Finding the best center channel speakers for dialogue can make watching movies and TV shows a lot more enjoyable.
They play an important role in the overall setup of your home theater and having poor channel speakers – or none at all – will make it difficult to make out dialogue on your TV.
As you’re in the market for center channel speakers, we have all the information you need.
We’ll look at things to consider before you make a purchase, the 7 best center channel speakers on the market and we’ll answer some frequently asked questions too.
First, let’s look at how center channel speakers work.
- 1 What are center channel speakers?
- 2 What to look for when buying center channel speakers?
- 3 7 Best Center Channel Speakers for Dialogue in 2021
- 4 Polk Audio Signature Series S35
- 5 Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Home Speaker
- 6 Klipsch RP-250C Center Channel Speaker
- 7 Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Andrew Jones Home Audio Center Channel Speaker
- 8 Cerwin-Vega SL-45C Quad 5 1/4″ Center Channel Speaker
- 9 ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 Center Speaker
- 10 Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions about Center Channel Speakers
- 12 Which is the Best Center Channel Speakers for Dialogue?
What are center channel speakers?
A center channel speaker is one of the most vital parts of your audio setup. In fact, it does the majority of the work so you get crystal clear sound.
When you are watching a movie or putting on a TV show on Netflix, most of the dialogue and sound is to the center of the screen. A center channel speaker is what emits this sound so it is very important for an all-around great audio experience.
While you can use a surround sound system without a center channel speaker, it isn’t going to be as good. You might find some dialogue and sounds difficult to make out.
In terms of placement, it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to know what a center channel speaker is placed in the center of your home audio system.
However, you also need to make sure that it is placed at ear level if possible so you get the best sound quality. Put it too low and can make dialogue hard to make out and will distort the overall sound. This is similar to how you place a soundbar.
What to look for when buying center channel speakers?
Now you know how important having a center channel speaker is, let’s have a look at things you need to consider before making a purchase.
It sounds quite obvious but looking into how channel speakers actually perform is an important step before buying.
One thing you should look at is the frequency range. It is best to look at a speaker that has a wide frequency range because this will ensure clear audio, especially with dialogue. It means that people sitting directly in front of the speaker as well as those that aren’t facing it will get a good audio experience.
Something else to think about is the actual size of the channel speaker itself.
The amount of space you have available to house it is going to determine how big or small a speaker you can have. Just because a center channel speaker is pretty small in size doesn’t necessarily mean its performance is poorer than a bigger model.
This also relates to how big a room you are putting your speakers in. As we’ve seen before, some speakers for small rooms are more than adequate for the space you have and actually provide as good an experience as physically larger speakers.
Even though performance and audio quality are the main things most people look at with any type of speakers, aesthetics can be important too.
If you are going for a specific design in your living room then you will want a center channel speaker to match it. This is especially true if you have surround speakers already there. You won’t want to mess up the aesthetic of the speaker system by buying a center channel speaker that looks really out of place.
While the look of the speaker might not always be high up on your list, give it some consideration. You don’t want to purchase one and then have to return it because it really messes up the design of your home.
As your center channel speaker is going to need to link up to your wider audio set up, you need to make sure that it is actually compatible with everything else.
This isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Even if you buy from the same company as the rest of your home theater, compatibility isn’t always assured. As you probably don’t want to have to return a center channel speaker because it doesn’t integrate properly, make sure to do your research first.
If it isn’t clear that the speaker you are thinking of buying works with your surround sound system, contact customer service to be on the safe side. Most speakers that are of the same brand should be compatible with each other but it is always best to check it out anyway.
Sensitivity is another important specification to consider with a center channel speaker.
It relates to how loud the speaker is going to be. Usually, you will see this laid out in decibels (dB) on the specifications section for each speaker.
The average sensitivity is usually around 88db however you can find lower and higher sensitivity ratings. You shouldn’t just choose a speaker based on its sensitivity rating but it should be taken into consideration. Other factors can impact what speaker you go for in regards to its sensitivity such as the size of the room and how loud you need the audio to be.
Finally, you will need to consider your budget before you choose a speaker and make a purchase.
Center channel speakers can vary in price depending on the brand, the specifications of the speaker and also where you buy it from. The best advice is to set a budget and stick to it. This means you won’t be overspending but you will be getting a speaker that you can afford.
There are channel speakers available to suit all budgets and don’t feel the need to opt for the most expensive because it might not necessarily be what you need.
7 Best Center Channel Speakers for Dialogue in 2021
If you are keen to improve the quality of dialogue through your home theater system, we have a list of the 7 best center channel speakers you can buy.
