15 Best Center Channel Speakers (2021)

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Center channel speaker plays a very important role in a home theater system. Some movie enthusiasts would even say that it’s a crucial speaker in every surround sound system. If you’re looking for a center speaker for your home theater systems, this article is a great place to start your search. You will learn a few things about the purpose of a center channel and find some tips on what to pay attention to when buying a center channel speaker. We have also prepared a comprehensive selection of 15 best center channel speakers, so you don’t have to do any additional research – you can find some great suggestions for every budget right after the introduction.

The Role of a Center Channel Speaker in A Home Theater System

The center channel is often described as the speaker in charge of most of the dialog reproduction. This is the primary purpose of a center channel but it’s not the only one. The center channel is, along with the front right and left channels, responsible for a great deal of music reproduction and even for some special effects. These three front speakers are usually the busiest in every home theater system. 

Center channel speakers are also some kind of a bridge between the front left and front right speakers. They are supposed to create the balance across the whole soundstage created by the three front speakers. If a center channel does its job well, the transition of sound from left to right and vice versa is seamless.

Our Top Picks

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ProductPriceOverall RatingReview
Monoprice 11948Check Price on Amazon4.3Read Review
Yamaha NS-C210BLCheck Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Polk Audio Blackstone TL1Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Polk Audio T30Check Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
Polk Audio CS10Check Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
Sony SSCS8Check Price on Amazon4.8Read Review
Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Energy Speaker Systems RC-LCRCheck Price on Amazon4.9Read Review
Klipsch R-52CCheck Price on Amazon4.8Read Review
Polk Audio Signature Series S35Check Price on Amazon4.8Read Review
Definitive Technology CS-9040Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
KEF T101CCheck Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
Klipsch RP-504CCheck Price on Amazon4.9Read Review
SVS Ultra Center ChannelCheck Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
MartinLogan Motion 30Check Price on Amazon4.5Read Review

Features to Look for in a Center Channel

The most important thing for every center channel is to match the tonality of the existing front left and right speakers. Without that match, the system as a whole will sound inconsistent and inhomogeneous, even if the center speaker alone is actually great. So, the main goal is finding the perfect match. You don’t have to buy the best or most expensive center channel speaker – it’s much better if you can find the one that creates a perfect synergy with the existing setup. If you find this, 80% of your job is done. 

However, you should also pay attention to the size, especially if you don’t have that much space at your disposal and you need something slim. Also, you must pay attention to the power requirements and see if your AV receiver is powerful enough for that speaker. In case you want to mount it, check if the center channel speaker is mountable. They are not all wall-mountable and many require special custom-made brackets. 

Finally, you have to think about the price. The cheapest center channel speakers are priced under $100 or even under $50, but many are priced over $500 or over $1000. So, you can easily find a speaker that suits your budget, but it’s harder to find the one that suits your existing setup and all the other requirements.

After covering the basics, let’s move onto our selection of the best center channel speakers. We tried hard to create a comprehensive selection that includes a few models for every budget. So, whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly center channel or for the ultimate home theater experience, there’ll be at least one speaker that meets your requirements.  The list is divided into four parts – best under $100, best under $200, best under $500, and best under $1000. So, if you already have a budget limit, you don’t have to go through all the products – just find the range that meets your budget and check out our recommendations.


BEST CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $100

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $50 – Monoprice 11948

Monoprice 11948

Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Impressions

Monoprice is one of the best choices when it comes to cheap audio equipment (cheap speakers, cheap headphones). Monoprice 11948 center channel is a part of Monoprice’s Premium 5.1 home theater system and these speakers are the best match for this center channel.

The speaker features a very simple design and is super-compact (4.3×10.2×4.3″). The cabinet is made of MDF and the drivers are protected with an unremovable grille. The cabinet is ported (two rear-firing ports), the speaker is mountable, and the speaker terminals are spring-loaded and accept only bare wire (up to 9AWG) or pin plugs.

Monoprice 11948 has a two-way design with two 3-in mid-woofers and one 0.75-in aluminum-dome tweeter, with a crossover set at 3.5kHz.

