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The Center speaker is the most important speaker in the whole surround sound, but dialogues without deep sounding effects will be a dull experience. So, can you use a center speaker alone?
At A Glance: You can use a center speaker alone, but it is not recommended if you want to feel the complete sound bubble around you in the home theater. The center speaker alone can’t produce the magical universe of the surrounding sound.
Keep reading as we will deep dive into more details and will also answer some of the most significant related questions. You will be a pro in the center speaker topic after reading this article.
Is the center speaker enough?
In-Short: A center speaker is not enough if you want the full 3D sound field around you with newer technologies like Dolby Atmos or DTS: X.
In-Depth: The center speaker is the most important, but it is not enough in the home theater. Home theater audio is the combination of complete surround sound. In surround sound, each speaker plays a role to create a virtual sound bubble around the audience.
Like the center speaker used for dialogues, the front left and right are used for dialogues and things moving from left to right. When a character is at the right, the front left and right will be used for their dialogues.
The surround speakers are used to produce the sounds of the things at the sides of the characters on the screen. The behind of the character sound effects is thrown out by the rear speakers. The above of the head things that sound for example helicopters or birds sound is produced by the Atmos speakers.
The deep, thumping bass is provided by the subwoofer. This bass plays a significant role to give a realistic touch to the movie.
Look, each speaker in the layout plays their role. They work in harmony to give you a magical universe of sound.
That’s why a center speaker alone can’t produce this universe. A center speaker alone will just give a better sound than the TV’s built-in speakers. But home theater is not made just to make the experience better than the TV’s built-in speakers.
Another reason why it is not enough is that the center speaker can’t play all ranges of frequencies. Like, the lower frequencies can be played better by a subwoofer. A subwoofer provides bass and without bass, the whole theater system experience is zero for me.
Read my guide about the best center speaker for home theater. You will know many more things about the center speaker.
Can I use a center speaker for the subwoofer?
In-Short: It is recommended to use a subwoofer but not only with a center speaker but with a complete surround sound.
In-Depth: A subwoofer is much needed in surround sound for 2 reasons. First, the subwoofer provides that deep, thumping bass to the audio. This bass aids in the realism of the movies or music.
Like a 3D experience, this bass gives realistic vibes to the movie.
Another reason is that when there is a subwoofer in the chain, then the speaker will have less burden on their shoulders. Because they will not strain themselves to produce bass, too. The lower frequencies will be shifted to the subwoofer to play. The speakers will have more energy to focus on the mids and highs.
In this way, you will get refined and natural in all levels of sound.
But if you still want to use only the center speaker, then yes, adding a subwoofer with your center channel will be a great idea.
Read my guide about the best subwoofer for home theater. I have picked the best ones and reviewed them.
Soundbar Vs Center Speaker: What To Use?
In-Short: If you are looking to place just one speaker under your display, then the best option will be to use a soundbar instead of a dedicated center speaker.
In-Depth: Why am I saying this? Because a center speaker has only one channel and that is the center channel, of course. But the soundbar has the center and front left and right channels.
The soundbar can give a better experience than the center speaker. But keep in mind that, don’t try to connect the soundbar to the AV Receiver. You can connect it directly to the TV or projector with an optical or HDMI cable.
You don’t need an AV receiver or amplifier for the soundbar because almost all the soundbars have built-in amplifiers.
Many affordable soundbars come with a dedicated subwoofer and rear speakers to mimic the complete 5.1 surround sound. Read my guide about the best soundbar for home theater under $300. Few soundbars features will shock you.
Soundbar also helps to decrease the usage of wires in the theater room. Because you require just one wire to connect it to the display. There are not a lot of wires required to connect all of its channels to the display.
Do you really need a center channel speaker?
In-Short: You require a center speaker if you want to feel the dialogue actually coming out of the main character on the screen. For 70-80% of the dialogues, a center channel is used for the maximum realism touch, and for that channel, you require a center speaker.
In-Depth: The characters in the movie are approximately 70-80% at the center of the screen. To produce realism for the movie, a center channel is dedicated to these dialogues.
But if there is no center speaker then the dialogues will be pushed out but the front left and right speakers. And nobody wants a character in the middle of the screen to speak from the left and right corners of the theater room. This will create confusion.
That’s why the center speaker is a must for any home theater that is using speakers instead of the soundbar.
Know how to improve your home theater audio video from my these 13 tips.
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Can I use TV speakers as the center channel?
You can use the TV speakers as the center speaker because this facility is now available but is not recommended by any means if you want a robust and the best audio experience.
The TV built-in speakers are very small and not capable of completely fulfilling the role of a center speaker. The cone of the TV speakers is at least 1 to 2 inches maximum and for an external center speaker, one woofer has a cone from 5 inches to higher. Every center speaker has two woofers and one tweeter.
This external center speaker can play many ranges of frequencies that a TV speaker can’t. That’s why I always recommend using an external center speaker rather than a TV speaker.
What size center channel speaker do I need?
You will have to first acoustically treat and soundproof your home theater, then think of the center speaker size.
When the acoustic treatment is done, then there is no rocket science in choosing a center speaker size.
If your room is small with a fewer audience, then use a small center speaker. If the room is medium then use medium and the same goes for a large room.
Can you use a soundbar with other speakers?
You can use it, but it is not recommended as the sound signature of a soundbar is different from the speakers. The sound transitions from the soundbar to the speakers will sound confusing and this will ruin the audio experience.
That’s why I recommend using speakers in the theater room of the same brand and better be of the same model.
Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More
- This was my opinion, read the connection method from this Sony Blog. (Resource for the first answer)
- Know more about it from this discussion on Quora. (Resource for the third answer)