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Need Help Expanding from 2.1 to 5.1

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July 27, 2011 1:36:18 PM

I'm looking to expand from a 2.1 system, consisting of a pair of Polk Audio RTi4 and a PSW10, to a 5.1 system. I plan to move the RTi4 to the rear speakers, so I'm looking for a center and front speakers to pair with them.

Anyone have suggestions on what would be good speakers and a center to go with what I have? I have limited space, so I'm thinking of using bookshelf speakers like the Monitor 40s as my front speakers. Would that work?

Thanks for all of your help guys, I really appreciate it.

More about : expanding

July 28, 2011 1:43:47 PM

Can anyone help me out here? I'm mainly trying to decide if the Polk CS1 would get overwhelmed here. I'm on a semi-tight budget, but I'd spring for the CS2 if it seems necessary.
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July 29, 2011 3:18:05 AM

i would say to go overboard for your front main and center as you get majority of your information through these . and you may find that music in 3 channel logic or 5.1 is enjoyable too . also if you buy some towers for your front mains you will not have to get stands . all things considered save up and get something bigger than the rti4, i am sure they would be adequate but maybe you want more than just adequate .
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July 29, 2011 7:13:04 PM

If your tight on cash, get another pair RTi4s and invest the major amount of cash in a good center channel.
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July 29, 2011 7:18:13 PM

Will do. I'm looking at RTi6's for fronts and a RTi A4 for my center at the very least. Didn't realize how important the center was until I started looking around. Thanks for all of your help, guys. Appreciate it.
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July 29, 2011 8:41:19 PM

^Over 50% of a movie's audio track goes through your center channel a lot of times...once I upgrade my TV in my basement, im going to use a tower as my center :) .

A center channel can make all the difference, pretty much all dialogue goes through it, and dialogue is the most important part of a movie...it needs to be loud, clear, understandable and lifelike.
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July 30, 2011 6:48:31 AM

the closer you sit to the front three speakers.. the more they need to sound the same.
as in timbre matched.
cant have one bright in the middle and two warm on each side.
doesnt matter how much distance alignment you put on it.. you can still hear it, although much better with the time alignment.

personally..
i simply cannot stand listening to 90% of the movie from the front middle speaker.
i feel stupid with four other speakers surrounding me and doing absolutely nothing.


at the computer..
the center channel is about 2ft away.
the front left/right speakers are about 6ft away.
the timing alignment can make 'em all sound pretty much the same as far as loudness and which one i hear first.


i think the front three speakers should be triangulating the center.
throw out some reverb and the rear speakers could help, as long as the rear center speaker isnt heard at ear level without any reflections)

**edit**

it is all about screen depth.. and you simply cannot get the same screen depth from a single center speaker when compared to the front left/right.
screen depth returns stage depth.
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August 2, 2011 8:29:12 PM

blackhawk1928 said:
^Over 50% of a movie's audio track goes through your center channel a lot of times...once I upgrade my TV in my basement, im going to use a tower as my center :) .

A center channel can make all the difference, pretty much all dialogue goes through it, and dialogue is the most important part of a movie...it needs to be loud, clear, understandable and lifelike.

Towers are not a good idea for a center channel. Better to have a dedicated center, two fronts And two rears that are timber matched to the fronts. The two most important parts of a HT audio system are the center and the sub.
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August 2, 2011 10:52:02 PM

fr8mvr said:
Towers are not a good idea for a center channel. Better to have a dedicated center, two fronts And two rears that are timber matched to the fronts. The two most important parts of a HT audio system are the center and the sub.


Please explain why a tower is not a good idea for a center channel?
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August 2, 2011 10:57:13 PM

timbre matched is good.
but
soundwave/reflection matched based on height is what you are talking about.

you can ruin the soundwave/reflection directivity if your center speaker has speakers from basically the floor all the way up.
but
this holds true for a single 5.25 inch speaker (or any size above for a single speaker)

the room will bloom and swell with soundwaves and soundpressure.
if you block one of those reflections (or add some more soundwaves in the perfect spot) the whole garden can collapse.
maybe it is only the front soundstage.. but be glad it isnt the entire soundstage.


sometimes people have the front speakers on the floor and the center up on top of the television.
this creates a certain soundstage.

sometimes people have the front speakers on towers or up on the wall and the center is the same height.
this creates a certain soundstage.

when your reverb/soundwaves/soundpressure isnt calibrated.. using a tower or a bookshelf speaker for the center channel is really not a technical issue.
it would thus be a personal choice based on taste or opinion.

sometimes people point their reverb to a spot on the wall.
sometimes they point the soundwaves to another speaker cone.
and sometimes they point the reverb to a ball in the middle of the room to lift it up off the ground.
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August 2, 2011 10:57:41 PM

blackhawk1928 said:
Please explain why a tower is not a good idea for a center channel?


already done.
look up.
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August 2, 2011 11:06:03 PM

fr8mvr said:
Towers are not a good idea for a center channel. Better to have a dedicated center, two fronts And two rears that are timber matched to the fronts. The two most important parts of a HT audio system are the center and the sub.



if you sit back far enough.. you can use a center speaker for 'fill'
screen depth is only as good as the width of the screen?

NO

screen depth (and width) is only as good as the person listening.
i have used my 5.1 receiver without a center channel for almost a decade without much complaint.
i watch with a wide open head.

my receiver has an option to change the immersive feeling of screen depth.. but i dont use it.

when i am sitting 2ft from the computer monitor watching a movie.. the vocals dont appear to be coming from the actor or actresses mouth.
maybe that is what you want.
i dont need it.
the whole room swells up with audio.. and the vocals are in front of me like they are supposed to be.
they sweep from left to right or right to left.

i did go grab a center channel out of one of my pc computer speaker kits.
i hooked it up and was upset to hear ALL of the television show coming out of the center channel.
it made me mad.
so i went into my receiver's functions and switched 'prologic II movie' to 'prologic II music'
now the center channel fills the spacious void between the left and right speaker.
my soundstage is from the left corner of the room to the right corner of the room.

should i be laughing at anybody?
it is lonely over here in solitude.
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August 2, 2011 11:06:40 PM

Mhm, well,

I've got my fronts, sides, and rears setup, and for the center channel, I already tried, I'll be using a short tower (But still 3-way, tweeter, midrange, and 12'' woofer), as my center. I tried connecting it and it sounded absolutely fine...dialogue was good and overall it acted as a fine center. It will be a huge benefit, because when I play music, the center will also be adding some good bass to the scene.

Maybe, if you put a tower on its side, it will be weird, but I have a short and wide tower that will be able to stand upright if I get a high-enough stand for the TV, infact I'll probably hang the TV on the wall anyway, and I'll do it high.

Thanks for the info though :) 
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August 2, 2011 11:46:38 PM

blackhawk1928 said:
Thanks for the info though :) 


i believe in that.
and you are right about the tower speaker on its side sounding weird.
if you are far back far enough it doesnt always matter.
when it does matter is when the soundwaves/soundpressure exists in such a way that you can clearly hear all of the bass from the left and all of the treble from the right from the center channel.

when that happens..
i would simply suggest building a new box that looks like a square and instead of making the box tall or wide.. make it deep.
YES.. your speakers might perform different if you remove the wall from behind the speaker.
some woofers (midrange or woofer or subwoofer)
sometimes they sound much better when there is a cabinet wall about 1, 2, 3 inches away from the magnet.
but
if you are building the box.. you can always put a wall behind the speaker and leave some room for the air to go around it.
it lets you keep the air cushion nice and tight.. but you also get to keep the tune of the big box.
the best of both worlds.

and then when you are done..
your center channel will have all of its audio coming from one small space.
no more bass from the left and treble from 4ft to the right (and the midrange in the voided space between the two).


anyways..
if you dont care to read this blackhawk1928.. it IS there for somebody else that could use it.

since fr8mvr disagrees.. i suppose that person will be the last to care about or use the post.
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August 3, 2011 12:08:56 AM

what the hell?

speakers are made to output audio.
a tower will do that.
if the excursion or phase is seriously different than the front two speakers.. then you could completely ruin your front soundstage.

that isnt because the speaker is a tower.. that is the speaker itself.

i already said the problem with a tower for the center speaker.
it is the physical attribute it has on the field of air, as well as where the soundwaves from the center speaker are being projected.

most people have absolutely no idea if the center channel is causing such a problem.
they need a computer simulation in 3D or some serious gas that can light up like neon to visually see what is going on.

if two soundwaves are supposed to collide into eachother.. that is sound field processing at the first level.
and if those two soundwaves miss eachother.. consequences happen.
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August 3, 2011 12:12:05 AM

fr8mvr said:
I disagree about using a tower as a center because they are not designed for that kind of use. Setting up a HT audio system is much more than throwing mismatched speakers and setting some flavor of digital sound field processing.


http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?t=90115
http://www.crutchfield.com/S-QmAZHhqJlSj/learn/learning...


