Which center speaker??

Posted by: Slimpikins

Which center speaker?? - 01/02/19 08:56 PM

OK, here is the situation at hand. Since I wrapped up a major outdoor project, I am finally tackling the long awaited inside living room entertainment center make over.

I am not really into HT, I am 98% music/vinyl; however since I'll have the ability to expand things a bit, I am thinking of adding in a new center speaker for TV/Movies to replace an older Def Tech small center I have.
The current set up is this: Bryston Model T mains converted to Signature series with PX1 outboard crossovers, EP800V4 with the 'switch' to the left side, EP500 to the rear and a Bryston Model T sub to the right. The main amps are a pair of Anthem M1 Statement mono blocks at 2000 watts per channel and I have a left over Parasound A51 5 channel amp which is there to drive the center at either 250w/8 ohms or 400w/4 ohms. That will leave me several other channels to drive a pair of QS10hp surrounds.

My question is this: the center from my experience is not really a heavy lifting speaker in terms of bass/mid and high output; it seems to be primarily voices and some effects in the center front. Perhaps I am wrong on this; but I was looking at the VP160 which is an 8 ohm or 6 ohm in HP version. I don't think I'd need the HP version as it's only slightly higher in power rating and I don't know how the Parasound would like a 6 ohm load. The VP180 looks like a monster and I don't know if that would be required for a guy who is not much of a HT type.... I watch occasionally, but its more about two channel stereo here. Is the VP160 up to the task based on the set up I have? Again, I am not a heavy hitter with HT.

Posted by: Mojo

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/02/19 10:10 PM

Slim, for any more mortal set-up I'd recommend the 160. I have the 160 and absolutely love it. For you though,I recommend the 180. smile

I would not recommend putting it in a cabinet but rather on the cabinet or a stand.

BTW, the center speaker does a lot of heavy lifting in movies and since you like it loud and clean, a 180 is very much warranted.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/03/19 12:42 PM

Mojo is spot on. So many people still have the misconception that the center channel just does dialog. That is far from the truth any more. My center channel, the VP180, is really big, even compared to my left/right mains (M60s) and when I go through calibration (automatic, manual, or just listening to scenes in movies), there is a large amount of sound energy coming from the center channel. It is actually used almost non-stop during all movies, even when nobody is talking. I definitely would not skimp on the center.

Either the VP160 HP version or the VP180 should be on your list of considerations.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/03/19 01:45 PM

Apparently even though Slim listens to music really, really loud, movies are a different story for him. I use the non-HP version of the 160 and I can dump everything the Onk can dish out to it without any problem or perceived compression (at least to the level that can be detected by my ear-brain).

BTW, I've confirmed my $700 Onk can dump 150W into each M100v4 simultaneously. I tested at 250Hz for 5 seconds because that's all I needed to take a good measurement. This is at +10 on the gain knob and 25.95V RMS. It can go higher because I think its rails are at 32V but I dare not do it. As for linearity, that's harder to assess because I don't know how linear the changes in the gain knob are (is a 0.5 dB change really 0.5dB of voltage gain or is it 0.52 for example). THD+N and transient response would be good things to characterize but I can't because I just don't have the requisite gear.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/03/19 03:25 PM

To give you an idea of what Nick and I are talking about, I just played a fire and brimstone scene from the Game of Thrones Blu-Ray using Dolby HD MA. For reference, I have my PS3 volume set to +4 (the max). I turned my Onk up to -10 which is simply ridiculous even for my large room and 14 foot MLP distance from the center. I would normally watch this scene at -25 which is thunderous enough. Anyway, I was measuring 7V peak RMS at the fronts and 27V peaks at the center. That's a four-fold difference in voltage and a 16-fold difference in power between the fronts and the center! That's like somewhere between 90 and 120 W peaks at the center!

Note this is pretty much at the rail limits of my Onk and I wouldn't doubt if I have some amp compression taking place because although it sounds loud, it doesn't sound great.
Posted by: brendo

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/05/19 11:00 PM

Another consideration for you Slim is the VP180 while bigger than the VP160 is that the 180 isn't as tall as the 160.
Depending on the placement of your T.V. may be a hassle remembering to always lift remote higher. I use an entertainment stand with the T.V. mounted to it, for me my VP160 is slightly taller than the mounting unit. After a couple years now I still always forget to lift the dang remote higher than the speaker.

Beware the HT is now basically the center your L\R will be completely trumped by your center. You'll need minimum VP160.
I originally purchased my 160 after researching center speaker lay outs and it kept leading to the driver layout of the 160 as being the most ideal for off axis response.

