Best Surround Sound System Reviews 2017

(Updated )
If you spend a lot of time indoors watching movies, playing video games, listening to your favorite tunes or just watching the news on TV, it would be a good idea to invest in a decent surround sound system. Your viewing experience will be richer and more pleasant if the audio quality is high and this is exactly what a home theater sound system can do! Surround speaker systems come in various sizes and they have different specifications, but to keep things simple, we have narrowed the list to 5 great contenders. These products won't empty your bank account and they will make watching your favorite movies a real pleasure! We also have a review for high end surround sound systems.
Overview
PROS
CONS
Our Top Choice
Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 5.1 Surround Sound System
Powerful surround sound system packed with multiple features at an affordable price.
Frequency response: 55Hz - 30kHz. High-quality 250W subwoofer. Elegant finish. Outstanding sound experience. Black or White.
Some complaints about poor customer service.
Best Value
Onkyo HT-S3800 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker
Great all-rounder for everyone. Reasonably priced. Multiple useful audio features in a sleek-compact design.
Up to 525 watts total power. Elegant design. Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™. Bluetooth capabilities. Remote.
Initial set up might appear complicated, so make sure that you refer to the instructions manual.
Polk Audio Blackstone™ TL1600 Compact Home Theater System
Good value for money. Compact design. Practical sound system with multiple features.
Built-in 100W amplifier. Subwoofer with 8" driver. Great frequency range. Elegant design. Reasonably priced.
Complaints that the subwoofer is not powerful enough.
VIZIO SB4051-C0 40" 5.1 Sound Bar System w/ 2 Rear Speakers
Great value for money. Practical, affordable sound bar with multiple connection options.
Elegant, compact sound bar design w/ 2 rear speakers. Wireless subwoofer. Bluetooth capabilities. Very loud. Accurate sound reproduction. HDMI support. Available in multiple sizes.
Few complaints about lack of color options.
Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System
Excellent entry level surround sound system which provides good value for money.
Good sound quality. Magnetically shielded speakers. 100W subwoofer with 8" driver. Includes central loudspeaker. Elegant finish. Wall hanging capability. Budget-friendly price.
The subwoofer is not extremely loud.

Related Reviews
Best Surround Sound System – High End
Best Surround Sound Bar Systems
Best Home Theater Systems
Best Speakers - Wireless Speakers

How Do I Choose the Best Surround Sound System?

When it comes to surround systems, the market is rich in products for you to choose from, whether you are an audiophile or you simply want to hear the dialogue and sound effects in movies better. We have reviewed a plethora of surround sound systems and we picked 5 excellent “entry level” ones that are perfect for people on a budget, or who don’t require the highest in sound quality. Better still, this is not a technical article, so you won't see a lot of tech stuff or geeky terms here! It is also important to mention that for the purpose of this review, we focused on more affordable sound systems, so the products on our list will fall below the $700 mark. If you are interested in a higher performance sound system, check out our review of the top 5 high-end surround sound systems.

Before we begin, let's take a quick look at some of the most popular types of surround sound systems.
  • Floor-Standing Systems / Floor Standing Surround Sound System: This is pretty self-explanatory, the components of the sound system such as the speakers are designed to be placed on any floor and are calibrated to deliver an outstanding sound experience.
  • On-Shelf Systems / On-Shelf Surround Sound System: Again, you probably have already figured it out that the speakers are designed to be placed on shelves to ensure the highest quality sound.
  • Sound Bar Systems / Sound Bar Surround Sound System: A sound bar is a very modern and sophisticated sound device. It is literally a bar that can be placed under your TV set and delivers remarkable sound quality. Sound bars help save space and they look gorgeous in any living room.
  • On-Wall Systems / On-Wall Surround Sound System: These sound systems are designed to be integrated within the layout of a particular room such as the living room. If you have a small amount of space to work with, you will find these speakers very convenient.
  • Built-In Systems / Built-In Surround Sound System: These sound systems are integrated within the walls of a particular room to save space and improve aesthetics. They still deliver great sound quality and are highly customizable.
For this article, we will focus on the first three types of home theater sound systems, and we will give you tips and tricks on what to look for if you’re planning to buy a surround speaker system in the near future. We have also put together a separate review for just for best surround sound bar systems, because those have characteristics that are distinct from shelf and floor style speaker systems – but we knew we had to include at least one in this top 5 list!

