While watching a movie, there are times where you hardly understand what your favorite character is saying. You turn the volume up, but that only makes things noisier. You then wonder how come dialogues sound clearer at the cinema.
To get a theatre-like experience at home, you should invest in center channel speakers. Why? It all comes to the science of sound. Speech (or human voice) gets recorded on a set limit of frequencies. You can artificially boost these frequencies by using equalizer (EQ) software. However, results are rarely optimal.
A center channel speaker, on the other hand, balances out sound coming from the surround speakers. It enhances your movie watching experience as you get to hear the sound from the front more clearly. The dialogues are crisper because they come from a “centralized” source.
Why you should buy a center channel speaker?
Your TV speakers aren’t capable of doing justice to the high definition audio of a blockbuster movie. In order to elevate our movie watching, we generally invest in a soundbar or a stereo speaker. Sadly, both are not for enjoying live-action movies.
The biggest problem while watching a movie is uneven sound reproduction. Soundbars may look like a center channel speaker, but they are only fine-tuned for watching TV and listening to the latest tunes. Stereo sound setups, on the other hand, divide the audio into the left and right channels. This reduces the quality of speech frequencies, and dialogues sound muddy and muffled.
When a movie is played in a theater, most of the auditory performance is positioned for front and center listening. This is why we get the best movie-watching experience when we sit in the middle of the theater. To replicate the same effect, you should look into buying a center channel speaker.
Most of the audio work in a movie, sometimes up to 70%, is done for the front speaker. This is why it’s a great idea to buy a high-end center channel speaker if you are an avid movie watcher. Plus, this speaker will help level up your gaming skills as it can produce natural soundstage where you will hear every move of your opponents.
Best Center Channel Speakers 2020
If you are looking to buy the best center channel speaker under 1000 dollars, then you are in luck. We have created a recommendation list of 13 high-end center channel speakers that are not only affordable but also sound great.
Some of these speakers cost under a couple of hundred dollars. It’s money worth spending if you want to enjoy movies and music to the max.
Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Speaker delivers crisp clarity to movie dialogue as well as music lyrics for a supreme cinematic experience. With its unique Tractrix Horn Technology, the R-52C balances out the artificial reverb and enhances delivery for dialogues.
Simply put, you won’t have to increase the volume to hear everything.
- Exceptional sound quality: Klipsch is known for its tweeters. The 1-inch aluminum Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) tweet reduces distortion to optimize sound performance. Coupled with dual 5.25-inch copper-spun woofers, you are set to enjoy all audible performances to the max.
- Top-notch build quality: Set in a high-quality MDF chamber, the R-52C dispenses sound with minimized cabinet vibration. The closed-back design enhances bass output and provides flexibility in placement options.
- Top-notch build quality
- Crystal clear dialogue sound
- Easy to install and carry
- High price
Polk Audio CSI A4 Center Channel Speaker
If you have created your entertainment area in rather small-sized, then Polk Audio CSi A4 is perfect for you. Priced under $200, this center channel speaker reproduces a high level of soundstage without compromising on the overall audio quality.
- Impressive performance: Nothing seems fancy about the CSi A4 until you plug it in. Your ears get readily impressed by the sound emitted by the one 1-inch Dynamic Balance dome tweeter paired with two 5.25-inch Dynamic Balance® drivers. The speaker’s output is spot on with magnificent soundstage and true-to-life audio details.
- Unique asymmetric design: Unlike the other center channel speaker, Polk Audio CSi A4 has a tapered cube design. This unique design feature reduces resonance to improve acoustic performance. Thanks to its asymmetrical cabinet shape, the CSi A4 can be placed anywhere you like.
- More affordable option
- Natural sounding speaker output
- Easy to install
- Subwoofers required for low-end processing
Many of you might be looking for a high-end center channel speaker without a hefty price tag. Cerwin-Vega SL-45C is perfect for those who can’t spend much. Generally, at the price range of $200, you get a decent center speaker with two subwoofers. However, the SL-45C is different as it has four subwoofers.
This “quad-core” arrangement boosts vocal clarity and strengthens midrange sound delivery.
- Twice as powerful: The 1-inch soft-dome tweeter has two 5.25-inch drivers on each side. These four subwoofers deliver crisp vocal quality while the dome tweeter dispenses first-class high-range sound.
