Center channel speakers are critical for the best cinematic experience at home. In other words, it is a workhorse that carries around 70% of all audio playback.
If you question its importance in a home theater setup, play a movie after unplugging the center channel and you will understand the difference.
It needs to be positioned correctly for the sounds to flow without breaks.
Like other surround sound speakers, proper placement of center channel speakers is essential to ensure dialog clarity and a wide soundstage.
After investing in a center channel speaker, follow the following guidelines and tips to achieve the best audio performance.
Center Channel Speaker Placement Guide
Ideally, the center channel speaker should be placed within close range of the screen. Generally, the best spot is positioned below the screen.
If that’s not possible, keep them above the screen. Whatever positioning you choose, make sure the speaker is placed at around ear level.
If you position the speaker far from the TV range, the dialogue and sound effects will lose clarity. Moreover, it would not appear that the sound is coming from the TV. Generally, speakers are placed in the following positions
Normally, this term is used to refer to positioning center channel speakers either above or below the TV within a close range.
As mentioned earlier, placing it directly below the screen is the ideal placement. The second-best option would be to install it above the screen.
In both positionings, make sure it is placed roughly at ear height and in close proximity to the screen.
Importantly, the soundstage will significantly diminish if it is positioned too far above or below the screen.
It is a no-brainer that the center channel speaker should be placed in the center. Most people believe that it is okay to position them to the side. As the name implies, it should be positioned in the center to not ruin the vibe.
Find the Right Angle
It may take a little experimentation to find the angle that delivers the best audio. Sound becomes more directional when the frequency increases. Therefore, if the tweeter is not placed at the ear level or toward the listening position, desired sound levels can not be achieved.
If the listener does not want to compromise sound quality, make a few changes and install a shelf at a desired height to angle it toward the listening position.
Position it at Ear Level
With respect to the viewing position, make sure the tweeters are at ear height for the seated audience, typically about 30-50″ inches from the ground.
Ideally, the best angle for center speaker placement is 90-110 degrees with regard to the ear.
Alternatively, if such an audio setup is not possible, tilt the speaker slightly to angle the tweeters toward the ear level.
Benefits of Placing Center Channel Speakers Below the Screen
- Optimal Audio Performance – As mentioned above, it is an ideal speaker placement option for top-notch audio performance. This way, the speaker will be placed roughly at the eye or ear level. Most audiophiles know the importance of placing speakers at ear level. As for eye level, it means minimum interference and the direct line of sight of the speaker.
- Easy Cable Management – While dozens of center speaker models are introduced, wired center speakers remain popular and widely used. In this position, wiring and concealment are much easier as connectors are available in close proximity.
- Aesthetics – Besides the sound quality, placing them below the TV significantly boosts the aesthetic appeal.
- Flexibility – This placement option ensures a wide soundstage. Further, it allows you to move from your listening position and still get balanced audio. A listener can shift to the right or left and the sound will still appear to be coming from the center.
Benefits of Placing Center Channel Speakers Above the Screen
- Upward-Firing Center Channel Speaker – If you have invested in an upward-firing center channel speaker, placing it above the TV would be ideal. These uniquely designed speakers shot sound toward the ceiling which, in turn, bounces back to the listener. Placing them below the screen would result in unnecessary obstructions and undesired effects.
- High Seats – If the home theater has high seats, placing it below the TV would not get desired results. In this position, it would be roughly the same height as the listening position.
- Safety – Installing it at a higher position would lower the risk of damage done to the device by kids and pets.
Center Channel Speaker Placement Tips
- If you intend to install it on a cabinet or a shelf, ensure that the center speaker is angled up or down towards the seated audience.
- No matter where you are positioning the speaker, front, behind, above, or below, make sure it is close to the screen.
- When positioning the center speaker, use a laser pointer to precisely aim it at the ear height of the listener.
- Center Channel speaker-like soundbar can be placed on side of the TV or projector.
- Remove the furniture items and other obstacles blocking the speaker to improve the audio performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How high should a center speaker be?
Normally, it depends on the ear height in the listening position. When placing the speaker, it is usually kept 24″ to 50″ inches from the ground.
Can you place the center channel speaker on the floor?
While it is possible, floor placement of the center speaker and many other audio devices is not recommended. The best spot for this essential speaker is directly below the screen and as close as possible.
Can you put a TV on top of a center channel speaker?
No, it is not recommended to place the TV on a center speaker. If you do, it would lead to signal interference and subpar audio. This placement can also damage the speaker as TVs are quite heavy.
Hopefully, the above guidelines would help you with the proper placement of the center speaker. If you are struggling, try relocating the TV and furniture items to achieve ideal positioning.
Cian has 7 years of experience in the musical instruments industry. His press and research articles are published in many well-known journals. Cian is part of our product testing team so he knows the criteria for the best products. Here at sound keen cian covers how to set up instruments and selection criteria for new products.