Getting the ultimate surround sound experience from your home theater is no easy task. You can spend a fortune on a flashy home theater and yet get crappy sound quality that just can’t tell the right speaker from the left. Right? So, what could be missing? The perfect link between all the surround speakers that balances the sound, maybe? Yes, you guessed it right, a center channel speaker! But, how would you know which one is best suited for your home? By going through our review of the best center channel speakers, of course!
Carefully picked from the depths of the Internet, down below are seven of the best center channel speakers of 2018 that you must check out! We have handpicked them keeping in mind the budget constraints some of you may face. Don’t worry, there are many premium speakers too for those who are willing to shell out more bucks.
So, are you ready to find out the best center channel speakers that will add a dash of ethereal flair to your home theater’s surround sound experience? Let’s get started.
7 Best Center Channel Speakers of 2018 Reviewed with Buying Guide
1) Polk Audio CS10 (Best overall center channel speaker)
Reputed audio products maker, Polk Audio has introduced the CS10 Center Channel Speaker as the answer to every professional and audiophile’s problems. It has built the CS10 as a sturdy and stylish speaker that can stand the test of time, but does it provide the right sound? We find out.
First thing that we noticed about this speaker was its small size. But, the size has nothing to do with the compact performance it provides. The CS10 has a solid frequency response rate of 63-24,000 HZ, and comes packed with two lightweight yet stiff dynamic balance drivers. These drivers, to our mind, are very crucial since they help reduce distortion, provide good dampening and further enrich the sound.
Speaking of sound, we were completely overwhelmed by the sonic pleasure that this speaker can proffer. To start with, the rich and deep bass tones that it produced were good enough to get us buzzing. Whether you’re watching a flick or listening to any genre of music – be it rock, metal or even hip-hop and EDM, the bass will simply work its charm on you.
Coming on to the treble and mids, the mids sound crystal clear and clean, while the treble peaks at the right spots. We personally feel, they will sound great when you put on some classic Led Zeppelin basslines or even when listening to some ambient, dizzy Pink Floyd guitar solos.
And oh, these speakers can create a powerful (and haunting) surround sound experience that sounds quite realistic. To derive optimal sound from this speaker, it’s suitable to place it beneath your home theater.
The only downside with the CS10, despite its remarkable features, is that it can sometimes get a wee bit loud, especially at extreme volumes. Nevertheless, it is a steal given its price.
Bottom Line Polk Audio CS10 is the epitome of some of the best center channel speakers out there.
- Rich, crystal clear sound
- High mids and lush highs
- Stylish Design
- Strong built
- Very lightweight and portable
- Quite Affordable
- Clipping at higher frequencies
2) JBL Studio 235C (Best high-end center channel speaker)
JBL returns to action with its brand new center channel speaker, the JBL Studio 235C, which promises a crisp and sharp sound. It operates on 20-150 watts and sports a rather large body adorned with an urbane and sleek design.
What separates the JBL Studio 235C speaker from the rest of its ilk is the high definition imaging waveguide design that can pinpoint sound from any corner of the room no matter how big it is.
Also, this speaker is flanked by two solid 6.5 inches Polyplas drivers that deliver a tight and accurate bass groove complemented by a pitch perfect vocal delivery. Remember, JBL has had a history of belting out some of the best center channel speakers over the years. So, we only got more intrigued to find out JBL Studio 235C’s real worth.
We put this speaker to test, and right at the outset found the sound very appealing, dynamic and fullsome. The JBL 235C’s mids have a great gain and the treble/highs are full of punch and power. The bass, too, doesn’t disappoint and is powerful enough to resonate throughout the room. So yeah, you can try out this speaker to play music, watch movies, sports and it won’t lose its quality.
Even the distortion sounds are well-balanced and we could hear the details clearly. Without a doubt, playing old Oasis songs will definitely be a cracker on this speaker. To our mind, the right mixture of treble, bass and mids gives the JBL 235C an edge over others which also makes it compatible to be used with any sound system or home theater.
