How Important is Tweeter Height for Your Center Speaker?
You’ve been reading a lot about speaker placement. One suggestion (or rule depending on who is talking) is to make sure the tweeters of your front speakers are all at ear level. They often suggest having three identical speakers up front. You want great sound so you are considering it. But if you get a center speaker where the tweeter will be in line with your front left and right speakers, it will also increase the height of your TV. Maybe too much. How important is the height of your tweeter for your center speaker really? Let’s discuss.
Not As Much as You Think
We’ve already gone on record saying that we don’t think these “best practices” are all that important. They are good guidelines but generally won’t make or break your home theater experience. That said, let’s look specifically at your center channel speaker and the height of the tweeter.
There are several considerations about tweeter height. First, we are worried about timbre matching. This is how well sounds can move from one speaker to the next. Your hearing is most sensitive to changes in timbre across your front three speakers so it makes sense that you’d want to give those speakers the best chance at sounding identical. Fortunately, speaker manufacturers do their best to ensure that their center speakers are timbre-matched with their other speakers. They also ensure that the difference in tweeter height won’t make a big difference in how these speakers sound together.
Secondly, there is the placement consideration. Center speakers are often placed much lower than your left and right speakers. For your front row of seats, this shouldn’t be a problem. The off-axis response of the tweeter will be optimized for vertical dispersion on most center speakers. If you are noticing timbre issues, you can tilt the center speaker up to compensate.
For your second row (and if you don’t have a second row of seats, then this doesn’t apply to you), the first row will block some of the sound from the center speaker. You may or may not care or even notice the difference. If it is something that bothers you or is noticeable, you can move your center speaker above your display. Yes, this is not the traditional placement, but it will sound just fine.
“Best Practices” are designed to steer people away from horrible mistakes. These aren’t meant to be inviolate rules. They are designed to ensure people don’t place their center speaker to the side of their TV or at the back of the room (we’ve seen both in systems). They are not designed for pulling out a ruler and measuring tweeter height down to the millimeter. As always, if it sounds good, it generally is good. No matter what the Internet says.