The max recommended amplification is 100W (20W min) and the advertised frequency response is pretty wide (110Hz-20kHz +/-3dB). It’s an 8Ω speaker with 88dB sensitivity.

The speaker struggles with low-frequency tones but has a very good midrange reproduction, especially the reproduction of vocals. You can hardly get anything better for 30 bucks.

Advantages

  • Cheap
  • Compact
  • Good build quality
  • Mountable
  • Very good midrange reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Poor low-frequency reproduction
  • Spring-loaded speaker terminals (compatible only with bare wire or pin plugs)

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $100 – Yamaha NS-C210BL

Yamaha NS-C210BL

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

Yamaha’s home theater speakers and systems are one of our favorite budget options. They are a bit pricier than generic Chinese brands but, after all, Yamaha has a bit higher reputation and longer tradition than any of those brands. But not only that – Yamaha’s speakers are actually of higher quality and offer better performance than generic brands. Yamaha NS-C210BL is our absolute favorite under $100. 

Yamaha NS-C210BL is a very attractive, yet simple speaker. It has a compact and slim design (4.2in tall) and should fit under most TVs. The cabinet is made of thick wood with an unremovable black grille on the front. This a ported speaker (bass reflex port is located on the back).

The speaker has a two-way design with two 3.2″ woofers and one 0.9″ tweeter. The speaker uses banana plug-compatible five-way binding posts.

The max recommended amplification is 120W (40W min) and the advertised frequency response is extremely wide (65Hz-45kHz +/-10dB). It’s a 6Ω speaker with 86dB sensitivity.

This speaker would be a great match for other speakers from Yamaha’s NS series (NS-SW210 sub, NS-F210 tower speakers, and NS-BL210 speakers).

Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Slim and compact
  • Great build quality
  • Mountable
  • Excellent midrange and dialog reproduction (for the price)

Disadvantages

  • Non-removable grille
  • Poor bass response

The Slimmest Center Channel Speaker Under $100 – Polk Audio Blackstone TL1

Polk Audio Blackstone TL1

Editor’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Impressions

Polk Audio Blackstone TL1 is one of the slimmest center channels. It’s part of Polk’s T1600 home theater system and that’s the best match for this center channel.

TL1 is a very slim (4in tall) and unusually curved center channel speaker. Unlike the previous two speakers, this one is entirely made of plastic and, even though it looks unusual, it doesn’t feel as durable as those two. 

The speaker has a two-way design with two 2.5″ woofers and an off-centered 0.5″ silk-dome tweeter. This unusual driver arrangement is supposed to align the acoustic centers of all the drivers, improve the overall sound quality, and prevent distortion and sound diffractions. TL1 is mountable and it features banana plug-compatible five-way binding posts.

The max recommended amplification is 100W (10W min) and the advertised frequency response is 45Hz-22kHz (+/-3dB). It’s an 8Ω speaker with 89dB sensitivity.

Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Compact and slim
  • Great build quality
  • Mountable
  • Very good dialog clarity and treble consistency

Disadvantages

  • Plastic build
  • Poor bass response

The Best Bass Delivery Under $100 – Polk Audio T30

Polk Audio T30

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

This is already the second Polk Audio speaker on our list of 15 best center channel speakers but that’s inevitable since they make so many great affordable center channels and home theater systems. T30 is, along with Yamaha NS-C210BL, one of our favorite budget center channels. Arguably, Polk T30 has the best bass response of all the center channel speakers under $100.

T30 features a simple yet very attractive design. Everything is packed inside a wooden, durable cabinet with a removable grille on the front and bass-reflex port and speaker terminals on the back (five-way binding posts). 

T30 has a two-way design and houses three drivers – two 5.25″ mid-woofers and one 1″ tweeter. The max recommended amplification is 100W (20W min) and the advertised frequency response is 60Hz-24kHz. It’s a 6Ω speaker with 89dB sensitivity.

T30 is the best match for Polk’s T series speakers. 

