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Best Center Channel Speaker Under $500 in 2022 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to relax and enjoy a movie, but you are constantly changing the volume because the dialog is too soft, or the music is too loud? The best center channel speaker lets you listen to the dialog without changing the volume too much. The dialog is enhanced to match the rest of the sound and, therefore, not as muffled as the other effects.

best center speaker under $500 in a living room
best center speaker under $500

A center speaker is a crucial part of any surround sound speaker setup. Moreover, it is responsible for most of the sound coming from the screen system. Therefore, the sound it produces needs to be clear without any distortion. Listed below are 6 of the best center channel speakers for under 500.

What Is a Center Channel Speaker?

center channel speaker under $500 in a living room with the smart tv
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Movies are filmed in a manner where the most action or dialog occurs in the center of your screen. A center channel speaker is responsible for taking that audio and projecting it towards the viewer or listener in a pleasurable way to the ear.

In technical terms, the center channel speaker is in the center of your living room setup, either above, below, or in the center of your particular screen. Ideally, center channels replace soundbars.

How We Made This List

checklist of all the essential factors before buying a center speaker
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We made a list of all the essential factors before buying a center speaker. Here is the criterion to look at before investing in one.

●      Sound Quality

The center channel speaker is responsible for the soundstage sound, and you must buy a high-quality speaker. Therefore, our list includes speakers that produce high-quality sound.

●      On-And-off Axis

The on-and-off axis is another crucial part when rating these speakers. The on-and-off axis refers to when the sound travels to the rest of the room but still sounds the same. That is, if you are sitting in front of the screen, to the left or right of the screen, the sound should be the same.

●      Tweeter Sound

The tweeter is responsible for the high-frequency sounds in movies or music. Moreover, the tweeter will make it possible to distinguish between different sounds. In most cases, the quality of the tweeter will determine the sound quality it produces. Therefore, the tweeter sound should be clear and natural sounding.

●      Bass Sound

The woofers produce the bass sound, and bass refers to the lower frequencies. Most center channel speakers are not responsible for the bass. However, they are still able to reproduce the lower sounds. This is especially essential if you will only use a center channel as you set up.

Best Center Speaker Under 500

1.  The Prime Center Channel Speaker – Clearest Sound

The Prime Center Channel Speaker

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The 3-way driver includes an aluminum Dome Tweeter, Midrange Driver, and dual woofers. The tweeter allows for exceptional transient response and consists of a FEA-optimized diffuser, which results in an airy presentation.

Other components included are a cloth grille with a cup or pin retention system and a single set of universal binding posts. Moreover, the Center Channel Speaker has dual one-inch wide-flared rear-firing ports and bumper feet made from elastomer. In addition to this, the bumper feet are stick-on and reduce the vibrations caused by the speaker.

The balanced dome tweeter gives you high-quality sound in your sound system. The tweeter produces a high SPL with little distortion and complete transparency. Furthermore, the diffuser ensures ideal on and off-axis frequency sound. Consequently, everyone in the room will have the same listening experience regardless of where you are sitting.

The mid-range driver is in its own compartment and preserves the vocals. The dialog is clear and sounds natural coming from the center channel speaker.

The midrange driver has a cone made of polypropylene for excellent stiffness or mass ratio and pistonic behavior. Moreover, the driver has a cast ABS-fiberglass composite basket which ensures precise component alignment with excellent thermal transfer. Included is a vented voice coil former that minimizes air compression artifacts.

The dual woofers have a long stroke motor, including suspension for high output. Also included is a polypropylene cone for excellent stiffness or mass ratio and pistonic behavior. Moreover, the dual woofers have an aluminum shorting ring to reduce gap inductance, lower sound distortion, and enhance high-frequency response. The cast ABS-fiberglass composite basket ensures precision component alignment and excellent thermal transfer. Moreover, the vented voice coil minimizes air compression artifacts. The three-way design is one of the reasons why the Prime Speakers are one of the best center channel speakers for under 500.

The design of the Prime Center channel speaker consists of air-core inductors. The inductors are wire coils without solid cores inside. This results in low electrical conductivity to produce a weak magnetic field.