The resultant sound is as good and clean as it gets and at par with the ambience that one would expect while listening to a cinematic soundscore in a movie theater. We reckon, to derive the optimal sound, you should place it horizontally below your home theater.
Coming on to the downside, a price tag of over $300 puts the JBL Studio 235C amongst some expensive center channel speakers out there on the market. However, if you look at the quality of the sound, the steep price is expected since JBL is a high-end brand.
Bottom Line Go for it if you don’t want to compromise on sound quality.
- Rich and ambient sound
- High treble and deep bass
- Great design
- Best for home theater
- High-definition waveguide feature
- A bit expensive
3) Klipsch Reference R-25C (Best design)
One of the most renowned speaker brands, Klipsch has a new offering up its sleeve called the Reference R-25C which looks like a phenomenal center channel speaker by all means. But, does it have better goods in store than the likes of Polk and JBL? Let’s figure out.
Packed with some new features, this center channel speaker offers 95dB sensitivity which is high enough to extract less power and produce a quality sound. First glance at the Reference R-25C and you would notice it has two cerametallic woofers (covered by a removable grille) that ensure the bass is responsive and the mids sound clear and accurate.
Also, its veneer construction is pretty rock solid and compact. However, the Reference R-25C’s unique feature has to be its Dolby Atmos sound that delivers an ethereal three-dimensional atmosphere which will draw you right into the sound.
On the performance front, thanks to a hybrid horn and a titanium tweeter, the treble or the higher frequencies always remain well-balanced and do not overpower the mids and bass. The bass on these speakers sounds a lot meatier and surely doesn’t mess up when the lows are too low. Imagine playing any song by Led Zeppelin or Nirvana with a downtuned bass riff and you won’t feel let down.
We like how the treble and mids complement each other and build a nice and clean “wall of sound” that directly hooks you into the music or any movie with a nice soundscape.
However, the R-25C is a bit high on the price spectrum. Some audiophiles may feel a bit iffy about the purchase especially when there are cheaper alternatives available.
Bottom Line If surround sound is your guilty pleasure, this one’s a keeper.
- GreatDolby Atmos sound
- Consumes less power
- Beautiful design and look
- Portable and Strong Built
- Quite expensive
4) Micca MB42X-C (Best Affordable Center Channel speaker)
Getting your hands on a budget center channel speaker that produces a good sound quality is not always easy, but with Micca’s MB42X-C it surely does get a bit simpler. What more has it got in store? Let’s find out.
The first thing we noticed about the Micca MB42X-C are its two stylish carbon fibre woofers that give a major boost to the mids. Thanks to these woofers, the distortion sounds are controlled quite well and the drive in the sound won’t sound screechy in spite of some detail loss here and there. They also lend a good amount of layers to the bass thus making it sound heavy.
We reckon this speaker is a decent bet for orchestral cinema soundtracks and one of the best center channel speakers for playing most genres of music.
What we really liked about this speaker was the gain in the mids that sounded rich and lush, good enough in our opinion to play some heavy metal and crunchy rhythm guitar tunes. Another good thing about this speaker is its silk dome tweeter that smoothens the treble range to a good extent.
We were surely not disappointed with the overall sound produced by the speaker which came across as clean and clear.
For the budget, it certainly packs a punch or two in the sound department. But, don’t expect its sound quality to outshine costlier speakers such as JBL Studio 235C. To get the best sound with a prolonged bass, it would be suitable to put these speakers along a wall or near a corner.
However, there are a couple of shortcomings that play spoilsport for the speaker. Firstly, it is favourable for small rooms due to a limited range. Secondly, while it usually sounds good, at times when all the three ranges i.e. high, low and mid overlap, there can be some distortion. It happens due to the lack of crossover technology which balances the sound given by the tweeter and the woofers.
Bottom Line The MB42X-C won’t disappoint if you are on a budget.
