The 8 Best Surround Sound Speakers to Buy in 2018

Bring the movie theater experience into your living room

For many, the pinnacle of true home entertainment resides in the largest screen possible. However, if you don’t have great sound, you’re still only getting half the experience. While some TVs have decent enough speakers for general viewing, when it comes to taking your home viewing seriously, you’re going to need something that has a little more punch.

Fortunately, whether your budget is large or small, whether you go wired or wireless (learn how to hide speaker wires), there’s no shortage of home theater surround sound systems, and our top picks below will fit both your needs and your wallet.

Related Reading: Producing Sound Without Speakers

The 7.1-channel Onkyo SKS-HT540 speaker system make a luxurious addition to your existing home theater. At under $350, this system could also fall into the budget category, but given the remarkable sound quality, it offers tremendous value. Note that you’ll have to purchase a separate A/V receiver, but even without it included, the price is a steal.

Off the bat, you’ll notice that the speakers and subwoofer are much bulkier than most systems. Still, many people are happy to sacrifice space for sound quality. Its two-way bass reflex front, center and surround speakers produce a 130-watt total output, and a 230-watt subwoofer includes a 10-inch cone driver. While its spring-clip wire connectors instead of higher-quality binding posts will remind you that some consider this a budget system, you’ll forget it the second you’ll hear its clear bass, mids and highs.

This Bluetooth powered 4.1-channel sound bar from Samsung produces just as immersive of a surround sound experience as budget-range speakers, but is much easier to setup. Its expansive sound is complemented by a wireless subwoofer that offers dynamic and rich bass. The satellite speakers and subwoofer can be placed anywhere, and the sound bar can be wall mounted for added versatility.

The 35-inch 460 Watt bar syncs with the SWA-8000s kit speakers for rear wireless surround sound. The sound bar has two front facing speakers and two side facing, allowing the sound to envelop your living room.

The clutter-free system can be controlled wirelessly from the Samsung Audio Remote App for easy audio adjustment. If you own a Samsung TV, everything is even easier with TV SoundConnect. So while the sound on this surround sound system will not compete with a real unit, it definitely rivals cheaper wall-mounted set-ups that are a hassle to install.

When it comes to a compact surround sound speaker system, the assumption is that size matters. But our choice, the Monoprice 5.1 Home Theater System proves that theory very wrong. Included in the system are four 5.1-channel satellite speakers, a single center speaker, and one 8” 200-watt subwoofer. The compact-sized satellite speakers with their 3” polypropylene mid-range driver are wall mountable providing 100 watts of power for your movie and music-listening pleasure. Setup is simple and requires just a few cable connections after wall mounting and you’re off to the races without breaking the bank.

The subwoofer provides a deep bass and the speakers perform admirably with room-filling sound and dynamic feel. Unfortunately, not everything is shiny as dialogue can sometimes feel hollow which might prompt some tinkering with the center channel to try and find a sweet spot. Overall, while there’s no question you can spend hundreds, if not thousands, more for a top-of-the-line system, the Monoprice provides incredible value for the everyday user just looking for something “more." It is an easy choice for our favorite compact system. 

The Onkyo HT-7800 5.1-channel system is powered by seven surround sound speakers and one subwoofer and it even comes with a receiver. With built-in support for Chromecast, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a slew of streaming music services, there’s never a shortage of ways to enjoy sound on the HT-7800 system. The two-way bass reflex front left and right speaker cabinets add Dolby Atmos technology for bouncing sound effects off ceilings. It also has support for 4K video playback and DTS:X technology for customizing dynamic range. Whether it’s a small or medium-sized room, the Onkyo is set up in under an hour, allowing you to focus solely on its outstanding sound.

Modern and sleek looking, the Harman Kardon HKTS 30BQ delivers exceptional sound that doesn’t cost a fortune. The HKTS 30 includes an eight-inch 200-watt powered subwoofer alongside four identical two-way satellite speakers that can stand on nearly any surface (but can also be mounted to the wall). Inside each satellite speaker is a 3/4-inch soft-dome tweeter, as well as dual 3.5-inch midrange drivers that make for excellent audio playback and crisp dialogue. Ultimately, the HKTS 30BQ delivers crisp highs, a detailed midrange and an overall life-like listening experience.

