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Best Speakers for Surround Sound: Front, Rear, Atmos & More

a collection of hi-fi and home theater speakers

Are you overwhelmed by the myriad of home theater speaker types, unsure of what fits your needs, or perhaps exasperated by the wide price range, wondering if the extra dollar means extra quality?

Or are you tired of the underwhelming audio from your current setup, craving that immersive, cinema-like audio in the comfort of your own home?

Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile, a home theater rookie, or a movie lover eager for more cinematic audio quality, this guide is tailored for you.

Everyone has unique needs, preferences, and budgets. That’s why I’ve painstakingly curated a list of surround sound speakers that cater to every budget and quality expectation, from the most cost-effective to the genuinely high-end.

In this comprehensive guide, I will highlight several speakers in the essential categories for home cinema speakers:

  1. Complete Systems
  2. Center Channel
  3. Bookshelf
  4. Floor-standing
  5. Subwoofers
  6. Satellites
  7. Bipole and Dipole
  8. Dolby Atmos-enabled
  9. Dolby Atmos height
  10. In-wall
  11. In-ceiling

I suggest a budget, mid-range, and high-end choice for each category.

You’ll receive a clear rundown of each speaker’s specifications, pros, cons, and why they are an ideal fit for your audio sanctuary.

The promise? By the end of this article, you’ll grasp the fundamentals of surround sound speakers and possess the confidence to make an informed choice that matches your needs and budget.

Ready to transform your audio experience and dive into a world of rich, immersive sound? Let’s get started!

Choosing the Best Surround Sound Speakers

Before going any further, what are the essential considerations when choosing the right speakers for your system?

Bear these issues in mind before making your purchase:

  1. Be clear on the type of speakers you want: bookshelf, floorstanding, satellite, in-wall, or in-ceiling. Or maybe a sound bar system would suit you better, so you don’t need to use a separate amplifier?
  2. Ensure the speaker’s specifications match your amplifier: power handling and impedance.
  3. Are the other specifications important: sensitivity and frequency response?
  4. What do they sound like? All the speakers listed here are produced by renowned brands with a long history of making quality speakers. However, every brand will sound different depending on the amplification and the room you are using. If you must get a particular sound, the only solution is to go to your local AV store and test the speakers yourself. Or, even better, see if you can arrange a trial where you can try them in your own room. Like Sonos and SVS, some brands offer risk-free in-home trials when buying from their website.

If you are clear about these issues, you are well on your way to buying the ideal speakers for your system.

Apart from the powered subwoofers, the recommendations here are for passive speakers, meaning you must connect them to an amplifier or AV receiver.

If you want more help before buying, check out how to choose home theater speakers, which explains all you need to know.

Best Home Theater Speaker System

A complete system package is the best option if you want to buy a surround system in one go – especially if you are new to surround sound and are dipping your toe in the water for the first time.

Buying a complete speaker system like this is ideal if you don’t want the trouble of putting together your own system with different speakers.

Plus, you can always start with an all-in-one package like this and slowly replace some of the speakers with higher-quality versions when you are ready.

Note that these recommended packages only include speakers; you will need to connect them to an AV receiver with wire to get them to work.

SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 System

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

Thumbs Up

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

Thumbs Down

  • Probably not for you if you want audiophile stereo music performance
  • No dedicated center speaker
  • It might lack power for large rooms

The SVS Prime 5.1 satellite system is an excellent mid-range package that provides all the speakers you need for a complete 5.1 home theater system.

The five matching compact satellite speakers will give an outstanding full-bodied sound in your room without taking up too much space.

Each satellite has a single 4.5-inch midrange driver and a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter.

The compact 12-inch subwoofer is the fantastic SB-1000 Pro subwoofer that packs a punch and would be a great choice if you were looking to buy a subwoofer alone – so it’s awesome that it’s included in it this system.

It’s an excellent system for the money that will give you a much better sound experience than most budget packages you can buy.

If you want to make the most of your movie-watching, this quality system will be a great start.

Of course, you can also spend much more for some top-notch audiophile speakers, but this is ideal for anyone who wants good sound without breaking the bank.

SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Specifications
Frequency Response 69 Hz-25 kHz ±3dB (satellites)
Sensitivity 85dB @ 2.83V / 1m (satellites)
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms (satellites)
Recommended Amplifier Power 20-150 watts RMS
Drivers (Satellite) 1x 4.5″ Woofer, 1x 1″ Tweeter
Dimensions (Satellite) 8.85″ (224mm) [H] x 4.9″ (124mm) [W] x 6.3″ (160mm) [D] (includes grille and bumper feet)
Weight (Satellite) 6.5 pounds
Driver (Subwoofer) 12-inch
Dimensions (Subwoofer) 13.5″ (343mm) [H] x 13″ (330mm) [W] x 14.76″ (374mm) [D] (with grille)
Weight (Subwoofer) 26 pounds

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Home Theater Speaker Package
Klipsch Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
What Is It: An entry-level 5.1 surround sound speaker package for medium-size rooms with four premium satellite speakers, a center speaker and a subwoofer.
Pros:
  • Great value
  • Tractrix® horn technology and aluminum tweeters
  • Spun copper IMG woofers
  • Wireless down-firing subwoofer
  • Renowned Klipsch speaker technology
Cons:
  • Not suitable for large rooms
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE
High-End Home Theater Package
Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Home Cinema System
What Is It: A high-quality 5.1.2 home theater speaker package for medium-size rooms with three standard satellite speakers, two Dolby Atmos-enabled satellites and a subwoofer.
Pros:
  • 5 satellite speakers for a more discreet look
  • Upfiring Dolby Atmos modules built into the front two speakers
  • Excellent stereo imaging with a clean sound
  • A fast 8-inch subwoofer that complements the smaller satellite speakers
Cons:
  • You might want larger speakers for a big room
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: AUDIO ADVICE

Best Center Channel Speakers

The center speaker does most of its work reproducing the dialogue in movies and TV shows, so it’s crucial to home theater.

