The best center channel speakers add to your listening experience — it can unmuddy the sound, emphasize speech and offer more clarity in your content. However, do you need to spend a lot to enjoy incredible sound?
To prevent you from wasting your money, our team of experts has reviewed the best center channel speakers under 500.
Reviews of the Best Center Channel Speakers Under 500
1. Definitive Technology Procenter 2000 Center Channel Speaker
As the best center channel speaker, the Procenter 2000 has everything you need for unmistakable sound quality. Your home theater will benefit from this speaker that comes with advanced drivers to belt out the sound.
Under the grille, you will find two BDSS drivers, two bass radiators, and one aluminum dome tweeter, all geared towards producing accurate vocals and sound effects.
This center speaker also integrates easily into your existing system and all the components to create an immersive experience in your living room. The build is high quality and the placement options are flexible. You can either wall mount the center speaker or place it on a flat surface.
2. Polk Audio Signature Series S35 Center Channel Speaker
This center channel speaker has a total of 6 drivers for incredibly in-depth sound. It’s one of the best options for larger living rooms and it has an ultra-slim design, making it a good fit under your TV.
It is outfitted with Hi-Fi capabilities with a starting frequency range at 40Hz. You can count on this center channel speaker to always bring you the most realistic audio effects.
The Power Port Technology handles the current flow well, which helps minimize distortion when you pump your tunes at high levels. Polk devices are amazing and the S35 can integrate well into your home theater system.
3. Klipsch RP-404C Center Channel Speaker
Perhaps the best luxury choice on our list, the Klipsch RP-404 has a beautiful wooden finish. Similar to the Klipsch RP 250C or the Klipsch R 25C center speaker, the 404C excels in sound and appearance.
The center channel speaker features Klipsch’s proprietary Tractrix Horn technology. This gives the speaker a high frequency response and focuses on delivering audio that is reverb-free.
For the high tones, the 404C has a linear travel suspension titanium diaphragm tweeter, with a vented design and spun copper cerametallic woofers for the bass tones. This makes it one of the best pieces of home audio equipment out there.
Are you looking powerful audio system from the same brand? Check out how we compare Polk heavy speaker against Klipsch.
4. JBL Studio 520CBK 2-Way Dual 4-Inch Center Channel Speaker
The JBL Studio 520CBK is an interestingly designed center speaker with 4 inch transducers and polyplas cones. For the high notes, you can rely on the high frequency compression driver to make sure you can hit those sharp tones.
The 520CBK also features a Glass-filled ABS Bi-Radial High-Frequency Horn to project the sound directly to your listening spot. This means you will have minimal disturbance from the walls and ceilings to obstruct the sound.
Sonic clarity has never been so apparent than in the Studio 520CBK center speaker. The crossover network will make sure there is virtually no distortion at any sound level.
5. Yamaha NS-C210BL Center Channel Speaker
If you are looking for awesome bass reflex, then the Yamaha NS-C210BL will match your sound expectations. It’s a two-way bass center channel speaker with woofers made from lightweight aluminum to make them more sensitive and have a higher response.
It is a small and slim design that goes well with any setup and is quite lightweight. The NS-C210BL was designed to reproduce all the sounds in HD content. The balanced dome tweeter will make sure all the high notes are reproduced flawlessly.
This center channel speaker works perfectly with a Yamaha-oriented system and integrates easily to produce enveloping and expansive sound.
Center Channel Speaker Under 500 Buyer’s Guide
What does it take to make it on our list of best center channel speakers under 500? Not only do we make sure our options fit quality standards, but they also hit every single category our experts listed below. We will also provide more options if you don’t find one on our list that’s appealing while explaining what to look for when purchasing a high quality center channel speaker.
Size and Design
Before delving into the hardware and the intricacies of center channel speakers, you need to make sure they fit into your space. Your existing sound system also needs to be compatible with your choice of speaker. Although options under 500 aren’t considered pricey for center channel speakers, you don’t want to waste your time with the wrong size or cumbersome design.
A center channel speaker is usually rectangular with sharp or rounded corners and are designed to lay flat. They don’t feature a control panel like your soundbar but they do have strong drivers that propel the sound around the room.
Unlike sound bars or other top-notch speakers like Sonos Play 5 and Bose SoundTouch 30, a center speaker doesn’t have a control panel. Instead, you would need to use the remote control to input all of the adjustments.
Take a look at your system before you choose the color and build of your center channel speaker. If you have glossy piano lacquer finishes in your living room, then chances are you would want to stick with that theme.
Polk Audio offers many center channel options that have different finishes and so does the Klipsch R series. In fact, the Polk Audio CS10 and the Polk Audio T30 are both excellent options in terms of design and function.
A high quality sound system like the Sony SSCS8 that delivers natural sound with significant bass response is another example of a minimalist design that is compact and suitable for most living spaces.
