In this episode of Ask The Expert we're looking at centre speakers in a stereo setup, and what they can bring to the party (or rather, the movie night).
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What are the advantages of using a centre speaker in my stereo set up?
First of all, you need an AV receiver or processor to do this, because if you only have a stereo setup with a stereo amplifier, then you won't be able to add a centre speaker. But if you do have this capability then read on.
The purpose of the centre channel is to centre the sound in the middle (centre) of the sound space, which especially relevant when using your speakers with a TV. With a TV you have a central image, and you want to feel like the sound is coming from that image. This perception can change depending on the seated position, which is where a centre channel comes in.
If you only have two speakers – left and right – that works perfectly if you’re sitting the middle between the two speakers. The sound will appear to come from the image, i.e from the middle, exactly in the same was as it would if you were seated in the optimum listening position and were playing music over two speakers.
But if you’re sitting off-centre, i.e off to the sides – perhaps at one end of the sofa, for example – then the sound will appear to be coming from only one speaker of the two stereo speakers. By using a centre speaker – whether it’s forming part of a surround system or it's in a stereo system, adding a centre speaker will centre the sound to the image. That's why it's most often used when using a sound system in conjunction with a TV.
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