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Question
what is the purpose of the center channel speaker in a home theater. i have sound coming thru the front speakers but nothing from center or the back two speakers. do i have a bad center on a 2 mos old system?

Answer
The center channel speaker is meant to reproduce dialog and other "on-screen" effects, and work in conjunction with the main/front speakers to create a more convincing sound-stage for effects. However functionality requires the material being played back to have been mixed in 5.1, and the 5.1 signal to be sent into the A/V receiver (or whatever device is providing equivalent functionality in your system). The majority of broadcast television is stereo (2.0), as-is the majority of music; so reproduction via just the main/front speakers is appropriate.

Similarly, the rear (or "surround") speakers are designed to fill a similar role in reproducing effects from 5.1 soundtracks.

Depending upon your A/V equipment, you may simply need to engage a 5.1 decode/output mode, or you may need to change settings to enable the center/surround speakers, or you may not be providing a surround sound signal and the system is (properly) providing a stereo output based on the media being played back.

I would need more context to provide an opinion regarding a defective speaker, or troubleshooting tips to pursue that avenue.

-bob

Home Theater

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Bobbert

Expertise

Questions regarding HTPC integration to home theaters, and general purchasing advice regarding home theater and audio systems, including headphones. Please no car audio or over the top PA systems.

Experience

General enthusiast, ~10 years as an audio and electronics hobbyist

Education/Credentials
Engineering student, various DIY experiences, personal hobby

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