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Looking for center speaker to match Pioneer CS-G403

by boltonch / January 1, 2010 1:50 PM PST

I have a pair of Pioneer CS-G403 speakers that I would like to use as the front left and right speakers in a 5.1 surround system. As such, I am looking for a center speaker that will acoustically match these. Any suggestions? Additionally, I will be buying a new receiver for this setup (finally upgrading from 2-channel audio). It shouldn't matter if I choose a non-Pioneer receiver, correct?

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Demo them at your local dealer
by Carve2 / January 1, 2010 2:33 PM PST

Hmm, tough one there. I'm guessing yours are the 150 Watt, 15" woofer versions?

The centre channel on most 5.1 soundtracks is used primarily for vocals, so I don't believe you need to match the sheer power of the bass on those speakers to get the full impact.

That being said, I think your best option is to talk to your local decent hifi dealer and see if he or she (why are most audio-nuts male?) will allow you to bring your speakers in and test them out with a range of existing centre speakers. I've never heard those speakers myself, so I can only go off of other Pioneers of the same era. Maybe some of the Klipsch, Revel or maybe even Jamo speakers would work?

The amplifier definitely won't be as tricky to match, but your speakers are used to quite a bit of power, so be aware of just how hard you'll need to drive them to get the best impact. If your budget stretches to it, a pre/power amplifier system would give you power to burn.

I've long been a fan of Marantz amplifiers, mainly due to their sound and general build quality. Value for money is good, but keep your eyes open for some good deals on mid-range Onkyo and Denon receivers too. These tend to have more features for the money, but with slightly less focus on audio than the Marantz equivalents.

Best of luck in your search, and please let us know how you got on.

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Pioneer not recommended?
by boltonch / January 1, 2010 3:36 PM PST

Yes, they are the 150 Watt, 15" woofer ones.

It's interesting that you did not suggest a Pioneer for the center. I had read that speakers tend to match better when they are of the same brand. Is that correct? Is there a reason you would not recommend Pioneer: sound quality, price, availability etc.?

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Not necessarily...
by Carve2 / January 1, 2010 4:15 PM PST

I didn't recommend Pioneer for a few reasons. Mainly, their build is so different today to not even resemble those from the past. Ceramic graphite tweeters, magnesium cone mid-range drivers; sounds more like sports car manufacturing products (although they do sound nice).

Their range is pretty limited these days too: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Products/HomeEntertainment/Speakers

Current Pioneer series S-8EX centre speaker retails for around US$2k, the S-7EX is closer to US$4k.

It's true that speakers from the same manufacturer tend to match better, mainly because they use similar, if not the same components, but also because their audio engineers/designers have the same idea about what good sound is.

However, your older speakers were designed for full-range, warm, powerful stereo sound (from an age when DVD's and 5.1 channel surround sound didn't exist) and their current focus is on highly efficient materials and sharper, clearer sound for surround. Oh, and very high end TAD Reference One Stereo speakers (at a paltry $60k per pair...)

If you could find an older Pioneer centre speaker from the mid-90's, it might work. Otherwise, you're going to have to do some testing.

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Great info
by boltonch / January 1, 2010 4:52 PM PST
In reply to: Not necessarily...

That all makes sense; thanks for the good information. Now if I only had $60k to drop on some speakers...

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