Best Center Channel Speaker

We spent over 30 hours researching and testing 10 brands of center channel speakers and found that cabinet style, quality of the sound, and reputation of the company were most important. Pioneer’s Center Channel Speaker scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. The curved cabinet produces a stiffer wall that will reduce the sound waves inside the speaker. This produces higher quality sound and performance. The stylish speaker grills protecting the components while looking great. We also liked the affordability of this center channel speaker and loved the quality sound it produced.


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Introduction to the Center Channel Speakers

Center speakers are crucial to a surround sound system to produce the sound effects, dialog and music that are placed in the center channel by the production engineer or director. Sometimes this is as much as 50% of the total sound track so it has a big effect on the quality of the sound.

It is so important to have good quality speakers when you have a home theater system. This is especially true of the center channel speaker because it is literally the center of the movie listening experience and provides the listener/watcher with realistic, true to life sound to whatever movie or TV show they’re watching.

It’s important to choose your center channel speaker carefully so you get the best performance and sound. To do this you will need to become familiar with the different aspects of choosing a speaker including options, placement, technical specs and more. This guide is designed to help you get that knowledge. If you already have a surround sound system you will want to match the center channel speaker to the existing system.


Top 10 Center Channel Speakers

RankPictureSpeakerWattageWarranty (Years)
1
Pioneer
901
2
Polk
1255
3
Micca
1003
4
Polk TL1
1255
5
Definitive
2005
6
Yamaha
1202
7
Klipsch
5005
8
ELAC
4003
9
Theater
200Limited Lifetime
10
Polk CSi3
1805

Center Channel Speaker by Pioneer

Pioneer has a 70 year history of quality audio and firsts in the industry.  This unit has been built to offer consumers exceptional sound quality and amazing design too.

The cabinet of this center speaker is curved which produces a stiffer wall for the cabinet that reduces the sound waves inside.

This means higher quality sound and performance as well.  The speaker grills are stylish and do a fantastic job of protecting the components that need protecting.

The cost of this terrific speaker is very affordable making it possible for anyone to have exceptional surround sound even if they are on a budget.

There are two 4” structured surface woofers, a 1” high efficiency dome tweeter, 5 way binding posts in gold and a 6 element complex crossover.

This Pioneer product gives you the best audio experience you can get and is one of the most important pieces of your home stereo system.

Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker

This slightly smaller speaker is just as good as its bigger brother, the CS20. The angled top allows users to flip the speaker over and place it right below the TV which directs the sound towards the viewers.

The cabinet is made from MDF or medium density fiberboard that has ¾” baffles.

This guarantees that the sound is more lifelike, clearer, and cleaner, which means a better audio experience.

There are two 5 ¼” bi-laminate dynamic balance drivers that lower distortion.

These drivers are very lightweight and stiffer too and provide good sound dampening. Bass is also excellent in quality. The post connectors are 5-way binding which allow for more secure hook ups.

This speaker has a piano black top plate and black grille that is removable has attractive pewter accents. Users can choose from either black or cherry wood grain.  This center channel speaker will look as good as it sounds.

Micca MB42X-C Center Channel Speaker

Users will enjoy incredible quality music and movie sound tracks when they choose the Micca MB42X Center Channel Speaker.

This speaker is easy to place where it will provide the most amazing sound benefits and blends well with any décor.

You’ll have a movie theater like experience with the enhanced clarity and tonal balance.

Its compact size and wallet friendly priced point make it a very popular center channel speaker to have.

The ported enclosure provides an extended response from the bass with low distortion as well. The silk dome tweeter provides high performance treble that is super smooth and users will enjoy accurate imaging as well.

The 5-way speaker hex fasteners and binding posts are full size and the grill system is magnetic for even more style and sophistication. There is a lot of versatility with this speaker. Get two and you can set them up vertically as bookshelf speakers. The company offers a satisfaction guarantee if the consumer is not satisfied with the product for any reason.

Center Channel Speakers Summary

When you spend money on a home theater system you want it to provide the highest performing and quality sound you can get. The center channel speaker is the hub of your surround sound system so it stands to reason that you want to make sure it is the best quality you can get for your money.

The three speakers that we have reviewed above are all examples of high quality center channel speakers. Any one of them, add the high quality, amazing sound and great style that you are looking for.

To learn more about choosing the right center channel speaker for your needs, read the buyer’s guide below. It has information that you need to look at the different aspects of a center channel speaker and sort through all of the choices and make the right selection for you.

