The primary function of a center channel speaker is to bring balance between the speakers in your audio system.
It’ll provide for a more natural flow of sound across all the speakers.
While choosing the best center channel speaker, most people face challenges in finding similar driver compliments for the LCR speakers, the right quality of the components, and the collective output capability.
I’ve written this article after extensive device tests and research across various platforms. I’ll help you overcome all the challenges and find the right speakers for your home audio system.
Top 5 Best Center Channel Speakers
The below-given center channel speakers are hand-picked after I did extensive research in terms of specifications, user testing, and customer feedback.
Any of these choices will definitely be worth your investment in regard to quality and output.
1. Klipsch RP-450C Walnut
The ideal combination of 1” Linear Travel suspension Titanium Tweeter, Four 5.25” Spun Copper Cerametallic Cone Woofer, and a 90×90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn gives it the ability to produce lifelike sound output.
The RP-450C is definitely a great upgrade to Klipsch’s previous models.
It could be even said that they revamped the whole system from ground up. Their trademark Tractrix horn was changed to a 90×90 version from a previous 60×90 version for wider area of dispersion.
Overall, this product is some serious bang for your buck. The effort that Klipsch put in shows in terms of the design and quality of sound produced. From a customer perspective, it is definitely a choice that couldn’t be wrong.
- Amazing vocals
- Great value for money
- High-level audio clarity and definition
- Elegant design
- Bulky (takes up a good amount of space)
- Heavy (weighs about 40 pounds)
- 1" Linear Travel Suspension Titanium Tweeter
- 5.25" Spun Copper Cerametallic Cone Woofer
- 90x90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn
2. Polk Audio TSx 250C
It is angled and ideal for bottom mounting, with its slanted panel tilting automatically towards a listening position and that makes a major difference in the output.
The model features bi-laminate composite driver cones (to produce smooth and natural sound), all-MDF enclosure (enabling high performance), gold-plated 5-way binding posts (for more secure connection options), and a silk/polymer dome (for clear sound even at high volume).
All these features and benefits listed above make for a seamless center channel system which would go well with your home theater set up.
If high performance and value for money are something that you’re looking for, this could be an ideal option.
- Outstanding frequency response
- Impressive bass
- Great audio clarity
- Reasonable price
- Heavy build
- Average design and looks
- TSx Series bi-laminate composite driver cones, tuned perfectly with our Dynamic Balance process, produce smooth, natural sound. They are lightweight, but super stiff, with exceptional damping, for high efficiency and low distortion.
- Reversible, aimable, all-MDF enclosure is non-resonant, and features a 5/8-inch-thick baffle, for heavy duty high performance in a hard-working center channel speaker.
- The high efficiency design of the TSx Series works well with practically any electronics, even the most modestly-powered amplifier or receiver, delivering a performance that?s spacious and clear, natural and realistic.
- Gold-plated, professional-style 5-way binding posts, for the most secure connection options.
- 5 YEARS parts and warranty
3. MartinLogan Motion 30
What makes this model truly special are its Folded Motion XT tweeter, two 5.5” high-excursion aluminum cone woofers, a bass-reflex enclosure, bi-wire binding posts, and a high-gloss finish.
The model is designed to match the visual aesthetic of their floor standing speakers, Motion 20 and 40. Also, compared to other dome tweeters, the lightweight diaphragm of the Motion 30 features a larger surface area and that results in a smooth, dynamic output altogether.
With its high-gloss piano black finish, the Motion 30 definitely stands out and will be a classy addition to your home audio system. Since it also fares high in performance, you’d not regret spending the dough at all.
- Remarkable highs
- Clear and concise sound
- Smooth finish
- Compact design
- Comparatively expensive
- Average customer service
- 1" x 1.4" Folded Motion XT tweeter
- 2 High-excursion, black aluminum cone 5.5-inch woofers
- Bass-reflex (ported) enclosure
- Audiophile-grade 5-way bi-wire binding posts provide a secure connection
- Luscious high-gloss finishes
4. Cerwin-Vega XLS-6C
It is a large format center channel system that features two 6.5 inch woofers and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter.
The speaker can handle up to 125 watts of power and is compatible with large surround sound systems. It also comes with a proprietary mid and high frequency wave guide, video shielding, and high frequency protection.
Overall, with its performance and power handling, the Cerwin Vega XLS 6C transforms your audio system to an ultra-realistic, yet magical experience. If you wish for a product that’s seriously worth the price tag, this is a great choice.
- Clarity even at high volume
- Great balance
- Value for money
- Comparatively less bass output
- Not so compact
- Power Capacity: 125 watts (Peak)
- Dual 6.5" Woofer with Fiber Impregnated Cone
- 1" Soft Dome Tweeter with Ferro Fluid
- Frequency Response: 64 Hz - 20 kHz (-3 dB), 44 Hz - 20 kHz (-10 dB)
- Weight: 23 lbs / 10.4 kg
5. Pioneer SP-C22
Quality and affordability are their key principles and both of those are reflected in the SP- C22 speaker.
The dual 4” woofers, the soft dome tweeter, the 6 element crossover factor, the admirable frequency range, and the 90 Watt power handling tare some of the major features of the SP- C22.
These features will give you the quality, realistic audio experience that you need without a doubt.
In terms of the frequency range, build quality, output clarity, and power handling, the Pioneer SP-C22 will be a great addition to your home audio system. And, did I mention that it is super- duper affordable?
