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In a home theater system, center channel speakers are expected to handle more than 80% of onscreen dialog. Since you usually need to understand what the people on your television are saying to fully enjoy programs, center channel speakers can make or break a home theater.
Intelligibility and accurate voice reproduction, over a wide listening area, is the most important characteristic that a center channel speaker should have. Your center channel speaker must be able to handle the demands of your amplifier without distortion. Take this into consideration when shopping for a center channel.
When shopping for center channels, try and listen to a few familiar movie scenes (if possible, try to find scenes that include dialog, special effects, and live recorded music). How does the center channel speaker sound compared to the main speakers? There should be a seamless transition between all three. The easiest way to acheive this is to buy the same brand and model speakers for your Main, Center, and Surround speakers.
In a perfect world, your center channel speaker would be mounted behind your screen, like in a movie theater. However, unless you have a front projection TV with an acoustically transparent screen, this is impossible.
Experiment with your center speaker placement to achieve optimal results. Depending on your listening environment, the center channel speaker usually will sound better above the screen. You might also want to try angling the center channel up or down for best sound. Never use two center channel speakers above and below the screen, as the sound output from each center channel speaker will interact with each other, boosting some frequencies, and canceling others. If your center channel is mounted below the TV, and the high frequencies seem harsh, try placing a small rug in front of the TV; this can absorb some of the sound, and smooth out the top end.