Compare: The 10 Best Rated Center Channel Speakers

Center Channel Speaker Comparison Table

Pioneer
View

Polk
View

Micca
View

Polk TL1
View

Definitive
View

Yamaha
View

Klipsch
View

ELAC
View

Theater
View

Polk CSi3
View
ColorWoodBlack
/ Cherry
BlackBlackBlack
/ White
BlackBlackBlackBlackBlack
Woofers
Size
(inches)
45.2542.54.53.135.255.2545.25
Dome
Size
(inches)
110.750.510.861111
Power
(watts)
90125100125200120500400200180
Dimension
(inches)
8.4 x 18.1 x 7.19.8 x 20 x 6.57.1 x 15 x 5.315 x 3.5 x 410.5 x 5 x 513.38 x 5.18 x 4.1210.5 x 20.5 x 6.518.75 x 8.75 x 7.8718 x 7.5 x 6.59.25 x 20 x 7
Weight
(pounds)
13.41663.357.54.422.1181117.8
Warranty
(years)
15355253Limited
Lifetime
5

 

Center Channel Speaker Buyers Guide

Things to Consider

center-channel-speaker1There are several things that you want to look at and consider when it comes to choosing the perfect speaker for your needs. We have listed all of these factors below so you can feel confident when you start researching different speakers. Even if you don’t know a lot about center channel speakers or surround sound systems, this guide will help you feel confident in your ability to understand all the technical terms so you can eliminate the speaker choices that do not fulfill your needs.

Compatibility

Compatibility is very important when it comes to choosing a center channel speaker. You want to be sure it has the same characteristics acoustically that your other speakers do. Doing this prevents any change in sound as it travels across the speakers.

Ideally, look for a center channel speaker that is from the same manufacturer as the rest of the speakers if you can’t get it to be identical. Not all speakers are compatible, even from the same brand, so make sure you have that part of the selection process covered before you purchase anything. The best and most reliable way to check this is to consult with customer service from the manufacturer.

Technical Specs

There are many different technical spec terms that you need to become familiar with so you understand better how to sort through the different models and select the one right for you.  

center-channel-speaker2Understanding these terms and what you want to ideally find for your own system will ensure that you end up with a center channel speaker that fits in perfectly with the speakers you already have and enhances the entire movie watching experience.

  • Configuration Ratio – You may encounter sets of numbers that read 3:1, 6:1, etc.  These numbers are ratios and they are referring to the configuration of the entire surround sound system. The first number is the number of speakers the system has and the second number is the number of subwoofers.
  • Biwire Capability – Some of the high end speakers have two sets of female connectors that go to the woofer and the tweeter. These are called biwires.  This will provide a sound that is a little more nuanced. It has better bass definition than the single wiring does as well.
  • Crossover Frequency – Crossover frequency is the frequency in which the signals will be split and directed to certain drivers.  The higher frequencies will go to the tweeter, the middle ones will be directed to the mid-range driver and lower ones to the woofer.  You want to look for the highest crossover frequency possible due to the fact that the switch will not usually be that audible to human ears.
  • Frequency Response – This term refers to the range of frequencies that the center channel speaker is capable of producing.
  • Impedance – The electrical circuit’s resistance to how the alternating current flows is referred to as Impedance. This is measured in ohms. The voice coil is responsible for producing the resistance.  In general the lower resistance will yield the greater output but it will be at the same level of power.  You want to find a speaker that has a rating that is at least equal to or less than the impedance of the speaker.  You can end up with a speaker that is overheating and potentially permanently damaged if the power the receiver is putting out more than what it is rated to handle.
  • Maximum Input Power – The max amount of power a speaker handles when there is a sudden burst of sound or music is known as the maximum input power.  You never want to use the speaker at peak power on a continual basis.  This could damage the speaker.
  • Magnetic Shielding – This feature will prevent the center channel speaker’s magnet from interfering with any nearby electronic equipment.
  • Mid-Range Driver – This is the speaker that produces all of the middle frequency sounds for the system.
  • Nominal Input Power – The extended length of time that a device can operate without danger of damage from overheating is called the nominal input power.
  • center-channel-speaker3

  • Sensitivity – Another name for sensitivity in a center channel speaker is the efficiency rating.  This is measured in decibels.  The higher a sensitivity rating is the better the speaker is at converting the power into exceptional sound.  It takes less power to play a speaker with a higher sensitivity level at the same volume as is does to play a speaker of lower sensitivity.  Another benefit to greater sensitivity is that there will be less static and hissing when the volume is higher.
  • Subwoofer – This part of the speaker will produce the low frequency sounds, also known as bass sounds; most often below 100Hz
  • Tweeter – This is the driver that is where high frequency sounds come from.

Conclusion

The center channel speaker is a critical component of a home theater system. It will make the overall movie watching experience an incredible, ‘feel-like-you’re-really-there’ feeling. It does this by delivering dialogue and special effects via center channel sounds with superior clarity.

If you will be purchasing the center channel speaker separate from the other speakers in the home theater system you want to remember to look for compatibility with the other speakers, which is the most important factor to consider during the selection process. When the center channel speaker isn’t compatible you will find that there is an inconsistent quality when the sound travels from one speaker to another.

Knowing what to look for when choosing a center channel speaker can ensure that you get the amazing, movie theater like sound that will change the way you view movie watching in your own home. Placement is another factor you want to pay attention to. You want the center speak to work well with the mounting arrangements you have chosen and the spatial arrangements as well.

Make sure that you look at customer reviews and comments as well about the speakers you are interested in. This feedback will give you an inside look at the product and how it is performing for others who have already purchased it. This will help you save money ahead of time so you don’t purchase a center channel speaker that you have no idea how to hook up or use.

Resources

  1. Pioneer – http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/
  2. Polk- http://www.polkaudio.com/
  3. MiccA – http://www.miccatron.com/