A home theater just isn’t a home theater without a surround sound system, and a surround sound system is a whole lot more pleasant when you don’t have a tangled nest of wires to deal with. A surround sound system that’s wireless still isn’t the cheapest option around, but it’s the best, and advances in tech have ensured that you can now get a full wireless sound system established for a pretty decent price.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get swindled. There are good and bad wireless surround speakers, and then there are the best wireless surround sound systems. Today we’re focusing our attention of the latter. Each model is unique in its own way, but we’ll break down the key points to make shopping easier.
Quick Look: Best Wireless Surround Sound Systems
- Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
- Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set
- VIZIO SB4051-C0 5.1 Sound System
- Yamaha YAS-207BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
- Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite Soundbar
- JBL 5.1 Wireless Surround Speakers
- Samsung Harman Kardon Soundbar
- Enclave Audio CineHome HD 5.1 Wireless Audio Home Theater System
- Sony HT-Z9F 3.1ch Dolby Atmos Sound system
- Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
1. Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
Surround Sound for All Your Devices
Logitech is mostly known for creating speakers and other peripherals for computers, but they've taken those skills and applied them to the living room. The Z906 is a solid and balanced wireless speaker system that presents a pretty solid baseline for what you should expect in a lower mid-budget speaker system. A sometimes overlooked feature of a speaker system is how flexible it is to different room sizes and shapes, but the ability to mount the front and rear satellites.
Those looking to create their ultimate entertainment center will find a lot to like in this surround sound system too. You can connect up to six devices at the same time (though the lack of an HDMI input is definitely an inconvenience. And no matter where you decide to place the speakers in this wireless system, you'll get some great results. There's a nice sense of balance that never drowns out the center speaker.
2. Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set
A Hub For Quality Bose Sound
There's perhaps no speaker manufacturer that outshines Bose in terms of reputation, but they're unfortunately also synonymous with producing pricey equipment. But if you have the money for it, the luxury minded 700 series is potentially the best surround sound system you'll get today. It's sleek and minimalist, making use a petite soundbar as the center channel. This is a surround sound speaker system that's meant to be heard rather than seen, but it looks quite nice if you want to make it a centerpiece.
There's no doubt that the sound quality here is some of the best, but Bose really shines with their modern features. While you'll probably want this speaker system connected to a TV, you can also seamlessly stream music using the Bluetooth connection built in. And since this sound system can work with other wireless Bose surround sound speakers, you can even expand it into a more expansive surround sound system.
3. VIZIO SB4051-C0 5.1 Sound System
A Compact Home Theater Solution
A home theater system isn't really a theater without a great TV, and that's why so many manufacturers are utilizing a soundbar as the center source for their wireless surround sound systems. The Vizio SB4051-C0 is a wireless speaker system designed with an eye towards the practicalities of the average consumer and a price tag that won't set you back much at all. If you want the latest in sound engineering technology, you'll find it with this surround sound system too. Support is included for both Dolby and DTS decoders.
In fact, this is a wireless surround sound system that prioritizes convenience over just about everything. Getting it up and running with your TV is as easy as plugging in an HDMI cable, and you can even stream music or other audio over your phone using the built in Bluetooth connection.
4. Yamaha YAS-207BL Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer
Premium Cost with Premium Performance
At a glance, the YAS-207BL is a fairly expensive ask for a wireless surround sound system that only includes a soundbar and a subwoofer, but there's more than meets the eye with this upper mid-range surround sound system. If you want something a bit more minimalist for the living room, the smaller form factor is a real delight, and the subwoofer adds some serious heft to the bass.
And what really stands out here is what doesn't stand out. There's a pleasantly neutral sound quality that extends from the lowest bass to the highest treble, and that makes this a versatile surround sound system that can adapt as well to gaming as it can to movies as it can to music. We wouldn't generally recommend this surround sound system for someone looking for the best, but it's a best choice for smaller living rooms that need a bit more energy.
5. Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite Soundbar
A Cost Efficient Solution
Nakamichi isn't exactly a household name, but they deliver more than most with their surround sound system, and they manage to do so while keeping the retail price at under a grand. The thing most obviously of note is the expansiveness of the surround sound. Seven speakers and a subwoofer provide you with a lot of flexibility to create the perfect auralexperience, and it can even register height in addition to positioning on a set plane.
The Shockwafe Pro also supports both Dolby and DTS audio, so whatever you're watching will match exactly what the engineers intended whenever possible. And you don't need to worry about not being able to keep pace with the source devices this surround sound system is connected to. It supports 4K compatible ports to enhance your sound to its highest capabilities without having to use up all of your available ports.
6. JBL 5.1 Wireless Surround Speakers
A Cool, Modular Soundbar-Based System
Soundbar based surround sound systems are becoming increasingly more popular, largely as customers vie to make as much of their space and reduce as much clutter as possible. The JBL Bar 5.1 takes things to their furthest extreme: offering a sleek and minimalist, fully wireless design that does away with the need of cords entirely. If you just want a soundbar, those satellite speakers can attach to the sides of the bar, and special attention has been paid to making sure it has great clarity on dialogue.
And this is a true wireless system. While the subwoofer needs to be hooked up to a power supply, all the speakers in this system connect to the soundbar wireless, charge through being plugged in, and feature a battery life of up to 10 hours on a single charge. And the 4K passthrough means you'll have access to nicely pair high definition sound and video.
7. Samsung Harman Kardon Soundbar
The Harman Kardon legacy is a storied one. As the original division of Samsung, the line is known for the meticulous quality of its sound engineering and performance. The Harman Kardon surround sound system is par for the course, and possibly the best system on the market today. All of the components for a full 7.1.4 system are in place, so you can get both vertical and horizontal sound engineering, but the features are what really shine here.
This surround sound system uses adaptive sound tech that helps render dialogue with a far greater level of clarity and generally better sound performance even at lower volumes. The inclusion of a dedicated gaming mode makes it a clearly one of the best models for hooking up to a console or gaming rig, and it even includes a 4K passthrough so you don't need to sacrifice UHD video for high def sound.
8. Enclave Audio CineHome HD 5.1 Wireless Audio Home Theater System
The CineHome from Enclave can't keep up with a more traditionally wired sound system in terms of pure sonic performance, but they're a tremendous deal for a price of under a grand. And since it transmits on a 5 Ghz radio frequency, you can count on smooth playback without a meaningful intrusion of audio loss. And in a surprise for a system of this size, it makes use of authentic bi poles in the rear speakers for more full and accurate sound.
As for the components, Enclave has been very generous with this system. Four HDMI outputs and an HDMI input give you a lot of freedom to configure multiple devices, and the smart functionality of the central channel combined with the generous number of ports means that this model is a best choice if you're looking to start relatively small and develop your home theater over the course of months or years.
9. Sony HT-Z9F 3.1ch Dolby Atmos Sound system
This sound system from Sony may just come with three channels apart from the wireless subwoofer, but it makes up for some relatively mild hardware with the inclusion of some really impressive audio formats. With support for both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, virtual surround sound reproduction creates a much more full and immersive experience whether you're listening to music, playing games, or watching TV.
Streaming is available in a number of ways too. Native support is available for Spotify, but you can also make use of the Sony Music Center app if you're trying to get all of your local and purchased music in one place. And with 4K passthrough, you can count on this model to provide you with both the highest quality video and the highest quality audio available to you. Five different sound modes are also available, so you can quickly shift the sound depending on the media.
10. Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
The Klipsch reference style home theater system is small in every sense of the word. The satellite speakers that make up this 5.1 system are exceedingly petite, but they pack in a lot of punch despite that. It won't provide you with the most cinematic experience, but it will provide you with a whole lot more than anything else at this price point.