Advantages

  • Priced under 100
  • Great build quality
  • Removable grilles
  • Very good dialog clarity and treble consistency
  • Best bass reproduction under $100

Disadvantages

  • Not very slim (6.5in tall) – it might block your TV
  • Not mountable

BEST CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $200

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $150 – Polk Audio CS10

Polk Audio CS10

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

Polk’s CS10 is another great affordable option. It’s just a little bit pricier than T30 but it’s also slightly better when it comes to audio reproduction. 

The speaker has an interesting design with an angled top panel allowing you to invert it and place it very low under your TV and still get a great listening experience. The speaker has a very durable and thick MDF ported cabinet. The grille is removable and the speaker actually looks better with the grille off. It has five-way bindings posts on the back, which makes it compatible with banana plugs.

CS10 has two 5.25″ Bi-Laminate woofers and one 1″ fabric/Polymer tweeter. The speaker is highly efficient so you don’t need an extremely powerful receiver. 

The max recommended amplification is 125W (20W min) and the advertised frequency response is 53Hz-25kHz. It’s an 8Ω speaker with 91dB sensitivity.

CS10 is a great match for the Polk’s bookshelf and tower speakers from the TSi series (like TSi100, TSi200). 

Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Compact 
  • Great build quality
  • Removable grilles 
  • 5-way binding posts
  • Very good price/performance ratio – detailed mids, clear vocals, very good bass output

Disadvantages

  • Not very slim (6.5″ tall)
  • Doesn’t have mounting holes on the back

Sony SSCS8

Sony SSCS8

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

SSCS8 is another simple and elegant-looking speaker with a solid MDF ported cabinet with a black vinyl finish. The grille is made of fabric and is removable (the speaker looks great both ways but we prefer the looks without the grille). On the back of the speaker, you will find a set of five-way binding posts. The speaker is 17″ wide, 5.75″ tall, and 8.75″ deep.

SSCS8 features a 2-way design. It houses two 4″ Mica-reinforced woofers and one 1″ soft-dome tweeter.

The max recommended amplification is 145W (40W min) and the advertised frequency response is quite wide (55Hz-25kHz +/-10dB). It’s a 6Ω speaker with 86dB sensitivity.

SS-CS8 is the best match for Sony’s SS-CS speaker series (SS-CS3 tower speakers, SS-CS5 bookshelf speakers, and SA-CS9 subwoofer).

Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Robust and durable MDF cabinet
  • Five-way binding posts
  • Powerful and fast bass response
  • Great midrange reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Not very slim
  • Doesn’t have mounting holes on the back

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $200 – Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000

Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

ProCenter 1000 is a compact but great-sounding center channel and is our top choice under $200, especially if you are looking for the clearest possible dialog reproduction.

The speaker has a sealed plastic cabinet with a nice-looking shiny finish. All the drivers are protected with a black fabric grille. The grille is removable.

ProCenter is a two-way speaker. It houses three drivers – two 4.5″ woofers and one 1″ aluminum dome tweeter. The speaker doesn’t have a bass reflex port but it has two passive planar bass radiators on the left and right panels.

The max recommended amplification is 200W (10W min) and the advertised frequency response is 47Hz-30kHz. It’s a 4Ω-8Ω speaker with 90dB sensitivity.

ProCenter 1000 is the best match for Definitive Technology’s ProCinema speakers (ProMonitor 1000, ProSub).

Advantages

  • Reasonably priced
  • Compact and fairly slim (4.7in tall)
  • Removable grille
  • Wall-mountable (ProMount brackets sold separately)
  • Fairly easy to drive
  • Crystal-clear and detailed midrange reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Plastic cabinet
  • Poor bass response

Energy Speaker Systems RC-LCR

Energy Speaker Systems RC-LCR

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

RC-LCR is an interesting center channel speaker with a compact and solid cabinet. It features a 3-way design with a diagonally arranged tweeter and midrange woofers, which enables identical sound dispersion whether the speaker is oriented horizontally or vertically. That’s why RC-LCR can be used as a center channel but also as your front left and front right speaker.

