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Best Center Channel Speakers for Audio Enthusiasts

  1. Sony 2-way Center Channel Speaker
  2. KEF Reference Center Channel Speaker
  3. Yamaha Center Channel Speaker
  4. Martin Logan Motion 8i Center Channel Speaker
  5. ELAC Debut 2.0 Center Channel Speaker
  6. Infinity PC351BK 5.25" 3-Way Passive Center Channel Speaker (Black)
  7. Klipsch Reference RC-42 II 75 W Speaker
  8. Boston Acoustics Boston Acoustics A 225C Speaker
  9. Polk Audio TL3 High Performance Center Channel Speaker - Black
  10. Energy V-Mini C Center Speaker
  11. Buyer's Guide

The importance of center channel speakers is a matter of much debate among audio enthusiasts. For those not prepared to invest in a full system, or using their speakers in a smaller room, money may be better spent on higher-quality floor or bookshelf speakers or a good 2.1 system if extra bass is desired. On the other hand, no truly high-end system is complete without a good center, which helps vocals and dialog remain clear over powerful subwoofer bass and enhances the dimensionality of sound in larger rooms and home theaters.

Ultimately, this is a matter of preference, and anyone looking to invest in a good system should try it before buying if at all possible (looking up a local HiFi shop is the best place to start). But, with today's online shopping market, it is often easier to buy online. That's why we have reviewed the best center channel speakers of 2022 for you to consider. When browsing, always take into account the size of the room the system will be used in and your budget. With those two things in mind, along with the compatibility of your existing devices, you will make a worthwhile purchase.

The speakers listed here are recognized for their price to performance ratio, as well as their ability to lift vocals above the mix to create a more realistic, 3-dimensional sound. Pick your price range and enjoy! Check out our favorite picks for the best center channel speaker in 2022 below.

Detailing the Best Center Channel Speaker Models of 2022

Sony 2-way Center Channel Speaker - Best Center Channel Speaker Overall

Hailing from late-to-the-game manufacturer JTR, the Noesis series of speakers are designed as a minimalistically styled, maximum performance speakers that deliver the absolute best sound quality for top-dollar with no frills. The 212HT is the flagship, and delivers a smooth, effortless sound that trumps some of the industry's best-known stalwarts.

Movies sound excellent on the 212HT. The Noesis hits the sweet spot in what is both the most important and most difficult, and frequently bothersome, aspect of a center channel's sound: vocals. Movie dialogue is never recessed or overshadowed, but also never overly forward or harsh, a huge accomplishment for a dynamic center channel. It is extremely dynamic, capable of portraying whispering voices at audible volumes that are nonetheless very clear, while never producing the shoutiness or midrange over-emphasis are typical of some center channels. Voices are free of grain, and always perfectly placed (so long as your speakers are).

While movies are great, music is really where the Noesis really shines. Its presentation is, again, smooth and grain-free, with absolutely zero harshness and absolute coherence that has to be heard to be believed. Their incredible dynamics stand out in placing instruments not only relative to one another, but in absolute spaces of their own, and the center channel in particular has the ability to sound simultaneously powerful and distant, to help reproduce sounds like the timpani (typically at the rear of the orchestra) with their full timbre without overshadowing others or bleeding frequencies. These speakers are truly world-class, and anyone for whom sound takes precedence over looks should seriously consider the 212HT for any home system.

KEF Reference Center Channel Speaker - Runner Up

KEF's 204/2c is perhaps most notable for its pure levels of detail. While their sound reproduction is not as buttery smooth and well-rounded as the Noesis, they are incredibly precise and detailed, and lose out in levels of absolute detail only to Martin Logan's electrostats, while maintaining a much more natural, full sound. The extra warmth is appreciated when watching movies, which tend to benefit from a more enveloping presentation, and the KEF delivers on this note. It can easily help a matching system fill nearly any room with accurate, detailed sound that really does have to be heard to be believed.

While it can't quite match the smoothness of the Noesis, the KEFs do have an equally natural timbre, and can reproduce vocal dynamics in movies just as accurately, and with a slightly more precise feel; music lovers, however, will likely prefer the 212HT for its incredible smoothness and dynamic dexterity. The KEF can sound a tad harsh at times in comparison, but is also more detailed; to all but highly trained ears, this competition is probably a wash, and many people may prefer the more attractive 204/2c.

