Hopping on the couch to sit back and enjoy our favorite movies, TV series, sports, and other sources of entertainment is a pleasure for most people in this digital age. But, without the best surround sound system, your good time might just be falling flat. Furthermore, the lack of a quality audio setup means you’re also not getting the most out of your expensive TV, streaming services, gaming systems, and music channels. Enjoying these luxuries in life isn’t just good for the soul, but it can also help improve your overall mental well-being.
Research shows that listening to music can help lessen anxiety and boost one’s overall mood. In fact, listening to music and jamming out by yourself or with friends and family can have lasting impacts on your mental health overall. Nothing helps relieve the stress of a long workday like some soothing tunes. Of course, music isn’t the only form of entertainment that’s good for relaxing after a stressful day.
One recent study reports that watching your favorite shows or movies before bedtime can actually help you get a better night’s sleep. You certainly don’t want to overdo it as binge-watching can have the opposite effect, keeping your brain awake when it should be resting. Nonetheless, enjoying your favorite shows is actually a great way to wind down.
To that point, more Americans are turning to their favorite shows as a way to relieve stress after a long day. A recent poll found that 55% of respondents (out of 2,000) preferred watching a ‘comfort TV show’ as a way to relieve stress over other activities such as taking a warm bath or doing yoga. What an excellent case for those old shows no one else in the family likes but you.
But, enough of the health chit-chat, you came here looking for the best surround sound system. Well, Study Finds did the research for you, consulting 10 “expert” websites that specialize in home goods and electronics. We put together this consensus list in an effort to track down the best surround sound systems for your home. Of course, if you have your own recommendations, feel free to drop them in the comments below!
The List: Best Surround Sound System, According to the Experts
After extensive research, the one item that pops up across expert websites the most is the Sony HT-A9 Home Theater System. A household name in entertainment, Sony’s HT-A9 is a wireless surround sound system that offers versatility across various sizes of rooms and layouts.
What Hi-Fi explains, “Sony’s HT-A9 Wireless Home Theatre System encourages users to position its speakers arbitrarily, promising an even, uniform and immersive sound field regardless of the symmetry of your set-up.” This new wave technology allows you to maximize your surround sound system without having to worry about measuring, testing, or rearranging your entertainment space.
“The HT-A9 supports Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping which calibrates your room’s height size and combines it with speaker distance and relative location. The aim is to create an Atmos-like dome of sound from 12 ‘phantom’ speakers notionally placed around that audio bubble,” What Hi-Fi added. This surround sound system is designed to mitigate the effects of small or awkwardly shaped spaces without the additional hassle.
And the wireless connectivity between the speakers and the central control hub, not an AV receiver, makes speaker placement even easier. “…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,” writes Living Etc.com.
But if it’s an economical surround sound system you’re looking for, you might want to consider other options. The Sony HT-A9 doesn’t come with a subwoofer, and you’ll need to add that separately. “The basic system isn’t cheap, and you’ll need to add a Sony SA-SW3 subwoofer to get the full bass impact, but the results are phenomenal,” remarks T3.com.
2. Q Acoustics 3050i 5.1 Cinema Package (~$2,465)
Coming in second on the list is the Q Acoustics 3050i 5.1 Cinema Package. This item showed up time and again across expert websites to ignore it. True, Q Acoustics isn’t necessarily a household brand, but they offer one of the best surround sound systems available on the market today.
Unlike the Sony HT-A9, you’ll get the whole package with the Q Acoustics 3050i 5.1 system. “This surround sound speaker system produces the best overall performance, thanks to a pair of impressive and musical floor standing speakers sitting on either side of an equally accomplished centre speaker. As a result, dialogue is crystal clear no matter how frenetic the soundtrack. At the rear, two smaller bookshelf speakers are on surround duties, providing pin-point effects, while the slimline subwoofer handles the low end, giving blockbusters greater bass impact,” explains T3.com.
Q Acoustics also offers unmatched industry craftsmanship, which is one of the features that make this one of the best surround sound systems on a lot of the websites we visited. “It’s all about doing everything possible to reduce distortion, and the way you do that is by [minimizing] vibrations. Cabinet rigidity is boosted thanks to point-to-point cabinet bracing, making certain parts stiffer and hence quieter. There’s an extra thick baffle to support the tweeter and mid/bass driver and the soft dome tweeter has been decoupled from the baffle to isolate it from the woofers’ vibrations,” Tech Radar describes.
