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Guide to the Best Home Theater Speakers for Surround Sound in 2021

Guide to the Best Home Theater Speakers for Surround Sound: a collection of hi-fi speakers


How do you choose the best home theater speakers for a surround sound system? Learn about speaker types and specifications - and which are the best brands.

If you want to buy the best home theater speakers for your surround sound system, you have many things to consider.

It is not just about the budget you have at your disposal – although, I guess that’s pretty important!

There are different types of speakers, specifications and layouts.

And, that’s before you consider all the different brands of home theater speakers that you must choose from.

It can become a very confusing business.

In this article, I will take it step-by-step and highlight the essential things you need to consider.

First, I will look at the different types of home theater speakers that are available.

Then I have a buying guide explaining what you might want to think about before buying any speaker.

Finally, I will suggest some of the top speakers in each category that you might want to look at.

Top Home Theater Speakers Comparison Table

Image Model Type Frequency Response Recommended Power (Watts)
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Home Theater System Satellites: 69Hz-25kHz 20-150 Check Price
Sonos Arc Soundbar
Sonos Arc Soundbar n/a Check Price
Klipsch RP-500C Center Channel Speaker
Klipsch RP-500C Center 60Hz-25kHz 100 (cont)/400 (peak) Check Price
KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
KEF Q150 Bookshelf 51Hz-28kHz 10-100 Check Price
Klipsch RP-280F Floorstanding Speaker
Klipsch RP-280F Floor-standing 32Hz-25kHz 150 (cont)/600 (peak) Check Price
SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer
SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer 24-260Hz 300 (cont)/720 (peak) Check Price
SVS Prime Satellite Speakers
SVS Prime Satellite 69Hz-25kHz 20-150 Check Price
Fluance SXBP2 Bipolar Surround Sound Speakers
Fluance SXBP2 Bipole 130Hz-20kHz 20-100 Check Price
ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos Speakers
ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Elevation 180Hz-20kHz 80 Check Price
Polk Audio RC60i In-Ceiling Speakers
Polk Audio RC60i In-Ceiling 40Hz-20kHz 20-100 Check Price
Polk Audio RC65i In-Wall Speakers
Polk Audio RC65i In-Wall 32Hz-20kHz 20-100 Check Price

The Different Types of Home Theater Speakers

The first important issue you need to understand is, what options do you have when looking for speakers for your home theater?

Until you are clear on the different types of speakers, then it can be overwhelming.

You can buy home theater speakers individually or as part of a package – or you might purchase specific speakers for your system and then add more later.

For example, you might start with a 5.1 surround package and add extra speakers to make a 7.1 or 9.1 system later.

If you don’t know what a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system is, check out my guide to stereo, surround sound and Dolby Atmos systems.

Or, you might start with cheaper speakers and then upgrade the most important ones when you can afford to.

There is no right or wrong way, and it is down to you to decide which method suits you best.

Take a look at what each speaker does in a surround sound system to learn more about the role of each speaker.

What Is a Home Theater Speaker System?

A home theater speaker system includes all the surround sound speakers you need for a complete surround sound setup.

In a 5.1 speaker system, you will get six speakers:

  1. front left
  2. front right
  3. center speaker
  4. surround left
  5. surround right
  6. subwoofer

A 7.1 system will have two extra surround speakers for installing at the rear of the room.

So, while not a specific type of speaker, this is one of the most accessible options you have.

You will get all the speakers you need in one go, and there are no worries about matching the sound of the center and front left/right speakers – plus, they will have a similar specification.

When it comes to setting any EQ and crossovers in your AV receiver, all the speakers should balance nicely.

Heck, they will even look great together as they will be part of the same family.

So, there is a lot to be said for buying a surround sound speaker package.

But why might you not want to go down this path? Well, you might enjoy the option to build your system yourself.

You might want a subwoofer from one brand and a satellite speaker from another.

For some, it’s a lot of fun. For others, a package of speakers is the better choice.

Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System
Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System
Image Credit: Polk Audio

Complete speaker systems for surround sound come in a range of prices.

There are budget and mid-range packages with small satellite speakers and a more modest subwoofer – like the Polk Audio TL1600 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System, pictured above.

Or, there are top-end bundles where each speaker is a high-class component in a surround sound system.

Your choice will be down to your budget and how critical you are with sound quality.

For many people, especially if you are new to home theater audio, something like the Polk Audio system above will be fine.

Then once you understand how better sound improves your movie experience, you might want to upgrade to something with better sound.


I am not talking here about an all-in-one home theater system, i.e., a system that includes the speakers and an amplifier.

If you are interested in one of these, I have an article on choosing the best home theater systems.

In this case, I am talking about buying a package with all the surround sound speakers you need. You will still need to buy a separate AV receiver.

This is something that many people get confused about.

What Is a Soundbar?

A soundbar provides the easiest way to improve on the sound that you get from your TV.

The sound from your TV speakers can often be flat and uninspiring.

It seems a shame to get a fantastic high-definition image on your flat-screen TV – and then make do with your TV’s built-in speakers.

That won’t do at all!

Yet, many people don’t have space to install a proper surround speaker system in their living room – or they don’t want to mess around with cables running around the room and speakers all over the place.

Therefore, a soundbar sits along the front of your TV – usually underneath, but you can install it above the TV if that is easier.

A soundbar can provide a much better audio experience – without the worry of setting up a separate amplifier and speakers.

I have a step-by-step guide to connecting speakers to your TV if you want to learn more about this.

Many soundbars are active systems, which means they have built-in amplification to play the audio directly from your TV – so there is no need for a separate amplifier.

Although, you can buy a passive soundbar, which will need an amplifier.

A passive soundbar will often include the front left, center and front right speakers all in one unit.

Some soundbars will use multiple speakers and DSP processing to simulate surround sound, or they might have ‘surround’ and Dolby Atmos upfiring speakers – but all located within the soundbar.

Soundbars with surround processing can provide an effective sense of space – with the added advantage of a more straightforward installation – although the virtual surround sound they provide won’t be as good as with dedicated speakers around the room.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2 SSE Soundbar System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2 SSE Soundbar System
Image Credit: Nakamichi

A few soundbars will also come in a package with a wireless subwoofer and dedicated surround speakers – also wireless, in most cases.

For example, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2 SSE Soundbar System pictured above actually comes with two wireless subwoofers.

These soundbar systems can provide a good value setup that will produce a fuller sound than those with just a single soundbar.

In my home theater system guide, I list a few of my favorite soundbar systems with surround sound speakers.

And, if you think a soundbar is better for you, check out my complete guide to the best soundbars for your TV and home theater, where I discuss all types of soundbars, from simple stereo models to complete surround sound models.

What Is a Center Channel Speaker?