The speaker is 19.5″ wide, 10.25″ deep, 7.5″ tall, and weighs 24 pounds. The cabinet is made of MDF and it’s ported (two rear-firing bass vents). The speaker is not mountable. On the rear panel, there’re two sets of five-way binding posts allowing you to bi-amp/bi-wire the speaker.

RC-LCR features a 3-way design with an interesting driver arrangement. You have one 1″ aluminum-dome tweeter (located in the middle), two 2″ aluminum-cone mid-woofers (arranged diagonally), and two 5.5″ Kevlar woofers. The crossovers are set at 600Hz and 2.5kHz.

The max recommended amplification is 200W RMS and the advertised frequency response is 48Hz-23kHz (+/-3dB). It’s an 8Ω speaker with 89dB sensitivity.

RC-LCR delivers an enjoyable and engaging sound. The mids are sweet, the dialogs are super-clear, and the highs are well balanced and consistent. It doesn’t go very low but it also doesn’t sound distorted, even at high volumes.  RC-LCR is another excellent choice under $200. You can even use three identical RC-LCR speakers for the front three channels.

Advantages

  • Reasonably priced
  • Solid and compact cabinet
  • Delivers equally great sonic performance when placed horizontally and vertically (you can also use it as your front left/right speaker)
  • Two sets of five-way binding posts (can be bi-amped/bi-wired)
  • Great overall sonic performance

Disadvantages

  • It’s not the slimmest center channel speaker on the market
  • Not wall-mountable
  • Requires more power to shine than other speakers in its price range

BEST CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $500

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $250 – Klipsch R-52C

Klipsch R-52C

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

We are starting this new section with Klipsch’s beautiful R-52C. Although it’s also a center channel, like all the previous speakers, it’s a completely different class. It’s much heftier and much more powerful.

R-52C has a compact (18.8″ x 7.3″ x 7.6″) cabinet but it’s quite heavy (13.5 pounds). The cabinet is made of MDF and has a vinyl finish. The cabinet is not ported. On the back, you have a set of five-way binding posts.

The speaker features a two-way design with two 5.25″ woofers and a 1″ Tractrix horn tweeter.

The max recommended amplification is 400W (100W min) and the advertised frequency response is 89Hz-21kHz. It’s an 8Ω speaker with 95dB sensitivity. 

The best match for R-52C are R-41M bookshelf speakers and R100-SW/R-112SW subwoofers.

Advantages

  • Reasonably priced (under $250)
  • Solid MDF cabinet
  • Removable grille
  • Five-way binding posts
  • Wide and balanced frequency response
  • Tight and accurate bass, balanced and detailed mids, clear and slightly elevated highs

Disadvantages

  • Not wall-mountable

Polk Audio Signature Series S35

Polk Audio Signature Series S35

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

The next speaker on our list of 15 best center channel speakers comes from the Polk’s Signature Series. S35 is wider than the average center channel (24.4″) and looks like a soundbar. It’s very slim (4.1″) so placing it under the TV should not be a problem. The speaker is also mountable (keyhole slots on the back).

The speaker has a nice rectangular cabinet with nice rounded edges and a grayish veneer finish. The cabinet is made of MDF and feels very solid. The front side is protected with a removable fabric grille. On the back, you have Polk’s proprietary power ports on each side for improved bass response and reduced distortion.

The speaker houses six 3″ mid-woofers and one 1″ Terylene tweeter (located right in the center). They are crossed at 3.5kHz.

The max recommended amplification is 150W (20W min) and the advertised frequency response is 53Hz-40kHz. It’s an 8Ω speaker with 88dB sensitivity.

S35 center channel speaker delivers an impressively clean mids and highs. The bass reproduction is fast, dynamic, and undistorted but lacks depth. The soundstage is surprisingly wide and enveloping. All in all, S35 is an excellent choice under $250.

S35 would be a perfect match for the system that consists of other Polk Signature Series speakers (S55 floorstanders and S15 bookshelf speakers). 

