Center Channel

How To Install Two Center Channel Home Theater Speakers

You ever have that one question that never really goes away? You think you’ve answered it for the last time. It’s been years since you’ve heard it. But suddenly, it is back. How to install two center channel speakers in one system is that question for me. It was popular for a while when home theater projectors started to come down in price. It’s starting to pop up again because large flat panels are getting affordable. So, how do you install two center channel speakers in a home theater and why would you want to.

Why Two Center Channel Speakers

There are a lot of reasons someone might think they need two center channel speakers. Normally, it is because they have a very large screen and they think they need a second speaker to augment the first. Sometimes, people notice that their center channel speaker isn’t keeping up with their left and right speakers. This could happen because they purchased smaller center channels or simply because they have fairly low-quality speakers. It could be because they are having problems understanding dialogue and they think the second center channel will help.

Regardless of the reason, they almost never have enough room under the screen for the second center speaker. So they want to know how to install the second center speaker above the screen. It makes sense. If you have two speakers (left and right) they can create a phantom center speaker. If they install two center channel speakers above and below their home theater screen, surely this will do the same!

Look in the Mirror

If you look in the mirror, you’ll notice your two ears. They are spaced out horizontally. When a sound comes from the left speaker, it hits your left ear first and then your right. Plus, because of your head, the sound that enters the right ear is altered. The same is true in reverse from the right speaker. Your brain recognizes all these differences and uses them to locate sounds. Your ears face forward, so your brain is good at doing this from the front. Less so from the back.

Now, when you install two center channel speakers in your home theater, it is totally different. Both ears get the top center speaker information and both get the bottom. There is very little difference between the two. This doesn’t really help your brain locate the sound in between the two. Not only that, since the sounds that are both coming at you are identical, the frequencies can interfere with each other (called comb filtering). This can distort the center channel information and actually make things sound worse. For these reasons, installing a second center channels speaker is rarely the solution one might think it would be.

But HOW do you Install Two Centers if you REALLY Wanted To?

If you are sold on installing two center channel speakers in your home theater, it is easier than you think. Buy a second, identical speaker. No, you can’t mix and match here. If you are insisting on doing the thing that I don’t think you should do, you’ll need identical speakers. Install them above and below your screen. No, don’t push the one below the screen into a cabinet. They both need to have essentially identical placement. Wall mounting is best. If you can’t wall mount, the mounts that hang a speaker below a TV wall mount do just as well to put one above. Just make sure that your wall mount can take the extra weight.

Now, you are going to wire these two speakers to each other and to your center channel output on your receiver. Yes, your receiver can handle the load. No, it won’t blow up. Don’t worry. You will be wiring them in series.

To wire them in series, we are going to wire as such:

Receiver Red -> Center 1 Red

Center 1 Black -> Center 2 Red

Center 2 Black – Receiver Black

In the end, you’ll have a red wire that goes from the red terminal on the receiver to center channel one, a black wire that goes from the black terminal on the receiver to center channel two. And a third wire that connects the two speakers together.

But, Seriously, Don’t Do This

Sure, you can install two center channels speakers in your home theater, but you shouldn’t. You are unlikely to realize the “better” sound you want. Instead, spend your time and money on stuff that will really help. Work on your room acoustics. Adjust the placement of your center speaker. Heck, just buy a better center channel if the one you have isn’t working so well. Two bad speakers don’t make one good one.

7 Comments on How To Install Two Center Channel Home Theater Speakers

  1. Pete Bosch

    LOL, thanks, Tom! I wasn’t planning on installing a second center channel, but I *do* have trouble making out the dialogue, so I thought, when I saw the title of this article, “Huh. I wonder if that would help,” and opted to read the article.

    Got my answer… “No.”

    Good one! 🙂

  2. Ron

    To wire them in parallel, we are going to wire as such:
    Receiver Red -> Center 1 Red
    Center 1 Black -> Center 2 Red
    Center 2 Black – Receiver Black

  3. R.Douglas

    The reason I’m looking into adding two center channels is that the display is mounted to stone work above a fireplace.
    I cannot add a speaker above or below the display. Had hopes of adding two in wall in dray on each side of stone work in hopes of creating “phantom” center channel effect.
    Are there other Op[tions I should look at?

    • If you are going to use two speakers on either side of your display, why not just use the ones that are already there and create a phantom center? If your left and right speakers aren’t much further apart than your dual center speakers would be, this seems to be the easiest answer. I would at least try the phantom center before installing two more speakers.

  4. Jan Ove

    HI, I did set up two center speakers in my system, not like you suggested in series, but with a separate amplifier connected to the pre-out. The time alignment loss is negligible. The sound improved much more than I anticipated, even though the center I added was a cheap an crappy one:.-) I have tried processors at 20k$ that did a less of a job improving my center stage. For note my system is not cheap, it retails at 200k$ combined. So I can highly recommend trying this out, start with a speaker you have laying around, try the series set-up, and then try the separate amp set-up if you have a spare amp:-)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *