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Old 10-16-2014, 08:34 AM   #1
norse_sage norse_sage is offline
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Default 2.0 or 3.0 home theater set-up

Hi all,

I will soon be moving into a new apartment - not a very big one, the living room will also double as a home theater.

Since I haven't got a dedicated home theater room, my home theater will obviously be subject to some very real limitations, mostly related to sound. A full 7.1 or even 5.1 set-up is out, those options are just not on the table. Ditto subwoofer. The real question is whether to go for a 2.0 (R-L) or a 3.0 (R-C-L) set-up.

I already have a 2.0 set up, and I am (mostly) very happy with that - unsure if an upgrade to 3.0 will be worth it. Can some of you guys more knowledgeable in audio help me out?

Nothing is yet bought, but I have already pretty much decided on the following:

- TV: Samsung UE55HU7505
- Receiver: Yamaha RX-S600D
- Front Speakers: B&W CM8 S2


And I am considering
- Centre Speaker: B&W CM Centre S2

Currently, I have a 2.0 setup with a pair of B&W compact speakers (don't know the model, bought seven years ago, but looks a lot like and cost about the same as the current B&W 686 S2), which I am very happy with. My only complaint, and it is slight one, is that sometimes, on a few occasions, the dialogue can be "drowned out" by background music and sound effects.

I am considering investing in a Center Speaker (and MacGyver'ing a place to put it) to address this issue, but I am slightly hesitant because after some research, I have gotten the impression that if I do, I may get the opposite problem - that the Center Speaker will be doing the heavy lifting, while the front speakers (which will be a significant upgrade from what serves me fine right now) are mostly relocated to the background. That's not what I want.

Is my concern valid? Would I be better off with just the front speakers?
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:05 AM   #2
Tech-UK Tech-UK is offline
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If you watch a lot of films, then a 3.0 setup is best. As you said, when you watch movies/5.1 material the centre speaker is very much the centre piece of the sound field, providing most of the dialogue. Having this sent to the L & R speakers as you said can cause problems with regards to drowning out the dialogue. It will also allow your L & R speakers to breathe more so to speak. Defiantly L & C & R are the most important speakers when watching a film. A sub and rears can be added on afterwards.

If you listen to a lot of music (2ch/CD's) and a few films then 2.0 is fine.

I watch a lot of films and listen to 2ch/CD's, but I currently only have a 2.0 setup. Dialogue sometimes gets drowned out, but my system doesn't struggle to the point where I desperately need to get a centre. But one day I will get the extra channels.

It also depends on your room size. Mine is small and I have a bit of acoustic treatment, so with regards to films, I am not pushing a lot of volume. A larger room will require more volume, in which case you may find that a 2.0 system will struggle with film based (5.1/7.1 etc.) material.
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:12 AM   #3
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3.0

...you can always switch your receiver back to stereo for music.
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:37 AM   #4
Tech-UK Tech-UK is offline
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Just set it to Straight. The receiver will automatically send 5.1/7.1 content to the appropriate 3 channels. As long as you set the number of speakers on the receiver, then no other settings have to be changed.

Last edited by Tech-UK; 10-16-2014 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:42 PM   #5
Mansinthe Mansinthe is offline
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3.0 makes movies sound so much more better ! you can always go back to 2.0 for music !
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:04 PM   #6
norse_sage norse_sage is offline
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Thank you for all your replies, much appreciated.
It does seem you are all in favor of a 3.0 system.

In a 3.0 setup, the dialogue is obviously routed to the Centre speaker, but how much of everything else is? I hope the musical score and sound effects first and foremost will be routed through the front speakers?

Also, does anyone happen to know if there is a quick and easy way to juggle between 2.0 and 3.0 on the selected receivers remote, when all three speakers are plugged in? Would like to switch back and forth easily for music and and film respectively...
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:29 PM   #7
Mansinthe Mansinthe is offline
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you can switch modes on probably 99,999% of all receivers out there with simply pressing one button. while watching the movie of course !

most receivers offer a DSP as well that enables you to play music or stereo movies on all 3 speakers.

a center speaker is really a thing of beauty on a dialogie driven movie !
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norse_sage View Post
Thank you for all your replies, much appreciated.
It does seem you are all in favor of a 3.0 system.