Advantages

  • Affordable (priced under $250)
  • Slim
  • Solid MDF cabinet
  • Wall-mountable
  • 5-way binding posts
  • Fairly efficient and easy to drive
  • Great performance for the price

Disadvantages

  • Can’t deliver low-bass and sub-bass frequencies

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $400 – Definitive Technology CS-9040

Definitive Technology CS-9040

 

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

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Impressions

Definitive Technology CS-9040 is a very unique-looking center channel speaker. It has a precisely machined aluminum construction and it’s entirely wrapped in black fabric (aka acoustically transparent grille). The whole appearance is very eye-catching, very attractive. The cabinet is inert and resonance-free so you can expect clear, natural, and undistorted sound delivery.

CS-9040 is not exactly small. It’s 20.8″ wide, 6″ tall, and 12″deep. It doesn’t have mounting holes so the best option is placing it on a TV stand or on a shelf or custom-made bracket.

The speaker features a two-way design with dual 4.5″ BDSS woofers and one 1″ aluminum dome tweeter. The speaker also has an 8″ integrated up-firing bass radiator for deeper and punchier bass response.

The max recommended amplification is 200W (50W min) and the advertised frequency response is extremely wide (50Hz-40kHz). It’s an 8Ω speaker with 89dB sensitivity.

For the best timbre matching, you can combine CS-9040 with a pair of BP-9040 towers or with Demand D7 speakers. Also, SR-9040 speakers are a good choice for surround speakers.

Advantages

  • Reasonable price (considering the build quality, design, and overall performance)
  • Eye-catching design
  • Resonance-free cabinet
  • Balanced sound reproduction with the best low-end in its class

Disadvantages

  • Not mountable
  • Bigger than the average center channel (requires more space)

The Thinnest Center Channel Speaker – KEF T101C

KEF T101C

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

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Impressions

KEF T101C is the closest thing to in-wall speakers without actually being inside the wall. It’s a super-slim speaker, perfect for small rooms. Combine it with KEF T101 or T301 speakers and a T2 subwoofer and create a very attractive surround sound system without sacrificing too much space. 

T101C has a slim plastic cabinet. The cabinet is sealed. The dimensions are 13″x5.5″x1.4″. The front panel is covered with an unremovable black grille. On the rear panel, you have mounting holes and recessed 5-way binding posts.

T101C features a 2-way design and houses three speakers – two 4.5″ mid-woofers and a single 1″ aluminum dome tweeter. The drivers are crossed at 1.7kHz.

The max recommended amplification is 100W (10W min) and the advertised frequency response is 80Hz-30kHz. It’s an 8Ω speaker with 90dB sensitivity (when wall-mounted).

Considering the size and especially the slimness, T101C delivers an impressively balanced sound reproduction. The midrange and dialogs are the greatest highlight and are perfectly clear and articulate. The treble response is extended, airy, and consistent. The only problem is poor bass reproduction. There’s a number of cheaper speakers with a better bass delivery. 

Advantages

  • Super-slim, eye-catching design
  • Mountable
  • Five-way binding posts
  • Easy to drive
  • Great midrange reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Poor bass reproduction
  • Plastic cabinet

BEST CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $1000

Best Center Channel Speaker Under $750 – Klipsch RP-504C

Klipsch RP-504C

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

RP-504C is part of Klipsch’s Reference Premier speaker series and it’s one of our favorite center channel speakers under $1000, especially if you don’t have to think about the space. This is a hefty speaker with a thick and rugged MDF cabinet. The front panel is protected with a magnetic removable grille. As always, Klipsch speakers look better without the grille. The cabinet is ported – it has a bass-reflex Tractrix port on the back. The speaker features one set of five-way binding posts on the back (compatible with 12 AWG wire). 

The speaker is quite big so make sure that you have enough space for it. It’s 31.2″ wide, 14.5″ deep, 6.8″ tall, and weighs 34 pounds. 

