If you’ve noticed that your home theater somehow lacks in sound quality when it comes to vocals or dialogue, you may have some issues with your center channel speaker (or you may be in need of one).
This happens because movies use a more complex sound design than music, and a stereo system can’t reproduce all the details. So, the main purpose of central channel speakers is to enhance the audio performance and allow Dolby and DTS formats to fully shine. In fact, all high-quality home theater speakers require at least a 5.1 layout, with the central speakers delivering voices and dialogue from the front sweet spot.
As such, in order to have that genuine cinematic experience, you will need to find the best center channel speaker that works with your current setup.
Luckily, you won’t have to look too far as we created a list of top-notch center channel speakers to keep you up to date. We also created a how-to guide, that will help you select the best speakers for your needs and expectations.
Last update on 2022-01-01 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
How to Choose the Best Center Channel Speaker
Shape and Size
If you look at the reviews below, you’ll notice that all center speakers are horizontal while most of the other speakers are vertical. As it turns out, this is mostly a design feature and not one that supports sound quality.
The horizontal layout allows the speaker to be placed under or above the TV (the ideal positioning), which is why they also have a slimmer profile. So, the shape and size are influenced by the way you want to position the speaker and don’t influence the way it sounds.
Still, you should keep in mind that a larger speaker has room for bigger drivers and so, it will make a bigger impact when it comes to volume and power.
Some people only understand the need for a center channel speaker after they experience several movies with low-quality vocals and dialogue. By then, they are already equipped with left and right speakers, which is why they’ll only be interested in the center one.
Specialists recommend that you choose a speaker from the same brand and/or series as the ones you already own. Also, you should try to match the mid-range and high-end frequency response so the entire left, center, and front area will sound the same to you. This is called timber-matching and makes reference to the unity of the sound.
In the reviews below you’ll find the term of crossover frequency or networks. This refers to the segregation of the signal into different pieces which are sent to different speakers to create a better spatial representation of the action.
As such, the separation is usually done based on frequency. For instance, high-frequency signals are sent to the tweeter while low frequencies are sent to the woofer.
So, to make sure you get the best sound experience, you should select a speaker with a higher crossover frequency. This makes the switch difficult to detect to the human ear and creates a wonderful sound stage.
8 Best Center Channel Speaker
Klipsch RP-500C Center Channel Speaker
The Best Center Channel Speaker Under $500
Klipsch is well-known on the market for their innovative products and ingenious use of new technologies. As such, the RP-500C Center Channel speaker is one of the best center channel speakers due to its 1” Titanium LTS Vented Tweeter with proprietary hybrid Tractrix horn-loaded and dual 5.25″ spun copper Cerametallic woofers.
The speaker ads clarity to movie dialogues and delivers crystal clear music lyrics, which leads to a front-row cinematic experience in your own living room!
Not to mention that the RP-500C also features bass-reflex via the Rear-Firing Tractrix ports which help reduce air turbulence and any port noise when the low frequencies get punchier. This means that low-end frequencies will be delivered clearly, regardless of volume level.
Finally, the RP-500C is designed with premium, scratch-resistant ebony and walnut finishes so it can be integrated with elegant settings. Also, the strong, flexible magnetic grille protects the sensitive materials inside and gives the entire cabinet a classy look.
- Elegance & style in design
- New technologies for a punchier sound
- Perfect for enhancing the movie experience
- Low-end frequencies are clear
- Vented tweeters
- Ideal for best for a small to medium room
- A bit expensive
Polk Audio T30
The Best Budget Center Channel Speaker
The T30 home theater and music center-channel speaker gives you more middle ground so movies and other videos won’t sound so bleak. Even more, you don’t have to break the bank to enhance your home theater – the T30 comes with impressive features at an even more impressive price tag!
Polk created a special technology called Dynamic Balance, which allows the user to get that crystal-clear dialogue experience we love in cinemas. Also, the 1-inch silk dome tweeter and the 5.25-inch composite drivers help create an entry-level quality of sound you that most people will enjoy.
The cabinet is built using acoustically inert MDF that helps reduce distortions and resonance but also looks good on your furniture. The T30 should go directly under the TV (so the sweet spot will be on your couch) and can be used with most home theater systems.
- Great price for the features
- Impressive sound quality
- Low-frequency sounds are clear
- 60Hz-24kHz overall frequency
- Easy to integrate with your current sound system
- Elegant design & easy to setup
- Not for audiophiles
ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 Center Speaker
Tuned by Sound Professionals
The ELAC Debut series turned a lot of heads among hardcore audiophiles and now they’ve returned with the 2.0 version which brings in new features and an enhanced experience! As such, the C5.2 center speaker boasts a new tweeter with wide-dispersion Wave-Guide that improves sound dispersion and a new 5¼” woven Aramid Fiber woofer with a vented pole.
Moreover, the C5.2 also features a new internally braced cabinet that makes it easier to integrate with other systems and works with most interior design settings. Also, there are dual-flared front mounted posts that make the speaker easier to place, even in narrow areas.
Still, for the ideal home theater experience, the C5.2 should be paired with the bookshelf speakers from the same series.
- High quality of sound
- Modern design
- Solid build and smart port placement
- Impressive clarity, imaging, and separation
- No harsh highs and natural midrange
- Impressive bass
- Noticeably big
- The design is a bit bulky
- It needs a bit more power to be 100% effective
Polk Signature Elite ES35
Excellent Bang for the Buck
The Polk Signature Elite ES35 is a slim center channel speaker, with high resolution audio (certified), Dolby Atmos and DTX compatible, and a price tag a little bit shy of $400. For that kind of money, you’ll end up with a gorgeous looking piece of audio equipment, that also provides huge sound and amazing value for money.
