Which center channel speaker is best?
The heart of any home sound system is the center channel speaker. It delivers more than half the soundtrack of all films because the action is mostly in the middle of the picture. A good center channel speaker gives you clear dialogue and the subtle sounds most speakers miss.
The best audio setups elevate watching movies to a level that rivals an in-theater experience. If you are looking for a lifelike front-row listening experience, the Klipsch RP-404C Center Channel Speaker produces outstanding audio in a high-end cabinet.
What to know before you buy a center channel speaker
The idea behind center channel speakers is to deliver high-quality music and dialogue when paired with external speakers that are placed to your left and right but always in front of you.
What are the main audio components of a home theater system?
Center channel speaker: This is the audio heart of your home theater system because it delivers the actors’ dialogue and so needs to be crisp and clear. Most sit in or on a cabinet and some are made to be mounted on the wall directly above or below your TV.
Left and right speakers: These are sold in pairs and are responsible for delivering the details that sync with the center channel speaker.
Surround speakers: These speakers create a sense of immersion by producing sounds from all around, including such things as chirping birds, crowd noise and car engine sounds.
Subwoofers: These speakers require more power than regular speakers because they are made to deliver even deeper bass tones and the low-frequency rumbling sounds of things like thunder and explosions that are felt as well as heard.
What’s inside a center channel speaker?
Two-way center channel speakers have one woofer and one tweeter while three-way setups have single tweeters placed between two woofers. High-end center channel speakers have four woofers.
Woofers: These are round speakers made to handle lower ranges of sound frequencies and are characterized by bass sounds.
Tweeters: These speakers get their name from the high-pitched tweeting sounds made by small birds. The sound is directional, meaning tweeters need to be aimed directly at you for the best effect.
Midrange speakers: These produce sounds from the middle range of the audio spectrum, the place where the human voice and most musical instruments are.
Drivers: In the audio world, drivers are the round sound-producing domes that most people call speakers.
What to look for in a quality center channel speaker
For the best audio results, your center channel speaker needs to work in harmony with your other speakers. A good way to do this is by buying a center channel and peripheral speakers from the same manufacturer. An even better way is to buy a complete matched home theater sound system.
To get the best results, your center channel speaker should be placed directly above or below your television screen. Look for a center channel speaker that allows you to mount it on the wall or place it in or on a cabinet.
Bigger is not always better, but if you have the space, larger center channel speakers deliver more immersive sound experiences than smaller ones.
Look for high-end center channel speakers that have two sets of connectors so they can produce better definition in the bass ranges.
How much you can expect to spend on a center channel speaker
You can find some center channel speakers for less than $100, but you’ll need to pay $200 to $500 for a good one and as much as $8,000 for a great one.
Center channel speaker FAQ
Why do I need a center channel speaker?
A. When stereo sound replaced monaural sound, it became the standard for watching movies and listening to music. When stereo sound moved from analog to digital, center channel speakers were invented to emphasize speech and music that exist in the middle ranges.
Are sound bars the same thing as center channel speakers?
A. No. Sound bars are made to deliver all frequency ranges in one package and will never have the depth and richness of multiple speakers that are in separate locations. Center channel speakers focus on the middle frequencies where most audio occurs and work best when paired with external left and right stereo speakers.
What’s the best center channel speaker to buy?
Top center channel speaker
Klipsch RP-404C Center Channel Speaker
What you need to know: The sound quality of this 26-inch-wide speaker takes your movies and music to whole new levels with a lifelike front-row listening experience.
What you’ll love: You get four 4-inch spun copper cerametallic woofers and a 1-inch vented titanium tweeter. The copper trim rings, cast aluminum feet, satin baffles and furniture-grade cabinet give this speaker a high-end look that matches its sound quality.
What you should consider: This speaker may ship in a different color than indicated.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top center channel speaker for the money
Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker
What you need to know: The reversible design means you can aim the speaker up or down, depending upon if you mount it above or below your TV.
What you’ll love: The two 5.25-inch dynamic drivers are damped for excellent bass, higher efficiency and lower distortion. The 1-inch tweeter reproduces vocals with a clear and detailed high-frequency response. The case is made of dense particleboard with thick baffles that inhibit unwanted resonation and deliver clearer, cleaner and more lifelike sound quality.
What you should consider: Some audiophiles say the sound booms a little too much.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Definitive Technology Procenter 1000 Compact Center Speaker
What you need to know: This 10.5-inch-wide speaker is a great choice for those with limited shelf space.
What you’ll love: The tweeter is a 1-inch pure aluminum dome and the two 4.5-inch basket drivers are coupled to two pressure-driven low-frequency planar radiators that increase the bass output. The full-frequency high-definition speakers are encased in a high-gloss black cabinet.
What you should consider: Some buyers say they wished the high-frequency sounds were cleaner.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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