Center Channel Speaker Comparison
Center Channel Speaker Buying Guide
Things to Consider
There 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 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.
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.
Understanding 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.
- 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.
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.
- Pioneer – http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/
- Polk- http://www.polkaudio.com/
- MiccA – http://www.miccatron.com/