Immerse Yourself in the Sound: How to Choose the Best Surround Sound Speakers for You

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated January 11, 2022
Mother and daughter dance in living room.
Photo: fizkes / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Make sure your TV supports the surround sound system speakers.

  • You can have anywhere from 2 to 9 speakers, depending on the A/V receiver.

  • Surround sound installation costs around $665 on average.

  • The newest surround sound system tech revolves around “3D surround sound.”

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If you’re a dedicated movie lover or total TV expert, you’ll want to invest in the best equipment, including surround sound. This type of system creates an immersive experience where you truly feel as if you’re involved in the movie or TV show you’re watching. 

But to capture this game-changing experience, you’ll need to buy the best surround sound speakers for your exact entertaining area setup. In this guide, we’ll help guide you to choose the best surround sound system for your unique needs.

What Type of TV and Streaming Devices Do You Have?

The input/output on a TV, otherwise known as I/O, will tell you what type of home theater system your TV will handle. An older TV (we’re talking 15 years or more) may not have the necessary I/O to support modern surround sound speakers. If you’re dead set on getting the best home theater experience, you may want to consider upgrading to a modern 4K TV.

Also, consider what type of streaming devices and services you have. The audio/visual (A/V) receiver you pick out may have upcharges for streaming options. The A/V receiver works as the computer to receive audio and visuals and transmit them to the speakers around the room.

So if you already have a streaming device plugged into your TV, you might want to forgo this option. Smart TVs typically already have streaming and Bluetooth capabilities, making it possible to skip some of the wires that come with a surround sound system.

What Is the Size and Shape of Your Room?

In an ideal world for home theaters, the room is an enclosed box where you can easily set up the surround sound system, with no other factors to consider. Realistically, entertainment areas will range from an open floor plan to long, L-shaped family rooms that make setting up speakers much more difficult. 

However, by following a few best practices, you can find a speaker setup that works best for you. 

Picking the Number of Surround Sound Speakers

Depending on the size and shape of your entertaining area, you may need to choose anywhere from two to nine surround sound speakers, not counting a subwoofer and A/V receiver. When looking at surround sound system packages, you’re likely to see numbers ranging from 2.0 to 9.2.2.

The first number refers to the number of speakers in the package, while the second refers to the number of subwoofers. Subwoofers provide deep bass to the setup. Just a note: The A/V receiver isn’t included in the numbers, as it’s the brains of the operations rather than another speaker.

If you’re working with an enclosed room, you may only need a 5.1 system, as there are more areas for the sound to bounce off of. Open floor plans may require 7.2 systems to get a fully immersive feel. 

Home theater packages that contain speakers, subwoofers, and an A/V receiver will cost anywhere from $245 to $1,120 on average.

Dolby Atmos Speakers (The 0.0.2)

Innovation never stops, and this also applies to the world of surround sound system speakers. Dolby Atmos, a brand-name technology that has become the colloquial term for 3D sound, immerses you with surround sound but, as you may have guessed already, also creates a true “3D sound.” 

Remember going to the movies and putting on 3D glasses, and it really felt like actors were coming off the screen at you? Now instead of only seeing the object in front of you and to your left, you can also hear the object in that spot as well. You can hear a basketball dribbling a few feet in front of you and the swish of the basket even further away.

Where Does a Soundbar Fit Into This?

Soundbars can work as surround sound systems themselves. Rather than needing speakers and wires running everywhere around the room, you only have a long, horizontal bar that will go where a center speaker would. There are several speakers in the bar, each angled differently to create the surround sound system effect, though the technology isn’t quite there yet to recreate the sound fully.

You will still likely need a subwoofer for the bass, but soundbars typically don’t need an A/V receiver to function like other surround sound systems would. By not buying all of the other speakers and an A/V receiver, you can save yourself quite a bit of money. However, high-end models are still going to run you upwards of $600 or more.

What Are You Using the Surround Sound Speakers For?

Speaker next to record player
Photo: NorGal / Adobe Stock

Before you add a system to your cart, consider why you want surround sound speakers. For example, if you’re a music lover and want the best possible listening experience, you should opt for a completely wired surround sound speaker system. There’s no data loss when using a wired system like if you were using a wireless system.

For those looking into a surround sound speaker system for TV and movies, you will find that any system works well, wired or wireless. You don’t necessarily need to know which chair the flute in the orchestra was playing in when you’re trying to hear leaves crunching behind you during a thriller.

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