Also, keep in mind that whether you are watching movies, playing video games, listening to music or simply watching your favorite soaps on TV, these audio systems are suitable for you and they will deliver exceptional sound quality! But to get the best sound experience, and to enhance your viewing experience even more, you will probably want to invest in a good quality blu-ray player.
Price
As mentioned earlier, in this review we strive to provide you with decent-quality sound systems you don't have to sell your house to pay for. For example, the least expensive model we have chosen costs a bit under $150 and it still provides a great sound quality. On the other end of the scale, we have a model which costs a bit over $700 and it comes with multiple features and options.
Prices for home theater surround sound systems can vary a lot. As we just saw, some products don't even reach the $200 mark while some high-end products out there can cost several thousand dollars. Some of the factors that impact the price include:
  • Unit loudness. Some products out there will make whispers sound like regular voice. Other surround sound systems will make your entire entertainment center shake. Even louder speaker systems will definitely make your neighbors grumble. If you have a relatively small living room, you don't need a very loud sound system – which means a compact system that cost less than a larger one.
  • Features. You get exactly what you are paying for. Some surround sound speakers feature Bluetooth connectivity and you can shuffle through your favorite tracks using your smartphone. Other sound systems don't have this feature and they are on the lower end of the price scale.
  • Unit construction. Some products out there incorporate sexy materials like aluminum and they have a more solid and durable finish. This means that they will last longer. They might be a little bit more expensive, but you are trading money for value and that’s always a good deal!
Features
The features of a speaker system will make it easier to use and in some cases, the extra bucks are well spent! For example, some home theatre sound systems come with a remote, making it easier for you to adjust the volume.
  • Bluetooth connectivity. This feature will allow you to control your speaker system using your smartphone or tablet without getting up from the couch. In some cases it also means that you can use your surround sound system to play music that you have stored on your mobile device!
  • Hanging capabilities. Some speakers are designed to be easily hung on supports or on walls. They are more practical and better suited for people who want to experiment with various speaker positioning. When it comes to design, there are some models that offer versatility, meaning they can be used either on the floor/shelf or wall mounted.
  • Built-in amplifiers. The amplifier will do exactly what it says: it will amplify the sound without distorting it or ruining its quality. This means that you will hear sounds even clearer and you don't need to spend money on a standalone, separate amplifier.
Construction and Design
When it comes to construction and design, things can get a little bit confusing, but don't worry, we try our best to keep it as simple as possible. Before you decide what is the best sound system for your needs, you need to familiarize yourself with the most popular surround sound system formats first, although you might know a couple of them already.
  • 5.1 Surround Sound System. This is basically the most popular format. You get 4 identical speakers, a central unit which is mainly used for dialogue and a subwoofer (that accounts for the .1 in the name).
  • 7.1 Surround Sound System. Same story here, just that you get 2 more speakers for improved sound experience. The extra 2 are called rear surround speakers.
  • Dolby Digital 5.1. This is an improved format which can make your sound experience even better. It basically adds more bandwidth for sound processing and makes low-frequency effects possible.
  • DTS. This is the rival of Dolby Digital and it comes with yet more improvements. What DTS does is basically reproducing more sound information, delivering a richer experience. It is like the difference between a 256kbps track and a 320kbps one.
These are the basic formats for home theater speaker systems. We will go ahead and present you a couple more aspects related to construction and design.
  • Size and weight. Some surround systems are larger, others are smaller. It is important to choose one depending on the size of your living room. Also, some speakers are tall, others are square while others have curved lines which are more aesthetically pleasing. The weight of your home theater sound system is also important, particularly if you move a lot.
  • Materials. We already mentioned that some surround systems have aluminum insertions. It is important to pay attention to the materials factor because it directly influences the longevity of your speaker system.
  • Colors. Why not? Some home theater sound systems come in various neutral colors for you to choose from and this will help you create a seamless, beautiful design.
Performance and Ease of Use
All surround sound systems have a plethora of intricate numbers and abbreviations associated with them, but we promised we will keep this review easy to read and actually enjoyable. However, there are just a couple of aspects you need to pay attention to when it comes to the performance factor.
  • Frequency response. It can be from 55Hz to 30kHz, the wider the better. This basically means that you will hear that deep, powerful bass much better as well as the higher sound effects like birds trills.
  • Loudness. Measured in db, if a surround sound system has a high output of db (88 and more) then it will be louder and this can be helpful if you have a large living room.

