(Pocket-lint) - The center channel speaker acts as the workhorse of your home theatre setup, and the best options should give you crystal clear dialogue and detailed effects that are complemented by the rest of your surround sound arsenal.
Since it sits at the center of the operation, likely just below your television, it often represents your first move when building a new setup. And many factors will influence which center speaker you decide on, not just its breadth of audio features. Like anything you place around your home, it's important the center channel and its siblings also match the room's decor.
Some will display speaker cones, others will hide them behind a fabric mesh, but, below, all of our top picks are able to perform the role of a top center channel speaker for a relatively budget price tag. Let's explore further, as we try to help you select the right device for your needs.
The best center channel speakers you can buy
If you're desperate for a center channel speaker and you're operating on a shoestring budget, Micca's MB42-C represents great value for money.
It features a classic open-cone design, blending into most home setups, and gives the average hi-fi enthusiast a step up in clarity of on-screen dialogue and action, thanks to the silk-dome tweeter and twin carbon fiber woofer.
Since the audio crossover is quite basic on this model, though, it might also be worth considering the Micca MB42X-C, which features a more advanced 9-element crossover with 18dB/Octave alignment and compensation.
Polk Reserve R300
An ideal blend of audio pedigree and affordability, giving you one 1-inch Pinnacle tweeter and a pair of 5.25-inch Turbine woofers. It shares a lot of pedigree with the flagship Polk Legend series.
It's easy to team up with other Polk speakers, enabling you to build anything up to a 9.1 setup.
Klipsch takes things up a notch in both the features and aesthetic department, providing one of the top overall center channel speakers for you to consider.
It's asking price is increased because of this, but, in return, you get a room-filling central hub that packs in one of the company's Linear Travel Suspension tweeters, as well as a pair of 5.25-inch copper woofers.
On the rear, there are also dual five-way binding posts, which allows users to take advantage of bi-wiring and bi-amping.
Yamaha's NS-C210BL doesn't come with the most eye-catching design, but it is an ideal pick for those who want something subtle at the heart of their setup.
It's much slimmer than rival devices, though it still manages to pack in a pair of 3.125-inch aluminum cone woofers, a 0.875-inch balanced dome tweeter and offers a maximum input power of 120W. The frequency response is also a healthy 65 Hz - 45 kHz.
The price isn't to be sniffed at, either, considering this is from a household name.
Definitive Technology ProCenter 2000
If you can afford to shell out a little more for your center channel speaker, Definitive Technology's ProCenter 2000 is a definite consideration.
It features a solid array under its mesh exterior, including two proprietary 5.25-inch drivers paired with bass radiators, as well as a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter. This gives you balanced sound and deep bass for everything from dialogue to soundtracks when watching TV.
Like any good center channel offering, it's also easily paired with the company's other wares, and can also be mounted to a wall or ceiling through the inserts on the rear.
Q Acoustics 3090C
Q's 3090C is another top budget-friendly consideration, giving you a modern design that's available in three colors - grey, black and white.
On the inside, it features a two-way reflex with a pair of 100mm bass units, as well as the 25mm treble unit. And, in true Q Acoustics fashion, the sound it's able to deliver alongside a full setup punches well above its weight.
For those looking to fill small to medium rooms, this is an excellent place to start - it ticks the boxes of affordability, stylish design and ear-catching performance.