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Best surround sound system 2022: Top choices for home theatres

Soundbars are great for improving TV sound, but if you have the desire to recreate the sound of the cinema in your home, then a surround sound system is the best option available.

If you go down this route, there are many options to choose from as you can purchase a surround sound system on its own in wireless or wired forms, or if you already have a soundbar you may be able to upgrade it by adding a subwoofer and surround channels to create an immersive performer.

Wireless offers more convenience in the space they take up, features and gets around the issue of trailing wires everywhere, but wired options produce a full-on performance and crystal clear sound quality. Knowing which to go for depends on needs and how much space you have available, so we’ve decided to step in and present a number of options to help make your search easier

Our team of experts review surround sound systems often, observing the build quality, testing the features and evaluating the audio performance. We compare each model to their peers to determine where they offer the best value and this list is the fruit of that testing.

We’ll be adding more systems if the deserve to make it on this list, but if you find a surround sound system is too large for your space, then have a look at both out best soundbar and best Dolby Atmos soundbar pages for more convenient options. If you’re building a home cinema, it’s also worth looking at our best projector and best TV list for the best home cinema performance.

Best surround sound system at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test surround sound systems

Surround sound systems were created to boost put sound all around the listener – which means we end up watching a lot of TV. We play lots of movies and TV shows for scale and effects steering to ensure the surround sound systems that come through the doors at Trusted Reviews are given a proper challenge. We’ll play different genres of music, too, since a good surround system can double-up as a great music system.

Wireless surround sound systems feature network functionality for hooking up to other speakers and playing music around the home, so we test for connectivity issues and ease of use. We cover the spectrum of models available, everything from wireless systems to more traditional wired set-ups to ensure our reviews benefit from our extensive market knowledge. Every product is compared to similarly priced rivals, too.

Samsung HW-Q950A

Best Samsung surround sound system
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Pros

  • Massively powerful, distortion-free movie soundtrack playback
  • Creates a uniquely immersive sound stage
  • Compact design for such a powerful system

Cons

  • Expensive by soundbar standards
  • No full auto-calibration system
  • Ridiculous LED placement

The Q950A soundbar offers a nice blend of a felt finish and a metallic grille, and is slim enough to fit under most TVs though the display is on the top surface rather than front-facing, which makes reading it more difficult than need be.

Taking in all the speakers, the Q950A is almost identical to its predecessor apart from the rear speakers, which Samsung has added more drivers to. With more drivers spreading out sound in different directions, they need some space to operate if they’re being used on a bookshelf, for instance. that can be read for. The subwoofer is large and takes up space, but considering the oomph provided by its 8-inch driver, it’s worth accommodating.

The speaker set-up is an 11.1.4 channel, which is more than the LG SP11RA below, and powered by a substantial 600W of power with support for Dolby Atmos or DTS:X immersive audio formats. For home cinema enthusiast looking to plug sources into the bar itself, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR formats can be pass through the bar if you’ve run out of HDMI inputs on the TV. There’s no support for VRR or 4K/120Hz that the latest consoles take advantage of.

Wireless connectivity stretches to Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Wi-Fi. For those with relatively new Samsung TVs, there are exclusive features such as SpaceFit sound, which calibrates the soundbar’s output to a room’ dimensions. There’s also the Active Voice Amplifier that boosts volume levels and make voices more prominent to compensate for ambient room noise.  

With the addition of two extra channels, our reviewer found that it heightened the sound of this soundbar even more than the previous model. We found there was greater presence to rear channels than before, along with a better sense of width to that area of the soundstage. At the time of review, we felt the Q950A offered the most immersive audio experience from a soundbar package so far.

