Do You Need A Center Speaker For Music? (2 Scenarios)

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The center speaker is an integral part of any home theater system, and also it is one of the most used speakers in the system since the beginning. That’s why it is very hard to decide if it is good for music or not. But here I am answering this question. Do you need a center speaker for music?

At A Glance: Long story short, you need a center speaker if the music is recorded in any format of surround sounds such as 5.1, 7.1, or above. But you don’t need it when the music is recorded in stereo or less.

Keep reading because I have some solid reasons to back my claims. These reasons are backed by real-life poll data and engineering techniques that produce music for us. 

Why do you not need a center channel speaker for stereo music?

Let’s first understand the mechanism behind the production of stereo music. The stereo music is produced in two channels. The channels are left and right channels. Now, you might have this question in your mind. Then why do I feel a center sound in the stereo? 

This is because the engineers have produced the music in a way that creates a center stage too in the complete sound field.

During the music recording process, if few musicians are at the center of the band and playing their instruments. You will exactly feel them at the center when the music is playing on the stereo. 

When you close your eyes. You can feel the exact location of each musician. This much precise engineer they have put into stereo music. But the recording and decoding must be top-notch to make this statement true.

The reason you feel the musician is in the center is due to the “Phantom center” effect. The phantom center is engineered because there is no separate signal for the center channel speaker in the stereo music.

But if you introduce the center speaker to the stereo system. The experience will be mediocre and will not be splendid as a pure stereo system. 

Because there is no actual signal for the center speaker in the stereo, you are enforcing the music to come out of the center speaker. That’s why you don’t need a center speaker for the stereo because there is no signal for it. 

Does the size of center speaker matter? I have compared it with the front speakers in this guide. Read to know the best pair matching.

This issue is clarified simply by the poll stats in the conclusion section below.

Why do you need a center speaker for surround-sound music? Why it is good?

The surround sound is produced in a way that it has a separate signal for the center speaker. That’s why you need a speaker for that channel signal to accurately output it. 

No matter what format of the surround sound, it is. For example, 5.1 or 7.1. There will always be a separate signal for the center channel. Because this music is produced for a complete surround sound.

To complete the chain and output the music in the same way the producers want you to feel. You need a center speaker for it to make the producers and yourself happy.

Using the center speaker with surround sound is like doing justice to your ears and the hard work of the producers.

Here, the music quality will be mediocre if you don’t add the center speaker. Read the conclusion to read the results of the poll that I have conducted in a Facebook group.

Do you know whether subwoofers are good for music or not? Read this guide. I have provided a proven analysis.

Final verdict (Discussing the poll result)

I was receiving multiple questions related to playing music on the home theater system. One morning when I was listening to music on the stereo in my showroom.

I thought now is the day to answer this question because it clicked with me that day.

I headed over to my desk and opened my laptop. I prepared questions for the interview and created a poll. Below are the stats of that poll that I conducted for my other article. But the results are helpful for this topic too.

What will you choose for music? FB Poll

Poll optionsStats
Surround Sound (Home Theater)38%
Source: Are home theaters good for music?

When I interview the participants. I came to the conclusion that the majority of them were against the idea of using a center speaker for the music.

They were keen to listen to the music on a setup that music was produced for. Meaning, if the music is recorded in stereo then we will use stereo. It means we will not use a center speaker for that music. But if the music is recorded in surround sound, then we will listen to it in surround sound. It means we will use a center speaker for that music.

According to the participants. The music feels the best this way and mediocre when you mix the format and the setup for it. You need to match the music format with the speakers’ setup.

The final conclusion is that you don’t need a center speaker if the music is in stereo format, but if it is in surround sound or Dolby Atmos then you need a center speaker.

Are smaller subwoofers better for music? I have told in this guide when it is better and when it sounds boomy.

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

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Which speaker is best for listening to music?

A stereo set of 3-way speakers is the best to listen to music. The 3-way speaker can hit a wide range of frequencies better than the 2-way speaker. 

The 3-way stereo setup is good for the country or similar flow of music, but if you like the electronic or similar flow of music then the 4-way speaker will be good.

Is a soundbar better than a center speaker?

The center speaker is always better than the soundbar because the driver size of the center speaker is bigger than the built-in speakers of the soundbar. Also, the soundbar has three channels in it, while the center speaker has to use all energy on one channel.

The soundbar has to output three channels of signals while the center speaker has to output only one signal and the driver size of the center speaker is always bigger. That’s why the center speaker sounds better than the soundbar.

Does a center speaker work with music?

The center speaker works with the music if the music is recorded in surround sound or in Dolby Atmos format, otherwise, if it is recorded in stereo or mono then the center speaker won’t work with the music.

The mono and stereo music don’t have a signal for the center channel. That’s why the center speaker will not work with it.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. I have talked about this in detail in my article. 2-way Vs 3-way Vs 4-way speakers. Which is better? Go read it. You will learn something new. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. You can read more about the difference between them from this blog on the IsItStillWorks site. (Resource for the second answer)

Watch To Learn More

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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)

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