One drawback of the 204/2c is its size: not all home systems will be able to accommodate its monstrous nearly 4-foot width. However if you've got the space, this KEF is sure to please those looking for serious detail reproduction while maintaining a natural timbre.

Yamaha Center Channel Speaker - Honorable Mention

Bowers and Wilkins is easily the best-known name in the speaker game, and their 800D lives up to it. Anyone looking for wholly neutral, incredibly detailed sound will never be disappointed by B&W's top shelf, and their latest HTM2 center channel is no exception. Producing a clean, airy, neutral sound, the HTM2 takes detail to a new level, beating everything in this list except ML's Stage X and KEF's 204/2c. The HTM2 does suffer from some midrange shoutiness/harshness at its limits, and of course proper floor speakers and subs will be required to produce more of the sound to minimize distortion and grain from the center channel, but with its accompanying 800D setup, this is rarely a problem. B&W's house sound may be a touch bright for some; the HTM2 puts most of its power into mids, as a center channel should, but unlike most centers, it incorporates a separate tweeter for extra crispness. This extra detail is usually a welcome addition for critical listening involved in producing and mastering, which is what B&W advertises the 800D series for, but those looking for a home theater system with enveloping, smooth sound may be a little surprised by the extra treble. It certainly doesn't hinder detail or dynamics, but the sound is definitely brighter and more airy than most listeners will prefer for movies. True audiophiles and audio professionals, on the other hand, will likely be pleased with the slightly more aggressive sound, and those ready for the extra brightness will likely prefer these to other offerings in this list.

Martin Logan Motion 8i Center Channel Speaker - Consider

While dynamic speakers come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations, they have one common shortcoming that those with the most discerning ears will often comment upon: even the smallest, fastest dynamic speakers can be a bit slow when rendering complex music, especially orchestral passages with dozens of instruments and even more individual parts to be dissected. In the eardphone world, these ears opt for faster balanced armature earphones; the home audio world, however, draws its speed-freaks to electrostatic speakers. For these audiophiles with an absolute love of precision, Martin Logan has designed the Stage X.

Bass will never be a strength of electrostatic speakers; owners will tell you that this is what the subwoofer is for. Electrostats are capable of producing incredible image depth, detail, speed and dynamics, but they will never sound as full as dynamic speakers; the Stage X is no exception. Placement is also a very high consideration for electrostats; any home theater system should be tuned and placed by a professional or audiophile with a trained ear, but electrostatic speakers are even pickier about their space, requiring a larger room to sound their best and ample space from any potentially-interfering surfaces. Also please keep in mind that the "sweet spot," or ideal listening position, for electrostatic-based systems is typically very small, even when properly configured; sound will become unnatural to anyone not within the 2 or, at best, 3-person sitting space towards which the speakers are angled.

Electrostats are a huge pain, but Martin Logan makes the best, and anyone with the patience and ear (or money) to get the Stage X and its companions properly setup will be rewarded with unparalleled clarity and detail; just make sure you get a great woofer.

ELAC Debut 2.0 Center Channel Speaker - Best High End Center Channel Speaker

The Model One produces and excellent, neutral sound that will please nearly any listener, and is incredibly detailed and dynamic. Image depth is fantastic for the price, very nearly matching the offerings from KEF and JTR, and despite falling short of the total smoothness and refinement of the Noesis speakers, they still play in the same ballpark in terms of detail and dynamic presence. They are a bit darker than the B&Ws, so anyone looking for seriously crisp sound might want to steer clear, but the Model One easily shows up the HTM2 in terms of bass response; anyone looking for movie speakers or who just likes a little extra grip and thump should seriously consider the Totems.

Overall the Totem Model One has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, especially considering the competition here is double the price or more, and anyone looking for an attractive, truly high-end setup without spending the last few grand can rest easily with these.

Infinity PC351BK 5.25" 3-Way Passive Center Channel Speaker (Black) - Best Budget Center Channel Speaker

The Infinity Primus falls at the top end of what are consider "budget" speakers, with an entire 7.2 setup available for around $2000 and 5.1 for under $1500. The PC351 delivers a clear midrange that rarely sounds honky, and incorporates a dome tweeter for room-filling sound that doesn't require a professional ear to place and setup. The Primus's center channel delivers crisp, clear vocals and acceptable bass response that helps create a clear 3D image that puts it clearly ahead of other centers costing under $200. Its dual 5-inch woofers produce clear, tight bass that doesn't distort until volumes necessary to fill a very large room, over 600 square feet. The Infinite Primus system has a very smooth, warm, ear-pleasing sound and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with its easy-to-like presentation. It is very detailed for the price, and is likely to make most people looking to bring true surround sound to their home theater without breaking the bank very happy.