A center speaker will play the center channel in a 5.1 surround sound mix.

It will be a wide speaker that should be placed under or over the middle of your TV screen.

It may look a little like a soundbar to you. So, what is the difference between a center channel speaker and a soundbar?

The center speaker is designed to reproduce the critical center channel information in a surround sound speaker system – which will mainly be dialogue – but it can also be required to reproduce music and effects in a movie.

Although it may have multiple midrange drivers and tweeters, a center speaker will be a mono, single-channel speaker – plus, it will be a passive speaker, which means it will need to be connected to an amplifier.

Ideally, a center speaker should work well with the front left and right speakers and offer accurate sound placement and similar frequency response.

A center speaker will also be bigger and heavier than a soundbar, include high-quality speaker drivers, and have standard speaker terminals to connect to your AV receiver.

An example is the popular Polk Audio CS10 center speaker below.

Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker
Polk Audio CS10 Center Channel Speaker
Image Credit: Polk Audio

By contrast, the soundbar is more of a jack-of-all-trades – designed to play the full soundtrack all in one device.

It is often a stereo device – or may have a left, center, and right channel speaker in the same box (and in some cases, even more).

It will usually have a slim design with smaller speakers and will connect directly to your TV via HDMI or optical connections.

A soundbar is often an active device with its own amplification, and it probably won’t connect to your AV receiver.

The bottom line, it is built for a different job than a center speaker.

What Is a Bookshelf Speaker?

Bookshelf speakers are the most common type of speaker that people use in their homes.

Each speaker will usually have two drivers – a woofer for the bass frequencies and a tweeter for the high frequencies.

Bookshelf speakers have this name as they are designed to fit easily into a room on a bookshelf, cabinet or small speaker stands.

You can get excellent sound from the best bookshelf speakers – big enough to give a good full sound but small enough to fit into the average living room.

The most common use for bookshelf speakers in home theater is the front left and right pair, although you can also use them for your surround speakers.

Just be aware that they are bigger than typical satellite speakers, so they may prove difficult to position in some living rooms.

A pair of bookshelf speakers

When used with a subwoofer for movies, you can quickly get a balanced sound with bookshelf speakers.

They reproduce lower frequencies well, so you can get a nice smooth transition between the bookshelf’s low-end and the really low bass of a subwoofer.

If you also use your system for playing music, then a front left/right pair of bookshelf speakers will also work well for this.

Depending on the actual size of the speakers and the space in your room, you can buy floor stands to put the speakers on – or use wall brackets to keep them out of the way a bit more.

However, check the manual for your speakers. Some bookshelf speakers work best when placed near a wall, and others should be further away.

The speakers might use the proximity to a wall to increase the bass response.

What Is a Floorstanding Speaker?

Floorstanding speakers are generally seen as more specialized speakers, and they are sometimes called tower or floor speakers.

If you want the best sound possible for listening to music, then floorstanding speakers are often the way to go – but they can also be great in a home theater environment.

The frequency range that we can hear is 20Hz to 20kHz (if we are lucky), and this type of speaker will handle most of that – sometimes right down to around 30Hz.

The physical size of tower speakers will mean they are designed to reproduce very low bass frequencies – and have the clarity of the mid and high frequencies.

They stand on the floor – hence the name – which gives them a very solid base.

One of the main reasons that floorstanding speakers are tall is that each tower may hold several speaker drivers – each playing specific frequencies with a precise crossover between them.

You can see the Polk T50 floorstanding speaker below has four speaker drivers.

Polk T50 Home Theater Floorstanding Speaker
Polk T50 Home Theater Floorstanding Speaker
Image Credit: Polk Audio

Floorstanding speakers are mainly used for the front left and right speakers in a home theater system, and maybe the surrounds if you have enough space – and money!

However, most movie surround mixes don’t tend to use much low-end at the rear, so the floorstanders may be underused – it will be great for surround sound music, though, if that’s your thing.

As these speakers are designed to reproduce low frequencies well, you may not even need a subwoofer as part of your system – many people will set up the room with a 5.0 system, i.e., no ‘.1’ subwoofer speaker.

Another alternative is to have a subwoofer, but only switch it on when you watch movies.

The floorstanders will be great for music, but you might want a subwoofer to reproduce really low movie sound effects.

Talking of which…

What Is a Subwoofer?

The big daddy of the speaker world is the subwoofer.

Subwoofers are designed to produce all the really low-end bass rumble and come in various shapes and sizes.

Most subwoofers are active, which means they have their own built-in amplifier – so all you need to do is connect a cable from the LFE or pre-out channel on your AV receiver.

Or, you may be able to connect speaker wire from your AV receiver and manually set the crossover on the subwoofer.

For more details on the wiring options, take a look at my guide on how to connect a subwoofer.

Passive subwoofers will need a separate amplifier to power them.

Unless you have experience in these matters, I would suggest you go with a powered subwoofer as it will make your life much easier.

The cone of a sub can range from around 6-inches up to 15-inches – and sometimes more.

To generalize, the bigger the cone then the better the sub will produce the really low-end frequencies, although you shouldn’t automatically assume a smaller driver will have less bass.

The actual design of the subwoofer will make a big difference.

Subwoofer Speaker

Smaller subs will be fine for filling out the bottom end in your room, but if you want to shake the room with movie effects, you will need a larger model.

Ported vs Sealed Subwoofers

You may see a choice between a ported and sealed subwoofer.

A sealed sub is known as an acoustic suspension subwoofer, and these will tend to be more compact and provide a more dynamic and controlled lower-end.

Whereas a ported subwoofer, also called a bass-reflex subwoofer, will have an open port to radiate the low frequencies.

Generally, ported subwoofers will be larger and have an increased bass response, plus they will provide more ‘oomph’ – for want of a more technical term.

Down-Firing vs Front-Firing Subwoofers

Another design difference you might find is a down-firing subwoofer vs a front-firing (or side-firing) model.

Although you will find varying opinions on this, the practical difference between the two is relatively small.

A down-firing subwoofer may sound different depending on the type of floor surface, and it may have a more controlled sound if you need to place it near walls or corners.

However, the position in the room will make more difference than the direction the driver is firing.

For more on this, you may find my guide to surround sound speaker placement useful.

For those with small children or pets, there might be another factor to consider.

With its hidden cone, a down-firing subwoofer might have less chance of damage by inquisitive fingers and claws!

What Is a Satellite Speaker?

Satellite speakers are small speakers used in surround systems, and they are common to find as part of a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound speaker package.

However, you may also buy them separately to add to your existing setup.

You may see them called surround sound or surround speakers, and due to their small size, they are ideal for the rear speakers as they don’t get in the way.

