if it was a third LaScala or other heritage speaker)?

you would be better of buying a  high quality Multichannel amplifier ,  to not only have 1 center , but possibly 2 more speakers as in a 4.0  or 3.0  ,

 

nothing out there can beat Heresy Speakers for Vocals , 1 is great , 2  are even better since they share parts with the LS , @willland  has a super nice pair of Heresy 1 for sale  ,  dont miss that deal  of  around 600$   , the speakers are mint ,wood cabinets , grilles , badges ,  crossovers are recapped with updated  parts , pay for shipping and  you'll   love the combination of LS with the Heresy  .

 

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If you’re using a nice 2-channel tube power amplifier for your left and right speakers, keep it simple and just use the centre channel speaker connectors for your centre La Scala/Heresy/whatever.  If your receiver is just driving 1 channel, it will have plenty of power and its best possible bass output.  While we like to have the very best possible sound when listening in 2-channel stereo, the centre channel is not as crucial.  Do you need to hear every detail in an actor’s voice?  You’ll be hearing it with a really good centre speaker, so you should be fine.

 

Sure, you could go for a 2nd external amp to power the centre channel, but I’d suggest using the receiver’s amp for a while and seeing if you like it.  Then, if after a month or so you’re not satisfied with the sound of the dialogue, then look into a centre channel power amp, but until then don’t obsess over it.  You don’t need to have everything the first day.  Your system will change over time.  For example, one day you’ll get a new receiver for some new type of connectivity or source that’s not even invented yet, but your La Scalas will never become obsolete.  I’m using modded 2007 La Scala IIs for Main Left & Right, a Belle Klipsch for Centre, and 1974 La Scalas for Surround.  Only the LS2s are powered by external amps.  The rest of the speakers are powered by the AVR, a 2016 Yamaha RX-A2060, and it all sounds fine.

 

BTW, most Heritage Series speakers are priced singly, so buying a single shouldn’t mean any special ordering.

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On 7/14/2022 at 7:34 AM, wvu80 said:

I've found "timbre matching" over rated.  The L/R already play discrete audio information and in HT that usually means music.

Funny, as I was reading the OP's first post, this thought crossed my mind.  So what is more important if one had to sacrifice one or the other, timbre matching or dialog?  Would it be possible that the Heritage line could reproduce music accurately with great detail, but lack the ability to produce accurate dialogue that center channels do?  If so, it would make more sense to me to find a suitable center that creates accurate dialogue over timbre matching.   

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OP:  What genres of music do you listen to?  What types of music recordings?
   
FWIW, for the classical music that I love, I MUCH prefer modern hi-res multi-channel recordings (e.g., Blu-ray’s DTS-HD MA 5.1, SACD 5.1), and tube amps.  I use my solid-state amps only for movies and when playing background music (vs. serious listening).

If you listen to multi-channel music recordings, and you’re concerned about the sound from the center channel matching the main L&R, and you’ll use your stereo tube amp to drive the main L&R speakers for music, then I suggest using a tube amp to drive a La Scala center speaker (and possibly a single rear speaker).   

My use cases and installed systems may not be relevant to you, but I’ll share information about my system, for what it’s worth to you.

Of my five hi-fi systems, four are multi-channel (4.2, 4.1 x 2, 3.1).

For the classical music that I love, there are countless modern performances/recordings (i.e., performances recorded in the last 15 years or so) that were captured and mastered in multi-channel hi-res digital (e.g., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or DSD), and delivered on a disc featuring DTS-HD MA 5.1 (e.g., Blu-ray, Pure Audio Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray), or an SACD disc that features multi-channel DSD.   

I employ my Oppo UDP-205 (x2), BDP-105, and BDP-95 universal players’ internal audiophile-grade DACS and 5.1 analog audio outputs.   Because the rear channels in classical recordings have little content (mostly audience applause), in my 4.1 and 4.2 systems I combine the Oppo’s rear channel outputs via an RCA Y-cable.  (Oppo has verified that this is OK.)   One vintage stereo tube amp drives the main left & right speakers.  Another vintage stereo tube amp drives the center and single rear speaker.  My approach may be unorthodox, but it works great.   And – most important – it sounds fabulous for the classical music and opera that I love.