At less than $1,000, there’s undoubtedly more expensive surround sound speaker options, all of which would be deemed a “splurge”. If money is no object, there’s no shortage of options that can range into the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. However, for the sake of practicality, we’re focusing on “splurge” options for the everyman. Our top choice, the Definitive Technology Pro Cinema 800, is a top performer that punches well above its pay grade.

The design catches your eye right off the bat, even if at first glance it appears to be just another speaker set available in black. Both movie dialogue and the respective soundtracks produced a deep bass that was definitively better than other options around the $1,000 price point. Unfortunately, the Definitive subwoofer won’t rattle your bones like some higher-end Bose or Klipsch models, but the experience is still immersive and wildly enjoyable. On a similar note, Definitive’s speakers won’t take you to full volume without distortion kicking in but there’s a handful of cinematic moments we just want to hear as loud as possible.

Definitive’s best described as detail-rich, preserving fidelity of a soundtrack while allowing for all the simultaneous effects to be heard and enjoyed. The 300-watt subwoofer paired with the center speaker and satellites are all well regarded on their own but together they create an incredible value in high-performance audio. There’s little question you’ll end up feeling like the ProCinema 800 offers both value and a high-end experience that belies its price tag.

When it comes to dedicated gaming, sound can make all the difference. Whether it’s a nostalgia play with Doom or today’s console gaming, surround sound can take your gaming experience from just average to out-of-this-world. And the Logitech Z906 Surround Sound Speaker System is our choice if you truly want a gaming experience that is immersive. The only model on this list to receive THX 5.1 certification (think Star Wars) offers an all-in-one system that can connect up to six separate devices. Out of the box you’ll receive five compact satellite speakers and one 500-watt powered subwoofer, hardly something to smirk at when you consider how the Z906 is a compact system. The front and rear satellite speakers are identical sporting a bland design with a meshed grille that offers more of a tech-centric look than your more traditional dedicated television surround sound system. However, build quality is superb and, while their overall design faces them slightly upward when laid flat, there are screw holes on the rear for wall mounting.

Three digital inputs on the subwoofer allow for simultaneous connection between a DVD player, cable box and games console, as well as direct input for PCs or 3.5mm input if you still utilize a dedicated MP3 player. We’re a little disappointed there’s no HDMI input for a Blu-ray player, but as we’re eyeing this model specifically for gaming, it’s a tradeoff we’re willing to take. One additional appeal of the Z906 is the control console, a desktop-sized unit connecting to the subwoofer that allows volume control, selecting between various sound modes and adjustment levels for each channel. This might be of greater use when connected to a PC as the supplied remote has the same functionality, so it’s a win-win regardless of use-case.

When it comes to delivering distortion-free performance, loud levels, and hard-hitting bass, the Z906 delivers. The single satellite drivers do struggle a little with musical highs, but unless you’re a dedicated audiophile who can sense these anomalies, you won’t notice. There’s more than enough detail coming through on the Z906 so you’ll never look at your TV speakers the same way again. That alone can justify the price.

When we consider a surround sound home theater system, a soundbar isn’t the first piece of audio equipment that comes to mind. However, Vizio’s SB3851-C0 is a superb budget-friendly option, and its included wireless subwoofer and satellite speakers is an early look at future surround sound system design. The 5.1-channel system offers crystal-clear audio quality up to 100 dB with less than one percent total harmonic distortion.

The inclusion of DTS circle, digital and studio sound enhances the price-to-performance ratio and with Dolby Digital to top it off, there are few features missing at this price point. The soundbar itself measures 38.2 inches long and three inches high, with a weight of 6.6 pounds. The inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity lets you stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device, even when the TV is off, and the included LCD remote allows for easy audio setting changes.

Setup is a quick and easy, thanks to the lack of wires to both the subwoofer and satellite speakers. Wall mounts are included, but Vizio does not provide the appropriate fasteners (they're dependent on the type of wall in your home). The wireless nature of the system may make it prone to minor interference every now and then from other wireless equipment, but it’s a problem that was rarely discussed via Amazon reviews. Vizio also encourages tabletop and built-in placement of the soundbar beyond the typical wall-mounted option.

The sound bar itself is best utilized with TVs that are at least 42 inches or larger. The 3" x 5.9" x 3” satellite speakers and 8.3" x 9.1" x 8.3" subwoofer are capable of placement anywhere in an average-sized room or up to 60 feet in the line of sight from the sound bar. Sure, it’s not your typical surround sound system, but it offers the same feature set and arguably better sound with less setup hassle.

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