Can I Use Soundbar as Center Channel Speaker? With Best Ideas

People who love to enjoy music to the fullest always try to build the perfect home theater system. In that home theater system, you will find a left and a right speaker channel that are used to handle sound effects and music. You will also find a center channel as well from where all the dialog comes out. Because of the size and location of the soundbar, you may think that a soundbar will be best for you to use as a center channel to make the dialogue clearer. So can you really make your soundbar to work as a center channel?

Yes, You can use a soundbar as your center speaker. To do this, you will need to connect your soundbar to the rest of your system. There are two ways to do it: in a single or three-channel format.

If each of the connections of your soundbar matches up with your receiver, then the answer is yes; you will be able to use a soundbar as a center channel speaker. But if you ask that, Should you hook up your soundbar to the center channel? Then, unfortunately, the answer is: NO.

If you use a soundbar as a center channel, it will not only ruin your sound, but also it can cause several damages to your equipment. If you are curious to know why using a soundbar to substitute for the center channel is a bad idea, at first, you have to know how soundbars work.

How Soundbars Accomplish High-Quality Audio?

Can I Use a Soundbar as a Center Channel Speaker

Most people think that soundbars are just like a normal speaker. The appearance and positioning are also mostly the same. Whatever soundbars use a few audio tricks, they can amplify sound and reproduce the immersive experience of a surround sound system.

The speakers that a soundbar uses to accomplish the surround sound environment are positioned in such a way that it is not suitable to work as a center speaker. A soundbar has its own left, right, and center channels as with a basic audio system.

In order to create the impact of surround sound, the left and right channel speakers are actually placed towards the sides of the soundbar. They use the walls of the room in order to create the theater-quality sound that everyone likes. The left and right channels actually bounce off the walls so that you can feel like the sound is really coming from your left and your right rather than in front of you where the TV is located.

Why Soundbar Won’t Sound Good as Center Channel?

A soundbar usually has three channels (the amount is four, actually if you want to count the subwoofer), and you can use the soundbar in two different ways in your surround system. If you want to use the soundbar as the true center, then you have to connect all three channels of the soundbar with the center channel of your receiver. Again you can also take advantage of the three channels and hook up a left, right, and center signal into the soundbar. But you should know that both of these approaches have significant disadvantages.

If you use a soundbar as a center channel, the angled left and right speakers will amplify your center signal around the room that will ruin the full home theater experience. The left and right speakers will mix up your center sound with your left and right channels, which will make both the dialogue and the sound effects less clear.

Because of the three-channel approach, the left and right speakers will be out of phase with the surround sound system, causing areas in the room where the sound is significantly quieter. You know that sound travels as waves, and when waves meet each other, they cause interference. And the interference results in patches of space where there is sound cancellation and other patches where the sound is amplified.

So I am telling you again that hooking up your soundbar to your surround sound system is not a good idea. If you hook your soundbar up as a single channel on all of its speakers, then it will amplify the center channel to the left and right of your room and ruin the real surround sound experience. If you hook up your system to give the soundbar three channels, it may cause sound interference and make your sound quiet in some areas of the room and loud. With both settings, you will lose sound quality with little reason.

Active Soundbars: Amplifying Problem

Best Soundbars without Subwoofers

The issue of signal strength makes the problem more compound. When the sound comes out from your television, it comes out as a line-level signal. This signal is very low voltage so that it can save your television the power of emitting speaker-level sound. If you want to hook up your line-level signal directly into a speaker, you should know that it would only create a low buzzing sound if it creates any sound because the wattage is not suitable enough to move the speakers significantly.

Most soundbars do not face this problem because they generally come with a built-in amplifier. An amplifier can add electricity to the signal and boosts the line-level signal to make it strong enough to move your speakers and give you the output of a beautiful theater-quality sound. This is the reason why most soundbars have a power adapter or need to be plugged into a wall outlet.

A surround sound system also works in the same way. As with the soundbar, the surround sound system also boosts the line-level signal that comes from the TV and powers the speakers connected to your receiver. So if you hook up the amplified sound of the surround sound system to the already amplified soundbar, you will really face significant problems.

The speaker that can amplify the sound internally is known as an active speaker, and it requires an external power source to function. It is just the opposite of passive speakers that need an external amplifier like the ones in your surround sound system. Passive speakers are the most popular type of speakers, and they are less costly also.