Two of my systems have matching front, center, and left speakers:

 

  • Basement (4.2):  Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch RF-7 II.  A single rear speaker is a Klipsch RF-7.   Subwoofers:  SVS SB16-Ultra and Klipsch R-115SW (connected via Y-adaptor).   Source:  Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings.  Amps: Scott 272, Inspire “Fire Bottle” SE Stereo Tube Amplifier HO, Scott 222C, Fisher KX-200, Scott 296, Pilot SA-260, Scott LK150, Altec 353A, Kenwood KR-9050.   (This system also has a Schiit Loki tone-control.  I can connect the power amps direct to the Oppo, or insert the Loki.)  A patch panel allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo (and a power amp to the Loki if I choose to do so).   Chromecast Audio is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 for internet radio.
     
  • Bedroom (3.1):  Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch WF-35.  SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofer.   Source is an Oppo BDP-95 for playing Pure Audio Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings.  (No TV.)   Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers.  Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker.  Chromecast Audio for internet radio.


Two of my systems each employ a Klipsch RC-64III center channel:

  • TV room (4.1):  Main front left & right speakers are Klipsch Palladium P-37F.   Center:  Klipsch RC-64III.   Single rear:  Klipsch RP-502S.   Subwoofer:  Klipsch P-312W.  The source is an Oppo UDP-205 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs, and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings.  I generally use vintage tube amps for music:   Scott 399, Fisher X-1000, Scott 299C, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC240 or McIntosh MC225.  I use solid-state amps for movies (and summertime):   NAD C375BEE, and an NAD D 3045.    A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and Niles AXP-1 RCA selector switches connect the Oppo to the amp.   HDTV is connected via TOSLINK to the UDP-205 to play audio from broadcast TV via the hi-fi.  Chromecast connected to the HDMI input of my UDP-205 for streaming video.   Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD C375BEE for internet radio.
     
  • Living room (4.1):  Stereo speakers are Snell Type CV.   Center:  Klipsch RC-64III.   Single rear:  RP-502S.   Subwoofer:  Klipsch P-312W.  The source components are Oppo BDP-105 for playing Blu-ray and SACDs (and a USB hard drive containing high-res FLAC recordings), and Dual 1249 with Stanton 681EE equipped with a new Shibata stylus.  Amps include a pair of McIntosh MC30s, Scott 296, McIntosh MX110Z / McIntosh MC275, a pair of Pilot HF-56 mono receivers, an NAD pre-amp and Acurus A250 power-amp for movies, and a McIntosh 2155 that can drive the center channel and single rear speaker or JBL L830s in the kitchen / dining room.   A patch panel (banana plugs) allows me to connect the speakers to whichever amp I want, and a F/F RCA cables enable me to connect an amp to the Oppo.   Chromecast Audio is connected via analog audio to the NAD pre-amp for internet radio.


Considering that you can accommodate a La Scala for center, that would undoubtedly be your best bet.  You could implement 3.1, 4.1, or 5.1.

If you decide on 3.1, and want to listen to multi-channel music via tube amps, then I suggest getting a mono tube amp to drive the center speaker.   (Preferably with the same output tubes as your stereo amp.)

If you decide on 4.1, I suggest installing whatever rear speaker fits you space.  If your budget and space will accommodate two more La Scala (i.e., center and rear), that would be an excellent set-up.   OTOH, a Heresy would undoubtedly be adequate for a rear speaker.   Ideally, get a stereo tube amp for the center and rear speaker that is identical to your existing tube amp.

IMO, the $64k question is your use cases.  As I said earlier, for the classical music I love, I MUCH prefer modern hi-res multi-channel recordings (e.g., Blu-ray, SACD), and tube amps.  (For movies, I use solid state amps.)   Based on the genres of music that you prefer, your needs may vary.

I hope this helps.

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1 hour ago, The Dude said:

Funny, as I was reading the OP's first post, this thought crossed my mind.  So what is more important if one had to sacrifice one or the other, timbre matching or dialog?     ...   If so, it would make more sense to me to find a suitable center that creates accurate dialogue over timbre matching.   

 

Yes

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4 hours ago, robert_kc said:

OP:  What genres of music do you listen to?  What types of music recordings?

Genres I prefer are rock and rap. However, these LaScalas really make me appreciate a piano like in my misty mornings or haunting vocals like Hello.