- Sleek design: The SL-45C is a large-sized rectangular box that can be easily placed anywhere. The reinforced construction of this high-end speaker unit ensures reduced resonance noise.
- Exceptional vocal performance
- Good quality build
- Easy to install
- Complicated settings
- Slightly disappointing bass processing
- Not compatible with other subwoofers
Polk Audio Signature S35
The Polk Audio Signature S35 is perfect for those who want to recreate the big surround sound of a theatre in their living rooms. With six 3-inch subwoofers and a single 1-inch tweeter, this center channel speaker unit is loved by audiophiles all over the world.
This unit can quickly become a part of any theater setup as it’s fully compatible with 2.0, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1 surround sound layouts.
- Majestically superior: The six 3-inch subwoofer setup may look excessive to some, but it makes all the difference. However, the number is only one part of the story. The mica-reinforced polypropylene cones reproduce natural-sounding details.
- Strikingly sleek: The Signature S35 has a tall-slim profile and fits practically in any decor setting without any hassle. It comes in three different finishes and can be easily mounted on a wall.
- Sleek construction
- Better bass processing
- No compromise on vocal clarity
- Comes in three finishes
- A little expensive
Pioneer SP-C22 Andrew Jones Home Audio Center Channel Speaker
From the desk of speaker design extraordinaire Andrew Jones comes a speaker so magnificent that you won’t believe your ears. For the small price of $100, the SP-C22 center channel speaker is a fantastic feat of sound engineering.
- Better than the most: With the SP-C22, you can easily notice that Pioneer is showing its competitors how it’s done. The dual 4-inch woofer and 1-inch soft dome tweeter setup is tuned to deliver multi-element crossover. The high frequencies are passed to Soft Dome Tweeter, and the low frequencies are passed out by the woofers whenever the volume is turned up.
- Expertly crafted: You only expect marvels from a genius like Andrew Jones. The curved cabinet design of the SP-C22 cuts the internal production of standing sound waves. This means your movie nights won’t be the same anymore as you will hear every detail in its full glory. The internal magnetic shielding keeps interferences from other electronic devices at bay.
- Affordable price tag
- Crisp soundstage
- Sophisticated setup for under $100 center channel speaker
- Not made for wall mounting
Klipsch R-25C Center Channel Speaker
You must have a center channel speaker if you want to appreciate the sound design of a movie in all of its glory. Wondering which one to buy? Try this beauty from Klipsch.
The R-25C is a mighty good center channel speaker for beginners.
- Powerful performance: Like the R-52C center speaker, the R-25C has a 1-inch aluminum Linear Travel Suspension horn-loaded tweeter, which helps reduce distortion in order to provide a top-notch listening experience. Paired with two cerametallic Injection Molded Graphite (IMG) woofers, you will hear every meticulous detail in a movie scene.
- Robust design: The closed back design of the Klipsch R-25C Center Channel Speaker directs the sound towards the front. The sturdy brushed black polymer veneer cabinet ensures minimal vibration even when it plays music on loud volume.
- Solid cabinet design
- Impressive sound fidelity
- High quality components
- Relatively expensive
- Disappointing performance in large spaces
Polk Audio CS10
Polk Audio CS10 continues to charm people with its clean design and first-class finishes. However, there is more to this center channel speaker than its looks.
The CS10 plays like a high-end speaker as it delivers a high level of clarity in vocal reproduction. Yet, it cost around $120.
- Stellar sound: The CS10 center channel speaker is powered by a 1-inch silk dome Dynamic Balance tweeter that is paired with two 5.25-inch bi-laminate organic fiber cone woofers. Although this looks like a basic setup, the resulting sound will surely blow your socks off.
- Functional design: With a slanted-top cabinet design, the CS-10 can be placed easily underneath or above your television. It can also be inverted to provide a much-directed auditory experience.
- Clear sounding audio
- Sturdy construction
- Lightweight and portable
- Efficient soundstage reproduction
- Disappointing bass performance
JBL Arena 125C 2-Way, Dual 5.5-Inch Center Channel Loudspeaker
For a budget center channel speaker, JBL Arena 125 will surely impress you with a two-way design featuring rear-firing ports. Available in black or white finishes, the Arena 125C is best known for room-filling sound with second-to-none audible accuracy.
