Centre channel problem solving

August 11th, 2008, 4:31 pm PST by Greg

As part of our recent move, I have had no choice but to buy a new TV. There is a built-in nook for a flat screen to sit. I had a 27″ CRT. The options were to bring the old TV and have it sit awkwardly in the room taking up a bunch of space, or buy a new flat screen.

So, I bought a new TV. Like I said: I clearly had no other choice. The TV was to be mounted on a big heavy-duty arm, so it could be swung a bit to see from the kitchen. No problem, since there was a big chunk of wood behind the nook designed exactly for this purpose: it would hold the weight of a big friggin’ TV.

While mounting the TV, Oli and I learned that the big chunk of wood in question wasn’t quite as high up as we would have liked. We ended up mounting it as high as we could, but that still didn’t leave enough room below for my centre channel:

argh!

So, this left me with a conundrum: where exactly am I going to mount the centre speaker for the home theatre? Before I get into the options, two important facts about a centre channel need to be reviewed. (1) The centre channel I have is from the same speaker series as the rest of the speakers, so it is acoustically matched. Having a distinctly different speaker could sound funny (e.g. sounds moving left to right sound different for part of their journey), so keeping this speaker would be ideal. (2) The centre channel needs to be horizontally aligned with the screen so the dialogue (which is what it makes its living doing) seems to come from the people speaking.

Many options, with varying degrees of insanity have been considered:

  1. Below the TV in the nook. Ideal, but it won’t fit there. Stupid mounting bracket isn’t height adjustable.
  2. Above the TV. This would meet both of the criteria above, but Kat is (for some reason) not thrilled about the idea of hanging the speaker above the TV by fishing line (or maybe I shouldn’t have led with that implementation). To be fair, this would look stupid, and it would block the accent light above the TV.
  3. Beside the TV, in the nook. It won’t fit there. Off-centre
  4. Beside the TV, outside the nook. This is the current solution because it’s easy. It’s annoyingly off-centre and ugly, but it fits and it works. The cable to the speaker could be hidden with a subtle hole drilled in the cabinet behind.
  5. In the stereo component cabinet. This has the problems of the above, but it would probably echo like crazy (since the speaker is rear-ported). It eliminates the need to do any drilling, though.
  6. Behind the TV, facing up. Even I didn’t think this was a good idea long enough to say it out loud. It wouldn’t fit anyway and would probably sound like ass.
  7. Having established that there is no good position for the current centre channel, I looked into buying something new. The first option there was a new thin centre channel that would fit below the TV. Nice idea, but I can’t find any that are decent, so criteria (1) would be blown out of the water.
  8. I could buy a whole new set of sub-sat speakers. These sets include tiny main speakers that can’t produce much bass and a wider-range subwoofer that takes up the slack. These would probably fit, but don’t sound great, and getting anything decent would involve more money than I want to spend. It would also negate the money spent on the very nice speakers I already have.
  9. The TV has built-in speakers. I could run the centre-channel line-level out from the receiver to them. It would probably sound horrible, but it would be cheap and inconspicuous.
  10. Yes, this idea is strange. I buy a left-right pair of small bookshelf speakers and use them together as the centre channel. I think I can split the speaker cable and connect it to both speakers, tucking one in to either side of the screen. This should fool the ear into perceiving the sound as coming from halfway in between the two and I’m optimistic that I can find a decent pair of speakers that is small enough and will match my current set.
  11. Same as above, but mounting the pair of speakers above the TV on the edge of the cabinet. This would relax the size restriction on the speakers.
  12. And after all of this, I started to think “no really… is there no way to get the TV up three inches?” The mount isn’t height adjustable, and the bracket on the mount can only attach to the TV in one position. Or can it?

    I think I can get a metal plate that’s the same width and a bit taller than the mounting bracket, and bolt it in between the bracket and the TV. The TV would be able to bolt on a few inches higher than the original holes, so it would sit that much higher.

For the more visual among us, here is an illustration of the options. The red ones use the current speaker; the blue ones use something else:

centre channel placement

So, after 11 insane options for how to deal with the speaker, I’m likely going to ignore them all and just fix the mounting bracket to do what I wanted it to in the first place.

Finally, we get to the real question here: Does anybody know where I can get a 9×12 inch piece of steel plate?

Edit: Pictures of the implementation of option 12.

2 Responses to “Centre channel problem solving”

  1. PhilB Says:

    If you’re not opposed to going to Richmond, ABC traders has all kinds of steel (and other metal) products, some used, some new.

    See: http://www.abc-traders.com

    Phil

  2. Greg Says:

    We happened to stumble on something called “Metal Supermarkets” in Burnaby: http://www.metalsupermarkets.com/

    I went in and asked my crazy question, “Can I get a 9x12x3/16″ piece of steel plate?” $8 later, I was out of there with it. Who knew such a place existed?