Best surround sound system 2022: our pick of the best home theater systems, soundbars, and more

Get the best surround sound system set-up of your dreams with our pick of TV speakers and soundbars

sony 360 reality audio in a living room
(Image credit: Sony)

If you've invested in a great TV but still feel like something is missing. Whether you spend Friday nights watching action films or listening to your favorite tunes, the best surround sound system can unlock a whole new experience with boosted bass, room-filled sound, and more. But, as any film buff or avid gamer will tell you, the image is only half of the picture.

So if you're looking to perfect your home cinema experience – especially when the local multiplex isn't a go-to option and more and more of the latest movies are streaming at home- you'll need a great sound system, too.

Surround sound gear has come a long way in recent years. The mess of cables, speakers, and stands that used to dot around our living rooms has given way to much tidier single-unit soundbars that sit underneath our TVs and beef up what the slim flat panels can't produce.

And yes, there's still a lot to love about having speakers dotted around your room. Still, now they're usually wireless in form and often offer upwards-firing Dolby Atmos sound, too, for an audio track that lives and breathes all around you – including from above.

If you want to make a surround sound upgrade, we've assembled some of the best options below. Of course, if you're not so sure you need multiple speakers, you can check out our guide to the best soundbars.

The best surround sound systems in 2022

Sony HTA9 7.1 Channel High Performance Home Theater SystemLivingetc badge – tried, loved

(Image credit: Sony)
Best wireless home theater system

Specifications

Channels: 7.1
Components: 4 x speakers
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

Reasons to buy

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Wireless connectivity between speakers and control box
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Works with Google Assistant and Alexa
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Adaptive audio technology

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Only one HDMI input
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Optional subwoofer sold separately

Made up of just four wireless speakers and a control unit, the Sony HTA9 Home Theater System is ideal for those who don't want to 'settle' for a soundbar but don't have the luxury of installing a vast wired surround sound system in their living room. So whether you're dealing with a small space, an awkwardly shaped space, or just crave simplicity, this could be the answer.

The downside of the HTA9 is the lack of a subwoofer included, but this can be purchased additionally if you want added oomph. However, the speakers are great on their own, with 360 spatial sound mapping for adaptive audio in your space, built-in Chromecast, and capability with an existing Alexa or Google Assistant.

Really, despite being on the more expensive side, the HTA9 system is designed to get you started, and you can add more to the set-up with multiroom listening. While this particular product only works with specific models, you can look at our guide to the best subwoofers to complete your home theater.

Livingetc rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars - read our full review of the Sony HT-A9 Home Theater System

Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar System

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar System

Best surround soundbar system

Specifications

Channels: 9.1.4
Components: 1 x soundbar; 1 x subwoofer, 1 x speakers
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Audio format: Dolby Atmos/DTX:X

Reasons to buy

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Dolby Atmos
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Adaptive sound and Q-Symphony for Samsung TVs
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Energy Star certified
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Wireless connectivity between soundbar, subwoofer, and rear speakers

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Soundbar system rather than true surround sound

One of our favorite multi-speaker set-ups for your home theater system and choice for the best surround soundbar system, the Samsung HW-Q950T is a modest and compact soundbar system that nevertheless provides a brilliant surround soundscape without taking up too much space around your living room.

Consisting of a soundbar equipped with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technology, two upfiring rear speakers for overhead audio, and a wireless subwoofer, it's a winner when it comes to audio power. In addition, the tech allows it to tailor the sound to what you're watching in Adaptive Mode and Game Pro mode, depending on what you happen to be enjoying.

There's a bonus for Samsung devotees, too, as the soundbar is compatible with the Q-Symphony features of the brand's QLED TVs. To top things off, the HW-Q950T is the only entry on this list that's Energy Star certified, meaning that it consumes less energy overall.

JBL 9.1-Channel Soundbar System


(Image credit: JBL)

3. JBL 9.1-Channel Soundbar System

Best surround soundbar for versatility

Specifications

Channels: 9.1
Components: 1 x soundbar w/ 2 x speakers; 1 x subwoofer
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Audio format: Dolby Atmos/DTS:X

Reasons to buy

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Works with Google Assistant and Siri
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Wireless connectivity between soundbar, subwoofer, and rear speakers
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Dolby Atmos

Reasons to avoid

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Only one HDMI input
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Soundbar system rather than true surround sound

The JBL Bar 9.1 is perhaps the most interesting option on this list, or at least the more creative. What at first looks like a standard soundbar hides a secret - its ends snap off, revealing themselves to be battery-powered, fully-featured wireless rear speakers!

