Best Center Channel Speakers for Audio and Movie Streaming
Music Authority may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
As tech companies revolutionized TVs with 4k display with sharper images, the dream of a theatre experience at home on your couch was fulfilled. These companies found a vast majority of takers for their large smart HD TV sets as many were looking for a flawless viewing experience be it for news or movies.
With LED TVs came the need for a speaker system that could provide quality audio a well. Therefore companies started coming up with speaker systems in different shapes and sizes that catered to the whims of the TV viewers. People started adding speakers to enhance the audio of their TV sets to get a full-scale theatre experience.
Since you have shelled out a significant sum on an HD TV and associated speakers, it is only fair that this setup produces excellent sound quality and dialogue clarity for your movie and audio streaming sessions. Getting the full experience requires a surround sound system that places speakers all around the room. The most important component among the speakers is a center channel speaker.
Center channel speakers function as an ideal link that connects all your surround speakers to give a balanced sound. This provides a specific anchor location for dialogue and vocals. These speakers create a seamless front soundstage, by matching the tonality of the front left and right speakers. The center channel carries roughly 70% of the entire soundtrack, including most of the dialog and musical vocals. These speakers are built to convey sonic transitions smoothly and accurately.
If you are looking for a center channel speaker that can work well with your speaker system, here are the 7 best center channel speakers that can do the job.
Best Center Channel Speakers – Comparative Table
|1. Pioneer SP-C22
Buy on Amazon
|2. Klipsch R-52C
Buy on Amazon
|3. Polk Audio Signature Series S35
Buy on Amazon
|4. Elac Debut 2.0
Buy on Amazon
|5. Klipsch RP-250C
Buy on Amazon
|6. JBL Arena 125C
Buy on Amazon
|7. Yamaha NS-C210BL
Buy on Amazon
Pioneer SP-C22 is designed to bring a certain level of authenticity to your audio. Measuring 18.12 x 8.45 x 7.12 inches, the SP-C22 looks both modern and conventional. The speaker utilizes dual woofers in a full-sized cabinet for enhanced vocal performance. It has excellent audio reproduction ability and hence maintains dialogue clarity. Features
- SP-C22 utilizes a true curved cabinet design resulting in a stiffer cabinet wall. This reduces standing sound waves inside, resulting in high-performance and striking sound quality.
- The speaker grills protect the drivers placed in the speaker.
- It has two four-inch surface woofers, a one-inch high-efficiency soft dome tweeter, and six-element crossovers.
- The SP-C22 utilizes a 6 element high-quality crossover. It helps blend the audio between the woofer and the tweeter and breaks the audio signal into low, high, and mid-range frequencies. This contributes to the clarity and crispness of the dialogues.
- The curved shape of the wooden cabinet casing helps in standing wave reduction to improve the quality of the sound.
- The frequency response of the device os 55Hz to 20kHz while the sensitivity is 88dB with a maximum input power of 90W
What We Like About Pioneer SP-C22
This is an affordable speaker with high-quality audio reproduction.
What We Don’t Like About Pioneer SP-C22
Mounting the speaker can be a challenging task.
Good frequency range
Balanced and neutral sound output
|Mounting is difficult|
The R- 52C from Klipsch hails from the iconic Reference II series of the company. The product line is known to possess advanced acoustic engineering, solid design, and quality materials. The R- 52C features a Tractrix Horn technology that promotes clarity, dynamics, and detail. It is designed to give clear movie dialogues and music lyrics for an ultimate home theater experience.
- The speaker sports an elegant appearance with low profile magnetic grilles that are scratch-resistant complete with a textured wood grain vinyl finish.
- The speaker comes with a closed-back design so you can position it wherever you like. Regardless of the position of the speaker, the bass response will be optimal.
- It features 1-inch aluminum LTS tweeter and dual 5.25″ spun-copper IMG woofers.
- The aluminum LTS (Linear Travel Suspension) tweeter suspension is made of light and rigid material referred to as Kapton. This reduces distortion and enhances the efficiency and performance of the center channel speaker.
- Klipsch’s proprietary 90×90º Tractrix Horn technology ensures that the sound from the TV is directly aimed at the listener. This gives you full-scale theatre experience with great sounding acoustics.
- Spun Copper IMG woofer is another noteworthy characteristic of the speaker. This helps in minimizing distortion and cone breakup and produces a detailed low-frequency response.
- Armed with reinforced MDF construction the speaker ensures that the cabinet vibration is minimum for small audible coloration and enhanced sonic accuracy.
What We Like About Klipsch R-52C
The Tractrix Horn technology contributes to crystal clear sound for your movie dialogues and music lyrics.
What We Don’t Like About Klipsch R-52C
There is slight distortion at high volume.
|High sensitivity speakers
High dynamic range
|Best paired with Klipsch setups|
If your priority is watching movies with high fidelity audio, then Polk Audio Signature S35 is the right pick for you. The company designed it to bring the big surround sound theater and music experience to your living room and is one of the top products from Polk’s Signature series. It has versatile placement and setup options to provide maximum audio fidelity. This slim center channel speaker resembles a soundbar because Polk chose to cut down its height to just four inches.
