October 3, 2012

Second Hand Dialogue. Bose 201 Series III Speaker.

A single, and lonely Bose 201 Series III speaker spotted at E-bay.

Still on my home theater project. I last expressed a mild disappointment with my weedy sounding center chanel after putting the whole she bang together. I find that while most people like to test the "crash-boom-bang" aspect of AV sound reproduction, they tend to forget about the clarity of dialogue, which I feel is very important in today's movie story telling, unless one is watching an episode of Mr Bean, or the silent movies from The Three Stooges or The Charlie Chaplin era!

My approach to AV sound reproduction setting up is nearly as fastidious as an audiophile obsessed with the female vocal mouth's size, shape, scale, teeth, lips and moist. Well, I said nearly, didn't I? The next issue I have with the center chanel is that the tonal quality must be as close to that of the main speakers as possible, hence I would always recommend that the center chanel to be from the same matching range and speaker manufacturer where possible. This is to promote a unity tonality, as when in some movies with dramatic surround panning effects should seem as tonally consistent as possible as it happens. You wouldn't want one particular speaker to stand out like a sore thumb, like most poorly matched center speaker tends to do.
I applied three tacky rubber foot on to the bottom panel of the Bose 201 speaker, two at the back corner and one in the middle on front, which allows the speaker to sit securely facing back wards to the rear wall.

With the above technical parameters in mind, I set about looking for a value for $$$ proposition from who else, but Bose to match my whole main and surround set up. I know of many who roll their eyes upon the mere mention of that brand! I spy in E-bay this lonely single Bose 201 Series III speaker, which is about the same vintage as my Bose 301 Series II. As a matter of fact, they also happen to match visually too. The transaction price was a worthwhile USD$29.90 and as usual in so many cases of E-bay transactions, the shipping cost was a horrendously costly at USD$55.00. That brings the total cost speaker cost arriving at my door step(three weeks shipping time with UPS) to nearly RM$300.00 for a single used Bose 201 Series III speaker as a replacement for the tiny Bose VCS 10 center chanel . Not exactly cheap, but I got what I wanted, more importantly.

I then proceeded to think about mounting a slightly bulky center chanel speaker in front of my Samsung display screen. After trial fitting about, I couldn't find a good place to discreetly mount the Bose 201. I had to think out of the box! Hence I came to the idea of having a back wards facing center chanel, mounted behind the screen. Hang on, the Bose is non-shielded, but wait, the Samsung is a plasma screen, so it does not matter like the ol' CRT based displays. Plasma screens are not affected by speaker driver flux radiation. So the idea went in to practice, but I had to wire the back wards facing center chanel in reverse polarity, so that it's acoustical polarity matches that of my main speakers. After some trial mounts and measuring confirms that I had enough space at the back of the screen to accommodate the Bose, I proceed to DIY an L-bracket at the back of my hard wood AV rack, so that the center chanel can be mounted faced back towards the wall, with some clearance space.
Now, that's how it looks like, with part of the L-bracket protruding out to give the back wards facing speaker some clearance from the wall. The distance between speaker and back wall is crucial for reproducing the right tonality. 

With the center chanel speaker mounted and all wired up and ready for sound test, I started to gauge it's performance, using again my reference movies, like Avatar and Transformers 3, Dark Of The Moon. I find that while tonally very close matched to my main speakers, the male voices had a chesty mid bass boom, which clouded the clarity of the dialogue. I moved the whole AV rack about 3-4 inches further out in to the room, giving the rear facing center chanel about 6 inches clearance from the rear wall. Bingo, the chesty mid bass boom on male voices disappeared and is now tonally seamless with my main speakers. I should be happy, but I am not, because upon closer scrutiny, I felt the lack of a pin point dialogue anchored to the display screen as as person talks effect, which I've experienced in well set up AV sound systems.

I tried to bring back the Bose VCS 10 slim design center chanel to it's original place under the Samsung display, facing front, and wired in positive polarity an as acoustical match to my main speakers, working in tandem, with the back wards facing, Bose 201 Series III speaker wired in negative polarity now in series with the front facing speaker. Now I got the result I wanted, crystal clear dialogue, in a seamless tonality match with the rest of the surround and main speakers, with pin point and anchored to screen placing. I fiddle around some more with the distance adjustment settings in the Denon AVR 1612 to get a tighter and more focused result.
The Bose VCS 10 is put back in to good use to aid the focusing the dialogue and anchoring the voice to the display screen.

Needless to say, that my low cost, matching center chanel project paid off big time. Gone are the weedy dialogue and I can now enjoy my movies more, with the more comfortable and seamless tonality. Ahh... time for some pop corn to enhance my enjoyment of WWII In HD, a world war II documentary series using actual journalist and army archive footage shot in colour(which was very expensive then), and remastered with 4K resolution equipment, produced by the Discovery History Chanel. For a war time history buff like me, a good center chanel reproduction of narratives by Gary Sinise(of CSI NY fame) is essential to fulfill my enjoyment of documentaries like this. I am a happy man at the home movies.

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