In a 3.0 setup, the dialogue is obviously routed to the Centre speaker, but how much of everything else is? I hope the musical score and sound effects first and foremost will be routed through the front speakers?

Also, does anyone happen to know if there is a quick and easy way to juggle between 2.0 and 3.0 on the selected receivers remote, when all three speakers are plugged in? Would like to switch back and forth easily for music and and film respectively...
To answer your first question, that is down to the design of the mix, and how much sound has been mixed for the centre channel. With regards to films, its pretty much all dialogue and any central action, when it comes to any music/score within a film, the L & R channels get the majority of the music, plus any action/explosions etc. off centre which will be mixed into the L & R channels. Because you don't have any rears, that information will be sent to the L & R channels so you hear any sound that has been mixed in those channels, so you don't miss any sound.

To answer your second question, if you set your receiver to Straight this allows 2ch/CD content to be sent to only the L & R speakers, and anything else i.e. 5.1/7.1 content is then sent to the L & C & R channels. What you need to do is in the receivers settings, set the sub to none and both the rear speakers to none. Set the centre to small and set the L & R speakers to large, this will ensure that LFE/bass is sent to your L & R channels as they are capable of handling LFE. Your centre may also be able to handle LFE in which case you can set that to large, but I would set L & R large and test the centre and then decide whether to set it to small/large.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:52 PM   #9
norse_sage norse_sage is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tech-UK View Post
To answer your first question, that is down to the design of the mix, and how much sound has been mixed for the centre channel. With regards to films, its pretty much all dialogue and any central action, when it comes to any music/score within a film, the L & R channels get the majority of the music, plus any action/explosions etc. off centre which will be mixed into the L & R channels. Because you don't have any rears, that information will be sent to the L & R channels so you hear any sound that has been mixed in those channels, so you don't miss any sound.

To answer your second question, if you set your receiver to Straight this allows 2ch/CD content to be sent to only the L & R speakers, and anything else i.e. 5.1/7.1 content is then sent to the L & C & R channels. What you need to do is in the receivers settings, set the sub to none and both the rear speakers to none. Set the centre to small and set the L & R speakers to large, this will ensure that LFE/bass is sent to your L & R channels as they are capable of handling LFE. Your centre may also be able to handle LFE in which case you can set that to large, but I would set L & R large and test the centre and then decide whether to set it to small/large.
You just told me everything I needed to find out, thank you all - and thank you in particular, Tech-UK, for the detailed receiver settings. That pretty much solved my issues right there
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norse_sage View Post
You just told me everything I needed to find out, thank you all - and thank you in particular, Tech-UK, for the detailed receiver settings. That pretty much solved my issues right there
Glad to help. .

If you have any problems setting it all up, just post up a message in here.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:32 PM   #11
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I would recommend starting with 2.0 and seeing if you like it. Those are some nice speakers you are looking at and I think there is a possibility you may be quite happy with just the 2 channels. Would a third channel be nice? Sure it would be, but so would 5 or 7 and a sub to boot... I'd go with 2 for a couple of months and then make the call. I've had only 2 channels (I do have my sub hooked up mind you) now for a couple of months and I'm making due just fine.

If in a couple of months you want more and you can pick-up the centre channel from a place with a good return policy, do that, test it out for a bit and then make the call.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:39 PM   #12
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If one has the space and money, as I suggested, getting a centre channel is something that should be bought if you watch a lot of films, no matter how good one's L & R speakers are. And this is coming from someone with only a 2.0 setup.

But I do agree that buying the L & R speakers, display and receiver should be the first priority.

Out of curiosity, what Blu-ray player do you have norse?
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Old 10-17-2014, 07:39 AM   #13
norse_sage norse_sage is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roar View Post
I would recommend starting with 2.0 and seeing if you like it. Those are some nice speakers you are looking at and I think there is a possibility you may be quite happy with just the 2 channels. Would a third channel be nice? Sure it would be, but so would 5 or 7 and a sub to boot... I'd go with 2 for a couple of months and then make the call. I've had only 2 channels (I do have my sub hooked up mind you) now for a couple of months and I'm making due just fine.