- The S35 highlights a 1 inch Terylene dome tweeter at the center flanked by six 3 inches mid/woofer drivers.
- The driver accepts 20 to 150W of power of your amplifier while the Terylene dome tweeter is designed to exhibit lower resonance and improved dispersion in the midrange. The tweeter also achieves a frequency extension that reaches 40kHz.
- The speaker sports low distortion mica-reinforced polypropylene cones at the front for thumping bass, better linearity, and increased dynamic mid-range contributing to full-range sound for movies and music.
- Polk has equipped the center channel speaker with a tapered array design for maximum dialogue clarity.
- The speaker features a dedicated dual power port technology to enable smooth airplay in the listening position. These two ports also provide a bigger surface area through an extended bass port to help eliminate any voice distortion and turbulence, for a deep bass impact.
What We Like About Polk Audio Signature S35
The speaker is equipped with a dynamic balance acoustic array to ensure that the S35 reproduces a sound that is full-range, rich, and detailed.
What We Don’t Like About Polk Audio Signature S35
Sometimes it is prone to strain at low frequencies.
|Rich and solid bass response
Versatile placement and setup
The C5.2 belongs to the Debut 2.0 series of ELAC. This speaker is known for its wide soundstage that intensifies the dialogue clarity of your movies and TV shows. When matched with your amplifier or receiver, the speaker will only reproduce the dialogue, while the rest of the speakers produce the ambient sound effects. It receives up to 120W of power and sports 55 Hz to 35 kHz frequency response. Features
- The speaker exhibits a 1-inch cloth dome tweeter and two 5.25 inch woven aramid-fiber cone woofers, with the addition of two dual-flared bass ports for enhanced bass reproduction.
- The new silk-dome tweeter features a wide-roll surround and takes response up to 35 kHz.
- Fitted with thick MDF cabinets with a luxurious black ash vinyl finish, they are internally braced for greater stiffness and strength. This reduces cabinet vibrations which cause unwanted sound coloration.
- The tweeter is fitted with a wide-dispersion waveguide to improve directivity control by eliminating diffraction modes that are common with traditional box enclosures.
- The revised shape of the woofer with woven aramid-fiber offers greater stiffness and damping. The added strength adds to the flexibility in design to achieve a smoother, extended low-frequency response.
What We Like About ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2
A majestic soundstage with a balanced audio image transports you to the world of your movie immediately.
What We Don’t Like About ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2
It is too big and accommodating it under your TV screen might be tough.
Detailed dynamic sound
This is another center channel speaker from Klipsch loaded with its proprietary Tractrix Horn technology. With the RP-250C model, you gain a great cinema performance with brilliant surround sound and quality. The speakers run on Dolby Atmos to deliver theater-quality dialogue. The Reference Premiere RP-250C center speaker is a passive center channel speaker designed exclusively for your home theater system.
- The speaker system features an MDF Cabinet complete with a brushed polymer veneer baffle finish. This design makes them match the decor of your house and gives it an elegant appearance.
- The Klipsch RP-250C is fitted with dual spun-copper cerametallic woofers that are rigid and lightweight. It has dual linear travel suspension (LTS) to help eliminate distortion of the bass making it more responsive. The suspension also contributes to a crystal clear midrange and offers the same level of perfection for highs, mids, and lows.
- This square horn mouth accompanies a circular horn throat for improving the soundstage while maintaining the dynamic and detailed sound.
- The horn is designed using a rubber material to remove any chance of resonance.
- The speaker is equipped with a tractrix port that utilizes Tractrix geometry, to allow efficient, fastest air transfer from the cabinet. This paves the way to a clean and powerful low-frequency response.
What We Like About Klipsch RP-250C
Dolby Atmos technology ensures that the speaker delivers great surround sound for the ultimate theatre experience.
What We Don’t Like About Klipsch RP-250C
Some people might find top-end sound coming from the speakers too loud.
|Natural sounding and detailed dialogue
|Bass can be improved|
The JBL 125C is for those who are looking for a loud center channel speaker. This speaker gives an amazing experience while viewing high definition content. It is a perfect match for explosion-filled action movies with hefty soundtracks. The full set-up from the Arena series comprises the 170 floorstanders and 120 stand mounters with the Arena 125C Center speaker and Arena SUB100. Features
- The JBL Arena 125C features a contemporary cabinet shape with angled side and top panels to provide a sophisticated, modern look to the speaker.
- Fitted with High Definition Imaging (HDI) waveguide technology, the speakers provide a wide soundstage and superior performance for a natural-sounding effect.
- The speaker exhibits two 5.5-inch polycellulose woofers with rear-firing tuned ports that add acoustic precision to music, movies, and console gaming.
- The speaker cabinet houses a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter to clean and powerful highs.
- The speaker contributes to natural-sounding movies and music with nice crisp treble, and mid-tones to complement your subwoofers.
What We Like About JBL Arena 125C
Even at 50 watts of input power, the speaker is extremely efficient as it can produce loud sound with crisp and clear dialogues.