They can fit discretely into your room without the need for removing bits of furniture to fit them all in!

While they are often used as the rear speakers in a 5.1 or 7.1 system, they can also work as the front speakers – left, center, and right.

Like most speaker types, satellite speakers do come in a range of shapes, sizes and prices.

You can get compact ones for hiding around the room and larger ones for better frequency response.

There are also cheap satellite speakers for those on a budget and high-end audiophile models – you just need to find the right balance for you, your room and your system.

Cambridge Audio Minx Min 22 Satellite Speakers
Cambridge Audio Minx Min 22 Satellite Speakers
Image Credit: Cambridge Audio

I have some of these dinky Cambridge Audio Minx Min 22 satellite speakers – I actually use them for Dolby Atmos height speakers – but they will work fine as surrounds.

They will even work as front speakers if you want something discrete – although you would probably want a subwoofer with them.

All in all, they’re pretty good for little ‘uns, and Cambridge Audio also makes the Minx Min 12 – which is even smaller!

The main disadvantage of a small speaker is the range of frequencies it can reproduce, and while it can sound great for mid and high frequencies, it will struggle to reproduce the lower end.

However, if your satellites are in a speaker system with a subwoofer, this can work well – the subwoofer is used to handle the lower frequencies where the satellites will struggle.

You might be amazed to hear the full sound that you can get with a modern satellite/subwoofer combination.

The rear satellite speakers are also the main culprit when people have problems with their surround system – it’s all too common to hear people complain that they don’t have any sound in the rear speakers.

If you have a problem, look at the article: Surround Sound Not Working? Check Out These Solutions.

What Are Bipole and Dipole Speakers?

Bipole and dipole speakers are commonly used as surround speakers.

They both have a unique design with two speakers enclosed in one unit.

These dual speakers fire in different directions simultaneously to create a less directional sound, which is ideal for surround speakers that are not meant to focus on your attention – just fill out the sound field.

In a bipole speaker, the audio is in-phase, meaning both speakers push and pull at the same time, while in a dipole speaker, the audio is out of phase by 180-degrees.

So, when one of the speakers is pushing, the other is pulling. This creates a phase-cancellation effect which results in a very diffuse sound.

What Is an Elevation or Dolby Atmos-enabled Speaker?

A relatively new speaker type is an elevation speaker.

With the advent of Dolby Atmos object-based audio, you will need to install overhead and/or elevation speakers.

Dolby recommends that you use either in-ceiling speakers, Dolby Atmos-enabled elevation speakers or soundbars. However, you can use pretty much any speaker for Dolby Atmos if you wish.

Dolby Atmos elevation speakers are engineered to direct sound upwards so that the sound reflects off the ceiling. They come in two types:

  • An upward-firing speaker integrated into a standard forward-firing speaker.
  • A module that contains just an upward-firing speaker. These can be placed on top of your existing speakers or another flat surface.

The main advantage of this type of speaker is that it will often be easier to install in your room.

For example, Atmos-enabled modules can simply be placed on your existing speakers, so no wall brackets ruin your decor.

Depending on your layout requirements, you can place these on the front left and right speakers – plus the surrounds too if you wish.

The downside is they may not work effectively in all rooms as they need a flat and reflective ceiling to work their magic – and the ceiling needs to be relatively close.

Some newer soundbars have been released with built-in upward-firing elevation speakers.


Many users say they prefer the sound of standard direct-firing speakers mounted high in the room – rather than Atmos-enabled elevation speakers.

So, you may be able to use some existing speakers that you already own and use these as your height speakers.

Or, if you need to buy some new ones, just remember you don’t need to buy dedicated Atmos modules. They are an option that may be the best choice for you – or not.

Some Atmos modules are designed so that you can install them in different ways.

For example, the Sony SSCSE Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker (pictured below) can be placed on your speakers and used to bounce the sound off your ceiling.

Sony SSCSE Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers
Sony SSCSE Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers
Image Credit: Sony

Or, they can be wall-mounted high up and used to direct the Atmos effects down into your listening area.

I prefer having this type of speaker mounted high and pointing down. But, try both and see which works best in your room.

Check out the complete beginner’s guide to Dolby Atmos for more detail on this.

What Is an In-ceiling Speaker?

In-ceiling speakers might be the perfect solution if you want to keep your speakers out of the way.

You can get speakers that lie flat along the surface of the ceiling, or you can even get motorized speakers that move out of the ceiling at the touch of a button. Now that is cool!

If you wish, you can use in-ceiling speakers for most of the speakers in a 5.1 system – fronts, surrounds, even the center – you would then only need to worry about hiding the subwoofer.

However, in my opinion, they work best as the surrounds, with standard direct-firing speakers creating the soundstage at the front.

In-Ceiling speaker

This type of speaker is also a good option for Dolby Atmos height speakers.

In fact, I would say they are the best option, and they are one of the recommendations by Dolby.

You can get budget and high-end in-ceiling speakers.

If you are using them just for Dolby Atmos, I wouldn’t break the bank, and high-end audiophile ceiling speakers would probably be more than you need for this purpose.

However, if used more as main speakers, then you might want to consider paying more.

One ideal feature to look out for in an in-ceiling speaker is a tweeter that moves. With this, you can point the tweeter towards the listening position to improve the sound.

This is useful because the high-frequencies that tweeters reproduce are more directional than lower frequencies.

The Micca M-8C 8-inch in-ceiling speaker (pictured below) has a pivoting tweeter and is a popular good-value choice on Amazon.

Micca M-8C 8-Inch In-Ceiling Speaker
Micca M-8C 8-Inch In-Ceiling Speaker
Image Credit: Micca Electronics

However, not all of us can install this type of speaker.

The big downside of ceiling speakers is they can be more difficult and expensive to install than ordinary speakers.

For a start, you would need to cut holes in the ceiling for the speakers, and you would need to run the cabling from the amplifier.

Unless you are pretty nifty with a toolbox, it may be wise to pay a specialist installer to do this work for you, which would also be an added expense.

However, the results can be fantastic, and you really would have a system that resembles a cinema or theater.

What Is an In-wall Speaker?

In-wall speakers are like ceiling speakers – but are fitted vertically into a wall instead.

The decision on using either wall or ceiling speakers mainly comes down to the room you have, and it will depend on the shape of the room and the position of your home theater seating.

One option would be to use wall speakers for the surrounds and in-ceiling for your Dolby Atmos height speakers.

Other than that, in-wall speakers have similar advantages and disadvantages to those in your ceiling.

They provide an excellent way to hide your speakers in a room, so they don’t get in the way, and they can look very elegant and professional.

But, they can be more difficult and expensive to install, and the sound quality may not match the best bookshelf or floorstanding speakers.