Thats not an explanation, show me a technical reason for it. The link you provided says its bad to lay tower speakers on the side, which I may or may not agree with, but I stated my tower will be standing upright.

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August 3, 2011 12:19:32 AM

^^ A tower speaker is a type of speaker array in a box. I am not disagreeing with most of what your saying just the part about using a tower. Can it be done-yes with a 2 more matching towers in as fronts. The tower would have to be in an upright position blocking the picture unless you were using a projector.
Just because you don't use a center channel doesn't make it right. Hell use any speakers you want. makes no difference to me.

I would suggest that maybe the right place to find information about speakers, proper set up and such might be an Audio specific forum and not the computer geek forum.
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August 3, 2011 12:20:21 AM

sometimes speakers do have different dispersion patterns.
but
not all of the center channel speakers have the extra wide dispersion pattern.
you really should never care much if it does or doesnt.. unless your living room is seriously wide and you want to let the people on the very far sides to hear from the center channel just as loud as the people right in front of it.

reverb can do this too.
just put a ^ shape on the wall that the center channel is facing.. then calibrate the reverb to use those angles on the shape.
that gets you audio to the people directly in front of the center speaker.
then..
those angles point the audio to the far chairs in the room.

so it doesnt matter if the dispersion pattern is extra wide or normal.
how do you know if the dispersion pattern is wide or narrow?
you put the speaker directly in front of you and walk sideways.
as you move in a circle around the speaker.. you will hear the volume gets lower the more sideways you get.
some speakers have lower volume at the very far edge.. and some are more like halfway.

sometimes speakers have an area of extra loud at the very center of the speaker.
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August 3, 2011 12:26:37 AM

fr8mvr said:
^^ A tower speaker is a type of speaker array in a box. I am not disagreeing with most of what your saying just the part about using a tower. Can it be done-yes with a 2 more matching towers in as fronts. The tower would have to be in an upright position blocking the picture unless you were using a projector.
Just because you don't use a center channel doesn't make it right. Hell use any speakers you want. makes no difference to me.

I would suggest that maybe the right place to find information about speakers, proper set up and such might be an Audio specific forum and not the computer geek forum.


If a regular center channel doesn't match your front speakers, why does using a tower-center channel have to match your fronts.
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August 3, 2011 12:30:22 AM

fr8mvr said:
Just because you don't use a center channel doesn't make it right. Hell use any speakers you want. makes no difference to me.


it is because the microphone recording process doesnt use a center or 5.1 setup position that makes me right.
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August 3, 2011 12:35:07 AM

anwaypasible said:
it is because the microphone recording process doesnt use a center or 5.1 setup position that makes me right.

For music but not for movies.. Were talking about watching TV not listening to music.
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August 3, 2011 12:38:04 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
If a regular center channel doesn't match your front speakers, why does using a tower-center channel have to match your fronts.

The idea is to have all speakers timber matched- meaning all having the same tonal quality.

Edit: Tower in upright position- ok when using matching speakers 2 other towers. Tower on side not ok
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August 3, 2011 12:46:36 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
If a regular center channel doesn't match your front speakers, why does using a tower-center channel have to match your fronts.


the situation you brought out is of no importance as you implied you know already.

the reason the three front speakers need to match is to help the soundstage sound as wide as possible.
some advanced truth..
if your front main speakers are 'fast' and you use a slower center speaker.. you can manipulate the field of air to work in favor for you to over-emphasize the dolby or dts surround sound effect.

my front woofers are faster than my rear woofers.
my rear woofers are ported down to 40hz .. but if i turn the rear speakers on, the bass at 20hz gets louder.

