Best surround sound 2020: 5 top picks for a top-notch home theater system

Invest in the best surround sound system to instantly upgrade your home theater, at the best price

the best surround sound system: bang & olufsen beoplay
blank
(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

We'd highly recommend investing in the best surround sound system you can afford if you're serious about building the ultimate home theater for your TV. And while surround sound isn't necessarily cheap, it's more than worth the investment if you're a film buff, box set binger, or avid gamer who takes their TV set-up seriously. This is one upgrade that you will not regret.

Each of our top picks are stylish, wireless and – in some instances – even boast an impressive array of smart features. Plus, we have, of course, taken aesthetic appeal into account which is handy if you're concerned about trailing wires and boxy speakers ruining the aesthetic appeal of your space.

Want to upgrade to the best TV you can get for 2020? Check out our dedicated guide which includes the latest spec, at the best prices.

Keep scrolling for the complete reviews of the options available, and our top tips on how to buy the best surround sound system at the end of this article. 

What is the best surround sound system?

If you want to buy the best surround sounds system (in our opinion), we recommend you buy the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9. In addition to offering clean and seriously quality sound – which should be your top priority when investing in a surround sound system – it also makes a dramatic design statement, too. 

Its looks are customizable, and the speaker can be connected to your smart phone for remote control. We'll admit that it's somewhat pricey, but you're looking for uncompromising quality, it doesn't get much better than this. 

Best surround sound systems 2020: ranked

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 (4th Gen) Wireless Speakers

The best surround sound system

Specifications
Best for: All-around quality
Contents: One speaker
Connection method: AirPlay 2, DLNA, Chromecast or Bluetooth, built-in access to Spotify
Reasons to buy
+Great design+Comes in a range of colours and leg finishes+Connects to devices wirelessly+Just one speaker
Reasons to avoid
-The price tag

Completely customizable to your space and taste, these wireless speakers don't only make a dramatic design statement, but it features built-in room adaptation to adjust the sound perfectly to its surroundings, so you experience honest, clean sound in any room.
Buy the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 Wireless Speakers

Stylish design

Choose from displaying your speaker system on wooden legs (as above) or wall-mounting, depending on your preference and the set-up of your space.

Its also worth noting that this model is available in white, black, smoked oak or bronze tones, thanks to interchangeable covers, so you really can choose a finish that complements your interiors style.

Only requires one speaker

Unlike other surround sound systems, the Beoplay A9 is so powerful that only one speaker is needed to fill the room with sound, ideal for those who are going for a minimalist look or don't like clutter. 

Smart capabilities

You can connect the speaker to your phone via Bluetooth, Airplay or Spotify, use the Bang & Olufsen app on your smartphone to control it remotely, or swipe and tap the Intuitive Touch Interface along the top of the system. 

Build a wider sound system

Bang & Olufsen fans will be pleased to know the speaker features BeoLink Multiroom technology, allowing you to unite all your Beoplay products to play the same music in every room.

A stellar product featuring a ground-breaking design, this is our pick of the very best surround sound speaker for your home.

best surround sound: sonos playbar

(Image credit: Currys PC World)

2. Sonos Playbar

Best surround sound system for small home theaters

Specifications
Best for: Small and medium-sized spaces
Contents: Soundbar
Connection method: Wi-fi
Reasons to buy
+Stylish and compact+Amazing sound+Quality you would expect from Sonos
Reasons to avoid
-Does not support older hardware (some pre 2015)-Expensive for just a soundbar

Another of our top picks, is this soundbar from Sonos which gets our vote for the best surround sound system for small home theaters. It offers impressive sound quality for an immersive cinematic experience, from the comfort of your own home.
Buy the Sonos Playbar

Compact design

If you require a system that blends style with superior sound quality, this Sonos playbar may be the one for your living room or den. It has a compact design, and one that is adaptable too. You can place it on a flat surface or wall-mounted (mount available separately at extra cost), and the Playbar will automatically detect and adjust its output for consistent Sonos quality in any situation. 

Build on the sound

If the nine speaker design is not enough for you, you can enhance the experience even more by build on the system. Simply add a Sonos SUB or rear speakers (two Play 1s or two Sonos Ones) to the mix (additional speakers sold separately) to create  a sound which totally surrounds you, and the home.

Connect to your smart home system

Connect up to your home Wi-Fi and take full control of your new soundbar with  the SONOS Controller app. It's available to download for free, and will give you the wireless freedom to adjust volume, switch settings and more.

bose soundbar - best surround sound

(Image credit: Bose)

3. Bose Soundbar 700 with Voice Assistants Built In

Best surround sound system for sound quality

Specifications
Best for: Easy set up
Contents: Soundbar, remote
Connection method: Wi-fi and Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Small and compact+Deliver big sound
Reasons to avoid
-Only available in one colour 

This Bose home theater gets our vote for the best surround sound system for sound quality, and for good reason to.
Buy the Bose Soundbar with Alexa Built In 

Superior sound quality

This surround sound speaker set has earned its position in our top rated products thanks to its low profile design and promise of superior sound quality. So, if you're uncompromising when it comes to audio quality, you certainly won't be let down by this sound system.

Compact design

This surround sound speaker is among the smallest designs currently available on the market, making it a practical option for those who want a home cinema experience in a smaller space.

Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

With built in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, this soundbar can be used on its own or as part of the larger system to play everything from your favorite Spotify playlist to a 60-piece orchestral work.

Easy set-up

In our opinion, these are the best wireless surround sound speakers for those who are looking for something easy to set up and use. And if you hate the sight of wires, this system is certainly just the ticket for you.

Best surround sound system: Samsung HW-K950 5.1.4 Wireless Sound Bar

4. Samsung HW-Q90R Harman Kardon Soundbar with Dolby Atmos

Best multi-room surround sound system

Specifications
Best for: Multi-room functionality
Contents: Subwoofer, soundbar, rear wireless speakers
Connection method: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Cinematic experience+Play different songs in different rooms
Reasons to avoid
-Instructions can be hard to decipher 

If you're looking to build a multi-room audio system, then this Samsung sound bar could just be what you've been looking for.

Buy the Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar with Dolby Atmos

Adaptive audio
This impressive speaker system features adaptive sound that changes based on each scene you watch, and thanks to a partnershop with Harman Kardon, superior quality sound. When it comes to audio quality, this model makes no compromises.

Build a multi-room audio system

If you’re looking for a system that will allow you to link up to your phone and play different sounds in different rooms of the house, you can operate this system separately or as one. 

Works with Smart Things app

The Samsung SmartThings app gives you full control over your audio system with your phone, including input, bass, volume, and more. 

Factors worth considering

These are bookshelf speakers, so they’re best suited for medium and larger sized lounges and they’re going to need a mount or stand for display. 

Best small surround sound system: Yamaha YSP2700 7.1 Wireless Sound Bar

5. Yamaha YSP2700 MusicCast Sound Bar

Best small surround sound system

Specifications
Best for: Smaller scale system
Contents: Soundbar, Subwoofer
Connection method: Wi-fi and Bluetooth
Reasons to buy
+Only includes two elements+Connect the speaker to your phone
Reasons to avoid
-May lack the depth of sound others can offer 

If you’re looking for a basic surround sound package that you can build on, this sound bar from Yamaha fits the bill.
Buy the Yamaha YSP2700 7.1 Wireless Sound Bar

Enhanced dialogue

Complete with 17 internal speakers, this stylish sound bar offers enhanced dialogue, while the subwoofer is there to provide the depth of sound. Whether you're looking to enjoy audio, or sound effects in near perfect quality, you certainly won't be disappointed with this model.

Wireless connectivity

Because the subwoofer is wireless, you won’t have to worry about where you place it. This is certainly a perk if you're particular about the aesthetics of your home and don't want a giant sound bar interfering with your interiors.

Build an extensive sound system

You can build on your system over time will other MusicCast products and eventually, create a multi-room system where you can either play the same track or a different one through each speaker. 

How to buy the best surround sound system

When buying the best surround sound system for your home, there are a number of factors and features you'll want to consider. After all, wireless systems tend to be something of an investment, so you'll want to ensure you're getting the most for your money. Here's what to look out for:

Design

If, like us, you're something of an interiors fanatic, you may be slightly concerned about the aesthetic impact of installing a surround sound system. Fortunately, there are a number of smart – and even stylish – designs on offer. Alternatively, check out those that are small enough to be tucked out of the way. 

Consider what's included in your system

Typically, surround sound speakers are purchased as a 5.1 set – that’s five speakers to one woofer, although there is the option to invest in more speakers if you require. You'll typically receive two front speakers, two rear speakers and a centre speaker as part of a typical kit, in which case the following set-up is advisable:

  • The two front speakers may sit in two corners of the room as they typically carry the bulk of the track.
  • The two rear speakers should sit behind your sofa, as their purpose is to provide an immersive sound experience.
  • The center speaker usually sits underneath the television as it amplifies the dialogue in the track, separating speech out from the rest of the sound, making it clearer and easier to hear.
  • The woofer can usually be placed anywhere within the space and provides bass and depth – it’s the speaker that makes the room vibrate if you turn the volume right up, so use with caution.

However this is not always the case. For example, our first pick, the Beoplay A9, has all of these features piled into just one speaker, ideal for those who don't want several speakers dotted around the room but still want good quality sound.

Size

Surround sound speakers exist in three levels of size. We'd recommend bearing the following factors in mind when choosing the option that's right for you.

  • Small living rooms will benefit from a compact surround sound system. The speakers are small enough to put on a shelf or on top of a cabinet, allowing to you maximize the space that you have.
  • The next size up are bookshelf speakers – these typically require a mount or a stand and deliver a better sound quality than a compact surround sound set without being too obtrusive.
  • Finally, there’s floor standing surround sound speakers, which are a feature in their own right and are best placed in large rooms where there’s plenty of space. 

Can you build your surround sound system over time?

Surround sound systems tend to be expensive and are something of an investment for the vast majority of people. If you can't afford an entire system in one go, it may be worth opting for a make that can be built over time. 

Smart capabilities

Some of the latest surround sound systems are smart enabled, meaning you can sync them with your chosen smart assistant – perhaps Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. This capability makes it super easy to control your surround sounds system using your voice, as well as enabling you to control your entire home theater set-up using the same software. 

More surround sound advice...