What is the best surround sound system to buy

Best surround sound system 2022: for your home theater

(Image credit: Sony)

Investing in a great TV is just the first step in creating the perfect home cinema set-up. If you feel like something is missing, then the best surround sound systems are an excellent way of punching up the audio soundtrack to everything from action movies and sports to your favorite tunes and podcasts.

Surround sound can unlock a whole new experience with boosted bass, room-filling sound, and more delights. But, as any film buff or avid gamer will tell you, the image is only half of the picture.

So if you're looking to perfect your home cinema experience – especially when the local multiplex isn't a go-to option and more and more of the latest movies are streaming at home- you'll need a great sound system, too.

Surround sound gear has come a long way in recent years. The mess of cables, speakers, and stands that used to dot around our living rooms has given way to much tidier single-unit soundbars that sit underneath our TVs and beef up what the slim flat panels can't produce.

And yes, there's still a lot to love about having speakers dotted around your room. Still, now they're usually wireless in form and often offer upwards-firing Dolby Atmos sound, too, for an audio track that lives and breathes all around you – including from above.

If you want to make a surround sound upgrade, we've assembled some of the best options below. Of course, if you're not so sure you need multiple speakers, you can check out our guide to the best soundbars.

The best surround sound systems in 2022: tried and tested by us

Why you can trust Livingetc Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony HT-A9 Home Theater System

Best wireless surround sound system


Components: 4 x speakers; 1 x receiver

Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect

Dimensions (speakers): h22. 3 x W6.2 x D5.7in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Wireless connectivity between speakers and control box


Works with Google Assistant and Alexa


Adaptive audio technology


Dolby Atmos support

Reasons to avoid




Only one HDMI input


Optional subwoofer sold separately

Made up of just four wireless speakers and a control unit, the Sony HTA9 Home Theater System is ideal for those who don't want to 'settle' for a soundbar but don't have the luxury of installing a vast wired surround sound system in their living room. So whether you're dealing with a small space, an awkwardly shaped space, or just crave simplicity, this could be the answer.

The downside of the HT-A9 is the lack of a subwoofer included, but this can be purchased additionally if you want added oomph. However, the speakers are great on their own, with 360 spatial sound mapping for adaptive audio in your space, built-in Chromecast, and compatibility with an existing Alexa or Google Assistant.

Really, despite being on the more expensive side, the HTA9 system is designed to get you started, and you can add more to the set-up with multiroom listening. While this particular product only works with specific models, you can look at our guide to the best subwoofers to complete your home theater.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars - read our full review of the Sony HT-A9 Home Theater System

(Image credit: Monoprice)

2. Monoprice SB-600

Best 5.1 home theater system


Components: 1 x soundbar; 1 x subwoofer; 2 x speakers

Connectivity: Bluetooth

Dimensions (soundbar): 40.6 x 4.3 x 3in

Dimensions (subwoofer): 0.4 x 9.4 x 16.5in

Dimensions (speakers): 2. 8 x 2.8 x 5.9in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Dolby Atmos support


Good price


Subwoofer included

Reasons to avoid


No smart home compatibility


Rear speakers need to be wired together

Made up of a soundbar, subwoofer, and two rear speakers, the Monoprice SB-600 is the first soundbar-based surround sound system on this list, but it won't be the last. This is because this type of home theater system is simple and easy to install, tends to be less of a financial investment, and - with the help of technology like Dolby Atmos - can have a similar impact as older, bulky systems.

The SB-600's components can communicate with each other wirelessly, so you can place the rear speakers somewhere conveniently behind where you usually sit to watch TV. We will note that the two speakers need to be wired together, so bear this in mind.

The soundbar is the best-looking part of the system, which, as it's the thing that will be most on show, is good. Controls are simple and easy to use, and the sound performance is also effective. It's a slightly more budget-friendly option, so it might not blow hardened audiophiles away but will serve those who want surround sound without the complications well. 

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars - read our full review of the Monoprice SB-600 Soundbar System

(Image credit: LG)

3. LG S95QR Surround Soundbar

Best LG home theater system


Components: 1 x soundbar; 1 x subwoofer, 2 x rear speakers

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Dimensions (soundbar): h3.5 x W47.2 x D5.3in

Dimensions (subwoofer): h25.9 x W7.9 x D15.9in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Great surround sound with Dolby Atmos


Good sound presets


Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

Reasons to avoid


Soundbar and speakers on the larger side



The LG S95QR is a soundbar system offering rear speakers as part of the package, giving you more than just audio from the front, but also to the side and above you with Dolby Atmos surround sound and from behind with the dual rear speakers. In addition, the wireless subwoofer adds booming bass to the mix.