how can 20hz get louder if the rear speakers are not producing much output lower than 40hz ?
because the rear speakers move in and out nanoseconds slower than the front speakers.
when these two soundwaves touch eachother.. they create an overtone harmonic that is slower, and it creates the effect of lower bass.

imagine this..
you have one car doing 40 mph going down the road.
another car doing 30 mph is in the lane next to the car doing 40 mph.
the 30 mph car steers sideways into the other car and forces the 40 mph car to slow down.

same thing with the speaker cones moving at different speeds.


but be warned..
as audio gets clearer and clearer, the different speakers will be unwanted more and more.
timbre is the coldness or warmth of the speaker.
you want these to be the same.

now..
if you want some different speakers up close to the walls.. and a completely different speaker for the center channel.. then together they can smooth out the boominess of the room.
is it a phenomenon?
no.
it is because the speakers in the corners of the room are different phase (not to be confused with positive and negative wires backwards)
phase is anything between 0 - 360 (or more if you count more than 360 angles)
wiring the speakers backwards will seriously ruin something.
but using different speakers for their different phase.. you could get something like 30 degrees different.
sometimes you need 15 degrees different.

you simply cannot be in the center of the room with sound all around you and expect all of that sound to be exactly the same when one speaker doesnt match the timbre of the other speakers.
it is like listening to a male in each corner of the room except one.. and in that 4th corner is a girl.
stand in the middle of the room and try listening to that and the different tones of the voice are going to refuse to blend together.


now think about this..
sometimes a guy and a girl can sound like they are singing the same tone.
that is OCTAVE they are sharing.
if they shared the same tone and octave.. you would hear ONE voice.

the entire point of dolby digital and dts surround sound is to make all of the audio appear as if ONE.
so dont go breaking it because you got your information wrong.
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August 3, 2011 12:49:32 AM

anwaypasible said:
the situation you brought out is of no importance as you implied you know already.

the reason the three front speakers need to match is to help the soundstage sound as wide as possible.
some advanced truth..
if your front main speakers are 'fast' and you use a slower center speaker.. you can manipulate the field of air to work in favor for you to over-emphasize the dolby or dts surround sound effect.

my front woofers are faster than my rear woofers.
my rear woofers are ported down to 40hz .. but if i turn the rear speakers on, the bass at 20hz gets louder.

how can 20hz get louder if the rear speakers are not producing much output lower than 40hz ?
because the rear speakers move in and out nanoseconds slower than the front speakers.
when these two soundwaves touch eachother.. they create an overtone harmonic that is slower, and it creates the effect of lower bass.

imagine this..
you have one car doing 40 mph going down the road.
another car doing 30 mph is in the lane next to the car doing 40 mph.
the 30 mph car steers sideways into the other car and forces the 40 mph car to slow down.

same thing with the speaker cones moving at different speeds.


but be warned..
as audio gets clearer and clearer, the different speakers will be unwanted more and more.
timbre is the coldness or warmth of the speaker.
you want these to be the same.

now..
if you want some different speakers up close to the walls.. and a completely different speaker for the center channel.. then together they can smooth out the boominess of the room.
is it a phenomenon?
no.
it is because the speakers in the corners of the room are different phase (not to be confused with positive and negative wires backwards)
phase is anything between 0 - 360 (or more if you count more than 360 angles)
wiring the speakers backwards will seriously ruin something.
but using different speakers for their different phase.. you could get something like 30 degrees different.
sometimes you need 15 degrees different.

you simply cannot be in the center of the room with sound all around you and expect all of that sound to be exactly the same when one speaker doesnt match the timbre of the other speakers.
it is like listening to a male in each corner of the room except one.. and in that 4th corner is a girl.
stand in the middle of the room and try listening to that and the different tones of the voice are going to refuse to blend together.


now think about this..
sometimes a guy and a girl can sound like they are singing the same tone.
that is OCTAVE they are sharing.
if they shared the same tone and octave.. you would hear ONE voice.

the entire point of dolby digital and dts surround sound is to make all of the audio appear as if ONE.
so dont go breaking it because you got your information wrong.