In terms of setting up your system, everything here is set up and ready to go. VESA mounts are already in place, leaving you with a whole lot of flexibility in arranging the speakers to suit your room. And that small size means that you can spend less time worrying about weight and form factor and more concerning yourself with what works personally for your space. 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity ensures that all of the speakers stay in sync and don't interrupt your experiences at the worst moments.
Wireless Surround Sound System Buyer’s Guide
Are you looking for a surround sound system with wireless capabilities? There are few better ways to build home theater systems, and wireless model design is one of the top ways to customize the directional space of your listening experience. That said, the best surround sound systems can get very expensive, so you’ll want to make sure that you know what you’re talking about before you go shopping.
Fortunately, HotRate is the only place you need to go to. Our guide will offer you analysis about all the major components of a surround sound wireless system and dig a little deeper into the specs of the individual speakers that make up a surround sound system. By the time you’re done here, you’ll not just understand how to put together a wireless home theater system and what are the best specs and features to pay attention to, but you’ll also understand how to read the specs as the best wireless surround sound systems now become outclassed tomorrow.
Surround Sound System Type
Before we start talking about the best surround sound systems, we need to talk about what a surround sound system really is. That’s because a lot of manufacturers throw around words like “Virtual Surround Sound” to emphasize that they’re synonymous with one of the best recognized buzzwords in music and audio gadgets. This sort of simulated surround sound is often the best that you’ll find in more limited devices like headphones, but it’s not the same as real surround sound, and it’s also certainly not the best sound design you’ll find anywhere.
The fundamental of surround sound is pretty simple. Music or other forms of audio are directed into different channels which are then positioned in the room to help create the illusion of positional sound. This is often accompanied by sound engineering in the music or effects you’re listening to help fill out space in between the different channels. You generally want to distance your components equidistant from one another.
To legitimately classify as a surround sound system, a sound system has to come with:
- left and right surround sound speakers. These usually take the form of satellite speakers positioned on opposite sides of the room (of your surround sound system) that create a sense of directional space. to either side of the listener.
- a center channel. This often takes the form of a soundbar, but it can be a more traditional center unit as well. While the rear speakers on the left and right tend to focus on handling general sound effects and music, the middle channel ensures that there’s quality sound when dealing with dialogue, and it helps transform a strong wireless audio system into a great wireless home theater system that can function with movies, music, and games.
- a subwoofer. Front, left, and center speakers handle the highs and mids of the frequency response range, but a surround sound system will always comes with a subwoofer with a design suited to bass performance. Usually square and assuming, these devices are always separate from the sound bar. But that larger size means larger drivers, and this component in a wireless surround system ensures explosions in movies and drums in music that outperform what a sound bar alone can accomplish.
In short, a surround sound system consists of at least four channels that split up the work of positioning where sound is coming from and also splitting up the effort of reproducing the various frequencies on the frequency response range. But the amount of surround speakers (and the price) can go up dramatically as you start circling the best surround sound systems.
Fortunately, every surround sound system uses the same standard for listing how many surround sound speakers are included. The first number tells you how many speakers there are, while the second number tells you how many subwoofers there are. So a 5.1 system will include one wireless subwoofer and five additional channels for handling directional music and audio.
- 1 surround sound fits the bare minimum definition of surround sound. It’s not going to provide you with the best sound quality, but it will still be a nice step up from a traditional sound bar. Two rear speakers sit to the sides and back of the center speaker or sound bar to create a basic directional experience. And since it’s relatively compact, this type of system is easy to set up compared to a more serious 5.1 system.
- 1 surround sound adds a sense of depth to the experience by adding in rear speakers. With rear speakers added right behind the listener, a 5.1 system brings a sense of depth in addition to the breadth provided by traditional surround sound. For many, this will be the best surround sound experience since it covers all of the basic dimensions of music and audio while also not taking up too much space or costing too much money. Dolby Digital and DTS are the two primary audio formats for a 4.1 system.