- Highly affordable
- Great frequency range
- 90 Watt power handling
- Heavy build
- Average aesthetics
- Twin 4-in Woofers and Soft Dome Tweeter
- Built-in 6 Element Sophisticated Crossover
- Frequency Range: 55 Hz-20 kHz
- Magnetically Shielded
- Two rear side wire connections; requires audio amplifier
Center Channel Speaker – An Overview
Simply put, a these speakers arae used in the reproduction of primary dialogues/vocals in an audiovisual system in your home.
It is an inevitable component of most surround sound formats, which reduces the clutter that could come from distributing the major vocals across various speakers.
Let me explain this a bit better:
In a stereo system, the left and right speakers create a phantom center for this purpose which creates various challenges depending on the placement of the speakers.
A center channel speaker eliminates the need of this phantom center and makes for a much clearer audio system.
Best Center Channel Speaker Buying Guide
As a potential buyer, you might have many concerns regarding the product, such as:
Will your center channel speaker be compatible with your other speakers? This is an important question because you need that smooth flow of sound across the various speakers or else compromise on the acoustic harmony.
Ideally, sticking to the same manufacturer could be the easiest way to ensure compatibility. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, it can so happen that your center channel speaker is of a different series and won’t gel with the rest of the speakers.
If there is no harmony between the individual speakers, you’ll always feel that something’s off with the system. Hence, it is important to make the right choice.
As a general rule of thumb, the larger the speaker, the better the sound quality and performance. You could make this decision according to the space of the room you have, your budget, etc.
The larger tower style speakers are generally preferred by audio enthusiasts since they ensure that the output and quality are brilliant. A 38-inch tower style speaker is any day better than let’s say, a 12 inch one.
But if you can’t afford or accommodate that in your system, you could always go with the smaller ones, but compromise on the output quality.
Then again, there are various revolutionary products coming in the market which challenges these norms and proving pundits wrong.
While choosing a center channel speaker, there are many technical specifications that you need to be mindful of.
The major ones are:
a) Configuration ratio – 3:1, 5:1, 7:1 etc., indicating the number of surround sound speakers and the number of subwoofers.
b) Cross-over frequency – Refers to the way the signals are split and sent across the speaker system, lower frequency to the woofer, higher to the tweeter etc.
c) Frequency response – the frequency range that the speaker is capable of producing without any distortion.
d) Bi-wire capability – this feature is mostly associated with high-end speakers where there are two female connectors for the tweeter and woofer respectively, ensuring better bass in output.
e) Magnetic shielding – the speaker’s capability of not interfering with other electromagnetic
f) Impedance – the efficiency of the circuit in resisting alternating current flow, it is achieved using a voice coil.
Placement and Orientation:
This is one of the most important challenges of it all. The room’s spatial configuration should match with the selection of the stereo system. It doesn’t make sense for you to have a tiny speaker system in a large room or a large speaker system in a tiny room.
It should be noted that regardless of the surround sound configuration being 3:1, 5:1, or even 7:1, the center, left front, and right front speakers should be placed in front of the listener’s position.
To have a complete surround sound experience, the position of the center channel speaker must be above or below the screen, television, or monitor. Even though it doesn’t concern the center channel speaker, the tweeters should ideally be placed in the ear level of the listener.
Having the right budget can make all the difference in getting the perfect center channel speaker for your home audio system. The high-end ones always cost you money but you’ll definitely appreciate the difference it makes in terms of audio quality and output.
For people who can’t afford the high-end, pricey products there are always speakers which will provide great value for money. Good research and sticking to reliable brands will generally help you in this regard. Another aspect of consideration is looking out for discounts. Most companies offer discounts, especially during holiday seasons and if you keep a lookout for them, you could hit the jackpot sometimes.
Benefits of a Center Channel Speaker
Better Sound Balance:
As mentioned earlier, the center channel speaker voids the need of creating a phantom center for the speakers and balances the sound by itself.
It provides a central location for the most important parts of the sound to concentrate on and ensures that a quality output is created without needing to oscillate between multiple speakers.
If there is no balance in the output created, your listening experience will be far from what you desired.
As the center channel speaker is a separate entity from the left front or right front speakers, its volume level can be adjusted independently without the need to change the volume of the others.
This will be particularly useful where music/audio vocal track gets louder or lower and you just need to reduce that particular bit.
You could experience a flexible listening with the sweet spot that is created using a center channel speaker.
Even when you are moving away from the sweet spot, the vocals will still maintain a central position and do not compromise on the experience that you receive.
Now that you’ve got a solid idea about center channel speakers and factors to consider when buying it, are you ready to plunge in and make the right choice?
A good center channel speaker can give your audio system the right balance that it needs by eliminating the phantom center that’d be there without it.
You can also adjust the volume of it independently without compromising on the volume of the surrounding speakers. The flexible sweet spot that the speaker creates even when you shift your position is another great advantage.
As I said earlier, be mindful of the various considerations that you should have in selecting the right speaker for your space in terms of size, compatibility, technical specifications, your budget, and the placement.
Among the top 5 products that I’ve mentioned, my favorite choice is definitely the Klipsch RP-450C with its absolute excellence in the reproduction of sound, the build quality, and the value for money factor.
Even if you’re choosing one of the other options, depending on your requirements, I guarantee that you’ll feel you’ve made the right decision.