The design also has circuit boards where the printing is done with heavy plating. The circuit board plating refers to the built-up copper plating with a thick layer for better current flow. Moreover, the cables are also further apart and thicker. This means that they do not touch each other. Premium capacitors are also in the design for peak performances when watching movies. These components result in a more accurate sound representation. Hence, the sound you hear is closer to what the original will sound like.

The Prime Center Channel Speaker has a tighter selection of sound frequencies it can reproduce with the help of the three-way design. This speaker also has reasonable temperature control for better sound regulation. The crossover design ensures that each driver can blend with the other, resulting in the best sound, regardless of where you are sitting.

The Prime Center Channel Speaker cabinet is engineered so that the midrange enclosure can move sound waves along the driver past the band to help enhance the sound quality. The transition between the tweeter and woofer is flawless.

The front of the speaker cabinet is cut in a slight curve. The drivers are mounted in this curve to create a flush appearance as well as edge diffraction. In other words, smooth high-end imaging. The inside of the cabinet is secure, which removes any resonances for a neutral, clear, and honest midrange.

Specifications

Recommended power for the amplifier: 20-200 watts
Frequency response: 48 Hz-25kHz
Sensitivity: 86 dB (2.83V @ 1 meter full-space, 300-3 kHz)
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Weight:20.2 pounds
Cabinet dimensions: 7.6 x 18.6 x 8.6 inches
Overall dimension: 7.7 x 18.6 x 9.2 inches (with the grille and bumper feet)
Colors available:glossy piano black and ash black
Midrange-to-tweeter crossover:2.4 kHz
Woofer-to-midrange crossover: 350 Hz

Rating

On-and-off axis: 8
Sound quality: 9
Tweeter sound: 8
Bass sound: 7

Pros
  • High-quality sound performance at high and low volume
  • Excellent price for a high-end speaker
  • SVS customer support is an excellent benefit regardless of where you purchase the speaker.
  • The tweeter has mesh protecting it
Cons
  • Large in size
  • The Prime center channel speaker is only available in two varieties

Why We Like This: The Prime Center Channel has a 3-way driver that gives more detail to the sound signature for clear sound.

2.  The Micca RB42-C Center Channel Speaker – Highly Affordable

The Micca RB42-C Center Channel Speaker

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The Micca RB42-C provides expert-level performance at an affordable price. The sound signature, the midrange, and robust bass make for the ideal movie experience, with the sound quality being smooth and clear.

The center channel speaker has two woofers built on a short steel frame with a magnetic structure. Each woofer is 4 inches, and the design of the woofer incorporates a paper cone that is pressed and coated. The cone has a dust cap with a large rubber surround and a pole piece that allows air movement.

The tweeter is similar to the popular Micca 0.75-inch silk design, where the dome incorporates a neodymium magnet for high efficiency and a slight curve for the driver.

The Micca RB42-C center channel has a 10-element crossover, including excellent air-core coils and film capacitors. The design results in excellent transparency and tonal balance. The woofer and tweeter circuits include an octave/18dB slope, enhancing the power handling and providing good off-axis performance.

The physical design of the speakers is clean lines with a dark wood pattern. The speaker is symmetrical, which means you can use it as a bookshelf speaker if you buy two.

Specifications

Recommended power for the amplifier: 15-100 watts
Frequency response: 50 Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: 86 dB (2.83V @ 1 meter full-space, 300-3 kHz)
Nominal impedance: 4-8 ohms
Weight:12.3 pounds
Overall dimension: 5.2 x 14.8 x 8.3 inches
Colors available:Dark Walnut
Crossover:18dB/Octave

Rating

On-and-off axis: 7
Sound quality: 8
Tweeter sound: 7
Bass sound: 6

Pros
  • Has a beautiful wood finish
  • Small and compact
  • Delivers an excellent full range of sound
  • Easily fits in many home setups
  • Gold plated connectors
Cons
  • The rear ports are small and limit bass potential
  • The speaker comes only in one color

Why We Like This: The Micca center channel gives you great sound at an affordable price. The design is also small and compact with a beautiful wood finish.

