Polk Audio Signature S35 Slim Center Speaker
If you have a big family and want to all watch movies or TV together, you may want to invest in the best center channel speaker. Center channel speakers are an integral part of a surround sound system and arguably the most important speaker. This speaker is placed right in front of the TV and faces directly at you. It is often wider than other speakers in a surround sound system because it basically broadens the soundstage for people viewing at an angle.
The center channel speakers are responsible for delivering 50% of the movies soundtrack and most of the dialogue. With the best center speaker, you greatly enhance the listening experience for all people in the room by emitting clear quality sounds that are not distorted by background noise. Buying the best center channel speaker is tough because there are so many factors at play. You need to consider not only the size of your center channel speaker, but also the size of your other speakers and placement.
A lot of acoustics and surround sound comes in speaker placement and matching output levels of all of the speakers. You should also consider technical specifications, audio quality, and additional features when searching for center channel speakers. For example, you should buy a center channel speaker that is magnetically shielded so that there are no static interference with the TV screen. For more information, please see our buyers guide below.
Best Center Channel Speaker Reviews
- Polk Audio Signature S35 Slim Center Speaker (Top Pick)
- Cerwin Vega SL45C Quad 5 Speaker
- Pioneer SP-C22 Andrew Jones Designed Center Channel Speaker
Polk Audio Signature S35 Slim Center Speaker
If you want the best center channel speaker that deliver flawless clear sound, you should look into the Polk Audio Signature S35. While traditional center channel speakers have 2 woofers of each side to drive the mid to low sounds, the Polk Audio Signature S35 has 6 three inch woofers. These mid range woofers add lots of definition to the mid-range and create better linearity as well as a clear bass. And mid-range is where most dialogue and vocals fall, so it is great that these woofers target this range.
There is also a one inch tweeter that delivers some crystal clear highs. You won’t get any of that hissing sound or clipping from this tweeter. It is nothing but high res timber and clear audio. Additionally, these center channel speakers are quite slim and compact and measure only four inches high. You can squeeze these in tight spaces where other speakers may not fit. In terms of stats the frequency response range is 42 Hz to 40 kHz with a max sensitivity of 89 dB. The Polk Audio Signature S35 is loaded with features that enhance the overall audio quality such as Hi-Res certification, anti0diffraction grille, bass enhancing technology, and well as a nice sleek look. For extremely good audio quality with a compact modern design, go with these center channel speakers.
Cerwin Vega SL45C Quad 5 Speaker
The Cerwin Vega SL45C is the best center channel speaker if you want value. They strike the perfect balance between price and performance. There are four 5.25 inch woofers (2 on each side) that drive the mids and lows. In the middle is a one inch soft dome tweeter for the highs. With the Cerwin Vega, you get impeccable audio quality, especially in vocals and dialogue, which are what center channel speakers are known to deliver.
This is only one part of the entire Cerwin Vega home surround sound set. We encourage you to purchase the entire set to make sure you have matching brands for all your speakers. We find these speakers very clear in the mid to low range. Compared to the Polk Audio Signature S35, the Cerwin Vegas SL45C come close in audio quality. Although Polk Audio is the clear winner in the mid-range and high range area, we found that the SL45C delivers better lows for those deep voices and rumbles. In terms of specs, it has a frequency response range of 55 Hz to 26 kHz with a peak sensitivity of 89 dB, impedance of 8 Ohms, and a peak power of 300 watts. One of our complaints about the Cerwin Vega series is that it looks kind of rustic and retro. If you like the look fine, but we prefer a more modern design.
Pioneer SP-C22 Andrew Jones Designed Center Channel Speaker
If you are on a budget but still looking for some decent audio quality, the Pioneer SP-C22 is the best center channel speaker for you. First and foremost, Pioneer is a brand name that we all recognize and respect. They are known to make great high end audio as well as budget friendly devices. This particular center channel speaker has two 4 inch woofers and a single one inch tweeter. The woofers deliver decent an respectable mids and lows, although we can say we were totally mind blown.
We like that there are oversized magnets and vented pole pieces, which all help contribute to a better bass response. There is also a reason for the curved design of these speakers: it helps contribute to the reduction of standing waves and an improvement on sound quality. The actual speakers are not that powerful and only have 90 watts of power handling. However the build quality and the acoustics of the unit more than make up for it and drastically help improve the audio quality. And best of all, these are the cheapest center channel speakers we are recommending. In terms of audio quality, the Pioneer SP-C22 is clearly worse than the two previous speakers, but we can’t say they are significantly worse.
Best Center Channel Speaker Buyers Guide
Center channel speakers are an integral part of any great surround sound system and usually placed above or below the video screen. They provide dialog, music, and sounds that the sound engineer of any movie places in the center audio channel, which could be 50% of a soundtrack. The center channel is responsible for sounds such as lead vocals in music since it is intended to come directly in front of the listener. The center channel also helps eliminate the need of a phantom center and has image stabling effects.
Since the center channel speakers are considered the most important part of a film, the quality of a center channel speaker can make or break your entire surround sound system. For great and consistent sound, you need to make sure that your center speaker has the same voice and acoustics as your other speakers. It does not make sense to mix and match speaker brands in a surround sound setup because you run the risk of changes in timbre when there is sound pan. Also, not every brand is compatible with one another so it is best to stick to one brand. There are many features of a center speaker that you should consider before committing to a purchase. We have listed some things to think about below.
Size: Larger speakers don’t necessarily correspond with better sound. With larger speakers, you may get a louder sound, but it may not be the best overall sound in terms of acoustics, balance, and clarity. You can get small 6 inch speakers if you are strapped for space, 12-15 inch speakers for good dynamic range, and full size 20+ inch speakers for maximum power.
Placement: Believe it or not, the placement of your surround sound system greatly affects the overall sound quality. Even the way your room is shaped will have an effect on acoustics. The center speaker should be placed above or below the TV screen so that it projects right in front of you. It should be placed horizontally so that the sound cone reaches wide angles and gets to people sitting at an angle from the TV. This can either be mounted on the wall or on a bookshelf.
Design: Most center channel speakers are horizontal and usually have two woofers on both sides and one tweeter in the middle. The woofer is responsible for mid to low sounds and the tweeter in the middle is designed to project high frequency sounds. Some center channel speakers have 4 or 6 woofers and one tweeter on both sides. There is no subwoofer on the center channel speaker since you will usually have a stand-alone subwoofer for sub bass and low frequency sounds.
Technical Specification: In terms of specs, they are important and you need to consider them when searching for the best center channel speakers. However, please don’t buy based just on specs as they often don’t tell the complete story. In terms of audio quality, no spec can tell you about the clarity, precision, and distortion levels. The most important specification is probably RMS power, which tells you average power the speakers are able to deliver over time. This gives you a rough idea how loud your speakers can get.
You should also consider frequency response range and the wider the range the better. This is because a wide range means that more low and high sounds will come out of these speakers. You should also consider things such as impedance in order to match receiver ratings and prevent overheating. Sensitivity is also a nice spec to pay attention to as center channel speakers with greater sensitivity usually means there will be a lot less static when you crank up the volume.