What Is a Wireless Speaker?

A popular development in recent years is the introduction of wireless speakers.

As consumers, we have become used to wireless devices and would like that convenience in our home theater too.

The most common application for wireless speakers in a home theater setup is the surrounds and the subwoofer – you can place the sub anywhere in a room, so it is great to have the freedom of a wireless subwoofer.

The surrounds have always been the most difficult to run a length of speaker cable to – simply because they are furthest away from the AV receiver.

You have a few options for wireless speakers in your home theater system:

1. Buy an all-in-one system that comes with wireless speakers. I have listed a few possible choices in the guide to home theater systems.

2. Buy a wireless speaker kit that is suitable for any powered speaker or subwoofer.

3. Buy a Sonos Amp to power your passive speakers. Note, this can only be used for surround speakers as part of a Sonos surround sound system.

4. Buy an AV receiver that supports wireless speaker technology. Denon and Marantz use the HEOS system, Yamaha has MusicCast and Onkyo support DTS Play-Fi and FireConnect. You can find out more at: ‘Top 12 Best AV Receivers and How To Choose Yours‘.

Just be aware, many of the wireless systems supported by AV receivers don’t allow these wireless speakers to be part of your standard surround sound setup – only for multi-room audio around the house.

However, Yamaha MusicCast is the first system to allow wireless surround speakers in a 5.1 setup.

Audiophiles have long questioned if a wireless connection can offer the same sound quality and reliability as a trusty old cable connection.

And, while there have been significant improvements in wireless technology, that debate still continues.

WiSA wireless technology is making significant progress in defining standards for high-resolution audio over wireless connections.

However, if you’re not an audiophile, you will probably find the convenience of wireless speakers the main issue.

Even though we use the term ‘wireless,’ you can’t get away from the pesky things completely – any wireless speaker or wireless speaker adapter will need power.

So, each ‘wireless’ speaker will need to have a power socket nearby, and there will be a wire from the power to the speaker.

Do I Need to Have Surround Sound in My Home Theater?

In my opinion, the simple answer is no. You can have whatever speaker layout you wish in your home theater.

Although some people will tell you otherwise, there isn’t a precise definition of what a ‘home theater’ is, and I just think of it as anything that improves the experience of watching a movie or TV show in your room.

So, you can buy a simple stereo soundbar, a 2.1 speaker system or a complete surround sound system with Dolby Atmos speakers.

Any of these is better than just using your TV speakers.

I think an entire surround sound system gives the best experience for movies, but if you don’t have enough space or money for this, go with whatever is suitable for you.

You can always upgrade again later when the time is right.

Home Theater Speaker Buying Guide

Now you have a better understanding of the different types of home theater speakers, you should have a good idea of what you are looking for.

However, there is more to it than deciding which speaker type you need, so let’s look at the other essential issues you should consider when buying a home theater speaker.

Hold on to your hats; we’re going to get technical!

1. Speaker Sensitivity

Every speaker will have a sensitivity rating, and you may also see this referred to as efficiency.

Sensitivity is one of the most critical speaker specifications, which tells us how good a speaker is at converting the power it receives into sound.

An inefficient speaker will turn more of the power it receives into heat.

In other words, it will need more power to reach the same volume as a more efficient speaker.

Speaker sensitivity specification

A speakers’ sensitivity can range from around 80 dB to 100 dB – where below 84 dB is relatively poor, and above 92 dB is very good.

To compare the sensitivity of two different speakers, you would also need to know the impedance they were tested with, and you can’t compare them if measured with a different impedance.

You can find more information here: Understanding Speaker Sensitivity and Efficiency.

2. Speaker Power Handling

A speaker will be given a rating for the power it can handle, which is the power that it receives from the amplifier or AV receiver.

You should check the rated output of your amplifier and make sure you are in the right ballpark.

You don’t need to be exact, and you have plenty of wiggle room, but you want to be sure that your speaker and amplifier are compatible.

Most speakers and amplifiers for home use should be fine together.

Matching Speaker Power Ratings

Also, when you read the numbers given for the amplifier and speaker, make sure that you compare like-with-like values.

Ratings are often listed using average/RMS values and peak values, and these are different.

You may also see a suggested power range, and that can be easier to understand.

You can find more information here: Understanding Speaker Power Rating Specifications

3. Speaker Impedance

A speaker has an impedance value, usually 4 to 8 ohms for home theater or hi-fi speakers.

This refers to its resistance – or how hard it is to send an electrical signal through it.

The listed impedance is a nominal or average value, and the actual impedance will vary with the audio signal’s frequency.

Matching Amplifier Impedance Ratings

Your amplifier is designed to work with a specific impedance range, so check your amplifier specs, and make sure it supports the impedance of your speakers.

You can find more information here: Speaker Impedance Matching – Ohms, Speakers and Impedance Explained.

4. Speaker Frequency Response

The range of human hearing is about 20Hz – 20kHz – although our high-end hearing will usually reduce with age, and the bottom end is more ‘felt’ than heard.

A speaker is designed to reproduce specific frequencies, and the frequency response tells us this range.

For example, a subwoofer may only reproduce frequencies between 20Hz and 200Hz, while a bookshelf speaker, which should sound good on its own, will be more in the range of 60Hz to 20kHz.

The chart of a speaker can also help give an idea of how it will sound in your room, and, ideally, a speaker will have a flat frequency response.

A flat response means it can reproduce all frequencies equally given a fixed level input signal, although, in reality, it will never be perfectly flat.

Speaker frequency response chart from Alesis.com
Speaker Frequency Response Chart
Image Credit: Alesis.com

The chart above shows a typical frequency response chart for a speaker from an excellent article about understanding frequency response by Alesis.

You should go and read that if you want to understand more – plus, you can then go and bore your friends and family with your incredible knowledge. Win-win!

You need to see the chart for a particular speaker to know how well it reproduces the entire range, and the sound of the speaker is mainly determined by how well it reproduces the audible frequencies.

So, a high-end speaker would be expected to reproduce these frequencies more accurately.

If you prefer watching videos, you may find this one interesting:

YouTube video

5. Speaker Size and Type

You will often see the size and type of the speaker driver or cone listed, and it’s handy to have a general understanding of the different types.

Many speakers are designed with multiple drivers that reproduce specific parts of the frequency range.

A crossover filters the incoming audio signal and passes specific frequencies to each driver in the speaker cabinet.

In general, a small speaker will be used for reproducing high frequencies and is called a tweeter, and they will usually have a dome-shaped diaphragm of around 1-inch in diameter.

Speaker cabinet with a tweeter, mid-range driver and a woofer

A bigger driver with a cone-shaped diaphragm will be better at reproducing low frequencies, and this type of speaker is called a woofer.