There are plenty of other surprises, too. 4K and Dolby Vision pass-through make it an ideal match for any high-end TV that supports HDR. Even Google Assistant and Alexa support is built-in for controlling smart home gadgetry. On test, our reviewer was impressed by how much the system improved not just action-packed movies and music but also dialogue-heavy shows.

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars | read our full review of the LG S95QR Surround Soundbar

The best surround sound systems: more top picks

(Image credit: Sonos)

3. Sonos Beam (Gen 2) System

Best Sonos surround sound bundle


Components (depending on retailer): 1 x soundbar; 1 x subwoofer; 2 x speakers

Connectivity: Wi-Fi

Dimensions (soundbar): h3.7 x W25.6 x D3.9in

Dimensions (subwoofer): h25.3 x W15.8 x D6.2in

Dimensions (speakers): H9. 7 x W6.9 x D6.9in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Alexa and Google Assistant built-in


Speech enhancement mode


Adaptive sound (requires iOS device)

Reasons to avoid


No Bluetooth


Only one HDMI input

Sonos doesn't offer a surround sound system as a single product but has a lot of bundles that allow you to use its products in tandem to create the same effect. This Sonos Beam package also includes the newest Sub Mini and two Sonos One SL speakers that can be used as rear units.

This set-up lets you make the most of Sonos' tech, including adaptive sound (which can only be used if you have an iPhone or iOS device), speech enhancement, and more. The Beam (Gen 2) includes Alexa and Google Assistant, and the One SLs can be placed in different areas of the home for multi-room listening.

Read our full review of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) to find out more.

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar System

Best 9.1 surround sound system (runner up)


Components: 1 x soundbar; 1 x subwoofer, 1 x speakers

Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Dimensions (soundbar): h3.7 x W48 x D5.4in

Dimensions (subwoofer): h25.9 x W8.3 x D15.9in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Dolby Atmos


Adaptive audio


Energy Star certified


Alexa built-in (works with SmartThings)


Subwoofer included

Reasons to avoid



One of our favorite multi-speaker set-ups for your home theater system and choice for the best surround soundbar system, the Samsung HW-Q950T is a modest and compact soundbar system that nevertheless provides a brilliant surround soundscape without taking up too much space around your living room.

Consisting of a soundbar equipped with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technology, two upfiring rear speakers for overhead audio, and a wireless subwoofer, it's a winner when it comes to audio power. In addition, the tech allows it to tailor the sound to what you're watching in Adaptive Mode and Game Pro mode, depending on what you happen to be enjoying.

There's a bonus for Samsung devotees, too, as the soundbar is compatible with the Q-Symphony features of the brand's QLED TVs. To top things off, the HW-Q950T is the only entry on this list that's Energy Star certified, meaning that it consumes less energy overall.

(Image credit: JBL)

6. JBL 9.1-Channel Soundbar System

Most versatile surround sound system


Components: 1 x soundbar; 2 x speakers; 1 x subwoofer

Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Dimensions (soundbar): h3.4 x W34.8 x D4.7in

Dimensions (subwoofer): h27.3 x W12 x D12in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Works with Google Assistant and Siri


Subwoofer included


Dolby Atmos

Reasons to avoid


Only one HDMI input


Soundbar system rather than true surround sound

The JBL Bar 9. 1 is perhaps the most interesting option on this list, or at least the more creative. What at first looks like a standard soundbar hides a secret - its ends snap off, revealing themselves to be battery-powered, fully-featured wireless rear speakers!

It's an ingenious trick, and the central unit acts as the center, left, right, and overhead sound channels and as a charging dock for the rear speakers. The detachable elements are intelligent enough to sense where they've been placed, matching the rear and rear-height ambient sound to any given scene. There's also a separate subwoofer to complete the package.

But of course, there's a catch. Though the JBL Bar 9.1 is an ingenious design and is worthy of a place in your living room for that reason alone, it does have some slight faults. For example, its front channels feel a bit narrow and don't always give a clear sense of audio information flowing in from the left and right.

And yet, it's hard not to find yourself enamored by its clever design, even if it's not quite up there with what the top bar on this list offers.

