Q: I have a set of old Advent stereo speakers. Would they be of use in my home theater system for front speakers? They were nice sounding for stereo audio and the home theater system speakers look so puny. My AV surround receiver is a Denon AVR-1312 and the speakers that came with it are Boston Acoustics MCS160. Or, would I be better off retiring the Advents to Craigslist?
A: Ideally you should have speakers that are "timbre-matched," meaning they have the same sonic signature. This is what you have with the MCS160 speaker setup. As you have noted, the speakers are very small and as a result the midrange will likely sound noticeably thinner than the Advents. It is worth trying the Advents up front to see if you like them better. The difference will be most noticeable with music.
Place the Advents an equal distance from each side of the TV, so if the right speaker is 2 feet from the TV, place the left speaker 2 feet from the other side. Go to the receiver's audio setup menu and set the center speaker to the "none" or "phantom" position. This will take the center channel information and mix it equally in the left and right speakers, creating a virtual center speaker that sounds as if it is coming from the center of the screen.
This usually sounds better than using a mismatched center speaker, which can stand out like a sore thumb across the front stage. You can get away with different surround speakers a lot easier than a different center channel.
It seems you like your Advents, and they are unlikely to fetch much on Craigslist. If you stay with the small home theater speakers, why not go to Craigslist and find a nice stereo receiver for $25 and use them in a music-only system somewhere else in your home?
CES recap, continued
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Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.