Woofers come in a wide range of sizes from around 10-inches and up.

A midrange driver fits somewhere between a tweeter and a woofer – it is like a woofer in design but is smaller in size – say, 5 to 8-inches in diameter.

While some speakers might have a single full-range driver, it is more common for a speaker cabinet to have one tweeter and one midrange driver or a woofer.

However, some may have multiple drivers; it depends on the speaker’s design and the range of frequencies they are designed to reproduce.

6. Speaker Sound Quality

This is where it gets subjective, and a good-sounding speaker for one person might not sound great to another.

You can use all the specifications above to get a rough idea of the quality of a speaker, but the only proper way is to hear them.

If you can’t manage to hear speakers for yourself, you will just have to rely on the specifications and/or the opinions of others.

All the speakers made by the leading brands will sound good, and you can’t really go too far wrong with any of them.

However, whether it matches your idea of ‘good,’ only you can say.

Also, bear in mind that a speakers’ sound will vary depending on the amplifier used and the room they are in.

You do get what you pay for, so it should come as no surprise if the more expensive speakers sound better.

However, most of us have a limited budget, and only you know how important great sound is to you.

Buy the best, and you will have speakers that will last for years to come.

Which Are the Best Home Theater Speakers?

When looking for home theater speakers, there are so many different options that it is impossible to have a complete list on one page.

My aim here is to explain surround sound speakers and highlight the essential issues to look out for.

However, I will now go through the different types discussed above and select my favorite for each category – in other articles, I will review more home theater speakers for each style.

So, which are some of the best surround sound speakers in 2021?

Best Home Theater Speaker Package: SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System

Speaker packages for surround sound systems come in several price brackets; therefore, the best one for you will depend on your budget and if you want ‘good enough’ or audiophile quality sound.

The SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 speaker system lies somewhere in the middle of that range, and it will give you an excellent sound for the money.

You can buy much cheaper packages, but this will be a cut above many of those packages – and it’s also not a top-end audiophile system.

So, hopefully, it will be the perfect middle-ground for many people.

SVS speakers are a solid choice for all types of home theater sound, and they are a favorite of mine.

Just to be clear, this is a set of surround sound speakers without an amplifier, and you will need to connect them to a suitable AV receiver.

SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System
Image Credit: SVS

SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Highlights

One of the main features that will make this 5.1 speaker package ideal for many people is that all the speakers are smaller satellite models – apart from the subwoofer, of course.

This makes it easy to install in your room without taking up too much space.

Unless you are lucky enough to have a dedicated home theater room, it is always a difficult balance to find.

Most of us use a shared living space, so it is sometimes necessary to compromise on the equipment we install.

This compact speaker system comes with five SVS Prime Satellite speakers. They measure at 4.9″ x 8.75″ x 6″ (W x H x D) – so, big enough to offer an excellent sound – but not so large to make them too obvious in your room.

If you prefer, these Prime Satellite speakers can also be purchased separately and just used for surround speakers.

Each speaker has a single 4.5″ midrange driver and a 1″ aluminum dome tweeter.

SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Features
Frequency Response Satellites: 69Hz-25kHz ±3dB | Sub: 24-260Hz ±3dB
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) Satellites: 85
Nominal Impedance (ohms) Satellites: 8
Amplifier Power (watts RMS) 20 – 150
High Frequency Driver 1″ Aluminum Dome Tweeter (Single Satellite)
Mid/Low Frequency Driver 4.5″ Midrange Driver with polypropylene cone (Single Satellite)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Satellite: 4.9 x 8.75 x 6 in (124 x 222 x 152 mm) | Sub: 13 x 13.5 x 14.6 in (330 x 343 x 371 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) Satellite: 6.5 / 2.95 | Sub: 27 / 12.25
Design Satellite: 1″ wide-flared rear-firing port | Sub: Front-firing 12″ driver

With a nominal impedance of 8-ohms and recommended amplifier power of 20-150 watts, you will be able to run these perfectly with any AV receiver.

They are rated with a frequency response of 69 Hz to 25 kHz. So, if you set your crossover at a typical 80 to 90 Hz in your receiver, you will get a nice transition between the satellite and subwoofer.

Talking of which, this package comes with the excellent SVS SB-1000 subwoofer.

It’s a compact unit at 13″ x 13.5″ x 14.6″ (W x H x D). But this doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch and you will have no problem getting a very tight and solid bottom-end in your room.

With a front-firing 12″ driver, it works well for movies and music alike. Don’t expect the windows to rattle, but it’s perfect for the bass requirements for most home theaters.

If you are looking for a compact surround speaker system with a touch of class, you should think about the SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 package.

Thumbs Up

  • Compact design
  • Very good sound quality
  • Trusted SVS speaker technology
  • A good all-rounder for movies and music
  • Value for money

Thumbs Down

  • Probably not for you if you want an audiophile stereo music performance

Best Soundbar: Sonos Arc

The Arc is part of the excellent Sonos speaker range.

Sonos offers several soundbars designed to improve your TV’s sound – Arc, Beam, Playbar and Playbase.

But they also have several wireless speaker solutions that can be used individually around your home – or connected to create a complete sound system.

These individual speakers include the Five, One, One SL – and there is even a wireless subwoofer.

The sound is a cut above many wireless speakers and portable sound systems that you can buy.

If you have used their products before, then you will know Sonos provide well-built and stylish speakers.

If you haven’t and are looking to easily stream audio from the internet around your home – you should consider checking out a Sonos speaker.

Sonos Arc Soundbar
Sonos Arc Soundbar
Image Credit: Sonos

Sonos Arc Highlights

The Sonos Arc is the latest soundbar in the Sonos family.

It builds on the excellent performance of the older Playbar – and adds a few extra features that bring it right up to date.

The Arc is a high-end soundbar with eleven Class-D amplifiers, and these power eight mid-range drivers and three silk-domed tweeters.

The speakers are arranged across the front, side, and top of the soundbar to create a more expansive sound field.

The tweeters create the crisp high-frequencies – and the mid-range woofers deliver the rest of the audio for music, sound effects and dialogue.

Although this soundbar provides a full sound on its own, you can also pair it with the Sonos Sub to get even more bass from movies and music.

I do prefer having the bass delivered from a dedicated subwoofer. You really can’t beat hearing the low-end from a large speaker driver.

However, if you are not used to listening with a sub, you will be OK with the Arc on its own.

Connecting the Arc to your TV is a relatively simple process.

The best way is to use an HDMI cable from the Arc to your TV, and this requires your TV to have an ARC or eARC HDMI port.