RP-504C is a two-way speaker housing 5 drivers – four 5.25″ woofers with the Klipsch’s recognizable spun-copper finish and one 1″ Titanium vented tweeter with a Tractrix horn.

The max recommended amplification is 600W (150W RMS) and the advertised frequency response is 58Hz-25kHz (+/-3dB). It’s an 8Ω speaker with 89dB sensitivity.

The sound reproduction is quite impressive. Even the bass reproduction. It’s punchy, fast, and undistorted. The midrange is clear and articulate. Thanks to the new Tractrix horn design, the treble reproduction and sound dispersion are much better. The treble is softer, more balanced, and very engaging.

For the best timbre matching, you should combine RP-504C with other speakers from the Reference Premiere series (RP-500F/600F/800F/4000F/8060FA, RP-400M/500M/600M) but you will get a pretty good synergy if you pair it with any of those large Klipsch floorstanders.

Advantages

  • Great build quality – solid MDF cabinet, spun-copper woofers, aluminum LTS tweeter
  • Ported cabinet design – better bass response
  • Five-way binding posts
  • Excellent sonic performance for the price

Disadvantages

  • Not mountable
  • Not a good choice for small rooms

Best Compact Center Channel Under $700 – SVS Ultra Center Channel

SVS Ultra Center Channel

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

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Impressions

SVS Ultra center channel is an impressive 3-way speaker with a compact and attractive cabinet. It’s part of the Ultra speaker series and it’s the best match for other speakers coming from this series (Ultra Towers, Ultra Bookshelf, Ultra Surround). 

SVS Ultra center channel is 22″ wide, 10.9″deep, and 8.2″ tall. So, it’s not the slimmest but it’s still fairly compact. The front panel is protected with an acoustic grille designed to provide the most transparent sound reproduction. On the back, you have dual 1.7″ bass reflex ports and two sets of five-way binding posts (the speaker can be bi-amped/bi-wired).

As mentioned above, the SVS Ultra center channel features a 3-way design. It houses 4 speakers. You have vertically arranged 1″ dome tweeter and 4″ glass fiber mid-woofer. On the left and right end, there are two 6.5″ cone woofers. That 4″ mid-woofer is placed inside its own enclosure and the tweeter has an FEA-optimized diffuser for better sound dispersion. The speaker houses SVS’s proprietary SoundMatch crossover with crossover frequencies set at 500Hz and 2.2kHz. The crossover enables a very coherent and seamless transition from lows to highs, smooth frequency response, and stable and wide soundstage.

The max recommended amplification is 225W (20W min) and the advertised frequency response is 45Hz-32kHz (+/-3dB). It’s an 8Ω speaker with 87dB sensitivity.

The speaker delivers an impressive sonic performance with a huge soundstage, very dynamic reproduction, and fantastic clarity and intelligibility.

Advantages

  • Compact
  • Attractive design and impressive build quality
  • Two sets of five-way binding posts (you can bi-amp/bi-wire the speaker)
  • 3-way design with a dedicated mid-woofer for midrange and dialog reproduction
  • Accurate, balanced, and dynamic sound reproduction with a huge soundstage and smooth transition between lows, mids, and highs

Disadvantages

  • Not mountable

Best Compact Center Channel Speaker Under $1000 – MartinLogan Motion 30

MartinLogan Motion 30

Editor’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Impressions

Motion 30 is part of the MartinLogan’s Motion series of speakers inspired by the MartinLogan’s high-end electrostatic drivers. One of the key characteristics of all the speakers from this line is the so-called Folded Motion tweeter, which is much larger than the average tweeter and provides much better sound dispersion and smoother midrange and treble reproduction.

The speaker is compact and relatively slim (16.5″ wide, 10.5″ deep, 6.9″ tall). The cabinet is made of real wood and looks very attractive and very sophisticated. It has a high-gloss black or cherrywood finish. The cabinet is ported (rear-firing reflex port). The front panel is covered with an easily removable semi-transparent grille. The rear panel houses one set of five-way binding posts. 

