Ever wondered why we don’t enjoy movies on TV as much as we do in theaters?
For one, we have to turn the volume all the way up to listen to low-pitched conversations. And when we read the subtitles, we miss out on the visuals.
Well, we can all agree on the fact that TV speakers still have a long way to go before they topple a dedicated center speaker.
It’s the only gear that packs captivating dynamics, soundstage, and dispersion in a single package.
The best center channel speaker for dialogue puts forward a three-dimensional audio output. It makes vocals sound like they are coming from a distinct center point. These speakers are fully compatible with DTS, Dolby, and Blu-Ray codecs. So, your home theater is incomplete without them.
We’re stoked to finally introduce you to our top 10 LCR/center channel speakers. Now, let’s get on with the reviews!
- 1. What are Center Channel Speakers?
- 2. Why Do I Need a Center Channel Speaker?
Top 10 Center Channel Speakers in 2022
- 3.1. Comparison Table
- 3.2. Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Home Speaker
- 3.3. Polk Audio Blackstone TL1 Speaker Center Channel
- 3.4. Klipsch R-34C Wall-Mount Center Channel Speaker
- 3.5. Polk Audio CS1 Series II Center Channel Speaker
- 3.6. Klipsch R-25C Center Channel Speaker
- 3.7. Micca MB42-C Standalone Speaker
- 3.8. Polk Audio T30 100 Watt Home Theater Speaker
- 3.9. Yamaha NS-C210BL Center Channel Speaker, Black
- 3.10. Polk Audio Signature Series S35 Center Channel Speaker
- 3.11. Sony SSCS8 2-Way 3-Driver Center Channel Speaker
Things to Consider Before Buying a Center Speaker
- 4.1. Speaker Drivers
- 4.2. Soundstage Specifications
- 4.3. Speaker Type
- 5. FAQs
- 6. Bottom Line
What are Center Channel Speakers?
At its core, a surround-sound set-up is a small family of a central channel speaker, two front L/R speakers, two rear L/R speakers, and a subwoofer.
Now, the center speaker is where most of the vocal replication happens. It also distributes sound among the other speakers in a surround-sound setup.
Why Do I Need a Center Channel Speaker?
People don’t call an LCR the most important speaker in audio setups for nothing. Although its main charisma is theater-like movie dialogue, the unit is still responsible for handling special sound effects.
It Completes Your Home Theatre Setup
LCR, or the center speaker, sets the balance between your front left and right speakers with its unique crossover capability. It offers effective sound dispersion across the whole room.
Original Soundscape with Special Effects
Center channel speakers put forward a sophisticated audio structure. The better ones have their acoustic centers aligned so that the output feels more authentic. You can independently control the volume of your LCR, keeping the surround-sound speakers undisturbed.
Crystal Clear On-Screen Dialogue
First of all, stereo speakers split the sound between the left and the right speakers. As a result, the soundstage is relative to your position and distance from either unit. It’s not that impressive and definitely not of the “room-filling” type. LCR speakers bridge the gap and deliver sound as naturally as possible.
Top 10 Center Channel Speakers in 2022
Considering driver size and material, frequency response, power handling, and overall soundscape, we’ve rounded up 10 center channel speakers below. Let’s see what they offer!
|Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Home Speaker||AmazonWalmart|
|Polk Audio Blackstone TL1 Speaker Center Channel||AmazonBestBuy|
|Klipsch R-34C Wall-Mount Center Channel Speaker||AmazonBestBuy|
|Polk Audio CS1 Series II Center Channel Speaker||AmazonPolk|
|Klipsch R-25C Center Channel Speaker||AmazonBestBuy|
|Micca MB42-C Standalone Speaker||AmazonWalmart|
|Polk Audio T30 100 Watt Home Theater Speaker||AmazonBestBuy|
|Yamaha NS-C210BL Center Channel Speaker, Black||AmazonBestBuy|
|Polk Audio Signature Series S35 Center Channel Speaker||AmazonBestBuy|
|Sony SSCS8 2-Way 3-Driver Center Channel Speaker||AmazonBestBuy|
Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Home Speaker
Exclusive LTS Tweeter
Its Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) tweeter produces impeccable sound resolution and clarity. Klipsch has incorporated Kapton, a super light yet rigid material, in the tweeter system. It packs more detail to the audio and makes movies sound more life-like to your ears.