- 1 surround sound expands on the home theater experience a 5.1 system offers by expanding the rear speakers to cover both the flanks and the rear of the listener. At this point, music isn’t going to see that much more dimension, but it’s a step up from 5.1 home theater in terms of creating immersive scenes that really replicate a theater experience.
- 1.4 surround sound adds a new element of height to the equation. By placing an additional four speakers above the listener, sounds like helicopters overhead will sound all the more meaningful and awe inspiring. Those overhead speakers are signified by the “4” at the end of the designation, but additional overhead speakers can often be integrated into an existing 5.1 home theater system.
- A 2 system adds another subwoofer to the equation. Normally, expanding wireless surround speakers means splitting off different parts of your music soundtrack into different channels, but a surround system won’t split the quality sound of bass into more channels. Any x.2 system will provide you with some more satisfying bass, but it won’t do much for sound quality in terms of imaging or the expansion of the soundstage.
- There are other variants of surround sound setups, but they tend to be more rare. Regardless of how complicated home theater systems seem to be, you can generally use the same numbering standards you’d use for a 5.1 system to understand what type of directional sophistication a particular model brings to the table.
Starting with a 5.1 system and then gradually building up your speakers is a great way to get the best surround sound experience, but if you want the best later, you’re going to have to do a little bit of planning ahead of time. Look for home theater systems that are highly modular and can be expanded. The best surround sound setup today might not be the best surround sound setup in a few years, but it can keep pace if you continue to expand.
Object-Based Surround Sound
The newest (and some would argue one of the best) innovation in surround sound is object-based surround sound. These types of home theater systems use a protocol known as Dolby Atmos. Atmos provides what’s arguably the best surround sound you can get today because they add floor level upward facing speakers to the design. They serve in a way not that dissimilar from sonar, accounting for objects that might distort sound waves in your surround sound room and adjust how they get to your ears.
Soundbar-Based Surround Sound System Design
Today, many surround sound systems will actually pack three channels (including the left, right, and center) or more into a single soundbar. If you want the best and most real surround sound, you may want to avoid these. The lack of full positioning means the surround sound experience isn’t quite as authentic, but they are far more manageable in smaller spaces and easy to set up when compared to a traditional surround sound system. These are typically considered virtual surround sound, but we’ve included some on our list to provide you with a wider variety of shopping options.
Frequency Response Range
In a lot of audio gear, the frequency response range is treated as a quick and easy to determine how well that speakers or headphones can perform. In a surround system, a wider frequency response range is a little less important. The frequency response range tells you how well home theater systems can replicate the full band of audio frequencies. The lowest frequency that humans can hear – 20 Hz – represents the deepest bass. The highest frequency that humans can hear – 20 KHz – represents the most high pitched treble.
In stereo systems with less components, this can be a big deal. That’s because a wider frequency response range can also have a dramatic impact on imaging and how well the soundstage is rendered. Wider frequency coverage helps replicate virtual surround sound, but it’s not a replacement for actual space. Since a wireless home theater system will typically include a sound bar in addition to a variety of other speakers, that expanded virtual space is less necessary.
When investing in a surround sound system, aiming for a frequency response range that’s as wide as possible can tell you a bit about sound quality, but it’s also not going to tell you everything. This is an instance where reading reviews and evaluating more in depth sonic analysis can tell you a whole lot more about the quality of a wireless home theater system than the raw frequency response numbers can.
At its most basic, sensitivity is a measurement of how loud that a speaker or sound bar can go, but it’s also a bit more complicated than that. The easiest number to read here is the decibel rating. This essentially just tells you the maximum volume you can achieve. Ear damage can be caused by regularly listening to music that’s 100 decibels or higher, and most of these home theater systems can get close to 100 decibels or even higher naturally.
The problem with measuring sensitivity is that there’s no recognized standard in place, and there are few or any manufacturers that disclose the method of measuring sensitivity in great detail. That means that the sensitivity level you see listed on the specification sheets for home theater systems might not get you the same results in a real world situation.
