Feeling nostalgic for pre-lockdown cinema and concerts? Surround sound systems help recreate immersive audio experiences at home. With a wide range of high-quality products, you can bring the multi-dimensional sound of action movies and live music into your own sitting room.
Surround sound, at its most basic, implies a sound system with more than just one set of speakers. The traditional home theatre setup has six channels: three speakers up front (left, right, and center), two surround speakers (left and right), placed just behind the listening area, and a subwoofer, used for low-frequency sounds, such as rumbling. True audiophiles can fine tune their sound even further, adding additional pairs of speakers around the room. Soundbars can serve as an all-in-one option for surround sound or can be connected to an existing system. The best soundbars on the market pack the audio power of multiple speakers and a subwoofer into one sleek bar with surround sound capabilities.
The main goal with any surround system is to find an audio setup that creates dimension by placing sound around your room, which more closely reflects real-life acoustics rather than a simple TV speaker. If you want to stream a live Paul McCartney concert, and feel like you’re in the room, or stream Gladiator, and hear the sounds of the Colosseum around you, find the best options below.
Sony STR-DN1080 7.2ch Home Theater AV Receiver
DTS:X and Dolby Atmos supported
Compatible with Google Home, Spotify, and AirPlay
This receiver from Sony truly does it all. For those looking to upgrade their home theatre system to the next level, a stellar receiver is indispensable. The STR-DN1080 is conveniently flexible—it works with your current sound system (whether that’s one speaker or six) to produce a surround sound experience. The flexible speaker solution adapts to the setup of your room, adjusting to find the best sound angle and position. The audio delivered is crisp and powerful, meeting the spec threshold for high-resolution audio. Wireless listening capabilities via Bluetooth also enable you to play music from Spotify, Google Home, or AirPlay. With the multi-room feature, you can also listen in multiple rooms around the house.
Devialet Phantom Reactor Custom
Connect with Airplay, Spotify, or Bluetooth
Connectivity with other multi-channel systems
Devialet App for one-swipe audio control
The Phantom speaker line is strikingly attractive and compact—but the products come at a steep retail price. The Phantom Reactor Custom is a new speaker with surround sound capabilities, designed to aurally complement the space it inhabits. It connects to a wide range of sound systems, allowing you to add a Phantom to your multi-channel surround sound. It only forms one part of a full home theatre and so, the high price point for these speakers may be more a matter of style than substance. The speaker can play music completely wirelessly, via AirPlay, Spotify, or Bluetooth, but you also have the option to use optical or analog cables, if you’re hooking up to a TV. As with most wireless surround sound options, the option to plug-in comes in handy when the connection inevitably goes on the fritz.
Two force-cancelling drivers
Two digital amplifiers
Connectivity with other Sonos speakers and controlled via app
The Sub is a wireless subwoofer from Sonos, connected via WiFi. The bass can be paired with two Sonos sets: the Entertainment Set pairs it with the Arc soundbar and the Surround Set pairs it with a set of One SL speakers, in addition to the Arc. Both of these sets are solid options for immersive sound. The Sonos design is sleek, and very low on wires, though at times prone to connection issues. This subwoofer does a great job of reaching low frequencies and has impressive mobility—place it anywhere around the room, or even turn it on its side. The biggest draw is that the subwoofer can only be paired with other Sonos products. It does this over WiFi, but it does need AC power connection.
Completely wireless WiFi and Bluetooth connection
Built-in Voice Command
The Sony STR-DN1080 AV receiver is the best value product for upgrading your current home theatre setup to the surround sound level. For those already well-equipped with a solid audiovisual system, the KEF Q50A Dolby Atmos-Enabled Surround Speakers are a great way to add dimension to your audio setup.