If you need to prioritize your budget, you should spend the most here.

Ideally, it should be of similar sound quality to the front stereo pair, and while most people will have the same brand (and range) as the left and right speakers, it doesn’t have to be.

You need to consider the best place to locate the center because it can be difficult depending on your setup.

You might need a low-profile model to avoid blocking the screen, or if you have room, you can use a mount and attach it to the wall.

Klipsch RP-500C II Center Speaker

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

Thumbs Up

  • Tonally matches the Klipsch RP series speakers.
  • Large woofers for a full sound.
  • Titanium tweeters for crisp dialogue.
  • Removable magnetic grille.
  • Available in Ebony and Walnut scratch-resistant finish.

Thumbs Down

  • It might be too large for some setups.
  • The distinctive look may not match speakers from other brands.

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

This center channel will provide you with top-notch detail and excellent dialogue reproduction, and with a nominal speaker impedance of 8 ohms, it is suitable for pretty much any home cinema amplifier.

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

While you don’t have to pair speakers of the same brand – it will help get a balanced sound across the essential front speakers.

Klipsch has several bookshelf and floorstanding speakers, which will work well with this center model.

Klipsch RP-500C II Specifications
Frequency Response 56Hz – 25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity 94dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
Recommended Amplifier Power 100W (cont) / 400W (peak)
Crossover Frequency 1.63kHz
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) Titanium LTS Vented Tweeter with Hybrid Cross-Section Expanded Tractrix® Horn
Low-Frequency Driver 2x 5.25″ (133mm) Cerametallic™ Cone Woofers with Faraday rings
Enclosure Type Bass Reflex via rear-firing Tractrix® Port
Dimensions 6.87″ (174mm) [H] x 19.34″ (491mm) [W] x 10.58″ (268mm) [D]
Weight 18.3lbs (8.3kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Center Speaker
Sony SS-CS8 Center Speaker
What Is It: A budget 2-way, 3-driver center channel speaker for a surround sound speaker system that will help improve dialogue clarity.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz – 25kHz
  • Sensitivity: 86dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 145W (Peak)
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1″ (25mm) wide dispersion dome
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 2x 4″ (100mm) cone
  • Enclosure Type: Bass reflex
  • Dimensions: 5.75″ (146mm) [H] x 16.9″ (429mm) [W] x 8.6″ (218mm) [D]
  • Weight: 11lbs (4.9kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: WALMART
High-End Center Speaker
Bowers & Wilkins HTM72 S2 Center Speaker
What Is It: A compact high-end center speaker with precision sound for reproducing dialogue in movies and TV shows.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz - 28kHz ±3dB
  • Sensitivity: 87dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms (minimum 4.3 ohms)
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 30W - 120W into 8 ohms on unclipped programme
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) Decoupled Carbon Dome
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 2x 5" (130mm) Continuum cone bass / midrange
  • Enclosure Type: Vented-box system
  • Dimensions: 6.6" (166mm) [H] x 18.9" (480mm) [W] x 10.2" (275mm) [D]
  • Weight: 20.1lbs (9.1kg)
BUY AT ABT BUY AT AUDIO ADVICE

Best Bookshelf Speakers

Bookshelf speakers are primarily used in surround layouts for the front left and right positions.

However, you can use one as your center if you have space, and they will also work well as surround speakers if you want a complete matching set.

If you only want to use your speakers for movies, you could buy a cheaper brand for your front stereo pair.

But, if you have the money, don’t cut corners on your front speakers because they do the most work.

Before buying, check if the price you see is for a single module or a pair, as many are priced for one only.

This can be confusing and can also make it appear cheaper than it is. And you may end up only buying one if you aren’t careful.

Focal Chora 806 Bookshelf Speaker

Focal Chora 806 Bookshelf Speaker
Focal Chora 806 Bookshelf Speaker
Image Credit: Focal

Thumbs Up

  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Great value speakers for a high-quality sound.
  • The Chora range has matching floor-standing, center and surround speakers, plus a subwoofer.
  • Wide sound stage.
  • Available in light wood, dark wood and black.

Thumbs Down

  • They might be more than you need if you don’t intend to use them for music.
  • The relatively bright sound might be too much if you are not used to this type of sound.

Focal is a French company that has been producing outstanding speakers for hi-fi and home theater for several years.

The Chora range is the entry-level for Focal speakers, so you can go up a level or two from here, but these models work well as a value-for-money mid-level range that is a cut above most in this price bracket.

The Chora 806 speakers give an excellent crystal clear sound for smaller rooms up to 20 meters², and if you need more power, you might want to consider the Chora 826 floorstanding models.

The 806 is a beautiful-looking 2-way design with a 1-inch Aluminum/Magnesium tweeter and a 6.5-inch woofer made from their unique Slatefiber cone.

