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Best Slim Center Channel Speakers

These days, a good home theater setup can elevate watching movies at home to a nearly in-theater level experience, and the core of that setup is the center channel speaker.

If you aren’t familiar with the powers of a center channel speaker, you just aren’t getting the full audio experience.

A center channel speaker is a critical component of a home theater system set-up as it’s said to deliver about 70% of the dialogue from movies and television. Without one, you’re missing out on vital parts of what you’re watching.

A good center channel speaker will enhance your listening experience dramatically, and add a rich density to your audio by providing a full spectrum of sound where you need it most: in the center, making it possible to finally hear all that dialogue you’ve been missing.

Want a peek at some low profile center channel speaker options out there today? Check out our roundup of Killer slim center channel speakers.

Best Slim Center Channel Speakers

1. Polk Audio Signature Series S35

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Polk Audio S35

  • Works as a left, right, or center channel speaker
  • Can be placed horizontally or vertically
  • 1 inch Terylene high-res dome tweeter
  • Six 3 inch mica-reinforced polypropylene Dynamic Balance® cone drivers
  • Power Port® technology for better bass response
  • Non-resonant MDF cabinet
  • 5-way gold-plated binding posts
  • keyhole slots for wall mounting

Last update on 2020-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dimensions 24-7/16″W x 4-3/16″H x 6-1/8″D (placed horizontally)
Frequency range 53-40,000 Hz
Sensitivity 88 dB
Power Handling  Up to 150 watts
Impedance 8 Ohm
Weight 14 lbs.

Polk Audio is easily one of the most prolific and leading manufacturers of loudspeakers. The company has been around for a very long and has mastered the art of making top notch speakers.

At only 4.1875″ tall, the Polk’s Signature S35 is one of the slimmest home theater speakers that you can buy. It sports a sleek, and stylish design, which in combination with its beautiful black washed walnut finish makes it an attractive addition to your living room.

The Polk Signature S35 was designed for maximum versatility, with horizontal or vertical placement options. It can perform equally well whether you use it as a left, right, or center channel speaker.

This speaker uses a strong and acoustically inert cabinet that reduces unwanted internal standing waves for less audible coloration. It has two rear firing ports which transition airflow from the inside of the speaker into your listening area for enhanced low-end impact while minimizing distortion, air noise and sonic interference.

Internally, this speaker houses a 1 inch high-resolution soft dome tweeter for clear, detailed highs and realistic reproduction of vocals, plus six highly efficient 3 inch Dynamic Balance® low distortion midrange cone woofers made of lightweight yet durable mica-reinforced polypropylene and enhanced with butyl rubber surrounds, which allow for clean, clear bass, better linearity, and increased dynamic midrange.

Furthermore, this center-channel speaker employs a high-performance two-way crossover network for seamless blending and optimum time alignment of the tweeter and woofers, creating a lifelike soundstage.

Specs-wise, this beast can handle up to 150 watts of power. It boasts a 53Hz to 40k Hz frequency response, and 88dB sensitivity, giving you all the range and power you could want.


2. Yamaha NS-C210BL

Yamaha NS-C210BL
  • 2 way bass reflex center speaker
  • Woofers use light aluminum cones for extra fast response
  • 7/8 inches balanced dome tweeter
  • Slim design matches flat panel TVs
  • Limited warranty only when purchased from an AUTHORIZED YAMAHA DEALER

Last update on 2020-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dimensions 13 3/8″W x 4 1/8″H x 5 3/16″D
Frequency range 65-45,000 Hz
Sensitivity 88 dB
Power Handling (Maximum / Nominal) 120W / 40W
Impedance 6 Ohms
Weight 4.4 lbs.

From a name well-known to audiophiles, and deserving of their stellar reputation, Yamaha offers the NS-C210BL, a thin center channel speaker designed to deliver impressive dynamic performance in a sound that is deep, loud and clear.

At only 4.1″ high, this low profile center channel speaker will perfectly blend in with any TV setup. Despite its low profile design, this unit incorporates dual 3.1″ cone woofers and a 0.9″ balanced dome tweeter, which allow for a rich, deep sound with a balanced, energetic bass and a good high-frequency response.

