To make large, flat-screen TVs thinner and enhance picture quality, integrated speakers often sacrifice sound quality. So, if you want to enhance sound quality from, the thing to do is connect an optional soundbar. on their own can often generate “virtual” three-dimensional, spatial audio that replicates surround sound. However, if you want an authentic, movie theater-like surround sound experience, you’ll need to connect a complete surround sound system to your TV. The shopping experts at CBS Essentials have rounded up the best TV surround systems in 2023, so you can enjoy better sound from any TV.
A complete surround sound system for a TV consists of a center-channel speaker, as well as a front left and right channel speaker. These can be separate speakers, or a soundbar can be used as the centerpiece for a surround sound system. A surround sound system also includes a separate (and often wireless) subwoofer, as well as at least two satellite (rear) speakers. Sure, you can mix and match audio components on your own, but you’re typically much better off purchasing a complete surround sound system that comes bundled together in one package.
We’ve done the extensive research and testing to compile this roundup of the best TV surround sound systems in 2023. For example, you can’t go wrong with our top pick for most people, which is the Samsung Q-Series Q990C. However, if you need to fill a smaller size space with high-quality sound, the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX with SR2 Wireless Surrounds is a really good option. If you’re seeking a really good value and Roku streaming support, we recommend the Roku Streambar Pro (bundled with the Roku Wireless Bass Pro and Roku Wireless Speakers to create a surround sound system). Keep reading to learn more about these products and other great surround sound systems.
Best overall surround sound system: Samsung Q-Series Q990C
Included Components: Soundbar, subwoofer, 2x rear speakers | Channels: 11.1.4 | Ports: HDMI, Optical Audio | Supported Codecs: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS HD, Dolby Digital Plus | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Special Features: Alexa and Apple AirPlay support, Game Mode Pro, Active Voice Amplifier feature | Soundbar Dimensions: 48.5 x 2.7 x 5.4 inches
Imagine filling your TV room with 22 powerful speakers designed to engulf you in whatever audio you’re listening to. Well, you can expect that and more from the Samsung Q-Series Q990C surround sound system. When used with a Samsung TV that supports it, in addition to utilizing Dolby Atmos, for example, you get access to Samsung’s own Q-Symphony sound. All audio generated from this system is automatically calibrated to provide a true surround sound listening experience.
The soundbar alone offers 11 front-facing speakers. Using the Adaptive Sound function, the Q990C optimizes audio in real time to ensure dialogue can be heard clearly. For gamers, thanks to the Game Mode Pro feature, when you plug in a gaming console, the sound system automatically adjusts to provide the most immersive audio possible when playing your favorite games.
Whether you’re watching TV shows, movies or sports, the Q990C offers a loud, clear and an overall impressive listening experience. Included with the system is a remote control and wall mounting kit.
- The Q990C supports wireless Dolby Atmos, so you get premium sound without too much cable clutter in the room.
- Setup is easy.
- The system relies on a total of 22 speakers, including 11 front-facing speakers.
- The rear speaker cables that come with the system might be too short, based on the size of the room and speaker placement.
- There’s no HDMI 2.1 support.
Best budget surround sound system: Vizio M-Series Elevate 5.1.2
Included Components: Soundbar, wireless subwoofer, 2x wired satellite speakers | Channels: 5.1.2 | Ports: HDMI eARC, Optical Audio, USB | Supported Codecs: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS TrueVolume | Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth | Special Features: 13 high-performance speakers, up to 103dB of audio power, low profile design, color changing accent light, remote has a digital display with preset EQ modes and voice assistant support | Soundbar Dimensions: 41.38 x 4.73 x 2.59 inches
Vizio has proven that you don’t need to spend a fortune to purchase a quality surround sound system for your TV and be able to enhance the audio quality of whatever you choose to watch. In fact, for around $500, you can get your hands on this Vizio M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 system that comes with a six inch wireless subwoofer and two satellite speakers. In all, the system utilizes 13 speakers that are able to generate up to 103dB of audio power.
As its name suggests, the main soundbar uses a patented adaptive height system that adjusts accordingly based on what you’re listening to. For example, when Dolby Atmos is activated, sound is projected toward the ceiling and reflected downwards to completely fill a room with immersive audio. And for a touch of elegance, the soundbar features a color-changing accent light.
Another nice feature of the Vizio M-Series Elevate 5.1.2 system is that it comes with a backlit remote that includes a small digital display on the front. Meanwhile, from your smartphone, it’s possible to stream music or audio wirelessly to the sound system using Bluetooth.