Center Channel Placement
When you have found your best center channel speaker, your next step is to figure out the best placement for clear sound. Where can you place it to maximize the two-way bass reflex, the 20 Hz 25 kHz low frequency range, and the balanced dome tweeters?
Our experts strongly recommend placing the center channel speaker directly in front of you with no obstructions. You will get the best sound from your center channel speakers as it works best in that position to coordinate all the audio.
Similar to a soundbar, you can look into placing your center channel speakers above or under your TV. If you wall mount it, we would still suggest having it under your TV as this helps with the low frequency response.
The key to setting up your sweet spot, the listening spot where all the sound signals convene for the best experience, is to angle your speaker towards that area at a 30-45 degree angle. The best center channel speakers will be designed to fit into any living room setup.
Hopefully, the one you decide to go with will not have a taller design. Ideally, you would want one that is longer than it is tall to make sure it can fit under your TV without obstructing the remote sensor. But if you have your TV wall-mounted as well, then the height of your speaker won’t be a big issue.
Your purchase can come with the wall mounting hardware or you can look into finding one online. The benefit of placing the speaker on the wall is to save space, but you may have visible wires running along the wall.
Wherever you place it, just make sure it is at the center of your entire home theater system along with other bookshelf speakers like KEF LS50 Wireless II for the optimal sound.
Other than getting the right sized center channel speaker, the next most important feature to look for is the sound quality. The sound quality can be affected by a number of factors including the embedded technology, the build of the tweeters and subwoofers as well as the materials used, and the size of the drivers to name a few.
To create a dynamic balance of the most natural sound relays, there are some things our experts advise paying attention to.
Take Klipsch, for example, a brand that has the coveted Tractrix Horn Technology, which optimizes the sound output by limiting the amount of reverb in your center channel speaker. For excellent and thundering bass, you should make sure the bass response is sensitive for the best sound.
A 2 to 3 way bass reflex will do more than enhance the low frequency for clear sound, it will benefit audiophiles listening to music with deep bass notes. Cone woofers, preferably aluminum cone woofers, are the best choice when operating under the bass vibrations.
The mid range and high notes are handled by dome tweeters. A balanced dome tweeter, a soft dome tweeter or a silk dome tweeter are the best to create a dynamic balance between all the notes on the scale. Aside from our best three options, the Martinlogan Motion 8, the Klipsch R 25C, the JBL Studio 520C, and the Yamaha NS series are also great options to look at for sound quality.
Understand that the notes in the sound spectrum are not produced equally in center channel speakers under 500. Usually, a center channel speaker is separated into two primary areas: tweeters and woofers. You may have the occasional center channel speaker that has a dedicated mid-range driver. But usually the middle notes are compensated for by the tweeters and woofers like those in Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 3 and 4 speakers.
Center channel speakers don’t feature as many sound enhancements as soundbars do. You won’t often see Dolby, DTS, or sound modes in your center speaker. However, there are some optimized for surround sound. For example, the Definitive Technology ProCenter 2000 is one of the rarer ones that has Dolby surround sound technology, which is why it is so highly recommended by our experts.
Compatibility With Other Speakers
In most cases, people who purchase a center speaker will require it to work in tandem and harmony with other components in the home theater. Without center channel speakers under 500 that are compatible with its surrounding speakers like Sonos Play 3 and the Play 5 rear speakers, you may experience sound delays, sound distortions and harmonic infrequencies.
A way to ensure the compatibility of your speakers is to purchase one of the same brand. For example, the Polk Audio CS10 and Polk Audio T30 will work seamlessly with your Polk Audio home theater system. This is the easiest way to not run into any problems during setup. Even if you are not sure about the compatibility, the product description and customer service representatives will be more than happy to help.
The product listings will also let you know the type of connections they support. To ensure 100% compatibility, all the devices you intend to connect to the center channel speaker will need the same connection. Check on the back of your devices to be sure.
The benefit to having your center channel speaker work with your existing system is the ability to create a full home theater experience by hooking it up to satellite speakers and subwoofers. Even if you don’t want a full system or if you lack the space to accommodate it, having the option to enhance the bass with an external sub will improve your viewing experience.
The best frequency response will depend on the size of your center channel speaker. What is frequency response exactly? To put it simply, a frequency response is the range of audible tones your center channel speaker can produce. The low frequency is for bass tones and the high frequency refers to the high notes.
Our experts say for the best performance, it should cover the entire range that is audible to the human ear. The best starts at 20 Hz and goes up to 20 Khz. Anywhere around that would be ideal, like a 25 Hz 25 kHz combo. The dome tweeter takes care of the high frequency production, or the treble, and the woofer takes the low end.
The best center channel speaker won’t enhance sound quality per se, but it will make sure you can hear everything that’s embedded in your content. A center channel speaker with a good frequency response will also be able to reproduce all the highs, mids and lows accurately for a balanced soundstage. If the content possesses a frequency signal outside of your center channel range, then you won’t be able to hear it reproduced.
