The Best Center Channel Speaker buying Guide & Review of 2020

Having a good home theatre system is often an expensive investment, but it is important for creating an immersive surround sound experience at home. And since home theatres are basically for watching movies and listening to music, the center channel speaker is one of the most critical components of the sound system. The center channel speaker is responsible for anchoring both dialogue and vocals, which means almost half of the sounds you hear in a production will be played through the center channel speaker.

The best center channel speaker should be able to reproduce all the sounds, the movie's dialog, and voices that really draws you into the action. Also, it should be able to deliver all these sounds clearly and with minimal vibrations and background noise. In this guide, we have considered several center channel speaker, as well as features you should look for when looking for a center channel speaker.

The Best Center Channel Speaker Comparison Table

No home theatre system is complete with a center channel speaker. For this reason, you should enrich your home cinema with a reliable center channel speaker. If you try a short cut by trying to create a phantom center using your left and right speakers, the center sound will be weak, and there will be gaps in your sound. We've put together a list of 11 center channel speakers, and we hope you will be able to find the right one for you and your budget. Let's start!

1. Polk Audio Signature s35

The Polk Audio Signature s35 is designed for versatility, and it easily fits in places that other speakers do not. It also allows for both vertical and horizontal placements options, and it equally performs as right or left channel speaker as well. With the s35 series, you experience elevated sound for movies, music, and TV right in your living room.

Features and Benefits of Polk Audio Signature s35

  • Versatile and it is compatible with various home theatre combinations: The s35 signature series offers full compatibility with 2.0, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, and 9.1 home theatre setups, and it will create a room-filling sound when added to your existing arrangement. Besides, it is designed to reproduce even the latest high-resolution files with enhanced audio extension enabling you to hear vocals and dialogue in a whole new way.
  • Stylish with the iconic rounded edges: The ultra-slim 4-inch tall speaker features iconic rounded edges to give your speakers a performance-oriented and elegant look. The speaker cabinet is made of fiberboard with an angled top, and it is compact enough to be placed even in the narrowest bookshelves. Also, you can set this speaker anywhere, and it doesn't need to be the middle of your arrangement.
  • Immersive and reliable surround sound: Regardless of its small size, the s35 is a powerhouse. The unit comes with six 3" tall mica-reinforced polypropylene cones for improved linearity, mid-range, and enhanced bass tones. We cannot forget the 1" Terylene tweeter that is responsible for the high frequencies that you may have been missing. Your favorite music and movie will sound great when you can hear both low and high frequencies.
  • The power port technology: Also included in this s35 series is power port technology, which allows for smooth airplay in the entertainment space for unobstructed and more precise sound. The power port also helps to reduce turbulence and sound distortion through an extended bass port for a more musical and deeper bass impact. This distinct feature makes s35 one of the best center channel speakers available in the market today. 

Pros

  • High sound quality hours of great listening
  • Performs equally well as the front left and front right channel speakers.
  • Signature s35 is compatible with a range of home theater setups.
  • Outstanding detail, especially in movie dialogue.
  • Compact profile to allow for multiple placement options

Cons

  • Sound quality is somewhat low quality on the low end.
  • The center channel speaker can be boomy at with some voice ranges. 

Verdict:

The Polk Audio Signature s35 series will make a difference in the way you watch movies or listen to music by delivering clear and detailed dialogue and vocals. It will customize your home theatre experience to the tiniest details, delivering the sound you truly want.

2. Klipsch R-52C

The incredible acoustics of the R-52C center channel speaker will ensure that you get crystal-clear sound for your music lyrics and movie dialogue for an ultimate home theatre experience. When it comes to appearance, the R-25 comes with an elegant low profile magnetic grille, and with the closed-back design, you can place the speaker wherever you want.

