Can Any Speaker Be Used As A Center Channel? (Facts & QnAs)

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The Center speaker is the most important speaker in the home theater and the only speaker that should have a good grip on varieties of frequencies and not just on one specific frequency set. This is why choosing it is also a very critical task. So, can any speaker be used as a center channel?

At A Glance: Any speaker can be used as a center channel as long as it can play the highs, mids, and lower mids frequencies’ levels.

Keep reading as we will discuss many more aspects of it with related questions and answers that will make you a master of this topic.

What makes a center channel speaker?

In-Short: The design of the center channel speaker doesn’t make it an ideal center channel speaker but its ability to handle highs, mids, and lower mids do.

In-Depth: Why do I have this criterion for a center channel speaker? Because the responsibility of throwing the dialogues into the theater room is of the center speaker. 70-80% of dialogues come out of this speaker. These dialogues have more frequency levels than regular sounds.

For example, a toddler’s voice sounds different, a kid’s dialogue sound is different, a man’s sound is different and then each gender comes into the show.

That’s why a typical speaker can’t play the role of a center channel speaker. You must use a speaker for the center channel that should have a nice grip on all these frequencies. A speaker that has a grip on a single set of frequencies will be a terrible option for a center speaker.

Keep reading as we will discuss the most common alternatives for center channel speakers.

Read my guide about the best center channel speaker for home theater. You will know many more things about it.

Can I use a bookshelf speaker as a center channel speaker?

In-Short: You can use a bookshelf speaker as a center channel speaker but make sure that it should match the front left and right speaker.

In-Depth: The bookshelf speaker that will be installed as a center speaker should be of the same model that is used in the front left and right speakers.

Why is this practice the best? Because the matching of the center speaker with the front left, and right speakers is a must. You don’t want a difference in the tone of the dialogue when the main character is going from left to right on the screen.

That’s why when you are buying a bookshelf speaker for the center channel, try to pick it from the same model as the front left and right speakers.

This arrangement will give you better dialogues than placing a regular center speaker between two bookshelf speakers. When you choose three bookshelf speakers of the same model then there will be a smooth, flawless, and without difference in the transition of dialogues from one speaker to another in the LCR speakers.

But try not to make this mistake. Don’t use this bookshelf for all the positions in the surround sound. Not every speaker fits in every position. 

Read my guide about the best satellite speakers for home theater. You will know with practical points why not to use one speaker for every position.

Mistake To Avoid In This Alternative Option: Don’t try to place the bookshelf speaker in a horizontal position to mimic the regular center speaker. Because the sound dispersion of the bookshelf speaker is horizontal and when you change the orientation of the bookshelf speaker and place it in a horizontal position.

In a horizontal position, its sound dispersion will change to vertical and then dialogues will not sound good. Because in the horizontal dispersion, they will better fill up the entire room from left to right.

When there is more than one audience in the home theater seating, then it will be a terrible experience to make the speaker disperse their sound in the vertical dispersion manner

Can you use a soundbar as a center channel?

Can you use a soundbar as a center channel?
Image Source: Squid Game By Netflix

In-Short: It would be a terrible idea to use a soundbar as a center channel because an AV receiver will send amplified signals to the soundbar, which already has a built-in amplifier. 

In-Depth: This is a terrible idea for two reasons. The first is that the soundbar is made as a complete speaker which has a built-in amplifier. And the AV Receiver sends signals to each speaker after they are amplified.

This will create a massive signal conflict issue with the soundbar’s built-in amplifier. The soundbar will still work, but the quality of the dialogues will not match the quality of a dedicated center speaker.

The second reason is that a soundbar in the center will have a completely different sound signature than the front left and right speakers. This will create a problem when a sound will start transitioning from the center to the left and right channels. The same person’s dialogue will sound different in different time frames.

This is why you should avoid using a soundbar as the center speaker in the home theater.

The best practice will be to use a dedicated center speaker for the center channel, and that should be from the same model as the front left and right speakers.

Know more about matching the center speaker with the front left and right speakers. This will help you a lot in perfecting the home theater audio.

Did you get something out of this center speaker guide? Hold On We Have Something Exciting To Share.

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FAQs

Why do center channel speakers have two woofers?

This is because the best practice for center speaker manufacturing is to place the tweeter in between the two woofers. The high should come out from the speaker with two mids for each side that can give a balanced sound.

If a tweeter was on one side or there was one woofer to go with it, then the sound would feel incomplete and would flow in a one-sided manner.

How is a center speaker different?

The Center speaker is different from the rest of the surround sound speakers because it can play a wide variety of frequencies rather than a single or double set of frequencies.

The center speaker is good in the highs, mids, and lower mids.

What is a 2-way center speaker?

The center speaker has a woofer and tweeter, that’s why they are called 2-way speakers. Whichever speaker has a tweeter for highs and a woofer for mids will be 2-way, no matter how many numbers of tweeters or woofers it has.

A speaker that has a tweeter, woofer, and subwoofer will be considered as a 3-way speaker.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. Know more about the best center channel designs from Audioholics. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. Know more about the center speaker and its role in the home theater from the KlipshBlog. (Resource for the second answer)

Watch To Learn More

This article was first posted on Homelytainment.com.
Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

I'm Ayaan khan, a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After my degree, I started an internship with my father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month I realized that this is the best job in the world for me and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when my internship ended, I joined my father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. I test new equipment and approve it before it can be installed in the customer's house. I love to test equipment and sometimes love to install it by myself in the customer's theater room. I have the right experience and knowledge to learn from my articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy. If you have any questions for me. Reach out to my email (Support(AT)homelytainment.com)

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