Center channel for stereo?

I just picked up some JBL Studio 580’s on sale. They’re great speakers, but one thing I’m (my wife is) noticing is dialog in shows and movies are difficult to hear. The common solution to this is to get a center channel.
When playing stereo music how does the center channel affect the LR speakers? Do receivers play stereo songs through LR only, or does it primarily play it through center? Receiver being a Denon avr-1713.

It depends on your receiver’s audio capabilities. Most receivers have a stereo mode which plays only through the front L & R speakers (and the subwoofer if applicable), so the center channel gets bypassed. Since it’s a Denon, it may also have “Direct” mode which plays the full range signal through only the L & R speakers, even bypassing the subwoofer if I recall correctly.

If you want to add a center channel for movies and shows, go for it - it’s highly recommended; then just put the receiver into stereo or direct mode when listening to music. Win win.


Your room acoustics are likely playing a huge role in this so most likely getting treatment will be the best solution imo (as long as you get one with the correct rate and level). For example, reverb times could be high in your room which leads to poor speech intelligibility.

Also, i know some people are a fan of using two speakers for the center channel (ie. Left center, right center). Typically one center channel will always interfere with the soundscape in front of you so they separate it. Never tried it myself though.


Using a receiver that does not have dedicated stereo mode will greatly reduce any dialogue.

The left and right only provide a very small window of dialogue, I found this out when I renovated my place and had to reinstall my HT. The wire for center speaker popped out of the banana plug and I was like what is going on. Thought the speaker broke cause no sound came out of it.

So either put it in stereo and use LR or if not possible you need to buy a center. I would go matching or anything that’s quality cause it will sound horrible otherwise. Learned that with my HT setup for living room which is three channels only

This is simple. Any components in your system that offer stereo and multi channel options must all be set to stereo/ two channel. Position your speakers for optimum focus and staging, and you should be good to go. I confess, I actually prefer this set up to a center channel speaker. I hope I was able to help.

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In addition, if I do choose to go with a center channel, will there be a problem if I don’t have rear speakers? I would have to change the receiver to surround mode or 5 channel mode. I don’t see a 3 channel option.

Sometimes it’s in the settings for front and rear speakers.

Something like Large/Small/None. So you could set the rear speakers to ‘none’.