It's an ingenious trick, and the central unit acts as the center, left, right, and overhead sound channels and as a charging dock for the rear speakers. The detachable elements are intelligent enough to sense where they've been placed, matching the rear and rear-height ambient sound to any given scene. There's also a separate subwoofer to complete the package.

But of course, there's a catch. Though the JBL Bar 9.1 is an ingenious design and is worthy of a place in your living room for that reason alone, it does have some slight faults. For example, its front channels feel a bit narrow and don't always give a clear sense of audio information flowing in from the left and right.

And yet, it's hard not to find yourself enamored by its clever design, even if it's not quite up there with what the top bar on this list offers.

LG SN11RG 7.1.4-Channel 770W Soundbar System


(Image credit: LG)

4. LG SN11RG Soundbar System

Best 7.1 home theater system (runner up)

Specifications

Channels: 7.1.4
Components: 1 x soundbar; 1 x subwoofer; 2 x speakers
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
Audio format: Dolby Atmos/DTS:X

Reasons to buy

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Google Assistant built-in
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Wireless connectivity between soundbar, subwoofer, and rear speakers
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Dolby Atmos

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive
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Soundbar system rather than true surround sound

The LG SN11RG is a soundbar system offering rear speakers as part of the package, giving you more than just audio from the front, but also to the side and above you with Dolby Atmos surround sound and from behind with the dual rear speakers. In addition, the wireless subwoofer adds booming bass to the mix.

There are plenty of other surprises, too. Upscaling low-quality audio sources is masterfully handled, while 4K and Dolby Vision pass-through make it an ideal match for any high-end TV that supports HDR. Even Google Assistant support is built-in for controlling smart home gadgetry - though we'd have liked to have Alexa there, too.

If its price wasn't enough of a signal, be warned that this is one big soundbar. Measuring a little over 144cm, it's going to dwarf any TV below 65 inches, so you might want to think about other options if your TV is on the smaller side. Just two HDMI inputs feel a bit mean, too.

Definitive Technology ProCinema 6D 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System

(Image credit: Definitive Technology)

5. Definitive Technology ProCinema 6D Home Theater Speaker System

Best 5.1 surround sound system

Specifications

Channels: 5.1
Components: 1 x center unit, 5 x speakers + subwoofer
Connectivity: N/A

Reasons to buy

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True surround sound system
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Subwoofer included

Reasons to avoid

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No Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or smart home compatibility

Though many of the soundbar set-ups on this list are a convenient way to achieve a surround sound effect in your living room, the classic speaker systems will still be the first choice for many. Made up of a center channel, four speakers, and a subwoofer, the Definitive Technology ProCinema 6D will deliver the impact true audiophiles expect.

There are some downsides to going this way, and the most important may be logistics. Instead of working wirelessly like others on this list, the speakers will all need to be wired to communicate - which means a lot of wires to hide away. There are also no smart features or Bluetooth, but if it's sound quality you want, it's a great choice.

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Surround Sound System

(Image credit: Klipsch)

6. Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Surround Sound System

Best budget home theater system

Specifications

Channels: 5.1
Components: 1 x center unit; 4 x speakers + subwoofer
Connectivity: N/A

Reasons to buy

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Good price
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True surround sound system
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Subwoofer included

Reasons to avoid

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No Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or smart home compatibility

True surround sound systems are fantastic for boosting your home theater experience, but building one can be expensive over time. If you want something that will deliver results straight away without needing to add rear speakers and more later, this offering from Klipsch is one to consider.

It comprises six speakers in total - one center channel and four speakers to place around your space in addition to the wireless subwoofer - it's more customizable than some other surround sound systems simply because you have control over where you put them. In addition, the system contains an aluminum tweeter and high-excursion aluminum woofer cones for high-quality sound.

Of course, the trade-off for the price is that the Klipsch HT50 doesn't include Bluetooth connectivity or compatibility with smart home systems like Google Assistant and Alexa. But if this doesn't matter to you, it's a good starter pack for the less tech-savvy who don't want to miss out on excellent audio.