If you’re looking for an in-wall center channel speaker to improve the audio performance of your speaker system, we have some excellent solutions for you. Our article about 10 best in-wall center channel speakers doesn’t only review some of the greatest speakers we found but also explains the purpose of a center channel speaker making it easier for any ordinary customer to understand the working principles and choose the speaker that matches their needs and requirements.
What Are In-Wall Center Channel Speakers?
Every surround sound speaker system, regardless of the number of components, has at least one center, one right, one left speaker, and two surround speakers. That is the minimum required to deliver surround sound. The in-wall center channel speaker is the same as any other center channel speaker. The only difference is in the installation process – in-wall speakers are, as the name implies, installed inside walls. They have the same purpose but they are installed in a wall to reduce the cable clutter and make the room cleaner.
The in-wall center channel speaker is the one that is installed at ear level (when you’re seated), right across your watching position, and it’s a critical component of every home theater system. It actually delivers approximately 70% of all the dialogue content when you’re watching a movie. Because of that, center channel speakers are very important. Without a center channel, you would be missing a vital part of any video/audio content because left and right speakers simply can’t replace it.
What Do Center Channel Speakers Look Like?
Any speaker, except for the subwoofer, can be used as a center channel speaker. However, it’s best to use the speakers with a horizontal rectangular design. The speakers with vertical cabinet design can also be used but they are simply more difficult to place below or above the projection screen or TV.
Apart from this, center channel speakers are usually constructed as two-way or three-way speakers. Whether a speaker will be categorized as a two or three-way doesn’t depend on the number of drivers inside one cabinet but rather on the number of driver types. For example, a two-way speaker can contain only two woofers in charge of different frequencies or two woofers in charge of the same frequencies and one tweeter in charge of high frequencies (2600Hz+ or 3500Hz+). On the other hand, a three-way speaker can have more than 3 drivers in total but it can’t have more than three types of drivers in charge of three different frequency ranges.
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Now that you have some basic understanding of in-wall center channel speakers, we can move onto the review part and see what we have prepared for you. The products are divided into four groups based on their price range to make it easier for you to find the product you need and save you some precious time. Let’s see what we have prepared for you.
BEST IN-WALL CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $50
Best Budget In-Wall Center Channel Speaker: Silver Ticket In-Wall Center Channel Speaker
If you want to create an affordable home theater system, Silver Ticket is the right choice for you and this 5252W center channel speaker is an excellent start. Attractive design and decent performance with clear dialog reproduction make this device a perfect choice for all of you who don’t want or can spend hundreds on speakers.
The speaker comes with a white frame and white paintable grille, the drivers are blue, and the area that surrounds them is black. The materials used to make this speaker aren’t top-quality materials but the product seems rather durable and nicely built.
5252W Silver Ticket in-wall center channel speaker has compact dimensions (14.62 in wide, 7.37 in high) that make it quite simple to install even without any professional help. Apart from this, the speaker has a frequency response that spans from 51 to 21,000 Hz, its impedance is 8 Ohms, sensitivity is 89 dB, while its total output power is 60 W (peak power 120 W). Inside the frame, there are two 5.25-inch woofers with injection-mold mica polypropylene cones and a 20mm silk dome pivoting tweeter.
What’s also important is that besides good looks, relatively durable construction, and decent features, this speaker offers more than acceptable performance. It’s not a high-end speaker but it sounds pleasant and clear, and you’ll definitely hear and feel some good bass.
Mica M-CS is an inexpensive center channel speaker that can be easily combined with other Mica speakers such as M-8S and some nice Mica subwoofer and create a great affordable home theater system.
The speaker comes in a simple package with its 12-month warranty card, user manual, cutout template, and matching aluminum grille. It’s 15.4 in wide and 8.25 in high. It contains two 6.5-inch polypropylene woofers and one silk dome 1-inch tweeter.
The speaker comes in white color, its frame is made from plastic and its grille from aluminum. All in all, it looks quite appealing and durable.
Its frequency response spans from 60 to 20,000 Hz, its impedance is 8 Ohms, sensitivity is 90 dB, while its peak power is about 120 W. The speaker is quite easy to install but if you use CL2 or CL3 wires and get a nice enclosure to protect the drivers and improve the bass, you can get even more from it than advertised.
Generally, the speaker delivers a very pleasant sound for the price. It doesn’t offer the best separation or extremely wide soundstage, its bass reproduction has its flaws, and male vocals are sometimes slightly muffled but the sound is generally quite clean and detailed for such a cheap speaker.
Decent performance considering the price
Poor bass reproduction
Male vocals might be a bit muffled
Most Affordable Under $100: Theater Solutions TSLCR5
The next product on our list of 10 best in-wall center channel speakers is the amazing Theater Solutions TSLCR5. It’s a 2-way speaker that comes in simple packaging with its removable grille, cutout template, and user manual. The speaker comes in white color, it has a simple but nice design, and it fits any interior.
The speaker is slightly oversized due to its 17.62-inch width and 8.75-inch height, so it might be wiser to leave the installation to a professional. It contains two 5.25-inch woofers with woven fiber bulletproof cones and butyl rubber surrounds, and one pivoting PEI dome tweeter. The frequency response spans from 30 to 20,000 Hz, its sensitivity is 92 dB, and its impedance equals 8 Ohms.
All in all, this is a great speaker for the money that allows you to experience crystal clear sound with impressive bass, even at high volumes. Once you hear it, you’ll realize that there’s no point in spending hundreds of dollars per speaker to get great audio.
The only two downsides we noticed are related to the slightly complex installation and the squeaking grille that has to be additionally fixed to prevent moving.
Attractive and simple design
Decent build quality
Surprisingly good audio performance
Potentially complex installation
Grille isn’t fixed properly
Monoprice Alpha 2-Way Carbon Fiber In-Wall Center Channel Speaker
Monoprice Alpha is another extremely affordable in-wall center channel speaker offering a very good performance. It comes in white color and it has a quite simple and attractive design that enables you to easily combine it with your furniture and other devices.
This is a 2-way speaker featuring two 5.25-inch carbon fiber woofers and one 1-inch silk dome tweeter. It’s an 8-Ohm speaker with a maximum power output of 100 W and a frequency response that spans from 70 to 20,000 Hz.
Carbon fiber woofers enable the speaker to hit harder, produce lower tones, and handle more power than others with a lot less distortion. On the other hand, silk dome tweeter produces crisp and clear mids and highs. The metal magnetic grille is paintable, which means that you can easily change its color and adjust it to your home interior design. Plus, the installation is extremely simple, especially because the manufacturer provides you with pre-prepared cutout templates. The only thing you may want to pay attention to is the speaker depth that equals 6 inches.
All in all, Monoprice Alpha is an excellent choice for all of you with limited budgets but want decent audio in your homes.
Great performance for the price
Speaker depth may cause some problems during installation
Yamaha NS-IW760 is a quality 2-way in-wall speaker, very similar to Polk Audio 265RT, only cheaper. It can be used as any speaker in a system, and it really offers good performance for the price.
NS-IW760 comes in simple packaging with its aluminum grille, protective plastic cover, 24-month warranty card, user manual, and a cutout template. The speaker itself is 23.43 in wide, 7.69 in high, and 5.1 pounds heavy. It comes in white color (although the frame and the grille are paintable) and it contains one 1-inch silk dome tweeter and two 6.5-inch woofers. The frequency response goes from 50 to 24,000 Hz, its sensitivity is 88 dB, impedance is 6 Ohms, and its total power output equals 40W.
The speaker sounds quite good. It covers a wide range of frequencies and its highs and mids are very pleasant. The lows are pretty thin and slightly muddy at high volumes but this isn’t really a deal-breaker.
Sadly, there’s one bigger problem and that’s the installation process, especially when you want to use it as a horizontal center channel speaker because you need to cut a 22.5-inch hole. This means you’ll need to cut through the studs, which is never desirable, so we strongly recommend you to consult a professional and hire him to do the job for you.
OSD Audio IW550LCR is a reasonably priced compact speaker that can be used as a left, right, or center channel speaker. Either way, it’ll be a great addition to your home audio system. It comes in black color with a removable magnetic grille and a cutout template, while the manufacturer offers a 10-year warranty. Not bad for the money, right?
The speaker is nicely designed and it can easily blend into your home décor. The grille is paintable, so if you don’t like this color, it can be easily changed. Thanks to its dimensions (15.6 x 7.5 inches) and the mounting depth of only 3.7 inches, it’s quite easy and simple to set up without the necessity to drill deep and large holes risking to damage some of the installations. IW550 features two 5.25-inch woofers and one 1-inch tweeter. The drivers have carbon-glass fiber that assures clear audio reproduction with full bass delivery, while the aluminum dome tweeter significantly reduces the distortion.
When it comes to features, this speaker has an impedance of 8 Ohms, sensitivity that equals 87 dB, its frequency response spans from 57 to 20,000 Hz, while its ability to handle up to 150 W of power makes it easy to pair with some robust sound systems.
Easy to install
Simple, effective, and adjustable design
The speaker doesn’t come with any tools or wires
BEST IN-WALL CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $500
Best In-Wall Center Channel Speaker Under $500: Klipsch R-5502-W
Klipsch R-5502-W is one of the best high-end in-wall speakers and it’s made by one of the dominant audio companies in the world. It offers great performance, it has an eye-catching design, it’s made from high-quality materials, and it can be used as any speaker (except for the subwoofer) in a home theater system. The only real disadvantage it has is its price that may discourage many customers from buying it.
The speaker comes in premium packaging with its paintable aluminum grille, user manual, cutout template, and a 5-year warranty card. Most of its elements are made from ABS but they all seem quite durable. It comes in black color with copper-colored drivers, it’s 17.75 in high, 8 in wide, and it weighs 6.5 pounds, while the sound is delivered by two 5.25-inch cerametallic woofers and one 1-inch tweeter with a diaphragm made from titanium. The frequency response spans from 46 to 20,000 Hz, impedance is 8 Ohms, sensitivity is 92 dB, and the speaker’s total output power equals 75 W.
When it comes to audio performance, it really makes this speaker different from the others. The sound is full, detailed, and crisp, vocals are incredibly clear, highs are sparkling. Truth be told, the bass reproduction isn’t the best but it can be perfected with the help of a proper subwoofer.
Amazing audio reproduction
Poor bass reproduction
Complicated installation due to the product dimensions
The next product on this list of 10 best in-wall center channel speakers is the amazing Polk Audio 265-RT. It’s a bit more expensive than the previously reviewed speakers but it’s definitely a lot cheaper than Klipsch R-5502-W.
The speaker comes in a nice packaging with its warranty, user manual, cutout template, and paintable aluminum grille. It’s available in black color, it is 20.9 in high, 8.9 in wide, while it contains two 6.5-inch composite polymer woofer and one 1-inch silk dome tweeter. Its frequency response spans from 30 to 27,000 Hz, its sensitivity is 91 dB, impedance is 8 Ohms, and its peak power input is 200 W.
The speaker itself looks rather attractive and feels quite durable. Considering that the grille is paintable, you can easily change its color and match it with your interior design.
In the performance department, there were also no complaints. 265-RT delivers impressive sound – the mids are dynamic and very detailed, and the highs are quite clear and pleasant to listen to. The only downside is that it lacks bass but this can easily be compensated by adding a good subwoofer to the system.
Plus, this is not a small speaker and it can be tricky to install. Before you purchase it and cut a big hole in your wall, please double-check whether you have enough space to install it properly or not.
Potentially complex installation
BEST IN-WALL CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKERS UNDER $1,000
Best Deal Under $1,000: Definitive Technology DI 6.5 LCR
Our next product is an excellent choice for all of you who prefer hearing over seeing speakers. Definitive Technology DI 6.5 LCR is a compact two-way speaker that perfectly blends into your walls and even allows you some color adjustments. Plus, it’s very durable and delivers amazing sound.
The package contains one speaker, one removable grille, a user manual, a wall-mount template, and a 5-year warranty card. The speaker is black, while the magnetic flangeless micro-perf grille is white but also paintable, which means you can easily make it compatible with the rest of the devices and furniture in your house. The design is simple, yet very slick and elegant.