Features and Benefits of Klipsch R-52C

  • Klipsch proprietary 90x90 Square Tractrix Horn technology: The dedicated 90x90º Tractrix horn technology ensures that the speaker's high frequency is directed towards the listening area. In addition, it helps to reduce sound filtering that is caused by indirect sound bouncing off your walls. This technology gives you the best clarity and dynamics of your music and movies.
  • Spun-Copper IMG woofer cones: The R-52C comes with light and exceptionally rigid Injection Molded Graphite (IMG) woofer cones, which provide an exceptional low-frequency response with very minimal cone breakup and distortion. And when paired with the linear travel suspension aluminum tweeter, it offers high efficiency with improved resolution and detailed performance in the upper ranges.
  • Closed-back design for flexible placement: Klipsch reinforced MDF construction helps to reduce resonance and cabinet vibrations for improved sonic accuracy. It also helps to ensure less audible coloration while giving you long-lasting listening experience. In addition, the closed-back design of this center channel speaker gives optimal bass response regardless of the placement position.
  • Low-profile magnetic grilles: Regarding the general outlook, the low profile magnetic grilles give this speaker a polished and elegant appearance. The stylish aesthetics ensures seamless integration into any décor when used in a traditional home theater setup. It also features a scratch-free vinyl finish for absolute durability. Also, the magnetic grilles are easy to remove if so desired.

Pros

  • It comes in a closed-back design for flexibility
  • Great for movies and music.
  • Built to reduce dialogue reverb and distortion
  • Great aesthetics
  • Balanced sound dispersion to give you a life-like listening experience like no other.

Cons

  • Average cabinet bracing.
  • Relatively expensive.

Verdict:

Crystal clear sound is what you can expect from the Klipsch R-52C, and there is no other brand that can deliver realistic sound like this Klipsch center channel speaker. Furthermore, it comes in a reinforced MDF construction for a listening experience that is built to last.

3. Sony SSCS8

Designed to be the center speaker for a simpler sound setup, the Sony SSCS8 features a precise instrument reproduction and position that will make your favorite lyrics unfold throughout your living room. Also, it delivers realistic sound with an even depth relative to the expansive soundstage. The speaker is housed in a solid cabinet for vibration isolation, and it is effortless to install.

Features and Benefits of Sony SSCS8

  • Wide frequency response: With the Sony SSCS8, prepare yourself for a wide frequency audio response of up to 25 kHz, which is ideal for high resolution listening. This is made possible by the supper tweeter specially designed to deliver natural-sounding vocals through precise timing throughout the frequency range. You will be fascinated by the powerful and remarkably fast frequency response that gives your music a solid foundation.
  • High-quality crossover networks: The SSCS8 crossover networks use specially selected components to help reduce signal loss for a dynamic vocal response even when you are dealing with delicate emotional nuances. Besides, the dynamics and clarity in movies and songs will move you emotionally, and it will practically place you in the concert venue. Also, it operates at 145 W of peak power, and it is compatible with other speakers with similar power range.
  • Mica-reinforced drivers: On the upper surface, the SSCS8 utilizes unique dual-layer (foamed) mica woofer diaphragms that enable the speaker to deliver faithful sound quality. The bottom layer, on the other hand, leverages low weight for a maximum bass response while being directly mounted to the cabinet to help reduce vibration. Basically, the SSCS8 will provide you with an excellent vocal presence and overall sound clarity.
  • Wooden speaker cabinet with a removable grille: The SSCS8 cabinet is made from wood, which helps to deliver a natural resonance. This is combined with the bass reflex construction to provide optimized low-frequency sound. Other than the simplistic design, the SSCS8 runs at about 6-8 ohms, yet it is capable of delivering clear and natural-sounding music and movie soundtracks. The speaker also accommodates new technologies that offer more power and less distortion when it comes to bass. 

Pros

  • Produces room-filling sound.
  • It is housed in a solid cabinet to provide excellent sound.
  • It is ideal for any surround sound or home theater system.
  • Ultra-slim and compact design.
  • Well defined dialogues and exceptional bass response

Cons

  • Some distortion at high volumes.
  • The mid-range could be improved.

Verdict:

The SSCS8 is a must-have center channel speaker for movies and music. It adds depth and clarity and makes each instrument sounds as if you are in the concert venue. Additionally, it will blend perfectly with other Sony Core series, and the result is simply outstanding.

