Center Channel

Center Speaker Sounds Weird – Possible Explanation

You don’t know how to describe it. Your center speaker sounds weird. Maybe it always sounded this way or maybe it just happened. Your center speaker is really easy to localize (meaning that you can tell that the sound is coming from under your TV). Plus, it sounds…well…weird. Muffled. Strange. Not at all like the rest of your speakers. What’s the deal? Is this a placement issue or is it something else? Let’s discuss!

For Once, We Don’t Think It Is Your Room or Speaker Placement

Most of the time we tend to blame speaker issues on placement or room acoustics. That’s because it is often true. Placing your speakers in non-optimal locations can seriously affect how they sound. Not addressing your room acoustics can make your great speakers sound unintelligible. In this case, we don’t think either of these common causes are the problem.

It Done Got Broke

While speakers are hard to break, they aren’t indestructible. Of the drivers in your speaker, the most delicate is the tweeter. The tweeter handles all the highest sounds. If the tweeter in your speaker were to stop working, you would lose all the highest sounds. This would cause your speaker (center or any other speaker) to sound weird. The lack of treble would make everything sound flat and lifeless. While the highest sounds would be gone, the upper harmonics of the lower sounds would also be missing. This would make even the bass coming from your speaker sound weirdly unrealistic.

Sound familiar?

Atlantic Technology AT-2 Speakers

How To Know If Your Tweeter is Blown

Obviously, you could just put your ear up to your speaker and listen. If there are no high sounds, your tweeter is probably blown. If you want a more definitive test, you’ve got two options:

Pink Noise

Your AV receiver has test tones that are used to calibrate your speakers. You can go into your speaker menu and manually turn them on for any speaker you want. Run them through your other speakers as well as your center and see if the center sounds weird in comparison. Listen to each speaker up close so that you aren’t hearing the effects of the room at the same time. If the center (or whichever speaker you think might be broken) sounds distinctly different, you know it is broken.


If you really want to nail down which drivers are broken in your speaker, you’ll need to download a sweep. You can get one from With a sweep, you can hear exactly what portion of the frequency range is missing. If it is the tweeter, you’ll be missing the highest sounds. If it is one of the other drivers, you’ll be missing lower sounds. Just remember with the other drivers (woofers), you can usually just put your finger lightly on the cone to feel if it is vibrating. No sweep needed.

Take Away

A speaker that sounds weird is usually broken. We are, of course, assuming that your speakers should all sound the same. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are all identical, but it does mean they are all of the same quality. If you have a really good set of left and right speakers paired with a low-end center speaker, then it sounding weird might not be because it is broken. It might be because it is garbage. Time to upgrade!

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