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How to buy a Center Channel Speaker

What does a center channel speaker do?
The primary purpose of a center channel speaker is to produce movie or music video sound that the director positioned in the center channel. This can be dialog, singing, sound effects of all types including explosions. Since a great deal of the action takes place directly in front of you in a movie, choosing a natural sounding center channel speaker will greatly enhance your listening and viewing pleasure.

Can I purchase a center channel speaker that does not perfectly match my left and right speakers?
Most experts recommend getting 5 perfectly matched speakers for surround sound including the center channel. This does not mean you cannot add a center channel speaker to your existing stereo system for a basic Left Center Right surround system. Many of today’s receivers will allow you to adjust the volume of each of the speakers separately (and sometimes the crossover point of the center channel) making it easier to integrate a non matching center channel speaker. And let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t have the money to replace an entire system just to add one speaker.

What is the benefit of a center channel speaker?
As mentioned earlier a lot happens in the center, especially in movie sound tracks. You’ll be absolutely amazed at how much clearer the dialog will sound and how many other sounds you’ve been missing without one. It also gives your surround sound receiver an additional point of reference to create a larger expanse of sound. 

What to look for when buying a center channel speaker
If your speaker brand makes a matching center channel speaker for your left and right channels you should consider this. If not, then consider the following before making a purchase.

What makes a center channel speaker easier to buy is we all instinctively know what a human voice should sound like. We hear them all day long. Choose one that has the most natural sound to your ears. Then consider the following. 
  • What space limitations do I have? Sometimes center channel speakers can be deep. 
  • Do I have a shelf or do I have to mount it.
  • Will it match my other speakers appearance if that is an important consideration.
  • What is my budget.

Examples of good center channel speakers in two affordable budget categories are

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