(Image credit: Klipsch)

7. Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Surround Sound System

Best budget home theater system


Components: 1 x center unit; 4 x speakers 1 x subwoofer

Connectivity: N/A

Dimensions (center unit): h5.3 x W10.7 x D5.3in

Dimensions (subwoofer): h23.2 x W11.7 x D11.7in

Dimensions (speakers): H7.7 x W4.3 x D5.3in

Today's Best Deals

Reasons to buy


Good price


True surround sound system


Subwoofer included

Reasons to avoid


No Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or smart home compatibility

True surround sound systems are fantastic for boosting your home theater experience, but building one can be expensive over time. If you want something that will deliver results straight away without needing to add rear speakers and more later, this offering from Klipsch is one to consider.

It comprises six speakers in total - one center channel and four speakers to place around your space in addition to the wireless subwoofer - it's more customizable than some other surround sound systems simply because you have control over where you put them. In addition, the system contains an aluminum tweeter and high-excursion aluminum woofer cones for high-quality sound.

Of course, the trade-off for the price is that the Klipsch HT50 doesn't include Bluetooth connectivity or compatibility with smart home systems like Google Assistant and Alexa. But if this doesn't matter to you, it's a good starter pack for the less tech-savvy who don't want to miss out on excellent audio.

(Image credit: Future)

Today's best surround sound system deals

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Sony HTA9 Home Theater System



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£1,699. 99


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Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack



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How we test the best surround sound systems

All recommendations that we give to our readers on products like the surround sound systems on this list are based on a combination of hands-on experience and industry knowledge. We endeavor to test and review everything that we include in our buying guides, but this is not always possible. The content will clearly mark where we have had this real-world experience with links to in-depth reviews. For more, head over to our article on how we create our buying guides.

The best surround sound systems are tested and ranked based on their ease of use, expense, versatility, and sound quality. Products are trialed in the writers' own homes rather than a lab environment to ensure that promises made by the manufacturers translate to the average home environment.

Smart Home Editor

Caroline is the smart home editor for Livingetc, having written about technology for a living for the past ten years. Her passion for film, TV and music means that she takes her home audio very seriously, and loves digging into the granular details when testing products like the best surround sound systems. All of the recommendations in this guide are based on at-home testing by her or experienced freelancers, as well as industry knowledge.

How to choose the best surround sound system for your home

(Image credit: Sonos)

When picking the best surround sound system for your needs, there are several things to consider. Chief among those is placement – do you have much room beneath your TV? And how about behind your sofa – is there room to set up the rear sound channels and plug sockets to power them from? 

If so, great – any of the picks above will suit your needs. If not, you might want to focus on the single-bar solutions up top, which virtualize the surround sound elements by bouncing audio off your viewing room's walls. Of course, mileage will vary depending on the uniformity of the space (a lovely square room usually works best). Still, all the systems above have intelligent ways of tricking your ears into thinking sound is coming from all around you.

Perhaps worth equal consideration is the broader feature set. If you're planning on playing lots of music through the soundbar, a built-in voice assistant, like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, might be helpful, letting you speak to the speaker to command it to play your favorite tunes at a whim.

Also, think about the TV you're pairing it with – not just in terms of whether it'll obscure the screen, but also what connection you'll need. True audiophiles will be looking out for HDMI connections with an eARC feature – that lets your cables deliver uncompressed multi-channel audio, giving you pristine sound from all directions.

How much does a surround sound system cost?

We have intentionally included surround sound systems across various price points on this list, as different households will have different needs and budgets. The most expensive is the Sony HTA9 Home Theater System, which will set you back around $2000 at the time of writing. This isn't small change, but you are paying for the convenience of the system's wireless set-up.

On the other end of things is the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System, which, in contrast, costs just over $350. Remember that the Klipsch offering won't work with any smart home devices.

(Image credit: JBL)

Do you need a receiver for a surround sound system?

If you're new to sound systems, whether your shiny new speaker set-up needs a receiver may crop up quite early. Older surround sound systems always needed a receiver for the best performance, and while they're still an option, many systems now operate without needing one.

Soundbar systems (those with a bar, subwoofer, and 2+ rear speakers), which are becoming more popular, won't require a receiver at all.

However, multi-speaker systems will depend on how traditional you want to get. A/V receivers are the glue that holds the rest of the components together, and so one may be needed for home theater systems. Before investing in one of these set-ups, ensure you have everything you need to start.

