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!

Best surround sound systems 2021

Sonos Arc

A impressive surround sound performance from Sonos’ latest soundbar.
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
Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus
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)
Best surround sound systems 2021

Sonos Beam Gen 2

The dinky Sonos Beam delivers a refined sound and excellent Dolby Atmos interpretation
Effective handling of Dolby Atmos
Warm, refined sound
Streaming smarts
No additional HDMI ports
Doesn’t support DTS:X
Sound format support: Dolby Atmos DP / Dolby Atmos True HD / Dolby Digital / Multichannel PCM/ Dolby Multichannel PCM / stereo PCM
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
Best surround sound systems 2021

Sony HT-A7000

Powerful and muscular room-filling Dolby Atmos from a single soundbar
Robust low-end
Excellent Atmos performance
No VRR or ALLM at launch
EQ controls would be nice-Slightly confused styling
More info +
Connectivity: eARC, 2*HDMI 2.1, optical, USB, WiFi, Ethernet
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
Weight: 8.7kg
Best surround sound systems 2021

Dali Katch One

A tidy soundbar system that’s great for movies and music.
Wholesome, tight bass
Strong dynamics
Good spread of sound
Really needs wall-mounting
No front-facing display
Highs could sound sweeter
More info +
Sound formats: Dolby Digital 5.1
Connectivity: HDMI (ARC), optical x 2, 3.5mm
Streaming: Bluetooth (aptX)
Subwoofer: No
Dimensions: 16.4 x 86 x 7cm (HxWxD)
Best surround sound systems 2021

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar

Who needs multiple boxes when you’ve got this sensational surround system?
Rich, dynamic audio
Convincing surround sound
Stacked feature set
Fussy with positioning
Sound formats: Dolby Atmos & DTS:X surround sound
Connectivity: 4 x HDMI, optical digital, RCA line in
Streaming: Bluetooth
Subwoofer: No
Dimensions: 14 x 127 x 17cm (HxWxD)