The front bass reflex port delivers plenty of low-end for a relatively small cabinet and produces a beautifully balanced sound that will sound great for music and movies.

Focal has a dedicated center in the same range, simply called the Chora Center, making a terrific pairing with the 806s for home theater. 

However, you don’t have to get a matching brand if you don’t want to.

Focal Chora 806 Specifications
Frequency Response 58Hz – 28kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity 89dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
Recommended Amplifier Power 25 – 120W
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) TNF Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
Low-Frequency Driver 1x 6.5″ (165mm) Slatefiber Midbass
Enclosure Type Bass Reflex
Dimensions 16.9″ (431mm) [H] x 8.25″ (209mm) [W] x 10.6″ (269mm) [D]
Weight 16.2lbs (7.35kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Bookshelf Speakers
Kanto Living YUP4 Bookshelf Speakers
What Is It: A budget passive bookshelf speaker for medium-size rooms for those who want a compact speaker that still delivers good sound quality and isn’t too expensive. Also available as a powered speaker.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 60Hz - 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 86dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 70W per speaker
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) silk dome tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 4" (101mm) Kevlar® driver
  • Dimensions: 7.5" (190mm) [H] x 5.5" (139mm) [W] x 7.5" (190mm) [D]
  • Weight: 11lbs (4.9kg)
BUY AT AUDIO ADVICE BUY AT WWS
High-End Bookshelf Speaker
Bowers & Wilkins 707 S2 Bookshelf Speaker
What Is It: A high-end compact bookshelf speaker for smaller rooms – ideal for hi-fi or home theater.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz - 28kHz ±3dB
  • Sensitivity: 84dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 4 ohms)
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 30 - 120W into 8Ω on unclipped programme
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) decoupled carbon dome
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 5" (130mm) continuum cone bass / midrange
  • Enclosure Type: Vented-box system
  • Dimensions: 11" (280mm) [H] x 6.5" (165mm) [W] x 10.2" (260mm) [D]
  • Weight: 13.2lbs (6kg)
CHECK PRICE: ABT CHECK PRICE: AUDIO ADVICE

Best Floorstanding Speakers

Floorstanding (or tower) speakers can take your home theater up a level.

Primarily an excellent option for music, tower speakers will also work very well for the front left and right pair, and you may even be able to rely less on the subwoofer for some of the low end.

You can even use floorstanding models for the surrounds, but that is overkill in most cases.

You should definitely consider floorstanding speakers if you love music or have a large room that requires more power.

Before buying, check if the price you see is for a single or a pair, as many are priced for a single unit. This can easily cause you to make a mistake when purchasing.

Polk Signature Elite ES60 Tower Speakers

Polk Signature Elite ES60 Floorstanding Speaker
Polk Signature Elite ES60 Floorstanding Speakers
Image Credit: Polk

Thumbs Up

  • Top-notch sound quality.
  • Great speakers for movies and music.
  • Compatible with a range of amplifiers.
  • Balanced sound with a solid low-end.

Thumbs Down

  • Not for the casual home theater enthusiast.
  • Not ideal for small rooms.

Polk produces several excellent speakers for music and home theater duties. Their high-end Reserve series would be a great choice if you wanted a floorstanding model that excelled at reproducing music.

However, if you are looking primarily for home theater floorstanding speakers, the mid-range Signature Elite ES60 might fit the bill.

It provides an excellent balance between cost and performance and will work nicely as a stereo pair for music if you wish.

The three 6.5-inch woofers deliver a rock-solid sound, while the 1-inch tweeter adds the sparkle. This series also has a matching center model if you want to get the complete LCR set.

Be careful when buying a pair, as most retailers sell them in singles, so you will need to buy two.

Polk Signature Elite ES60 Specifications
Frequency Response 36Hz – 40kHz
Sensitivity 90dB @ 1W / 1m
Nominal Impedance Compatible with 4 and 8-ohm outputs
Recommended Amplifier Power 20 – 300W
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) Terylene High-Resolution Dome Tweeter
Low-Frequency Driver 3x 6.5″ (165mm) Dynamic Balance Mica Reinforced Polypropylene Drivers
Dimensions 44.5″ (1130mm) [H] x 8.5″ (215mm) [W] x 15.7″ (398mm) [D]
Weight 52lbs (23kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Floorstanding Speakers
Sony SS-CS3 Floorstanding Speakers
What Is It: A budget 3-way, 4-driver floorstanding speaker with wide dispersion tweeters for those who want more power output in their room without breaking the bank.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz - 50kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 145W (Peak)
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 0.75" (19mm) wide dispersion tweeter, 1x 1" (25mm) wide dispersion tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 2x 5" (130mm) woofer
  • Enclosure Type: Bass reflex
  • Dimensions: 36.3" (922mm) [H] x 9" (228mm) [W] x 10.2" (259mm) [D]
  • Weight: 25.35lbs (11.5kg)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT ABT
High-End Floorstanding Speakers
Focal Chora 826 Floorstanding Speakers
What Is It: The flagship 3-way high-end floorstanding speaker from Focal with outstanding detail and plenty of dynamic power for most home theater rooms.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 48Hz - 28kHz ±3dB
  • Sensitivity: 91dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 2.9 ohms)
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 40 - 250W
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) TNF Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 6.5" (165mm) Slatefiber Midrange, 2x 6.5" (165mm) Slatefiber Woofer
  • Enclosure Type: Bass reflex
  • Dimensions: 41.5" (1054mm) [H] x 11.88" (301mm) [W] x 15.25" (387mm) [D]
  • Weight: 46.6lbs (21.1kg)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT WWS

Best Subwoofers

The subwoofer is the foundation of your home theater sound and provides the really low-end LFE effects and low bass from your other speakers.

