Center Channel Speaker vs Bookshelf

Understandably, novices new to the realm of audio devices easily get confused and distracted. Upgrading the audio system of the home theater can become quite a daunting task. As buyers go to search for the right audio devices, they are presented with different speakers, soundbars, and other modern audio devices.

Of all the audio equipment, bookshelf and center channel speakers emerge as the main contenders for home theater setup.

Ultimately, the decision to buy either one depends on the buyer’s sound preferences, budget, and setup. Let’s delve deep to understand the difference between the center channel speaker and the bookshelf.

Center Channel Speaker vs Bookshelf

center channel speaker
Center Channel Speaker
bookshelf speaker
Bookshelf Speaker

The main difference between the center channel and the bookshelf speaker is the purpose these devices are originally built for.

In addition, most bookshelf and center channel speakers have a different number of mid-drivers. Not to mention, these speakers are available at varying prices.

Plus, center channel speakers offer ease of installation and placement flexibility. However, it is not the case with bookshelf speakers.

Lastly, center channel speakers allow better controls and let you adjust volumes independently. Have a look at these speakers separately before learning the differences in detail.

Center Channel Speaker

Center channel speakers are the backbone of the home theater setup as they deliver 70% of the dialogue.

Moreover, these speakers also flow the sound from left to right speakers harmoniously. Also, they cover mid-range frequencies that are responsible mainly for dialogue reproduction.

Besides dialogue delivery, center channel speakers also reproduce certain sound effects and manage the audio intensity. With a center speaker, there is no need to create a phantom center.

The phantom channel is created by precisely placing the left and right speakers. This way, the sound appears to be coming from the center.

Bookshelf Speakers

Bookshelf speakers are quite appealing to audiophiles for their compact and attractive build.

As the name implies, they are ergonomically designed to be placed on bookshelves and cabinets. Despite their name, they can be placed anywhere in the music room.

In simple terms, these all-rounder speakers are perfect for home theaters and music systems.

Currently, bookshelf speakers are available in a variety of sizes and designs. Not all bookshelf speakers are powerful enough or can fill large rooms with sound. Besides all, these speakers are reasonably priced and deliver outstanding sound quality.

Difference Between Center Channel Speaker and Bookshelf

Without further ado, let’s learn the difference between a bookshelf and a center channel speaker in detail


The key difference between these two devices is the purpose they serve. The Center channel speaker is mostly or entirely used for dialogue delivery and producing specific sound effects more prominent. Further, these speakers are designed to accurately reproduce mid-range frequencies critical for dialog.

Using a center speaker in addition to other speakers will help a listener achieve outstanding sound quality.

Undoubtedly, it gives a sense of realism with concise and crisp dialogues and sound effects.

On the other hand, bookshelf speakers are not meant for dialogue reproduction. While they may not excel in dialogue delivery, bookshelf speakers easily blend into any setup. These speakers can be used for home studios, home theater setups, and music systems.

Usually, consumers buy it to get a compelling music experience. Sadly, it does not offer superior audio quality when it comes to dialogue reproduction.


Center channel speakers are passive which means they do not come with an in-built amplifier. Additionally, they need to be connected to the external amplifier to draw power.

Comparably, bookshelf speakers can be active or passive. Depending on the buyer’s preferences, they can buy either of them. Passive ones are lightweight as they do not contain a built-in amplifier. Contrarily, active bookshelf speakers are heavier as they house several more hardware components.


As the name suggests, center channel speakers are usually placed in the center, either below or above the screen.

Ideally, positioning them below the screen at ear level maximizes the audio experience.

In contrast, positioning bookshelf speakers can be quite tricky for novices. A listener has to place them in accurate spots according to the listening position to get better sound.


Center channel speakers work independently to the left and right speakers. It means that a user can increase or decrease the volume of dialogues as desired.

Changing the volume of the center channel does not affect the audio produced by the left and right speakers.

In comparison, bookshelf speakers do not allow you to adjust the volume levels of dialogues. Adjusting volume would have an effect on the overall sound produced by speakers.


Center channel speakers are more expensive, however, some affordable ones are available as well.

Unfortunately, these speakers do not come in as many styles or sizes as bookshelf speakers. Also, there is no guarantee that affordable center speakers would produce good sound.

As opposed to center channel speakers, bookshelf speakers are available at a wide range of prices.

Tons of quality bookshelf speakers are available at affordable prices. Additionally, high-end bookshelf speakers with outstanding features can be a bit expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a bookshelf speaker as a center channel?

Yes, a user can use bookshelf speakers as a center channel. However, it is not recommended as these speakers are not designed to reproduce dialogues and certain sound effects. Plus, the user may face difficulty with placing the bookshelf speakers.

What is the difference between the center channel and bookshelf speakers?

The Center channel is designed to reproduce frequencies important for dialogue and adjust its volume independently. Comparably, bookshelf speakers are used for home theater and playing music.

Are bookshelf speakers better?

Overall, bookshelf speakers are noticeably better and more convenient than most other speakers. These affordable speakers produce superior sound and handle bass well.


While the center channel is used for reproducing dialogue, it allows you to have an immersive experience while watching entertainment content. Both speakers work exceptionally well to offer the best audio performance. Choose either one based on your listening preferences.

+ posts

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.

Leave a Comment