There are so many different options when looking for home theater speakers, that it is impossible to have a complete list on one page. My aim here is to give a guide for surround sound speakers and to highlight the important issues to look out for.
However, I will now go through the different types of home theater speakers discussed above and select a top-rated model for each category. In other articles, I will review more home theater speakers for each type. So, which are some of the best surround sound speakers in 2018?
The Sonos PLAYBAR is part of the excellent Sonos wireless speaker range. Therefore, you will be sure of getting the Sonos quality of sound you know, and it will integrate with other Sonos products you may add to your system. The PLAYBAR is a high-end product for those who want to get some of the best audio possible from a sound bar.Although many people are aware of the Sonos brand, some may not be quite as familiar with all the speaker products they produce. As home theater enthusiast, one of the most interesting products for me is the PLAYBAR.
As a high-end soundbar, it has 9 class-D digital amplifiers which power 3 tweeters and 6 mid-range woofers. The tweeters will create the crisp high frequencies, and the woofers will deliver the rest of the audio for music, sound effects and dialogue.
The PLAYBAR supports stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. It is designed to playback the center, front left and front right channels of a 5.1 surround sound mix. The unit will use DSP to re-create the surround and ‘.1’ channels, so you won’t miss a thing.
The recommended way to connect the PLAYBAR is via an optical output from your TV. To get 5.1 audio, your TV must pass Dolby Digital 5.1 from the source out of the optical connection. Some don’t do this, so check the manual of your TV if you are unsure.
Alternatively, you could connect the optical output of your Blu-ray player directly into the PLAYBAR. You would then make a separate HDMI connection to the TV for the picture. This will work, but it does make the setup a little more complicated.The PLAYBAR also has a useful autoplay setting. You can choose if the TV audio will automatically play on the PLAYBAR, or you can manually send the audio when you choose to.
Speaker packages for surround sound come in several price brackets. The KEF T205 5.1 speaker package is definitely from the top end of the scale. However, if you want exceptional sound and a stunning modern look, then you won’t go far wrong with this set of home theater speakers. Just to be clear, this is a set of surround sound speakers without an amplifier. You will need to connect them to a suitable AV receiver.
So, you have your sleek, thin, wall-mounted LED TV. You now want some great quality speakers to bring your movies to life. The problem is, many people don’t like filling up the room with chunky speakers. They can take up too much space and spoil the look of your room.
Well, your problems are solved. Step forward the KEF T205 5.1 speaker system. Each surround speaker is only 1.4-inches deep. Yes, you read that right, 1.4-inches. About the same as your lovely flat screen TV.The low-profile design of these speakers is a sight to behold. You can mount these bad boys around the room and nobody will complain.
The T301c is the speaker for the center. This has a 1-inch tweeter with two 4.5-inch midrange drivers. For the front left and right speakers, this system uses the T301 speakers. These have a similar specification to the center, except they are designed to be placed vertically.The rears are the slightly smaller T101 speakers. They have a 1-inch tweeter and a single 4.5-inch midrange driver.The T301 and T101 speakers are supplied with small desk stands. Alternatively, all the speakers can be either wall-mounted or placed on larger stands.
The final piece in the jigsaw is the T2 subwoofer. With its slimline design, it should be easy to conceal in your room. It has a built-in 250-watt Class-D amplifier and a frequency response of 30Hz – 250Hz.
Now, all this is fine, but does it sound any good? Of course! KEF has been at the forefront of speaker design for many years, and you won’t be disappointed with the sound quality from this system. Just make sure you pair it with a good quality AV receiver.
There were so many great bookshelf speakers I could have included here. Models that produce an excellent sound at a range of prices. However, since I am supposed to be picking one of the ‘top’ bookshelf speakers for home theater, I had to go for a high-end model. And, there is no doubt, that the KEF LS50 Mini Monitor is one of the best around. Originally released in 2012, these bookshelf speakers are still going strong.
The KEF LS50 bookshelf speakers are some of the finest on the market. The bonus is, not only do they sound absolutely fantastic, they look cool too!
