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
Center Channel Speaker
53 Hz -40 kHz
89Hz - 21kHz +/- 3dB
55 Hz -25 kHz
65 Hz - 45 kHz
58-25kHz +/- 3dB
32 Hz – 40 kHz
55 Hz-20 kHz
55 Hz to 35 kHz
55 Hz -26 kHz
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Features and Benefits of Definitive Technology CS-9060
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.