We’ve included a range of different center channel speakers to suit all budgets.
Polk Audio Signature Series S35
It offers dual-port technology which has an extended bass port, this helps to boost dialogue and cut down on any voice distortion. This channel speaker offers good bass as well.
Its versatility is a big bonus as it is compatible with 2.0, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1 and 9.1 setups. The speaker itself is actually quite compact so you shouldn’t have issues finding somewhere for it to sit and placement is easy.
Overall this is a great center channel speaker which offers crystal clear dialogue and an overall great audio experience.
- Offers clear dialogue and all-round great audio
- Compatible with a range of different setups
- Compact so no issues with finding space
- Pretty affordable and good value for money
- Can have a little excess bass at times
- Frequency response: 53 Hz -40 kHz
- Power: 20-150 W
- Sensitivity: 88dB
- Dimensions: 6.1″ x 24.4″ x 4.1″ inches
Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Home Speaker
The second speaker on our list is the Klipsch R-52C Center Channel Home Speaker.
Like Polk, Klipsch are a very well-known and high-quality brand that produce a wide range of great audio equipment. This center channel speaker uses a Tractrix Horn to ensure sound is equally dispersed and does a very good job to improve dialogue.
It comes with two 5.25” woofers and is actually very affordable given the high-quality nature of the product. We also really like how this channel speaker actually looks as well, it provides a great aesthetic that will fit in with any kind of home design.
There isn’t a lot of dislike about this speaker. It could perhaps do with a bit more power as we needed to raise the volume up more than we thought but it is a minor complaint.
- Provides very clear dialogue
- Affordable piece of audio equipment
- Has a great look and design
- Emits a balanced sound
- Feels like it could be a bit more powerful
- Frequency response: 89Hz – 21kHz
- Power: 400w
- Sensitivity: 95dB
- Dimensions: 7.62” x 18.75” x 7.3” inches
Klipsch RP-250C Center Channel Speaker
Keeping with the Klipsch brand, the Klipsch RP-250C Center Channel Speaker is a bit more expensive than the R-52C.
It also uses a Tractrix Horn to provide high-quality acoustic and helps to improve dialogue. The speaker does a very good job at enhancing speech and lyrics. It comes with two woofers as well as dual linear travel suspension (LTS) which is there to cut down on sound distortion with the bass.
The actual construction is good and it is a very solidly built piece of equipment. Design-wise it doesn’t stray very far from the R-52C which isn’t a bad thing at all. It is also around the same size so pretty compact and easy to find somewhere to house it.
Some people have said a subwoofer is needed as well to help out with the bass and the cost might put you off. That being said, it is a very good center channel speaker that greatly improves dialogue.
- Provides clear dialogue and improves audio quality
- Made by a well-known brand
- Powerful with high performance
- Solidly built with a nice aesthetic
- May need a subwoofer for bass
- Is a bit expensive
- Frequency response: 60 Hz -25 kHz
- Power: 100-400W
- Sensitivity: 96dB
- Dimensions: 10 x 18.5 x 6.9 inches
Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Andrew Jones Home Audio Center Channel Speaker
Moving on from Klipsch and onto the Pioneer Elite SP-EC73 Andrew Jones Home Audio Center Channel Speaker.
Price-wise it is in and around the same as the RP-250C and this channel speaker offers a few unique features. One is an aluminum woofer and passive radiator. This helps to achieve better sound quality by eliminating excess air while it helps to achieve good bass too.
Dialogue is really clear with this speaker and this is further assisted with the complex crossover which blends audio seamlessly between the woofer and tweeter. This speaker is also compatible with Atmos and DTS: X applications.
All in, a great center channel speaker that offers a lot even given the price.
- Helps to make audio clearer and better quality
- Comes with several unique features
- Well designed and looks the part
- We weren’t massively sold on the design
- Frequency response: 45 Hz- 20 kHZ
- Power: 140W
- Sensitivity: 85dB
- Dimensions: 9.7 x 19.5 x 7.4 inches
Cerwin-Vega SL-45C Quad 5 1/4″ Center Channel Speaker
Coming in a bit cheaper than some of the other speakers we’ve listed so far, the Cerwin-Vega SL-45C Quad 5 1/4″ Center Channel Speaker offers very good sound quality.
For improving dialogue in a home theater set up, it does what you need it to do. It has Quad 5 1/4″ drivers for clear audio while its overall design cuts down on resonate noise.
This is a very compatible center channel speaker and it will work and integrate with a wide variety of different amps.
It isn’t perfect and if you are after a high-end system you might want to look at other speakers. However, for the cost and what it delivers, we are pretty impressed with the results.