The impedance refers to the obstruction of the electrical current through your speakers. A lower impedance is better, because it means there is less obstruction preventing the electrical signal from flowing through your speaker.
Common impedance values are 4, 6 and 8, and they are measured in ohms . Midrange speakers such as Elac Uni-Fi UB52 have 6 ohms impedance, while the lowest is 4. Thus, a center channel speaker with 4 ohms is more efficient than one with 8. However, they are both well within the recommended range by our experts.
On another note, the ohms of a speaker isn’t always consistent. It can fluctuate with the operation of your center channel speaker, so these figures should be considered as an estimated baseline.
Sensitivity of the Speakers
The sensitivity of the speaker refers to how loud the speaker can get with a certain power input. The range is usually how loud it can be with one watt per one meter.
Speaker sensitivity is measured in dB, or decibels. The higher the figure is, the more “sensitive” the speaker is, meaning it can process more power and is generally the louder center channel choice.
The sensitivity is where the sound quality is impacted on your best center channel speaker. If you want loud and encompassing sound, look for a speaker with high sensitivity. Our experts suggest looking for speakers with at least 80dB, but 90 is the standard for most speakers.
Magnetic shielding is not so much to protect the speakers but its surrounding technologies. Magnetic shielding was conceptualized to protect and shield your TV to prevent damage if you place the speakers too close to it.
However, magnetic shielding is a dated feature since most HDTVs do not need it anymore. They won’t be affected by the magnetic waves from your center channel speakers. While it may be a good idea to purchase a magnetically shielded center speaker if you do not have an HDTV, it may increase the price.
For any type of technology, or any purchase for that matter, our experts would recommend an iron-clad warranty. This will protect your purchase and you in case something is wrong with your item. This could mean the company replaces your purchase or offers you a full refund.
Look at the terms of the warranty in detail to understand what is provided. You want to be sure it encompasses as much as possible just in case the product gets damaged. It’s important to look for coverage on damaged parts and maybe even a free return or replacement within a certain window.
We have set a parameter of the best center channel speaker under 500 today, and while all our suggestions fall within this price range, there are subtle differences that set them apart.
While the Klipsch RP 404C has a beautiful finish and spun copper woofers, it won’t cost you over our limit today, but it does take up some space. The Polk Audio speaker on our list can still offer surround sound for those on a budget. Not only that, it has a beautifully sleek design that looks good wherever you place it.
Lastly, our third option from Definitive Technology is the best choice for a small space. Don’t let the compact profile fool you, the big sound this small guy can produce will blow you away.
Our experts have taken the time to carefully inspect, test and review each of these options to make sure that not only is the price tag reasonable, but you are getting the best your money can buy within the limits.
With technology, you can expect to spend more to get higher quality. The sound the device is able to produce will also differ between a low-budget option and one of a higher grade such as the ones on our list.
One thing is for sure, it’s never worth it to compromise the quality of sound for a cheaper price. From experience, you will end up purchasing one that suits your needs better further down the line and end up spending more than if you had bought the better option from the start.
What is the best center channel speaker for the money?
The best center channel speaker for the money is the Definitive Technology ProCenter 2000. It features a minimalist design and has the most advanced drivers embedded inside, which is more than other best center channel speakers can say. The somewhat large speaker can relay crystal clear and accurate sound even at high volumes with no distortion.
Do you really need a center channel speaker?
Yes, you really need a center channel speaker if you have a larger space, have more people watching at once, or you want better quality sound. A center channel speaker can fully enhance and unlock the potential of your content easily. A soundbar is also another good option for better sound but a center channel speaker is better for a full home system.
Can you use any speaker as a center channel?
Yes, you can use any speaker as a center channel. However, our experts recommend purchasing one that was designed to be a center channel. One that has a horizontal design is also better because it creates a more streamlined look. Since a center channel speaker is meant to be in the middle of your setup, one that is horizontal won’t block your TV.
Should the center channel be louder?
No, it shouldn’t be louder than the rest of your channels. However, there is no harm in having it a decibel or two louder depending on your setup. For the most balanced sound without any area stealing focus, it is the best to keep all channels relatively the same.
How do I make my center channel louder?
You can make your center channel louder by accessing the settings and turning up the volume sound. You can set the adjustments in the settings by controlling your soundbar through the remote or the app. From there, you can find the best volume for your space to create balanced and enveloping sound.
Our Top Pick For a Center Channel Speaker Under $500: Definitive Technology ProCenter 2000
After rigorous testing of the best center channel speakers under 500, our experts have come to the conclusion that the Definitive Technology ProCenter 2000 is the best choice for one at this price. This specific speaker is equipped with the highest-grade and most advanced drivers to pump out enhanced bass and match it with balanced highs and mids.
Once you pair the ProCenter 2000 with the rest of your setup, you will create a full home theater experience with just the addition of one speaker. You can enjoy distortionless sound at any volume for hours on end with the help of Definitive Technology and the speaker’s flexible placement.