If in a couple of months you want more and you can pick-up the centre channel from a place with a good return policy, do that, test it out for a bit and then make the call.
Yeah, those B&W front speakers I’m looking are pretty sweet, both in design and output. However, they are also pricey enough that combined with all the other expenses associated with moving, I just might have to go for 2.0 to begin with out of necessity, and then upgrade to 3.0 later on. We’ll see how much the couch and living room table and washing machine and stuff like that sets me back in the end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tech-UK View Post
But I do agree that buying the L & R speakers, display and receiver should be the first priority.

Out of curiosity, what Blu-ray player do you have norse?
Indeed, and I use my PS3 as Blu-ray player.

I know, there probably are loads of players out there which might be a little bit better at BD playback, but with a 2TB HDD installed, I also use it as a media center, with several thousands of hours worth of music, movies and TV series directly on the HDD. I just love it, the perfect media player for me – it even has the added bonus feature that it can run PS3 games, should I ever feel like gaming;p

Next standalone player I buy will be a UHD 4K BD player, and that is still some time away – but I have planned for it, the receiver I have selected has 4K HDMI passthrough, and the TV is a UHD TV. Speaking of which, any thoughts on the TV?
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:05 AM   #14
ChromeJob ChromeJob is offline
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Get a good center speaker that matches your side ones. Your Yamaha amp should offer you Dolby Pro Logic IIx Movie and Music. Set centre width on the latter fr 3 to 2. Then you can get a wider center stage. It will sound much better for films than 2.0.
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChromeJob View Post
Get a good center speaker that matches your side ones. Your Yamaha amp should offer you Dolby Pro Logic IIx Movie and Music. Set centre width on the latter fr 3 to 2. Then you can get a wider center stage. It will sound much better for films than 2.0.
They have already stated what centre speaker they are after. Read the first post.

And I would not recommend using any matrix processing, firstly because it creates a false sound field and two, adds complexion to the setup.

'Straight Decode' gives you what's encoded, without additional processing being done.

But the OP can do whatever they want to do.
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Old 10-18-2014, 06:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norse_sage View Post
Also, does anyone happen to know if there is a quick and easy way to juggle between 2.0 and 3.0 on the selected receivers remote, when all three speakers are plugged in? Would like to switch back and forth easily for music and and film respectively...
Tech-UK and other members have answered your questions but as I have a Yamaha receiver I thought I'd add that it's very easy to set-up. With my model I just go to the Basic Menu and go through the Set-up. It should ask if you have 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 speakers, so obviously you'd stop at 3, then it will ask if you have a subwoofer and you're pretty much set (Small and Large should be options too). When I switch between 5.1 and 2.1 (or 2.0 in your case), I just select the Stereo option on the remote and the Dolby Digital one to switch back. I've never used the DSP settings.
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Old 10-20-2014, 06:04 AM   #17
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Awesome, thanks!
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:04 AM   #18
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It's nice to have more channels available to use if you can. Most movies over the last 25 years are 5.1+ after all.
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Old 06-10-2021, 11:10 AM   #19
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Semi-related question: I'm thinking of adding a center channel to my setup, but it will create a clearance issue with my screen. I'm looking at the Pioneer "Andrew Jones" center channel speaker, but it is quite tall--taller than the base of my LG OLED. What are my options in this instance? I'm not wall mounting my screen just to accommodate a speaker, so are there risers for TVs (like computer monitor risers)? I have a B8 OLED for reference. Thanks!
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevers7290 View Post
Semi-related question: I'm thinking of adding a center channel to my setup, but it will create a clearance issue with my screen. I'm looking at the Pioneer "Andrew Jones" center channel speaker, but it is quite tall--taller than the base of my LG OLED. What are my options in this instance? I'm not wall mounting my screen just to accommodate a speaker, so are there risers for TVs (like computer monitor risers)? I have a B8 OLED for reference. Thanks!
What about something like this? It's been a while so hopefully this model is still readily available- looks like it is. I have a pretty bulky older center channel and searched far and wide for my set-up when I got my 4K set. The tv sits pretty much flush right above the speaker now and the speaker conceals the stand so it works pretty well for me...

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sanus-p...?skuId=5463304
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