- Enjoy a complete surround sound system with a soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers.
- The soundbar automatically adjusts its height and internal speaker angles, based on the content you’re listening to, so it can properly fill a room with rich and clear audio.
- The remote has a digital display and offers preset EQ modes for movies, games and more.
- The sound field is not terribly wide, so the system is best used in a small- to mid-sized space.
- Rear speakers are not wireless.
Best premium surround sound system: Bose Seismic Sound Ultimate Home Theater System
Included Components: Bose Smart Soundbar 900, Bose Bass Module 700, Bose Surround Speakers 700 | Channels: 5.1.2 | Ports: HDMI eARC, Optical Audio | Supported Codecs: Dolby Atmos | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Special Features: Google Assistant and Alexa supported, AirPlay 2 supported | Soundbar Dimensions: 41.14 x 4.21 x 2.29 inches
The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is currently the company’s top-of-the-line soundbar, which can be purchased on its own. However, this bundle includes the soundbar, along with the Bose Bass Module 700 wireless subwoofer and a pair of Bose Surround Speakers 700. The end result is you save a bit of money, compared to purchasing these three components separately, plus you gain the ability to generate true surround sound.
The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 supports Dolby Atmos and features two up-firing dipole speakers designed by Bose. These work with Bose’s TrueSpace spatial audio processing to perfectly fill the room with powerful and clear audio that sounds lifelike. Not only does this soundbar have a modern and sophisticated appearance, it’s also packed with technology, including support for Google Assistant and Alexa. And the Voice4Video feature automatically enhances dialogue to ensure it sounds crystal clear. The soundbar connects to a TV using a single wired (HDMI or Optical Audio) connection, but then supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, making it easy to stream audio from other devices to be heard through the sound system.
Using the Bose Music app, your smartphone can be used to control the Bose Smart Soundbar 900, although it also accepts voice commands via Alexa or Google Assistant. One cool feature is that from your TV (and the soundbar) it’s possible to make and receive Internet-based calls and communicate with other users of Bose smart speakers (or Alexa-compatible smart speakers and home hubs), without needing a smartphone. Ultimately, there’s a lot to like about the Bose Seismic Sound Ultimate Home Theater System, regardless of what type of TV you plan to connect it to.
- This surround sound system delivers wide and rich audio that includes the use of up-firing transducers.
- The system utilizes an impressive design that is aesthetically pleasing and slim.
- The Bose Seismic Sound Ultimate Home Theater System works in conjunction with Bose wireless headphones or earbuds for a private listening experience.
- Supports HDMI eARC that’s compatible with Dolby Atmos.
- The wall mounting bracket for the soundbar is sold separately.
Best value surround sound system: JBL Bar 9.1 True Wireless Surround
Included Components: Soundbar (with two detachable speakers), wireless subwoofer | Channels: 9.1 | Ports: HDMI, Optional Audio, USB | Supported Codecs: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby Vision | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Special Features: Rear speakers are wireless and battery powered, AirPlay 2 support | Soundbar Dimensions: 34.8 x 4.7 x 2.4 inches
What makes the JBL Bar 9.1 True Wireless Surround system stand out is that on either side of the soundbar you’ll discover a detachable, battery powered speaker. When these two wireless speakers remain connected to the soundbar, you get robust audio that emanates from in front of you. However, by detaching the two speakers and positioning them behind you (as rear speakers), this creates true surround sound.
The soundbar alone includes four up-firing speakers that bounce sound off of the ceiling to generate a more 3D-like listening experience. When the detachable speakers are connected to the soundbar, they recharge (a process that takes about three hours). When separated, the rechargeable battery in each will last for up to 10 hours of playback. This should be enough juice to get you through an intense binge TV watching session or movie marathon.
The JBL Bar 9.1 True Wireless Surround system is also one of the few that support Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay 2. This allows you to stream audio from your Android or iOS mobile devices so the audio can be heard through the sound system’s speakers. The main drawback to this system is that when the detachable speakers are connected to the soundbar, the length of the soundbar becomes rather long. Each of these speakers measures 6.8 x 2.4 x 4.7 inches.
- This is a uniquely designed surround sound system with a pair of detachable speakers that connect to the soundbar.
- Take advantage of Bluetooth, Chromecast or AirPlay 2 to wirelessly stream audio from your computer or mobile device to the surround sound system.
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are both supported, so audio quality for supported content will sound extra realistic and clear.
- The subwoofer and rear speakers are wireless, so there’s very little cable clutter associated with the JBL Bar 9.1 True Wireless Surround system.
