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Center Channel Speakers

Never Miss a Word with a High-Quality Center Speaker

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This Speaker Is the Critical Piece to a Great Surround Sound System

The center channel speaker is the unsung hero of any surround sound system. The front speakers get all of the glory by providing the majority of a movie's sound, while the satellite speakers create immersive surround sound, and the subwoofer brings the booming bass. But the center channel speakers, as unexciting as they may look, have the most important job. They handle the dialogue for the on-screen characters. The center channel speaker gets positioned directly in-line with your TV or projector screen to create the impression that the sound is coming from the screen itself. That's most important when there are on-screen characters speaking. The dialogue should "feel" like it's coming directly from that person.

Without a center channel speaker, the dialogue would have to come from the left or right speakers, which can be disorienting to the viewers. And a poor center channel speaker will lead to dialogue that is hard to hear. So although they may be unexciting to look at, and might not be at the top of your shopping list, a good center speaker is arguably the single most important component in any home theater system.

Be Sure to Find the Right Center Channel for Your Speaker System

When choosing a center channel speaker, it's best to find one that was designed to be paired with the front speakers in your system. Every speaker can have a particular type of signature sound, but manufacturers can design sets of speakers with closely matching audio characteristics. This is known as timbre-matching, and ensures that when audio (like a character's voice) travels between the front and center channels, it sounds identical from speaker to speaker. Unmatched speakers can sound different than one another, making for a jarring listening experience.

It's also important to match your center channel speaker in terms of power. Too weak a speaker will be drowned out by the others in the system, while too strong a center channel will overpower the system. The best option is to look for speakers that have a model series. Some examples are the Polk Signature Series or the Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series. Each series has multiple models from which to choose—so you decide which speakers best fit your budget and audio needs—that are all crafted to be sonically matched. For a more detailed explanation of what to look for in a center channel speaker—or any other speakers on your list—check out our Speaker Buying Guide. Have questions? Don't hesitate to reach out to our audio experts via email, webchat, or phone at 800-860-3577. You can also check out the following article to learn more about soundbars vs surround sound systems. We're happy to help you build the speaker system of your dreams!

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