4. Polk Audio CS10

The best center channel speaker is braced in high-quality cabinets so that you are not robbed of good sound. The CS10 is housed in a robust enclosure extensively made of ¾ Inch MDF baffles with an angled top to allow you to invert the speaker and set it below or above your TV. Besides, the CS10 is compatible with TSi100, TSi200, among others, and it takes up less than one square foot.

Features and Benefits of Polk Audio CS10

  • Premium design: The CS10 utilizes narrow baffle geometry, a design that gives you the best of both worlds by creating a polished looking speaker with outstanding sound quality. The high-quality cabinet is slim, and it is designed to tuck away easily in any space. Also, the speaker components are lightweight, which translates to clearer sound, excellent bass, and lower distortion.
  • Neodymium reinforced tweeter: The included polymer composite dome tweeter comes with a powerful neodymium magnet that enables the speaker to deliver a detailed frequency response and a life-like reproduction of instruments and movie dialogue. Also, the bass reflex port is thoughtfully designed to handle the bass frequencies leaving no chance for muddiness or rumble. So, whether it is instruments or vocals, the CS10 will never let you down.
  • Compatible practically with all audio components: The CS10 is compatible with almost all electronics, including the Tsi series, and it is capable of producing spacious sound even when powered by not so powerful amplifiers and receivers. This speaker will sound great regardless of whether you are hooking it up to vintage speakers or your new surround receiver. Also, the magnetic shielding enables you to place the speaker around other electronics.
  • Non resonant all MDF construction: The Polk Audio CS10 features an all MDF construction with ¾ inch baffles, which is designed to reduce resonance for a more precise, cleaner, and more realistic sound quality. Additionally, the unique angled top cabinet can be inverted to provide versatility in orientation when placed under your television or video monitor. However, the audio experience can be altered when the orientation is changed, but it will remain crystal clear.

Pros

  • The cabinet is built from high-quality materials.
  • Crystal-clear sound in its high-efficiency design.
  • Excellent damping capabilities.
  • Quite versatile and will blend seamlessly with both Polk and other speaker brands in your home theatre system.
  • Elegant and takes up minimal storage space.

Cons

  • It lacks good, low-end performance.
  • May not be an ideal choice for users who like it louder or punchier.

Verdict:

The Polk Audio CS10 is a great match for your TSi Series, smaller than CS20, but it sounds as good. Ultimately, it is a perfect choice for small upgrades made to a basic home theatre system.

5. Yamaha NS-C210BL

Today, most movies and music are becoming high definition, and you need speakers that reproduce the detail and clarity that comes with such sources. The Yamaha NS-C210BL is specially designed to ensure the best possible sound from the HD sources, and also, to provide crystal clear sound output with plenty of depth and soundstage.

Features and Benefits of Yamaha NS-C210BL

  • Light aluminum cones: The woofers use stiff but lightweight aluminum cones, which allows for extra –fast response to every sound, and the result is detailed and clean sound with outstanding bass response. However, the unit does not include magnetic shielding, so the speaker uses a larger magnet to allow for more sound to be extracted from the source resulting in more life-like sound imaging.
  • 2-way bass-reflex center speaker: This Yamaha top-class center speaker uses a 2-way bass reflex system, which helps to provide real like sound output while watching movies. This creates immersive experience while minimizing dialogue distortion and enhancing the mid and high-frequency range. Also, it comes with a 7/8" balanced dome tweeter for a natural sound that you may not have picked up before.
  • Designed to reproduce the full, dynamic sound of HD sources: The NS-C210BL is designed to reproduce and maximize the dynamic sound of HD sources, offering you everything you need to enjoy your music and movies. More and more sources are becoming high definition, including direct broadcast satellite and Blu-ray video disc, and the NS-C210BL is capable of reproducing the clarity and detail of these HD sources.
  • Slim design to match flat-panel TVs: Measuring approximately 5.2" by 13.4" by 4.2," the NS-C210BL features a compact design that goes well with most flat-panel TVs. The speaker cabinet can fit on any bookshelf horizontally and pretty much anywhere. Plus, it comes in an elegant black finish, but there are other finishes options to match a variety of interiors. 