- The soundbar is rather long when both detachable speakers are connected.
- Audio EQ presets are limited.
Best Sonos surround sound system: Sonos Immersive Set with Arc
Included Components: Sonos Arc soundbar, Sonos Sub (Gen 3) wireless subwoofer, 2x Sonos Era 100 smart speakers | Channels: 7.1.4 | Ports: HDMI, Ethernet, Optional Audio (adapter included) | Supported Codecs: Dolby Atmos, Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Special Features: Control all Sonos speakers throughout your home using the Sonos mobile app | Soundbar Dimensions: 45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches
Sonos is one of the most respected home speaker brands in the world, so it makes sense that the company would develop a surround sound system that’s compatible with almost any TV and that’s capable of upgrading the sound that TV produces. The Premium Immersive Set with Arc uses the popular Arc soundbar as its centerpiece. It’s accompanied by the company’s wireless subwoofer and two satellite speakers that combined are able to generate true surround sound.
Meanwhile, the up-firing drivers integrated into the soundbar seemingly expel sound in all directions throughout a room. And because all Sonos speakers have the ability to work together, the Arc can become part of a whole-home audio system that’s controlled using the Sonos mobile app or voice commands. There are even touch controls built into the soundbar itself.
The Arc connects to a TV using an HDMI cable, but it also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, along with AirPlay 2. Using the Sonos app, you’re able to turn on the Speech Enhancement feature which works particularly well when watching movies, for example, allowing you to better hear the dialogue during scenes that also contain music and/or sound effects. To ensure the audio from the Arc sounds good in whatever room you set it up in, the sound system can take advantage of the microphones built into an iPhone to calibrate and optimize the soundbar’s EQ based on its surroundings.
- The soundbar’s sleek design is unobtrusive.
- Enjoy more immersive audio with Dolby Atmos support.
- Experience a wide soundstage and dynamic sound.
- It doesn’t include DTS or DTS:X support.
- It doesn’t have an HDMI passthrough.
- There is no included Bluetooth streaming.
- The sound system is only able to analyze a room using an iPhone running the Sonos app.
Best compact surround sound system: Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX with SR2 Wireless Surrounds
Included Components: Soundbar, wireless subwoofer, optional 2x wireless satellite speakers | Channels: 5.1 | Ports: HDMI, Optical Audio, AUX | Supported Codecs: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos True HD, DTS, DTS HD | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Special Features: Google Chromecast, Apple Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect supported | Soundbar Dimensions: 4.4 x 4.1 x 3.1 inches
Ideal for smaller size rooms, the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX offers a compact soundbar that’s able to generate really big (as well as crisp and clear) sound in conjunction with its included wireless subwoofer. Two SR2 Wireless Surround satellite speakers are sold separately ($199). All together (with the optional SR2 speakers) the system generates true surround sound. The system supports a wide range of audio codecs, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Polk’s own 3D audio technology.
This is also one of the few soundbars to support Google Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, as well as Bluetooth wireless connectivity. This means you can wirelessly stream audio content from your computer, as well as an iOS or Android mobile device, directly to the sound system. The soundbar itself connects to your TV via an HDMI, Optical Audio or AUX cable and is Roku TV ready. The other components in the system are wireless.
When you’re watching content in which hearing clear dialogue is essential, simply activate the VoiceAdjust feature. This utilizes the soundbar’s center speaker to enhance the level and clarity of voices without affecting the rest of the audio that’s being presented. Using the included remote, you can also easily switch between a handful of audio presents. While the sound quality, size and design of the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini AX soundbar is truly impressive, our biggest complaint is the larger size of the included wireless subwoofer. It measures 15.6 x 14.6 x 7.2 inches and is designed to be placed on the ground, away from the soundbar. The rest of the components are compact and unobtrusive, however.
- Experience room filling surround sound from a compact soundbar, subwoofer and two satellite speakers.
- Movie Mode further enhances the audio from Hollywood blockbusters.
- The VoiceAdjust feature makes sure all dialogue is clear, without interfering with the rest of the audio.
- Activate one-touch audio presets using the remote.
- It can work with any size TV, but it’s better with a smaller TV in a small- to mid-sized room.
- The virtual spatial audio is not as robust as it could be.
Best surround sound system for audiophiles and movie buffs: Nakamichi Shockwave Ultra 9.2.4 eARC SSE
Included Components: Soundbar, two wireless subwoofers and four satellite speakers | Channels: 9.2.4 (or 7.2.2 depending on speaker placement) | Ports: HDMI, Optical Audio, digital coaxial | Supported Codecs: DTS, DTS Neural: X, DTS-HD, DTS:X, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD | Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth | Special Features: Includes wall mounting hardware | Soundbar Dimensions: 45.5 x 3 x 3.5 inches.
