What's the point of the center channel?
So I'm kind of an audio nut. Mostly 2 channel stuff - with a big vinyl collection and fancy homebuilt speakers and a dedicated 2 channel stereo room, etc.
I also have a 5.1 surround system in our tv room.
Our bedroom tv system is just 2 channel (but with pretty nice speakers).
One thing I've noticed is that the center channel in the 5.1 system is completely unnecessary. A centralized image can be created with the front left and right speakers alone. On my dedicated 2 channel system it reproduces a very believable 3 dimensional image of instruments located at any point between the speakers and beyond the speaker plane. On many recordings there are also sounds coming from outside the speakers and from behind me (accomplished using phasing tricks like on Dark Side of the Moon)
On my 2 channel video rig in the bedroom I don't miss the center channel at all - all of the voices are perfectly located on the screen . . in fact it's slightly better than a center channel because you don't have voices coming from above or below the screen.
So my question is this - what's the point of having a center channel of audio and a center channel speaker anyway? How is 5.1 any better than 4.1?