Center speakers are an integral part of any home sound system. The overall quality of the audio is largely down to the choice of the center speaker and its interaction with the other components of your setup.
Gone are the days when large, bulky speakers were required for crystal clear sound reproduction. This list of the best low profile center channel speakers highlights several small and slim options which sound great but don’t take up too much space.
6 Best Low Profile Center Channel Speakers
Table of Contents
- 6 Best Low Profile Center Channel Speakers
- Effectively Setting Up Your Low Profile Center Channel Speaker
- Things to Consider When Buying a Center Channel Speaker
- Speaker Features and Specs
- Size of the Speaker
- Avoid Mixing Different Speakers
There are few manufacturers with the impressive history of producing center channel speakers than Definitive Technology. The Procenter 1000 is built to handle the demands of a home theatre system without compromising sound quality.
This compact center speaker is the latest addition to the acclaimed ProCinema series. It is fitted with double surround system drivers which produce balanced, high definition audio.
The adjustable foot stand is useful when positioning the Procenter 1000, as it allows you to adjust the angle to suit your taste. With pure aluminum dome tweeters and pressure couple mid/bass radiators, the sound quality of this low profile center channel speaker is pristine.
It’s quite common for center channel speakers to have a weak low-midrange response due to their small size. However, Definitive Technology have combated this issue by pressure-coupling the drivers to a pair of identical mid/bass radiators on the side of the speakers.
You can either wall mount this speaker unit or position it on top of a shelf. With a huge sound that belies its affordable price and small design, the Pro Center 1000 is a great centerpiece for your home audio setup.
2. KEF T301C
Available in understated black or white variations, the KEF T301C is a premium quality center channel speaker. Designed to sit flush against a wall underneath your TV, the T301C measure 1 ½ inches in depth and with a 1 inch aluminum tweeter.
Don’t let the small size of this speaker fool you; it is capable of producing highly accurate audio even at high volumes. It is fitted with a newly designed twin-layer bass and midrange unit which ensures balance across the frequencies.
KEF has been at the forefront of audio equipment and acoustic research since the early 1960’s, and all of their previously acquired knowledge has gone into the design of the T301C center channel speaker.
I really like the simplistic design and shape of the T301C, and when you consider its small compact size it’s quite astonishing to hear the pristine quality it produces.
There’s no danger of distortion even when you crank up the volume, making this a great choice for watching TV series or movies from the comfort of your home.
Featuring two 2 ½ inch drivers with a ½ inch silk dome tweeter and molded injection cones, the affordable Blackstone TL1 would make a great addition to your home theatre setup.
In order to deliver clear bass frequencies this Polk Audio speaker has a tuned rear port which boosts the low end. You can mount this speaker to your wall or simply place it on a shelf, and its small size means it won’t draw too much attention.
The TL1 is designed with a unique curved shape to create perfect alignment between the tweeter and mid-bass plane, minimizing unwanted distortion. This shape also ensures that the different frequencies reach your ears at the same time in a balanced manner.
By adding four to eight speakers to the Blackstone TL1, you can create an immersive surround sound set up without breaking the bank. With a subwoofer, this small center channel speaker really flourishes.
Connectivity is easy with the TL1, simply hook it up to your receiver like you would with any speaker. It allows you to enjoy crisp audio quality at a very reasonable price.
This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from audio heavyweights Yamaha. Their NS-CS210BL is a smartly-designed center channel speaker which comes in sleek black box housing.
Whether you intend to stream music or watch your favorite movies, this speaker clearly produces the fine details of the audio. With new aluminum woofers, the NS-C210BL is able to produce an impressively fast response across the frequency range.
The balanced dome tweeters installed within this low profile speaker ensure that the dynamic nature of the original sound source’s quality isn’t diminished in any way. The 7/8 inch tweeter is a revamped version of the same ones used in Yamahas top class models.
Lightweight, durable aluminum was used for the woofers due to its ability to let the cones move at a high speed, creating a fast attack from each sound. The bass response is pretty good too, and the lack of magnetic shielding improves the realistic nature of the audio.
Polk Audio’s S35 is perhaps the best quality option on this list, and although that’s reflected in the price, it’s a worthy investment. With an ultra-slim 4 inch-tall design, the S35 produces big, crisp surround sound.