Don’t cut corners here because you will miss out on much of the excitement in a movie. Of course, make sure you’re considerate to your neighbors too!

Most people will want a powered subwoofer (not passive), which means you simply need to connect it to the LFE output of your AV receiver with a single coaxial audio cable.

All the models suggested here are powered.

You can also choose between a sealed or ported subwoofer. A ported model will offer more bass extension but may overpower some rooms.

Sealed subwoofers are easier to control and require less tweaking to get a good, balanced sound.

SVS SB-1000 Pro Subwoofer

SVS SB-1000 Pro Subwoofer
SVS SB-1000 Pro Subwoofer
Image Credit: SVS

Thumbs Up

  • Top-rated subwoofer speakers.
  • Awesome room-filling bass for most room sizes.
  • A dynamic delivery that will work well with all types of speakers.
  • A ported version is available if you have a room big room.
  • A slick app allows you to tweak the configuration from your chair.

Thumbs Down

  • For very small rooms, it might be too large and powerful. If so, look for a smaller 8 or 10-inch model.
  • For large rooms, you might want to upgrade to the larger SB-2000 or SB-3000 models – or the ported version – or buy two subwoofers.

SVS produces quality home cinema speakers of all types, but their subwoofers are right up there with the best you can buy.

The 1000 Pro series is the entry-level in the SVS subwoofer range. So, you can go up a level or two if you have a large room and need more output.

However, the SB-1000 Pro is a great all-rounder that will fit the bill in many setups and is the most popular SVS subwoofer.

This is a sealed unit with a dynamic performance that will give a controlled low-frequency output. An alternative ported model, the PB-1000 Pro, will provide a more significant bass response if you have a big room – or just want more bass.

However, an enclosed cabinet like the SB-1000 Pro will be easier to control in most rooms.

The compact 13-inch cabinet houses a 12-inch driver with a built-in 325-watt RMS amplifier.

All the main settings of the subwoofer are controlled by the SVS subwoofer smartphone app, meaning you can tweak the performance from the comfort of your chair.

Learn more: Learn how to connect a subwoofer

SVS SB-1000 Pro Specifications
Frequency Response 20Hz – 270Hz ±3dB
Input Impedance 16kΩ (unbalanced RCA), 1kΩ (speaker level)
Amplifier Class D – 325 watts (RMS), 820+ watts (Peak)
Driver 12-inch long-throw driver
Enclosure Type Sealed
Dimensions 13.5″ (342mm) [H] x 13″ (330mm) [W] x 14.76″ (375mm) [D] (with grille)
Weight 26lbs (11.9kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Subwoofer
Yamaha NS-SW050 Subwoofer
What Is It: A budget compact 8-inch subwoofer for small to mid-size rooms that won’t cost the earth but offers quality performance.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 28Hz - 200Hz
  • Impedance: 5 ohms
  • Amplifier Output: 50W (100Hz, 5 ohms, 10% THD)
  • Driver: 8-inch (200mm)
  • Enclosure Type: Bass reflex
  • Dimensions: 11.5" (292mm) [H] x 11.5" (292mm) [W] x 13.3" (339mm) [D]
  • Weight: 18.7lbs (8.5kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: ABT
High-End Subwoofer
REL Acoustics T/9x Subwoofer
What Is It: A high-end flagship front-firing subwoofer from a respected brand – suitable for rooms that need that extra bottom-end performance.
Specifications:
  • Low Frequency Extension: -6dB at 27Hz
  • Amplifier: Class A/B - 300 watts (RMS)
  • Driver: 1x 10" active front-firing, 1x 10" passive down-firing
  • Input Connectors: 1x High Level Neutrik Speakon, 1x Low Level single RCA, 1x LFE RCA
  • Dimensions: 13.4" (340mm) [H] x 14.5" (370mm) [W] x 15.5" (393mm) [D]
  • Weight: 41.3lbs (18.7kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: AUDIO ADVICE

Best Satellite/Surround Sound Speaker

Satellite speakers are used primarily for surround duties in home theater layouts and are mainly intended to play the atmosphere and sound effects behind you.

They are smaller than typical bookshelf designs, making them more discrete to install, and they generally don’t need as much bass response as the front speakers in the room.

You don’t have to use satellite speakers for your surrounds; you can use bookshelf, floorstanding, in-wall or in-ceiling. But, they are often a good compromise in price and ease of installation for many people.

Matching these with the other speakers in your setup is less important, although you can if you like.

SVS Prime Satellite Speakers

SVS Prime Satellite Speakers
SVS Prime Satellite Speakers
Image Credit: SVS

Thumbs Up

  • Compact design with excellent performance.
  • A cut above budget satellite speakers.
  • SVS has a matching range of Prime speakers.
  • They will work with products from other brands.
  • Small enough for discrete room placement.

Thumbs Down

  • Some people prefer larger drivers for the surrounds as they have more bass.