- Very affordable
- Good sound for the money
- Nice mids and impactful bass
- Great design
- Meant for a small room
- Lacks crossover technology
5) Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000 (Best center channel speaker under $200)
Despite its small size and relatively lesser known name in the audio equipment game, Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000 aims to be an ideal center channel speaker for people who prefer good design that goes well with an impressive sound.
We were very much in awe of this speaker’s balanced double surround sound system which adds to the reverb element of the sound. Also, it has a nice aluminum dome tweeter that produces some incredible high frequencies. But, the standout feature that catapults ProCenter 1000 to our lineup of the best center channel speakers has to be its two additional bass radiators that pack the punch in the bass section better than many expensive center channel speakers on the market.
Now coming on to the actual sound, the aforementioned bass radiators more than make up for the small size by adding support to the dual woofers that are already good enough to provide a tight sonic ambience. With the dual bass radiators, the radiating area of the ProCenter 1000 is solidified twofold and the result is in the form of richer midrange, and a deeper bass tone.
Think about playing some nice and groovy Red Hot Chili Peppers tunes! Also, this speaker won’t disappoint you even if you listen to genres as diverse as garage punk or EDM.
However, the good run ends with a couple of limitations. This speaker lacks in providing a cap onto the higher frequencies due to the absence of crossover technology which can clip the highs and balance the overall sound.
Bottom Line Best center channel speaker for heavy bass fans.
- Great sounding bass
- Bass radiators
- Lightweight and portable
- Good number of features
- No crossover technology
- Relatively expensive
6) Pioneer SP-C22 (Best budget)
Another big audio equipment maker that made it to our list of the best center channel speakers, Pioneer has got its very own slick center channel speaker propped against rivals such as Klipsch, Polk and JBL. Its brand new speaker, the SP-C22, is quite pocket-friendly and boasts some advantages that piqued our interest.
Without a doubt, this low-end center channel speaker is a high performer considering the price tag. It is flanked by two 4-inch woofers that take care of the mids and lows and do an alright job. Even its one inch tweeter doesn’t disappoint as it handles the treble range quite well.
The best part, however, is that it comes loaded with crossover technology that maintains the balance of sound and keeps noise and unwanted distortion at bay without compromising on the texture and equalization.
On the performance front, the Pioneer SP-C22 doesn’t hold itself back as it clips down excess distortion in the mid range as well as on the highs or treble. It does that so seamlessly that you wouldn’t realize the change of frequencies in the sound while hearing progressive rock tunes or groovy trap hop songs.
We feel this speaker would be best fit for playing loud guitar driven music with a lot of distortion. Also, the bass on this one sounds huge as we were overwhelmed (and a bit surprised) by the range the bass could reach. It has a thick meatier and raw sound and sits well with other frequencies.
That being said, the biggest shortcoming of this speaker is the power that it requires to operate. At a sensitivity rating of 88dB, it surely is a power hogger. Another downside, is the size of this speaker. It is one of the tallest speakers on our list and it surely is a hassle to place it below your home theater. If space is not a constraint, then you are all set!
- Crossover technology
- Good bass sound
- Quite affordable
- Produces less distorted sound
- Requires more power
- Too big in size
7) MartinLogan Motion 30 (Best Splurge)
Despite entering the audio equipment industry in 2010, MartinLogan has made rapid leaps in terms of both its product line and appeal. This time around the name of the game is the Motion 30 center channel speaker that hopes to be the central theme around which your home theater’s sound revolves.
At first glance, you will notice two unique features on the Motion 30. First off, the size of the bass woofer at 6.6 inches that’s facing towards the rear, and secondly, the 5.5 inches wide mid-range woofer that provides the much needed power and clean-sounding ability to the mids.
Moreover, we surely liked the small size and lightweight nature of the Motion 30, which can be put anywhere around the home theater and yet have a higher sound radiation rate (just like in movie theaters) no matter how spacious your room is.
