Best 5.1 Surround Sound Systems

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Steve Scott

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Let’s face it, there’s no better way to experience a movie, music or a video game than with a surround sound system. Naturally, you can opt for a standard set of speakers, but it just won’t be good enough.

The best way to ensure a lifelike experience is to go with such a system. And the 5.1 surround sound systems are probably the most common ones, and the ones you’ll be able to obtain more easily.

Here we’ve compiled an extensive list of the best 5.1 systems, depending on your budget and overall needs. Read on, and learn more about them, and which one would suit you best.

​Check out our ​top picks for some of the best 7.1 home theater systems.

Best 5.1 Surround Sound Systems - Our top Picks

1. Best Design - Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 1

Specifications

  • Size: 11.8 x 11.8 x 13.3 inches
  • Weight: 40.5 lbs

Key Features

  • 110 Hz to 23 kHz frequency response
  • 8 ohms impedance
  • 50 Watts satellite, 75 Watts center
  • 38 Hz to 120 kHz frequency response
  • 50 Watts subwoofer
  • 150 Watts peak

PROS

  • Small size, able to fit anywhere
  • Clean and detailed sound
  • Wireless subwoofer
  • Quality build
  • Ease of use 

CONS

  • High price

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Review

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 2

The Klipsch brand is a household name when it comes to audio equipment. When you get one of their products, you can almost certainly bet that you’ll get a top-notch product.

And it’s no different with their Reference Theater Pack. It does not only offer quality surround sound quality, but it’s also visually stunning. Probably one of the best-designed models on this list.

The whole set is so compact and well-packed that you’ll be able to fit it almost anywhere. Even if you have a smaller space available.

When you examine the Reference Theater pack more deeply, you’ll see that it trumps its predecessors in almost any way. Be it the design or the overall audio performance.

It comes packed with a center channel, four satellite speakers and a wireless sub. All of these provide a magnificent, top-quality sound experience.

Wireless Sub

The wireless subwoofer provides enough flexibility and wiggle room to be placed anywhere you see fit.

Like we’ve said, the setup is small enough that it can blend anywhere, even when the grills are on. However, you can detach these, and let the spring copper wires add some aesthetical value. That is if you like those kinds of things.

All of the four satellites and a central channel are designed that way that the distortion is brought to an absolute minimum. That way, you know you’ll always get a clean and crisp sound.

The subwoofer is no joke, either. This down-firing woofer produces some seriously deep and powerful output. Especially if you consider its size.

Probably the only downside of this model is its price. It can be a bit steep for regular users. 

But, all in all, it can be an excellent addition to any household. More so, if you don’t have ample space at your disposal.

2. Best for Gaming - Logitech Z906

Logitech Z906 1

Specifications

  • Size: 15.2 x 17 x 17.3 inches
  • Weight: 36.6 lbs

Key Features

  • 500 Watt power
  • 165 Watts subwoofer
  • 1000 Watts peak
  • Dolby digital surround
  • Wireless remote

PROS

  • Sturdy and robust
  • Compact
  • Compatibility with many devices
  • Enhanced gaming experience

CONS

  • No HDMI
  • Not a wireless option

Logitech Z906 Review

Logitech Z906 2

Anyone who has ever done some serious gaming knows that the quality audio makes all the difference in the world. It doesn’t matter what type of game or genre you play. It makes the overall playing experience all the more immersive.

And it would be hard to top the Logitech Z906 when it comes to enhancing the gaming experience. It’s just that good.

This is a compact system that comes equipped with five satellite speakers and one subwoofer (at 500 Watts). Which is commendable for a compact setup like the Logitech Z906.

Design-wise, satellite speakers, both front and rear, won’t sweep you off your feet. They come with a rather uninspiring look. They look like typical tech gear. Not ugly, but nothing that makes your heart skip a beat.

On the other hand, the build quality is superb. It’s sturdy and robust enough to be resilient and last you a long time.

Highly Compatible

You can connect it simultaneously to a DVD player, gaming console and cable box, by using three digital ports. Also, you can connect it to a PC or use a 3.5 mm jack to connect to an MP3 player.

Unfortunately, there’s no HDMI port, which can be a big no for lots of folks. However, if you look at this model mainly as a gaming system, then you should be more than pleased with it.

Logitech Z906 is a powerful beast. It can output anywhere from 500 to 1000 Watts of power. The bass production is strong and detailed, highlighting the bass in all the right places.

