What Should You Look For In A Center Speaker? (Buyer Guide)

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With great importance come great measures to take. The center speaker is the most important in the home theater. That’s why you have to take some precise thoughts and ideas with yourself while buying it. So, what should you look for in a center speaker?

At A Glance: As a general rule, the center speaker should match the front left and right speakers in the driver size, brand, or product series number. This will make sure that the dialogue and sound flow are constant from speaker to speaker. This will give a homogeneous sound to the home theater.

Keep reading as I will discuss many more aspects of “what to look for” in more detail. You will know all the things about the center speaker. Many types of center speakers need to be discussed before buying one.

Don’t forget to read the stats of the poll at the bottom that I have conducted on the Facebook group.

Types Of Center Speakers and Which One To Choose

There are many types and compositions of center speakers to consider. This will help you more in the buying journey. Each type and composition has its qualities that can bring significant changes.

2-Woofers or 4-Woofers Center Speaker: Which is better?

If your room is small to medium, then the 2-woofer center speaker will be good to go with. But if your theater room is large, then the 4 woofers center speaker is the best.

A 2-woofers center speaker with reasonable power and size will be enough to fill a small to medium-sized room very well without any stress on the woofers.

A large room can be better filled by a center speaker with 4 woofers.

I consider 11 x 12 as a small room and 15 x 13 to 17 x 16 as a medium and above will be large or the largest respectively. Just take these sizes as reference points.

Read to know how to optimize the home theater audio. You will know many more things about it.

3-way Or 2-way Center Speaker

The 3-way center speaker is better because it can hit more frequencies than the typical 2-way center speaker.

The 3-way has a mid-range woofer that can play frequencies ranging from 250 Hz to 2kHz and two woofers that can play frequencies ranging from 50Hz to 1kHz and a tweeter with frequencies from 2kHz to 20kHz.

On the other hand, a 2-way speaker will only have tweeters and woofers and no mid-range woofer.

The 3-way speaker will have a better grip on the frequencies above the low end. This will give a natural, fine, and deep dialogues and sound experience.

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

Is Bigger Woofers Center Speaker Better?

There should be no debate on how big a center speaker is because this will hurt the sound flow. The center speaker’s driver’s size should match the driver’s size of the front left and right.

That’s when the sound flow will be constant in the LCR speakers. The same person’s dialogues will sound the same in all the LCR speakers.

But if the center speaker’s drivers are smaller or bigger than the front left and right speakers. Then there will be a slight difference in the sound signature of the same character dialogues. This will confuse your brain and will ruin the experience.

Read this topic in detail. In my this article, is a bigger center speaker better?.

Center Speaker With A Built-in Subwoofer: Is It The Right Feature To Have?

The answer to this question is both no and yes. Let me explain. This answer solely depends on your home theater condition.

If you need to fill the bass dead spots in your home theater, then this is a great option to have along with your main subwoofer. The center speaker’s built-in subwoofer will help the main speaker in filling the bass dead spots.

But if your home theater is very small, and you think that the main subwoofer is covering the whole room well, then there is no need for a center speaker that has a built-in subwoofer.

Read my guide about the best subwoofer for a home theater. You will realize why the bass is so important.

Center Speakers with Bass Radiators

Bass radiators don’t throw a full-fledged bass, but they help to better furnish the low-end frequencies. That’s why a center speaker with a bass radiator will be a nice idea to furnish those lower-end mid-frequencies. This will result in deep dialogues. 

Deeper dialogues like Morgan Freeman and Vin Diesel’s dialogues will get their desired deepness, and they will come out in their pure form.

Match Or Mismatch With Front Left And Right Speakers

It will be a very nice idea to have the LCR speakers from the same brand, and even better to have the same product series.

Because brands want their products to go and sync very well with each other. They will have the same sound signature, and it is very important for the main LCR speakers. As we have discussed before.

But if you can’t match their brands and product series, then try to match their drivers’ sizes at least.

Center size and the TV infrared sensor

When you have a projector screen in the theater room, then you will probably have enough space for the center speaker to fit in.

But if you are going for a TV as your home theater display, then consider a center speaker size that can easily fit in and doesn’t block the sensors or display area. 

Choose the right size according to the TV stand, or buy another stand that can accompany your center speaker’s size.

The center speaker should be as close as possible to the display and that’s why a suitable height of the TV stand will really help.

Ported or Sealed Center Speaker

A ported center speaker will be better if it has no port noise. A ported center speaker’s drivers will feel less stress due to the port. The port will throw out the pressure created by the driver moment out of the speaker box.

Due to this factor, the center speaker will consume less power and will produce better dialogues with mid and high-range frequencies.

In-wall Vs In-Ceiling Center Speaker

I don’t recommend in-ceiling center speakers because I want my center speaker to be always close to my display.

I want to feel the dialogues are actually spoken by a character on the screen and not by a speaker.

That’s why an in-wall center speaker will be better to be installed close to the display. But if you want to have in-ceiling due to some reasons, then I will suggest having those center speakers that have movable tweeters that can be easily pointed at you.

But I will never use any other speakers in my theater ceiling other than Dolby Atmos speakers.

Read my these guides about the best in-wall and in-ceiling speakers for home theater. You will know many more things about it.

Final Verdict

In-Short: The best center speaker will be the same one that is used for the front left and right speakers. The second-best will be a center speaker that is of the same series, and the third-best will be one that has matching size drivers of the front left and right speaker drivers’ sizes.

Details: When using the same speaker as the front left and right speakers for the center speaker, then make sure the speaker is placed close to the display. 

Also, if bookshelf speakers are used for the front left, and right, then use the same speaker for the center for the best matching. But don’t try to change its orientation. Don’t place it horizontally. Place it vertically because bookshelf speakers’ sound dispersion is made that way.

Using the same speakers for the LCR will give a flawless dialogue transition.

Which Center Speaker Will You Choose? (FB Poll)

Poll OptionsStats
Same speaker for all LCR speakers81.13%
3-way center speaker11.32%
Ported center speaker3.77%
2-way center speaker1.89%
Sealed center speaker1.89%
There were 53 participants in this poll. I conducted this poll in a Facebook group.


Powered Center Channel Speaker: What Is It?

There is no such center speaker as powered. Because the center speaker is meant to be powered by the AV Receiver. There is no powered center speaker at the time of writing this article and will not exist in the time to come. Because manufacturers will never mess with the market to launch something that is not needed.

How high should a center channel speaker be?

The center speaker should be at a height that its tweeter is at your ear level. I will not say an exact height number because this number will vary from person to person and from theater room to theater room. 

Just keep in mind that its tweeter should match your ear level. If that ear level is 3 feet or 6 feet above the ground. Or above sea level. What to say here? Let me know in the comment section.

How To Improve The Center Channel Speaker?

Follow these steps

  1. Tilt it, so its tweeter can be pointed at your ear
  2. Soundproof the home theater
  3. Acoustically treat the room
  4. Now, calibrate the sound with a software or calibration mic.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. This was my opinion, read more about it in this AVSforum discussion. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. This was my opinion read more about it on SVsound Blog. (Resource for the second answer)
  3. Know more from this youtube video. (Below Video Resource for the third 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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