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Best surround sound system 2023: Top choices for home theatres

While soundbars are great for improving TV sound, if you want to go the whole hog and replicate the sound of the cinema in your living room, the best option is a surround sound system.

There are many options to choose from as you can purchase a surround sound system on its own in wireless or wired forms. There’s even the option with some systems whereby if you already have a soundbar you can upgrade it by adding a subwoofer and surround channels. Home cinema enthusiasts will want to consider a more traditional system if you have a dedicated home cinema room with a projector screen. That is the most optimal way to enjoy a surround sound presentation.

Wireless offers more convenience in that they take up less space, come with features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and gets around the issue of trailing wires. Wired options produce a full-on performance and crystal clear sound quality, so knowing which to go for depends on needs and how much space you have available. With this list, we’ve presented a number of options to make your search easier

Our team of experts have reviewed a number of surround sound systems, 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.

We’ll add more systems if the deserve to make it on this list, but if you find a surround sound system is not what you need then have a look at both out best soundbar and best Dolby Atmos soundbar.

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-Q990B

Best Samsung soundbar system
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  • Delivers a true surround sound experience
  • Outstanding Dolby Atmos performance
  • Two HDMI inputs


  • More clutter than a single-bar solution
  • No 4K 120Hz pass-through
  • Music doesn’t sound as good as movies

The HW-Q990B is Samsung’s 2022 flagship soundbar system, and if you’ve been searching for a high-quality surround sound experience that’s more accessible and accommodating than a traditional surround sound system, we’d say that currently there isn’t a soundbar system better than the Q990B.

With an enormous 11.4 channels of sound at its disposal, our reviewer found they all joined forces brilliantly to create a convincing hemisphere of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound around the seating position. The rear speaker design has been improved from the Q950A model, with it now able to fire sounds towards the ceiling to join the up-firing sounds from the main to create the sensation of height in a soundtrack. The rears also feature side-firing drivers, and we felt they helped close the gaps on the sides of the soundstage so the listener is completely surrounded by audio effects.

Dialogue sounded clear and rich to our ears, and didn’t fall prey to the issue that affects some soundbar systems where dialogue doesn’t match its position on screen. raised above the soundbar to make them sound better attached to the onscreen action. When it comes to music, especially stereo music, the Q990B isn’t as good as it is with films and TV. The subwoofer can have too much of a presence in stereo tracks, upsetting the overall balance.

The design is not as premium as its predecessors, but we liked the more industrial approach that’s far less prone to picking up dust. You’ll find space to accommodate the massive subwoofer, which is more of an eye sore than the rest of the speakers in the Q990B package.

The HW-Q990B supports Samsung-only features such as Q-Symphony, which matches the soundbar’s drivers with that of a compatible Samsung TV to create a bigger sound. Alexa voice recognition is supported, and for iOS users there’s AirPlay 2 to cast audio to the soundbar. 

Gamers may be disappointed by the lack of 4K/120Hz passthrough that some high-end games support, but this isn’t a widely supported feature for soundbars anyway. Connections include two HDMI inputs (which can pass through HDR formats such as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision) as well as a single optical audio input, and there is of course Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatibility.

The HW-Q990B will be replaced by the HW-Q990C, which features a similar spec but does appear to come with a more advanced calibration system. It’s also more expensive, so given the price difference between the two, you may find the Q990B the more appealing option in the here and now.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Samsung HW-Q950B

Samsung HW-Q950A

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


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

The Q950A soundbar has been replaced by the HW-Q990B, but it is still available for a bargain basement price.

Taking in all the speakers, the Q950A is near 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. 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, 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 that 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 it added more space to this soundbar 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.

The design 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. And while we’ve found newer soundbar systems to be less visually interesting, they pick up less dust than the Q950A does.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Samsung HW-Q950A


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


  • 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 expanded the soundstage and produced 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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  • Surround sound speakers make audio more immersive
  • Sub adds cinematic levels of bass
  • TruePlay makes everything work beautifully


  • 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, Era 100 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. You can now add the Sonos Era 300 to the system to have rear Dolby Atmos speakers to produce a complete hemisphere of Dolby Atmos sound. 

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. There is the Sonos Sub mini, which is cheaper but Sonos doesn’t recommend pairing with with the Arc soundbar, saying it’s a better option to be used with the Sonos Beam or Ray models if you’re listening in a smaller room.

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

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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

Quiet Mark Accredited
Size (Dimensions)
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Sound Bar Channels
Driver (s)
Audio (Power output)
Voice Assistant
Audio Formats
Power Consumption
Rear Speaker

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