Center Channel Speakers
- Written by Gabe Lowe
- Published on 02 June 2014
The GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker In Use
I have watched a large variety of content with the SuperCenter XL in my system, but I chose to focus on a few films and shows that really demonstrate the strengths of the speaker. I began with the Blu-Ray edition of Disney classic The Lion King using the Home Theater-enhanced 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Mufasa is voiced by the incomparable James Earl Jones, who has one of the most brilliant voices in show business. The depth of his range makes him a perfect choice to flex the muscle of a center channel. I chose two scenes in the film that feature Mufasa's voice - the first is when he must teach Simba a lesson after he disobeys his father by going to the Elephant Graveyard.
As you would expect of a disappointed father, he is stern and uses a somewhat raised tone with his cub. Again, later in the film when the spirit of Mufasa appears to a now-grown Simba in the clouds, the depth of the voice and the power it conveys is integral to the story. The SuperCenter XL ensures that this is the case. There was no discernable change in imaging as the voice drops below the crossover point - demonstrating a seamless and unnoticeable handoff to the Triton towers. You really have to sit right in front of the SuperCenter XL to actually hear this shift. While the speaker does handle the voice duty, the sound is rich, deep and exactly what you want out of the center channel.
I continued with the Extended Edition Blu-Ray Disc of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The mountain troll scene contains voices from high to low all occurring in the presence of deep bass pounding when the trolls stomp around. The sound mix is fantastic, and the action on screen is transparent with the performance of the SuperCenter XL. As the talking moves around the front soundstage, it is truly a great example of how well the speaker also fits in with the Triton towers. It is a perfectly seamless sound image across the entire front of the room. As the fight between the trolls and the dwarfs rages, the clang of swords, the neighs of horses, and finally the shout of Gandalf are all conveyed outstandingly.
Moving on, I wanted to sample some music in a 5.1 mix. I popped in the newly released Sunshine Daydream film that captured one of the most notable Grateful Dead shows in the band's storied history. Taking place in Veneta, Oregon back in August of 1972, the concert was played in part as a benefit for a local creamery, but came to be part of Dead lore for several reasons, not the least of which it was captured in glorious 16mm film (mostly), and went unreleased from their vault for quite some time. After debuting for a single-day engagement in theaters across the country in 2013, the movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray later in the year, complete with the newly mastered 96KHz/24-bit mixes (both stereo and 5.1 surround) taken from the original 16-track master reels.
As you can imagine, the sound quality is top notch, and the SuperCenter XL did its part magnificently. The show features many gems, one of which is Bird Song. The interweaving of the rhythm and lead guitars is a hallmark of the song, and it sounds fantastic as it leads right into Jerry Garcia's vocals which once again sound pure from the center of the stage. As the harmonies come in shortly after - it only gets better. For me, it was a very important characteristic of my home theater system that music would not have to take a backseat to movie soundtrack performance, and I am glad to say that the SuperCenter XL and its GoldenEar brethren sacrifice nothing in that arena. I have since watched other concert videos and live streams, and have not once been disappointed with the sound emanating from these magnificent speakers.
One other area that I wanted to cover is the performance of the speaker with regards to gaming. Gaming has arrived at a new golden age with the release of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, reaching new heights in terms of audio and visual fidelity. Indeed, many titles are basically playable movies, complete with fully developed characters and stories, but also with outstanding sound design, soundtracks, and photorealistic visuals.
One such game I purchased is Thief for the Xbox One. As the main character, you play a thief in a very dark, creepy city that has apparently been infected with a sickness (I won't go further than that in case any of you are planning to make your way through the title). The eerie-ness of the environment can only be fully realized with proper accompanying sound, and once again, the SuperCenter XL contributes greatly to the overall GoldenEar sound. One thing video games tend to enhance over a traditional film soundtrack is distance. For example, in this game, as you sneak towards guards that you try to avoid, or if necessary, decommission, you can hear their voices grow in volume. Likewise, if you throw an object, such as a bottle, you can hear the whoosh of your throw up close, and the subsequent shatter from an appropriate distance. The system really generates an excellent 3-dimensional presence around you as you play, immersing you in the experience. This was yet another requirement for my chosen system which the GoldenEar SuperCenter XL and its fellow speakers delivered.