- Unsatisfied with the clarity of dialog in your home theater system?
- Upgrading your center channel is the best way to fix that.
- We list the seven best models to complement your surround sound home system
- Tips & commonly asked questions are included at the end
Whether you are an avid audiophile, movie fanatic, gaming fan, or simply love quality surround sound, the chances are high that you can benefit from a good center channel speaker.
There are a plethora of center speaker channels available today, making it tricky to decide which may be best for you. We’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the best center channel speakers for you to explore and unpack.
The criteria for selecting the best center channel speakers was based on:
- Strong presence and clarity for dialog and mono signals across all media formats (movies, gaming and music listening)
- Compatibility with most surround sound setups (definitely check with yours before you buy)
- Ease of installation when connecting them up to a home amplifier or AV receiver
- Excellent overall build quality and reliability across various price points
Short attention span? We got you. Check out the 7 Best Center Channel Speakers visual story guide!
What Are The Best Center Channel Speakers?
As your budgets and needs will vary wildly from person to person, the best center channel speaker is not a one-size-fits-all affair. However, these seven models listed below will suit various home and professional requirements:
- JBL Arena 125c (Our Pick)
- Polk Audio T30 Center Channel Speaker (Best Value)
- Klipsch RP – 504C (Premium Option)
- Sony SSCS8 2- Way 3 Driver
- Definitive Technology Procenter 1000 (Best Low Profile Center Channel Speaker)
- Paradigm Monitor SE 2000 C
- Pioneer SP-C22
You can also read this article in web story format. Check out our visual guide to the best center channel speakers here.
1. JBL Arena 125c
The JBL Arena 125C's 2-way center channel loudspeaker's dual 5.5” (140mm) woofers, rear-firing tuned ports, and HDI waveguide provide lifelike clarity and accuracy.
- Highly reliable mid-to-low end response
- Enhanced HDI function
- Great for home, studio, or office
- Power: 75 Watts
- Sensitivity: 96dB
- Weight: 18 lbs
- Driver Diameter: 2 x 5.5’’’ Woofers, 1×1’’ Tweeter
- Frequency Range: 90 Hz – 40 kHz
JBL has grown an admirable reputation for manufacturing some of the most reliable and enjoyable sound systems for a variety of industries.
Their Arena 125C Center channel speaker combines the company’s definitive design traits with generous affordability.
The speaker houses an impressive set of 5.25 ‘’ woofers that deliver highly reliable mid-to-low end response.
The speaker is manufactured using JBL’s signature sound profiling and is modeled on the excellent JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor.
The Arena 125c also comes with an enhanced HDI function to improve the resolution and quality of downsampled information.
This feature can be hugely beneficial when listening to low-quality audio mixes.
The JBL Arena 125c works very well when paired with the JBL 170 as left and right speakers. This center channel speaker is great for home, office, or studio use.
2. Polk Audio T30 Center Channel Speaker
The T30 is the center channel speaker that puts its overpriced competitors to shame.
- Built To Last
- Weighty low end
- Value for money
- Power: 100 Watts
- Sensitivity: 90dB
- Weight: 18 lbs
- Driver Diameter: 2 x 5.25’’’ Mid/Woofers, 1×1’’ Tweeter
- Frequency Range: 55 Hz – 24 kHz
Polk is a US-based audio equipment company releasing competitive speaker systems since the early 1970s.
They offer considerably powerful, reliable speaker setups for their asking price, and their T30 center channel speaker offers terrific value for money.
The T30 delivers a noticeably balanced frequency response with a weighty low end.
The T-30 has more than enough power for large rooms and doesn’t over-compress audio when pushed to high volumes.
Fans of vintage speaker models should enjoy the classic minimal aesthetic of the T30’s finish.
This speaker forms part of Polk’s T series, which includes a handful of stereo speakers that can pair with the T30 for a complete home theater setup.
3. Klipsch RP – 504C
Redesigned from the ground up, the Reference Premiere series leverages over 70 years of Klipsch signature acoustic expertise with cutting-edge technology to deliver the ultimate home theater solution.
- Crystal clear sound
- Punchy and stylish
- 600 watt power capacity
- Power: 600 Watts
- Sensitivity: 97dB
- Weight: 34 lbs
- Driver Diameter: 2 x 5.25’’’ Woofers, 1×1’’ Tweeter
- Frequency Range: 58 Hz – 25 kHz
Some users may seek a top-of-the-range center channel speaker for maximum loudness and luxury.