What is the best surround sound system?

Speaker systems come in all shapes and sizes for all different types of rooms. Suppose you’re feeling particularly flush with cash and have the space to indulge your cinematic delights to the nth degree. In that case, you could consider something like the Sony HTA9 Home Theater System , but the mess of cables, space required, and sheer expense means that it's not suitable for everyone.

Instead, you can get great, cinema-like results with a great soundbar and wireless speaker combo like some of the sets listed above. We love the Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar System or the JBL 9.1-Channel Soundbar System if you want something even more soundbar-like. 

Caroline is the smart homes ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.

Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package review: A stylish, pleasant-sounding home cinema system

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Full, honest and warm - these clever performers will make the best out of any home cinema soundtrack


Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Home cinema speakers are about lifting your home entertainment onto a higher plane of existence. It’s all there on your video content just waiting to be unlocked: a beautiful soundtrack, clean dialogue, big-hitting bass and surround sound effects all projected onto a soundstage with you at the centre. 

All you need is a great package to unlock it. Could that be the Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package?

Build and compatibility

(Image credit: Future)

Upfront are the Award-winning Dali Oberon 5 floorstanders. The surrounds are either the five-star Dali Oberon 1 standmounters (£1699), which is the package we're testing, or the compact Dali On-Wall speakers (£1799). Either way, they have tidy MDF cabinets, with a choice of Black Ash, White, Dark Walnut and Light Oak finishes.

We feel rather blessed to be sat in the middle of the beautiful two-tone light oak options which are attractive, subtle, modern and the kind of speakers that would suit most rooms.  

At just 83cm tall, the two-way front pair is as unobtrusive a set of floorstanders as you’ll find. They’re significantly smaller in every dimension than its main speaker package rivals, the Elac Debut 2.0 Home Theatre System and Q Acoustics 3050i Cinema Pack – and that’s well worth considering if you have limited space in which to house your 5.1 system.

(Image credit: Future)

The Oberon 5s have a fairly large and lightweight 29mm soft dome tweeter, and that allows it to dip into lower frequencies to help integrate itself with the sound coming from the woofers.

Those two 13cm mid/bass drivers are made from Dali’s wood fibre/fine grain paper pulp choice of cone material, which the company believes is the best available balance between rigidity and low resonance. 

They’re positioned within a low-loss surround using spider suspension to focus on micro details with maximum transparency. All three units within each speaker are linked with a single-wired two-way crossover, giving a sensitivity of 88dB/W/m and a nominal impedance of 6 ohms.

(Image credit: Future)

It’s a similar story for the shoebox-sized Oberon 1 surround speakers. There’s just the one midrange driver here, and Dali has made these standmounters as versatile as possible by adding a wall-mounting attachment. 

While they sound better than most hung like this, we’d recommend setting them around 30cm into the room for maximum clarity. 

One of the key make-or-break battlegrounds of a speaker package is the centre and it’s the Oberon Vokal that is tasked with that job here. 

It has the same selection of drivers as the floorstanders arranged with the tweeter in the middle and the front-facing bass port just underneath. That arrangement has been chosen to help achieve a wider dispersion pattern and make positioning less fussy.

(Image credit: Future)

Last but not least, is the subwoofer. It’s a Dali Sub E9-F, which is a relatively small cube that comes in Black Ash, White or Light Walnut. An aluminium-coned, 23cm woofer sits inside the MDF enclosure which itself sits 3cm off the floor, thanks to some rubber legs, creating enough space for a downward-firing bass vent to work its magic.

It’s powered by a 170W RMS Class D amplifier and has a heavy magnet motor system with a four-layered, long-stroke voice coil designed to keep the cone up to speed with the amp’s signal. There are controls around the back for fine-tuning the speaker to your room with dials for gain and crossover.


(Image credit: Future)

We fire up the projector and head to Deadpool on 4K Blu-ray. The film opens up with the kind of scene that puts home cinema sound through its paces. It’s chaotic – with explosions, dialogue, cars zooming left and right, and plenty of thumps and amusing details as henchmen meet their grisly ends. The Dali Oberons perform the job admirably.

Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package tech specs

(Image credit: Future)

Finishes 4

Bi-wired No

Dimensions (hwd)
83 x 16 x 28cm

Weight 10.8kg

Dimensions (hwd)
27 x 16 x 23cm

Weight 4. 2kg

Dimensions (hwd)
44 x 30 x 16cm

Weight 7.45kg

Dimensions (hwd)
31 x 29 x 31cm

Weight 11kg


There’s a beautiful rasping quality to a motorcycle as it zips across the picture trying to avoid a tumbling vehicle pile-up. It shifts across the soundstage in a wonderfully integrated fashion and, like the rest of the moving action, we’re never aware of the sound passing from speaker to speaker but more through the space around us which is exactly how home cinema should be.

There’s surprising authority and power to this relatively diminutive package as well; not as much as the crowd-pleasing Q Acoustics 3050is, perhaps, but the Dalis hold their own.

The hits are huge as airborne vehicles slam into the road with terrifying weight and every bone-crunching punch sounds as though it has been delivered with super-human strength, but the details of twisting metal and the splattering blood aren’t steamrollered by the thuds.

Switching to dialogue scenes with Wade Wilson and we’re blown away by the way the Dalis convey the character in his voice. The dynamics and detail from the centre speaker give a fabulous sense of the roughness of his timbre.

There’s more credibility to the hard-boiled background of the character as the speakers express the cracks in his tone, which you imagine are caused by things Wilson has seen and done as a Special Forces soldier. The muffled quality of his speech through the Deadpool mask is good enough to hear the texture of the disguise itself.

(Image credit: Future)

There are incidental moments where the detail is not quite as fine and singular as with the more delicate Elac Debut 2.0s — a glass placed upon a table, the safety clicked off a gun, for instance — they’re all present, but not quite so beautifully three-dimensional. Instead, what we have with the Dalis is the best of both worlds, and a definite overall step-up in sonic terms.

While the sub can create quite the rumble with the gain turned up high, it’s best to dial it down for a more subtle response. At sensible levels, it still delivers enough atmosphere and tone. If serious weight is what you need, then you can always upgrade to the Dali E-12F with its 30cm driver.


Lean, attractive, interesting and unfussy: these words are equally apt for both the aesthetics and acoustics of these clever performers.

The Dali Oberon 5 5.1 system presents every frequency in full, but with honesty and warmth that brings the best out of any soundtrack. They’re transparent but fun, powerful but subtle; we’d have them round to ours any day.



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Dali Oberon 5 5. 1 Speaker Package: Price Comparison



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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test

Home Theater Sound Systems

A guide to creating an amazing surround sound system

In a nutshell, a surround sound system consists of several main parts. In this article, you'll learn how to put them together to create a coherent home theater sound system. Here's what you need:

Want to keep things simple? Let's take a look at the process of building a home theater sound system using a pre-selected surround sound system as an example. See our top reviews of 2018.

Generally speaking, I'm a seasoned nerd flying through a variety of science fiction. Offer me a space movie or anything with dinosaurs and I'll be fascinated; and it especially pleases me if I can watch a movie on my home theater, because watching a movie in surround sound puts me right in the middle of a space battle or a tyrannosaurus rex chase. nine0005

My goal is to help you enjoy the same sense of fun and adventure with your surround sound system. This guide will walk you through the key factors to consider when planning your home theater.

How to choose speakers for your room?

The first thing to consider when designing a surround sound system is the room itself.

How much free space do you have? A large open living room with vaulted ceilings obviously needs different equipment than a small or medium room with 8" ceilings. nine0005

If you are planning to install the home theater system in a room where children play, then you may want the speakers to be attached to the wall so that they don't get in your way. On the other hand, if you have a separate home theater room, floorstanding speakers (or speakers on stands) are unlikely to pose a danger to pets or children.

Choose speakers that fit your room. Floor standing speakers ideal for large open spaces

Stand, wall or in-wall speakers are good for small spaces

Where will your speakers sound best?

Consider the layout and shape of your room. Where will the speakers look and sound best?

My speaker placement article provides detailed guidance on planning your sound system layout and may be helpful to you.

Compact speakers offer discreet placement options

Is your sound system going to your living room? First of all, you need to consider that here the TV and sound system should not always be in the spotlight. Compact speakers will easily fit into your interior and leave a lot of free space.

