Best surround sound systems 2021
The perfect home cinema solutions
Putting together a surround sound system can be a daunting prospect. Do you go with separate speakers, an all-in-one system or a soundbar or soundbase? Which sounds better? How do you connect your set-top box, games console, 4K Blu-ray player and all the rest? Relax. We’re here to help.
In this guide we’ll look at everything you need to consider, and suggest the best home theatre systems available. By the end you’ll know all you need to start buying with confidence.
The first big question is whether to go for a speaker package or a soundbar. It really depends on how much space you have for a system, what your budget is, and what other devices you want to plug into it.
A speaker package will give you true surround sound, as the speakers will be placed all around you in a 360-degree arrangement. But a full surround sound system will cost more than a soundbar and requires more boxes in your room, including an AV receiver.
For many, a soundbar is the best option. It’s a simpler, more elegant solution, as it combines speakers and amplification into a more discreet package. A lot of soundbars come with Dolby Atmos, which does a very good job of replicating surround sound by positioning audio above you as well as around you. A soundbase is just like a soundbar, except your TV stands on it rather than behind it.
Whichever surround sound system you’re considering, do your research and make sure it will fit your space, and will accommodate your games console, 4K Blu-ray player, set-top box, and whatever else you’re planning on hooking up. And that you can afford it, of course. Happy listening!
Convincing Dolby Atmos
Dynamic, detailed and weighty
All of the usual Sonos smarts
Music could be better projected
Heavily reliant on your TV’s specs
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI eARC, 1 x optical digital, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Voice control: Amazon Alexa, Google, Assistant
Dimensions: 8.7 x 114 x 12cm (HxWxD)
Effective handling of Dolby Atmos
Warm, refined sound
No additional HDMI ports
Doesn’t support DTS:X
Connectivity: 1 x HDMI eARC, Wi-Fi, Ethernet
Voice control: Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Dimensions (hwd) : 7 x 65 x 10cm
Weight: 2.8 kg
Excellent Atmos performance
No VRR or ALLM at launch
EQ controls would be nice-Slightly confused styling
Sound format support : Dolby Atmos/ Dolby AudioTM/ DTS:X/ DTS-HD/ PCM
Streaming : Chromecast, Bluetooth 5, Apple Airplay 2, WiFi
Voice control : Google Assistant, Alexa
Dimensions (hwd) : 8 x 130 x 14 cm
Wholesome, tight bass
Good spread of sound
Really needs wall-mounting
No front-facing display
Highs could sound sweeter
Connectivity: HDMI (ARC), optical x 2, 3.5mm
Streaming: Bluetooth (aptX)
Dimensions: 16.4 x 86 x 7cm (HxWxD)
Rich, dynamic audio
Convincing surround sound
Stacked feature set
Fussy with positioning
Connectivity: 4 x HDMI, optical digital, RCA line in
Dimensions: 14 x 127 x 17cm (HxWxD)