The Prime series of SVS speakers are some of the speakers for a small to medium-sized home theater room and a great all-rounder that will fit seamlessly into most surround layouts.

They can be used in the front of the room if you want a discrete installation that will still offer excellent performance.

However, many people will use bigger speakers at the front and smaller options like these to add the surround effect.

At 8.5 inches high, you will have no trouble mounting these on the wall – or you can place them on stands if that is better for your room.

They have a decent frequency response of 69Hz – 25kHz, making them ideal for reproducing the surround channels.

In most situations, you don’t need speakers delivering very low frequencies, as you will direct the low bass to the subwoofer using your AV receiver’s crossover settings.

The neutral sound makes them well-equipped for surround duties as they won’t color the sound from the rest of the room.

SVS Prime Satellite Specifications
Frequency Response 69Hz – 25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity 85dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
Recommended Amplifier Power 20 – 150W
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) aluminum dome
Low-Frequency Driver 1x 4.5″ (114mm) Polypropylene cone
Dimensions 8.85″ (224mm) [H] x 4.9″ (124mm) [W] x 6.3″ (160mm) [D]
Weight 6.5lbs (2.9kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Surround Speakers
Polk Signature Elite ES10 Surround Speakers
What Is It: A powerful but compact surround speaker that delivers excellent performance at an affordable price. They can be used as a surround, height or even front speaker.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 75Hz - 40kHz
  • Sensitivity: 87dB @ 1W / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: Compatible with 4 and 8 ohm outputs
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 - 100W
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) Terylene High-Res Dome Tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 4" (101mm) Dynamic Balance Mica Reinforced Polypropylene Driver
  • Dimensions: 8.4" (213mm) [H] x 5.4" (137mm) [W] x 6.1" (155mm) [D]
  • Weight: 6lbs (2.7kg)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT ABT
High-End Surround Speakers
Focal Chora Surround Speakers
What Is It: A high-end compact speaker designed for the rear and side channels that delivers a detailed, immersive 360° performance for realistic surround sound effects.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz - 28kHz
  • Sensitivity: 89dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 4.5 ohms)
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 25 - 100W
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) TNF Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 6.5" (165mm) Slatefiber Midbass
  • Dimensions: 17.5" (444mm) [H] x 12.83" (325mm) [W] x 3.94" (100mm) [D]
  • Weight: 12lbs (5.4kg)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT AUDIO ADVICE

Best Bipole and Dipole Speakers

Bipole (or bipolar) speakers have a unique two-driver design, making them ideal for rear surround sound duties.

The two drivers disperse the audio in different directions, creating a diffuse surround effect around your listening area.

Dipole speakers have a similar dual-driver design, the difference being that the audio is out-of-phase, creating a different surround effect.

With some models, you can switch between the bipole and dipole sound performance, while others are one or the other.

You don’t have to use this type for your rear sound speaker, but it’s an alternative that you might want to consider if you find traditional monopole designs are too directional for your taste.

If you buy a good quality pair and install them in the correct locations, a bipole or dipole design can be the best speaker for surround sound duties.

Klipsch RP-502S II Surround Speakers

Klipsch RP-502S II Bipole Surround Speakers
Klipsch RP-502S II Bipole Surround Speakers
Image Credit: Klipsch

Thumbs Up

  • Great sound and part of the outstanding Reference Premiere series
  • Excellent build quality
  • An expansive sound field for creating a terrific surround effect
  • They will work well with other brand’s speakers

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  • A very distinctive look that may clash if you don’t have a complete set of speakers from Klipsch
  • Quite heavy, so make sure you mount them properly

The Klipsch RP-502S II is one of the best surround sound bipole speakers with a dual-driver design and is part of the updated Reference Premiere series.

Using the Klipsch Wide Dispersion Surround Technology (WDST), these speakers disperse the sound in two directions using a 5.25-inch woofer and a 1-inch titanium tweeter.

They are a hefty 16.7 lbs each, so you must consider the best way to mount them in your room.

Wall-mounting is the most common way of installing the rear speakers in a surround layout – and they come with a keyhole on the back for mounting them flush – but you can use compatible stands if that suits your room layout better.

Just make sure your wall will take the weight before putting them in place.

As with all Klipsch speakers, they come with distinctive spun copper woofers, which will look great in a matching system. If not, you can always leave the grilles on so they are more discrete.

They deliver a crisp, dynamic sound that will work well with other Klipsch models or as an add-on to your existing LCR front speakers.

