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Thread: Mixing & Matching Center Speaker?

  1. #1
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    Default Mixing & Matching Center Speaker?

    I was thinking about updating my system in the near future. However, many of the brands that I am considering (more conventional dynamic cone based speakers) - either have centers that are underwhelming or seem to be significantly overpriced. Many brands seem to treat the center as an afterthought.

    I saw that Martin Logan just came out with a new center, the Focus ESL C18. It's reasonably priced and seems like it may be an improvement over their prior models. I was thinking about using the Focus ESL C18 as the center when I update my system. Do you think that mixing and matching the fronts - 2 dynamic cone based speakers like GoldenEar, etc. with the Martin Logan center can work?

    I found an article where John E. Johnson from hometheaterhifi.com did the opposite a dynamic, cone based center (Paradigm) with Martin Logan fronts and he was happy with the results. I believe he did so because he didn't think the Martin Logan centers, at the time, were up to the task. However, years later he gave a great review for the Stage X.

    My goal is to get the best center I can afford (dialog intelligibility key), that works in terms of looks, size, etc. However, I don't want to distracted if there is going to be a significant mismatch across the center.

  2. #2
    Member GW1800's Avatar
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    I have the Focus you can read about it my system is #504. I like the focus very much and I don't see a real problem doing what you are talking about. Do you intend in the future to change the L&R's also with ML? I'm thinking once you hear how great the center channel is maybe something to think about. Of all the speakers in a surround sound system the center is the most important so not sure about your comment that many brands seem to treat the center channel as an afterthought - if they do they are just wrong. I ended up attaching it to the wall and really like the look of that. I had the Stage X and the new Focus is much better particularly in the bass.
    Music Rm #503: CLX Art DC/ 2-212's / Bricasti M12 & M28's / Aurender N10 / Nordost O2/O Pwr & IC's/ V2 Pwr Spk, QX4, QV2, QK1, QB8, Sort Fut, Lift & TC Kones, QKore 6, Earth Ground, Acoustical Panels Media Rm #504: Summit X's /Descent i's / Vanquish / Focus / Parasound A23 & 31 / 65" LG 4k OLED / Anthem AVM60 / Nordost T2/F2/H2 Pwr & IC, H2 HDMI & Net, QK1, QV2, QB8 & QX2 / Entreq SM / SBooster / Sony 4K Blu-ray

  3. #3
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    In general, it is not recommended to mix speaker types, so if using a folded-motion / AMT tweeter main left/right, I'd get the center from that same line and brand.

    ESL centers are a tough game, and getting a good match to the large, ESL line-source mains is hard. The new Focus looks like a nice model if you have ESLs.

    And yes, the center is a critical component in a high-performance surround setup, so get the best you can get, or build your own, that's what I did
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by akopperl View Post
    I was thinking about updating my system in the near future. However, many of the brands that I am considering (more conventional dynamic cone based speakers) - either have centers that are underwhelming or seem to be significantly overpriced. Many brands seem to treat the center as an afterthought.

    I saw that Martin Logan just came out with a new center, the Focus ESL C18. It's reasonably priced and seems like it may be an improvement over their prior models. I was thinking about using the Focus ESL C18 as the center when I update my system. Do you think that mixing and matching the fronts - 2 dynamic cone based speakers like GoldenEar, etc. with the Martin Logan center can work?

    I found an article where John E. Johnson from hometheaterhifi.com did the opposite a dynamic, cone based center (Paradigm) with Martin Logan fronts and he was happy with the results. I believe he did so because he didn't think the Martin Logan centers, at the time, were up to the task. However, years later he gave a great review for the Stage X.

    My goal is to get the best center I can afford (dialog intelligibility key), that works in terms of looks, size, etc. However, I don't want to distracted if there is going to be a significant mismatch across the center.
    You did not specify your R and L speakers. This is important when picking a center channel because you want to have as seamless transition as possible when the sound shifts from center (where most of it is in videodiscs) to either side. The properties of ESL and Folded motion tweeters are close enough to satisfy that requirement. I have had a Stage X and replaced with an Illusion ESL 34A to better match my large panels. The Focus is an improved version of the Stage X and would work quite nicely with ML ESLs.

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