Oh yeah Lena... about that new DVD-A..

You said "So far I really only like a couple of tracks on it. BUT, the guy must be big 2-channel aficionado who likes surround (or his mixer forgot that option on the board). There is practically nothing recorded in the center channel, once in a blue moon there’s a few runs/notes played through the center."

Are you 'sure' that there's even any center chan. recorded? Your system should have NO problem fooling you into thinking you're hearing center chan even if there's none recorded.

Have you tired some scenes of the Matrix yet? Flipping back and forth from center-small to center -none will show your exactly what the diff. is. It might help you tweak your mains placement to sharpen up the center (if you find it less sharp that's probably why).

There's a very clear test of phantom center pannig with the menu screen to Apocolypse Now! (sp?).

Helicopters pan across the screen in front of you, (and you also hear them behind you-but that's beside the point).

In my system the panning is perfect. The sound doesn't change at all as it goes from right to left. That's what I mean by 'one solid soundfield'. To get it that smooth you have to have a perfectly matching center (almost impossible due to horizontal design and diff. driver arangement and diff. axis response, and physical speaker placement above or below the screen).
It can be done, but all that amp/speaker cost and adjustment trouble just to get the effect most people can create with their mains alone.

Room shape (and stuff in it)/speaker placement constraints sometimes keep the mains from being set optimally though which may degrade a phantom center like I described above, but then that's what you hear from all your 2-chan CD's (that most people haven't maxed out to their full potential -including myself)
We can only make due with the room and equipt. we own right?