Motion 30 houses three speakers – two 5.5″ aluminum-cone woofers and one MartinLogan’s proprietary Folded Motion tweeter. The tweeter is rectangular and the dimensions of the transducer are 1″x1.4″, while the dimensions of the tweeter diaphragm are 5.25″x1.75″.

The max recommended amplification is 200W (20W min) and the advertised frequency response is extremely wide (65Hz-25kHz +/-3dB). It’s a 4Ω speaker with 91dB sensitivity. The speaker is fairly easy to drive but it’s still recommended to use it with higher-end AV receivers. 

Motion 30 is one of the most transparent-sounding and most refined center channel speakers under $1000. The bass is maybe not the deepest, but the overall sound reproduction is perfectly balanced, detailed, and dynamic. The dialogs are crystal-clear and the treble response is smooth, accurate, and consistent.

For the best timbre matching, you should pair Motion 30 with other speakers from the Motion series (MartinLogan Motion 40 tower speakers, Motion 15 bookshelf speakers, etc.).

Advantages

  • Compact
  • Impressive design and build quality
  • Five-way binding posts
  • Aluminum cone woofers and Folded Motion tweeter
  • Refined, dynamic, and detailed sound reproduction 

Disadvantages

  • Not mountable

This concludes our list of 15 best center channel speakers. We hope it helped you find the perfect center channel speaker for your system or at least pointed you in the right direction and helped you understand what to expect, in terms of performance, at a certain price point. For more info on what to look for when buying a center channel speaker, check out our Buyer’s Guide.


Buyer’s Guide – Things to Pay Attention to When Looking for The Best Center Channel Speaker for Your Setup

We have partially covered this topic in the introduction but now we are going to give you a bit more detailed explanation of all the important things you should pay attention to. 

Price

As always, our budget dictates our purchases. The good news is that you have multiple viable choices, even if you can’t spend a lot. The cheapest center channel speakers are priced under $200 or even $100 (Monoprice, Yamaha, Sony, Polk, BIC America). For $500 or less, you can find a much better center channel made by reputable brands (Klipsch, ELAC, KEF, Definitive Technology, etc.). For $500-$1000, you can get a high-end center channel (Klipsch, Focal, SVS, MartinLogan, DALI, etc.). 

Tonality and timbre matching

As stated in the introduction, this thing is critical for the overall performance of your home theater system. The center channel has to match the rest of the system. But how to achieve that? The easiest way is to buy the center channel speaker that comes from the same line as the rest of your surround sound system. After all, the speakers from the same line are tuned to sound best when performing together. If that’s not possible, you should at least try to buy a speaker made by the same manufacturer (since the manufacturers often use the same materials for different speaker lines). If you want to buy a speaker made by some other manufacturer, you will need much more time and much more testing and experimenting to find the speaker that matches your system.

Size

This is only important if you are dealing with some space limitations. If you don’t want to mount the speaker and just want to place it in front of your TV, you will need something slim (low-profile center channel). 

Also, the length of the speaker can be important. Some center channels are tiny, while others are long like soundbars. 

Build quality

Construction quality is closely related to the price. Cheaper center channel speakers are usually made of plastic or have thin MDF enclosures. Also, these speakers often have cheap pressed paper drivers. Higher-quality and pricier speakers have much better-looking and more durable MDF enclosures as well as better-quality drivers.

Mounting

Not all center channel speakers are designed for mounting but, technically, even the speakers that are not mountable can be mounted but you will have to find some custom-made brackets.

Audio brands

If you need a high-end speaker or a budget speaker made by a reputable brand, you will have to pay more than $200 (preferably more than $500) for a center channel speaker. If you need something cheap or fairly affordable, try brands like Yamaha, Sony, Polk Audio.

So, What’s the Best Center Channel Speaker?

There can’t be only one answer to this question – there’re simply too many choices and too many criteria. We don’t all have the same needs or the same budget. The best thing you can do is go through our list of 15 best center channel speakers and find the speaker that meets all of your requirements. 

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