Pros

  • Designed to minimize dialogue distortion and to enhance mid-range/high-frequency response.
  • Slim design to match your flat screen TV.
  • NS-C210BL is compact, stylish, yet very powerful.
  • This center channel speaker delivers an impressive HD effect.
  • Average sound quality, but it is more than adequate, especially for budget-conscious users. 

Cons

  • The built quality is not the best.
  • The front grill is not removable.
  • Average sound quality but it is more than adequate, especially for budget-conscious users.

Verdict:

While other center channel speakers focus on loading the home theatre system with a couple of differentiated technology, the Yamaha NS-C210BL keeps it simple and clear. Also, it is designed to produce sound from all sources, including HD sources, and it can fit in nearly any living space.

6. Klipsch RP-450C

The RP-450C is yet another center channel speaker in the Klipsch RP Series that will have you fall in love with your music all over again. The Reference Premiere RP-450C brings music lyrics and movie dialogue to life in a way that no other speaker can. And if you loved sound you got from its small brother the RP-250C, the RP-450C is twice clearer and has twice the capability.

Features and Benefits of Klipsch RP-450C

  • 90x90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn and all-new Tractrix Port: RP-450C redesigned Tractrix horn uses a circular horn throat and a square horn mouth to help improve dynamics and imaging while also enhancing frequency range and extension. The molded rubber construction further adds high-frequency damping for improved detailing and resolution, thus creating the most natural and cleanest sound possible. The geometry also utilizes a Tractrix port to allow for the fastest transfer of air from the cabinet, resulting in the most efficient low-frequency response. 
  • All MDF cabinet construction : The all MDF construction of the cabinet with brushed polymer veneer finish is not only designed to offer solid cabinet structure but also to add modern aesthetic when incorporated into any décor. You'll get the option of choosing walnut or black ash veneer finish. The design also features clean and seamless lines popular with the Reference Premium series. 
  • Flexible, removable grille: RP-450C comes with a robust and removable grille that is attached magnetically to offer discrete performance. The magnets are contained within the baffle to help reduce high-frequency diffraction. The idea is to reproduce as much bass definition as possible for a more defined sound while also enhancing dialogue making this center channel speaker a gem.
  • Cerametallic woofers: Spun Copper Cerametallic woofers are the core of Klipsch speakers, a design characterized with lightweight construction and exceptional rigidity for minimal come breakup and distortion. And when paired with other technologies, the woofers provide an uncontested performance. Besides, the unit is Dolby Atmos ready, meaning it will offer more than surround sound only.

Pros

  • Eye-catching and long-lasting design.
  • It comes with a removable and sturdy grille for flexibility.
  • The RP-450C will reproduce every detail and nuance of audio without distortion.
  • This powerful center channel is designed to deliver clear sound for an exciting cinematic experience effortlessly.
  • The unit is housed in a rigid MDF cabinet to help reduce the risk of cone damage.

Cons

  • The price is somehow high for a would-be buyer.
  • It is vast and heavy, so it might appear somewhat bulky. 

Verdict:

If you are looking for big and more life-like sounds, then you may want to try out the RP-450C from Klipsch. This speaker sports an extra-sturdy cabinet to help minimize distortion, but it is pretty hefty, so it might not be an ideal choice if you are looking for a compact speaker.

7. Definitive Technology CS-9060

The Definitive Technology CS-9060 is obsessed with superior audio inspired by its minimalist design for a pure home theatre experience. Also, it is engineered to deliver immense clarity on vocal ranges and to reproduce even the most demanding audio content accurately. Besides, the high-performance drivers and tweeters let you hear every detail and every note exactly as the artist intended which makes it one of the best high end center channel speakers of the market.