Yamaha NS-C210BL center channel speaker sports 86dB sensitivity rating and offers up to 120 watts at peak with minimal distortion throughout most of that range. With a frequency response of 65Hz to 45kHz, you’ll score clean and crisp highs, fantastic mid-range clarity and a respectable bass.

Design wise, the Yamaha NS-C210BL is nothing to write home about. It looks pretty simple and won’t win any prizes in the style department. That’s not say that it’s un-attractive. It’s just a wooden box with piano black finish with some good speakers in it. And for less than $100, I doubt there is much out there that can beat it.


3. Klipsch RP-504C

Klipsch RP-504C

  • 1 inch titanium LTS vented tweeter with hybrid tractrix® horn
  • Quad 5.25 inch spun copper cerametallic™ woofer
  • Bass-reflex design with rear-firing Tractrix port
  • Magnetically attached grille for a clean, streamlined look
  • Ebony vinyl finish with scratch-resistant design
  • 5-way binding post speaker terminals
  • Strong, flexible removable magnetic grille

Last update on 2020-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dimensions 31-3/16″W x 6-7/8″H x 14-7/16″D
Frequency range 58-25,000 Hz
Sensitivity 97 dB
Power Handling  up to 150 watts RMS (600 watts peak)
Impedance 8 Ohms
Weight 34 lbs.

When it comes to quality sound systems, Klipsch has really secured its place in the industry. You can hardly even talk about home theater systems without bringing up the company’s top notch center channel speakers.

It’s designed to work alongside the rest of the Klipsch home theater systems, this Klipsch RP-504C adds a fabulous, clean design to your living room sound setup.

Klipsch offers a wide range of center channel speakers with the RP-504C being the largest and most powerful center channel in the series. This beast is perfect for large rooms where you want to be drawn directly into the action unfolding on the screen.

The center channel speaker at hand comes equipped with Klipsch’s signature 1″ horn-loaded titanium tweeter for exceptionally accurate dialogue and center-stage sound effects, and four 5-1/4″ spun-copper woofers for punchy bass and dynamic midrange,

Taking performance to the next level, this speaker uses Horn technology which is one of Klipsch’s long-standing hallmarks as it’s highly efficient, and provides a more accurate sound with less power and less distortion – resulting in louder, cleaner audio.

Not only that, but this technology also accurately projects sound waves toward your listening spot and prevents them from simply spilling out in all directions, which, in turn, creates a more lifelike “front row” listening experience without wasting acoustic energy where sound is not needed or desired.

On the back this speaker uses a Tractrix horn-shaped opening instead of the conventional round port found on many speakers, which allows for smoother, more efficient airflow in and out of the cabinet, not to mention reduced port turbulence and and low-frequency distortion.

Having said that, consider pulling the speaker a bit away from your wall to give it some room to breathe.

The only downside to this speaker that we can reasonably think of is the price. I mean, the price tag on this one is fairly steep. If you want to go balls to the wall and purchase the Klipsch RP-504C, you’ll be looking at over $500 price tag.


4. Sony SSCS8

Sony SSCS8

  • 2-way, 3-speaker bass-reflex system
  • Wide dispersion super tweeters for lifelike high-end
  • Mica reinforced cellular woofer for a bigger bass response
  • Stylish wooden finish

Last update on 2020-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dimensions 16.93″W x 5.75″H x 8.66″D
Frequency range 55-25,000 Hz
Sensitivity 97 dB
Power Handling  up to 145 Watts
Impedance 6 Ohms
Weight 11.02 lbs.

If you’ve ever taken any interest in any type of consumer/entertainment tech products, Sony is a brand you likely recognize, and for good reason. It’s been able to get its hands into nearly every space of consumer/entertainment tech successfully. From the wide selection of 4K TVs to a myriad of cameras, the company has been able to make and release products that can be used in every aspect of daily life.

Sony knows a thing or two about loudspeakers and it has a speaker for virtually all types of applications. So, whether you’re looking for portable speaker or a set of home theater speakers, Sony has got you covered.

The SSCS8 is one of Sony’s top rated center channel speakers. It looks unassuming, but its low profile belies a 2-way three speaker bass-reflex system and a high-quality crossover network that is up to the task whether it’s a dynamic movie soundtrack or your favorite playlist.

The SSCS8 was designed to deliver room-filling sound characterized by incredibly powerful bass response and natural sounding vocals that shoot straight to the heart, thanks to the two 4 inch foamed-mica cellular reinforced woofers, and 1 inch all-new wide dispersion super tweeter. The latter is specifically tuned to put out ultra-responsive, high-frequency audio response (up to 50 kHz), which is ideal for high-resolution listening, with wide directionality (sweet spot).

With a maximum input of 145 watts, 86 dB sensitivity, and a frequency response of 55Hz to 25k Hz, the SSCS8 is a serious bargain.


5. Definitive Technology Procenter 1000

Definitive Technology Procenter 1000

  • One 1 inch pure aluminum dome tweeter
  • Two 4-1/2 inch BDSS bass/midrange drivers
  • Two 4-1/ inch bass radiators
  • 5-way binding posts
  • Non-resonant polyStone cabinet
  • Gloss black finish
  • Adjustable leveler foot

Last update on 2020-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dimensions 14-5/8″W x 4-7/8″H x 5″D
Frequency range 47-30,000 Hz
Sensitivity 90 dB
Power Handling  Up to 200 watts
Impedance 8 Ohms
Weight 8 lbs.

On a budget and looking for something that can get the job done without tearing a hole in your pocket? Check out the Definitive Technology Procenter 1000. It’s one of the best center channel speakers in this price range.

This compact center channel speaker reproduces crystal-clear dialogue and true-to-life sound effects thanks to its 1 inch pure aluminum dome tweeter which produces extended highs that reveal nuance and subtle detail without a trace of edginess, and its dual 4-1/2″ woofers that put out stellar and deep bass impact.

Taking performance to the next level, the bass output on these speakers is further turbocharged by two 4-1/2″ bass radiators that are cleverly placed at both ends of the cabinet. This advanced technique doubles the overall radiating area of the speaker without increasing the size of the enclosure.

Speaking of size, the enclosure measures 14-5/8″ W x 4-7/8″H x 5″D, and weighs less than eight pounds, making it one of the smallest center channel speakers in the market.

Overall, this speaker works great for both music and movies, with a booming sound that never gets muddy. It has a frequency response of 47 Hz to 30k Hz, 90 dB sensitivity, and can handle up to 200 watts of power, which quite impressive for its size.


How Does a Center Channel Work?

In home theater, almost all of the dialog is mixed into the center channel track. On-screen dialogue and on-screen effects come from right in the middle of the soundscape. Therefore, being able to hear the dialog track clearly is a requirement for a good home theater.

With that said, a high-performance center channel ensures great sound gets to its desired destination – the audience (that’s you).

But, Is A Center Channel Necessary?

Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo audio is a method of sound reproduction that was originally designed to separate recorded sound into two channels, in such a way as to create a pleasant and natural impression of sound heard from various directions, as in natural hearing, with left and right channel speakers placed in front of the room. However, despite the fact that some sounds come specifically from the left or right channel speakers, main dialogues and vocals are mixed into both speakers.

Even though there is no center speaker, vocals and dialogues appear to come from a phantom center spot precisely between left and right channel speakers, provided the listener is located in the sweet spot.

Although this is an effective way to present vocals, as you move away from the sweet spot to either the left or right, the position of the vocals will move with you.

You can also experiment this effect by using the balance control on the stereo receiver or amp. As you dial the balance control to the left or right, you can hear the vocals change position accordingly.

As a result, in a traditional stereo setup, there’s no way to control the position or level (volume) of the center channel vocals independently from the left and right channels.

This is where surround sound comes into play, as it provides an effective solution to the center channel problem posed by the traditional stereo setup.

Unlike stereo, in a high-performance surround sound setup, there is a minimum of six channels with speakers allocated as follows: front L/R, surround L/R, subwoofer (.1), and dedicated center.

In a surround sound setup, the vocals are often mapped to the center channel, eliminating the need to create a phantom center using the left and right channels.

As a result of how sounds are mixed into each of the surround system channels, instead of having the vocals/dialog placed in a phantom center spot, it is placed in a dedicated center channel. For this specific reason, the center channel requires its own speaker.

On that point, not splitting the audio information among the left and right speakers, except what’s supposed to be there makes total sense as you let each speaker focus on part of the job, letting each one reproduce its part of the soundstage to perfection.

Where Should I Put My Center Channel Speaker?