Funny note To which the VP160 was also a suggested speaker lay out for AXIOM. They built it because of listener demand, for such layout.
My time on the forum here can easily say that the 180 has no problem with off axis response.
But with the amount of power holding your mains those 2 are your options.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/05/19 11:57 PM

When I heard the 180v4, I couldn't believe how it sounded like my 160 given its unorthodox driver topology.
Posted by: Mojo

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/06/19 02:58 PM

I measured the current drawn by the M100 with my Onk's gain at +10. Using that measurement and the voltage across the speaker terminals, the Onk is dumping 175W at 250Hz into each M100. I don't know if it's distorted or not because I don't have the right instrumentation and I don't dare listen to it.
Posted by: bridgman

Re: Which center speaker?? - 01/07/19 07:44 PM

I am in the "center should be able to generate almost as much SPL as both mains together" camp. That's probably a bit of overkill but over the last decade it seems like more and more content is getting routed to the center channel.

Currently running M60 mains and VP180 center on an HK 630 AVR. I bought the 180 before the 160 was introduced, but if I had to re-purchase a center today I would still be thinking hard about the VP180 over the VP160.

Theoretically the VP160 layout is better in the sense that it avoids comb filter effects from midrange and tweeter frequencies, but IIRC when I did the math looking at driver separation vs wavelengths the VP180 layout was done well enough that comb filtering should be pretty much a non issue. The TC-1 puts the tweeters in the center which, while it seems like the intuitively correct layout, didn't work as well when I was playing with the numbers.

With model T mains I think the VP180 becomes the obvious choice unless you plan to be using 3-channel only at significantly lower SPLs than the model T's can generate. I would probably not bother with the HP version though, assuming that you will be crossing over the deepest bass to your subs.

The obvious counterpoint to this is "you've survived so far with a much smaller center" but interesting question would be whether your perception that not much content goes to center channel is related at all to inability of your current center to turn signal into sound, ie dynamic compression.
Posted by: exlabdriver

Re: Which center speaker?? - 02/04/19 02:44 PM

Ref Center Channels:

Check out recent third post here.

Interestingly, I don't remember Axiom 'promoting' dual center channels. This was discussed 10 years ago & the gist of the conversation was to try it if you want to experiment - like many do in this pastime.

Dual center channels being 'recommended' by Axiom was not their normal policy that I can recall. Perfectly reasonable advice IMO.


Posted by: Jc

Re: Which center speaker?? - 02/04/19 05:08 PM

I have been using dual VP180 center speaker model (one above and one below my rather large screen 151" diag.) since the introduction of the model. I could not be happier with their performance. They really anchor the sound right in the center of the image.
Posted by: nickbuol

Re: Which center speaker?? - 02/04/19 06:27 PM

Gene is a doofus. He and his "marketing guy" are ridiculous, and yet so many people in the world think that they are awesome. Gene has made claims that he "discovered" tech and that he "created" better designs, etc.

Heck, I was researching MiniDSP, which has been around for a long time, yet in my searching a video of his came up and his marketing guy talks about how Gene "discovered" MiniDSP. Seriously? Enthusists have been using MiniDSP products for years before Gene's great discovery.

The real sad thing is that Gene gets treated like royalty at places like CEDIA with private demos, etc. The guy reeks of used car saleman and a know it all.

I am NOT saying that the guy isn't knowledgeable, but his own personal biases are what turn me off to him. Always acting like HE is the best and giving a lot of bad advice. Heck I remember when he said that ALL Atmos was stupid (and his minion marketing guy agreed of course) as they laughed it up in a video about how stupid it was to go above 7.1. Later they changed that to be just Atmos Enabled speakers (the ones that bounce off the ceiling), but they have a personal bias too about DTS:X vs. Atmos when they are virtually the same thing, yet one is stupid and the other is amazing.

Plus they are like bad actors in a Lifetime movie. Robotically reading their scripts and fake laughing.

Anyway, rant over.

That said, I had a dual center channel. I think that I even have a photo of it. It was back around 1998. I had dual centers, front wides, and 2 rear channels (as well as side surrounds, front L/R) a 2nd sub under my 3 row riser. I guess that *I* invented a 10.2 setup back in the late 90s LOL.

Honestly, I don't recall if it was any good compared to today's standards, but the sound in that room was quite impressive in its day.
Posted by: AAAA

Re: Which center speaker?? - 02/05/19 05:49 PM

Yeah.... As much chemistry on camera as Jon Claude and Dennis Rodman.

I like their "best of" lists. Just the flagship of every brand in every category......