Features and Benefits of Definitive Technology CS-9060

  • Improved tonal balance: The CS-9060 Intelligent Bass Control helps to enhance the overall bass, bringing about a balance between the mids and the lows. This will enable you to get a crystal clear sound while maintaining mid-range tonal balance simultaneously. Besides, the resonance-free cabinet helps to minimize distortions, providing you with powerful and clear sound.
  • Aluminum dome tweeters: The aluminum dome tweeters will play higher in frequency than a human ear can perceive, thus creating realistic sound reproduction placing you practically in the concert hall or studio. Additionally, the CS-9060 is designed with rigid standards for better sound imaging and with a transparent grille, so that you can enjoy natural sounds without having to remove the grille.
  • Built-in 8-inch powered subwoofer: Definitive Technology CS-9060 includes an integrated 8-inch subwoofer to enable your speaker to create a balance between the highs and the lows as accurately as possible. Also, the subwoofer offers extraordinary details and deeper bass, even if you don't have a separate subwoofer. As such, you will not miss any notes, and crystal clear sound is what you'll hear.
  • The Balanced Double Surround System (BDSS) technology: The BDSS technology is an interplay that allows the selected driver to produce the bass output of a large driver while retaining the midrange definition and dispersion of a smaller driver. The CS-9060 utilizes this technology to deliver pure sound and to reproduce some of the most demanding audio sources so that you can get a pure home theatre experience.

Pros

  • It includes a powered subwoofer for more impactful bass.
  • The CS-9060 features a resonance-free cabinet, which helps to minimize vibrations substantially.
  • The tweeters reproduce crystal clear highs to bring even the most demanding audio to life.
  • Classic yet very minimalist design.
  • With the CS-9060 movie dialogue and most special effects will sound clear, never muddy.

Cons

  • It is quite expensive.
  • It only comes in a horizontal orientation.

Verdict:

The Definitive Technology CS-9060 is the ideal center channel speaker for creating an engulfing sound experience at home. And because it has an inbuilt subwoofer, it will give you nothing less than what you deserve- deep, powerful bass.

8. Pioneer SP-C22

Designed by Pioneer's chief audio engineer, Andrew Jones, the SP-C22 provides an incredible sound quality in a fantastic design. This speaker delivers on sound, and it offers extraordinary performance for music and home theatre at an affordable price tag. Also, it includes unique features such as the six-element crossover and the curved design, and this why it is one of the best channel speakers for audiophiles and beginners alike.

Features and Benefits of Pioneer SP-C22

  • Complex crossover network: The selling point of this center channel speaker is its complex six-element crossover network, which helps to blend audio between the tweeter and the woofer resulting in great accuracy at high volumes. This is not something you'd expect at this price range. In addition, the 90 W max power handling allows you to crank the volume to the extreme without interfering with the low and high ends.
  • Elegant curved cabinet design: Pioneer SP-C22 is housed in a curved speaker cabinet, which is not only aesthetically pleasing but also helps to reduce standing sound waves when the speaker is inside the cabinet. This stiff design also results in high-performance and excellent sound quality. Besides, you can take comfort knowing that it is designed by a renowned speaker engineer who has a long history of producing some of the best speakers.
  • Magnetically shielded: The SP-C22 offers magnetic shielding against interference with other electronic devices, but most importantly, the speaker is capable of delivering high-fidelity and room-filling sound. Regardless of your system, this center channel speaker is ready to take it to the next level with authentic audio reproduction. However, it is bulky, and you may need to make a separate shelf for your speaker.
  • Ultra-wide frequency range: With a frequency range of 55 Hz-20 kHz, the SP-C22 offers a low –end extension for this price range. Also, it is loaded with the high-efficiency 1-inch soft-dome tweeter for improved vocal performance and clarity. Additionally, it is equipped with rear side wire connections in addition to the high-quality base response system. 

Pros

  • Balanced soundstage at this price point.
  • Solid build, designed by a renowned audio engineer Andrew Jones.
  • Dual woofers for improved power and sound imaging.
  • Efficient crossover system.
  • Curved cabinetry helps to reduce standing waves.