- Unique two-way design: Most center channel speakers have closed-back designs. However, this is not the case with Arena 125C as dual 5.5-inch polycellulose woofers come with rear-firing ports that provide authentic audio imaging without chopping too much bass. It’s also great at cutting dialogue distortions.
- Contemporary cabinet construction: With rounded edges and top corners, the JBL Arena 125C has given a modern twist to the traditional cabinet design. Available in two finishes, the speaker will look great in any decor.
- 2-way design
- Crisp dialogue delivery
- Lacks in bass processing
Yamaha NS-C210BL Center Channel Speaker
Capable of producing a dynamic and lifelike soundstage, the Yamaha NS-C210BL is a class apart. The speaker uses a small 0.9-inch balanced dome tweeter with 3.1-inch cone woofers.
This unique configuration gives this speaker the capability of handling a diverse range of listening material.
- Unmatched sound delivery: Yamaha NS-C210BL has a two-way design, which allows the speaker to produce a powerful sound with flawless bass reproduction. The dual 3.1″ cone woofers and a 0.9″ balanced dome tweeter provide minimized dialogue distortion and enhanced mid-range and high frequency response.
- Lightweight construction: The 4.1-inch slim profile of the speakers makes it ideal for any type of living room decor setting.
- Lightweight and portable
- Natural sounding audio
- Does not support 7.1 speaker setups
Micca is a brand known for its affordable, yet reliable speakers. The MB42X-C may look like your average center channel speaker, but it’s not. The finely tuned 18dB/Octave crossover with nine elements reproduces fulfilling auditory experience with dynamic response.
- Signature sound: By using dual 4-Inch balanced woven carbon fiber woofers, the MB42X-C can reproduce crystal clear audio output by managing the ultra low midrange distortions. Paired with a high-performing 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter, you experience sound imaging like never before.
- Perfect for all settings: The cabinet design of MB42XC is aesthetically pleasing and can easily blend in with your decor. Additionally, they can also be used in a pair as bookshelf speakers.
- Amazing voice clarity
- Fits your decor
- Sounds “boxy”
Polk Audio T30
Polk Audio T30 center channel speaker has a superpower. No, it’s not the price tag. Yes, it sounds absolutely amazing. However, its superpower is its ability to handle any type of home theatre setup. From the basic 2.1 to the immersive 9.1 configs, the T30 center channel speaker can adapt to any setting without cutting corners.
- Made for modern times: The T30 is the reflection of Polk Audio’s four decades of expertise in speaker design. By harnessing the power of its proprietary Dynamic Balance technology, the speaker unit produces room-filling theater sound and transparent dialogue with the help of one 1-inch silk dome tweeter, two 5.25-inch composite drivers, and a performance-tuned rear-firing bass port.
- Fits right in: The minimalist construction of T30 makes it the ideal sound accessory for your TV. The cabinet is constructed with furniture-grade MDF wood panel to reduce distortion and resonance.
- Compatible with most speaker setups
- Crisp and clear dialogues
- Lacks in bass processing
JBL Studio 235C Dual 6.5-inch 2.5-Way Center Channel Loudspeaker
The JBL Studio 235C is made to deliver movie dialogues with superior quality sound. The speaker will surround you with JBL signature sound, thanks to its rear-firing 2.5-way design. The 1” CMMD Lite high-frequency driver is artfully paired with dual 6.5” PolyPlas drivers to dispense pitch-perfect vocal clarity and an immersive sound experience no matter where you stand in the room.
- 21st Century Design: The greatness of JBL Studio 235C lies in its unique 2.5-way design. The speaker has rear-firing bass ports for reduced noise and distortion. At the front, you get a 1″ CMMD lite high-frequency dome tweeter working to provide high-frequency detail, sound imaging, and balance. And then, the woofers! The ultra-big dual 6.5″ PolyPlas drivers deliver vocal clarity like no one.