Spun-Copper IMG Woofers
The IMG woofers on this terrific speaker are extremely powerful. For example, they nail the lower sections of the frequency response range- helping the speaker produce a much fuller sound. You get to experience more dynamics and little to no dialogue distortion from the speaker.
Minimized Artificial Reverb
The key features of the R-52C have got to be its signature Tractrix Horn Technology and the robust MDF construction. For one, it offers a boosted surround sound profile with excellent bass response. Next, its 400 watts of power handling is more than decent for a drawing-room center channel speaker.
- Two 5.25-inch spun-copper woofers
- A 90×90 Tractrix Horn tweeter
- Detachable magnetic grille
- 400 watts of power handling
- You can’t hang it on the wall
Polk Audio Blackstone TL1 Speaker Center Channel
If you’re tired of those whopping floor-standing speakers, you should give TL1 a try. This one is a must-have speaker by Polk Audio, and it's one of the rare models that shoot hi-res music from all audio setups.
Silk Dome Tweeter
Polk Audio did a fantastic job pairing two 2.5-inch speaker drivers with the impressive tweeter. From a brand with 30 years of experience in the compact speaker arena, a cutting-edge silk dome tweeter was not surprising. It reproduces frequencies as they are without warping them.
Aperiodic-Tuned Rear Design
TL1 comes with a rear-firing bass port that takes your listening experience to new heights. It’s pretty innovative for a center speaker. Not to mention, this unique feature doubles up as a bass booster for your home theater setup.
Spectacular Home Cinema Experience
For the price and size, the TL1 is a loud-sounding speaker with a hi-res center sound. What’s unique about the TL1 is that it aligns the acoustic hubs of the tweeter and bass. This specific setup improves vocal clarity and your audio experience as a whole.
- Suitable for 5.1. 6.1 and 7.1 home theater systems
- Comes with two 2.5-inch woofers
- Includes an aperiodic-tuned rear-firing bass port
- Connects to all AV receivers easily
- It might distort audio in a large room
Klipsch R-34C Wall-Mount Center Channel Speaker
Quad 3.5-inch IMG Woofers
Compared to R-52, this beefier model offers a better reproduction of the low-frequency range. Very few speaker brands pack a similar frequency response, but only Polk Audio delivers it at an affordable price. Besides, the four woofers are of the perfect size for producing room-filling sound with all the little details.
Klipsch integrated two front Tractrix ports that match the speaker’s woofers and cabinet. The ports allow soundwaves to create that surround sound effect and naturally amplify bass. Well, the sound stage is complete with a dynamic range. It’s exactly what we want for a blockbuster movie night, no?
The Klipsch R-34C shows off an elegant design for a budget-friendly center channel. The speaker configurations did justice to its classy wood-grain vinyl finish. You can keep the speaker on top of the TV tray and place the rear speakers on either side.
- Comes with four 3.5-inch IMG woofers
- A 1-inch silk dome tweeter for balanced sound
- Bass-Reflex technology for better bass performance
- Front-Firing Tractrix ports ensure a vast soundscape
- Average features for the price
Polk Audio CS1 Series II Center Channel Speaker
Speaker brands like Polk Audio and Definitive Technology have a number of outstanding speakers. But when it comes to movie soundtracks, Polk Audio takes the cake. Well, the CS1, to be exact. It features not one but two 5-¼-inch dynamic woofers and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter.
The key takeaway of the CS1 is its reversible design. You can put its body upside down, and it will still provide an immersive soundstage, nonetheless. It also allows you to place the speaker below your ear level. Talk about a more low-key center channel speaker on a packed console table!
You don’t see a lot of mid-range speakers with the bi-amping opportunity. It’s a feature high-end speakers share exclusively. The good news is, you can now bi-wire your CS1 speakers and get professional-quality sound from your home entertainment center!
- Two 5-¼-inch dynamic balance woofers
- Acoustically aligned speaker drivers for better output
- Excellent reproduction of audio details
- Compatible with Monitor 60 and 70 speakers
- Low sensitivity and treble
Klipsch R-25C Center Channel Speaker
Accurate Soundtrack Imaging
When it comes to binging on your favorite movie, you don’t want to miss a single movie dialogue. In that case, you’ll be happy to know that Klipsch R-25C offers excellent vocal clarity. Besides, its tweeter dome takes after the hi-tech motion tweeter you’ve seen on a Martin Logan.