Cons

  • It is somewhat large and bulky.
  • The curved design may require stoppers to stay in position. 

Verdict:

This highly-acclaimed speaker is ready to step it up with authentic sound reproduction at a relatively cheap price point. Also, it is an excellent choice for audiophiles who are after every tiny detail and those who want to bring their entertainment experience to the next level.

9. Micca MB42X-C

The Micca MB42X-C is built with high-quality materials and vigorously tested components to deliver exceptional sound quality. Also, it is handsomely styled, easy to place, and it easily blends into any décor. The MB42X-C is truly a budget speaker with a neutral sound signature, integrates well into surround sound systems, and it will add oomph to your home theatre setup.

Features and Benefits of Micca MB42X-C

  • Highly optimized 18 dB crossover: The MB42X-C features an advanced 18 dB crossover design with a total of 9 elements for an incredible transformed sound that is dynamic, open, and balanced. This leads to enhanced clarity and tonal balance, which makes it essential for anchoring dialogue and action in any home theatre setup for a cinema-like experience.
  • Ported enclosure: This unit comes with a ported cabinet to generate more bass and to add depth to your music with low distortion. It also features a classic compact design with updated design cues and classic contours, and it is easy to place and blends into any room. The speaker is held together using HEX fasteners, guaranteeing you of a strong and sturdy built, and you can use it vertically on a bookshelf.
  • Dual Carbon Fiber Woofer: The dual 4-Inch carbon fiber woofer is designed to deliver incredibly clear vocals and dialogue for music and movies. The dual woofer will also ensure an ultra-low midrange distortion for an impactful bass and enhanced transient. Along with that, the MB42X-C comes with 5-way speaker wire binding posts offering a range of connectivity options for your home theatre system.
  • High-performance silk dome tweeter: Micca MB42X-C has integrated a 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter to guarantee you of smooth treble, accurate imaging, and wide dispersion. And with an impedance of 4 ohms and 100 W peak power, the MB42X-C delivers nothing but exceptional audio quality with well-defined lows and highs. In addition, the range of this speaker is considerably wide, and it can handle low and high frequencies incredibly without loss in sound quality.

Pros

  • The compact design is effortless to place.
  • The speaker delivers neutral and accurate sound with outstanding vocal clarity.
  • Innovative design for critical crossover coverage.
  • Excellent tonal balance for a movie theater like experience.
  • Magnetic grill system for improved speaker design and added sophistication. 

Cons

  • Cheap and low-quality build.
  • The lightweight cabinet tends to vibrate at high volumes.
  • You’ll need to add a subwoofer to get the most out of this center speaker since it is not self-powered.

Verdict:

Finding a budget-friendly unit with outstanding sound quality is almost impossible, but the Micca MB42X-C offers such a combination. This speaker focuses on delivering unbeatable value so that you can enjoy fantastic music and movie soundtrack at the comfort of your home.

10. ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2

The ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 has an impressive soundstage, and it is ideal for medium to large rooms. It is not the cheapest, but it is as formidable as the right and left front channel speakers. Besides, the included dual ports allow for placement on either a cabinet or against the wall without interfering with bass frequencies.

Features and Benefits of ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2

  • Midrange-oriented speaker: Whether you are listening to poorly mixed music or watching an action-packed movie, the ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 center channel speaker will help enhance the vocals. This is because the speaker is calibrated to enhance midrange vocals and to help project only the sound you need to hear coming from the centerpiece.
  • Silk dome tweeter with wide-dispersion waveguide: Other than the focus on the midrange vocals, the unit also comes with a silk dome tweeter with a wide roll surround that enables the speaker to achieve a frequency response of up to 35 kHz. The wide dispersion waveguide also helps to eliminate diffraction modes that come with traditional enclosures by improving directivity control.
  • Unique woven Aramid-fiber woofer: ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 has one of the best woofers in the industry, the Aramid-fiber woofer. This woofer is capable of delivering incredible dialogue even when dealing with heavy-bass scenarios without compromising on performance. Different from a polypropylene woofer, the aramid woofer offers augmented stiffness and damping capabilities helping the speaker to achieve a smoother and extended low-frequency response.
  • Improved cabinet design: You'll definitely like Elac's new and improved cabinet design that allows for easier placement. The cabinet is low profile, and in addition, it helps to enhance the waveguide dispersion angle. Also, it is braced internally for improved strength and stiffness, and also to reduce vibrations to ensure smooth and consistent playback. Also, the bass port is on the front of the cabinet, which means the speaker can be placed against a wall.

