No Room For A Center Channel Speaker? (Easy Fix)

The center channel speaker is the one that handles most of the vocal frequencies in a surround sound system. It produces most of what you hear during movies and TV shows, especially dialogue.

In a home theater system, it’s often referred to as the “center of attention.” The center channel speaker should get positioned directly above or below your TV screen, angled towards you so that you can hear sounds from your listening position. 

But if there is no room for a center channel speaker, we recommend using the phantom center. This mode creates a virtual center channel from the left and right channels. So, let’s check out the usage of phantom center.

Use the phantom center

The Phantom Center option is used when there is no physical space for a dedicated center channel speaker. The phantom center is the illusion that sound is coming from a specific direction (i.e., the center of your stereo image), even though no physical speaker gets located there. 

It’s a result of phase cancellation between the left and right channels, and it can be achieved by using out-of-phase signals or speakers placed on the inside edges of your left and right loudspeakers.

The main advantage of the phantom center is that it allows you to create a more immersive sound field with discrete sounds emanating from the left and right front speakers. Setting up a phantom center requires some work, but it’s well worth the effort.

The basic idea behind the phantom center is to combine the left and right front channels into one signal, which both speakers then reproduce. Also, it allows stereo sound to be delivered to the listener in front of the speakers. If you listen to a pair of speakers and move your head from side to side, you will hear a change in the stereo image.

The phantom center effect makes it so that you don’t hear any difference when the stereo image shifts from speaker to speaker. A phantom center speaker is created using a mono signal for the vocal and summing it into both channels.

Set it as close to the center as possible

The key to good phantom imaging is precision. You can’t just set your speakers wherever you want. You have to be very deliberate.

Set the phantom center as near to the center channel as possible. It will give you a wide soundstage and make it seem like audio is coming from all around you. Set the distance of your front left and right speakers to match the distance between them. Some receivers will use this information to “aim” dialogue toward the listener to sound more direct.

Mount it above or below your other speakers

Placing the Phantom Center needs smartness. A phantom center can be set above or below the rest of your speakers, depending on your preference. 

Mounting the center speaker above your left and right speakers is the most common choice if you have a small room and don’t want the setup to take up too much space on your wall or TV stand. This option works best with smaller loudspeakers, as larger ones may block your view of the TV screen.

If you are using a soundbar, placing the phantom center right above or below it might not be a good idea because that would cause sound waves to collide, resulting in the cancellation of some frequencies. In this case, it’s better to find another suitable place for the phantom center, such as the top of your TV or directly beside it.

That’s it! Now all of your speakers are in place, and you’re ready for some high-quality entertainment.

Do you need a center speaker?

It all depends on your current situation. A center speaker isn’t always necessary when it comes to home theater. Many people prefer the two-channel stereo experience, and that’s okay. But for those looking for the best possible sound in a home theater setting.

Center speakers are used for dialogue and vocals — they’re vocal speakers. In other words, your center speaker should be the clearest of all your speakers because it will carry the most important part of your home theater experience: dialogue.

But If you’re short on space and don’t have room for a center channel speaker, there, as said, you can go for a phantom channel. Phantom channeling uses left and right stereo speakers to transmit information that a center channel speaker would otherwise deliver.

Phantom channeling is not as effective as having a dedicated center channel speaker. However, it can work in a pinch — especially if you still want surround sound but don’t have space to add an extra speaker to your setup.


Try the phantom channel if you have a small room or get the best surround sound possible. A Phantom channel is used for a surround sound setup that uses two speakers and one subwoofer instead of the usual five speakers and one subwoofer.

Phantom channel uses psychoacoustics to trick your ears into hearing the sounds from the other side. It enables you to fully immerse yourself in movies, video games, or any sound-intensive experience.

To set up a phantom channel, you first need to configure your speakers. The idea is to create virtual speakers between the front left and right speakers. To create a phantom channel, you will configure your front left and right speakers as small set them to 60 Hz, and set the crossover on your receiver to 40 Hz.

About Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!