The main soundbar and subwoofer deliver an emphatic performance, utilising the heft and power with no trouble filling our large test room. The subwoofer is able to reach lower frequencies than previous Samsung bars we’ve tested, integrated well with the bottom of the midrange and sounding a cohesive part of the frequency range.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Samsung HW-Q950A

LG SP11RA

Best LG surround sound system
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Pros

  • Powerful, detailed sound with especially good height effects
  • Sleek, attractive design
  • Good for both music and movies

Cons

  • Feels a bit expensive
  • Some unhelpful presets
  • Occasionally lacks impact with film soundtracks

The LG SP11RA features a great sense of height in the soundstage that it creates, especially with Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Our reviewer felt that the way in which the surround system positioned effects was arguably one of the best performances in terms of steering audio in front of the listening position, offering more clarity and precision than the Q950A produces.

The SP11RA was able to fill almost all corners of our test room with ease, which we found remarkable from such a slim unit. Dialogue come across with crystal clear clarity, the system revealed plenty of detail from movie soundtracks we tested and the subwoofer felt integrated within the mix, producing a forceful low end.

We found using the AI Sound Pro processing helped expand the soundstage and produce a more aggressive presentation, bringing an Atmos-style presentation to non-immersive sources. We did find that, on occasion, it can stress treble sounds a little too unnaturally. Where the Q950A gains the upper hand is that the LG doesn’t quite create an entire hemisphere of sound, so while the performance from the front speakers is great, there’s less a sense of sound around the sides of a room. 

With a total of 7.1.4 channels, the SP11RA features an enormous 770W to power all the speakers. New features include the Meridian Horizon mode that aims to turn two channel content into more immersive multi-channel audio. Elsewhere the SP11RA can pass-through Dolby Vision and HDR10 formats, though the lack of HDMI 2.1 support may disappoint gamers looking to pass-through 4K/120Hz games. Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa voice control are supported if you want the option of hands-free operation.

The SP11RA’s slim profile should fit under most TVs without a hitch, the rear speakers are compact, and while the subwoofer is on the large side it is slender enough that it can fit beside a sofa or under a sideboard.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: LG SP11RA

Sonos Arc Surround Sound Package

Best premium wireless system
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Pros

  • Surround sound speakers make audio more immersive
  • Sub adds cinematic levels of bass
  • TruePlay makes everything work beautifully

Cons

  • Sub is very expensive

The Sonos Arc is one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars we’ve tested, and when paired with rear speakers and a subwoofer it creates an impressive surround system that does come at a premium price. 

On its own the Arc is a 5.0.2 system, with the Sonos Sub and rear speakers transforming it into a 7.1.2 channel set-up.  S2 compatible Sonos speakers are required for the rear channels, so the One SL or Five speakers are an option along with the Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf speakers, while any generation of Sub can be partnered with the main Arc bar. 

The audio performance is one we found impressive when all hooked up, with Trueplay helping to align and balance the speakers for optimal sound within the room. The rear speakers help to fill in the gaps behind the seating position, providing a subtle assist that engaged us more than the front-heavy performance of the Arc. The integration of the rear speakers is well handled, blending in well to create an expansive hemisphere of sound.

The addition of the Sub provides an impressive low end than you got with the Arc, helping to alleviate the Arc’s issue with transitioning between the bottom end of the frequency range to the mid-range. As the Sub is left to do the heavy lifting, the Arc can focus on the midrange, which we felt helped aid smoother transitions between bass and midrange. Depending on the size of the room, a Sonos Sub may feel too powerful, and the cost of it adds to the overall outlay. With the Sonos Sub mini in the works but not officially announced, that may be more of solution for those who want a bigger bass in a compact form.

Reviewer: David Ludlow
Full Review: Sonos Arc Surround Sound Package

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FAQs

Is 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound the best?

7.1 surround sound would offer the more immersive performance, due to the number of speakers with the set-up ensuring that there is sound coming from multiple directions. If you don’t have room to fit a 7.1 system then a 5.1 would suit absolutely fine.

Comparison specs

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AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Sound Bar Channels
Driver (s)
Audio (Power output)
Connectivity
ARC/eARC
Colours
Voice Assistant
Audio Formats
Power Consumption
Subwoofer?
Rear Speaker
Multiroom

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