This is not a wireless system. However, it’s pretty easy to set up and straightforward to use. It offers enough flexibility for almost any user by allowing you to connect to six different devices.

And on top of that, you can control it manually with ease, by using a remote control. If you’re into gaming, or just want a high-quality experience for a reasonable price, then, by all means, consider this model.

3. Best Budget - Vizio SB3851-C0

Vizio SB3851-C0 1

Specifications

  • Size: 38 x 38.2 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 6.57 lbs

Key Features

  • Active amplification
  • 60 Hz to 19 kHz frequency response
  • 100 dB output level
  • Integrated audio amp
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Bluetooth

PROS

  • Value for money
  • Dolby Digital and Dolby Surround
  • Wireless satellites and sub
  • Google Cast

CONS

  • Might be a bit unclear when it comes to TV sound
  • Dull design

Vizio SB3851-C0 Review

Vizio SB3851-C0 2

So, you probably won’t picture a soundbar when you think about surround sound systems. However, the VIZIO’s SB3851-C0 is here to break some of your preconceptions.

If you’re on a hunt for a budget-friendly option, then look no more. And seeing that soundbars can cost an arm and a leg, having such a model is really refreshing. 

There are no surprises or flashy moments when it comes to the design of this model. Then again, the guys at VIZIO are used to keeping the design side of their products simple.

All in all, VIZIO’s SB3851-C0 sports a pretty boxy look, which some people prefer, and others not so much. But, its simple design makes it easy to incorporate in almost any interior design setting.

Dolby Digital

However, its feature and performance make up for all the perceived lacks in design. This thing comes geared with Dolby Digital and Dolby Surround compatibility. That makes it worth your while, without having to examine the rest of the setup.

But if you consider it’s a wireless setup, then this model is a definite steal. Such connectivity makes this model really easy to set up. Also, it allows you more mounting flexibility, especially if you wish to place all the speakers up on the wall.

Naturally, as with most models that are wireless, there can be some occasional signal interference.

Another feature that adds to the value of this model is that it comes with 100 dB of max SPL, which is really remarkable for such a low-cost item. 

If you were to compare this model to some more expensive ones, you can bet that it wouldn’t fall short. Therefore, it would be difficult to find such a bargain on the market.

4. Best High-End - Definitive Technology ProCinema 800

Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 1

Specifications

  • Size: 24 x 16.8 x 19 inches
  • Weight: 12.47 lbs

Key Features

  • 20 Hz to 30 kHz frequency response
  • 89 dB sensitivity
  • 8-ohm impedance
  • 150 Watts power
  • 300 Watt built-in amp

PROS

  • Excellent performance
  • Top-notch midrange
  • Performs well with most source materials
  • Various placement options
  • Beautifully designed 

CONS

  • Needs a quality receiver or an amp to work at its fullest
  • Might be hard to clean the surfaces

Definitive Technology Pro Cinema 800 Review

Definitive Technology Pro Cinema 800 2

Although you could easily find a lot more expensive models, ProCinema 800, this model is still a high-end product. And we had to draw the line somewhere. 

As you’ll see, there are loads of things that make it worth it. At first glance, it is a beautifully designed setup. Almost seamless, with shiny black or white surface, it’s really pleasing to the eyes. 

Then again, such a glossy build can sometimes make the ProCinema 800 hard to clean and keep the dust off.

Multiple Placement Options

Most of the models from the ProCinema series are built with functionality and ergonomics in mind. They are designed in such a way that you can easily mount them on the wall, on a shelf, or use floor stands (which you can opt to buy separately).

The ProCinema 800 is able to output some bass depth that outmatches the other options in the same price range. It doesn’t matter if you are listening to movie dialogues or your favorite music.

That being said, the bass isn’t as strong and robust as in some more expensive (more than this one) models. However, you’ll still be able to dive in and immerse yourself fully.

In some cases, you’ll be able to notice some distortion in the performance. But, that will only happen occasionally when blasting at full volume.

All things considered, the ProCinema provides a rich and detailed sound that keeps loyal to the highest standards of music and movie production. The whole setup that consists of a central speaker, satellites, and a 300 Watt sub is a guarantee of high-quality audio performance.

5. Best Wireless - Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1

Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 1

Specifications

  • Size: 17 x 31.7 x 21.7 inches
  • Weight: 30 lbs

Key Features

  • 100Hz-20kHz frequency response
  • Wireless speakers
  • Wireless sub
  • Smartphone app

PROS

  • Wireless connectivity
  • Good sound output
  • Central unit
  • 360-degree HD sound
  • Connection options 

CONS

  • Relatively unknown
  • Some reported glitches

Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 Review

Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 2

If you feel the need to remove all the clutter that all sorts of cables and wires make, your choice would be a wireless setup. And Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 is a fantastic option that allows you to have as much flexibility as possible.