Perfect for Small Rooms
The R-25C is a solid choice for small gaming nooks. Its bass radiators go the extra mile to amp up the overall soundstage. Moreover, its Tractrix Horn feature is a reasonable alternative to the Coherent Source Transducer in Pioneer Elite speakers. Both technologies are highly reliable for reducing indirect bouncing and reverb.
Bi-Amp for the Better!
You can’t bi-amp a random speaker and expect a huge difference in audio quality. However, if you really want to use a power amplifier, this center speaker is up for the job. Its heavy-duty terminals offer excellent bi-amping. This way, you can maximize their power gain for a booming sound!
- High-performance LTS horn tweeter
- Dual 5-¼-inch IMG woofers
- Reduces artificial reverb for natural sound
- Two 5-way binding posts for bi-amping
- Its 5.25-inch height makes it difficult to go under a flat-screen TV.
Micca MB42-C Standalone Speaker
Impressive Vocal Clarity
The Micca MB42-C is now complete with two 4-inch carbon fiber woofers and a 0.75-inch silk dome tweeter. Not to mention, these are high-performance speaker drivers. They keep midrange distortion to the lowest and deliver hi-res sound at all times.
Versatile Speaker Placement
What we like about the Micca speaker is its low-distortion frequency response. You get to hear each and every dialogue with great clarity. And it doesn’t necessarily have to come from the usual TV tray placement. In fact, you can place the product vertically on a shelf that is just around your ear level!
In 5.1 home cinema set-ups, your center speaker is the most essential gear. And Micca takes the role quite seriously. The soundstage is pretty expansive for a speaker without a magnetic grille.
Our only issue with Micca is that it didn’t match with our two front speakers right away. However, the crossover upgrade will keep your total sound system in sync.
- Neutral sound signature with bass-boosting technology
- 60Hz to 20kHz frequency response range
- Two 4-inch carbon fiber woofers
- Suitable for 5.1 surround-sound setups
- Not that impressive without the crossover
Polk Audio T30 100 Watt Home Theater Speaker
This is a true center channel speaker with an extended bass port and a jaw-dropping soundstage. You can now have that edge-of-the-seat experience from an action movie premiere. That too in your own living room!
Rich Audio Experience
Polk Audio packs quite a punch in this sleek speaker. Its silk dome tweeter and the composite driver duo help you enjoy blockbuster shows on a Blu-Ray disk. Especially when it comes to savoring the special sound effects and dialogues. Pioneer SP-C22 is close, but it’s nothing like Polk Audio T30.
Not all center channel speakers perform well on high volume levels. Paired with the latest Dynamic Balance Technology, T30 delivers rich details in the audio. Its beefy bass port is a significant upgrade- one that gives the fan-favorite Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 a run for its money.
Compatible with Several Setups
The speaker connects to all present-day AV receivers and is now compatible with DTS and Dolby Atmos sound. What’s more, its complex crossover neatly distributes sound between the tweeter and the woofer. Match your T30 with surround speakers for a first-class theater setup!
- Two 5.25-inch composite woofers for quality sound
- Dynamic Balance technology for authentic sound signature
- Neat bass performance and distortion-free sound
- Doesn’t require an AV receiver
- Doesn’t come with a vented port
Yamaha NS-C210BL Center Channel Speaker, Black
Outstanding Speaker Drivers
For a compact speaker, the Yamaha NS-C210BL packs terrific bass radiators. It’s the perfect choice for those who love a mellow treble and sophisticated crossover. Paired with a balanced dome tweeter, the speaker extracts hi-res sound from your HD sources.
This dedicated center channel speaker produces a booming sound. What’s surprising is that it still manages to keep it at a natural level. You actually get to hear a low-pitched human voice from the movies without turning the volume all the way up!
Sensitivity and Power-Handling
This 6-Ohm speaker bags the perfect balance between power consumption and output. Its maximum input power is rated at 120 Watts. And it kicks out clean sound at all volume levels. Pair it up with rear channel speakers and embrace sound clarity like never before!
- Two aluminum woofers and a ⅞-inch balanced tweeter
- Maximum input power of 120 watts
- the sleek speaker design is compatible with slim TVs
- Great crossover capacity
- The magnetic shielding is not removable
Polk Audio Signature Series S35 Center Channel Speaker
Bold Sound Quality
The S35 is an impactful speaker from the “Speaker Specialists.” Yes, it’s pretty high-end for a center channel. Then again, it’s totally compatible with 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1 home theater arrangements. We had the best time matching our S35 with S55 Tower Speakers and S15 Bookshelf speakers from the same brand.