What is the Best Surround Sound System?

Now you are familiar with the basics of home theater sound systems and can make a more educated decision. Let's take a look at some of the best surround sound systems available on the market today within the entry-level price range.
Our Top Choice
The ProCinema 600 5.1 Sound System is a reasonably-priced, high-quality piece of audio equipment available in both black and white finishes. This manufacturer also crafts top-notch entry level and high end floor standing surround sound systems.
Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 System Six Piece 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System

Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 QDVA – Black


Features
The ProCinema Series from Definitive Technology are state-of-the-art pieces of audio equipment capable of delivering an exquisite sound experience. These speaker systems are very practical as they can be mounted on walls, placed on shelves or directly on the floor. They feature an elegant finish and can easily integrate within any living room's interior décor. For this review, we have chosen the ProCinema 600 5.1 home theatre sound system because it offers good value for your money and an excellent features/price ratio.
To be honest, we had a hard time deciding which one to feature, so here’s a run down of the main differences:
  • ProCinema 400 System. This is the little brother of ProCinema 600 5.1, but it should be taken seriously. It delivers exceptional sound quality, the satellite speakers are small and practical and the current MSRP is just below $500.
  • ProCinema 800 System. Now meet the bigger brother which packs even more acoustic power! It features a 300-watt subwoofer amplifier, the low, mid and high frequencies are accurately reproduced and the current MSRP fluctuates around $950.
  • ProCinema 1000 System. The family cannot be complete without the daddy: the PowerCinema 1000 surround sound system which features large speakers capable of delivering loud and clear sounds. It is available in matte black finish and at the moment of writing it has a MSRP of $1,458.
Now you know the entire ProCinema family, let's get back to our old friend, the Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 5.1 surround sound system – highlighting two things that we think stand out, besides the incredible sound quality of course.
  • The satellite speakers of this audio system can be mounted on shelves because they feature a tri-lobed base which ensures proper stability.
  • The subwoofer features side-mounted controls that are discrete and elegant. You can easily adjust the volume of the subwoofer without much effort.
Construction and Design
The ProCinema 600 5.1 speaker system is not the only model available from Definitive Technology. This trustworthy manufacturer also makes many other reliable surround sound systems, with different features depending upon your needs.
  • The ProCinema 600 5.1 sound system consists of 6 separate pieces: 4 identical speakers, 1 central loudspeaker which is mainly used for dialogue and 1 subwoofer which is capable of accurately reproducing low-frequency sounds like the bass in a song.
  • The speakers themselves are magnetically shielded to avoid interfering with other pieces of equipment you might have in your living room. Speakers make use of magnets to reproduce sounds and if they are not shielded, those magnets can interfere with any A/V device you might have in your house. The ProCinema 600 surround sound system is magnetically shielded, so you won't experience any problems.
  • The satellite speakers are equipped with a mid/bass radiator capable of producing more natural and crystal clear sounds. The radiator is placed on top of each satellite and it enhances the low and mid frequencies for better sound quality.
  • You can choose between two color options: gloss white or gloss black. This enables you to seamlessly integrate your surround sound system within the interior design of your house.
Performance and Ease of Use
In the performance department, the ProCinema 600 5.1 surround sound system behaves very well and it can definitely improve your experience the next time you are watching a movie or just listening to your favorite tunes.
  • This speaker system has a frequency response range from 55Hz to 30kHz. It means that you will enjoy deep, groovy bass and listen to crystal clear high frequency sounds such as birds trills, treble and natural sounds.
  • You might be happy to know that the subwoofer of this speaker system features a 250-watt amplifier. You can enjoy very loud sounds whether you are playing video games, listening to music or watching a movie. The sounds won't be distorted and they will always be accurately reproduced by the high-quality subwoofer.
  • The center speaker of the ProCinema 600 sound system has been specially designed to reproduce crystal clear dialogue and lyrics. Most of the dialogue and words in any song or movie are in the mid-range frequencies and the central speaker of this system focuses on delivering natural, true-to-life sounds, for an exquisite sound experience.
  • Very few customers experienced problems with the subwoofer, but they called the manufacturer and obtained a replacement. When setting up your surround sound system, make sure that you follow the instruction manual.
Best Value
The Onkyo HT-S3800 surround system features Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, offering an exquisite sound experience. His bigger brother, Onkyo HT-S9700THX, comes with even more features if you are interested in a higher end model.
Onkyo 5.1-Channel Surround Sound System - Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™

