Center Channel Speaker VS Subwoofer: Which One You Need?

If you plan to build your music system, you must seek expert advice to avoid any issues. That’s where I come in to aid you in your journey. You might wonder which component to add to your existing system to make it sound more enthralling, a center channel speaker or a subwoofer. However, there is no straightforward answer to this question. I will explain to you the major differences between the two components to help you make the best decision.

Understanding What Each Component Does

Center Channel Speaker VS Subwoofer

Before jumping to conclusions, we must have a clear concept of what exactly is a center channel speaker and a subwoofer. Only then we will be able to distinguish between the components and make adequate adjustments. So, let’s get started!

Center Channel Speaker

A center channel speaker is a dedicated speaker that sits directly in front of you. It’s an integral part of a home theater system. Basically, audio is separated into two distinct channels and delivered through stereo streams.

So, in a 2.1 setup or two speaker configurations, the speakers are placed in such a way that it creates an illusion of a center speaker, which is also known as the phantom speaker. However, with a dedicated center channel speaker, you can override this requirement of placing your left and right speakers in accurate spots.

The center channel delivers mostly crisp dialogues to its audience. As a result, it provides an excellent experience, especially when watching movies and TV shows. The sound will appear as if it is directly coming from the screen.


A sound system remains incomplete without a subwoofer. It’s a vital component of any music system that delivers thumping bass or that extra kick in the music. Essentially, a subwoofer is a speaker that produces lower frequencies, mostly around 20 – 200Hz. A traditional two-speaker cannot produce sounds that fall under this category.

A subwoofer lets you feel the sound, rather than only listening to it. If you are a fan of hip-hop, R&B and EDM, then you will definitely fall in love with the bass it will be producing. Apart from that, action movies or shows that have a lot of explosions going on, will superbly benefit from the addition of a subwoofer, as it will be able to produce a more accurate representation of what’s going on on the screens.

The Major Differences Between a Center Channel Speaker and a Subwoofer

Understanding What Each Component Does

For you to understand easily, I will demonstrate the major differences between the two devices in a table.

CategoryCenter Channel SpeakerSubwoofer
Frequency Response 100Hz – 300Hz (Typically)20Hz – 80Hz
ContentMost suitable for dialogue-based movies, television programsMost suitable for music, gaming, action movies
PlacementDirectly in front of you, under the screenAnywhere in the room, preferably in a corner
Importance Contents can also be enjoyed without itA must addition to any music system

Center Channel Speaker Vs Subwoofer – Why Do You Need One?

Now, it’s time to address the main question you had in your mind. You might feel unsure about which component to add to your system. But in the following section, I will show you when you require a center channel speaker and when you will need a subwoofer.

Frequency Response

A center channel speaker is used to produce sounds in the middle of the audible spectrum. Human voice ranges from 100 – 300 Hz. Men generally lie in the lower range of the spectrum and women in the higher.

However, human voices can reach far higher frequencies when screaming or intentionally done. A center channel speaker excels at producing frequencies in this range as its sole purpose is to deliver crisp dialogues.

On the other hand, a subwoofer deals with a much lower spectrum of frequencies. Generally, traditional speakers cannot produce sounds that range from 20 – 80Hz. Subwoofers are built differently than traditional speakers to facilitate this feature and produce the kicks or bass.

Hence, think about what you need to add to your system. If you lack bass and kick in your music listening experience, purchase a subwoofer. If you think you cannot hear the dialogues in your favorite shows or movies, go with a center channel speaker.

Music or Movies?

If you have a home theater and you use it solely for watching movies and TV shows, a center channel speaker can be a great addition to the whole setup. However, you should remember that having both a center channel speaker and a subwoofer will not hurt your experience in any way. Instead, it will benefit you more.

A center channel speaker can perfectly deliver those dialogues you have been yearning to listen to. In addition to this, you get the opportunity to control the volume separately on your central channel speaker. It is extremely useful when the volume is low in some dialogues and you can increase it on your center speaker, without affecting the volume on your left and right speakers.

A subwoofer can be a great addition to the music listening experience. Generally, a lot of music contains thumping sounds that can only be felt through a good subwoofer. Furthermore, action movies contain a lot of fight scenes that exhibit explosions or gunfires. Moreover, games also benefit from deep and heavy bass. It gives you a more natural and richer immersion into the world.


The Major Differences Between a Center Channel Speaker and a Subwoofer

You don’t have to worry much about the placement of your center channel speaker. As the name indicates, you should place the center channel speaker directly in front of you, preferably under the screen. So, the sound will appear as if it is coming straight from the screen. However, placing your center channel speaker anywhere different will ruin your listening experience.

With subwoofers, you get more freedom. Practically, you can place your subwoofer anywhere in the room. However, you will get the best experience if you place your subwoofer in the corner of a room. It can increase the subwoofer’s output, making it sound louder. You should also remember that a subwoofer performs best in an acoustically treated room.

Music System

If you already have a 2.1, 5.1, or 7.1 surround sound system, you probably don’t need to add a subwoofer. Because a subwoofer is already a part of your system. However, if you think that the bass response you’re getting from your system isn’t enough or you own only a 2.0 system, which does not include a subwoofer, then adding a subwoofer would be a great decision.

On the contrary, you can benefit more from adding a center channel speaker to your system if you already own a subwoofer. It’s better to add a center channel speaker instead of adding two subwoofers. You will get a much richer movie-watching experience by discerning low-volume dialogues with center channel speakers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is more important: a center channel speaker or a subwoofer?

Without a center channel speaker, you are not going to miss any frequencies. However, without a subwoofer, you are definitely going to miss the lower frequencies. In this regard, a subwoofer can be considered more important.

When should I add a center channel speaker?

A center channel speaker is a great addition to any home theater system. However, it is not important to add it in a music listening system.

Should I set the volume of the center speaker higher than my front speakers?

You should calibrate the volume accordingly to achieve the best experience. But you can also increase the volume of the center channel speaker if you are facing trouble understanding dialogues in some movies.


I hope I was able to demonstrate to you the major differences between a center channel speaker and a subwoofer. Both components can significantly improve the quality of sound in your music system. But knowing when to add one to your system and how to make it happen will certainly help you to prevent spending unnecessarily. Furthermore, combining a center channel speaker or a subwoofer can alleviate your music listening or movie-watching experience.

Thank you for staying with me till the end. I hope to be there for you with another query some other day.

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