 

Recordings? Whatever Apple music gives me I suppose, though I like to buy my music and sometimes the Apple version seems to be of shoddy quality compared to those found elsewhere. Also, Apple music purchases tends to disappear at times...

 

While I know I need it for movie dialogue, I have not really considered/experienced how a center channel would affect my music... 🤔

 

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8 minutes ago, JAGX said:

While I know I need it for movie dialogue, I have not really considered/experienced how a center channel would affect my music... 🤔

Wow, back to the start. You may want to try any center, just to see. HT is one thing, 2 channel stereo another. Alright then...

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OP:  FWIW, IMO you need to build a system that excels at playing the music you love, and do double-duty for Hollywood movies.   This may sound simple – but the task varies based on genre of music.
 
Recorded music will sound only as good as the quality of the recording.
  
I strongly encourage you to try hi-res multi-channel music recordings.   It might open a door to a whole new way for you to enjoy recorded music.

Following are just a few examples of resources for hi-res recordings.  (FWIW, I often buy Blu-ray and SACD discs from amazon.) 

A decades-old recording will not have state-of-the-art audio quality – even if it has been remastered.  If you want to fully experience what hi-res digital can offer, you need to listen to a modern top-quality recording – not a decades old recording that has been remastered (particularly an old digital recording).   A poor-quality (or low-bandwidth) recording can’t be magically transformed just by delivering it in a “hi-res” container.   (If you pour a gallon of milk into a 55-gallon drum, it’s still only a gallon of milk.)  Garbage-in/garbage-out.  You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

I suggest searching amazon.com and concertsondvd.com for Blu-rays and SACDs for music you like, or would like to try.   

For any classical music fans reading this thread, IME Blu-ray delivers multiple benefits relative to the Redbook CD format:

  • Multi-channel (e.g., 5.1) audio excels at delivering the full impact of large-scale classical music.
     
  • Blu-ray can deliver hi-res audio up to 24bit/192kHz (vs. CD’s 16bit/44.1kHz).    Blu-ray excels at delivering the natural timbre of orchestral instruments.  (Classical music aficionados know how natural orchestral instruments sound.)
     
  • I prefer audio/video classical music recordings to audio-only.   Video is particularly relevant for visual art forms such as ballet and opera.   Additionally, for orchestral concerts I enjoy seeing the conductor and musicians.   And Blu-ray enables me to see beautiful concert halls all over the world that I otherwise would have never seen.
     
  • Blu-ray is extremely valuable in delivering the libretto of an opera on the HDTV screen.   (For example, providing an on-screen English translation of an opera sung in Italian.)
     
  • Blu-ray can deliver richer on-screen menus, such as titles for each track.
     
  • Blu-ray can provide “bonus materials”, including video interviews, documentaries, and still images.

IME, modern Blu-ray recordings (played via my favorite tube amps, and large Klipsch speakers) do an excellent job of creating the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house – particularly compared with CDs.   For anyone interested in Blu-ray audio/video recordings of classical music, following is a link to my thread on talkclassical.com: https://www.talkclassical.com/54011-blu-ray-videos-classical.html

OP:   Sorry if I’ve veered off topic by discussing classical music, but that’s what I’m knowledgeable about.  I strongly encourage you to research state-of-the-art recordings for the music you’re interested in, and learn if multi-channel recordings (and Blu-ray audio/video concert recordings) are relevant to you.  Even if the music you like is only available in stereo-only and audio-only, I encourage you to search hdtracks.com for hi-res stereo downloads.  IMO – it would be a mistake to feed your La Scala with anything but the best quality recordings available.

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8 hours ago, The Dude said:

it would make more sense to me to find a suitable center that creates accurate dialogue over timbre matching.   

 

'zactly!  ^^^

 

You just state it much more eloquently than I do.  🤜🤛

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9 hours ago, robert_kc said:

Bedroom (3.1):  Front, center, and left speakers are Klipsch WF-35.  SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofer.  

 

I could be very happy with a 3.1.  However, due to the influences of keeping up with the Joneses around here, I've got just a few more speakers and subs past the 3.1.  :cool:

 

I like your choices. 

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On 7/20/2022 at 6:07 PM, wvu80 said:

 

I could be very happy with a 3.1.  However, due to the influences of keeping up with the Joneses around here, I've got just a few more speakers and subs past the 3.1.  :cool:

 

I like your choices. 