To make a long story short, the ES35 will make for a significant upgrade to your home cinema; besides being huge and heavy, it’s absolutely remarkable in terms of sound quality, and provides a level of response and timbre to voices that will rock your world.
The impressive SQ is due to Polk’s Dynamically Balanced Acoustic Array with Cascading Crossovers, powered by the 1″ Terylene Tweeter and (6) 3″ Woofers that deliver room-filling, crystal clear sound in a life-like soundstage.
Moreover, the Patented Power Port Technology delivers heart thumping bass for a dramatic frontal impact, which you can also feel, not only hear. Moreover, the Signature Elite series allows for music streaming via Apple Music, Amazon Music HD, Spotify and more and even from the latest Dolby Atmos & DTS:X AVRs.
- Balanced sound
- Cool design
- Solid bass
- Well made
- Nothing at this price
Great Quality for an Affordable Price
This 2-way bass-reflex center speaker is capable of clearly and fully reproducing the details and clarity of a wide range of modern sources (HD movies and music or digital broadcasting).
Even more, the woofers are equipped with aluminum cones to increase the response’s speed and the 7/8” balanced dome tweeter helps provide a natural sound that’s rich in spatial characteristics. As a result, the sound is clear and detailed, and the bass response is impressive (especially considering the price).
The speaker can be used with a wide range of systems, including computer speakers, which is why so many people find it perfect for their needs. Not to mention that the NS-C210BL features a slim design that can be integrated with most modern TVs.
- 2-way bass-reflex center speaker
- 65 Hz – 45 kHz frequency response
- 6 ohms sensitivity
- Delivers clear voices and sounds
- Amazing price
- Solid build and versatile
- Design is not too elegant
- Entry-level speaker
For a Room-Filling Sound Experience
The SSCS8 is part of the Core Series of speakers, which manage to recreate natural sounds with precise instrument reproduction and soundstage. As a central channel speaker, the SSCS8 comes with a 2-way 3-driver bass-reflex system and a 4″ Foamed-Mica Cellular reinforced woofer.
With a wide dispersion super tweeter, the speaker supports a 55 Hz–25 kHz frequency and fast response. This also makes the vocals sound clear and filled with emotion, thus completely changing the home movie experience.
Moreover, the Mica Cellular foam is specially designed to keep the sound quality at a natural level and make sure the bass response is clear and powerful. To keep things even more interesting, the speaker is equipped with optimized crossover networks that keep signal loss to a minimum and isolate any vibrations.
- 6 ohm Speaker Impedance
- Delivers natural sound
- Impressive instrument representation
- High-frequency and fast response
- Mica-Reinforced Drivers
- Works well with other Sony speakers
- The 4” woofers are a bit small
- Entry-level center channel
- Some distortion at high volumes
Fluance Signature Series (HFCW)
Improved Performance for your Sound System
We all know that situation when the dialogue in movies is too low, so you crank up the volume only to have your ears blown off when something happens in the background (an explosion or any other non-vocal action).
Well, with the HFCW high fidelity center channel speaker you can finally stop playing yo-yo with the volume buttons!
The speaker will help deliver perfect vocals and dialogue in both movies and musical pieces. Moreover, the HFCW speaker is part of the Signature Series, designed with premium quality materials to create the best environment for sound transmission.
The Neodymium tweeters are ideal for a pure listening experience when it comes to high notes, while the dual 5” midrange drivers create a well-designed soundstage due to their unique shape and build. Moreover, the acoustically inert cabinet is built using wood to maintain distortion-free sound quality.
- Elegant design with wood accents
- Spectacular sound quality
- Good high, mid, and low range representation
- Clear vocals and dialogue
- Enhances the home theater experience
- They require some break-in time
- The magnetic grill is a bit flimsy
Get the Most Out of Your Home Theater System
Pioneer has a long and rich history in the sound industry so there’s no doubt that their speakers are some of the best on the market. In fact, the SP-C22 may be the best center channel speaker for audiophiles who want to make sure they get each tiny detail.
This is possible due to 4” dual woofers fitted in a full-sized cabinet built with wood to reduce any distortion and create a natural sound. The work of the woofers is supported by the 1″ high-efficiency soft dome tweeter that allows for high notes to be well-reproduced.
Finally, the Pioneer SP-C22 uses a 6-element sophisticated crossover system (unlike other speakers that only use a low-cost, one element system). This allows for all ranges to be reproduced clearly and without distortion. As a result, users get to enjoy a stellar cinematic experience that can only be equaled by a commercial theater.
Finally, the 90-Watt power handling allows you to crank up the volume as high as you want without any disturbances on the high and low ends. Not to mention, the speaker features an elegant design, so you can easily integrate it with any interior design setting and pair it with a wide range of other speakers.
- Gorgeous design
- Sound quality is amazing for the price
- Dual woofers for increased power
- Great soundstage and imaging
- Solid build
- Full-sized cabinet
- New crossover system
- A bit too big for some settings
- A ported design
- The curved design needs rubber stoppers to stay in position
If you’re looking for the perfect home theater experience or an immersive video game action, you will need to find the best center channel speaker for your needs. Otherwise, the dialogue and some of the mid-range notes will be lost while the system tries to process the sound.
As you can see, there are products for every pocket, so you don’t need to invest a lot in your audio equipment (especially for non-audiophiles).