Initially, the S35 was a popular speaker for its modern technologies. It sure has an advanced bass quality compared to most modern-day speakers. Moving on, its 4-inch tall, streamlined body will be an excellent fit for under-the-TV placements. In fact, you can use two extra S35s as front left and right speakers!
Heavy-Duty Speaker Drivers
Yamaha used light aluminum woofer cones in this one, and we couldn’t be happier. The bass radiators and the tweeter also have excellent technologies. Moreover, their output syncs beautifully with the surround sound profile of your rear speakers.
- Accurate sound imaging for movie dialogue
- Six 3-inch woofers and one 1-inch terylene tweeter
- An LCR with a slim design for versatile placements
- Dynamic range for hi-res movies
- Not sensitive on low-frequency levels below 40Hz
Sony SSCS8 2-Way 3-Driver Center Channel Speaker
First of all, it matches the timbre of an original human voice. And it’s something you can’t say for every speaker out there. It responds to frequencies from 55Hz to 250Hz, and it’s enough for rendering high-fidelity audio out of your TV shows.
Optimized Bass Response
This 3-way speaker comes with a 1-inch polyester tweeter and two supersized woofers for hitting all the notes. Its max input power is rated at 145 watts. Truth be told, it’s a nice upgrade from the regular 6-Ohm, 120W center channel speakers.
Natural Vocals and Soundtracks
Are you a huge fan of action movies and musicals? Then Sony CS8 is the right speaker for you! Its energetic vocal response instantly made it a popular speaker among audiophiles. Wait, it gets even better when you pair your CS8 with other speakers from the CS series!
- A 1-inch polyester tweeter
- Two 4-inch, foam-reinforced woofers for a wide frequency range
- High-frequency response in the 55Hz to 25kHz range
- 145W maximum input power and 6-Ohm impedance
- Slight distortion at high volume levels
Things to Consider Before Buying a Center Speaker
So, you have a stunning TV, a DVD player and two front speakers on both sides.
But what does it take for your little setup to sound like a movie theater? The answer will surprise you!
What you need is a center channel speaker, and we can help you find the coolest one there is!
Below are all the things you’ll ever need to know to buy the most suitable speaker for dialogue!
When people talk about speaker drivers, they’re actually referring to the tweeter and the woofer inside. These transducers transform electrical signals into the sound waves that you hear. Not to mention, the higher the quality, the better soundstage you’re going to get!
Metal vs. Soft Dome Tweeters
Let’s face it; silk and terylene tweeters are all the rage right now. Many speaker enthusiasts prefer soft dome tweeters to aluminum dome tweeters. And we understand why.
It’s because silk domes move way faster. And they replicate the dynamic changes in soundtracks pretty well.
But here’s the thing- soft materials aren’t as durable when following fast piston motions and linearity. They might change shape and create more distortion over time. This is why we recommend titanium and aluminum tweeters.
Anything smaller than 3-inch woofers is quite useless for a center channel. However, if you get two or more 3-inch woofers on both sides, the sound clarity can dramatically improve.
Our personal favorite is an acoustically aligned layout that comprises a 1-inch tweeter and two 4-inch woofers. A structure you’ll find exclusively in a lot of Klipsch and Polk Audio speakers.
This segment is for those who love the idea of enhancing their speaker output without adding any extra gear. So, listen closely!
Bi-amping is when you divide electrical signals into low and high frequencies. This way, you can use individual amplifiers for different frequency levels.
For example, one amplifier can power up two speaker drivers (tweeter and woofer), while a second amplifier handles the treble. It’s called horizontal bi-amping, and it makes a noticeable difference in center channel audio output.
Usually, you need a pair of wires to connect the speakers to a power amp. To bi-wire your speakers, you now need two pairs of speaker wires.
Now, the question is- why in the world would you want extra cables in your living room? Here’s why.
Impedance is different between low and high-frequency levels. And it can make trebles sound bland and hollow. Bi-Wiring minimizes this difference and helps your center speakers respond better to mid-range frequencies!