Sonos Arc Soundbar Features
Channels 5.0.2
Subwoofer No – compatible with the Sonos Sub. Or connect any sub via the Sonos Connect or Sonos Amp
Surround Speakers No – compatible with the Sonos Five, One, Play:1, Play:3, Play:5, One SL and Amp
Network / Wireless 1 x Ethernet / Wi-Fi
Audio / Video Inputs 1 x HDMI ARC/eARC (optical available via an adapter)
Home Theater Audio PCM stereo / Dolby Digital / Dolby Digital Plus / Dolby TrueHD / Dolby Atmos
Audio Processing Speech Enhancement / Night Sound
Voice Control Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, AirPlay 2<
Dimensions (W x H x D) 45 x 3.4 x 4.5 in (1141.7 x 87 115.7 mm)
Weight 13.78 lbs (6.25 kg)

If you do have an ARC or eARC connection, then your TV can send audio to the soundbar. If not, you can use the supplied adapter and use the optical audio output on your TV instead.

This article explains more about how to connect a soundbar to your TV.

In terms of home theater audio, the Arc supports PCM stereo, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos. This will cover most of the audio formats delivered by your TV.

However, you should be aware that there is no support for any form of DTS audio. This is most likely to be an issue if you are trying to watch a movie from a DVD or Blu-ray player connected to your TV.

If your TV is sitting on a stand or cabinet – and there is enough room – then you can simply place the Arc below your TV.

If not, then you can buy the Sonos Arc wall mount kit and secure the Arc to the wall.

Sonos Arc Wall Mount Kit
Sonos Arc Wall Mount Kit
Image Credit: Sonos

It is usually best to position a soundbar just below the TV. But, if that’s not possible, then you should still get good performance by mounting the soundbar just above the screen.

The Sonos Arc can be connected to the internet via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. And it can be controlled via the Sonos S2 app, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple AirPlay 2.

Sonos has also developed room optimization software called Trueplay. It is common for AV receivers to have auto room optimization tools that allow you to analyze and balance the sound in your room.

However, Sonos has now introduced this feature in a soundbar with Trueplay. This is a positive development that will allow more people to get the best from their speakers.

If the Sonos Arc is too big for your room, then the smaller Sonos Beam soundbar might work better for you.

If you are interested, I have a comparison guide to the Sonos Arc vs the Sonos Beam.

Thumbs Up

  • High-quality Sonos audio technology
  • You can add a Sonos Sub and wireless surround speakers to create a 5.1 home theater system
  • It also integrates with other Sonos speakers for multi-room audio
  • Support for Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos
  • Excellent app for controlling the soundbar and streaming audio from online services
  • Can be easily wall-mounted

Thumbs Down

  • Limited inputs
  • No support for DTS audio. Although many sources will have a Dolby Digital option, or the player may be able to convert the audio
  • Trueplay is only available on iOS devices

Best Center Channel Speaker: Klipsch RP-500C

The Klipsch RP-500C center channel speaker is part of the Reference Premiere (RP) range. They sit above the cheaper Reference Series speakers in the pecking order.

This means that, although you will need to pay more for RP speakers, you will get higher-quality engineering and components.

As with all home theater equipment, you need to decide what level of investment you are prepared to make for better sound quality.

It doesn’t mean the cheaper Reference speakers don’t sound good – they do. But you will get better all-round performance with the RP speakers.

This center channel will provide you with top-notch detail and excellent dialogue reproduction.

Klipsch RP-500C Center Channel Speaker
Klipsch RP-500C Center Channel Speaker
Image Credit: Klipsch

Klipsch RP-500C Highlights

The two 5.25″ low-frequency woofers are manufactured with the distinctive Klipsch Cerametallic spun copper. This provides a lightweight and rigid cone and will match perfectly any other Klipsch speakers in your system.

If you don’t like the look, you have the option of keeping the front grille in place. This is a magnetic fit for easy removal if required.

Paired with the low-frequency drivers is a single 1″ titanium vented tweeter. The tweeter uses a Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) design which is a feature of the Reference series speakers.

The LTS design reduces distortion to give plenty of clarity to dialogue.

The tweeter is placed in a proprietary silicon composite Tractrix horn which ensures the high frequencies are directed at the listening area.

There is another Tractrix bass reflex port on the rear to increase the bass response.

Any center speaker needs to offer a balanced sound – with voices sounding full and clear at the same time. The RP-500C has no worries on that front.

Klipsch RP-500C Features
Frequency Response 60Hz-25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) 96
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8
Power Handling (Watts) 100 (cont) / 400 (peak)
High Frequency Driver 1″ Titanium LTS Vented Tweeter with Hybrid Cross-Section Tractrix® Horn
Mid/Low Frequency Driver Dual 5.25″ Cerametallic™ Cone Woofers
Dimensions (W x H x D) 18.5 x 6.81 x 9.5 in (470 x 173 x 223 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 18 / 8.2
Design Bass Reflex via rear-firing Tractrix® Port

You have a choice of finishes with this speaker. Available in Ebony and Walnut finishes, you have a choice of color to match your room.

Of course, ideally, you will also match this speaker with the front left and right speakers in your system.

While you don’t have to pair speakers of the same brand – it’s usually a good idea in order to keep the front soundstage balanced. Klipsch has a number of bookshelf and floorstanding Reference Premiere speakers which will work well with this center speaker.

Whilst not the largest center speaker that you can buy, you should be aware that it is a fair size. At 6.81″ high,18.5″ wide and 9.5″ deep, you will need quite a bit of room below your TV. It won’t sit on the same shelf as your TV like a soundbar!

But, as with all good speakers, the physical size does help to get the full sound that you might be missing from smaller models.

If the R-500C is a little expensive for your taste, don’t despair. You could step down a level to the Reference series and try the Klipsch R-52C center speaker for size.

Some of the materials used vary from the RP-500C, but you will still get an excellent performance.

Thumbs Up

  • High-end Klipsch sound quality
  • Excellent specifications
  • Perfect match for Klipsch front speakers
  • Available with a scratch-resistant ebony or walnut finish
  • Magnetic removable grill for a choice of look

Thumbs Down

  • It is quite large. Be clear on where you are going to install it before you buy it.

Best Bookshelf Speaker: KEF Q150

There were so many great bookshelf speakers I could have included here. Models that produce an excellent sound at a range of prices. However, I have chosen a speaker from one of my favorite brands.

KEF is a British company that has been making high-quality speakers for over 50 years. If you want a speaker that will work well for music and home theater, then this is a brand to be taken seriously.

KEF speakers aren’t going to suit anyone on a very tight budget. But if you want audiophile quality sound in a compact cutting-edge design, then the Q-Series of speakers should be on your list.

The Q-Series are the entry-level for KEF speakers. So you can go up a level or two from here. But these speakers fit very nicely as a value-for-money range that is a cut above most speakers in this price bracket.

KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
Image Credit: KEF

KEF Q150 Highlights

The KEF Q150 bookshelf speakers are some of the finest on the market in this price range. The bonus is, not only do they sound fantastic, they look cool too!

Available in black, walnut or white, the Q150 delivers pristine audio using technology inspired by professional studio monitors.

On the first look, the most interesting feature that you may notice is that there is only one obvious speaker driver. Where is the tweeter?

This unique design feature is called the Uni-Q® driver array. The clever guys and gals at KEF have designed a speaker where the tweeter is placed inside the main woofer.

The result is a speaker without a sweet spot. In conventional speakers, you can lose the true stereo image unless you are sitting in the right place.

With the Q150, you will hear the full stereo image even if you are not sitting directly in the middle of both speakers.

You can probably see how this is perfect for home theater. Everybody watching across the sound stage will get the full stereo effect.

So, when you add in the surround speakers, you will feel right in the middle of the action.

KEF Q150 Features (Single)
Frequency Response 51Hz-28kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) 86
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8 (min. 3.7)
Amplifier Power (watts RMS) 10 – 100
High Frequency Driver 25mm (1″) vented aluminium dome
Mid/Low Frequency Driver 130mm (5.25″) aluminum Uni-Q array
Dimensions (W x H x D) 7.1 x 11.9 x 10.9 in (180 x 303 x 278 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 12.3 / 5.6
Design Two-way bass reflex

Of course, if you use your speaker system for music too, then you have the best of both worlds.

The KEF Q150 speakers provide a beautifully balanced sound with the detail you would expect from this respected company.

Another benefit for a home theater setup, is the speakers are quite compact. At just 11.9-inches high and 7.1-inches wide, they will be relatively easy to fit into your space. Even if you don’t have much room to play with.

They will fit perfectly on some floor-standing speaker stands – or they can easily be wall-mounted with a suitable bracket.

You can also get the KEF Q350 bookshelf speaker which is slightly larger than the Q150 and comes with a bigger 6.5-inch driver.

Of course, in addition to the front left and right speakers, you could also use these for your center or surround speakers.

Or you can mix and match with a dedicated center and surround speakers.

If you want to match the technology, you can buy the KEF Q250c and Q650c center channel speakers as part of the Q-Series.

These also have the Uni-Q® driver design and will work beautifully with the Q150s.

Thumbs Up

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Uni-Q speaker design for extended ‘sweet-spot’
  • Compact size
  • Great value for a high-quality speaker
  • The Q-Series has matching floor-standing, center and Dolby Atmos speakers

Thumbs Down

  • At this price, nothing

Best Floorstanding Speaker: Klipsch RP-280F

Part of the Klipsch Reference Premiere series, the RP-280F is a top-class floorstanding speaker. If you want speakers that will work well for movies and music, then floorstanding speakers are worth considering.

It will reproduce more frequencies than a bookshelf speaker and, in some cases, you might not even need a subwoofer.

Klipsch RP-280F Floorstanding Speaker
Klipsch RP-280F Floorstanding Speaker
Image Credit: Klipsch

Klipsch RP-280F Highlights

The rated frequency response of these speakers gives you a clue as to how these will work for music and movies. With 32Hz-25kHz, you will get a full sound from the low bass right up to sparkling highs.

These speakers will work great for stereo music. For movies, you might even like the sound without a subwoofer.

However, if you want that really low rumble, then a subwoofer will probably be required. You can just switch on the sub when you watch a movie.

The 1-inch titanium tweeters improve on the aluminum tweeters from the lower-priced models. The distinctive spun copper Cerametallic woofers are present in the shape of dual 8-inch drivers.

Klipsch RP-280F Features (Single)
Frequency Response 32Hz-25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) 98
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8
Power Handling (Watts) 150 (cont) / 600 (peak)
High Frequency Driver 1″ Titanium LTS Tweeter with Hybrid Cross-Section Tractrix Horn
Mid/Low Frequency Driver Dual 8″ Cerametallic Cone Woofers
Dimensions (W x H x D) 10.55 x 43.06 x 18.32 in (268 x 1094 x 465 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 62.5 / 28.35
Design Bass Reflex via rear-firing Tractrix® Port

The size of these speakers will mean they won’t be right for everyone. They stand 43-inches high, 10.5-inches wide and 18.3-inches deep.

Obviously, they need to stand on the floor on either side of your screen, so make sure that you have space.

One advantage of buying Klipsch speakers is that it is easy to add more of their home theater range later.

While you don’t have to buy all your surround speakers from the same brand, many people prefer to do so as it is easier to match the timbre around your room.

Certainly, a matching center speaker would make sense if you had these as your front left and rights.

Thumbs Up

  • High-quality sound
  • Attractive design with speaker grill removed
  • Easy to build a system with other Klipsch home theater speakers
  • May not need a subwoofer

Thumbs Down

  • Could be too big for smaller rooms

Summary of the Other Top Home Theater Speaker Types

I will now summarise the rest of my top choices for each home theater speaker type.

We have yet to cover subwoofers, satellite speakers, bipole/dipole speakers, Dolby Atmos speakers, ceiling speakers, wall speakers and wireless speakers.

Read on for more:

Best Subwoofer: SVS SB-1000

SVS produces quality home theater speakers of all types. This powered subwoofer wins a place in this list with a combination of quality design and value for money.

It is a sealed unit with a compact 13-inch cabinet. The 12-inch front-firing driver provides 300 watts RMS, or 700 watts peak power.

SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer
SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer
Image Credit: SVS
SVS SB-1000 Features
Frequency Response 24-260Hz ±3dB
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m)
Input Impedance (ohms) 47 kΩ (unbalanced RCA) / 2 kΩ (speaker level)
Power Handling (Watts) 300 (cont) / 720 (peak)
Driver 12” high-performance driver, FEA-optimized motor technology for low distortion, high-power voice coil for excellent thermal management
Connections Stereo line-level RCA Input / 80Hz High Pass Filtered Output / Stereo speaker level 5-way binding post input connections
Dimensions (W x H x D) 13 x 13.5 x 14.6 in (330 x 343 x 371 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 27 / 12.25
Design Front-firing 12″ driver

Best Satellite Speaker: SVS Prime

At 8.5-inches high, these compact satellite speakers are perfect for use as surround speakers. In fact, they can be used anywhere in your surround sound system.

Although, maybe not as a subwoofer! With a 4.5-inch midrange speaker and 1-inch tweeter, they offer a neutral sound that will blend well with speakers from other brands.

