The center channel plays a critical role in a surround sound system. Close to 70% of the audio playback passes through the center channel at any given time. Moreover, it handles most of the vocals and dialogue in movies and music, while tieing all these actions together to create a sense of realism.
You can use your TV speakers as a center channel, but this depends on your TV model and/or operating system. Connect a home heater with an A/V receiver to the center speaker IN terminal on the TV if your television has the center speaker mode, and you want to use it as a center channel.
However, there’s more that goes into using TV speakers as a center channel. If your TV doesn’t have the center speaker mode capability, you may find this challenging. Read on to learn more about why the center channel is important and the effect of using the TV speakers as a center channel.
Also read: Can I Use Surround Speakers As Front Speakers?
Why Is the Center Channel Important?
The center channel has been in use since the 1930s when the Bell Labs experiments sought to locate screen-entered sounds. It’s one of the essential components of a surround sound system. Most of the movie’s dialogue comes through the center channel.
Apart from the voices, much of the sound you get with a scene passes through the center speaker. A quality center channel delivers clear and prevents any background noise muddling.
Having a center channel allows you to change the volume levels without interfering with the left and right channels. That compensates for dialogs/vocals that are too high or too low when watching a movie or music soundtrack.
The center channel also adds special effects in blockbuster movies. You get the great sound where you want it, something that translates into a cinema performance in your home.
Using the TV Speakers as a Center Channel
Note that you can only use the TV as a center channel for models that only have center speaker mode.
When the speakers are set to an audio system, you can use the TV speakers as a center channel by joining an AV receiver to the central speaker IN terminal of the TV. You’ll need an optical cable or HDMI cable (RELATED ARTICLE) to connect the TV to the AV.
A speaker cable is needed to connect the TV and AV receiver through a cable connection. Use the speaker cable to connect the AV receiver to the Center Speaker IN terminal of the TV.
Ensure that you turn the ends of the speaker cable and embed them into the connection terminals of the AV and TV receiver. Remember that the CENTER SPEAKER IN terminal differs depending on the model.
When using the TV speakers as a center channel, ensure that you don’t strip too much of the speaker cable to prevent the wires of the speaker cable from touching one another. Connect the speaker cable so that the + and – between the AV and TV receiver match.
To output the audio from a home theatre system, press the Home button and choose Settings. Select Display and Sound, and move to the audio output-speakers-audio system.
If you notice that the Audio out TV center speaker mode is OFF, turn it ON. In case there’s no sound from the speakers, check the audio signal or A/V receiver’s setting.
Why TV Speakers Won’t Sound Good as a Center Channel
Using TV speakers as a center channel compounds the issue of signal strength. Any sound that comes out of the TV emits a line-level signal. That signal is the low voltage as it’s meant to save your TV the power of producing speaker level sound.
Connecting up the line level signal into a speaker produces a faint buzz sound because the TV doesn’t have enough wattage to move the speakers.
That’s why center channel speakers have an internal amplifier. The amplifier enhances the line-level signal by adding electricity to the signal, which translates into power that moves your speakers and delivers quality theatre sound. Most center channels will require you to plug them into a wall outlet, or they’ll come with a power adapter.
The same concept applies to the surround sound system. It boosts the line-level signal coming from the TV, which powers the speakers connected to your receiver.
With a TV, you have active speakers, that’s why you get a buzzing sound when you try to use the TV speakers as a center channel.
What Is the Solution?
While it’s possible to use your TV speakers as a center channel, you won’t enjoy the quality sound output. How do you enhance your TV sound quality? A soundbar is the best way to enhance the quality of your TV sound.
How to Connect the Soundbar as a Center Channel
Most soundbars have signal processing that creates virtual surround sound but with different degrees of success. Also, some have a powered subwoofer that is wireless (RELATED ARTICLE) and helps improve the bass sound.
What Will You Need For Setup
- A receiver with a pre-out for the center channel
- A 3.5 mm input or RCA on the soundbar
- RCA-RCA cable
Get an RCA to RCA cable or RCA to 3.5mm Aux, depending on your sounder and receiver. Connect the leads to the pre-out connections on the receiver and connect the 3.5mm AUX to the sounder.
At this point, you may need to enable the pre-out center channel on the receiver. If you don’t have a pre-out for the center channel on your receiver, you can connect a line-level converter or adapter from the receiver to the sounder’s RCA or aux input.
After this, connect speaker leads from the receiver to the input of the line-level adapter to set this up. You’ll also need to connect RCAs from the line-level adapter to the sounder’s RCA in or aux ports.
The soundbar has the right, left, and center channel. You can create the effect of surround sound by tilting the left and right speakers towards the sides of the sounder. The walls create a theatre quality sound, while the center channel amplifies your sound.
A soundbar with wireless surround speakers is an excellent way to amplify your sound as the system is simple to set up and built to give you a fantastic surround sound experience.
Sometimes you may need a few tweaks to optimize the center channel even when you position it properly. Configuring and calibrating each speaker in your home theatre can make a difference in the overall performance. Use the processor’s setup menu to set the distance of all the speakers in the system.
Using the Sound Bar as a Single Speaker
You can opt to use the soundbar as the main center channel speakers by connecting the soundbar to a receiver using Ann optical cable. Simply connect an end to the digital optical out port on the receiver and to the optical in port on your soundbar, When using this method, note that the digital encoding standards need to match on both the sender and receiver to avoid experiencing odd sound issues.
A center channel plays an integral role in the overall sound quality. Remember that most of the action happens in front and center of the TV, which means it’s the center channel emitting the sound. However, if you plan on using your TV speakers as a center channel, be cautious as you may experience some buzzing sound and, in some cases, no sound at all.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.