While the answer of putting your center channel in the middle of your home theater system setup (ideally at an equal distance between the front left and right channel speakers) seems like a no-brainer, we can’t stress enough the importance of proximity. What I mean is that all channels should be equal volume in the listening space.

Not only that, but you also need to make sure your center channel is level with the rest of your speakers, in terms of the soundstage.

What to Look for in Center Channel Speakers

There are many factors to take into account when choosing the right low profile center channel speaker for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Sound Quality

The first big question that most people ask is: is a center channel speaker actually going to improve the sound quality of my setup? The easy answer is that, no matter how much or how little you spend, the sound quality will be improved with a center channel speaker. It’s going to become richer and cleaner. Center channel speakers are specifically designed to provide a specific anchor location for dialog and vocals.

A center channel speakers also allows you to adjust its volume level independently of other speakers in a system, providing more flexibility in balancing the total sound of the system.

Having said that, the overall sound quality of a center channel speaker is of paramount importance — a beautiful speaker is worth nothing if it sounds awful. Thereby, consider a model that can adequately reproduce vocals and offers a broad frequency range.

Size & Design

Generally speaking, size matters in the world of home theater speakers. The range and quality of your sound will be largely determined by the size of your driver. That’s not to say that slim center channel speakers aren’t anything to write home about. Quite honestly, a good small center speaker can make a night and day difference in terms of your overall sound quality and depth.

Additionally, there’s no denying that the size and shape of your center channel speaker are quite important, and do have a bearing on the unit’s overall sound. Even so, if the model doesn’t blend in with your decor, it’ll leave a lot to be desired.

Frequency response

It goes without saying that all sounds have a frequency – how high or how low they are. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), and for all types of speakers, being able to understand frequency is quite important.

If you are adding a center channel speaker to an existing speaker setup, opt for a center channel with a similar timbre and sonic characteristics as your main left and right channel speakers. Your surround system is at its best if the center speaker has similar mid-range and high-end frequency response capability as the right and left channels.

If you are unable to find a unit with similar characteristics of your left and right front channel speakers, your home theater receiver may be able to compensate using its equalization capabilities (assuming it has an automatic speaker setup system).

Crossover network

Crossover network goes hand in hand with frequency response. It refers to an electronics device that acts as an audio traffic cop, directing highs to the tweeter, mids to the mid-range driver, and lows to the subwoofer for a seamless and well-balanced sound output.

Without a good crossover, a messy, sonic “traffic jam” results. Your midrange and sub duplicate too many of the same frequencies and your sub wastes time and energy trying to put out that kind of notes it wasn’t meant to handle.

For this reason, you need to make sure a speaker has a good frequency response and that it’s incorporated with a quality crossover network. This will help create a wonderful sound stage.

Compatibility

Regardless of whether you have a 2.1 or 6.1 channel setup, you’d want to enjoy the optimum output. Therefore, in order to ensure a balanced soundstage and smooth transitioning for the sound as it bounces between speakers, you need to make sure that all your speakers are fully compatible with each other. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you stick with the same brand for all the speakers in your sound system.

Impedance

Measured in Ohms and symbolized symbolized by the Greek letter Omega (Ω) for shorthand, impedance refers to the “resistance” a speaker offers to the current being supplied by the amplifier or receiver. The lower the impedance load, the higher the load on the amp (and the harder it has to work). Which is great to the point where the amp cannot produce any more power in which case it blows. For this reason, make sure the amp load is not less than the stated nominal impedance of your speaker.

Budget

The sky’s the limit when shopping for a center channel speaker. Like with any product, you can get a really nice sounding center channel speaker if you’re willing to shell out some serious dough. However, you don’t have to completely blow your budget to get great sound. There really are great products in every price range.

No matter how much or how little you spend, a center channel speaker will vastly improve your setup. We’ve come across a ton of budget center channel speakers that offer a great bang for the buck while we were compiling this list.

Alex Brown

Hey There, my name is Alex Brown, I'm a music lover and a car audio enthusiast. I've installed everything from navigation systems to full car stereo systems, remote starters, alarms and beyond. I've been in this industry for years now. I enjoy creating solutions and simplifying everyday needs. My passion for music came at an early age. I love helping people get great sounding gear, thereby, saving the world from bad sound one customer at a time.

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