By Kevin Gallucci
When you are putting together a surround sound system, your front three speakers are the most important. They form the sonic foundation of your entire system. It might be tempting to put more money into the front left and right speakers, because they can double as stereo speakers, but you will be doing yourself a disservice by not putting an equal amount of money into a center channel speaker.
Center channel speakers are the backbone of a surround sound system, yet people seem to take them for granted.
When you’re watching a movie or television program most of the sound comes from dialogue being spoken by the actors or TV hosts. Sound effects are definitely there, but they tend to be handled by your left, right, and surround sound speakers.
Most of the sound you hear comes from the center channel. I always cringe when I see undersized center channel speakers, because I know these speakers aren’t capable of reproducing authentic dialogue or creating the scale necessary to really draw you into the story. You should always try to buy a center channel speaker that can fill your room with sufficient sound levels.
Your center channel speaker should always be made by the same manufacturer of your other speakers. In fact, it should also be from the same speaker range. Speaker designers voice a range to sound similar, because when sound effects or dialogue pans from one speaker to another, there shouldn’t be a drastic change in tone or character.
A change in tone can take way from the realism of the sound mix. An additional tip to ensure you get the best from your center channel is to make sure to give it room to breathe. If you stuff a center channel into a tight slot it can cause it to sound muffled or muted. It’s always best to give it adequate space to work to its optimal ability.
Here are our current top 5 center speakers under $2,000
Dynaudio Excite X28C $1,199 www.Dynaudio.com
Bowers & Wilkins HTM71 S2 $1,349.98 www.Bowers-Wilkins.com
Klipsch RC-64 III $1,499 www.Klipsch.com
Paradigm Prestige 45C $1,299 www.Paradigm.com
Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL C $1,699.95 www.MartinLogan.com