Klipsch Reference RC-42 II 75 W Speaker - Best Budget Center Channel Speaker

The Klipsch Reference RC-42 II and its associated setup, the Klipsch Reference II series, are easily some of the best speakers for the price, and deliver sound that is clearly a notch above other systems running under $1500 for a full 5.1 (closer to $2000 for 7.1). The RC-42 II, as a lower-end model in the Reference series, is a stand-out performer at its price point, delivering clear, easily intelligible vocals that won't be overshadowed by bass, and help create a 3D sonic image that is noticeably more realistic than other entry-level setups. It uses a horn speaker, which emphasizes the treble and midrange over other frequencies; some prefer this configuration as center channels are used primarily to convey speech, which is midrange-heavy, but some find it overly forward (sometimes "honky"); they might prefer the slightly smoother, more polite presentation of the Infinity. Horn speakers are more directional than domes, meaning that the optimal area for listening will be smaller, and requiring more careful placement for optimum sound However those with the patience for placement who are looking for a full-on, forward, movie-theater-esque experience will enjoy the power and immediacy of the Klipsch house sound.

Boston Acoustics Boston Acoustics A 225C Speaker - Best Budget Center Channel Speaker

Boston Acoustics' A series speakers are a well-known great value, and the 225C is the centerpiece of the setup. The design is low-key but classy and won't draw unnecessary attention to themselves. The sound is generally balanced, but doesn't have quite the same amount of bass as other centers in this review. It doesn't quite succeed in creating the same 3D realism that the more expensive sets from Infinity and Klipsch can, but it does add dimension to the sound and definitely gives dialogue and vocals extra body.

The whole A series setup does benefit from some burn in (~50-100 hours), so be sure to give the speakers some time to settle into their sound before fully judging their sound. Overall the 225C is a solid center channel with a low-key design that will please most listeners, and do justice to high-res music and DVD/BluRay soundtracks as well.

Polk Audio TL3 High Performance Center Channel Speaker - Black - Best Budget Center Channel Speaker

The TL3 center is integrated very well with the rest of the TL3 series speakers, and performs respectably for its price. The sound signature of the Polks is brighter than any other speaker listed here, edging out the Klipsch Reference by a small margin. This brightness helps create a noticeably wider soundstage than other setups in the same price range. Sibilance can be a problem at times, which also hurts the TL3's presentation depth a bit, but overall the sound is great and there are few other faults to be found. The design is very simple and discreet, and the system's presentation on the whole is low-key and attractive. Easily findable for under $200, the TL3 is a slightly brighter sounding center that should give listeners an exciting sound that performs especially well with movies.

Energy V-Mini C Center Speaker - Best Budget Center Channel Speaker

Energy speakers are well-regarded in both home and car audio, and the V-Mini C delivers on their reputation for providing solid budget options. The V-Mini is exceptional for both its size and price, and is a great choice for anyone looking to create a 5.1 bookshelf setup that won't overwhelm a small room. Sporting two woofers and a tweeter, the vocals are not as clear as with some larger center channels that incorporate mids or horns, but the sound is still very pleasing to the ears, and vocals will still be very well-defined in a small room. Those with larger spaces to fill will want to look elsewhere, as a bigger room with one or two subwoofers could easily drown out the vocals produced by the V-Mini; this is definitely a center for a smaller setup if you want to be sure to avoid the recessed movie dialogue that center channels are often seen as the cure for. The V-Mini does great with music, but again won't suit larger rooms as distortion will impact this smaller speaker before reaching necessary volumes to give a full sound for anything over ~250 square feet. Overall the V-Mini will do great in a small room, but don't expect it to replace something in the same league as the other models listed here.

Buyer's Guide

A center channel speaker can make or break the quality of the sound system in your room. Buying any gadget for your home is a big challenge, especially if you are not aware of the changes in trends and tech. This buying guide can help you pick the best center channel speakers that match the vibe of your room along with the specs of your current devices.

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Center Channel Speaker


Keep these few requirements in mind when buying a center channel speaker.