But the Q Acoustics 3050i 5.1 isn’t for everyone. You might want to be certain about this level of sound for your surround sound system. “The Q Acoustics 3050i is an excellent choice for someone serious about sound and looking for more than an entry-level setup,” Forbes explains. This Q Acoustics surround sound system is not wireless, either, so you’ll need to have a few technical skills to set it up, but don’t let that stop you. “It’s all easy to set up with bare wires or banana plugs. Remember that with a traditional speaker system like this, there are no wireless components,” Forbes furthers.
(Not available on Amazon)
Unless you’re an AV aficionado, you’re likely just hearing the name Nakamichi for the first time. Don’t let that stop you from considering this brand as one of the truly best surround sound systems for your home theater.
“If you want a complete home theater system that will immerse your whole room in surround sound, you’ve come to the right place,” writes The Home Cinema Guide.com. “The Ultra system comes with the main 45-inch soundbar, two side surround speakers, two rear surround speakers and two wireless subwoofers,” explains The Home Cinema Guide.com.
You’d think having more than one subwoofer for your surround sound system would be a little bit of overkill that might distort the sound. According to Forbes, it’s quite the opposite. “[this] Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 9.2.4 will likely be the comprehensive surround sound you need. It generates 1000w of peak power that’ll nicely fill a room with rich and clear sounds,” Forbes writes.
Nakamichi surround sound systems aren’t just designed for music or movies, either, and the technology this company uses makes for a one-of-a-kind audio and visual home experience. “The soundbar has an HDMI ARC port, three additional HDMI ports, an optical port, as well as a coax input, so you can easily connect your gaming console, TV, projector, or Blu-ray player and get started. With Dolby Vision and HDR pass-through, you get a clean picture to go along with your surround sound,” Lifewire.com states.
Another lesser-known brand name that produces one of the best surround sound systems available is Wharfedale, specifically the Wharfedale DX-2 5.1 surround sound system. This small but mighty surround sound system is ideal for smaller rooms.
“It’s easy to baulk at the thought of introducing a full 5.1 surround sound package into your home when you have limited space – but Wharfedale has just the solution,” What Hi-Fi.com states.
Don’t let the size of this surround sound system fool you, either. It delivers plenty of sound to create a cinematic experience for your home. “These speakers deliver plenty of enjoyable home cinema thrills thanks to a nicely balanced soundstage that steers effects seamlessly around the room. The centre speaker does a great job of delivering clear dialogue, while the subwoofer is well integrated and provides a solid bass foundation for the entire system,” writes T3.com.
If you’re looking for a sleek and stylish surround sound system for your home, then the Wharfedale DX-2 has you covered there as well. “Thanks to a soft-touch finish, you can place these speakers on any surface without worrying about them leaving scratches. They also look a lot more expensive than they are, with their curved corners and smart design touches,” TechRadar.com states.
“But these little flourishes are functional as well as stylish – chrome rings surround the fixed speaker grilles to protect the drivers without covering the front completely. And because there are no grille holes, each speaker looks even sleeker,” furthers TechRadar.com.
The Sonos ARC Soundbar appeared on far too many expert lists to ignore, making it a clear choice as one of the best surround sound systems around. The Sonos ARC Soundbar surround sound system harnesses the power of a single soundbar to fill your home with cinematic sound.
“When it comes to audio quality, the best soundbar for surround sound from a single unit (as is: no subwoofer, no rear speakers) is undoubtedly the Sonos Arc, which allows you to enjoy a fully immersive experience with the minimum of fuss,” raves T3.com.
Since the Sonos ARC Soundbar is a single unit, you won’t have to worry about complicated installations or jumbled wires. Another great feature of this surround sound system is it’s adaptive technology. “Trueplay technology allows the soundbar to adapt its output to the space it’s in, so placing it in a smaller space will get you a different result than if the speaker was placed in a large, cavernous room. It can also sense when it has been mounted, adjusting the bass levels to prevent any impact,” explains Homes and Gardens.com.
You won’t have to sacrifice audio quality in favor of this fancy technology, either. “You’re transported to the heart of the action. Those surround effects are expertly placed and there’s great dynamism and good weight to the sound too. Tonally, it’s nicely balanced if you just want to listen to music, although it could sound a tiny bit more direct. But, there’s no doubt this is a hugely impressive soundbar for the money,” writes What Hi-Fi.com.
- What Hi-Fi
- Homes and Gardens
- The Home Cinema Guide
- Audio Reputation
- Tech Radar
- Worldwide Stereo
- Living ETC
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored but we may receive a commission on some products. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned.