The 5 Best Center Channel Speakers of 2021

Create a more cinematic sound experience with these center channel speakers

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
Best Overall:
Pioneer SP-C22 at Amazon
It has two 4-inch surface woofers, 1-inch high-efficiency soft dome tweeter and six element crossovers.
A center channel speaker that fits horizontally on any bookshelf, thanks to its unique design.
This speaker incorporates the same various technologies as more expensive and larger...products.
The incorporation of Dynamic Balance technology means crystal-clear dialogue and room-filling theater sound.
This awesome, center channel speaker comes equipped with a pair of 5.25-inch spun copper woofers for hair-bending bass, and a 1-inch titanium tweeter for crystal-clear high-end resonance.

The best center channel speakers pack tremendous power and range into a compact, stylish (or at least unobtrusive) package. Audio tech and design is constantly evolving, and engineers are constantly discovering new tricks to squeeze ever more fidelity out of ever-shrinking speakers. These days, a home theater setup can elevate watching Netflix at home to a nearly in-theater level experience, and the core of that setup is the center channel speaker.

Our top pick, Pioneer's SP-C22 at Amazon, is a gorgeous, best-in-class option from renowned designer Andrew Jones. The curved cabinet design reduces standing sound waves, resulting in highly accurate sound reproduction and exceptional quality. It's the best center channel speaker currently available, and the perfect partner for any of the items on our list of best speakers.

Best Overall: Pioneer SP-C22

What we like
  • Great for small spaces

  • Attractive design

What we don't like
  • Low overall wattage

The Pioneer SP-C22 Andrew Jones-designed center channel speaker produces a sound you’ll quickly fall in love with. Measuring 18.12 x 8.45 x 7.12 inches, the SP-C22 is designed to look both modern and conventional. It has two 4-inch surface woofers, 1-inch high-efficiency soft dome tweeter and six element crossovers. The latter assists with blending the audio between the woofer and the tweeter for greater range of different frequencies. The curved shape of the wooden cabinet casing also aids the SP-C22 in standing wave reduction that pairs with all other auditory features to result in one high-quality sound system. With 50% of a movie’s soundtrack coming from a center speaker, the SP-C22 allows car crashes to sound a little crunchier and explosions to sound a little louder, which adds a level of authenticity that’s hard to pass up.

Size: 8.44x18.13.x7.13 inches | Controls: N/A | Input: 1x Speaker cable | Power: 90W

Best Design: Yamaha NS-C210BL

What we like
  • Excellent compatibility

  • Versatile

  • Slick design

What we don't like
  • Not great for large rooms

  • Bass response could be better

Measuring 5 x 13 x 4 inches, the Yamaha NS-C210BL is a center channel speaker that fits horizontally on any bookshelf, thanks to its unique design. The design is both elegant and slim, but still sports a 7/8-inch balanced dome tweeter, two-way bass-reflect center speaker and light aluminum cone-based woofers for an extra-fast audio response. The slim design is the result of Yamaha not wanting to take attention away from flat-panel TVs, so the sound is heard but not seen. Ultimately, the NS-C210BL is specifically attentive to reproducing the fuller, dynamic sound of high-definition sources, including Blu-ray discs.

Size: 5.2x13.4.x4.2 inches | Controls: N/A | Input: 1x Speaker cable | Power: 80W

Most Compact: Definitive Technology Procenter 1000 Compact Center Speaker

What we like
  • Relatively small

  • Outstanding sound quality

What we don't like
  • Cabinets are prone to scuffing

  • Mounting options are limited

The ProCenter 1000 is supported by two 4.5-inch cast basket drivers, two 4.5-inch pressure-driven low-frequency radiators, as well as a 1-inch pure aluminum dome tweeter, which creates a punch in the sound that you’d only expect to find in a larger speaker. Measuring 10.5 x 5 x 5 inches, the ProCenter 1000 is traditionally compact compared to alternative center speaker options, but performs even better. Fortunately, the size won’t fool you as this speaker incorporates the same various technologies as more expensive and larger Definitive Technology products. Case in point: The two added bass radiators on either side of the case help push out a bass sound that will have you thinking the ProCenter 1000 is hiding some mystical technology inside its compact form factor.