Onkyo HT-S3800 HT-S3800 - Black


Features
The Onkyo HT-S3800 surround system is one of the best entry level speaker systems out there and it offers exceptional value for money. Taking into consideration its price tag, the Onkyo HT-S3800 home theatre speaker system offers multiple useful features, such as:
  • Adjusting the volume of your sound system is a breeze because it comes with a remote! All that you have to do is to sit back, relax and adjust your speaker system without having to get off your couch.
  • This model from Onkyo also features Bluetooth technology. You basically have the chance to link this device to your smartphone and control it from there. You can also play your favorite tunes directly from your phone, laptop, tablet or other device compatible with Bluetooth technology.
  • Onkyo HT-S3800 is compact and lightweight, in comparison with other surround sound systems, so moving it from one corner of the room to another will not be difficult.
Construction and Design
We were impressed by the notable construction and design features of the Onkyo 5.1-Channel Home Theater is including:
  • You get a 6 piece, solid and compact audio system that will pass the test of time. It features 4 identical speakers, one central loudspeaker and a subwoofer to ensure that all your audio needs are covered.
  • It comes with discrete amplifiers that enhance the sound quality and accurately reproduce every bit of information, whether you are watching movies, playing games or listening to music.
  • This surround sound system by Onkyo comes in a beautiful and elegant black finish that can easily integrate within the layout of every living room.
Performance and Ease of Use
You don't have to be an expert to realize that the Onkyo HT-S3800 speaker system is a great piece of audio equipment. It has been well received by the public and delivers outstanding performance.
  • The Onkyo Immersive 5.1-Channel Surround Sound System is capable of reproducing up to 105 watts per channel. This is serious acoustic power, so make sure that you gradually adjust the volume levels to protect your hearing.
  • It features both Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio™ which help decode the audio signal to supply each channel with its own sound information for a broader audio experience. Simply put, it means things will sound better!"
  • The Onkyo HT-S3800 home theatre surround sound system features easy to understand diagrams on the back panel which will make the first set up a piece of cake. If you are confused, don’t hesitate to consult the instruction manual because it comes with multiple informative illustrations.
  • Another impressive feature of this sound system is the HDMI 4 in/ 1 out technology which means that it can handle input from up to 4 different components. The HT-S3800 sound system is 4K UltraHD ready and can accurately reproduce audio soundtracks in various formats.
  • Some past customers complained about the lack of color options, but keep in mind that black is timeless and goes well with just about any interior design.
The Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 surround sound system has a built-in amplifier that delivers accurate bass and natural, vivid sounds. If you’re interested in a higher-end product then the Polk Audio TSi400 5.1 floor standing home theatre sound system may be the best choice for you.
Polk Audio Blackstone™ 5.1 Surround Sound System 6 Pieces including Powered Subwoofer