- Modern Construction: JBL Studio 235C looks excellent with soft rounded edges, gloss black paneling, and a choice of Black or Espresso woodgrain finish. Inside the speaker, four rubber cushion pads are integrated for resonance absorption
- Impressive sound performance
- Amazing cabinet design
- Heavier than its competitors
Things to Consider When Buying The Best Center Channel Speaker
Understandably, buying audio accessories is a luxury for most, and you don’t want to end up wasting your hard-earned money. Like taste, the sound is a matter of personal preference. Therefore, you should invest in something you like to hear. However, with dozens of options out there, it’s a challenge to make the right decision.
To get you started, we have created this guide for buying the best center channel speaker. Use this guide as a reference before making any decision.
As discussed earlier, getting a center channel speaker tends to sound luxurious. However, you should get one if you are an avid movie or live-action sports watcher.
While spending your money on this type of speaker, try to buy one that comes from a renowned speaker manufactures. Don’t settle for a cheap knock-off. Research your options, and you will be able to get a decent speaker without breaking the bank.
Once you have decided on buying a center channel speaker, you must reflect why you need this speaker in the first place. Different brands have different requirements when it comes to playing music on your center channel speaker. In most cases, you will require an amplifier.
If console gaming is important to you, try to buy a speaker with lifelike soundstage for hearing surrounding details in exceptional clarity.
If you are more into live sports and movie watching, then you should buy a speaker with excellent audio processing capabilities with a wide frequency range.
When buying a center channel speaker for any purpose, get the one that can manage a wide frequency range.
Speakers with wide ranges deliver an open feel to sound and provide audio coverage to every nook and corner of your room.
While buying a speaker, you should always check for the power requirement. The bigger the speaker unit, the more power it will need.
However, most center channel speakers generally use the same amount of power as any other standard speaker available in the market.
Size and Design
Some will roll their eyes on this factor. However, size and design can make or break your center channel speaker experience. While buying a speaker, it’s always a good idea to know if the unit has a closed-back design or not. Some closed-back cabinets can also be wall-mounted.
Some speakers have tapered designs which you can use to blast sound at an angle. In a few cases, center channel speaker comes with rear-firing ports. This means you cannot put the speaker against a wall.
Best Center Channel Speakers FAQs
In this section, we are going to answer some of the daunting questions buyers have in their minds when they decide to buy a center channel speaker.
What is the difference between a center channel speaker and a soundbar?
A soundbar is just a fancy speaker (sometimes stereo) that connects to your TV directly and provides improved sound output.
A center channel speaker is a part of a larger sound setup. These speakers act as the heart of your home theater system. In most cases, it won’t function on its own and will require additional equipment like an amp or AV receiver.
When should I install a center channel speaker?
The most straightforward advice: NOW! However, this is a question only you can answer. If you want your dialogues to be crisp and clear, then install one right away. However, this speaker can become a necessity for large rooms.
The center channel speaker reduces weak audible zones when used in a large space. Without it, the surround sound will be unnecessary loud and, in some cases, totally inaudible.
How high should a center channel speaker be?
This all depends on your primary sitting position and posture. It would be best if you could install all your speakers at the ear level while sitting. This way, your brain will pick up the mid and high frequencies in a better fashion.
Keeping your center channel speaker on the floor is not advised as the sound needs space to travel. If placed on the floor, the sound will represent in a distorted and muzzle way.
How do I check whether the center channel speaker is compatible with my home theater system?
If you are a beginner, then follow a simple rule. Use speakers from the same manufacturer. Stick to the series as created by the company. This way, you won’t get confused at the time of installation.
Leave the experimentation to the expert or until you have good knowledge about sound mechanics.
What are the most important things to look for in a center channel speaker?
You should look into five factors:
- Budget – How much are you willing to spend?
- Usage – How often would you use your center channel speaker?
- Sound Performance – How vast is the frequency range?
- Power Requirement – How much electricity with the system use?
- Size and Design – How will it look with your current furniture?
We have discussed all of these factors in our “Things to Consider” section, so do give it a look.
If you haven’t invested in a home theater system yet, then start your journey by purchasing your center channel speaker first and then slowly get other components.
As told written many times before, most of the audio work in a movie is done on the center channel. When you buy this unit first, you are investing in making your movie watching experience better. Stereo speakers are great for blasting songs, but you need the sophistication of center channel if you want a clear-sounding experience.