Before we talk about center channels, it's probably helpful to understand a bit about how recordings are made and why and under what conditions a stereo recording works with a stereo system.
2-channel recordings are made up of three kinds of "sounds": 

Pure stereo information: These are sounds that are ONLY recorded in the left or the right  channel. Sometimes these are called "differential." 
Mono information: These are sounds that are recorded exactly the same in the left and right channels. These are sometimes called “common."
Off-center information: These are sounds that are recorded in both left and right, but at different levels or different phase.

Here's what that looks like. This is the seven drum beat track from the old IASCA disc. 

The top half of this display is the left channel and the bottom half is the right channel.
It's pretty simple to see that the left drum beat (the first one) is only recorded in the left channel and the right drum beat is only recorded in the right channel. The drum beat in the center is recorded in both channels.
If you look carefully, you'll see that in the left channel, the beats gradually decrease in level and in the right channel, the beats gradually increase in level.
The fourth one (the one in the center is the same level in both channels.
In order for the drum beats to sound like they are the same volume, the total energy of the two ...


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Lots of mystery and misunderstanding surround target curves and their use. Everyone who’s any good at tuning cars that sound great uses one, even if they don’t know it. Someone who tunes by ear and adjusts and readjusts until he gets to the point at which he’s ready to deliver the car uses one. Someone who uses a microphone and an analyzer uses one, even if they’ve never actually seen one or thought about it.
“What? You’re crazy. I’ve tuned hundreds of cars and I’ve never even seen a target curve!”

Of course you have, whether you know it or not. A target curve is a frequency response graph that depicts the balance between low frequencies, midrange frequencies and high frequencies. That frequency response graph can be measured for every audio system in existence. If you tune by ear and at some point, it just “sounds right”, then you’ve come close to your target, even if you’ve never measured the frequency response with an analyzer.
The reason to use an analyzer isn’t because your ears aren’t good enough (even though they may not be). The reason to use a microphone and an analyzer is to make the tuning process faster and more precise. Think of the target curve as a template. It’s the difference between trying to cut a round hole without a guide and without a template. You may get close -  and then have to trim and file and sand and trim and file and sand....


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