The Klipsch RP-504C more than delivers in both of these areas and is one of the best-looking and sounding center channel speakers on this list.
The key to the RP-504C’s immense power is its generous power capacity, peaking at a mighty 600 watts.
This power is backed by four 5.25’’ Cerametallic subwoofers and a 1’’ titanium vented tweeter.
The Rp-504C can fill up large spaces with ease and has a max sensitivity of 97 dB, which is more than enough volume for loud house party music, or intense cinematic viewing.
Each speaker cone comes with a copper trim ring to give the RP 504c an extremely classy finish.
To add to the allure, Klipsch offers this center channel speaker in piano black ebony and walnut cabinet.
This speaker weighs in at a hefty 34 lbs, which means it may be a bit too heavy for certain users to handle or install safely.
The Klipsch Rp-504C may cost considerably more than most center channel speakers, but its quality matches its asking price.
Anyone looking for a ridiculously punchy speaker with a touch of style should consider this model as a serious option.
4. Sony SSCS8 2- Way 3 Driver
At first listen, the Sony SSCS8 will make your favorite audio tracks unfold throughout your listening environment, thanks to precise instrument reproduction, positioning, and even depth relative to an expansive soundstage.
- Exquisite sound profiling
- Wide Dispersion Super Tweeter
- Crystal clear frequency response
- Power: 290 Watts
- Sensitivity: 88 dB
- Weight: 12.3 lbs
- Driver Diameter: 2 x 4.’’’ Woofers, 1×1’’ Tweeter
- Frequency Range: 55 Hz – 25 kHz
Sony has always had a knack for designing incredibly reliable home entertainment systems, whether it be for audio or visual purposes.
Their Sony SS CS8 packs a surprising amount of power and drive inside its unassuming minimalist housing.
The speaker’s 2-way speaker design comprises two 4’’ woofers backed by a 1’’ tweeter.
The sound profiling on the Sony SS CS8 is exquisite, and the speaker delivers a crystal clear frequency response, even when pushed to its maximum capacity.
The Sony SS CS8 is specifically designed to be compatible with a large range of 5.1 surround sound systems, and can easily be connected to most home amplifiers for instant use.
Anyone that enjoys the immersive qualities of movie surround sound should truly enjoy the impact and dynamic that the Sony SS CS8 delivers.
5. Definitive Technology Procenter 1000
Carrying as much as 75% of a movie’s soundtrack, this powerful center channel loudspeaker lets you enjoy intelligible dialog and lifelike details.
- Experience-enhancing sound
- Compact and lightweight
- Built-in wall-mount
- Power: Undisclosed
- Sensitivity: 90 dB
- Weight: 7 lbs
- Driver Diameter: 2 x 4.’’ Woofers, 1×1’’ Tweeter
- Frequency Range: 47 Hz – 30 kHz
Definitive Audio has a healthy selection of slick-looking speaker sound systems.
Their ProCenter 1000 center channel speaker carries a compact design with sufficient volume and quality for use at work or home.
The speaker features a considerably wide frequency response, especially around the bottom end of the spectrum.
Dual 4.5’’ bass radiators give the Pioneer 1000 serious body and character to sub frequencies.
A single Pro 1000 weighs just 7lbs, which makes it incredibly easy to handle or move around for placement.
The speaker includes an optional built-in wall-mount for easy installation.
Don’t mistake its lightweight design for weakness, this low-profile center channel speaker provides dense, clear audio playback with no distortion or erosion at high volume levels.
6. Paradigm Monitor SE 2000 C
The stylish and affordable new Monitor SE Series is the perfect introduction to the world of high-performance audio.
- Two high-performance subwoofers
- Vintage aesthetic
- Superb modern sound
- Power: 90 Watts
- Sensitivity: 93 dB
- Weight: 19 lbs
- Driver Diameter: Undisclosed
- Frequency Range: 65 Hz – 21 kHz
Paradigm’s Monitor SE 2000c is part of the company’s premier monitor range and is one of the classiest sounding speakers in its price bracket.
This center channel speaker features two high-performance subwoofers and is topped with an X-Pal aluminum tweeter.