The Nakamichi Shockwave Ultra 9.2.4 eARC SSE surround sound system generates 1,000 watts of audio power that’s loud, clear and immersive. Unlike most surround sound systems, this one includes a soundbar, two wireless subwoofers and four satellite speakers. This not only provides more intense bass, but all audio gets more evenly distributed throughout the room.
The soundbar is the centerpiece of this surround sound system. It offers left, right and center channels, along with two side-firing tweeters. Meanwhile the four satellite speakers can all be positioned behind you, or two can be placed in front and used when enjoying Dolby Atmos compatible content. Alternatively two of the satellite speakers can be placed to the sides. Unlike most surround sound systems, this one utilizes two 10-inch wireless subwoofers. All together you get enhanced directionality of the audio, not to mention a really wide soundstage.
Included with the Nakamichi Shockwave Ultra 9.2.4 eARC SSE is a backlit, 52-key remote that provides a bunch of convenient features, including the ability to adjust EQ settings. However, the system incorporates three preconfigured sound modes that you can switch between, based on the content you’re watching. This is a premium surround sound system with higher-end components. It offers more speaker positioning options that most competitors offer.
- The system comes with four satellite speakers and two wireless subwoofers.
- You get support for most popular audio codecs.
- This system can generate high volume, so yes, it could easily wake the neighbors.
- The Nakamichi Shockwave Ultra 9.2.4 eARC SSE is affordably priced, considering the extra components that are included.
- At higher volumes, some audio compression is used.
Best surround sound system with Roku support: Roku Streambar Pro with the Roku Wireless Bass Pro and Roku Wireless Speakers
Included Components: Soundbar, subwoofer, 2x rear speakers | Channels: 5.1 | Ports: HDMI, Optical Audio, USB 2.0, Ethernet (with optional adapter) | Supported Codecs: Dolby Audio, HDR10, PCM | Wireless Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Special Features: Supports Apple AirPlay, Apple HomeKit, Alexa and Google Home, comes with a voice control remote that has a built in 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening, Roku smartphone app can serve as an alternate remote, Roku TV streaming capabilities are built into the soundbar | Soundbar Dimensions: 32.2 x 2.8 x 3.9 inches
While the Roku Streambar Pro can be purchased separately, if you scroll down on the product’s webpage, there’s an option for the Surround Sound package. This includes the Streambar Pro, Roku Wireless Bass Pro subwoofer and two Roku Wireless Speakers for a bundle price around $500.
There are two unique things about the Roku Streambar Pro soundbar. First, it has integrated Roku streaming capabilities, so you get easy access to Roku’s smart TV functionality. This provides access to all of the popular streaming services (including the free Roku Channel), even if the TV the soundbar is connected to is not a smart TV. Also, the included voice remote allows you to control your TV and the soundbar. Plus, if you want a private viewing/listening experience, it’s possible to connect wired headphones directly to the remote. Or, if you want to circumvent using the Roku remote, the Roku app can be used to control the soundbar wirelessly from your smartphone.
The biggest reason to add the Roku Streambar Pro’s Surround Bundle to your TV is for its sound quality. It’s comparable to what you get from surround sound systems costing at least twice as much. Another perk is that the subwoofer and the satellite speakers are all wireless, which greatly reduces cable clutter.
- Roku streaming capabilities are built into the soundbar, so it can make any TV a smart TV or give a smart TV RokuTV OS streaming capabilities.
- Enjoy impressive, room-filling sound equivalent in quality to surround sound systems that are considerably more expensive.
- The Roku Voice Remote has a built-in 3.5mm audio jack, so wired headphones can be plugged in for private listening.
- You need to know to purchase the soundbar, subwoofer and satellite speakers as a bundle in order to produce true surround sound.
- There is no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support.
Surround sound systems come in many sizes and price points
Many popular television and home audio brands, like Bose, JBL, Polk, Samsung, Sonos and Vizio offer a variety of surround sound systems that can be connected to virtually any television via an HDMI or Optical Audio cable. It is not necessary to match your TV brand with your surround sound system brand, but all components within your surround sound system should come from the same manufacturer.
Based on the size of your television, the dimensions of the room where you plan to set up your surround sound system and your budget, there are options that range in price from a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars for a high-end system with superior quality components. Whichever surround sound system you choose, the goal should be to generate sound that’s as immersive and compelling as the picture quality from your TV.
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