3.  The Polk S35 Center Channel Speaker – Most Popular

The Polk S35 Center Channel Speaker

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The Polk Audio Signature S35 center channel speaker offers clear dialogue with an excellent soundstage. The speaker is well-designed with a retro look.

The sound quality of the Polk Audio Signature S35 center channel is one of the reasons why it is one of the best center channel speakers under 500. The speaker design includes mica-reinforced polypropylene cones to ensure clear bass, clean sound, better linearity, and a more dynamic mid-range for rich, full-range sound. The acoustics are cinema-quality, with the dialogue being more audible due to the Tapered Array design that is unique to the brand.

The Polk Audio Signature S35 speaker has an acoustic array that has been designed with a new technology known as the Dynamic Balance. The Dynamic Balance gives you a full-range sound that is clean and rich sounding regardless of what you are listening to. The design eliminates issues that can reduce the speaker’s performance.

The Terylene dome tweeter on the Polk center channel uses curvilinear formers. They extend the response of the speaker as well as lower any resonance. Another feature that helps lower any resonance is the ceramic motor structure. The ceramic motor lowers the frequency response to ensure better dispersion in the midrange. As a result, you get clear high frequencies that will realistically reproduce vocals and instruments. The speaker can deliver a frequency of up to 40kHz.

The PolkAudio Signature S35 center-channel offers the patented dual power port design, making the airflow movement from the port to the listening area smooth. The bass port is more prominent, eliminating distortion and turbulence for deeper bass. In addition to this, the port includes 3dB more bass than the traditional ports.

Specifications

Recommended power for the amplifier: 20-150 watts
Frequency response: 53 Hz-40kHz
Sensitivity: 88 dB (2.83V @ 1 meter full-space, 300-3 kHz)
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Weight:20.2 pounds
Overall dimension: 6.1 x 24.4 x 4.1 inches
Colors available:black wood vinyl
Midrange-to-tweeter crossover:2.4 kHz
Woofer-to-midrange crossover: 350 Hz

Ratings

On-and-off axis: 8
Sound quality: 7
Tweeter sound: 9
Bass sound: 6

Pros
  • The speaker has a clear sound quality
  • Affordable
  • The speaker has excellent detail in sound production
  • The bass of this speaker is robust, loud, and prominent
Cons
  • Speaker is much broader than most
  • The bass can be boomy and influence the sound

Why We Like This: The Polk Audio is an excellent option due to its popularity and quality.

4.  The Klipsch Reference R-52C Center Channel Speaker – Most Furnished Built

The Klipsch Reference R-52C Center Channel Speaker

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Klipsch center channel speakers have a design that ensures clear dialogue and music to enhance your home theater system. The Klipsch R-52C center channel speaker has the signature Tractrix horn technology for a front-row experience like no other.

The Tractrix Horn technology is exclusive to Klipsch and ensures the high frequency of the R-52C is transferred to the listener. Therefore, the Tractrix horn reduces any reverb that can occur due to the sound bouncing off the walls indirectly. The signature technology gives the listener clear, dynamic, and detailed sound quality.

The Klipsch R-52C center channel speaker includes an aluminum tweeter which reduces distortion for enhanced and detailed performance. The tweeter is made of rigid and light Kapton material; as a result, the speaker provides excellent efficiency and an improvement in the resolution.

The R-52C speaker includes woofer cones made from Injection Molded Graphite. The cone material is light and rigid for low-frequency responses. It results in minimal cone distortion and breakup. In combination with the Tractrix Horn tweeter is why the Klipsch R-52C is one of the best center channel speakers.

The cabinet design of the R-52C center channel reduces any vibration that can hinder sound quality. The MDF construction improves sonic accuracy for an excellent listening experience. The closed design allows for flexibility regarding placement as the design allows for optimal bass response.

