When thinking about a center channel speaker for my home theater two things come to mind. Will it properly deliver dialog during quiet moments as well as loud action sequences? And, this is one of the few areas where I don’t want to spend a lot of money. I believe the former is well within my grasp while adhering to the latter.
Some would argue that the center channel is the most important speaker in the home theater set up. I whole heartedly agree with this. As much as 75% of movie sound is sent to the center and it is crucial to following the plot. If you can’t hear what the actors are saying then what’s the point of all the noise?
With a sub par center speaker I’ve had some very frustrating moments having to turn up the sound during quiet, dialogue only scenes and rushing to turn it back down when the action picks up.
It’s not just about dialogue either. You would be surprised how much of those sound effects you hear are also played out of the center channel. The type of receiver I’m looking at and digital sound processing on these movies today will place heavy demands on my selected center speaker.
Knowing all this, I have narrowed down my choices to three very good center channel speakers. All three combine the strong low to mid range response and overall power I am looking for. Each has a price tag under $400 on Amazon right now:
Polk Audio CS10
My first option is also the cheapest speaker of those I am considering. The current center channel in my living room is also from Polk Audio. This has me a bit hesitant to purchase the CS10. The one I have is much older and not top of the line by any means, but it has been a disappointment. I still suffer from the previously mentioned volume seesaw game.
What’s good about the CS10 is it that it delivers excellent high frequency response along with good deep bass and very little distortion. I believe it is the perfect size for my purposes. At around 20″ long it can power the room adequately while not being so obtrusive as to draw attention away from the screen. <check out my selection for the perfect HDR TV> A nice added feature is the ability to hang it upside down, pointing up when I mount it underneath the TV. The price of course, is it’s best feature.
Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000
Next up is Definitive Technology’s ProCenter 1000. This is somewhere in the middle of my price range and with the jump in price comes better sound quality. However, the ProCenter 1000 is quite a bit smaller than the other two I am considering. At only 10.5 inches long it may not be large enough to deliver “big” sound.
The good news is I certainly wouldn’t have to worry about being distracted from the picture. Also, my concerns are partially alleviated after reading what the manufacturer had to say about the size concerns:
The Secret to Its Big Sound
Competing center channel speakers of this size usually have weak lower-midrange response; that part of the audio range that contains the “warmth” and “body” of voices and musical instruments. Listen to a male vocal on typical small satellite speakers and you will instantly hear the weakness in the lower midrange. The ProCenter avoids this critical problem by pressure-coupling exclusive BDSS technology drivers to two equal-sized mid/bass radiators cleverly placed on the sides of the speaker. This technique doubles the lower-midrange/bass radiating area of the speaker without increasing the size of the enclosure. You’ll enjoy the kind of rich, warm and life-like sound quality that you thought was only possible with big, hard-to-place speakers.
A quick glance at the customer reviews seems to back up the company’s explanation quite nicely. The ProCenter 1000 is definitely worthy of making it into my future home theater and cheap enough to replace my living room speaker right now.
Top of my list but still under the $400 mark is the Definitive Technology CS9040 High Performance speaker. Everything about this speaker screams power.
With its aluminum dome tweeters, high-performance drivers, and integrated bass radiator it is sure to combine the power with optimum clarity.
I do love the boxy look, but this would not really be mountable. Getting this one might require a different configuration for my theater then I’ve had in mind (see inset picture from the manufacturer).
The CS9040 has me interested for sure, but right now I am leaning towards the smaller ProCenter 1000. If I can figure out a good workable location for the center channel speaker, than you can be sure I will pick this one.