The Most Important Speaker
Soundbars are simple to use, but the great ones aren't cheap. For example, the Sonos Playbase sounds amazing, but costs $699. Alternatively, you can buy a home-theater receiver like the Denon AVR-X1300W for $399 and a center-channel speaker for less than that. Why might you? Flexibility.
Building a home theater is a project (and not always a simple one), but you can go one speaker at a time, and the center channel is where to start. We've rounded up the best-reviewed center speakers on Amazon, each selling for less than $250. Each of these speakers earned a B-rating or better on Fakespot, a tool that measures the trustworthiness of reviews, so you can shop with confidence.
Micca MB42X-C Center-Channel Speaker
For the price, you can't beat this Micca center-channel speaker. The 15 x 7.1 x 5.3-inch unit includes two 4-inch woofers and a 0.75-inch tweeter. Don't like what you hear? Micca offers free returns.
Amazon rating: 4.5Fakespot: A
BIC America DV-62CLRS 2-Way Center-Channel Speaker
BIC's large, 23 x 13.6 x 11.4-inch center speaker adds resonance to dialog thanks to its two 6.5-inch woofers, the biggest in this roundup. The tweeter is only 0.75 inches, but it still produces clear dialog.
Amazon rating: 4.5Fakespot: B
Polk Audio CS10 Center-Channel Speaker
The CS10 excels at dialog, producing clear vocals. The 20 x 9.8 x 6.5-inch speaker has an angled top, so it can be placed on the floor to project sound upward. The unit includes a 1-inch tweeter and two 5.25-inch woofers.
Amazon rating: 4.8Fakespot: A
Sony SSCS8 2-Way 3-Driver Center Channel Speaker
Sony's affordable center channel makes dialog clearer and easier to understand. The 10.65 x 19.62 x 8.62-inch speaker includes two 4-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter.
Amazon rating: 4.6Fakespot: A
Fluance Signature Series Hi-Fi Center-Channel Speaker
This Fluance center speaker looks as good as it sounds. Inside the 18.9 x 10.6 x 7.28-inch, wood-grain enclosure, two 5-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter deliver warm, rich overall sound and clear dialog.
Amazon rating: 4.7Fakespot: A
ELAC C5 Debut Series 5.25-Inch Center Speaker by Andrew Jones
Audio-engineering legend Andrew Jones brings his design expertise to ELAC's center speaker. The 18.75 x 8.75 x 7.87-inch unit includes two 5.25-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter, which helps it produce full, balanced sound and clear dialog. Add some ELAC Debut B5 bookshelf speakers for an affordable left-right-center system.
Amazon rating: 4.6Fakespot: B
Yamaha NS-C444 2-Way Center-Channel Speaker
This medium-size, 20.3 x 8.4 x 7.5-inch center speaker is well-balanced, producing clear dialog and enough bass to provide resonance. It includes two 5-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter. It's fairly tall for its width, so make sure it fits your space.
Amazon rating: 4.7Fakespot: B
Cerwin-Vega XLS-6C 2-Way Center Channel Speaker
This Cerwin-Vega center speaker delivers big, balanced sound from its two 6.5-inch woofers and single 1-inch tweeter. The large, 26 x 14 x 11-inch unit produces clear dialog and warm midtones. Match it with other speakers in the XLS line to fill out your home theater.
Amazon rating: 4.9Fakespot: A
Definitive Technology ProCenter 1000 Compact Center Speaker
When you've got little space but want a big sound, check out Definitive's 10.5 x 5 x 5-inch ProCenter. It packs two 4.5-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter into a compact unit and produces clear dialog. Definitive has as good a pedigree in speakers, as you'll find, and this would make a great starter for a killer small home-theater speaker system.
Amazon rating: 4.6Fakespot:B
Credit: Definitive Technology
Klipsch RC-42 II Reference Series Center-Channel Loudspeaker
If you've got just a little space to work with and you don't mind paying for quality, the 16 x 9.1 x 5.4-inch RC-42 II will surprise you with the amount of sound it puts out. Its 1-inch tweeter helps it produce crisp audio, while the small dual woofers — just 4 inches each — punch above their weight class in the low end.
Amazon rating: 4.9Fakespot: A