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5 ways to add surround sound speakers

Including some clever ways to minimize the mess of wires

Watching a movie in surround sound is a lot of fun. But sometimes running wires or installing surround speakers can be challenge — it certainly was in my living room!

Here are a few suggestions for a clean installation in your home theater space, starting with the simplest.

1. Use flat wire for your rear speakers

Flat speaker wire is designed to be tucked under a rug or concealed behind baseboards. You can also use raceways (plastic wire channels) to protect the rear speaker wires.

To learn more, read our article about cable management.

2. Go with a wireless speaker system

Wireless surround sound systems are simple to set up, and offer a lot of flexibility. They're an ideal choice when running speaker wire across your room isn't feasible.

Options range from compact sound bars to wireless bookshelf and floor-standing speakers to match nearly any size room.

Everything you need for a wireless Dolby Atmos® experience

One of our most popular options is the Sonos Arc home theater bundle. It includes a Dolby Atmos-enabled sound bar, two wireless rear speakers, and a wireless subwoofer.

This system is a great way to get immersive surround sound without running speaker wires to each location.

3. Use a wireless transmitter with existing speakers

Do you already have surround speakers and a subwoofer? Use a wireless transmitter to avoid long cable and wire runs across the room.

If your receiver has multi-channel RCA outputs, Audioengine makes it easy. Use their W3 wireless audio adapter kit to send signal to the compact N22 amplifier.

Want to eliminate the subwoofer cable? Use the Martin Logan SW2-TRD or the SVS SoundPath transmitter and receiver kit to get wireless bass in your room.

MartinLogan SW2-TRD

MartinLogan's SW2-TRD subwoofer adapter kit lets you add wireless connectivity to your powered sub.

4. Run the wires through your walls

Want your wires totally hidden? Run in-wall speaker cable through your walls or ceiling for a stealthy installation. Wall plates help make wire connections neat and clean if you’re using externally-mounted speakers.

If you’re using recessed speakers, the wire is completely hidden away. See our comprehensive in-wall wiring guide for more info.

In-wall wiring.

Use in-wall rated wiring for a clean, stealthy installation.

Conceal visible wires

Do you have exposed wires and cables running down walls and along baseboards? We offer an assortment of helpful solutions to keep things organized.

Read our A/V cable management guide for more tips on keeping your system neat and clean.

5. Use in-wall or ceiling speakers

Install in-wall or in-ceiling speakers and enjoy surround effects with zero footprint. Some people use these for just their surround speakers. Others install in-wall or ceiling speakers in each location of their home theater.

Recessed speakers do require more installation work. But they provide a smooth, finished look that sounds fantastic. Plus, they have paintable frames and grilles to match your décor.

Read our ceiling and in-wall speaker buying guide for recommendations.

In-ceiling speaker viewed from the back.

In-ceiling speakers provide powerful overhead sound effects with zero footprint.

Bonus tip: Try front speakers only

If all else fails, consider ditching surround speakers all together. Powerful front speakers are great for TV, movies, and music. Here are three options:

  • A sound bar. Some even simulate surround sound without using rear speakers. Read our sound bars buying guide to learn more.
  • You can also achieve a powerful front sound stage by using separate speakers. A 2.1 system (a pair of speakers and a subwoofer) is a great option.
  • Even better is a 3.1 setup (a 2.1 system that adds a center channel for improved dialogue).

Sound bar in front of a television.

Use a sound bar and a sub in the front of your room for great dialogue and convincing sound effects.

Let us help you get started

Want friendly, one-on-one help choosing the best gear for your new system? Our expert advisors can help. Call or chat with us today for free, personalized advice. Free lifetime tech support is included with every Crutchfield purchase.

Last updated 2/3/2020
  • david stevens from louisville ky

    Posted on 9/11/2020

    There are ways to get rear ambiance without surround. Try dynaquad matrix.

  • Daniel Kelsey from Box Elder

    Posted on 10/19/2019

    So I understand the idea of taking my existing Rear Speakers and use a wireless system to send the signal without wires. But. you didn't talk about how the speakers would get their Power. I have a very powerful Denon 7-1 Surround Amp and NHT Front, Center and Rear speakers and have moved to where running wires would be difficult. How much power does the rear amp get to run the Speakers?

  • rudy from Houston

    Posted on 2/23/2019

    Probably one of the most useless articles I've read in a long time. Let me try what you did. I can write a great advice article too. How to cook the most amazing thanksgiving meal all by yourself and impress your family. 1. Go to culinary school and become a professional chef 2. By a pre-cooked meal. Tell them you did it. 3. Does someone else in your family cook? Your spouse? Maybe they can do it? 4. Try eating salad and cheerios with some bread. 5. Screw it. Order a pizza instead. 6. Don't celebrate thanksgiving. Done.

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 2/25/2019

    Hi Rudy, I'm sorry the article wasn't helpful for you. May I ask what you wanted to learn that wasn't offered in the content?

    We're always here to help by phone or chat too, if you'd like to talk about the specifics of your system.
  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/28/2017

    Hi Jeremy, I recommend giving one of our expert advisors a call. They can discuss the specifics of your system with you, and will help you find the best solution for your home.

  • Jeremy

    Posted on 7/28/2017

    So buy a new system with wireless, or add wireless to your system, run wires (not an easy feet once walls are up), or don't have surround sound at all. Is this supposed to be a joke, anyone so clueless about surround sound where this advice would actually be useful, well they are likely here looking for assistance figuring out how to hook-up an HDMI cable from their cable box to the TV. I was looking for creative ways to incorporate rear surround speakers into a great room besides in-ceiling speakers (which due to being mounted in very dynamic conditions, don't sound as good as sealed speakers tuned for their enclosure).

  • liubu from kentucky

    Posted on 5/19/2017


  • dan danfield from Silicon Mound CA

    Posted on 1/10/2017

    Even better, add number 6: call us and we'll tell you what to do......

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/10/2017

    Hi Paul, feel free to give one of our expert Advisors a call. They can discuss the specifics of your system with you, and will help you find the best solution for your home.

  • Paul from New Orleans from New Orleans

    Posted on 1/10/2017

    ^^ what that Paul said. Again. ^^

  • Paul from London

    Posted on 1/9/2017

    Room friendly ways to add surround sound speakers: 1. Buy a brand new system. 2. Use wireless transmitters, because plugging in expensive transmitters won't require any cables.....? 3. Run cables through your walls - because tearing out your walls just to run speaker wire will be easy and not cost you much....... /sarcasm. 4. Use in-wall or ceiling speakers...because that'll help me set up my current speakers. 5. Don't bother with surround! Wow, these sure are helpful. Your great setups must have never, ever involved having to deal with people who already have speaker systems and need assistance.