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Best 5.1 Surround Sound System Reviews

The simplest home theater with minimal speakers set (I mean a set of 5 sound sources) can provide surround sound at home, whether you spend an evening with your family, invite guests, or appreciate quality and want to enjoy all the delights of modern technology alone. You can create your system in different ways, buying a receiver and speaker system separately, using a soundbar, or buying a ready-made home theater in a box system.

I’ve prepared a list of the best 5-channel home theater systems in various configurations in this review. Some of them are quite simple, and others are more complicated, but all of them will help you improve your movie/video content viewing experience by providing surround sound. And first, let’s understand what a home theater system is and what configurations it can have. Then we’ll talk about a 5-channel system.

What is a home theater system?

A classic home theater system consists of several basic components:

  1. TV/projector + screen.
  2. Video source (cable/satellite TV, Blu-ray player).
  3. A set of speakers of different configurations (5.1, 7.1, etc.).
  4. AV receiver for amplification and control of all devices.

Surround sound enhances the feeling of immersion into the film while watching because the picture you see on the screen is not all you need. The 5.1 surround sound system is a set of 5 speakers: a central speaker, two side speakers, and two additional side speakers installed behind, i.e., rear speakers. We will consider it the simplest and the most affordable one because 5.1 can be created in different ways, for example, by adding two speakers to a 3.1 soundbar. Let’s start with what 5.1-channel system configurations are available. And at the end of the review, I will answer some popular questions.

Types of home theater systems

home theater system

So, there are several options for home theater systems. Let’s see what they are.

Home theater in-a-box

The easiest and most inexpensive option for creating an effortless home theater is the home theater in-a-box, consisting of a set of speakers and a receiver. Everything is already done for you. Connect the system to your TV or projector, and enjoy the delights of surround sound. You’ll find everything you need in the package: the right cables and a detailed manual. Unfortunately, you often have to sacrifice sound quality in this case, but in my selection, there are two great kits.

Home theater systems with soundbars

Technically, it is not a home theater system, but people often use it to replace a “traditional” one. Such a set consists of a soundbar, where the side speakers (left and right) and the center speakers are already built. It remains to add a subwoofer and two rear speakers, which can often come in a set. It also happens that the speaker for low frequencies (subwoofer) is also built into the soundbar. While these systems often lose out in sound to more respectable systems, this review presents a couple of great options.

Home theater systems composed of separate parts

It is probably the most complicated but interesting way to create a home theater because you have to pick up a system consisting of a receiver/amplifier and a set of speakers. But you can be sure of the sound quality. This review presents two excellent quality 5.1 home theater speaker systems at a reasonable price that will make your choice easier.

Also, check out our list of the best 5.1 receivers.

Best 5.1 home theater system reviews

Home theaters in-a-box

Yamaha RX-V385 with Klipsch Reference R-610F – best home theater in-a-box

Yamaha RX-V385 with Klipsch Reference R-610F features

First, I want to draw your attention to an affordable in-a-box home theater system from a couple of leading manufacturers in the sound world. I’m sure the Yamaha/Klipsch package will be the best 5.1 home theater system for many of you. The combination of affordable prices along with quality brands offers simplicity and optimum functionality, enough to create a home theater system.

Yamaha RX-V385 sound

The Yamaha RX-V385, as the system’s backbone, can offer you 70 watts (8 ohms, 2 ch). Dolby Atmos support is out of the question, but the 5.1 system is not supposed to use it. From the connectivity options, we have Composite Video Input and Output for connecting older equipment, Optical Digital Audio Input, Coaxial Digital Audio Input, 4 Analog Audio Input (including one front), USB, and four HDMI inputs (4K Ultra HD Pass-through and upscaling (4K / 60p, 4:4:4) and 3D pass-through) and one HDMI output (eARC). So with the RX-V385, video formats such as HDR10, Dolby Vision, and DTS-HD; and audio Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS-HD Master Audio are available. There is no phono player input or Wi-Fi on this unit, but there is Bluetooth for wireless use of streaming services.

Yamaha RX-V385 with Klipsch Reference R-610F home theater in-a-box

The speakers from Klipsch in this system are from the Klipsch Reference Series CLEARANCE. They include a two-way R-52C veneered center speaker (18.8″ x 7.3″ x 7.6″), two R-41M side/rear speakers which are shelf-mounted (11.3″ x 5.8″ x 7.9″), two R-610F front floorstanders (37″ x 9.4″ x 15.1″) in textured vinyl and an R-12SW subwoofer (16″ x 14″ x 18.5″) with 200 watts (up to 400 watts at peak). Their features include a 1″ aluminum LTS tweeter, 90×90 Square Tractrix horn, and single 6.5″ IMG spun-copper woofers.