Wall mounted speakers are the safest for your movement

Wall and ceiling mounted bookshelf speakers are great options for immersive sound without taking up much space. nine0005

Get theatrical sound with floorstanders

If space isn't a big deal, you can use larger speakers. Using floorstanding speakers in your surround sound system helps replicate the cinema experience. Large acoustic chambers provide powerful surround sound effects, which is especially true for movies and video games. "Towers" (columns Tower), among other things, are ideal for listening to music in stereo. nine0005

Floorstanding speakers provide a more realistic soundstage at the front of your room

What role does each speaker play in a home theater system?

The home theater sound system consists of several different types of speakers. Understanding the role of each will help you choose the best options for your room.

Here are the main components of your surround sound system:

Center channel speaker plays dialogue and more

The center channel speaker is often considered the most important speaker in a sound system. It provides playback of more than 50% of movie soundtracks, including almost all dialogue. It also provides important sound effects in the center of the stage.

The center channel speaker must be well combined with other speakers. Compact speakers require a smaller center channel driver, while floor standing speakers need a large center speaker to match their increased power. nine0005

Consider where you will place your center channel speaker. If you have a special cabinet, make sure it fits in the space provided for it on the shelf.

The home theater center speaker is responsible for most movie soundtracks. Choose the one that suits both your room and the other speakers in your sound system

Left and right front speakers create a wide soundstage

The front left and right speakers play the movie soundtrack. They also handle most of the special effects. To pull you into the story more effectively, the sound moves between the front speakers in sync with the action unfolding on the screen. Floor-standing, bookshelf and wall-mounted speakers work well as such.

Surround speakers provide realistic special effects

Surround speakers are located next to and/or behind your seats. They immerse you in the movie by creating ambient sounds such as raindrops or rustling leaves. nine0005

The surround speakers also work with your other speakers to create impressive sound directional effects. Think of a locomotive passing by or a bullet flying past you.

5.1 channel sound systems use one pair of surround speakers placed next to or behind you. Sound systems that support 7.1-channel audio use speakers located at the back and both sides of the circle with the listeners in the center. nine0005

If you have a large room or multiple seating areas, consider a 7.1 channel system. In a 5.1 system, the surround speakers are best placed to the left and right of the listening positions install on stands or attach to the wall.

Which speakers should you use for your surround channels?

Many traditional bookshelf speakers or wall-mounted speakers can be used as surround channel speakers.

You might also consider specialized bipole/dipole speakers that have multiple drivers that produce sound waves in different directions. This creates a special, so-called. diffuse, sound field, which enhances the effect of sound wrapping. nine0005

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X vertical effect speakers

Have you decided to build a Dolby Atmos® or DTS:X™ system? Then you will need a pair or two pairs of speakers to produce sound in the area above the listening position. You can use either in-ceiling speakers or vertical-firing speakers for this.

The Dolby Atmos system is used with a conventional 5.1 or 7.1 surround system, to which two or four vertical speakers (or speakers built into the ceiling) are added to create sound effects falling down on the listener

Which subwoofer size would you prefer?

Movie soundtracks are provided with a dedicated deep bass (low frequency) channel that is played through a powered subwoofer. The subwoofer is what recreates in your room the effect of exploding bombs and the roar of an airplane flying overhead.

Choose a subwoofer that fits well with your room and your speakers. As a general rule, the larger the subwoofer speaker, the deeper the bass. nine0005

Do you have a large room at your disposal? Then you should definitely upgrade to a subwoofer with a 12-inch or larger speaker.

Do you have a small room at your disposal? A compact subwoofer will sound great here. For more detailed recommendations, check out my article on choosing subwoofers for your home theater.

Most people place their subwoofers at the front of the room so they can be easily connected to a home theater receiver. If running the cable where your subwoofer sounds best is not practical, use a wireless subwoofer

Voice matching, which is optional

Each brand or series of speakers has its own tonal quality or "voice". To get an evenly balanced sound level throughout the room, I recommend using the same brand of speakers for all locations.

If you cannot match all the speakers together, try using the same brand of speakers for the front left, right and center locations. This will give you a complete front soundstage, i.e. ensure stable sound system performance. nine0005

Want hidden surround sound?

If you need a sound system with the smallest footprint, consider built-in, in-ceiling or wall-mounted speakers. Read my article on installing in-wall and ceiling speakers for more on what's involved.

Everything you need to get started

To get the best sound, you need to pair your new speaker system with a good home theater receiver. This guide will help you choose the right parts for your sound system. nine0005

Use dedicated speaker wires and subwoofer cables for connections. We also recommend that you secure the power supply to your receiver, TV, audio/video components and subwoofer.

