A center channel speaker typically has two woofers about 4 or 5 inches in diameter, and one tweeter in between, all in a horizontal enclosure that sits on top or beneath your TV set. When you set up a home theater system based around your TV, you will need a center speaker in addition to a pair of stereo speakers placed a few feet to either side of your TV. A center is like the big speaker behind the center of the screen in a movie theater. With the center on top of your TV, the actors’ dialog is anchored at the TV screen, no matter where you sit in your living room.
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The center speaker must be magnetically shielded, so the speaker magnets don’t interfere with the TV picture, causing color distortion. Standard center speakers like the aforementioned, with two woofers and one tweeter, start at about $200 (you only need one). Larger center-channel speakers for rooms bigger than 2,500 cubic feet, will usually have more woofers and tweeters, so they can play louder without distortion in large spaces. When you check out center-channel speakers, listen for natural-sounding male and female voices, free of any "boxy" or hollow tonal peculiarities. Some of the best-sounding center channels come from Canadian brands like Axiom, Energy, Paradigm, PSB, and Mirage.
You Have Center Channels? Click here to read about the other keys to a Home Theater System.
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