Center Channel Speaker vs Subwoofer

Now that you have successfully built your home theater, the only thing lacking is a good audio setup. Owing to tons of audio devices, users may struggle to choose between center channel speakers, floor standers, sound bars, and subwoofers.

Of all the audio devices, most users have a hard time choosing between center channel speakers and subwoofers.

Interestingly, most novices believe that center channel speakers and subwoofers are nearly the same.

That’s not the case, these are two separate audio devices designed to make the sound appear enthralling.

The following center speaker vs subwoofer showdown will help you identify key differences

Center Channel Speaker vs Subwoofer

center channel speaker
Center Channel Speaker

The main difference between the center channel speaker and the subwoofer is the frequency response range.

For instance, subwoofers specialize in producing low-end frequencies, therefore, important for a music system.

On the other hand, center channel speakers are an important component of a home theater setup.

In addition, these are used for playing different types of content. Further, both audio devices need to be positioned differently to deliver balanced audio.

Learn about the center channel speaker and subwoofer separately to understand the differences better.

Center Channel Speaker

In surround sound formats, this channel is dedicated entirely or mostly to dialogue reproduction.

This unsung hero gets a little attention owing to the impressive soundstage created by front and back speakers. Without it, dialogues, screams, gentle whispers, and other sound effects would not be distinct and clear.

Being an important part of the home cinema system, it carries roughly 70% of the audio playback of an audiovisual program. It allows the vocals to flow harmoniously and naturally.

In a 2.1 sound setup, speakers are positioned in a way to create an illusion of a phantom center speaker. Having a dedicated center channel speaker would eliminate the hassle of placing the left and right speakers accurately.


Subwoofers are entirely different from center channel speakers. In simple terms, a music system is incomplete without a quality subwoofer.

By producing lower frequencies, it delivers thumping bass and oomph in music. Usually, speakers can not produce low-end frequency responses, hence, need assistance from subwoofers.

While it is not necessarily required for a sound system, it enhances the audio and listening experience.

Fans of hip-hop, R&B, EDM, and bass-heavy music can most definitely benefit from subwoofers.

Difference Between Center Channel Speakers and Subwoofers

Now that you know plenty about these efficient audio devices, it is time to learn the differences in detail.

Frequency Range

Center channel speakers excel in producing mid-range frequency response, typically 100-300 Hz.

In addition, men speak in the lower range of the audible spectrum while women’s voices lie in the higher spectrum.

Since it is involved in reproducing audio content, the center speaker produces within the range to ensure dialogue clarity.

On the contrary, a subwoofer excels in producing lower-frequency responses of the audible spectrum.

These audio devices produce sounds within the range of 20-80 Hz. The addition of a subwoofer to the setup would allow the listener to hear bass and kicks in the music.

Moreover, it improves audio performance as the speakers are free to produce mid and higher frequencies while it handles the lower range.


The Center channel speaker is an indispensable part of the home surround sound units. It fills the gaps and ensures that the viewer does not miss out on the vital parts of any movie or TV show.

With that said, adding a center speaker and a subwoofer to the home theater setup would ensure a thrilling listening experience.

While a listener can do without a subwoofer, not adding a center channel speaker would hurt your cinematic experience.

As stated above, it is responsible for delivering crisp dialogues, hence, crucial for home cinema.

In addition, it allows listeners to raise or lower the volume levels of dialogues independently.

This way, the sound and volume levels of the left and right speakers would remain unaffected.

In comparison, subwoofers enhance the listening experience for music lovers. Nowadays, the majority of soundtracks include thumping sounds and bass that only a subwoofer can reproduce. Besides deep and heavy bass, it is capable of producing acoustics of action scenes.


As for center channel speakers placement, the ideal spot is directly below the screen. Alternatively, placing it above the screen is the second-best placement position. Positioning it to the side and too far away from the screen would ruin the mood.

Comparably, subwoofers offer extreme placement flexibility. Importantly, it can be placed anywhere in the music room. Ideally, subwoofers should be placed in the corner of the room to get the best output.

Music System

While the center channel speaker reproduces sound effects and dialogues, a listener can superbly benefit from adding it to the sound system. With this device, a user can have clear, low-volume dialogues and principal vocals in the music.

In contrast, 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 sound systems already come with a subwoofer. However, if you own a 2.0 setup or are not satisfied with the bass response, investing in a subwoofer would be a smart choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use a subwoofer as a center speaker?

No, these devices are built for entirely different purposes. Subwoofers specialize in producing bass and lower range frequency while center speakers make the dialogues and sound effects appear louder and clearer.

Do I need a center speaker and subwoofer?

There is no simple yes or no answer as it depends on the listener’s needs and preferences. In addition, both devices enhance the movie viewing and listening experience. Alternatively, invest in high-end speakers for producing lower-range and crisp dialogue.

Will a subwoofer improve dialogue?

Yes, it improves dialogues to a certain extent. Especially during the action scenes, the sound effects and explosions would appear more prominent with subwoofers.


Hopefully, the listener may have understood the major differences between the two devices. In addition, subwoofers and center channel speakers would improve the sound quality of the music and home theater setup.

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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.

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