Best Universal Home Theater Systems

Over the years I have developed dozens of surround sound systems. And the systems I custom made are great. And I'll let you in on a secret: you can get theater-quality sound by purchasing a pre-matched surround sound system. Here are a couple of my favorites. nine0005

  1. Klipsch Reference Theater Pack - the best surround sound system for small rooms

Klipsch Reference Theater Pack quickly gained popularity among buyers. The system does not take up much space, but it provides the sonic depth and sonic attack that you would only expect from large speakers. This is the perfect choice for small rooms with premium space.

Fantastically clear sound, compact yet powerful. nine0008

Adjustable subwoofer allows you to move from

Dynamic explosions to subtle vibrations

- Larry, Pottsboro, Texas

  1. Definitione ProCinema 800 - the best system of volumetric sound for the medium

Definitive Technology's ProCinema 800 is a powerful, dynamic system that offers surround sound without the need for floor standing speakers. nine0005

Why does she work so well? The answer is partly due to the use of passive radiators in each speaker. These drivers do not require power, they move by coupling with powerful woofers used to boost the mids and lows. The result is clear, powerful sound for music, movies and video game soundtracks.

This loudspeaker is the biggest blow to the price of a sound system I have ever seen. nine0008

Each speaker is very solid and eye-catching

- Bree, Montgomery, TX

5.1 vs. 7.1 surround sound: which is better?

What is the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound?

5.1 Surround Sound: pros and cons

7.1 Surround Sound pros and cons

Scheme 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound

What's right for your room? nine0005

Features and your budget

Price difference between 5. 1 and 7.1 surround sound systems

So what's the verdict?

You will finally do it. You've been saving up and now you've got your dream home theater. However, your dreams were a bit vague and left you wondering what kind of sound system to get. In particular, you cannot select 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound.

5.1 surround sound system consists of front left, front right, front center, right and left surround speakers and a subwoofer. A 7.1 surround system is similar to a 5.1 system, except that it has an additional set of surround back speakers.

So which is better? Unfortunately, the short answer is “it depends.” Whether a 5.1 or 7.1 system is right for you depends on a number of different variables. Some of these will depend on the room you're tuning in, and some will be down to personal preference. nine0005

Things like room size, ambience and listening position will affect which sound setting suits you. In this article, we'll discuss the differences between 5. 1 and 7.1 audio and the factors that go into whether you should choose a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system.

What is the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound?

Simply put, the difference between a 5.1 surround system and a 7.1 surround system is the two speakers. A 5.1 system consists of five speakers and one subwoofer, while a 7.1 system consists of seven speakers and one subwoofer. nine0005

The 7.1 surround sound system builds on the 5.1 system and gives you two extra surround speakers to add depth to your sound. In the right room, this can be an incredible listening experience. A 7.1 system set up in the wrong room or incorrectly may not sound clear.

The most common setup for a 5.1 system is to place three speakers at the front of the room - right, left and center - and two surround speakers on either side of the listening area. The 7.1 system improves on this by adding two additional surround speakers behind the listening area. Read more about different home theater system configurations in this article. nine0005

5.1 Surround Sound: pros and cons

A 5.1 sound system has several advantages and disadvantages. Although smaller than a 7.1 system, a 5.1 system could make more sense for your home theater.

At a basic level, 5.1 systems are more common than 7.1 systems, so it's easier to find troubleshooting instructions online. In addition to the larger online community, 5.1 systems often come in packages that can be set up right out of the box, also known as home theater in a box. If you plan to use wires to connect your system, a 5.1 system will have two fewer wires to hide. A 5.1 sound system is sufficient for most rooms. nine0005

However, for large rooms, a 5.1 sound system may not be enough. If there is a lot of space behind your listening area, the surround sound may not be as spacious as in smaller rooms. Although this rarely happens, some media can reproduce 7.1 audio that a 5.1 system cannot reproduce as clearly and efficiently.

For most applications, a 5. 1 system will be fine, but there are a few downsides that might make upgrading to a 7.1 system more attractive. nine0005

7.1 Surround Sound pros and cons

The 7.1 sound system also has its advantages and disadvantages. Despite the added power of two additional surround speakers, a 7.1 system can degrade the listening experience.

