It’s no secret that crisp, clear surround sound plays a vital role in any home theater. Although the TV screen might be the star attraction, it’s the sound that truly creates an immersive experience.

Done right, good audio performance can place you in the front row seats of a concert, on the sidelines of a sporting event, or in the center of an action scene. Put simply: Sound makes us feel the experience.

Picking the best home theater speakers can be tricky, as there are a lot of things to consider. For instance, the size of the room, whether you have carpeting or hardwood floors, or live in an apartment and share a wall with your neighbor.

Read on for tips on getting your home theater system sounding stellar.


A pre-matched surround sound system will always be a considerable upgrade over a TV’s built-in speakers. And as televisions have gotten thinner and thinner, so has the sound quality that the internal speakers can produce. 

For example, a standard boxed 5.1 system will usually include a center channel speaker, two side speakers, two rear speakers, and a subwoofer to round out the surround sound experience. 

However, as more content releases and gaming consoles support 7.1 audio—which adds two additional channels for an even fuller sound—the eight-channel set-up has become increasingly popular.


However, these so-called 'theater-in-a-box' sets might not suffice for true audiophiles. Depending on your home's acoustics and your personal preferences, the best surround sound system can be a carefully considered and customized set-up.

Often, this can involve an "a la carte" approach to selecting individual components based on those preferences, such as the receiver, subwoofer, and speaker array that doesn't always match the same brand.

If having a multi-speaker set-up is not essential to you, a soundbar is one of the first options to consider, especially if you're seeking a more simplified (and less expensive) set-up. A soundbar will provide far better audio quality than your TV's built-in speakers. They are also more compact than a complete system because they house everything you need — signal processing, speakers, amplification — in one simple unit, take up a smaller footprint, and usually include a wireless subwoofer to enhance the audio experience further.

A soundbar might be the perfect solution for those with limited space or a preference for minimalism. For the best of both worlds, take a look at the latest Dolby Atmos soundbars, which include up-firing audio drivers that bounce sound off of your ceiling to produce a three-dimensional audio effect.   


The A/V receiver is another important consideration for getting the best possible surround sound. If you’ve got a complicated multi-speaker system, the receiver is your control center.

You’ll also want to consider the type of speakers you’ll be using in your home theater system and whether you plan to upgrade over time. For instance, if you plan to start with a 5.1 set-up but will eventually want to upgrade to a 7.1 system—these will be important considerations for the kind of receiver you select so that you won’t find yourself in the market for another one in a couple of years.

Investing in a "future proof" component now could save you money down the road. 

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An A/V Receiver controls the sound quality of your home theater set up.


The center channel speaker is the most important speaker in a surround sound setup because it does most of the work. Most of the action, and conversation, in a movie, happens front and center on your screen, meaning that the center channel is the one reproducing it.

A center channel speaker is a critical component of a home theater system set-up as it delivers about 70% of the dialogue from movies and television. Without one, you’re missing out on vital parts of what you’re watching. By not splitting the audio information among the left and right speakers, except what’s supposed to be there, you let each speaker focus on part of the job and reproduce its part of the soundstage to perfection.

The goal is to get crisp, clear, and above all, natural sound.


The front left and right speakers reproduce most of the music and sound effects and will also be used for dialogue when voices move to the left or right of the screen. These speakers are crucial and need to reproduce a wide range of frequencies, from low bass in music and effects to high tones.

Because the front speakers are required to reproduce the most critical music and sound effects, ideally, they should be of high quality because they lay the foundation of your home theater sound.

Ideally, the front left, front right, and center speaker sound should blend nicely and work together to give the crucial front soundstage. Therefore, most people buy a center speaker from the same brand or range as their front left and rights, ensuring that they sound good together.

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A standard 7.1 set-up, which includes seven speakers and a sub-woofer.


In your efforts to create a truly immersive audio experience, you may also want to add rear speakers so that you can practically feel that helicopter approaching over your right shoulder!

Rear surround speakers are a pair of the surround left and surround right speakers. About the same size as the front speakers or smaller. Like the front speakers, they correspond to the right, and left-hand sides of the audience and are set just behind the audience.

Therefore, it’s important to go for as close a match as possible to the rest of the set. However, if space constraints dictate a deviation, you have a little more wiggle room here.


The subwoofer is there for one reason alone—to reproduce the low bass end—and a subwoofer can make a tremendous difference to the perceived quality of your sound system.

There are two types of subwoofers: front-firing and down-firing. The former pushes the bass from the front of the unit and works best when placed along the same wall as the television, facing you. However, if feng shui dictates that the subwoofer be placed in a corner or side wall, the down-firing subwoofer will deliver bass more evenly throughout the room.

When you have a dedicated bass speaker in your room, you may be surprised how this improves the listening experience. It can really help to fill out and support the sound from the other speakers.


On the subject of feng shui, you may also want to consider a way to store and organize your surround sound system in a way that is heard but not seen.

An attractive media cabinet or tv stand—like the one's BDI offers—can not only house and protect your components but also feature thoughtful design considerations. These include built-in cable management, acoustically transparent and remote-friendly doors, flow-through ventilation, adjustable shelves, and rear access panels.

Whether it's a soundbar or a complete 8-channel speaker system, the right media console can help set the stage for a theater-like home entertainment experience.