With all other things being equal, a higher sensitivity sound bar or speaker is going to be the best choice, but it’s a relatively minor factor in the bigger picture. We suggest you pay relatively little attention to it, but there are plenty of independent sites making the effort to test the sensitivity of components using recognized standards to provide a clearer view of the real sensitivity components offer.
How much power can your stereo system work through before overheating and potentially damaging hardware? That’s what’s measured by the peak power rating. And it’s something we have to mention given how many energy intensive components there are in one surround system.
In actual fact, the listed peak power ratings for most speakers are going to be significantly off. The last thing a manufacturer wants is a liability from a freak action, so they tend to err on the side of caution when making peak power listings. For the most part, it’s really not going to be an issue. Since a surround system is a closed system, it doesn’t really run the risk of an overload.
Where you should pay attention to peak power is if you’re working on keeping your home energy efficient. A lower peak power rating is actually preferable in this case, at least as long as all other things are equal. While peak power can affect sensitivity and the frequency range, lower is going to be better since it can achieve the same results while eating up less of your monthly power bill.
You may ask yourself why you need to worry about connectivity if you have a wireless sound system. And that’s an understandable question. And while the surround systems on this list do primarily project sound using Bluetooth connectivity, “wireless” in this instance doesn’t mean entirely wireless. The sound bar itself still needs to connect to your TV, and in many cases, speakers themselves will need to connect to a power source.
Instead, “wireless” connectivity amounts to a lack of wiring between speakers. And while that means that it makes it easier to set up a room, it also means that you need to be paying attention to whether or not the inputs on your center component can support all the different media sources that you want to hook it up to. Bluetooth and remote control work just fine when streaming music through your phone, but they’re a poor substitute if you’re looking to watch movies.
- HDMI inputs are going to be present on most surround sound center components, and this is a case where the more HDMI inputs there are, the better. That’s because this format is used to connect practically anything that can play video now. High fidelity sound and easy connectivity makes them the most popular choice for a wireless subwoofer and speaker combo.
- Most systems are also going to come with at least one optical input also. You generally don’t want to use optical as your primary port, but it can be used effectively for a secondary device. The sort of high fidelity audio that’s tied to many HD video formats can only be achieved with HDMI, but optical is a great choice for an audio only device.
- You’ve probably seen an RCA cable. Each end goes out to red, white, or yellow plugs that go into the back of a video or audio source. And while they’re pretty quickly being phased out, they’re still pretty common on a lot of legacy devices. They’re a bit more rare to find in modern speakers, but if you have an old turntable you’re looking to integrate into your home theater, they’re one pretty obvious choice.
While it can’t really be quantified in rare specifications, how easy your system is to navigate should be a big deal. Most will come with remote control; but for the most part, these sorts of systems aren’t that hard to calibrate. You simply plug them in, hit the Bluetooth button to sync, and set them up in the right positioning. That said, it can be useful to consider how complex a certain product is. Smaller surround sound systems tend to be pretty plug and play, but more advanced models can demand some pretty complex configuration if you really want to get them working their best.
Also, get a feel for the actual navigation on the unit. While you’ll probably find yourself using the remote control to navigate, for the most part, it’s nice to have a clear and easy understand control panel built right into the center device. This makes it easy to make adjustments when you can’t find the remote anywhere.
Building out a new home theater system can be very intimidating. With all the different specifications, brands, and technological formats to choose from (and with the sometimes exorbitant price tags that many of these systems bear), it can become very hard to identify the best from the worst. But you can be assured that we’ll only represent the best models and make sure that the models on our list don’t stick around if they stop being the best.
We’ll keep this guide updated as the market changes, but be sure to stick around and explore a little further. Whether you want more advice on building out a home theater or you’re looking for some other gadget-related advice entirely, HotRate can help you with everything from shopping to technical advice.