- Good at improving dialogue and speech
- Delivers decent bass without being overpowering
- Offers a high-frequency response
- Very good value for money
- The sound isn’t as good as some other speakers
- Could be a bit clearer with certain audio
- Frequency response: 55 Hz -26 kHz
- Power: 300W (peak)
- Sensitivity: 89dB
- Dimensions: 6.52 x 27.58 x 7 inches
ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 Center Speaker
The ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2 Center Speaker is pretty basic in its design but it is something we quite like about it.
It offers a good frequency response so it performs well across various audio. The woofer provides decent bass and its features are tailor-made to enhance dialogue as well as overall sound.
This is a pretty powerful channel speaker so if you have a medium or large room it will fit in really well and provide loud and crisp audio. For anyone that is after a fairly mid-range speaker with good features and a basic design, this ticks all the boxes.
- Provides good frequency response
- Created to enhance speech and vocals
- Ideal for medium and large rooms
- Quite large in its dimensions
- Frequency response: 55Hz – 35kHz
- Power: 120 Watts
- Sensitivity: 87dB
- Dimensions: 21.25 x 7.09 x 8.62 inches
Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker
We’re going to finish with the Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker.
This is the perfect choice if you are on a strict budget. While many channel speakers don’t necessarily cost a ton of money, if you need to really stick to a budget, the CS10 is significantly cheaper than any other speaker on our list.
It still offers a good audio experience. It comes with two 5 ½ balance drivers in addition to a 1 inch dome tweeter. The overall design is good as well while it does what it needs to do in order to produce crystal clear audio.
This speaker is quite versatile in terms of its positioning and will suit rooms with different layouts. You won’t need a lot of space to house it either and it has a unique reversible design. This means you can actually flip it upside down although this can impact the audio.
- Very good budget option
- Has unique reversible design
- Will improve vocals and speech
- Lacks a midrange driver
- Doesn’t offer great bass
- Frequency response: 53 Hz-25 kHz
- Power: 20-125W
- Sensitivity: 91dB
- Dimensions: 9.8 x 20 x 6.5 inches
Frequently Asked Questions about Center Channel Speakers
Answer: A center channel speaker plays an important role in your whole home theatre set up. It helps to create a balance between the left and right speakers while also working to provide clear dialogue and speech.
Answer: Sometimes. It really depends on the compatibility of the center channel speaker and the other speakers you have in your setup. Some will be compatible with any brand while others will be more limited.
Answer: Yes. Room size doesn’t really matter when it comes to whether or not you need a center channel speaker. The goal is to provide audio balance and improve dialogue even at low volumes. There are certain center channel speakers that are ideal for smaller spaces.
Answer: No. While power can be important especially if you have a large space to fill with audio, this isn’t the only thing you should look for. Also consider the overall performance of the speaker, how compatible it is with other speakers, its design as well as sensitivity and cost.
Answer: It isn’t recommended. Firstly, a soundbar has a different purpose than a center channel speaker and secondly, it probably won’t provide the audio you want and can actually damage the rest of your set up. It is better to get a dedicated center channel speaker.
Answer: Ideally, it should sit underneath or above your TV and it should sit at ear level. You can also tilt your speaker so that the sound is firing at the right angle. It can take a while to get the right position for your center channel speaker.
Answer: Compared to some other speakers and home audio systems, no. While you can get center channel speakers that are pretty pricey you will also find speakers to suit every budget. Do your research first, set a budget and try to stick to this cost as much as you can.
Which is the Best Center Channel Speakers for Dialogue?
Improving the dialogue from your TV can make all the difference to how much you enjoy your favorite shows or films.
Having a good center channel speaker will do wonders to help with this. In fact, it will also help to improve the overall sound coming from your audio system and create a more balanced performance.
We’ve listed 7 of the best center channel speakers for dialogue but how do we choose the best? Well, we’re going to give you two options.
If you do have a bit of money to spend then we’d recommend going with the Polk Audio Signature Series S35. There really isn’t much bad to say about this center channel speaker. While the bass can be a little excessive on occasion, it has a lot of pros’. This includes its versatility as it is compatible with 2.0, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1 setups.
It does a great job improving dialogue with crystal clear sound and removing voice distortion. We like how it actually looks as well.
For anyone that is on a bit of a tight budget, opt for the Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker. It is a good bit cheaper than most of the speakers on our list but it still offers very good performance. While it lacks a mid-range driver and the bass isn’t great, it does improve dialogue and overall audio.
The unique reversible design means you can flip it to get the best angle and positioning. Overall, it is a decent center channel speaker for a lot less money than you would probably think.