As for the sound, the system, after some tuning, proved to be quite good, although it is not top-notch. I tested it by watching Ghost, and I was quite satisfied because the dialogue sounded high-quality and detailed, and the music poured smoothly and without delays. The subway scene gave a full sense of volume and realism to the passing train.

Despite the extremely affordable price, you should have expected decent quality from the Yamaha RX-V385 with Klipsch Reference R-610F. This home theater system will be a great addition to your system if you don’t want to invest much or are just trying out this kind of equipment.

Yamaha RX-V385 key specs
Show all specifications
  • Channels: 5.1.
  • Power output: 70W/8 Ohm.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 4/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz pass-through, upscales video signals to to 4K.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Supports: HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, Dolby Vision.
  • Surround sound: DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus.
Klipsch speakers key specs
Show all specifications
  • Reference R-52C two-way center channel speaker
    • Power output: 100W/8 Ohm.
    • Frequency response: 89Hz-21kHz.
  • Reference R-41M bookshelf speakers
    • Power output: 50W/8 Ohm.
    • Frequency response: 68Hz-21kHz.
  • Reference R-12SW subwoofer
    • Driver size, inch: 12.
    • Amplifier power: 200W/400W peak.
    • Frequency response: 29Hz-120Hz.
  • Supports high-quality audio and video formats (up to 4K).
  • Enough connectors for an inexpensive option, including HDMI.
  • Bluetooth capability for wireless connection.
  • Powerful speakers (200 watts (up to 400 watts peak).
  • 90×90 Square Tractrix horn.
  • No Wi-Fi.
  • No phono input.

Yamaha YHT-4950U

Yamaha YHT-4950U connectivity features

Another surround sound system with a receiver on my list, but this time in a complete set from Yamaha.

In this set, the receiver is no different than the one presented in the previous version, neither in appearance nor in connectivity or power. All the same, connectors lead to the same options: view the video in HDR10, DTS-HD and Dolby Vision (maximum 4K/60Hz, 4:4:4:4), and Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master Audio. You will also only be able to connect a turntable if you have one with its own built-in preamp or if you have an external one. You can only use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly.

Yamaha YHT-4950U connectivity sound

The speakers are very compact. They are four identical 4.4″ x 6.9″ x 4.6″ (side and rear), a 10.9″ x 4.4″ x 4.6″ center speaker, and an 11.5″ x 11.5″ x 13.4″ subwoofer, providing up to 400 watts total output, and 50 watts RMS on the subwoofer.

This system will be perfect for those who dislike tinkering with technology and prefer simplicity, compactness, and comfort in connection and use. During my testing, the YHT-4950U showed very good sound (I was watching La La Land movie), and considering its ridiculous price, it is an excellent choice.

Yamaha speakers key specs
Show all specifications.
  • Front, center and surround speakers
    • Power output: 30W-100W/6 Ohms.
    • Frequency response: 28Hz–25kHz.
  • Subwoofer
    • Driver size, inch: 8.
    • Output power: 50W (5 ohms, 100Hz, 10%THD).
    • Dynamic power: 100W (5 ohms).
    • Frequency response: 28–200Hz.
  • Supports high-quality audio and video formats (up to 4K).
  • A sufficient number of connectors for an inexpensive option, including HDMI.
  • Bluetooth function for wireless connection.
  • Compact one-size but powerful speakers.
  • No Wi-Fi.
  • No phono input.

Home theater speaker kits

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System – best 5.1 speaker set

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System features

The 5.1 speaker set connects seamlessly to your receiver because it has a wide range of compatibility, forming a quality surround sound home system. The Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System includes a center speaker, a subwoofer, two floor-standing front speakers, and two rear speakers for surround sound. Quite a standard set, but it still offers you the quality that will keep you happy for years.

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System sound

So you get five speakers and 15 dynamics in total. The rear speakers (shelf-mounted) each have a 5.25-inch speaker and a 0.75-inch tweeter, the center speaker has two 5.25-inch speakers and a 1-inch tweeter, and the floorstanding tower speakers have two 6.5-inch bass drivers and a 1-inch tweeter. The subwoofer has a 10-inch diameter driver and features POLK DYNAMIC BALANCE TECHNOLOGY. The system is heavy and delivers up to 100 watts of power.