Pros

  • Impressive imaging and separation.
  • Natural midrange and smooth highs.
  • It’s pretty rugged for improved longevity
  • It offers a wide waveguide that enhances sound dispersion.
  • It is calibrated for enhancing the vocal midrange.

Cons

  • The design is a bit bulky, especially in small rooms.
  • It requires more power to function optimally.

Verdict:

Although it will give you a run for your money, the ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 is engineered with high-grade components to help enhance the vocals and project the only sounds you need to hear coming from the central channel. Also, the output volume is impressive, and it offers consistent playback.

11. Cerwin-Vega SL-45C

The Cerwin-Vega SL-45C brings you legendary power and extraordinary sound quality. The unit is designed for vocal clarity and intelligibility, and it has an incredible aesthetic appeal that facilitates a customized audio set up. And with the wide frequency response, you be you'll be able to listen to every word in your music and every dialogue in a movie.

Features and Benefits of Cerwin-Vega SL-45C

  • Classic styling with removable grille: The Cerwin Vega SL-45C compacted design allows you to place the unit conformably below or above your TV, and it has an outstanding aesthetic appeal. The cabinet comes with a removable grille and an internal bracing that helps to not only strengthen the cabinet but also to eliminate unwanted resonance. However, the unit measures 30" x 27.5”x 6.5”and weighs 20 pounds, which means you'll need adequate support when installing this unit.
  • The quad woofer configuration: The updated design of this center channel speaker integrates quad 5 1/4" drivers for amazing midrange clarity. With this, you bet you'll be able to hear undistorted vocals at both low and high volumes and overall good sound quality. It also allows for some serious boom, making it perfect for movies and gaming, and with a sensitivity of 89 dB, your eardrums will be able to pick a range of audio notes.
  • Facilitates customized audio set up: Equipped with 5-way binding posts, the SL-45C is compatible with major brands of home theatre setups, and for the asking price, it is truly hard to beat. Also, there are bass ports on the backside of the speaker allowing for different connectivity of channel speakers. However, magnetic shielding is somewhat weak, meaning you'll get distorted images when the monitor is placed next to the center channel speaker.
  • New soft-dome tweeter design: The new 1-inch soft dome tweeter is designed to provide crisp highs and to deliver a balanced response. This makes this center channel speaker a good choice for anyone looking to for clarity in lows and well-defined mids and highs. And with 300 W peak power handling and a frequency response of 55 Hz - 26 kHz, you should be assured that the unit will deliver excellent midrange sound quality, and it will not tremble when producing intense sounds. 

Pros

  • Good build, though bulky.
  • It is engineered to deliver in any room environment.
  • Bass ports are on the back of the speaker for flexibility when connecting to other channels.
  • Reduced distortion at both high and low volumes.
  • Classic styling featuring a removable grill.

Cons

  • The AV cabinet might show signs of sagging after some period.
  • You need sufficient space for place the sizeable speaker.
  • Magnetic shielding is weak, which increases the likelihood of getting distorted images. 

Verdict:

The Cerwin-Vega SL-45C leaves very little to complain, and it offers an incredibly detailed and open soundstage that real cinema sound is about.

What should I look for in a Center Channel Speaker?