The 7.1 system is an excellent choice for large rooms where sound can be lost in space. This provides a deeper surround sound listening experience. Cinema-quality media designed for a 7.1 system will be sharper than a 5.1 system. nine0005

However, the 7.1 system has several drawbacks. In small rooms, additional surround speakers can make the surround channels dominate over the front ones. This will make it difficult to hear dialogue and sound effects on the front side.

In addition, some 7.1 systems come as a complete kit and you will need to purchase the components separately. This makes it difficult to find an online community to help troubleshoot your system, as the components will be unique to your installation. nine0005

A 7.1 sound system makes sense for large rooms and will add depth to your sound. At the same time, they are more expensive and harder to set up and troubleshoot. Ultimately, choosing between a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system will depend on your particular situation.

5.1 and 7.1 surround layout

As mentioned earlier, the difference between a 5.1 surround system and a 7.1 system is the two surround speakers. These optional surround speakers add depth to fill large rooms with theater-quality sound. nine0005

System 5.1 has a fairly standard setup. There is a center speaker that goes under the TV or projector and two front speakers that go on either side of the TV. Finally, there are two surround speakers, which are located on either side of the listening area.

The 7.1 system adds two speakers but is otherwise configured the same. The five speakers common to the 5.1 system are set up in the same way. The additional surround speakers are designed to sit behind the listening area at a different angle than the first set of surround speakers. nine0005

These speakers are often mounted on the ceiling. The advantage of ceiling mounting, in addition to interesting sound, is that the space behind the listening area remains free for walking.

What's right for your room?

Several factors will affect whether a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system is right for your room. Just because you want huge theatrical sound from a 7.1 system doesn't mean you'll get it in every room. There are three main characteristics of a room that determine which sound system is right for it. nine0005

Room size : Additional speakers designed to fill large rooms. In small rooms, a large number of speakers can create an indistinct mix of sounds that sound louder than they are clean. Generally speaking, if your room is under 350 square feet, you probably shouldn't be looking at 7.1 systems.

Listener position : The main difference between 5.1 and 7.1 systems is that the larger system places the speakers behind the listener, giving them a full surround sound experience. If you don't have much space outside your listening area, there's no point in putting speakers there. nine0005

Environment : Hard materials such as tables, tables, cabinets, and wood or tile floors will reflect sound and may ruin the effect of the extra speakers. Soft surfaces such as bookshelves, sofas, and carpeting will help prevent sound reflections, keeping sounds where they should be in the room.

Features and your budget

There are a few other things to consider when choosing the perfect sound system. Most of these things will depend on your budget balance and the benefits of a better setup. nine0005

By and large, a 7.1 system will be more expensive than a 5.1 system. It contains more components and provides a richer sound. However, there are various factors that will affect how expensive your system will be.

Receiver : For your sound system to work, you will need a receiver to convert line level signals from your TV to speaker level signals for your speakers. Many 5.1 systems come with a receiver, but few 7.1 systems come bundled. While not as perfect as a set of matched 7.1 speakers, you can always start with a 5.1 system and later upgrade to a 7.1 receiver and two additional speakers. nine0005

Wires : Another factor you may want to consider is how you intend to wire your sound system. Most systems have wireless connectivity, making it easy to install speakers in a room. However, what you gain in convenience, you lose in sound quality. Direct wired signals will always be of higher quality than what you can get from a wireless connection. Ultimately, you'll need to decide if the tangle of wires is worth it, which you'll probably have to buy separately. nine0005

Calibration : There are many systems on the market that provide their own internal calibration. These systems optimize the sound by sending test signals from each speaker to a microphone that you have set up in the main listening area of ​​your room. These systems are more expensive and are more common with 7.1 systems.

Price difference between 5.1 and 7.1 surround systems

One of the deciding factors when choosing a 5.1 or 7.1 system is price. If you want to save money, you can get a 5.1 surround sound package at a very reasonable price. nine0005

Of course you get what you pay for, so these systems may not be sufficient for your needs. The best 5.1 audio system from a top brand like Klipsch can cost you over $6,000. This system promises high-definition, cinema-quality sound and comes with a built-in receiver.

If you plan on using a 7.1 surround sound system, you can expect to pay at least $500 for a decent system. Obviously you won't get a very good system out of this. For a good 7.1 surround sound system with a receiver (although you don't necessarily need a receiver, as you'll find out by reading our guide), you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $13,000. nine0005

Upgrading your 5.1 to 7.1 surround sound system gives you more variety of in-wall or in-ceiling speakers to choose from.

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