Specifications

Recommended power for the amplifier: 20-100 watts
Frequency response: 89 Hz-21kHz
Sensitivity: 95 dB (2.83V @ 1 meter full-space)
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Weight:13.5 pounds
Overall dimension: 7.3 x 18.75 x 7.6 inches
Colors available:black wood vinyl finish

Ratings

On-and-off axis: 8
Sound quality: 8
Tweeter sound: 8
Bass sound: 4

Pros
  • The speaker has a beautiful appearance
  • Does not require a robust amplifier
  • Will deliver good sound at high and low volumes
  • Includes a community of people that like the sound signature of Klipsch
Cons
  • Does not have alternative look choice
  • Lower frequency bass is not possible with this speaker

Why We Like This: The Klipsch has a unique appearance, and it includes the signature Tractrix-horn sound they are known for. The speaker is beautiful with its robust sound.

5.  The ELAC Debut in-Wall Center Channel Speaker – Most Compact

The ELAC Debut in-Wall Center Channel Speaker

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The ELAC Debut IW-DC51-W custom in-wall center-channel loudspeaker offers the experience of a home theater system without a speaker being visible below your TV screen. The center channel is built into your wall. This is ideal for projection screens where the speaker is optimal in the center behind the projection screen. If you are looking for a clean appearance, the ELAC is the best center channel speaker. The speaker comes with a magnetic grille. In addition to this, you can paint the grille to match your decor.

The ELAC Debut center channel speaker includes two aramid-fiber cone woofers that are both 5.25-inches. The woofers are made with a deep-spheroid custom waveguide and oversized magnets. Aramid fiber is solid and light with improved sound dampening, which is more convenient than plastic or paper drivers. The soft cloth dome tweeter allows for a full-range response that ranges from 45 Hz to 20 kHz.

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The crossover design is custom to ensure a smooth transition between the drivers. In addition to this, the cabinet has a robust mold feature that removes any unwanted vibrations. The custom design of the speaker includes a custom tweeter and custom drivers resulting in an outstanding audio experience.

Ratings

On-and-off axis: 9
Sound quality: 9
Tweeter sound: 8
Bass sound: 7

Specifications

Recommended power for the amplifier: 30-120 watts
Frequency response: 45 Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: 87 dB
Nominal impedance: 6 ohms
Crossover frequency: 2.2 kHz
Weight:10.7 pounds
Speaker cut out dimensions:16-7/16 “W x 6-1/4 “H
Overall dimensions:17-3/4″W x 7-7/16″H
Mounting depth:3-7/16″
Colors available: black baffle/white grill

Pros

  • The speaker is an in-wall speaker, which means it is flush against the wall
  • Ideal for behind a projection screen
  • You can hide the center channel easily
  • Can be white or black (grill on or off)
  • Good full-range sound quality

Cons

  • Complex for beginners
  • Wiring is difficult

Why We Like This: The speaker is built into your wall, making it disappear, and the components are custom-made for better sound quality. If you have a projection screen, this is especially a good option.

6.  The Triangle Borea BRC01 Home Cinema Channel Speaker – Clearest Vocals

The Triangle Borea BRC01 Home Cinema Channel Speaker

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The Triangle BRC01 center channel speaker is for a surround sound system setup with a design that provides clear and natural vocals. The Triangle BRC01 center channel is a two-way speaker with a silk dome tweeter and two midrange transducers. Moreover, you can move the speaker any way you want without any glare from the port to bother you.

The Triangle BRC01 has a one-inch Efficient Flow System silk dome tweeter. The EFS is part of the next-generation system. The silk dome is neutral and has a phase plug to integrate high-frequency spreading. The EFS minimizes directivity regardless of where you are seated in the room.

The midrange driver in the Triangle Borea BRC01 has a membrane made of natural cellulose paper. It doesn’t need surface treatment. This membrane is unique to the brand, and as a result, you will hear realistic and accurate voice transfers. The membrane allows each sound distinction to pass through the speaker without another sound influencing the next. The natural cellulose membrane incorporated in the midrange driver is one of the reasons the Triangle BRC01 can be seen as one the best center channel speakers. This and the fact that it has a five-star rating on Amazon.