In listening, it performed beautifully. Watching Reminiscence allowed me to enjoy incredibly deep, accurate bass and clean, well-divided highs. Given the affordable price, I consider this set of speakers worthy of being on this list.

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System key specs
Show all specifications.
  • T50 floor-standing tower speaker
    • Power output: 150W/6 Ohm.
    • Driver size, inch: tweeter: 1, mid/woofer: 6.5, bass radiator: 6.5.
    • Frequency response: 38Hz–24kHz.
  • T30 center channel speaker
    • Power output: 100W/6 Ohm.
    • Driver size, inch: tweeter: 1, mid/woofer: 5.2.
    • Frequency response: 60Hz–24kHz.
  • T15 bookshelf speaker
    • Power output: 100W/8 Ohm.
    • Driver size, inch: tweeter: 0.7, mid/woofer: 5.2.
    • Frequency response: 60Hz–24kHz.
  • PSW10 subwoofer
    • Driver size, inch: 10.
    • Peak power: 100W.
    • Frequency response: 40Hz–200Hz.
  • Wide range of receiver compatibility.
  • The system adapts quickly and easily on the spot.
  • Powerful system of 15 speakers.
  • Deep clean bass.
  • The system can be expanded if desired.
  • I found no flaws in my testing; the system sounds very good.

Fluance SX51WR

Fluance SX51WR features

The Fluance SX51WR is also a 5.1 home theater speaker system with superior performance, but at a slightly higher price than the previous set. Unlike the black Polk Audio 5.1, this set will appeal to fans of classic design because it’s finished in grained wood.

Otherwise, it’s similar to its predecessor, having the same package with three-way tower floorstanders and a 10-inch subwoofer. In terms of power, they’re also similar (range from 30 to 100W), so the choice depends on your sound preferences and budget since Fluance positions its system as an Elite.

Fluance SX51WR sound

I had a lot of fun watching Passengers while testing it. The speakers handled the dynamism of the soundstage brilliantly, showing deep bass that made my chair shake and clean tops at high power (I have a good receiver, in which I was confident).

The Fluance SX51WRs are worth every cent invested in them. I would definitely recommend it to friends regarding a nice inexpensive system with great quality and good power.

Fluance SX51WR key specs
Show all specifications.
  • Center cannel and surround sound speakers
    • Power output: 100W/8 Ohm.
    • Driver size, inch: tweeter: 1, mid/woofer: 4.
    • Frequency response: 80Hz–20kHz.
  • Two-way floorstanding main speakers
    • Power output: 160W/8 Ohm.
    • Driver size, inch: tweeter: 1, mid/woofer: 6.5.
    • Frequency response: 49Hz–20kHz.
  • DB10 subwoofer
    • Driver size, inch: tweeter: 10.
    • Amplifier power: 120W peak/45W RMS.
    • Frequency response: 35Hz–180Hz.
  • Awesome design and system potential.
  • Heavyweight and comfortable feet provide stability to the speakers.
  • Deep, clear bass.
  • The system can be expanded if desired.
  • I found no flaws in my testing; the system sounds great.

Home theater systems with soundbars

Vizio M51ax-J6 – best home theater system with a soundbar

Vizio M51ax-J6 features

We have gotten to systems that use a soundbar instead of front and center speakers. This configuration saves a lot of space in your home if you don’t like bulky systems. The soundbar also provides an opportunity to connect other devices.

In the case of Vizio M51ax-J6, you get a super-compact system consisting of a soundbar (36.00″ x 2.24″ x 3.50″) weighing 5.53lbs, a subwoofer with 5″ speaker (8.30″ x 9.90″ x 8.30″) weighing 7.60lbs, and two Satellite (5.70″ x 2.24″ x 3.54″) weighing only 1.00lbs. It’s also a budget-friendly set so that anyone can afford it.

Vizio M51ax-J6 sound

The soundbar has HDMI Input and HDMI Output (eARC), Optical Input, USB for WAV Audio Playback, Voice Assistant Input, Analog 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, and Bluetooth. It is compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS Virtual:X formats.

Before buying a system with a soundbar, you should always be prepared for your theater sound being weaker than with standard speakers. Knowing this, I didn’t crank the volume up to full power when testing. And at medium power, I found The Equalizer a fascinating journey, thanks to the surround sound.

The system did a great job. And given its cost, compactness, and attractiveness, I elevate it to the rank of the best 5.1 home theater system with a soundbar.