Klipsch RP-502S II Specifications
Frequency Response 62Hz – 25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity 94dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
Recommended Amplifier Power 100W (cont) / 400W (peak)
High-Frequency Driver 2x 1″ (25mm) Titanium LTS Vented Tweeter with Hybrid Cross-Section Expanded Tractrix® Horn
Low-Frequency Driver 2x 5.25″ (133mm) Cerametallic Woofers with Faraday rings
Dimensions 14.15″ (359mm) [H] x 11.94″ (303mm) [W] x 7.63″ (193mm) [D]
Weight 16.7lbs (7.5kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Bipole Speakers
Fluance SXBP2 Bipolar Surround Speakers
What Is It: A budget bipolar speaker with opposing drivers that provides wide dispersion for the surround channels at an affordable price.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 130Hz - 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 - 100W RMS
  • High-Frequency Driver: 2x 1" (25mm) Neodymium Balanced Dome Ferrofluid Cooled
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 2x 4" (101mm) Polymer Treated with Butyl Rubber Surrounds
  • Enclosure Type: Acoustic Suspension
  • Dimensions: 10.2" (259mm) [H] x 11" (280mm) [W] x 5.5" (140mm) [D]
  • Weight: 6.8lbs (3kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: WALMART
High-End Bipole Speakers
SVS Ultra Surround Speaker
What Is It: A high-end surround speaker delivering a detailed, dynamic and neutral sound for the surround and rear channels. It can be configured as a bipole or dipole speaker or switched to the unique SVS Duet Mode that creates two individual speakers in one cabinet.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 58Hz - 32kHz
  • Sensitivity: 87dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 - 250W RMS
  • High-Frequency Driver: 2x 1" (25mm) aluminum dome
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 2x 5.5" (139mm) Composite glass-fiber cone
  • Dimensions: 14" (355mm) [H] x 12.3" (312mm) [W] x 6.9" (175mm) [D]
  • Weight: 18lbs (8.1kg)
CHECK PRICE: SVS CHECK PRICE: WWS

Best Dolby Atmos-enabled Speakers

Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers are modules designed specifically for delivering the Atmos surround effect.

You place these modules low in the room – usually around your listening level – and the sound is directed upwards towards the ceiling, where the sound reflects back to your listening position.

This creates a very diffuse sound that appears to come from above and can be very effective for Dolby Atmos surround effects.

You can get standalone Atmos-enabled modules that you place on your existing speakers, or you can buy traditional forward-firing models with integrated upward-firing modules.

You can place some Atmos-enabled modules on the wall, pointing down into the room; however, you should check this as many are only for directing sound off the ceiling.

For changing from upward-firing to wall-mounted locations, well-designed speakers should have a switch to alter how it delivers the sound.

ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos-enabled Modules

ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos Speakers
ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Dolby Atmos Speakers
Image Credit: ELAC

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  • Highly-regarded brand
  • A neutral sound that will work with speakers from other brands
  • Available as part of a larger package if you want a matching look

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  • For placing on bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, not wall-mounting

The ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Atmos-enabled modules are designed to sit on your existing front or rear speakers.

This allows you to experience Dolby Atmos sound without the trouble of mounting extra modules on your walls.

These modules can be paired with the complete ELAC Debut 2.0 surround sound speaker system – or placed on your existing speakers.

The A4.2 Atmos-enabled modules give a neutral sound, allowing mixing and matching with other brands.

If you want to use them with your existing speakers, the main thing to consider is if they will match the look of your current models – and you should also check the dimensions to ensure they will fit.

Each A4.2 module has a 0.5-inch silk-dome tweeter and a 4-inch woofer made from woven aramid-fiber.

The frequency response of 180Hz to 20kHz is standard for surround duties. You won’t need the driver to reproduce very low frequencies as anything in this range will direct to the subwoofer – and most Atmos audio will be mid and high frequencies.

ELAC Debut 2.0 A4.2 Specifications
Frequency Response 180Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity 85dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 6 ohms (minimum 5.1 ohms)
Recommended Amplifier Power 20 – 80W RMS
High-Frequency Driver 1x 0.5″ (12.7mm) polymer dome
Low-Frequency Driver 2x 4″ (101mm) woven aramid-fiber cone
Enclosure Type Sealed
Dimensions 4.92″ (125mm) [H] x 7.09″ (180mm) [W] x 9.21″ (234mm) [D]
Weight 5.5lbs (2.5kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Atmos-enabled Speaker
Polk Monitor XT90 Dolby Atmos-enabled Speaker
What Is It: A cheaper height speaker for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for creating an immersive 3D movie audio experience.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 94Hz - 22kHz
  • Sensitivity: 89dB @ 1W / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: Compatible with 4- and 8-ohm outputs
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 30 - 100W
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 4" (101mm) Bi-laminate Paper Woofer
  • Dimensions: 5.64" (143mm) [H] x 7.5" (190mm) [W] x 8.38" (212mm) [D]
  • Weight: 6lbs (2.7kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: WWS
High-End Atmos-Enabled Speakers
Polk Reserve R900 Height Modules
What Is It: A high-end module for realistic DTS:X and Dolby Atmos height effects that can be placed on existing speakers or wall mounted.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 70Hz - 32kHz
  • Sensitivity: 85.5dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: Compatible with 4, 6 and 8-ohm outputs
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 45 - 100W
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 0.75" (19mm) Pinnacle Ring Radiator
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 4" (101mm) Turbine Cone
  • Dimensions: 6.2" (158mm) [H] x 6.5" (166mm) [W] x 12.6" (320mm) [D]
  • Weight: 6.6lbs (3kg)
BUY AT AUDIO ADVICE BUY AT WWS

Best Dolby Atmos Height Speakers

There is more than one way to install Dolby Atmos speakers in your room.

If you don’t want to use in-ceiling or Dolby Atmos-enabled upfiring modules, you can install forward-firing speakers high on the walls, pointing down to your listening position.

You can use standard surround or satellite models for this; however, a good alternative is to use specifically designed Atmos modules.

These will often have useful design features like an angled enclosure that saves installing a wall mount that needs to be pointed down.

You can also use bipole or dipole speakers mentioned previously, although these are best used as surrounds, rather than for Atmos height effects.