We were satisfied with Motion 30’s output, which sounds like every treble lover’s dream come true. This assertion of ours is backed by the fact that its tweeter has a folded motion that pushes the air out and ensures a high quality treble sound. That doesn’t mean that the treble overpowers the mids and the lows. The bass maintains its texture with a thick sound whereas the mids provide full throttle with rich gain.
The motion 30 is well-versed to play any genre of music or play movies that have orchestral background scores. We surely loved its output whilst playing some groovy bass riffs and gain-riddled blues guitar solos.
Alas, even though it sounds majestic, one limitation with the Motion 30 is when you crank the volume up, it tends to get a bit too loud. As in, we could feel the music and even the dialogues ringing in our ears when we turned up the volume above the normal ‘limit’. Even the bass was sounding muddy and damp at extremely high volumes.
Bottom Line The Motion 30 is one of the best center channel speakers for treble seekers.
- Solid bass
- Unique tweeter for best treble sound
- Small and lightweight
- Brilliant Sound
- Clipping at higher frequencies
Buying Guide: Best Center Channel Speakers
Now that you have read our review of the best center channel speakers, you must know one last thing. It’s very important. That is, how to choose the most suitable speaker for yourself from our review of the best center channel speakers? The eons-old cliché of different strokes for different folks fits well here.
Remember, a center channel speaker is a very crucial component of any home theater system that makes your surround sound experience truly incredible. Rightly so, there are certain things that need to be considered before you make a choice that gels well with your specific needs.
Down below, we have listed all the factors that are crucial to every center channel speaker. So much so, these factors are universal to all the best center channel speakers out there and they will only make you better informed about the intricacies involved in making the right choice.
1) Budget– Spending the right amount of money on a high-quality product is essential to make the right purchase. Rejoice though, for center channel speakers are generally not quite expensive. But, you still need to draw out your budget and only then make the purchase. As is the case, some of the best channel speakers usually cost somewhere around $100-$500.
2) Performance– Always make it a point to get a center channel speaker with a wide frequency range. With a wider frequency, the speaker can provide a crystal clear sound to even those people who are sitting outside the center of the TV.
3) Size/Style– Another important factor that cannot be overlooked is the size of other surround speakers of your home theater system. If you have a small center channel speaker, simply pair it up with smaller surrounding speakers, and likewise, a larger center channel speaker can be paired with larger surrounding speakers.
4) Sound Quality– Perhaps the most important consideration, the sound quality determines whether the speaker you are purchasing is worth every penny spent on it or not. So, if you are setting up a rich sounding home theater, all the speakers should be unfailingly in sync with various amplifiers.
Also, you should keep in mind the “ohms” i.e. power of speakers measured in ohms and decibels. Some of the best center channel speakers measure around 6-8 ohms and are more than enough for a well set-up home theater system.
5) Usage– The way you are going to use the speaker should also be kept in mind before you single out one of the best center channel speakers. For instance, most contenders on our list of the best center channel speakers serve a gamut of purposes ranging from gaming and movies to playing music, etc. Remember, you can always hook your home theater system up to a center channel speaker. So, you will have to map out your needs and only then make a decision.
6) Power– The size of the stereo system as well as the overall quality of the sound system affect the amount of power or electricity that will be used by the speakers. Just as heads up, the power of a center channel speaker is measured in ohms and decibels.
Bear in mind, the best center channel speakers on the market use the same amount of the power as your everyday stereo speakers. However, some low-quality ones can be downright annoying. Thus, the amount of power used by a center channel speaker has to be factored in whilst making your purchase.
7) Sensitivity– A speaker with a high sensitivity rating takes less power to produce sound. Also, a speaker with a higher sensitivity rating will naturally produce less static noise and produce a better sound quality.
And…that’ a wrap! Did you like our review of the Best Center Channel Speakers of 2018? We sincerely hope reading our review is going to help you in making a great decision so that you can enjoy the true essence of surround sound.
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