What We Don’t Like About JBL Arena 125C
It has a rear-firing tuned port, therefore should be placed at an ideal location.
|The crisp and loud sound
|Should be placed at the right position for maximum efficiency|
- Should be placed at the right position for maximum efficiency.
The Yamaha NS-C210BL is one of the best-designed center channel speakers on the market. It is designed to maximize the potential of your HD sound sources to give you a powerful theatre experience from your audiophile setup. It has a neutral signature that makes it fit into almost any home theater setup.
- The NS-C210BL is highly versatile and can connect to any setup and instantly enhance its sound and dialogue.
- It sports a slim design, is compact, and therefore can fit into small spaces. Weighing under 5 pounds with a height of roughly 5 inches it won’t be difficult placing it above or underneath your television
- It can handle up to 120 watts of power
- For full-range sound reproduction, this speaker employs dual 3.1-inch cone woofers and a 0.9-inch dome tweeter.
- The speaker is equipped with a 2-way bass-reflex design. Coupled with a frequency response of 65-45 kHz frequency response allows the speaker to handle a wide range of listening material.
- These speakers use new aluminum woofers for a faster response and balanced dome tweeters to ensure the best sound from HD sources and to reproduce full dynamic sound.
- It has a backfiring bass port, hence if you plan to place this center channel close to the wall in a small room or a cabinet the sound could be a little boomy.
What We Like About Yamaha NS-C210BL
This center channel speaker is highly versatile and can improve the sound quality of your existing speaker system.
What We Don’t Like About Yamaha NS-C210BL
This is not a self-powered speaker and does not have its own power plug. Hence, it must be connected to a receiver for sound to come out.
|Neutral sound signature
Doesn’t distort at higher volume levels
We recommend the Pioneer SP-C22 as the best center channel speaker for the best audio quality. This gadget is designed to bring you authentic audio and also contributes to your aesthetics with its modern look. The speaker promotes enhanced vocal performance and possesses excellent audio reproduction ability to maintain good dialogue clarity. It features a high-quality crossover to help blend the audio between the woofer and the tweeter.
Center channel speakers are generally bought when you need a quality movie experience or high fidelity audio output from your existing speaker system. It functions as the heart of your home theatre system as it works in conjunction with the right, left, center, and surround speakers to revive your listening and viewing experience. When you install a center channel speaker it will change your movie-watching experience as the dialogues become detailed and clear. The soundtracks are more natural sounding.
Here are few factors to consider before investing in a center channel speaker.
You need to buy center channel speakers that are compatible with your other speakers. The speakers need to be acoustically similar to the ones you have so sound can travel from one speaker to another smoothly. This eliminates the difference between the sounds emanating from different speakers. It is better to buy a center channel speaker that belongs to the same company as the rest of the speaker system.
A large size speaker is considered ideal because it can produce better overall sound. A 38-inch speaker or higher can be loud and better at audio reproduction. 12 to 15-inch speakers can produce robust and remarkable sound but will not have the overall quality of the larger speaker. You should buy a 7-inch speaker only if you have space constraints at home. These speakers lack dialogue clarity and bass. Also, don’t forget to consider your budget, because large center channel speakers tend to be expensive especially when they are from renowned brands.
The position in which you place your speaker system is of extreme importance. Regardless of the surround sound configuration, the left, center and right speakers should be placed in front of the listener. The center channel speaker should always be placed above or below the television screen so you can have the best surround sound experience. Also, make sure that the tweeters of all three speakers are at the ear level of the seated listener.
It is important to have a look at the technical specifications of the device before you buy a speaker. This could help you to figure out the quality and clarity of the sound that will be produced by your future center channel speaker. Here are some important specs to consider.
- Configuration ratio: Different speaker systems have different configurations. You will find ratios like 3:1, 5:1, 6:1, or 7:1 written in the description of the speaker system. The first number indicates the surround sound speakers and the second number indicates the number of subwoofers. Based on your demands for bass and mid-range sounds, you can choose the configuration of the center channel speaker system.
- Crossover frequency: Crossover frequency refers to the process in which the signal is split into different portions and sent to the different speakers where it is interpreted as sound. This splitting and redirection depend on the frequencies emitted by the speaker. The signals with higher frequencies are sent to the tweeter, the ones with lower frequencies are loaded to the woofer and the ones with middle frequencies are directed at the mid-range speakers. A higher crossover frequency is better for a collective experience of your setup.
- Frequency response: This represents the frequency of sounds the speaker is capable of producing. Even though the human ear can only hear frequencies between the range of 20Hz to 20 kHz, some speakers have a much higher frequency response range due to audio roll-off.
- Sensitivity: Center speakers with a high sensitivity rating are built to naturally reproduce quality surround sound with less static noise. They consume less power compared to the ones with a lower sensitivity. Sensitivity is measured in decibels. Speaker’s sensitivity should be a major factor because it contributes to quality sound and saving power.
We hope with this information you were able to narrow down on the best center channel speaker for yourself.