If you have a serious movie buff or enthusiastic Netflix-binger in your life, help them out this holiday season and up their home audio game. A lone wireless soundbar is a huge improvement over unimpressive built-in speakers, but serious couch potatoes need the best of the best — a whole surround sound setup.
Setting up a home theater sounds intimidating, but it has gotten easier every year with audio technology improvements and new connectivity options. There aren’t many true wireless systems out there (power has got to come from somewhere and we can have one speaker kicking the bucket mid-movie), but there are a lot of speaker bundles out there that are super easy to set up and can connect to all of your devices.
No matter what your budget looks like or what sort of media your family likes to consume, there’s a surround sound speaker system out there that will fit your needs. If you want to turn a loved one’s living room into an all-out movie theater, these are the best systems that you should be considering.
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This Polk Audio soundbar surround sound system includes the MAX soundbar, a wireless subwoofer, and two wireless surround speakers — not too shabby for a system under $1,000. This is a great entry-level system for someone who wants to boost their home audio game but is a little wary about dropping a lot of money to jump in.
Dolby Atmos isn’t supported by this soundbar, but most common Dolby and DTS surround sound audio formats. It’ll sound better than your TV’s built-in speaker no matter what.
The big draw to the Elevate soundbar is the cool, auto-rotating speakers on each end of the bar. The concept sounds a bit gimmicky, but these speakers adjust to bounce Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio off your ceiling for a more immersive audio experience. It looks sick and delivers quality sound.
The only drawback here is that the rear surround speakers need to be wired to the subwoofer. That will work just fine for smaller home theater zones, but setting the speakers up properly in a larger living room could be a pain.
JBL’s top soundbar is an absolute audio powerhouse, and this system has it backed up by a booming subwoofer and two wireless rear speakers. The two bonus speakers in this set are great — they’re truly wireless, so you can place them wherever you want and just return them to the bar for a recharge. The system delivers crisp Dolby Atmos surround sound and can be connected to any device over Wi-Fi or via Bluetooth.
If you really want the home theater look instead of just a soundbar, this top system from Nakamichi has all the extra speakers you’ll need for a professional feel. Along with the soundbar, you get two large subwoofers, and four surround speakers. The only drawback here is that there’s no auto-calibration tool, so you’ll have to tweak settings and experiment with speaker placement to find the ideal sound for your living room. Once you do though, you won’t regret it. The bass from those two subs is going to be perfect for action flick explosions and shootouts.
This Sony setup delivers the same surround sound experience as any other speakers in this price range but does so with a bit of subtlety. These speakers don’t look like much, but they can deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound using 360 spatial sound mapping to calibrate the sound to the room. You can place these speakers throughout a room where they look good — the killer sound will be there no matter how you arrange them.
Led by Samsung’s Q Series 11.1.4-channel soundbar, this system guarantees a cinematic audio experience. The soundbar delivers room-filling sound with what Samsung calls SpaceFit Sound+ technology, and the included rear speakers fire towards the ceiling to bounce sound around the room. Not sure how to set a system like this up? Don’t worry — this sound system has several modes to pick from for different movie genres, music, and gaming.
The Sonos Arc is one of our favorite standalone wireless soundbars and adding a fantastic subwoofer and two rear speakers ups the quality of this bar even more. All in all, the sound here is phenomenal, especially in larger rooms where a simple speaker just won’t cut it. You’d think that Sonos products at this price would be complex, but this system is surprisingly user-friendly and has connectivity integrations for just about any device in your home.
If you really want to take home audio seriously, look no further than Bose. This 5-speaker system sound incredible — the bass thunders, vocals are crisp and rise above background sounds, and you’ll be able to pick up on audio cues in your favorite films you never noticed before. Literally, everything will sound better through this system.
And if you already have other Bose speakers or receivers in your home, you can connect everything swiftly to have stellar audio in every room.