If you go and talk to a sales person at any speaker store, they will probably go on and on about how important a center channel speaker is to your surround sound system. Now, is this just sales talk to get you to invest even more money or is a center channel really that important? To determine how important it is, let’s look at what the center channel actually does.
One of the main functions of your center channel speaker is to provide balance between your left and right front speakers. That way what you hear is a seamless balance of sound coming from all your speakers. It makes what you hear sound more natural across all your speakers. In some cases, this is very important, but it really all comes down to your setup.
Most movie dialog is broadcast from the center channel when made in surround sound. The goal is provide clear dialog that you can easily hear. This is where the sales guys will try to convince you of the importance of a center channel speaker. While they aren’t entirely correct, they aren’t entirely wrong, either. Let’s look at what I mean.
When It’s Needed
Now, because of balance between your speakers and the importance of dialog in your favorite movies, you may think that a center channel is a necessity. In some cases, it certainly is. For example, if your left and right front speakers are close to the television and you are in a small room, then you can probably get away with the phantom center they create.
On the other hand, if your setup is in a large room and your speakers are spread apart, then you will definitely need a high quality center channel so there aren’t holes in your sound. If you don’t, you will find that your center sound is weak and you may even notice dialog in your movies just doesn’t sound quite right.
Should You Buy
No matter what your setup is, it won’t hurt to have a center channel. If you have a large room, then I believe it is essential for quality sound, but if your room is smaller and you are shopping on a budget, it could be one you can leave out of your setup and you may not notice any drop in the quality of your overall sound.
The center channel speaker can be one of the most important speakers in your surround sound setup, but it isn’t essential for everyone. It all comes down to how you use it and where you are setting up your system. If you are unsure and have the money to spend, then I say go ahead and grab one. If you are watching what you spend, try it without it first. You can always add a center channel speaker if the quality isn’t what you are hoping.
What do you think? Do you think the center channel is the most important speaker in your setup or do you agree with me and think it is necessary in certain circumstances? Tell me your opinion in the comments below.