How Important is a Center Channel Speaker?

Creating a surround sound system is what really makes the home theater movie a real experience. I know you have been wondering whether you can do without the center channel speaker. Well, if you intend to create a surround sound with the special effects explosion, here is why.

The center channel speaker is important in a surround sound system because it is the most important speaker in the home theater. it does up to 90% of the work by ensuring most of the action and conversation in the movie come from the scene right in front of you by reproducing the audiovisual dialogue.

Without the center channel speaker, the other two front speakers, thus the left and right front speakers will have to split the audio information which might come out not clear and the way you want it.

How Important is a Center Channel Speaker

The only instance you may not need a center channel speaker is when you choose to use a soundbar or a simpler system like a 2 channel system.

Even though these may work for you with music, if you are ready to upgrade to a 5.1 home theater, you will need a center speaker to create that movie-watching environment in your home.

What is a Center Channel Speaker?

A center channel speaker also referred to as the center channel for short is the audio channel which is mostly or fully dedicated to reproducing the audio and visual dialogue coming from the screen.

The center channel is common to many surround sound formats. This is the speaker you will often find right at the center of the home theater system close to the projection screen or TV.

It is best placed or positioned close below or above the screen.  You want it to be closed to the screen for the dialogue to sound as though it is coming from the screen.

In an instance where only music is placed, the center channel will only reproduce the sound such as lead vocals( these really pan to the left or right) that you as the listener is supposed to hear right in front of you.

What Does Center Channel Speaker Do?

In a  basic surround sound system which is a 5.1 setup, the center channel speaker is very important as already established above. A 5.1 surround sound system includes;  three front speakers( left speaker. right speaker and the center channel speaker)
The left and right speakers are placed to the left and right respectively.  The center speaker is positioned either above or below the screen and closed to it.
center channel speaker
Here are some of the functions of a center channel speaker in a surround sound system. Maybe this will make you understand its importance in a home system better.

Audiovisual Dialog

The center channel’s purpose is to reproduce the dialog in the movie to make it clearer to the listener. Watching a movie where you can’t hear what is been said is not enjoyable.

It reproduces the sound effect as well. It has the same frequency response as the other speakers in the system.

Sound Balance

Have you ever had an instance with a system where the sound is either coming from the left or right speaker?. Well, there is a high probability you didn’t have a center channel connected properly or you didn’t connect one at all.

Another purpose of the center channel is to provide the perfect balance between the right and left speakers. This makes the sound from all your speakers appear seamless and natural.

Flexible Listening Position

When you setting up your surround system, mostly you reference their placement to the sweet spot which is the listening chair.

With a center channel in place, you can shift your listening position around and the sound will still appear to come from the center screen. The sweet spot is more ideal but you have more flexibility with a center channel in place.

Wide Sound Range

Center channels have different levels. The very best center channel speaker will have multiple tweeters and woofers to help broaden the sound and at the same time allow you to optimize for sound localization.

They also help eliminate any phantom sounds that otherwise would have been experienced in any speaker that is not precisely placed.

Independence Controls

The center channel can be controlled as a stand-alone unit independent of the other speakers. You can control things like the volume without necessarily controlling the volume of the other speakers in your setup.

This brings us to the question:

Can I Use Center Channel Speaker Alone?

Now that we have established that a home theater system isn’t complete without a center channel speaker.

Next, the question arises whether you can use the center channel speaker alone?. The answer is YES. You can use the center channel speaker alone on its own as your speaker and you will still get high-quality sound. However, it depends on the quality of the center speaker you pick.

For those who might be curious whether you can use the center channel alone for music, it is important to understand that most songs are recorded in stereo sound. What this means is that it only utilizes the right and left channel speakers.

So, the answer to your question; whether you can use the center channel for the music alone is probably. You will have to set the surround sound settings to recognize stereo in order to get the best out of the music.

Choosing a Center Channel Speaker

In order to get the best with your money, you want to invest in a center channel that you will get the best out of. Here are some tips to guide you in choosing a center channel.

Focus on High-Performance Drivers and Tweeters

The quality of these devices in your center channel makes a lot of difference in the audiovisual dialogue you hear. You don’t want your entertainment time to be distracted by muddy dialogue or not audible voices when you are in your home theater.

The quality of the engineering inside the center channel speaker enables you to get the sound and details with precision. You will be to hear everything been said or played with high-performance drivers and tweeters.

The Cabinet Counts

The enclosure materials and design of the center channel affect the clarity as well. Do not only focus on the electronics inside the gadget. The interference from the enclosure can make dialogue difficult to hear or even affect the imagery.

Opt for a cabinet that is built to reduce distortion and allow for total immersion in music and movies. A highly rigid enclosure with an acoustically transparent grille will allow for a full range of sound to reach your listening area.

Seating Arrangement and Room Size

Depending on how big your room is, you will choose the center channel accordingly. If you have a bigger room, the bigger the speakers the better. The angle you are seated at can also affect the quality of sound you hear.

This is because a lot of sound lobbing happens before the sound gets to you and the quality of the sound waves gets affected.

Add Low-End Power to Your System

A center channel that allows you to integrate a subwoofer brings you the full force of low-frequency sounds. So, it is a plus when the channel is able to offer a range of frequency response.

This makes it blend seamlessly with other speakers in your home theater system.

Final Thoughts

The importance of a center channel speaker can not be underrated in a surround home theater system. It is the workhorse of the whole setup. It does the majority of the work by ensuring you get good quality surround sound in your setup.

If unless you opt for a soundbar system or a much cheaper 2.1 system, then you need to add a center channel to your home theater. It might cost you a little be of money. But the sound quality will be much better with one.



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