The BRC01 center channel speaker has a protective grille that is magnetic. Therefore, there are no visible screws or inserts. Most audio professionals recommend taking off the grille to impact the sound quality when listening to the speakers.

Specifications

Recommended power for the amplifier: 90 watts
Frequency response: 57 Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 90 dB
Nominal impedance: 5.3-8 ohms
Weight: 16.6 pounds
Cabinet dimensions:10,8 x 9,9 x 19,1 inches
Overall dimension:16-7/16 “W x 6-1/4 “H
Overall dimensions:13,8 x 10 x 22 inches
Colors available: White, Black, and Walnut

Ratings

On-and-off axis: 8
Sound quality: 8
Tweeter sound: 8
Bass sound: 6

Pros
  • The built is pleasing to the eye
  • Comes in three color options
  • The center channel speaker includes a front port with minimal reflection
  • 5-star rating
  • Magnetic grill
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Speaker lacks in the low-frequency spectrum

Why We Like This: The 5-star rating is a good indication of a good quality speaker. The tweeter is also made with natural cellulose paper for accurate and realistic vocals.

Choosing the Best Center Channel Speaker – Buying Guide

choosing the best center channel speaker – buying guide
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The best center channel speakers have a three-way design with a tweeter and midrange vertically aligned. Meaning, the speaker’s performance is close to a full range speaker radiating a sound field that disperses, enabling acoustic imaging that is accurately tracked across the sound stage.

The center speaker produces around 70% of the soundtrack. That is, the center channel speakers are mostly responsible for the experience you have while watching a movie or listening to a song. Thus, finding the best center channel speaker is vital to ensure excellent sound quality.

Bad quality speakers can have a massive influence on your movie-watching experience. Adding or replacing the speakers with an excellent center speaker is possible and will increase the sound quality of your home theater. However, it is essential to note that the center speaker does not replace the other speakers in a home theater system setup; it is not the center speakers’ responsibility to provide bass. The speakers responsible for the bass are the front left and right speakers or the subwoofer.

Listed below are features that determine if the speaker you are looking for is the best center channel speaker under 500 that will best suit your home theater.

Compatibility

The center channel speakers need to be compatible with the other speakers in your setup. The sound signature should be the same across all speakers, most notably the front speakers, consisting of the front left, center, and front right speakers. Moreover, the sound signature will likely be the same when you purchase from the same company. Consult customer service when you are unsure if the speaker will be compatible with the rest of your system.

Technical Specifications

Another feature to consider in finding the best center channel speaker is the technical specifications, including configuration ratio, bi-wire capability, crossover frequency, frequency response, impedance, and magnetic shielding.

The Configuration Ratio

The configuration ratio will appear as 3:1, 5:2, or 6:1. The initial number refers to the surround sound, and the second number is the number of subwoofers. With advancing technologies, it is possible to come across a configuration ratio of 7:2:4, which refers to 7 speakers in your surround sound setup, two subwoofers, and 4 Atmos speakers.

The Bi-Wire Capability

Bi-wire capability is seen in high-end speakers, where there are two sets of connectors—one for the woofer and the other for the tweeter. Moreover, the bi-wire power enables better quality bass definition.

Crossover Frequency

The crossover frequency is when the signal is split into various portions. These portions are then sent to the different speakers to be interpreted as sound. The signals will be sent to the woofer, tweeter, or midrange woofer, depending on the frequencies.

The woofer can be identified as the big round discs, and the tweeters are the smaller disc on the center channel speaker. Furthermore, lower frequencies move to the woofer, the higher frequencies go to the tweeter, and the middle frequencies are sent to the midrange. Higher crossover frequencies are more desirable because the switch is undetectable.

The Frequency Response

Frequency response refers to the frequency range the speaker is able to produce. The frequency range on cheaper speakers is shorter than more expensive speakers. An example of the frequency response is 40hz – 40000hz, the lower frequency represents the bass, and the higher frequency is the treble. However, the center channel speaker is not responsible for low-frequency sounds.