DI 6.5 LCR features two 6.5-inch BDSS woofers and one 1-inch pure aluminum tweeter. It has quite compact dimensions (16.19 x 7.38 inches, mounting depth 3.13 inches) and it can be installed both horizontally (as a center channel speaker) and vertically (as either left or right front speaker). Either way, we guarantee great performance.
Speaking about performance, let’s start with the numbers. The frequency response spans from 26 to 30,000 Hz, impedance is 8 Ohms, and sensitivity is 90 dB. Thanks to its great build quality and these specs, this speaker manages to deliver clear, crisp, and airy sound with the right amount of bass and a lot of details in the midrange.
In case you aren’t completely satisfied with the sound, you can use the three-position EQ button on the front panel that enables you to adjust the sound to the type of room where the speaker will be used. Selecting ‘minus’ will compensate for too accentuated treble, selecting ‘plus’ will boost the treble, which is necessary for rooms with a lot of furniture and other absorbing elements, while the center EQ position will be perfect for those rooms that have an equal amount of absorbing and reflecting elements.
Simple and elegant design
Removable paintable grille
Amazing audio reproduction
A bit expensive
Best In-Wall Center Channel Speaker Under $1000: Definitive Technology In-Wall UIW RLS II
We were so impressed by the Definitive Technology speaker performance that we decided to include one more of their products into our selection of 10 best in-wall center channel speakers. This time, it’s UIW RLS II.
This is a three-way speaker that comes with its wall-mounting template, paint mask, paintable grille, self-adhering foam gasket, and a 5-year warranty card. Its mounting dimensions are 28.5 x 7 x 3.81 inches and it can be installed both vertically and horizontally (as L/R or center speaker). It handles up to 350 W of power, its frequency response spans from 22 to 30,000 Hz, its impedance is 8 Ohms, and its sensitivity is 92 dB.
UIW RLS II features one 1-inch tweeter, two 6.5-inch midrange woofers, and two 6.5-inch bass radiators. These drivers deliver even and rich sound, which is perfect for both listening to music and watching movies.
The only real downside is that you’ll probably have to contact a professional to help you with the installation because it’s a bit oversized and you will probably have to cut through studs. Of course, you should also consider matching it with a good subwoofer. The passive radiators deliver good bass but nothing can compare to a real subwoofer.
Attractive and elegant design
Paintable removable grille
Sturdy and durable speaker
Great audio reproduction
Installation might be complex and tricky
Why Do We Need In-Wall Center Channel Speakers?
As we have said, center channel speakers are in charge of dialog reproduction but it also adds some special effects. Mainly, it helps to tell the story and tell it properly, so that it can get to the audience and involve people in the story. They can actually be called an integral part of a surround sound setup because they do most of the work. If there was no center channel speaker, the entire delivered information would be split between left and right speakers, which aren’t capable of delivering it perfectly, the whole soundstage would be compromised and listeners would have a continuous feeling that something is missing.
How to Place/Install an In-Wall Center Channel Speaker?
While the front left and right speakers and surround speakers shall be installed slightly above the listener’s ear level, equally distant from the main listening position (sweet spot), a center channel speaker shall be right at the listener’s ear level.
If you have a wall-mounted TV, the center channel speaker shall be installed slightly below it. On the other hand, if the TV stands on a shelf or a table, it is recommended that the center channel speaker is installed slightly above it.
Other Installation Tips
The main downside of in-wall speakers is their installation. It’s quite complicated, risky, and it can cause some serious unplanned costs.
In-wall speaker installation requires drilling and cutting holes in walls but if you don’t know what is right behind that part of the wall, drilling can lead to the pipe and electrical wires damaging. To avoid this, you must be confident about what you’re doing. Even if you are experienced in these things, you should read the instructions and make sure that you’re cutting the holes that will perfectly match your new speakers.
However, drilling holes is less of a problem than wiring the whole system correctly. Before you take any action, you should find the best way to run wires from your AV receiver to all in-wall speakers. Depending on the plumbing and electric wire infrastructure, the best option may be to run the wires through the ceiling, under the floor, or along the floor. Either way, the process requires detailed planning, accurate calculations, and precision.
If you don’t have the necessary experience, you should call a professional. His services have their price and might include some additional expenses but it is certainly more advisable than destroying the pipe and wire infrastructure in your home.