Best Surround Sound Speakers – the best audio setup for 2022


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Best budget surround sound speakers

Wharfedale Surround Sound System


How much does a surround sound system cost?

There’s a huge disparity between the cost of surround sound systems. You could pay anywhere from $300 for the most basic setup, to $5,000 for something that’s almost professional in quality – the kind of thing where you really are bring the cinema experience home.

If you’re looking for a good estimate, a reasonable cheap surround sound system will be around the $500-600 mark. When you want quality you’ll need to pay upwards of $1,000, though once of our recommendations is closer to the $4,000 price tag.

Are surround sound speakers worth it?

This is the big question – is it worth spending so much on surround sound speakers? And generally, the answer is yes. A surround sound system, when installed properly, will give you a much more immersive audio experience. But whether it’s worth it to you or not depends on a few factors:

Improvements over TV

Dead simple – a surround sound system will be better than your TV’s sound. The only exceptions would be if you compared some of the very best TVs (Samsungs with Object Tracking Sound Pro, or Sony OLED TVs with Acoustic Surface Audio+) against some of the worst surround sound systems – ones that are badly made.

A TV just cannot provide the same quality of sound as a surround sound system, because they have a flat audio profile and they don’t have the depth to produce high quality sound. TVs are getting thinner and thinner – so speakers have to get smaller and smaller.

Of course, the counter to this is that a soundbar could be all that you need, and at a much lower price point than a surround sound system. But that’s where the other considerations come into play.

Size of room

The size of the room that you’d install your surround sound system in definitely factors into whether it’s worth it. If you have a smaller room, then you simply aren’t going to enjoy the benefit of distinctive sound channels – everything’s going to mesh together. It won’t sound flat, but it won’t sound like you’re surrounded either.

Larger rooms justify a surround sound system more because you can hear the definition between the audio. In a smaller room, you may be better served by a soundbar.

Purpose

Surround sound systems are designed to create 3D audio that directs certain sounds in different ways. Helicopters overheard, explosions behind you, that sort of thing. Which makes them perfect for movies and gaming.

If you don’t tend to watch many movies or action-oriented boxsets, and you aren’t a gamer, then a surround sound system probably isn’t right for you. If you mainly plan on using your TV for music then sure, multiple speakers are a good idea but you don’t need a complex directional system, and so it probably isn’t worth buying one of these recommendations.

Use frequency

Ultimately, do you want to spend $1k + on a surround sound system if you tend to watch a movie every three or four weeks at most?

You might. There’s no definitive answer to this question, because value depends on your opinion. But a surround sound system is definitely a better choice for someone who watches movies every week or spend a lot of time gaming.If you don’t plan on making the most of a surround sound system on a regular basis, then again you may prefer to save some money and buy a good soundbar, which will still do a much better job than your TV.

Do you need a receiver for a surround sound system?

The job of a receiver in a surround sound system is to act as the hub for all your home entertainment devices, managing the various audio inputs and then refining and amplifying the sound through your speakers. Essentially, it’s the manager of your speaker system, making sure that sound is directed in the right channels and is as crisp and sharp as possible.

Whether you need a receiver depends on your particular system and whether it includes an active soundbar. Active soundbars are essentially the receiver, so you don’t need a separate receiver to manage the sound being driven to the satellite speakers.

If your soundbar is passive or your system doesn’t include one, then yes you’ll still need a receiver. Most surround sound systems will come with the receiver included.

Things to consider when purchasing a surround sound speaker

Here are some of the things you’ll need to bear in mind when choosing your surround sound system:

Number of speakers

Simple enough, but the number of speakers and subwoofers involved in a surround sound system is important. More speakers mean that your system can be even more selective in how it drives the audio, with more options available for relaying sound around the room in an authentic direction.

But having more speakers also comes with the logistical problem of fitting them in your room, and it means more cost too. So, rather than getting carried away, base your decision on the layout of your space and how many speakers you can comfortably fit, and go from there.

Features

Some speakers have extra features that can either improve the quality of your sound, or make using them a lot easier. Look out for things like voice control, or brand-specific features such as Samsung’s Q-Symphony tech which let you incorporate your TV’s speakers into your system.

A lot of surround sound systems also allow you to stream music via Bluetooth or even connect directly to your preferred streaming service, and while surround sound speakers aren’t designed with music playlists in mind it is a nice feature to have.

Connectivity

How your system is wired up will have an impact on your buying decision too.

Generally, you’ll find that the cheapest surround sound systems are wired because it’s easier to manufacturer them this way, then mid-to-high range systems will be wireless for the benefit of having a cleaner setup. But the very best systems will be wired again, because you can’t get the same professional-quality sound over a wireless signal.

Unless you’re really serious about your audio quality, a wireless system will be fine, but it’s something to consider if you are looking at the higher-priced options.

Brand

At WePC we wouldn’t ever make a recommendation on a product just because it comes from a known brand. But in the world of audio, manufacturer is still something worth considering.

Take one quick look on a site like Amazon and you’ll find countless surround sound systems from names you won’t have heard of, and they’ll seem like a great deal. But while there could be some hidden gems, most won’t be anywhere near worth even their lower price tags.
So, if you don’t like any of the recommendations on our list, we’d suggest going with a brand that you recognize, as that should at least guarantee a minimum level of quality.

Finish

The purpose of buying a surround sound system is definitely a technical one – you’re looking to improve the quality of the sound you enjoy in your movies and games. That doesn’t mean you should completely neglect how the speakers look though.

While a soundbar is a more discreet addition to your room, as soon as you add multiple speakers, they almost become a design feature. So, you’ll want to make sure you’re happy with the size and finish of your chosen speakers before you buy.

Best surround sound speaker: Understanding the specs

Here are the core specs to look out for when choosing surround sound speakers for your home.

Frequency response

The frequency response of a speaker measures its sound range. It’s usually given from hertz (Hz) to kilohertz (kHz). The lower numbers tell you how much bass a speaker can produce. In reality the higher figure rarely matters – human hearing is limited to around 20kHz so anything higher than that is a gimmick.

Budget speakers will start at around 60Hz but a lower-end system will be able to reach lows of around 35Hz.

Subwoofer power

The power rating of a Subwoofer is given in Watts. Usually, subwoofers are measured in both their average (RMS) and peak wattages, and it’s the average that we care about. If you only see on figure advertised it’s normally the average.

A higher wattage means more power but that doesn’t necessarily mean more volume. Instead, it’s about how well it can maintain sound quality when you do crank it to a higher volume.

Anything above 100 watts is good. 150 watts and above is great.

Dolby Atmos height drivers

Dolby Atmos has become the standard audio format for 3D spatial sound. But while some sound systems may be compatible with Atmos, they may not give you the full capabilities.

You need a system that has height drivers. This means that it can accurately create sound on a vertical dimension as well as horizontal. So, if you want that bird to sound like it’s actually flying overhead, and not just from left to right in the room, you need a system with height drivers included.


Best surround sound speakers 2022

SAMSUNG HW-Q950T

HW Q950T Samsung

Two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output with eARC, optical digital-audio input, Bluetooth / Wi-Fi

Pros