Optimizing the Center Channel Speaker

Optimizing the Center Channel Speaker: Don’t Ignore This Step

by Dan

The importance of the center channels speaker in the home theater systems can’t be neglected. In this article we are going to guide you how to get the maximum out of the center channel speaker with just a few small tweaks. 

The importance of the center channel speaker

Basically, all the dialogues are being mixed and come from the center channel speaker. And watching a movie without being able to hear the dialogues is pointless. Therefore, if you already have a home theater system it is important to pay special attention to this speaker. With some little time and tweaks you will be able to get the most from your center channel speaker and we guarantee you will be more than satisfied with the results. 

Selecting the Center Channel Speaker

It would be great if you can make the center channel speaker identical to the left and right speakers. Or if the model or series of speakers has a bigger center channel speaker this would be even better. Just make sure they match well. If you manage to do this you will make the sound coming from these three speakers more consistent. However if you have a small and compact center channel speaker, it may be better to upgrade it to a speaker bigger than the left and right speakers. 

Positioning the Center Channel Speaker

Properly positioning the center channel speaker is very important. 

  1. Position the speaker as much as possible to the height of the listener’s ears. 
  2. In case you place it in a cabinet, line the inside of the cabinet with insulation. 
  3. Try to reduce cabinet resonance. You don’t want the cabinet to add anything to the sounds coming from the center channel speaker. 

Calibrate Your Center Channel Speaker

After you select and position the center channel speaker it is important to calibrate it properly. Unfortunately, most users don’t do this because even without calibration you get decent sound, but putting some effort here can make a huge difference. So, let’s see what we can do here!

Today, home theater receivers have a built-in microphone which makes autocalibration easily and it generally improves the sound using room equalization. Because of that it is important to check the user’s manual and follow the instructions closely. Pay special attention on microphone placement when asked by the system. In most cases you will be required to point the microphone to the ceiling. We recommend you to go through this auto-calibration first, and then you can fine tune the speaker. 

Distance calibration – After the calibration, use a tape measure to check the distances are accurate. Most modern systems are great at this so although two speakers aren’t at the same distance from you, the sound will reach your ears at the same time. 

Level calibration – This can be easily done with the help of some apps on your smartphone. Ideally all the speakers should be on the same level. However, feel free to set the center channel speaker a bit higher than the right and left speakers – 2 to 3dB would be enough. This is important because the special effects can affect the dialogues, so with the center channel speaker set up this way you won’t have this problem. 

Change the crossover point – Now it’s time to change the crossover point. The speaker setup menu should have a crossover or size section. Some receivers will allow you to choose small or large. In case the crossover is at 80hz small is the standard option. If you can change the frequency of the home theater system the next step will be fun for you.

Don’t skip this step if your center channel speaker is in a cabinet or on top of it. Begin with 80hz. Play some tunes with deep voices. If these voices sound muffled, cabinet resonance is probably the reason. In this case change the crossover to 90-100hz. This should reduce the cabinet resonance. As a result, the dialogues will be much clearer. You can play with the settings and the main goal is to have minimal resonance and hear the subtle emotions in the voices. 

We are sure that by now the dialogue sounds have improved drastically than before the fine calibration of the center channel speaker. And now it’s time to enjoy in your perfectly calibrated home theater system.

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