Why Connecting an Active Soundbar to a Receiver is not a good idea?

Soundbar to Receiver

As With speakers, there are mainly two types of soundbars available. Active and passive. As we have mentioned above, most soundbars are active soundbars, so they obviously come with their own amplification. If you want to hook this kind of soundbar directly to a surround sound receiver, you would be first amplifying the line-level signal with the receiver and then further amplifying the sound with the soundbar. To get through this, you can use a line-out converter that you can easily find on Amazon.

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  • Kicker 46KISLOC Car Audio Amp 2 Channel RCA Line Output Converter KISLOC New

But you should know that the amount of power is more than your soundbar is designed to handle, and that can even cause permanent damage to the speakers. If you really want to make the mistake of hooking up your receiver to a soundbar, you have to be sure that you are using a passive soundbar. However, you will still face sound quality problems, including sound cancellation or sound dilution noted above. Just because you know how to hook up your soundbar to your center channel does not mean you should do that.

So What is the Solution?

If you ever ask about ”Should you integrate a soundbar into your surround sound system?” the answer will be a big ”NO” as now. It ruins the quality of the sound and also can damage your equipment. So now you can ask that how you can give your center channel a boost without sacrificing the sound quality?

If you have an extra soundbar laying around and you want to hook up that one to your audio system, then we would recommend you hook that up to a different TV. Hooking up a soundbar to your audio system will make your sound louder than a standard center speaker, but you will lose the overall sound quality. Moreover, there will always remain a risk of damaging your equipment altogether.

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Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-440C Center Channel Speaker - Ebony
  • The Reference Premiere RP-440 center Channel speaker provides clarity and accuracy to your home theater system with a stylish brushed baffle and four cerametallic copper woofers
  • 1-Inch linear travel Suspension titanium tweeter. Quad 4-Inch Spun Copper Cerametallic Cone Woofers
  • 90x90 Hybrid Tractrix Horn, All New Tractrix Port, Strong, Flexible Removable Grille.
  • MDF Cabinet with Brushed Polymer Veneer Baffle Finish.
  • All New Tractrix Port

However, if you like the sleek appearance of a soundbar and its placement right under the TV, you should know that you can easily find different kinds of speakers that look just like a soundbar, and they can also give you a soundbar true center sound. If you ask for any recommendation, we would like to recommend you the Klipsch RP-440C (on Amazon) and the Polk S35 (on Amazon). Both of these speakers may cost more than your basic soundbar, but they will give your center channel the boost without ruining your sound at all.

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Polk Audio Signature Series S35 Center Channel Speaker (6 Drivers), Surround Sound, Power Port...
  • Ultra-Slim 4" tall speaker built to deliver BIG, RELIABLE SURROUND SOUND. Featuring Dynamic Balance acoustic array, with (6) 3" drivers and a 1" Terylene tweeter dome giving you a CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE IN THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME
  • STRIKINGLY BOLD, DRAMATIC LOOKS and DYNAMIC HEART-THUMPING SOUND — Polk's PATENTED POWER PORT TECHNOLOGY delivers deeper bass response with its turbulence-smoothing diffuser that minimizes distortion, giving you rich sound for movies, TV and music
  • DESIGNED TO DELIVER – The iconic rounded edges and the detailing are conceptualized from the best acoustic guitars, giving these bookshelf speakers a completely thought-through, performance-oriented stylish look
  • VERSATILE AND PERFECT FOR VARIOUS HOME THEATER SETUP COMBINATIONS – add a center unit to your existing arrangement or create an all-inclusive home theater setup with Signature series for a clear, crisp and room-filling sound. Offering full compatibility with 2.0, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1 and 9.1 setups
  • The Signature Series has earned the hi-res certified rating and redefined the REAL AMERICAN HiFi SOUND with Polk's UNWAVERING COMMITMENT, RELIABILITY, AND CRAFTSMANSHIP, making it one of the most trusted names in audio speakers

In the event that you need to dump the beneficiary and get a sparkling new soundbar, at that point, look at our article on the best soundbars for the cash! We go inside and out on the best soundbars available at different value focuses.

-our editorial board has reviewed this article and has been approved for publication according to our editorial policy.

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Last update on 2022-11-17

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