If you have decided to move from your stereo system to a new surround sound system you need to know that having a good center channel speaker is pretty important.

Stereo Systems and Center Channel Speakers

Initially, the stereo audio was created to divide the current audio to two separate channels – left and right. And while some sounds come specifically from the left and others from the right speaker, the dialogues and main vocals are usually mixed and delivered from both speakers. This is good enough to create an effect that the sounds are coming from the imaginary center between the right and left speaker. However, there is a much better solution in the form of surround sound and center channel speakers.

Surround Sound Systems and Center Channel Speakers

While the stereo system has only the left and the right speaker, a surround sound system generally comes in a 5.1 form. This means there are five speakers and one subwoofer. Out of these five speakers, two are front speakers (left and right), two surround speakers (left and right) and a dedicated center channel speaker.

Since most movies today are mastered in 5.1 audio then the surmount sound system will clearly distribute the sounds around the room, but the vocals and dialogues will come primarily from the dedicated center channel speaker.

Here are its main key points:

  • The volume of the center channel speaker can be adjusted separately for the other speakers. This is excellent in cases when the vocals or dialogues are too low or too high.
  • The listening experience will become more flexible if you have a dedicated center channel speaker. We have already mentioned the center point of the listener in a stereo setup. Compact center channel speakers can be easily positioned in the center, just below the TV or projector screen. So, the listener can move around and he or she will still have the feeling that the dialogues and vocals are coming from the center position, just like in the real world.

Surround Sound System Without a Channel Speaker

In case your surround sound system doesn’t have a center channel speaker for some reason, it is possible to notify the home theater receiver that this speaker is not in the system.

When you use this option, the receiver will send the audio reserved for the center channel speaker to the front-left and front-right speakers just like in the stereo setup we have mentioned before. Although this solution isn’t perfect, it will do the job just fine, but with all the disadvantages of a stereo setup. At the same time, you won’t be able to control the volume of the center channel separately from the other speakers in the system.

Center Channel Speakers: Summary

If you have decided to switch from the stereo system to a full surround sound system here are the things you have to keep in mind:

  1. A center channel speaker makes the dialogues and vocals come from the center no matter where you are positioned as a listener.
  2. You can adjust the volume of the center channel speaker independently from the other speakers in the system.
  3. If you are buying a center channel speaker make sure it is similar to the front left and right speakers in the system. They have to complement each other.
  4. A horizontal center channel speaker will make it easier for you to place it just below the TV or projector screen. At the same time, it will be at equal distance from the front left and right speakers.


(Header Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay)

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