How to Design and Make a Center Channel Speaker

Written by martin wolfson
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If you want to know how to design a centre channel speaker, it's best to know the differences between horizontal and vertical centre speaker design. Horizontal is the overwhelming choice for home theatres. Vertical is the standard for movie theatres and concert venues. The difference has to do with convenience in the case of home theatres and accuracy of off-axis listening in the case of professional settings. There are abundant web resources to help you every step of the way.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Speaker design plans
  • 3/4-inch plywood
  • Speaker components
  • Power saw
  • Power drill
  • Router or circular drill bit
  • Wood screws
  • C clamps
  • Corner clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Silicon caulk
  • Damping material
  • Speaker wire
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wire stripper

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  1. 1

    Get some design software. One set of well-known software, winISD, is freeware for Windows PCs. Download it at

  2. 2

    Determine your speaker design. Check stores, web construction examples and message boards for ideas and suggestions on components and box/enclosure building.

  3. 3

    Get your loudspeaker components. Dual mid-ranges with a single tweeter (known as MTM, for mid-range, tweeter, mid-range), mirroring the components of the main left and right speakers, are the most popular choices.

  4. 4

    Buy finished boxes. Everything from inexpensive cabinets to fine furniture-grade wood is ready-made. Check for great selection or for excellent quality, but there are many other sources.

  5. 5

    Build custom cabinets. Use 3/4-inch plywood on all surfaces. If going this route, buy the wood at a hardware store or some lumber yard and have them cut your panels to size for you. If you have a table saw or a friend with cabinet-making experience, make use of that instead.

  6. 6

    Screw and glue with wood glue all connecting panels. Clamp with C clamps or corner clamps all joined surfaces until they're completely dry.

  7. 7

    Apply silicon caulk to all joined surfaces within the cabinet before installing the speakers into the cabinet. Silicon caulk emits gases as it dries that can damage speaker surrounds.

  8. 8

    Fill all screw holes with wood glue or wood putty.

  9. 9

    Sand and finish all cabinet surfaces with your choice of paint or veneer.

  10. 10

    Install the speaker components and the terminal cup on the back, connecting with wires the terminal cup and speakers.

Tips and warnings

  • A compromise building solution is to modify an existing centre speaker with the drivers and/or crossover of the left and right front speakers. That can make a different-brand speaker sound remarkably like the main left and right speakers. An example is a Mitsubishi centre speaker with JBL left and right speakers. Replacing the tweeter in the centre speaker yields good sonic characteristics, and all that is required is purchasing a separate speaker component that is the same as in the existing speakers and installing it in the centre speaker cabinet.

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