The 5 Best Surround Sound Speakers of 2023

Bring the movie theater experience into your living room

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The best surround sound speakers make you feel part of the action. But there are many things to consider, from the number of speakers (such as 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1 setups) to connectivity, which can also be a huge issue when connecting several speakers to a single source. Here are our recommendations for the best surround sound speakers for your home entertainment system.

Best Soundbar

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar with Dual 8” Subwoofers (Wireless) & 2 Rear Surround Speakers. Enjoy Plug and...


What We Like
  • Supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

  • Excellent bass with two wireless subs

  • No receiver needed

What We Don't Like
  • Bluetooth only (no Wi-Fi)

If you want full surround sound with booming bass but don’t want to invest in an expensive home theater receiver, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite soundbar is smart. This system has a lot of power with 14 drivers (including two down-firing wireless woofers with the Elite version). You get the Dolby Atmos soundbar in the package, two eight-inch wireless subwoofers, and two (two-way) rear surround speakers. Together, the system sounds better than most traditional surround sound speaker configurations. Our reviewer Bill Loguidice, who looked at a similar model, was impressed by the surround sound simulation and powerful audio output that worked well with his home theater system.

The soundbar has an HDMI ARC port, three additional HDMI ports, an optical port, and a coax input, so you can easily connect your gaming console, TV, projector, or Blu-ray player and get started. With Dolby Vision and HDR pass-through, you get a clear picture with your surround sound. Bluetooth connectivity lets you wirelessly stream music, while the system’s sleek and compact design will make your theater room look fabulous.

Channels: 7.2 | Wireless: Yes | Inputs: 3in/1 out (ARC)| Digital Assistant: None | Number of Speakers: 2

Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro

Lifewire / Bill Loguidice

Best Budget

Vizio SB36512-F6

VIZIO SB36512-F6 36” 5.1.2 Channel Home Theater Surround Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos Wireless Subwoofer,Bluetooth,Chromecast built-in,Works with Google...


What We Like
  • Includes satellite speakers and woofer

  • Wireless connectivity

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Small woofer

If you want a home theater audio system but don't want to break the bank, check out the Vizio 5.1.2 system. This home theater system includes a 36-inch soundbar, two rear satellite speakers, and a wireless six-inch subwoofer. The soundbar features upward-firing drivers, so your music and movie audio doesn't get lost in furniture or muddled by bouncing off the walls. During her testing, Emily found the sound clear and precisely tuned for the film. With the Vizio Smartcast app, you can turn your smartphone or tablet into a remote control for the speakers and stream your favorite songs, shows, and movie audio to different rooms when used with compatible Vizio components. 

With Chromecast built-in, you can stream music from apps like Spotify and Pandora. You can also connect your Google Assistant device for hands-free voice controls and smart home integration. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, you can listen to your favorite songs from your phone or tablet. Each speaker features a compact design for better placement options and to fit almost any modern decor. They also use DTS Virtual X technology to produce the cleanest audio possible.

Channels: 5.1.2 | Wireless: Yes | Inputs: None | Digital Assistant: Google Assistant | Number of Speakers: 2

Vizio SB36512-F6 5.1.2 Soundbar System

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Best Splurge

Definitive Technology Pro Cinema 800

Definitive Technology Pro Cinema 800 System Black


What We Like
  • Intelligent engineering

  • Powerful bass

  • Clean design

What We Don't Like
  • Some distortion on loudest volume levels

If money is no object, there's no shortage of surround sound speaker options that can range into the thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. However, for practicality, we're focusing on "splurge" options for everyone. Our top choice, the Definitive Technology ProCinema 800, is an undeniable performer that punches well above its pay grade.

Both movie dialogue and the respective soundtracks produce a deep bass better than other options around the high 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, but we want to hear only a handful of cinematic moments as loud as possible.

Definitive is best described as detail-rich, preserving the 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.