Polk Blackstone™ TL1600 5.1 - Black


Features
The first thing that catches your eye when you are looking at the Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 sound system is the attractive design. This amazing piece of audio equipment doesn't cost much, but it offers so many options and features and gives the user full control over the sound experience.

  • The speakers are cleverly built and very practical as they feature keyhole mounts so that you can place them on the walls.
  • The TL1600 5.1 model from Polk Audio also features a 5-year warranty, so you will be covered if your product gets damaged.
Construction and Design
A strong point of this sound system is the fact that it features a solid build quality. You will be able to use this product for many years without being afraid that it will deteriorate. The construction and design features include:
  • Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 is a complete home theatre speaker system that features 4 satellite speakers, 1 central loudspeaker and 1 subwoofer.
  • The acoustic centers of the speakers are located on the same plane to improve the sound experience and deliver accurate, realistic sound effects.
  • This surround sound system is available in an elegant black finish and it features a futuristic, modern and simplistic look.
  • The speakers are very practical too. They feature a compact design, they don't weight much and don't occupy a lot of space.
Performance and Ease of Use
The subwoofer features a 100-watt amplifier that can boost the sound signal and make your sound experience louder and clearer.
  • The speakers are capable of delivering a dynamic sound experience. Whether you are listening to music, watching movies, watching the news channel or play video games, the sounds will be accurate and powerful all the times. This happens because the Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 speaker system features a broad frequency response.
  • With this surround sound system you will enjoy crystal clear sounds even if you are very enthusiastic with the volume knob. It can play low, mid and high sounds without distortions at very high volume regardless of the type of media you play.
  • Some people complained that the high frequencies are not very well reproduced, but given its price tag, the Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 sound system does its job admirably.
The Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound bar system provides an exceptional sound experience. It features a wireless subwoofer and Bluetooth connectivity. Its smaller brother, the Vizio SB3851-C0 5.1 channel sound bar, is slightly less loud, but comes at a smaller price if you have a tight budget.
VIZIO 40-Inch 5.1 Sound Bar System with Wireless Subwoofer & Rear Satellite

VIZIO SB4051-C0 – Black


Features
While we were reviewing surround sound systems, we stumbled upon this sound bar from Vizio and we soon realized how good it actually is! Even though we started with a plan to make this a review for systems with what could be considered “old school” style speakers (with modern technology and design of course), we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this one with you – especially since it does so much, and takes up less space than many other systems because it does the job of providing surround sound experience in fewer pieces.

The Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound bar system includes most of the elements other surround sound systems have, it packs even more features and it comes at a reasonable price.
  • The Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound bar system comes with Bluetooth technology. All that you have to do is to connect your smartphone or tablet to this audio equipment and you are ready to stream your favorite media.
  • The Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound bar system also comes with a remote. Now you can adjust the volume of your sound bar system and other important functions from a distance.
  • Another excellent feature is the HDMI connectivity. The package includes the necessary cables, so you can quickly connect your laptop to your Vizio sound bar system and play your preferred media.
Construction and Design
We have chosen to include this product in our list because the value-to-money ratio of the Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound system is simply excellent
  • Unlike many sound bar systems, the Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 is a complete 5.1 surround sound system. The sound bar features 3 sound channels, you get 2 additional rear speakers and a high-quality subwoofer (most only come with the soundbar and the subwoofer). Whether you are watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones, playing video games or just listening to music, you will get a fabulous, rich sound experience.
  • The design of this sound bar system is compact and lightweight. You can easily find a place for your Vizio sound bar in your entertainment center. The satellites and the subwoofer are also very practical and don't occupy a lot of space. The system is wall-mountable as well.
  • The Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound bar system features an elegant and attractive finish. This audio equipment can actually improve the aesthetics of your house.
Performance and Ease of Use
This audio system from Vizio is jam-packed with features and qualities. It is currently one of the most popular sound bar systems on Amazon because it lives up to its expectations.
  • The total output in decibels is 102, meaning that you can play your media at a very high volume without restrictions.
  • The subwoofer of this audio system is wireless, so no more wires to connect or trip on. The subwoofer itself delivers an accurate bass and reproduces low frequencies without distortion.
  • The rear satellite speakers help you get a true-to-life sound environment. They can be positioned behind the sound bar and are used to deliver an even more authentic and realistic acoustic experience.
  • Some people complained that they received defective rear speakers, but they contacted the manufacturer and received replacements. Keep in mind that Vizio offers great customer service and support, so don't be afraid to contact them if you experience similar problems.
The Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1 surround sound system features a powerful subwoofer and wall-hanging capabilities. If you prefer floor standing speakers then the Yamaha NS-PA40 5.1 surround sound system may be just perfect for you!
Yamaha 5.1-Channel Entry Class Home Surround Sound System – Shelf or Hang on Wall

Yamaha NS-SP1800BL - Black


Features
The last one in our list is a product from Yamaha. This company is well-known for making quality products and the NS-SP1800BL 5.1 surround speaker system is not an exception. This is literally one of those times when the expression, "home theater in a box" fits - because the system provides everything you need for great sound, on a budget.
.
  • The subwoofer also incorporates the Advanced YST which basically means that the amplifier and the speaker work together to provide exquisite, crystal-clear sounds and better overall acoustic performance.
  • Customers get 1 year warranty on parts and labor which is convenient if the audio system gets damaged.
Construction and Design
One of the best features of this audio equipment is that it can be hung on walls or you can use it shelf style. You can experiment a little and place the speakers in various corners of the room until you get the desired sound experience
  • Despite its low price tag, the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1 sound system delivers a complete and broad sound experience. You get 4 identical satellite speakers, 1 subwoofer and 1 central loudspeaker that makes dialogue and lyrics crystal-clear.
  • This audio equipment is compact and lightweight, so you can move it around the living room easily. The elegant black finish is eye-catching, so your Yamaha audio system will look great in your house.
  • The speakers are magnetically shielded. This basically means that the components of the surround sound system will not interfere with any A/V devices you might have in that room.
Performance and Ease of Use
In the performance department, the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1 surround speaker system is a few notches above the competition. It comes with sophisticated speaker drivers that offer a broad frequency response.
  • The 8" subwoofer has an output power of 100 watts and it can be hanged from walls if necessary. It delivers a powerful, deep bass and can easily reproduce the low-range frequencies, regardless of what type of media you play.
  • The frequency response of this surround sound system starts at 28Hz and ends at 50kHz. This means that you will enjoy crisp, clear sounds in all frequency ranges without hearing sound distortions or hissing.
  • Some customers complained that the speakers get damaged after a few months, but make sure that you place them in a safe, dry location to avoid deterioration.

Get the Best Surround Sound System Today!

There you go, 5 affordable sound systems that will liven up your house and make John Snow's lines crystal clear. Grab one of those products from Amazon today before they run out of stock - yes, during our research we saw it happen!

Our Top Choice
Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 5.1 Surround Sound System
Best Value
Onkyo HT-S3800 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker
Polk Audio Blackstone™ TL1600 Compact Home Theater System
VIZIO SB4051-C0 40" 5.1 Sound Bar System w/ 2 Rear Speakers
Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System