Vizio M51ax-J6 key specs
Show all specifications.
  • Total number of speakers: 9.
  • Driver size (subwoofer), inch: 5.
  • Connectivity: 1 HDMI input, HDMI eARC, Optical, USB, 3.5mm stereo jack.
  • Audio processing: DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, Dolby Atmos.
  • Bluetooth/Wi-Fi: yes/no.
  • Frequency response: 50Hz–20kHz.
  • The compact, lightweight set won’t take up much space and looks great.
  • HDMI.
  • Voice Assistant Input.
  • Bluetooth.
  • The significance of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support is somewhat exaggerated, as the system produces minor noise.

Samsung HW-Q60T

Samsung HW-Q60T features

And another 5.1 surround sound system on my list is the most compact (although slightly more expensive than the previous Vizio M51ax-J6) because it consists of only two elements. It is a soundbar with Acoustic Beam and a subwoofer but provides sound from 9 speakers. Incredible, isn’t it? The quality of Samsung equipment does not make you doubt yourself, and HW-Q60T is proof of that.

Samsung HW-Q60T sound

Samsung Acoustic Beam technology creates a full impression of surround sound and the feeling of full interaction with what you see on the screen. However, the source is only one – the soundbar (38.6″ x 2.3″ x 4.1″). Total system power is 360 watts, and the wireless subwoofer (8.1″ x 13.9″ x 11.9″) with a 6.5″ speaker is rated at 160 watts. Connectivity options (HDMI, USB, Bluetooth) allow the system to handle Dolby 5.1 and DTS and has audio expansion features for surround sound, Game Pro, Standard, Adaptive, and DTS Virtual:X. It also supports 4K/60Hz Video Pass, HDR, and HDR 10+.

With the Samsung HW-Q60T, I watched The Great Gatsby. The sound is amazingly clear and powerful! It felt like I was at a party, watching fireworks in the sky like splashes coming out of the pool, and I wanted to dance.

I didn’t expect so much ecstasy from a system like this with a wireless subwoofer. Its only drawback is that the system is incompatible with all devices, including Samsung equipment.

Samsung HW-Q60T key specs
Show all specifications.
  • Channels: 5.1.
  • Sub-woofer drive power: 160W.
  • Sub-woofer drive size/impedance: 6.5 inch/3 ohms.
  • Total power: 360W.
  • HDMI inputs/outputs: 1/1.
  • Video functions: 4K/60Hz.
  • Supports: HDMI ARC, HDR10+.
  • Audio processing: Dolby 5.1, surround sound expansion, game pro, standart, adaptive, DTS Virtual:X.
  • Super-compact and easy to install.
  • It makes a stunningly powerful and clear sound.
  • Support for high-quality audio and video formats.
  • Compatible with a few devices.
I recommend reviewing which models are included in selecting the best home theater systems under 500.


What is the average cost of installing a home theater system?

The average cost of installing a home theater system is actually difficult to estimate since it depends on many factors. Home theaters in-a-box are inferior in quality to kits assembled from separately purchased devices but cost less. Whereas high-end components can cost as much as $6500, and that’s just part of the system. So you can estimate the price range from $1500 to tens of thousands. What to choose depends on what you expect from your home theater and how much you care about sound quality and detail.

How many speakers do we need to have a good home theater system?

The answer to the question of how many speakers you need to have a good home theater system also depends on what you expect from your home theater system. Generally speaking, any 5.1 system can provide you with surround sound. Still, with a 7.1 configuration, you get the advantage of overhead speakers, which means a more realistic immersion in the movie’s atmosphere. Thus, the more speakers, the better sound is considered, but such systems are much more expensive. And yet, among users, 5.1 and 7.1 systems are the most common because they combine surround sound quality with an affordable price.

What is better 5.1 or 7.1 channel system?

To answer the question of what is a better 5.1 or 7.1 channel system, you need to understand what each is made of. The 7.1 speaker configuration consists of the same elements as the 5.1 but adds two overhead speakers that fully allow you to enjoy Dolby Atmos’s benefits. So, for example, a helicopter flying on the screen along a certain trajectory, you will hear as if it is actually moving from one side to the other or even above you; the sound is literally moving along with the picture. But even if your receiver does not support Dolby formats, the sound will still be more expansive and realistic.

Is a soundbar better than a home theater?

In short, not even the coolest soundbar is better than a home theater. They cannot be compared in terms of sound level. A complete system with speakers and a receiver/amplifier sounds much better. The sound is more expansive, enveloping, and much more suitable for larger rooms. But if you are looking for a budget solution and are not picky about sound quality, you may limit yourself to a system with a soundbar. In addition, such systems are much more compact and are a great solution for small rooms.
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About Frederick Douglass
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