Channels: 5.1 | Wireless: No | Inputs: 3 HDMI | Digital Assistant: No | Number of Speakers: 5

Best Design

Klipsch Reference Theater Pack

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System


What We Like
  • Excellent build quality

  • Great sound

  • Gorgeous aesthetic

What We Don't Like
  • Small front and rear speakers

The Klipsch brand is well known for its premium audio hardware, and its Reference Theater Pack delivers a pre-matched 5.1 surround sound experience that’s truly stunning, visually and acoustically. The pieces are compact, with a minimal footprint that fits nicely in a small to medium-sized room. But while the set can blend in size-wise, especially with the grills on, you can also leave them off and let Klipsch’s signature spun-copper woofers catch the eye. The center channel and four satellite speakers all feature this unique construction, which, along with the horn-loaded tweeters, minimizes distortion and produces clean, detailed sound.

Delivering the low end is a down-firing eight-inch subwoofer with surprisingly robust bass output for its size. Its frequency response ranges from 38 to 120 Hz, and its amplifier is rated for 50-watt RMS (continuous power) and 150-watt peak power. The best part is that it’s wireless, allowing you to place it wherever it fits and sounds best in your room.

Channels: 5.1 | Wireless: Yes | Inputs: 3 HDMI | Digital Assistant: No | Number of Speakers: 5

Best Compact

Monoprice HT-35

Monoprice HT-35 Premium 5.1-Channel Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer, Charcoal


What We Like
  • Good for small spaces

  • Affordable

  • Solid build quality

What We Don't Like
  • Not the most powerful system

The Monoprice HT-35 is an excellent option for those who want a system that won’t take up too much space. It features four satellite speakers, a center driver, and an eight-inch subwoofer. Each satellite speaker stands just 7.5 inches tall and weighs less than three pounds. The center speaker measures 10.2 inches long and stands 4.3 inches high, weighing just three pounds. The subwoofer is a 12.2-inch cube and weighs less than 20 pounds. Such lightweight and small speakers mean you can quickly and easily set them up or change the configuration without a fuss. 

The backs of each speaker feature universal mounting holes for wall placement options when floor space is at a premium. While this system is small, it delivers a big sound. The subwoofer gives you up to 200 watts of power for deep, punchy low ranges. The system supports 5.1 channel audio so that you can adjust each speaker individually for the best listening experience.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Sound Bar

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

What to Look For in a Surround Sound Speaker

Room Size

Before you look at the power output of a set of speakers, consider the size of your room. If it’s on the small side (7x10 feet), you might not need too much power, and you can save a bit of money by buying a compact system. However, don't hold back if you have an expansive room (15x20 feet) to fill. Go for a full-size, full-range system with more than one woofer.

5.1 vs. 7.1

A 5.1-channel setup has five small speakers and a subwoofer, while a 7.1-channel setup includes two additional speakers. The other speakers provide richer sound but can get pricier. In most cases, a 5.1-channel setup is more than enough, but a 7.1-channel setup can sound very impressive if you're looking to splurge. Look at our overview of 2.0, 2.1, 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 channel systems if you're unsure what you have or want.

: ELAC Debut 2.0 F5.2 Floorstanding Tower Speakers

Lifewire / Emily Ramirez

Wired vs Wireless

A wired setup will have an edge in sound quality, but if you don’t mind sacrificing sound in the name of design, go for a wireless setup. (We have tips for hiding those unsightly wires.) Wireless connectivity is typically offered through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Most home theater systems also have wireless subwoofers that pair automatically with the rest of your devices for improved bass.

  • Where should you place your surround speakers?

    The ideal surround sound placement will depend on your room and whether you're using a 5.1, 7.1, or a 9.1 setup. However, there are a couple of evergreen rules to follow regardless of how many speakers you're using. You should try to have your speakers equidistant from each other with surround speakers placed in the corners around your listening area. You should also try to keep your speakers free of obstructions and away from alcoves, and if you can safely mount them on a wall, even better.

  • Will the distance of your speakers from the receiver affect sound quality?

    Yes, while it's not always possible, for the best audio quality, you'll want to keep the length of cable tethering your speakers to your receiver as short as possible, although your sound quality won't suffer very much unless they're 25 feet or more from your receiver. For any wired speakers, you should use a 14-gauge cable, and potentially use a 12-gauge cable for any speakers extending past 25 feet from the receiver.

  • How many subwoofers do you need?

    This all depends on the size of your room, but more subwoofers give you a better bass quality and offer you more flexible placement when looking for the best spot for optimal sound quality. However, having more than a single subwoofer in a very small listening area may be overkill.

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