Impedance

Impedance is the electric circuits’ ability to resist the flow of an alternating current. The voice coil is responsible for this resistance. That is the electric signal that is moving through the system. The electric signal can be music or voices in a movie. The more coils, the higher the ohms, which means the speaker requires a stronger amplifier.

Magnetic Shielding

Magnetic shielding is done to ensure that the magnets inside the center speaker do not interfere with the electronic equipment in the direct vicinity of the speakers.

Other Considerations

Size, placement, and orientation are other factors that need to be considered when looking for the best center channel speaker.

Size

The size of the center channel speaker is dependent on the size of the room. Some center channel speakers are more prominent than others, not necessarily affecting the sound quality. If space is a problem, the size of the center channel speaker will become an essential factor in your purchase. You will need a more prominent center channel speaker if you have a large room as the sound output will have a more significant range.

Placement and Orientation

Placement of the center channel speaker is essential. The center channel speaker should face the listener regardless of the configuration ratio. In most setups, the speaker will be below the screen with the tweeter at the listener’s ear level.

The speaker can be placed above the flat screen TV if the placement is a problem. Angle it so that the tweeter faces the listener. So, if you are looking for the best home theater experience, the speaker should be directly behind the screen where most dialog occurs. This position is only applicable if you have an acoustic transparent projection screen, allowing sound to move through the screen without altering the sound quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.   Why is my center channel speaker not working?

To ensure that the sound is set at an acceptable level, make sure to check your volume. If this does not work, try to set the Audio Video receiver to another Surround Sound mode. Other possible reasons include the wiring of the speaker to the receiver. You can perform a test tone function to determine if the speakers are working correctly.

2.   What is the benefit of center channel speakers?

The center channel speaker makes a massive difference in a home theater system. It forms part of the seamless soundstage experience, working with the left and right speakers. The center channel speakers allow sound to move seamlessly through the system regardless of where it originated. The transition created by a great center speaker will be smooth and accurate, adding to the experience.

3.   Does the center channel speaker have to match the rest of the system?

If you are in the process of upgrading your system, the center channel speakers do not have to match the rest of your system. However, it is a recommendation to ensure the sound signatures are similar across your design. The center channel speakers mentioned above match a more comprehensive range of brands available. Ideally, you want a matching system, but it is not always possible.

4.   Can you use center channel speakers on their own?

A center channel speaker can be the sole speaker without the need for left and right speakers. The center channel can be on its own due to most designs and the design quality of the speaker. The sound quality will still be outstanding if the speaker is on its own. On the other hand, a home theater is not complete without a center channel speaker.

5.   How can you increase the volume of your center channel speaker?

In a home theater setup, raising the volume of the center channel increases the dialog volume, making it louder than the music or sound effects. However, this is only applicable if you have a left and right speaker and surround channels. The easiest way to increase the volume is through your receiver or remote-control systems.

6.   Should center speakers be louder?

The center channel speaker should not be louder than the other front speakers through proper calibrations. The calibration numbers seen in the setup do not mean the center is more audible. The numbers exist to ensure that you are able to account for the differences in loudness between models.

7.   Why do center speakers have two woofers?

Center speakers have two woofers to place the tweeter in the center. If the tweeter were on one side, the speaker’s placement would become confusing as the tweeter should always be in the center of the screen. The symmetrical center channel speakers mean the sound for all the viewers and listeners will be the same.

8.   Are center channel speakers needed for music?

No, most music is recorded in stereo. The center channel speaker will make you lose soundstage and depth, creating a mono effect. If this is an effect you prefer, then this would not be a hindrance for you.

9.   Is a bigger center channel speaker better?

Regarding the center channel speaker, bigger does not always mean better. Most movie soundtracks have little bass information, which means the center channel speaker is not made to produce a lot of basses. Center channel speakers of high quality will produce clear dialog and natural sound.

Deciding on the Best Center Channel Speaker

A center channel speaker is essential if not the most crucial part of any home theater build. The movie-watching experience is enhanced with an excellent quality center speaker. That is, the extensive list, along with the buyer’s guide, is guaranteed to equip you with the information you need to find the best center channel speaker that suits your needs, style, and wallet.

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