Inspired by professional studio monitor technology, the LS50 delivers pristine audio. They are available in black or white. On first look, the most interesting feature that you may notice is that there is only one obvious speaker. Where is the tweeter?
This unique design feature is called the Uni-Q® driver array. The clever guys and gals at KEF have designed a speaker where the tweeter is placed inside the main woofer. The result is a speaker without a sweet-spot. In conventional speakers, you can lose the true stereo image unless you are sat in the right place. With the LS50, you will hear the full stereo image even if you are not sitting directly in the middle of both speakers.
You can probably see how this is perfect for home theater. Everybody watching across the soundstage will get the full stereo effect. Add in the surround speakers, and you will really feel right in the middle of the action.Of course, if you use your speaker system for music too, then you have the best of both worlds.
Another benefit for a home theater setup, is the speakers are quite compact. At just 11.9-inches high and 7.9-inches wide, they will be relatively easy to fit into your space. Even if you don’t have much room to play with.
As well as the front left and right speakers, you could use these for the center channel and surrounds too. Or you can mix and match with dedicated center and surround speakers. If you want to match the technology, KEF does make a range home theater speakers. For example, there is the KEF R200c center channel speaker which also has the Uni-Q® driver design.
The Klipsch RP-250C center channel speaker is part of the Reference Premiere range. This range has higher quality specifications than the standard Reference series speakers and so is in a higher price bracket. As with all speakers, there is a balance to be found between the build quality and your budget. I think the RP-250C finds a good balance between the two and is worth checking out if you want a high-quality speaker for the center channel.
The Reference Premiere series take the build quality to another level. Klipsch has used technology from their top-range speakers and built a center speaker which offers excellent value for money.There is a 1-inch titanium tweeter built using their Linear Travel Suspension (LTS) technology. This minimizes distortion to give a detailed high-end performance. The dual 5.25-inch Cerametallic™ woofers offer a lightweight but rigid design.
Compared to the lower-end Klipsch center channel speakers, this unit is not as tall and so may fit more easily under your screen. However, it does have more depth, so do make sure you have the room for it. Ideally, a good speaker for the center does need to have some bulk so it can deliver the clarity and weight of the soundtrack. At 18.4lbs, this is indeed a solid piece of technology.
The impressive specifications don’t end there. A rated frequency response of 60Hz – 25kHz means it will handle the low-end well before the really low frequencies pass to the subwoofer. Plus, with a sensitivity of 96dB into 8 ohms, you can expect your AV receiver to easily deliver plenty of volume if required.If you are looking for a quality center speaker that doesn’t cost the earth, then this Klipsch model is certainly worth adding to your list.
Part of the Klipsch Reference Premiere series, the RP-280F is a top class floorstanding speaker. If you want speakers which will work well for movies and music, then floorstanding speakers are worth considering. It will reproduce more frequencies than a bookshelf speaker and, in some cases, you might not even need a subwoofer.
The rated frequency response of these speakers gives you a clue as to how these will work for music and movies. With 32Hz-25kHz, you will get a full sound from the low bass right up to sparkling highs. These speakers will work great for stereo music. For movies, you might even like the sound without a subwoofer. However, if you want that really low rumble, then a subwoofer will probably be required. You can just switch on the sub when you watch a movie.The 1-inch titanium tweeters improve on the aluminum tweeters from the lower-priced models. The distinctive spun copper Cerametallic woofers are present in the shape of dual 8-inch drivers.
The size of these speakers will mean they won’t be right for everyone. They stand 43-inches high, 10.5-inches wide and 18.3-inches deep. Obviously, they need to stand on the floor either side of your screen, so make sure that you have space.
One advantage of buying Klipsch speakers is that it easy to add more of their home theater range later. While you don’t have to buy all your surround speakers from the same brand, many people prefer to do so as it is easier to match the timbre around your room. Certainly, a matching center speaker would make sense if you had these as your front left and rights.