 

LOL.     😀

My bedroom hi-fi system exists to play one hi-res multi-channel SACD at low volume in the wee hours if I’m at the end of my rope because I’m in pain and I can’t sleep:   Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil”:

81Z+JEOw5jL._SX425_.jpg

This SACD sounds very good via my bedroom system’s 3.1 configuration and vintage Fisher tube amps.   I can turn on both amps by saying “Hey Google, turn on Fisher 500.”    (Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers.  Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker.  Powered subwoofer is connected to the Oppo universal player via RCA line-level connection.)    When I press the “Power On” button for my Oppo player, the SACD starts playing automatically.   I don’t have to turn on the lights or get out of bed to start the music.

Obviously, the heat from the tube amps is more welcome during the winter.

Here’s two excerpts from this recording via YouTube (i.e., lower quality than the SACD):
 

 

Here’s a photo of my bedroom system:

image.thumb.jpeg.1059714376b56b1ee6030fff07b7c414.jpeg

For low volume listening in the wee hours, it sounds great.  And, these slender Klipsch speakers have beautiful wood veneer.   

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On 7/20/2022 at 9:10 AM, The Dude said:

Funny, as I was reading the OP's first post, this thought crossed my mind.  So what is more important if one had to sacrifice one or the other, timbre matching or dialog?  Would it be possible that the Heritage line could reproduce music accurately with great detail, but lack the ability to produce accurate dialogue that center channels do?  If so, it would make more sense to me to find a suitable center that creates accurate dialogue over timbre matching.   

 

Heritage speaker are more than capable of producing accurate dialog.  If they produce accurate and clear music vocals, it stands to reason they will produce accurate and clear dialog.  I used a single Heresy center in one of my theater systems for a long time, first with Forte and the with KLF-30 L&R.  It was an excellent center.  Also, a center speaker in not just a dialog speaker.  The center speaker can produce a large amount of any film's sound effects.  This is where the importance of timbe matching, especially in the front stage, is importance.  Sound pans across the front or sounds effect that span multiple front speakers will highlight timbre mismatches.

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On 7/20/2022 at 5:11 PM, robert_kc said:

 

LOL.     😀

My bedroom hi-fi system exists to play one hi-res multi-channel SACD at low volume in the wee hours if I’m at the end of my rope because I’m in pain and I can’t sleep:   Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil”:

81Z+JEOw5jL._SX425_.jpg

This SACD sounds very good via my bedroom system’s 3.1 configuration and vintage Fisher tube amps.   I can turn on both amps by saying “Hey Google, turn on Fisher 500.”    (Fisher 500C drives the left & right speakers.  Fisher TA 500 (AM/FM mono receiver) drives the center speaker.  Powered subwoofer is connected to the Oppo universal player via RCA line-level connection.)    When I press the “Power On” button for my Oppo player, the SACD starts playing automatically.   I don’t have to turn on the lights or get out of bed to start the music.

Obviously, the heat from the tube amps is more welcome during the winter.

Here’s two excerpts from this recording via YouTube (i.e., lower quality than the SACD):
 

 

Here’s a photo of my bedroom system:

image.thumb.jpeg.1059714376b56b1ee6030fff07b7c414.jpeg

For low volume listening in the wee hours, it sounds great.  And, these slender Klipsch speakers have beautiful wood veneer.   

RF7s?  DAMN those are close to the back wall.   Glad they bring you joy. 

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I haven't studied your case but I have Cornwall IV's and ended up using a Heresy IV for the center.  It's excellent.  I referenced the tweeter / midrange descriptions on the Klipsch website spec sheet and was surprised to see the Cornwall IV and Heresy IV use the same tweeter / midrange drivers.   I don't think you're going to be as lucky though but hopefully this post will help a future person searching this topic.

 

Cornwall IV & Heresy IV Tweeter & Midrange:

K-107-TI 1” (2.54cm) Titanium diaphragm compression driver

K-702 1.75” (4.45cm) polyimide diaphragm compression driver

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On 7/14/2022 at 8:07 PM, Tom05 said:

Unfortunately anything other than  a Lascala center would be a serious compromise. Three Lascala’s up front is a formidable combination , really hard to beat.🤓

I use the rip-404C with my Lascala’s, I have the receiver set for 8db boost, works extremely well.

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