Sound quality and performance


This is possibly the most notable thing that comes to mind when looking for a speaker. You must go for a product that has a wide frequency range. This speaker focuses on providing clear sound to people who are in the room regardless of their direction.

Compatibility with the system


Purchasing the same model as your surround system helps develop a relatively pleasing look for your room. It also allows you to match the overall frequency to which sound comes out. The results depend on the quality of the speakers.

While the center and surround speakers from the same company blend perfectly, a large variety can create magic no matter what company they are paired with.

Quality of crossover


The performance of your center channel speaker depends on the crossover system. High-quality implementation of a crossover system creates coherent sounds. At the same time, poor quality can completely disrupt the audio-video coordination. A three-way speaker or stacked mid-range speaker is usually best to incorporate a quality system.

Sensitivity to surroundings


High sensitivity speakers focus on managing the surroundings. They eliminate any static noise in the background to make the sound clear and realistic while consuming less power.

Electricity requirement

The amount of power required to run a center channel speaker smoothly depends on its size and quality. To supply sufficient power to the speakers, you need to know their exact voltage requirement.

Intention of use


How you plan to use the speaker also plays a crucial role in using them. Your primary focus while picking one should be on sound quality, sensitivity, and where you plan to position the speaker.

What Are the Technical Specifications of a Center Channel Speaker?


To avoid confusion when your seller explains the technical terms, staying on top of them really helps. Here are the technical specifications for you to make a successful decision:

Configuration ratio


A combination of numbers that show the drivers present in the center channel speaker. In this case, the number before the decimal point indicates speakers installed in the system. Similarly, the numbers after the decimal point indicate additional drivers like woofers.

Impedance


Impedance is the resistance to which current passes through the device—the lower the impedance, the better the sound quality of the speakers. Make sure to compare a few before finalizing.

Dual-wire capacity


A speaker with two connectors needs two wires— one helps you generate high sound frequency while the other one promotes the sensitivity of the speaker.

What is the Basic Purpose of Installing a Center Channel Speaker?

Other than making your living room look contemporary, here are a few crucial reasons to install the best center channel speaker in your room:

Balance between visuals and audio


Most dialogues come out of the center channel speakers, while the supporting music and background sounds come from surrounding speakers. It produces clear dialogues and sound effects during a show or movie.

Sound balancing


A center channel speaker is essential to offer a perfect ratio between the left and the right speaker. It ensures impeccable sound across the entertainment system and provides a natural sound upon setting up.

Better listening experience


You can sit anywhere in the room without the need to change volume levels as a good center channel speaker can spread it evenly across the room.

Extended soundstage

A combination of woofers and tweeters in a center channel speaker can extend the soundstage making the sound reach every corner within a relevant range. They help optimize sound restrictions in a room, eradicate phantom sounds, and broaden the range of speakers.

Controlling each unit independently


Center channel speakers are an independent source of sound that produces high-quality sound according to your requirements. They adjust the volume of one side without disrupting the other and create a volume perfect for the room.

What is the Effect of Room Size, Content, and Seating on Sound Quality?

The sound perceived from one angle may affect how you hear it. Your perfect sound system may not be effective if there are certain changes made to the setup.

Here are a few things that have an impact on the quality of sound coming from a center channel speaker:

- If the initial room was small, shifting the speakers with the same settings in a larger room may not be as effective
- The contents placed in the room tend to absorb sound, and adding/eliminating items may affect the sound
- Using speakers in poor sanitary conditions is going to disrupt the quality of sound as they might get filled with dirt and debris

Final Thoughts


A center channel speaker is one of the most significant components of your entertainment system. It helps distribute equal sound to every part of the room.

You can adjust a center channel speaker according to your requirements. Regardless of the use, the right one will deliver high-quality sound while eliminating any surrounding disruptions.

There are many properties and technical specifications to consider when picking the best channel speaker for your room. Other than its ability to offer you a premium quality experience, it can also improve and modernize the overall look of your room.

Center Channel Speaker FAQs

Q: What is the most desirable center channel speaker?

A: Three-way designs are the most desirable and offer better sound quality.

Q: How do I connect a center channel speaker?

A: Connect a non-supplied speaker cable to the connection ports of your AV receiver and TV, and you are good to go.

Q: Is using more than one center channel speaker helpful?

A: No, using more than one center channel speaker can distort the quality of sound. Purchase one high-quality center channel speaker instead.

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