Center Channel Amp How much power does dialogue really call for?

Arthur S

Senior HTF Member
Jul 2, 1999
Quite often I see posts that read something like this: "Since most of the sound in soundtracks comes from the center channel (speaker), spending a considerable amount on the center channel amp is very important".

Other than those with front projectors who can use a full size (matched with identical L&R) how much power does the center channel call for.

Unless I am way off base, most use a much smaller horizontally arrayed center. Those of you who own the 97 pound Aerial CC5 ($4,000) can be excused. If you have been into audio for a length of time, you will understand that deep bass is where you need the power.

So what do we have: a lot of people whose center channel rolls off below 80Hz talking themselves and others into believing that the center channel amp is the most important, and that they need at least 200 watts for the center.

Did I hear someone say explosions?


Ricky T

Supporting Actor
Oct 28, 1999

I agree, some people may confuse the "vast amount" of movie information in the center speaker with more power. Needless to say, quality amplification probably does matter just as much as your mains (since you are simply hearing the speaker more). And some 5 channel amps (and receivers) using more than one power transformer do use a dedicated transformer for the center.

From an active biamping article, the 50/50 midpoint for wattage needs is about 250-350hz. Therefore, someone setting their center to small/80hz probably would need about 30% less power than their mains set to large. Perhaps if the full range mains need 150 watts, the similar but smaller center would need 100 watts.

Are you running three Citation 7.1 channels across your front?

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