To find the best center channel speaker, we took a look at essential factors, including each speaker’s frequency response, power handling ability, crossover configuration, and form factor. If you are looking for the best sound experience, you might opt for a speaker with a broad frequency range that can deliver both crisp highs and deep bass. Other aspects, such as power handling, will dictate whether your current receiver is compatible with any of the mentioned speakers. Either way, you’ll find an option that is great for your movie or music listening setup.
The top pick in our list for the best center channel speakers is the Polk Audio CS10 center channel; this excellent speaker fits perfectly with the company’s affordable TSi Series lineup. The CS10 can handle frequencies from 53Hz to 25kHz, giving you vast range from a center channel; it also plays well with most receivers, running on anywhere from 20-125 watts. The CS10 doesn’t just look great on paper, its silk-dome tweeter and dual 5 ¼-inch speakers sound great too. Keep reading to learn more about the best center channel speakers.
Top 4 Best Center Channel Speakers
#1 Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Polk Audio delivers a top-choice speaker designed to dampen internal resonances that can detract from sound quality, while also presenting sound in a way that makes the speaker seem larger than it is for better immersion.
Polk Audio delivers another fantastic product that pairs beautifully with the company’s existing TSi Series — a set that includes some of the best front channel speakers for your first home theatre setup. The CS10 produces a large sound stage that makes the speaker sound more substantial than it is in reality, while also handling a wide range of receivers thanks to its 20-125 watt power rating.
The non-resonant MDF enclosure helps to keep every sound crisp and clean in its 53Hz to 25kHz range, while the 1-inch silk dome tweeter and two 5-¼-inch woofers produce sound that will impress you during your next movie binging or music listening session. The best in-ceiling speaker is another good choice.
#2 Sony SSCS8 3-drive Center Channel Speaker
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Sony offers a high-quality center channel speaker with the SSCS8 thanks to its mica-reinforced drivers and optimized crossover that ensures every detail is reproduced faithfully. Not to mention, the SSCS8’s tight, powerful bass response.
Sony is a company that has been known for producing excellent audio, from your living room to your vehicle. The SSCS8 center channel speaker is no different thanks to its 55 Hz – 25 kHz frequency response and optimized crossover that provides excellent sound reproduction accuracy. The mica-reinforced speakers help to produce crisp highs while offering tight, something we also commonly see in some of the best Klipsch center channel speakers, powerful bass for your favorite movie action scenes.
The large sweet spot for listening also enables you to get the best sound, no matter where you sit. The SSCS8 can handle up to 145 watts of power, but it is among the heaviest at over 25-pounds — something to know if you plan on wall mounting it. Due to its quality, we would say that the Sony SSCS8 is the best high end center channel speaker on our list. You can compare them to the best floor standing speakers and see which are better.
#3 Pioneer SP-C22 Center Channel Speaker
Award: BEST COMPACT
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Pioneer SP-C22 center channel doesn’t only sound great, it fits well in tight spaces thanks to its minimal dimensions and curved back. Enjoy movie night without speakers taking over the majority of your living room.
Not everyone wants their living rooms to be overwhelmed by large speakers, and if you’re going to keep things minimal, you should check out the Pioneer SP-C22 center channel speaker. It’s among the smallest speakers coming in at 8.44 x 18.13 x 7.13-inches and features a curved back for tight spaces. The shape doesn’t only look great but helps to reduce sound interference for more accurate sound. Pair this with some of the best headphones for TV, and you’ll be ready for the perfect movie night.
The speaker itself has a respectable range of 55 Hz – 20 kHz and is designed with magnetically shielded components to prevent electrical and magnetic interference. We do wish it could handle a bit more power, as it is only rated for up to 90 watts and could be blown out by more massive systems. Some prefer the best in wall speakers, and these are a nice compliment to them.
#4 Micca MB42X-C Center Channel Speaker
Award: BEST BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: Micca continues to deliver quality components at affordable prices with the MB42X, still boasting high-quality silk dome tweeters and able to handle receivers up to 100 watts.
If you’re looking to set up a home theatre on a budget, you should take a moment to check out the Micca MB42X-C center channel speaker. Micca once again delivers exceptional value with a pair of subtly designed speakers that blend well into any room. The carbon-fiber woofers and silk dome tweeters allow for a frequency response of 60 Hz – 20 kHz, while the speaker as a whole can handle receivers outputting up to 100 watts.
We also love the easy to remove magnetic grill so you can choose your favorite look with ease. Just know that these aren’t the loudest speakers on the block, but they still do a great job that any movie lover or music listener would enjoy. Movies are also great with the best desktop speakers and the best outdoor bluetooth speakers.
How We Decided
When selecting the best center channel speakers, we took a look at the critical factors that matter, including frequency response, power handling ability, crossover configuration, and form factor. Then, taking the information that we compiled from our research, we set minimum criteria. The result is a buyer’s guide that features only the best options, and one where we know that no matter which center speaker you select, you’ll have picked an excellent choice for your home theatre.
When it comes to frequency response, we selected center channels that could reproduce a low-end of at least 60 Hz and a high end of at least 20 kHz; this results in a speaker that can reproduce crisp high-end frequencies and bump out a decent amount of bass. When it comes to power handling, we chose speakers that would be compatible with most receivers, falling in the 100-watt range, but still able to handle lower power receivers without issue.
A speaker’s crossover configuration helps to send the proper frequencies to the appropriate speaker drivers; the result is a speaker that can accurately reproduce sound from movies and music. For our selection, all crossovers controlled at least one tweeter and two woofers for optimal range. Lastly, we considered the form factor of each speaker, presenting options that were both ‘large and in charge’ and also minimal for living rooms in which you want your speakers to fade away.
Best Center Channel Speakers Buyer’s Guide
- Frequency Response: Your speaker’s frequency response is its ability to reproduce sounds. Perfect human ears can generally hear a range from 20 Hz up to 20 kHz; thus, it is best to select a center speaker with at least a 20 Hz high end. For the low end, look for something around 50 Hz, as anything lower will likely require a separate subwoofer for enchanted bass.
- Power Handling: How much power can your receiver handle? For example, you should make sure that your powerful 250-watt receiver won’t blow out your small 100 watt speakers on high volume, so find something to match. If shopping for speakers first, take a look at which receivers on the market can adequately handle them as you may need to adjust your selection on what is available.
- Crossover Configuration: A speaker’s crossover redirects frequencies to different drivers in the speaker. For center channels, look for speakers that offer at least three drives, one tweeter and two woofers — this will help with sound reproduction. Overall, crossover quality can be hard to gauge, so if possible, test out speakers before making a purchase.
- Form Factor: Large speakers produce more immersive sound, but can be an eyesore for those who don’t find them attractive. Be sure to find a speaker that will fit into your home theatre space properly, while still looking great. After all, you will need to look at your speakers nearly every day — pick something you love.
Center Channel Speakers FAQs
Who makes the best center channel speakers or which brand of speaker is best?
According to our research, we found the best speaker in our guide to be produced by Polk Audio. With the CS10 center channel speaker, Polk Audio delivers a top-choice speaker designed to dampen internal resonances that can detract from sound quality, while also presenting sound in a way that makes the speaker seem more significant than it is for better immersion. Polk Audio also offers an excellent price to features ratio, making it one of the best values available.
Do center channels need speakers?
You don’t need a center channel in your home theatre, but we would highly recommend purchasing one if you are serious about audio. The center channel will handle most dialogue from movies and video games, making it extremely important for clarity and balance.
What makes a good center speaker?
For a good center channel speaker, we would ensure that the design features at least three drivers for reproduction, a single tweeter, and at least two woofers. Additionally, you will want to make sure the brand and ideally series of your center channel match your left and right channels for accuracy.
Can I use a bookshelf speaker as a center channel?
Yes, you can use a matching bookshelf speaker as your center channel, but due to most speakers being designed for the vertical position, you may have trouble fitting it. On the other hand, most center channel speakers are laid out in a horizontal position to better fit under televisions.
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