^ spot on^
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August 3, 2011 12:58:04 AM

anwaypasible said:
the situation you brought out is of no importance as you implied you know already.

the reason the three front speakers need to match is to help the soundstage sound as wide as possible.
some advanced truth..
if your front main speakers are 'fast' and you use a slower center speaker.. you can manipulate the field of air to work in favor for you to over-emphasize the dolby or dts surround sound effect.

my front woofers are faster than my rear woofers.
my rear woofers are ported down to 40hz .. but if i turn the rear speakers on, the bass at 20hz gets louder.

how can 20hz get louder if the rear speakers are not producing much output lower than 40hz ?
because the rear speakers move in and out nanoseconds slower than the front speakers.
when these two soundwaves touch eachother.. they create an overtone harmonic that is slower, and it creates the effect of lower bass.

imagine this..
you have one car doing 40 mph going down the road.
another car doing 30 mph is in the lane next to the car doing 40 mph.
the 30 mph car steers sideways into the other car and forces the 40 mph car to slow down.

same thing with the speaker cones moving at different speeds.


but be warned..
as audio gets clearer and clearer, the different speakers will be unwanted more and more.
timbre is the coldness or warmth of the speaker.
you want these to be the same.

now..
if you want some different speakers up close to the walls.. and a completely different speaker for the center channel.. then together they can smooth out the boominess of the room.
is it a phenomenon?
no.
it is because the speakers in the corners of the room are different phase (not to be confused with positive and negative wires backwards)
phase is anything between 0 - 360 (or more if you count more than 360 angles)
wiring the speakers backwards will seriously ruin something.
but using different speakers for their different phase.. you could get something like 30 degrees different.
sometimes you need 15 degrees different.

you simply cannot be in the center of the room with sound all around you and expect all of that sound to be exactly the same when one speaker doesnt match the timbre of the other speakers.
it is like listening to a male in each corner of the room except one.. and in that 4th corner is a girl.
stand in the middle of the room and try listening to that and the different tones of the voice are going to refuse to blend together.


now think about this..
sometimes a guy and a girl can sound like they are singing the same tone.
that is OCTAVE they are sharing.
if they shared the same tone and octave.. you would hear ONE voice.

the entire point of dolby digital and dts surround sound is to make all of the audio appear as if ONE.
so dont go breaking it because you got your information wrong.


I've found the information, but the center sounds good and so what else matters? The sound stage is fine also. Dome-tweeters on my fronts help a great deal. Plus my fronts are much to high, each one is almost 7 feet tall, it would block the TV, but my small tower, around 3-feet tall, I'd be able to get the TV higher easily.

I'm more concerned about the music quality, than movies. If I get the tower as the center, it will sound amazing...

I've got 8 12'' subwoofers
1 8'' subwoofer
19 mid-range speakers
19 tweeters (16 of them are domes which are far less directional)
4 super-tweeters

My sound-stage will be just fine :) 
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August 3, 2011 1:01:08 AM

fr8mvr said:
For music but not for movies.. Were talking about watching TV not listening to music.


HEY..

simply because your recording group uses a center channel microphone.. that doesnt mean the rest of the idiots have begun doing it yet.

doesnt matter if you record a center channel with a center microphone if/when the dolby or dts encoder refuses to use that audio information.

a lot of what made dolby and dts special is the fact that you can record something with one or two microphones and chop up all of that audio into fragments that could be sent to each speaker.

if you use two microphones to record the front left and right.. then let the computer software extract the center channel from those two microphone recordings - that audio software would be very special and important RIGHT?

now..
if you feed each speaker channel with a dedicated microphone recording - all of the reverb the audio software does to make the soundwaves blend together perfectly would AGAIN be very special and important right?

extracting audio from a left/right recording isnt always the hardest thing to do.
but
making the three speakers play nice and kind together is going to require more software algorithms than copy and paste.
that is what makes the walls melt and disappear.. the reverb!!
anything else is copy and paste discrete nonsensical compression..or attempts to bloat.



anyways..
that article on the blu-ray forum is talking about two speakers being close to eachother.
the same way those two speakers interact with eachother is the exact same thing about how the speakers interact with the room and other speakers in the room.

it is an attempt to get the people who really care get some really good results with their audio system.. and help other people who dont have the time or are too stupid to figure it all.
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August 3, 2011 1:12:39 AM

fr8mvr said:
The idea is to have all speakers timber matched- meaning all having the same tonal quality.

Edit: Tower in upright position- ok when using matching speakers 2 other towers. Tower on side not ok


Good, so you agree with me :) 
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