This is where we cover the technical specs of center channel speakers. If you want to play it safe, you can check out any 6-Ohm speaker with 120 watts of peak power. They usually have a neutral sound signature and give you little room to complain.
Surround Sound Configuration
Revamping your home entertainment center is easier than you think. The best course of action is to build your AV configuration around your center channel speakers if you ask us.
Choose the front left and right speakers from the same brand. Or, make sure they have a matched impedance, at least. You should be able to depend on the crossover frequency response of your center speakers.
Between a 4-Ohm and an 8-Ohm speaker, the latter is always the better option for home cinema. Low-impedance speakers sure have a lower amount of voice distortion. But their tonal quality and weak soundstage aren’t something we’d personally like in our center speakers.
Additionally, the total impedance of your sound system shouldn’t exceed that of the amplifier. If yes, simply wire two high-impedance speakers of identical wattage in parallel. It allows you to use the existing amp and still get a much louder sound.
Pay attention to this part if you really want your speaker to kick out lifelike performances. To begin with, your speaker has multiple drivers that handle specific frequency ranges.
Crossovers split up audio signals among the drivers. This way, each driver can best replicate the sound frequency they were assigned. Besides, the output is much neater and more distinct with a center channel speaker.
No amount of bi-amping or bi-wiring can make a speaker translate frequencies any higher or lower than it already does. That’s why you must choose a speaker with a broad frequency response.
The 60Hz to 20kHz range works for bookshelf speakers in an average room. Center channel units that support this frequency level can reproduce all the lows, mids, and highs in any soundtrack. Don’t get too happy, though. A subwoofer is still your ace in the hole for immersive listening!
Understanding your speaker’s power ratings will come in handy soon enough. Especially when you set out to buy an amplifier.
Speakers that have a low maximum input power (below 120W) are not compatible with beefy amps. They produce underwhelming sound, to begin with.
However, their peak power is usually four times greater than the working power. So, you shouldn’t have any problem adding the amp.
There are different speakers out there, and not all of them will suit your LCR setup. Depending on your surround-sound configuration and available space, we have listed down the most practical options for you. Enjoy!
Anyone can pull off a floor-standing 5.1 system. These speakers are perfect for living rooms considering they have more horizontal dispersion. Next, this setup of three floor-standing speakers covers more seating positions than anything else.
On the other hand, excess vertical dispersion can cause sound to bounce off the walls, floor, and ceiling. Let’s leave the reverb to karaoke speakers, shall we?
According to acoustic experts, the most advantageous position for any center channel speaker is right below your TV. However, that position is rarely up for grabs.
You have your Xbox, the AV receiver, power amplifier, subwoofers, and whatnot. If space is an issue, consider putting your center speaker on the wall.
However, it’s best to put a speaker with rear-firing bass ports on the TV cabinet. Put it at least a couple of feet away from the nearest wall to avoid bouncing.
Modern bookshelf speakers have something called 5-way binding posts. It means that they accept not only bare plugs but also four different connector types.
Look for bookshelf speakers with a reversible design as well. It allows you to place the speaker vertically or lay it flat. The orientation doesn’t affect sound quality at all.
Pair your bookshelf center channel speaker with a Monitor 70 tower speaker in a larger room for the best results!
Where should I put the center speaker?
You can place the speaker directly above the TV or right below it. Stacking two of these vertically on a bookshelf is also an option. Put the LCR at the edge of your TV table to get an even sound distribution.
Do I need subwoofers with a center channel speaker?
A pair of subwoofers makes a bass output sound much deeper than one without it. They enhance the low tones in the soundscape so that you get original room-filling sound every time.
The woofers on your center channel speaker usually max out around a certain frequency level. Subwoofers go lower than that and complete your home theater setup.
How to connect a center channel speaker to TV?
First, you’ll need to connect your TV with an AV receiver via a speaker cable. Wire the center channel speaker with the AV receiver, and your work here is officially done!
On second thought, you even can use your TV speakers as center channel speakers. You’ll still need to run the AV receiver line through the TV’s input terminal, though.
Each of the speakers we featured today has a unique sound signature and gives you the sweet taste of hi-res vocals!
However, the best center channel speaker for dialogue is one in a complete 5.1 surround-sound setup.
So, if you’re short of a subwoofer or a stereo, you should fetch those right away. We believe you’re going to get the most out of your home cinema with the whole package as we did! Thanks for reading!