SVS Prime Elevation Speakers

SVS Prime Elevation Speakers
SVS Prime Elevation Speakers
Image Credit: SVS

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  • Part of the excellent SVS Prime range
  • A neutral sound that will blend with other brands
  • Angled front baffle to direct the sound into the room
  • Compact design for discreet installation

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  • You can’t swivel them on the wall, so you need to position them exactly where required.

The SVS Prime Elevation speaker is designed for a Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, or Auro-3D surround sound system.

These are versatile models that can be wall-mounted anywhere in the room for the height effects – so you can place them high in the room at the front, side or rear – depending on what you want to achieve.

The position you want simply depends on your preference. You will get a better Atmos effect around your listening position, but the front can also open the sound and give an excellent result.

The Prime Elevation speakers have an angled front baffle meaning you can easily mount them flush on the wall, and they will naturally direct the sound into the room.

This is very useful and removes the need to install extra wall mounts.

If you want a matching look in your room, you can buy the other speakers in the excellent SVS Prime cinema range – or add them to your existing setup, where their neutral sound will blend nicely with other brands.

These Elevation models are 9.25 inches high and 5.4 inches wide, so they will take up more space than the smaller surround speakers you can buy, but they won’t look too intrusive on your walls.

SVS Prime Elevation Specifications
Frequency Response 55Hz – 25kHz ±3dB
Sensitivity 87dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms
Recommended Amplifier Power 20 – 150W
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) aluminum dome
Low-Frequency Driver 1x 4.5″ (114mm) polypropylene cone
Dimensions 9.25″ (234mm) [H] x 5.44″ (138mm) [W] x 7.88″ (200mm) [D]
Weight 7.8lbs (3.5kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget Dolby Atmos Height Speaker
Cambridge Minx Min 12 Ultra-compact Satellite Speaker
What Is It: A tiny speaker with a big sound that is ideal for hiding near the ceilings for your Dolby Atmos height effects. You can also use these speakers from this respected British AV brand as satellite surround speakers if you want a complete matching set.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 150Hz - 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 86dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 25 - 200W
  • Driver: 1x 2.25" (57mm) Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) Technology for wide dispersion
  • Dimensions: 3.1" (78mm) [H] x 3.1" (78mm) [W] x 3.3" (85mm) [D]
  • Weight: 0.95lbs (0.43kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: AUDIO ADVICE
High-End Dolby Atmos Speakers
Klipsch RP-500SA II Dolby Atmos-enabled Speakers
What Is It: A pair of Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers for creating an immersive surround sound effect.
Pros:
  • Versatile: can be installed as up-firing, height or on-wall rear surround sound speakers.
  • Switchable between Atmos and surround modes
  • Great quality Klipsch speaker technology
  • Excellent sound
Cons:
  • Expensive, there are cheaper alternatives
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

Best In-Wall Speakers

In-wall speakers are designed for those who want the most discreet installation. When installing an in-wall model, it sits flush with the wall surface and doesn’t protrude into the room.

You can use in-wall models for most locations in a surround sound system, although they are most common for the front left, front right and center positions – or the surround locations.

If you want to use an in-wall speaker, you will need to carefully think about the position in the room, as they can’t be angled like standard models on wall mounts or stands.

Installing in-wall models can often be more complex because they need to go into a recess in the wall, which is much more complicated than using a stand or mount.

Plus, you have the additional complication of running the cables to your amplifier from the back.

Polk Audio RC85i In-Wall Speakers

Polk Audio RC85i In-Wall Speakers
Polk Audio RC85i In-Wall Speakers
Image Credit: Polk

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  • Great in-wall speakers at a competitive price.
  • The tweeter can be angled.
  • Good balance between price and sound quality.
  • Installation templates are provided.
  • 3-year warranty.
  • Also suitable for damp and humid locations like a kitchen or bathroom.

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  • Only available with a white grille, although you can paint it.
  • Better sound is available if you want to pay more.

The Polk RC85i is a top-rated mid-range in-wall speaker that will suit most home cinema installations.

It provides a good balance of cost and sound quality and can be paired with other models in the RCi series, including matching in-ceiling models.

The RC85i comes with a cardboard template to make installation more straightforward, and you will need to make a hole of 8.69 x 12.75 inches (22.1 x 32.4 cm) for each module – with a depth of 2.88 inches (7.3 cm).

Each unit has an 8-inch woofer and a single 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, providing a well-balanced sound.

These Polk in-wall modules will provide discreet home theater audio in your room, but if you want audiophile sound quality, you will need to pay more and consider brands such as Focal and Bowers & Wilkins.