Enclave Audio is relatively a newcomer in this field, but they’ve managed to draw some more than decent results with this model.

So, the manufacturers claim that there’s absolutely no need for any wiring, be it for a receiver or for speakers. Instead, there’s a unit that serves as a signal center for the rest of the setup. 

Which is a great option, saving you money and time for setting the whole thing up.

With the Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1, you get a 360 degrees HD sound. Its six speakers that have 14 separate drivers ensure that the sound surrounds you in all parts of your room. This is primarily due to the two drivers at the opposite ends that help disperse the sound equally, even 

in a larger place.

CineHome 5.1 also does well in terms of connectivity. It has three HDMI ports, allowing you to connect various devices, like Blu-Ray players, consoles, or some streaming devices. 

Use the Enclave Audio App

With the help of Enclave’s native app, you can stream the music sources right from your phone. 

Another great feature is Bluetooth connectivity, which you can utilize to connect to Chromecast and stream some further music options.

If you like your sound uncompressed, then this is the model for you. With it, you get a 24-bit output without compression.

If we were to pinpoint some downsides, then those would be occasional glitches. Some customers report that the device turns on and off pretty randomly. Although this only happens to some people, it is something to have in mind before deciding on a purchase.

6. Best Compact - Monoprice 5.1 Home Theater System

Monoprice 5.1 Home Theater System 1

Specifications

  • Size: 16.8 x 15.2 x 19.4 inches
  • Weight: 27.6 lbs

Key Features

  • 150 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
  • 8-ohm impedance
  • 125 Watts power
  • 8-inch subwoofer

PROS

  • Overall sound quality
  • Reduced floor vibrations
  • Easy setup
  • Mounting options
  • Lightweight, especially when compared to other compact models 
  • Affordable option 

CONS

  • Takes a while to find the best setting for dialogue
  • Uninspiring design

Monoprice 5.1 Home Theater System Review

Monoprice 5.1 Home Theater System 2

Even though you might think that the saying “the bigger, the better” goes with compact surround sound systems, you would be wrong when it comes to Monoprice and their 5.1 home Theater System. As a related topic, check out our top home theater systems picks.

The whole setup is small and lightweight enough that it’s easy to be carried around and mounted wherever you’d like.

That setup is made of one center speaker (that houses one 3-inch driver), and four satellite speakers.

Subwoofer, on the other hand, is a bigger beast. Weighing 20 pounds and with a size of eight inches, it is bulkier than the rest of the system. 

Reduced floor vibrations

But, it is still lighter than some of the competition out there. The subwoofer also has rubber feet, which help in minimizing the overall vibrations.

Setting up this model is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is mount the speakers and attach all the necessary cables. And you’re ready to go.

It provides a dynamic output, with the bass deep and rich enough to fill any room. All in all, the overall sound quality is commendable.

Of course, there are some flaws, like with any other model. The dialogue can sound a bit dull and not on point. But that’s nothing that can’t be fixed with playing around with the settings a little. Eventually, you’ll be able to find the perfect setting.

In the end, this Monoprice’s model is proof that you don’t need to break the bank to find a valuable compact surround sound system.

7. Best for Small Rooms: JBL Cinema 610

JBL Cinema 610 1

Specifications

  • Size: 18.6 x 16.1 x 20.6 inches
  • Weight: 30.4 lbs

Key Features

  • 60 Watts peak
  • 4 ohms impedance
  • 86 dB sensitivity
  • 130 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
  • 100 Watts RMS

PROS

  • Voice handling and reproduction
  • Cinematic sound experience
  • No interference at high volume
  • Deep bass

CONS

  • Wall mounts could use some improvement
  • Not so powerful

JBL Cinema 610 Review

JBL Cinema 610 2

The JBL brand is a synonym for top-of-the-line sound quality, and it’s no different with its Cinema 610 model.

If you aim to get the cinematic feel with your 5.1 surround sound system, you might want to look into this model. It is able to produce top-notch surround sound without any trouble.

Cinema 610 comes equipped with five voice-matching satellites, a center speaker, and an 8-inch 60-Watt subwoofer.