The center channel speaker allows you to make the most of your home theatre system, but most importantly, it is responsible for dialogue enhancement. Without the center channel, you cannot enjoy movies or the grunts, thuds, and booming explosions in blockbuster movies. Here are some of the key aspects you should consider in the best center channel speaker.

i. Size

In the world of surround sound, the size of your speakers is essential in creating a fully immersive experience. To get the best out of your channel speaker, you should get a full-size speaker. However, you'll need to consider the available space before you decide on the size to go for. You can get a small size speaker and still get adequate sound, but often the small speakers tend to sacrifice sound quality over a compact form factor. Also, you can purchase a mid-size center channel speaker and still get high-quality sound.

ii. Compatibility

Your center channel speaker should be compatible with your other front speakers if you want a smooth transitioning of the sound as they bounce between speakers. Also, matching your speakers will help ensure a balanced soundstage. The best way to ensure your speakers match is to buy all your front speakers from the same manufacturer and series. As such, take your time to ensure the best fit.

iii. Sound Quality

The sound quality is an essential feature of a center channel speaker, and your speaker is worth nothing if it has muddy sound quality. So, ensure to choose a model with a wide frequency range and one that can reproduce the vocals adequately. Also, with a center channel speaker, you should be able to reduce the chances of a phantom center or unwanted sounds that may ruin your listening experience.

iv. Magnetic shielding

Magnetic shielding is done to prevent the magnets found inside the speakers from interfering with other electronic devices in the vicinity, especially when placed too close to your TV. If the shielding is not done, the magnet will hinder the electrons from flowing, and this can cause distortion and miss-coloring, or it can lead to permanent damage.

v. Cabinet or Enclosure

The material you use for the speaker cabinet matters since it will determine the level of rigidity as well as the speaker's resistance to resonance and distortion. As such, you should stay away from materials with a high rate of breakage, such as plastic. MDF is one of the best materials used to make the enclosures, and as it cancels out unwanted energy and vibrations.

vi. Placement

Determining where to place your center channel speaker is crucial to the overall sound quality. The speaker should be positioned directly in front of the listener, either below or above the TV. However, space availability may make you opt for other placement options. Also, you can go for an in-wall or on-wall center channel speaker or those that perform well when placed in cabinets.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Question 1: Can I use a regular speaker as a center channel speaker?

Answer: Yes. Ideally, you can use any speaker as a center channel speaker except a subwoofer. However, your center channel speaker should have a horizontal design instead of a vertical or square cabinet design. The main reason for this is rather aesthetic and not so much technical. A horizontally designed speaker is easier to place below or above your TV or the projection screen.

Question 2: Can a soundbar replace a center speaker?

Answer: No. Using the two as substitutes may not only affect your sound quality, but it may also ruin your equipment. To understand why this is a bad idea, you must understand the difference between a soundbar and a center channel speaker and how each works. Ideally, a center channel is used to enhance surround sound while a soundbar is used to boost built-in TV speaker.

Question 3: Where should I put my center speaker?

Answer: The center channel speaker should be positioned close to your ear height, and this is why it is placed above or below the TV. However, you can set it in any other position, whether in front or behind, but it should be angled slightly up or down so that the sound is directed towards the listener's ear.

Question 4: Should the center channel speaker be louder?

Answer: Ideally, the center channel should not be louder than the left and the right channels. However, adding a decibel or two to the center channel may be helpful depending on your room acoustics, where you place your speaker, or how a movie is mixed.

Question 5: Should center channel match front speakers?

Answer: Sonic balance is important between the front left and right channels and the center channel, so the "front three" should have the same sonic balance. As such, these speakers should be matched, but you don't need to match them to the surround speakers; however, the surrounds should be matched to each other.

Question 6: Can I use two center channel speakers?

Answer: There is no reason why you should use two center channel speakers. Going for two center channels will not only ruin the intended original sounds, but it will also introduce all sorts of comb-filtering into the sound.

Conclusion

If you need to take the strain off your front channel speakers, you'll need to invest in a center channel speaker. Otherwise, the dialog and the vocals will be lost while the system tries to process the sounds. The best center channel speaker creates a perfect home theatre experience or that immersive movie action you've only dreamt for. As you can see, the products on our list are for every pocket, and whichever your choice, these center speakers will blow your mind away.

Michael Evanchuk
 

Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites. He enjoys swimming and boat riding during his leisure time.

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