One of the standout features of this center channel speaker is the dynamic balancer acoustic array which when combined with 6 drivers and a 1 inch Terylene tweeter dome provides you with the ultimate cinematic audio experience.
Thanks in large to Polk’s Power Port Technology, the speaker delivers deep and clear bass response with a diffuser that smoothens out the overall output. The sound quality is accurate and detailed for such a small speaker.
The round-edged design and detailed aesthetics are based upon the looks of an acoustic guitar, giving this low profile speaker a vintage appearance that won’t look out of place on your bookshelf.
The S35 is fully compatible with all audio setups, so you can simply install it as the centerpiece and easily connect any existing speakers to it.
Finally, we have the 3090Ci Center Speaker by Q Acoustics. With a beautiful English walnut finish, this speaker looks as good as it sounds. Boasting twin precision drivers, it delivers immersive audio with crisp clarity.
The 3090Ci uses the same technology as the rest of the revered 3000i range, with P2P bracing and newly designed high frequency drivers, making it the perfect companion for other speakers from this series.
You’ll have no problem finding a space for this center channel speaker. Similar in width to most standard AV receivers, it will slot underneath your TV or onto a small shelf with relative ease.
The low profile binding posts were installed with deep sockets so that the 3090Ci can easily accept 4mm banana plugs. This makes discreet wall mounting possible without the need for heavy brackets or complicated installation.
Add in a brand new mid/bass drive unit, and this speaker becomes a well-rounded option with a detailed response across the frequency spectrum and very little unwanted resonances.
Effectively Setting Up Your Low Profile Center Channel Speaker
There are a few important things to consider when setting up a compact center speaker. Because it is essentially the centerpiece of your home audio hub, it’s important to establish the following.
- Frequency response
- Magnetic Shielding
Where you choose to place your center channel speaker will be largely impactful on its performance and how it interacts with the other components of you system.
A general rule of thumb is that the center channel speaker should be placed directly above or below your TV screen so it doesn’t affect the surround sound experience.
Conversely, if you have no other speakers or only a few, you should look for a wide frequency response which starts somewhere near 30 Hz and goes up to around the 30 kHz mark.
Things to Consider When Buying a Center Channel Speaker
When you’re setting up a center channel speaker, a few things should be kept in mind to ensure that you get the best possible sound from your setup.
Speaker Features and Specs
The materials used to make the speakers has an effect on the sound produced by the speakers. Tweeters made from fabric produce a smooth sound, while metal tweeters have a brighter sound.
The sensitivity rating of a speaker determines how loud a speaker will be. A speaker with a higher sensitivity rating will be louder than a speaker with a lower rating.
Even just a few decibels can make a lot of difference. So, look for a sensitivity rating of 90dB or more if you have a low-powered receiver.
It is important that the receiver’s RMS wattage is within the recommended range of the speakers you’re using.
The amount of resistance the speaker gives the receiver. Low-impedance speakers, with a resistance of 4 ohms, should only be used with receivers that can provide a constant and large amount of current.
Size of the Speaker
A common misconception of speakers is that bigger means better. The truth is that this isn’t always the case, especially when it comes to the center speaker.
The center channel is meant to make dialogue clearer. Dialogue sits in the middle of the frequency range, which means that you don’t want a lot of bass.
Larger woofers produce more bass, whereas smaller woofers respond better to the audio in the center channel, which is where human voices generally sit.
You also don’t want a large woofer if you’re using the center channel speaker in a smaller room. Audio bounces off of walls, and bass tends to sit in the corners of walls and roofs.
A larger speaker that produces a lot of sound won’t sound very great in a small room.
Avoid Mixing Different Speakers
To get the best audio quality, get the left, right and center speaker from the same brand, and preferably the same series.
Different brands and models are designed and built according to different specifications. This means that if you mix and match different speakers, they might not be compatible with each other, which will result in audio glitches or uneven audio.
The speakers should also all be either the same size, or the difference between the center channel woofers and left/right speakers shouldn’t be too big.
The various speakers I’ve reviewed in this article vary in price and capabilities, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for before purchasing.
A high quality center channel speaker is an essential part of any home audio setup and will make your listening experience much more enjoyable.