Fantastic Voice Reproduction

Those five satellites have built-in 3-inch drivers and 1-inch tweeters. And along with a dedicated center speaker, they are responsible for providing crystal clear dialogue and overall sound quality.

And to match that exceptional performance, the subwoofer is able to output some fantastic performance, being powerful and firm, without causing any additional vibrations. 

It’s fair to say that the whole system can work splendidly in higher volume without ever causing any cracks in the sound.

As far as the setup goes, it’s as easy as it gets. You can mount the system on a wall, or on some dedicated shelves. 

Whichever you choose, it will be easy due to the small size of the whole system. Although, those wall mounts could be a bit better. To get the most out of it, you would have to use it in a medium to small-sized room.

Best 5.1 Surround Sound Systems - Buying Guide

What is a 5.1 System?

To put it simply, surround sound, as the name implies, surrounds you. It means that you can receive audio from all around you, and not just head-on. Surround sound systems recreate that cinematic feeling you used to get only by going to the movie theater.

But, it’s not just the audio that surrounds you. It’s much, much more.

With surround sound systems, you get that thundering bass coming from the subwoofer, that allows you to feel every blast and gunshot as if they were happening right beside you.

Lifelike Experience

It’s those systems that let you immerse yourself completely, no matter if you are watching movies, playing games, or listening to your favorite band.

When it comes to 5.1 systems, the name hides what they’re all about. Those numbers refer to how many speakers and subwoofers there are. 

In this case, there are 5 speakers, which also include the central speaker, while the .1 refers to the subwoofer.

If the number said 7.2, then there would be 7 speakers and 2 subwoofers.

So, why’s surround sound considered to be so good. That’s because the number of speakers allows you to place them all around you. 

Two front speakers left and right, two rear, meant to be positioned behind you, and a great center speaker right in front of you. Combine that with a quality subwoofer, you get a dynamic and lifelike sound.

Components of a Surround Sound System

As we’ve mentioned above, there are several critical components to every surround sound system. Here we’ll break down some of them:

subwoofer placement

A subwoofer is a speaker that is made to deliver low-end bass notes to you. In a 5.1 system, as in any other, its role is to handle low-frequencies and to offload them from satellite speakers.

When being set up correctly, a subwoofer can be a powerful tool that delivers much more vibrant and full sound. Otherwise, if not utilized properly, they will produce unsatisfactory results. 

Bear in mind, if you suffer from a poor acoustic environment, even the best subwoofer won’t be able to remedy that. And you might feel disappointed in the end.

To get the best results, you should consider placing the sub in the corner of your room and let the low-frequencies disperse across the whole space. That way, you’ll ensure to get that rumbling feel that bass usually provides.

Center speaker is, as you might guess, a centerpiece of the whole system. It is there to provide the most versatility.

Such a speaker should be placed in the center of the system, right in front of you, under your TV set. Usually, they come in a larger size and have more options and drivers than the rest of the speakers.

So, when you watch a movie, for example, all the significant sound effects and clear dialogue are pushed through the central speaker.

Satellite speakers are all those speakers whose purpose is to be placed all around you and give you that surround feel. When you consider a 5.1 system, then four of those speakers will be placed in front and to the rear. Those are left and right front and left and right rear speakers.

Proper 5.1 Speaker Placement

Getting the best sound is not just a matter of buying the system and plugging it in. These things tend to do their best when you find them the best placement spot.

5.1 speaker placement

That’s why you should know a thing or two about proper speaker placement. Lucky for you, this is quite straightforward when it comes to 5.1 surround sound systems.

The front speakers, as the name says, go in front of you, to the left and the right of your TV. 

These can either be wall-mounted, or sometimes you’ll find them as floorstanding speakers.

Satellite Speakers in Front and in the Rear

The other two satellites go to your side, or behind you, also mounted on a wall or positioned on dedicated speaker stands.

The subwoofer, on the other hand, will take some trial and error on your behalf. What you can do is set the sub on your desired listening spot, turn on some bass-heavy source, and then crawl around the room and find the sweet spot where the bass output is at its best.

That’s where you should position your subwoofer. But, in general, subwoofers tend to yield the best results when placed in the corner of the room, slightly removed from the wall.

In Conclusion

Even though the more speakers you have, the more appealing the surround sound will be, in most cases, 5.1 will cater to all your needs. Of course, if you have the need and the means to go bigger, by all means, do that.

But, in the end, 5.1 surround sound systems will be able to give you a bang for your buck, without ever having to break the bank. 

My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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