SVS Prime Satellite Speakers
SVS Prime Satellite Speakers
Image Credit: SVS
SVS Prime Satellite Features (Single)
Frequency Response 69Hz-25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) 85
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8
Amplifier Power (watts RMS) 20 – 150
High Frequency Driver 1″ Aluminum Dome Tweeter
Mid/Low Frequency Driver 4.5″ Midrange Driver with polypropylene cone
Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.9 x 8.75 x 6 in (124 x 222 x 152 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 6.5 / 2.95
Design 1″ wide-flared rear-firing port

Best Bipole Speaker: Fluance SXBP2

The Fluance SXBP2 bipolar home theater speaker offers excellent performance in a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system. You can place them behind or beside the listening position to create a really enveloping sound.

With four drivers in total, there are two 4-inch woofers and two 1-inch neodymium tweeters. The frequency response is 130Hz – 20 kHz. They can handle power of 20 to 100 watts and have a sensitivity of 88db @ 2.83v / 1m.

Fluance SXBP2 Bipolar Surround Sound Speakers
Fluance SXBP2 Bipolar Surround Sound Speakers
Image Credit: Fluance
Fluance SXBP2 Features (Single)
Frequency Response 130Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) 88
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8
Amplifier Power (watts RMS) 20 – 100
High Frequency Driver Dual 1″ Neodymium Balanced Dome Ferrofluid Cooled
Mid/Low Frequency Driver Dual 4″ Polymer Treated with Butyl Rubber Surrounds
Dimensions (W x H x D) 10.2 x 8.75 x 5.5 in (259 x 280 x 140 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 6.8 / 3.08
Design 2 Way – 4 Driver Bipolar with Acoustic Suspension Design

Best Elevation/Dolby Atmos Speaker: ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2

The updated ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 is a Dolby Atmos module that you can place on your floorstanding or bookshelf speakers. This will provide the 3D sound when connected to your Dolby Atmos-enabled AV receiver.

A 4-inch woofer and 0.5-inch polymer dome tweeter are enclosed in a compact enclosure. A value-for-money solution for getting into object-based 3D sound.

ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos Speakers
ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos Speakers
Image Credit: ELAC
ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Features (Single)
Frequency Response 180Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity (dB @ 2.83V / 1m) 85
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 6
Maximum Power Input (watts) 80
High Frequency Driver 0.5-inch polymer dome
Mid/Low Frequency Driver 4-inch woven aramid-fiber cone with oversized magnet
Dimensions (W x H x D) 7.09 x 4.92 x 9.21 in (180 x 125 x 234 mm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 5.416 / 2.4
Design Sealed, 2-way concentric

Best In-Ceiling Speaker: Polk Audio RC60i

These Polk Audio RC60i speakers are a popular solution for anyone who needs to install in-ceiling speakers.

With a 6.5-inch polymer driver and a 0.75-inch soft-dome tweeter, these speakers will work well as surrounds or Dolby Atmos height speakers.

They have a 15-degree swivel mount which allows for accurate positioning.

Polk Audio RC60i In-Ceiling Speakers
Polk Audio RC60i In-Ceiling Speakers
Image Credit: Polk Audio
Polk Audio RC60i Features (Single)
Frequency Response 40Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity (dB @ 1w / 1m) 89
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8
Amplifier Power (watts RMS) 20-100
High Frequency Driver 0.75″ (1.9cm) soft dome in ball and socket
Mid/Low Frequency Driver 6.5″ (16.5cm) mineral filled polypropylene cone, rubber suspension
Dimensions Cutout: 7.563″ (19.21cm) diameter | Depth (with 0.5″ drywall): 2.374″ (6.03cm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 2.5 / 1.13

Best In-Wall Speaker: Polk Audio RC65i

These in-wall speakers will work well with the ceiling speakers highlighted above. Ideal for the rears in a surround sound system, they can also be used at the front if you prefer.

They have a 6.5-inch driver, a 0.75-inch soft-dome tweeter and a 15-degree swivel mount to angle the direction.

These speakers are also built using moisture-resistant materials. So they are ideal for saunas, bathrooms and covered outdoor areas.

But, they will also work well in your home theater room.

Polk Audio RC65i In-Wall Speakers
Polk Audio RC65i In-Wall Speakers
Image Credit: Polk Audio
Polk Audio RC65i Features (Single)
Frequency Response 32Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity (dB @ 1w / 1m) 89
Nominal Impedance (ohms) 8
Amplifier Power (watts RMS) 20-100
High Frequency Driver 0.75″ (1.9cm) soft dome in swivel mount
Mid/Low Frequency Driver 6.5″ (16.5cm) mineral filled polypropylene cone, rubber suspension
Dimensions Cutout: 7.32 x 10.75″ (18.6 x 27.3 cm) | Depth (with 1/2″ drywall): 2.44″ (6.19cm)
Weight (lbs/kg) 4 / 1.8

Best Wireless Surround Sound System: Enclave Audio CineHome PRO

If you want a completely wireless home theater speaker system, Enclave Audio’s offering is a good choice.

Many speaker systems only have wireless surrounds or subwoofers – or you need to use wireless kits to make standard passive speakers wireless.

However, you don’t need any of that with the CineHome PRO.

All the speakers are wireless, and you don’t even need an AV receiver – just connect your devices directly to the CineHub module.

This system is even THX-certified – so you can be sure of a great home theater performance.

Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
Image Credit: Enclave Audio
Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Features
Channels 5.1
Inputs 1 x HDMI Arc/eARC / 1 x Optical / 1 x 3.5mm Stereo Analog
Network / Wireless Bluetooth
Audio Formats Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS 5.1, Uncompressed LPCM
Front Speakers (W x H x D) 3.4 x 24.1 x 5.3 in (87 x 613 x 134 mm)
Center Speaker (W x H x D) 24.1 x 3.4 x 5.3 in (613 x 87 x 134 mm)
Surround Speakers (W x H x D) 3.4 x 16.4 x 5.3 in (87 x 413 x 134 mm)
Subwoofer (W x H x D) 11.8 x 18.8 x 14.4 in (306 x 477 x 364.8 mm)


So, you thought that finding the best surround sound system speakers in 2021 was going to be an easy business?

If you’ve reached the end of that lot, and read every word, then I congratulate you.

If not, go back and try again! 🙂

It’s not so tough, really. The main thing you need to decide is what type of speaker you need for your room, and now you understand the different speakers available, that should be clearer.

Next, find some speakers within your budget and look at the specs to understand a little more about them.

If you get the chance to demo the speakers for yourself, all the better. If not, there are plenty of reviews and suggestions out there that will help.

Hey, there are even a few suggestions here!

If you have more questions, check the article 11 things you should know about surround sound speakers.

Have fun and enjoy listening to great sound.

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The Best Home Theater Speakers

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About Home Cinema Guide

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has worked as a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment.

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