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 mean dialog, singing, sound effects of all types including explosions and alarm bells. Since a great deal of the action takes place directly in front of you in a movie and vocals might be coming from a lead singer on the screen this could be one of the most important speakers to own.

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 and 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 first consider the following.

  • What space limitations do I have?
  • Do I have a shelf or do I have to mount it.
  • The speaker you use for the center channel need to be shielded (does not apply to LCD or Plasma TV’s
  • What is my budget.

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

The Speaker Company RC1 $49
Boston Acoustics 130 LCR about $129

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