Polk Audio RC85i Specifications
Frequency Response 30Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity 90dB @ 1W / 1m
Nominal Impedance Compatible with 8-ohm amplifiers
Recommended Amplifier Power 20 – 100W RMS
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) soft dome in swivel mount
Low-Frequency Driver 1x 8″ (203mm) mineral filled polypropylene cone
Dimensions 12.75″ (323mm) [H] x 8.69″ (220mm) [W] x 2.88″ (73mm) [D]
Weight 5.8lbs (2.6kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget In-Wall Speakers
Yamaha NS-IW760 In-Wall Speakers
What Is It: A budget in-wall speaker that will do a good job if you want to save money on your installation costs.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz - 24kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 40W (RMS) / 130W (Peak)
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) soft dome tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 2x 6" (152mm) woofer
  • Crossover: 6.5kHz
  • Dimensions: 23.4" (594mm) [H] x 7.7" (195mm) [W] x 3" (76mm) [D]
  • Weight: 5.1lbs (2.3kg)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT WALMART
High-End In-Wall Speakers
Focal 300 IW6 In-Wall Speakers
What Is It: A high-end, 2-way in-wall speaker for audiophile sound in your room for music and movies – ideal for the front left, front right or center speaker with an adjustable tweeter.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz - 28kHz
  • Sensitivity: 90dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 4.5 ohms)
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 25 - 130W
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) Al/Mg inverted dome tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 6.5" (165mm) flax cone woofer
  • Cutout Dimensions: 11.5" (292mm) [H] x 7.5" (191mm) [W] x 3.69" (93mm) [D]
  • Weight: 4.9lbs (2.25kg)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT ABT

Best In-Ceiling Speakers

In-ceiling models are most suitable if you want your speakers to disappear from view.

They are best used for height or Dolby Atmos overhead duties, creating an immersive sound around you.

You can use in-ceiling models for the rear locations of a surround sound system and even the front LCR positions if you wish, but you should only do this if the discreet look is more important than the sound quality.

It will be challenging to get an immersive surround sound effect with all the audio coming from the ceiling.

The main thing to consider is installing them in the right place for your listening position – and you probably shouldn’t consider in-ceiling speakers if you think you might be moving the position of your screen and sofa anytime soon.

Also, check if you can angle the driver and/or tweeter. Pointing the driver toward the listening position can increase the immersive surround sound effect.

Focal 100 ICW6 In-Ceiling Speakers

Focal 100 ICW6 In-Ceiling Speaker
Focal 100 ICW6 In-Ceiling Speaker
Image Credit: Focal

Thumbs Up

  • Great sound for music and movies.
  • Compact design.
  • Adjustable 360° tweeter.
  • It can be used in-wall or in-ceiling.
  • Paintable front grille.
  • Ideal for small to medium-sized rooms.
  • Available in 5, 6 and 8-inch sizes.

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  • It might be too expensive if you are only a casual listener.

The Focal 100 ICW6 is an outstanding all-around in-ceiling model and will give you excellent value for money.

It’s not the cheapest in-ceiling model you can buy, but it’s worth paying a little more if you want to feel the excitement every time you switch on your system.

Focal is a well-regarded brand in hi-fi and home theater audio, so you can be sure of top-quality sound in your room.

The 100 ICW6 has a 6.5-inch Polyglass woofer and a 1-inch aluminum inverted tweeter, creating excellent sound dispersion, which is crucial for any ceiling speakers.

The tweeter has 360° rotation and 20° tilt, meaning you can angle the directional high frequencies toward your listening position.

This can really make the difference in getting a thoroughly immersive effect for Atmos soundtracks – and you can even adjust the tweeter level by ±3dB for further fine-tuning.

The sound from these models will work well with any brands you use for your primary sound system – so you don’t need to buy a complete set of Focal speakers (although they are great).

The white magnetic grille fits over the cone to keep things tidy, which you can paint if you need to match the color of your ceiling.

When installing, you will need to make a hole in your ceiling of 7.25 inches (186 mm) in diameter to fit each unit, and there is a relatively small required depth of 0.31-1.56 inches (8-40mm) behind the driver.

Focal 100 ICW6 Specifications
Frequency Response 62Hz – 23kHz
Sensitivity 89dB @ 2.83V / 1m
Nominal Impedance 8 ohms (minimum 7.3 ohms)
Recommended Amplifier Power 25 – 100W
High-Frequency Driver 1x 1″ (25mm) AI inverted dome tweeter
Low-Frequency Driver 1x 6″ (152mm) polyglass midbass
External Dimensions 8.19″ (208mm) [Diameter] x 3.74″ (95mm) [Depth]
Cutout Dimensions 7.25″ (184mm) [Diameter] x 3.58″ (91mm) [Depth]
Weight 3.3lbs (1.5kg)

Alternatives in This Category

Budget In-Ceiling Speakers
Yamaha NS-IW360C In-Ceiling Speakers
What Is It: A budget, low-profile in-ceiling speaker that will give a good sound if you don’t want to spend too much.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz - 24kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 6 ohms
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 35W (RMS) / 120W (Peak)
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm)
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 8" (203mm)
  • Dimensions: 10.25" (260mm) [Diameter] x 4" (101mm) [Depth]
  • Weight: 4.3lbs (1.95kg)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: ABT
High-End In-Ceiling Speaker
Bowers & Wilkins CCM663 In-Ceiling Speaker
What Is It: A top-class, high-performance in-ceiling speaker if your aim is the best sound quality in your room.
Specifications:
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz - 50kHz
  • Sensitivity: 88dB @ 2.83V / 1m
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms (minimum 4.5 ohms)
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 25 - 130W
  • High-Frequency Driver: 1x 1" (25mm) Nautilus™ swirl loaded aluminium
  • dome tweeter
  • Low-Frequency Driver: 1x 6" (150mm) blue Aramid Fibre cone bass/midrange
  • Cutout Dimensions: 8" (202mm) [Diameter] x 5.2" (133mm) [Depth]
  • Frame Diameter: 9.5" (240mm)
  • Protrusion: 0.2" (4mm)
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: ABT
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About The Author

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been 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. You can find out more here.

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