Size: 8.44x18.13.x7.13 inches | Controls: N/A | Input: 1x Speaker cable | Power: 90W

Best Value: Polk Audio T30 Center Channel Speaker

What we like
  • Audiophile quality sound

  • Full and rich audio

  • Excellent value

What we don't like
  • Lower volume might struggle in larger rooms

Strikingly affordable, the Polk Audio T30 center channel speaker is an excellent option that won’t break the bank. Sporting 1-inch silk dome tweeters and dual 5.25-inch Dynamic Balance drivers, the T30 delivers excellent sound quality. The incorporation of Dynamic Balance technology means crystal-clear dialogue and room-filling theater sound. A performance-tuned rear-firing bass port also works to increase the bass output for heart-pumping sound. Pairing well with left and right channel speakers, it's suggested to position the speaker right below a television. Setup is easy as the speaker works with most home theater receivers or stereos. 

Support for Dolby and DTS sound adds to the audio experience especially during action sequences or sports events. Music comes alive even at high volume levels where distortion is almost non-existent. The minimalist look of the Polk reduces the distraction speakers can pose in any room. The quality design of the speaker blends a deep gray with black grille for a unique look. The furniture-grade manufacturing works to reduce resonance and distortion adding richness to the overall sound. 

Size: 8.5x19.x6.5 inches | Controls: N/A | Input: 1x Speaker cable | Power: 200W

Best Bass: Kilpsch RP-500C

What we like
  • Efficient, with a low power draw

  • Durable and attractive design

What we don't like
  • A little bulky

  • Needs equally powerful side speakers for a balanced sound environment

If you're looking for reference level performance in a discrete package, you can't go wrong with the Klipsch RP-500C. This long standing manufacturer of high-quality, robust speakers and headphones has dialed up the performance of it's aging 250C model without compromising it's unassuming form factor. The 500C still measure 6.8x18.5x9.5 inches (HWD) and weighs in around 18 pounds. This awesome, center channel speaker comes equipped with a pair of 5.25-inch spun copper woofers for hair-bending bass, and a 1-inch titanium tweeter for crystal-clear high-end resonance. Available in either a rich ebony or warm walnut finish, the 500C makes a spectacular statement piece for any media setup. If you're not keen on having the 500C's large woofers staring back at you, it also comes equipped with a removable metallic grille. As with all Klipsch speakers, you also get a five-year warranty that protects you from any fault of the manufacturer, making this speaker a true investment for any audiophile.

Size: 9.06x18.9x7.09 inches | Controls: N/A | Input: 1x Speaker cable | Power: 100W

Final Verdict

The Pioneer SP-C22 (view at Amazon) is an exceptional speaker with fantastic power capable of producing incredible sound. If you're looking for an amazing speaker to tuck into a very tight space, however, Definitive Technology's Procenter 1000 (view at Amazon) is the choice for you, a great unit in a stunning, compact body.

About our Trusted Experts

David Beren is a tech writer with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. He has written and managed content for tech companies like T-Mobile, Sprint, and TracFone Wireless.

FAQs

Will the distance of my speakers from the audio source affect my sound quality?
Yes, while it's not always possible, for the best audio quality, you'll want to keep the length of cable tethering your speakers to your receiver as short as possible. Although your sound quality won't suffer very much unless they're 25 feet or more from your receiver. For any wired speakers, you should use a 14-gauge cable, and potentially use a 12-gauge cable for any speakers extending past 25 feet from the receiver.

Where should I place my speakers?
This can be a little different depending on if you're using a stereo, 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 setup. However, there are a couple of evergreen rules to follow regardless of how many speakers you're using. This will obviously depend on your room layout, but you should try and have your speakers equidistant from each other with surround speakers placed in the corners around your listening area. You should also try to keep your speakers free of obstructions and if you can safely mount them on a wall, even better.

How many subwoofers do I need?
This all depends on the size of your room, more subwoofers give you a better bass quality and offer you more flexible placement when looking for the best spot for optimal sound quality. However, having more than a single subwoofer in a small listening area may be overkill. Also, some single speakers provide enough bass as standalone options that an additional woofer isn't required.

What to Look for in Center Channel Speakers

Sound quality

A center speaker’s most essential feature is its overall sound quality—a beautiful speaker is worth nothing if it sounds awful. Be sure to select a model that offers a broad frequency range and can adequately reproduce vocals.

Brand cohesiveness

It’s essential to consider the brand of your left and right front speakers when selecting a center speaker for your setup. Different brands and models have different sound signatures. If possible, purchase a center speaker of the same brand and model range of your existing stereo speakers.

Design

While style isn’t everything, an ugly design under your television can be quite an eyesore. Additionally, think about the size of your new center speaker and make sure it physically fits where you plan to put it.

Was this page helpful?