The speaker features a vintage aesthetic but is compatible with a wide span of modern surround sound speakers outside of its brand.
Certain users may notice a slight bit of audio over-compression on this speaker when it is turned to high volume levels, and this may be an issue for audio-intensive listeners.
The overall frequency response from this center channel speaker is relatively even, although it lacks a bit of prominence in the mid-range.
The speaker weighs just 19 lbs, which means it should be fairly easy for most users to place or install.
The Paradigm Monitor SE 2000 C is available in three stunning gloss matte finish options: Black, white and blue.
7. Pioneer SP-C22
The SP-C22 gives you incredible design with amazing sound quality.
- Striking sound
- Designed by Andrew Jones
- Twin 4’’ subwoofers
- Power: 90 Watts
- Sensitivity: 88 dB
- Weight: 13.7 lbs
- Driver Diameter: 2 x 4’’ Woofers, 1 X 1’’ Tweeter
- Frequency Range: 55 Hz – 20 kHz
The Pioneer SP C22 is designed by acclaimed speaker designer Andrew Jones, a man that is largely responsible for bringing the company its initial success.
The speaker features twin 4’’ subwoofers alongside a classic soft-dome 1’’ tweeter.
The speaker works best in a tabletop mount configuration and provides a rich full frequency response.
Its combination of clarity and quality makes this speaker a prime choice for anyone that needs a center channel for intensive audio listening purposes.
These users could include DJ producers or sound engineers that require a flat frequency response for adequate mixing.
While this speaker might not be the most powerful center channel speaker on this list, it is one of the best soundings.
Quick Tips For Using Center Channel Speakers
- Speaker placement will play a considerable role in the playback quality of your home theater systems. Ensure that your center channel sits right in the middle of your speaker setup with even spacing between left and right speakers.
- Use as little connection cable as possible when linking your speaker to the amplifier. The longer your speaker cable, the more power your amp has to emit reliable sound quality. Most speaker setups require a 14-gauge electric cable for efficient power transmission.
- A single subwoofer should generally provide sufficient bass for a balanced playback on most home theater systems. Place your subwoofer in the same areas as your center channel speaker. Center channel speakers often perform best when placed directly above a subwoofer for a balanced stereo image.
- When placing your center channel speaker, keep other objects as far away from the front as possible. You want to create as much space as possible in front of your center channel speaker to avoid obstructing playback and causing unwanted acoustic reflections.
- Try to keep your speakers in an area that is free from excessive amounts of dust, moisture, and smoke. These factors all shorten the lifespan of the average speaker.
Can you use any speaker for the center channel?
No. Center channel speakers come with a specific configuration that allows them to adequately process audio directly from the center channel feed from a mixer or amplifier.
Using other speakers will result in a diminished audio playback quality or a lack of audio information during playback,
Can you use a center speaker alone?
While you can use a center channel speaker for certain movies, music, or games, you won’t be able to receive a true stereo image and full-quality audio without the addition of left and right speakers.
Specific playback devices can be configured to exclusively send the entire audio feed through the center channels speaker.
Can I replace the center channel speaker with a soundbar?
Yes, it is possible to substitute your center channel speaker with a soundbar. However in most instances, we don’t recommend it as soundbars are often designed to be all-in-one solutions with their own upwards firing drivers, side-firing drivers and incorporate Dolby Atmos surround which may conflict with your existing surround sound setup.
You must connect your soundbar with its appropriate connection (HDMI, RCA, etc) and then configure your playback device accordingly.
Is a center channel good for music?
By themselves, center channel speakers will provide clear, defined sound, but you won’t experience its full stereo width (the way its intended to be listened to).
Center channel speakers are an excellent option for music listening when used in conjunction with the compatible left and right surround sound speakers.
There you have it– 7 of the best center channel speakers currently on the market. Ultimately, which one you set your heart on will depend on your budget and the needs of your existing setup. Your primary goal should be to match the rest of your setup in terms of size, power, and sound profile for a balanced, reliable listening experience.
More expensive often does mean better, but bear in mind that “best” is often subjective to your own personal tastes. Where possible, try to listen to them in person before buying, but also keep in mind that they may sound different in the store compared to your own space.
If we’ve missed a center channel speaker that we should’ve included, let us know in the comments down below. Happy shopping.
Up next check out 2-Way Vs 3-Way Speakers: Differences & Which Is Right For You