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Five room-friendly ways to add surround sound speakers

And some tips on how to enjoy movies without them

I started my Crutchfield career as a product advisor. I fielded thousands of customer questions about A/V equipment, designing systems for homes, cars, and the occasional party bus. Do that for eight years, and you begin to understand what people really want from their gear. You also get a lot of hands-on experience with the latest products. That's one of the coolest things about working here. As a writer, I enjoy translating technical jargon into easy-to-understand language. My goal is to make shopping for speakers and amplifiers simple. After all, this stuff is supposed to be fun! Outside of work, I enjoy playing and teaching music. I'm always on the lookout for interesting left-handed guitars.

More from Kramer Crane

Surround sound is terrific. Untidy wires snaking from receiver to surround speakers? Not so much. Here are five tactics for a clean installation, starting with the simplest.

1. Buy a wireless speaker system

Wireless surround sound systems are simple to set up and offer a lot of flexibility. Choices range from compact front-speaker systems to full 7.1 home theater.

Sonos PLAYBAR

Our customers' most popular choice for wireless surround is the Sonos PLAYBAR. Use it by itself, or add two PLAY:1 or PLAY:3 speakers and the Sonos SUB for a complete wireless system. It’s an easy way to get 5.1 surround sound and room-filling music without the clutter of speaker wire.

Wireless speaker system in living room.

The Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, and PLAY:1 or PLAY:3 speakers can be configured for wireless surround in your TV room.

Klipsch Reference Premiere HD

Want 7.1 surround? Then the Klipsch Reference Premiere HD system is the way to go. Start with the control hub, and a single pair of bookshelf or floor-standing speakers in the front of your room. Then add a center channel, powered subwoofer, and side and rear surround speakers. Love music? Built-in Bluetooth makes streaming music fun and easy.

Klipsch 7.1 surround sound setup.

Enjoy full 7.1 wireless surround sound with the Klipsch Reference Premiere HD system.

2. 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, Russound makes it easy. Use their X1-TX8 transmitter to send surround information to the X1-RX220 wireless amplifier.

Want to eliminate the subwoofer cable? Use the Martin Logan SW2-TRD to get wireless bass.

MartinLogan SW2-TRD

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

3. 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 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? Easily conceal them with paintable wire channels. We also offer an assortment of cable ties and wraps to keep things organized. Read our A/V cable management guide for more tips on keeping your system neat and clean.

4. Use in-wall or ceiling speakers

Install in-wall or 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.

5. Try front speakers only

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

Sound bar in front of a television.

Use a soundbar 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.

I'm passionate about audio, and have put together great setups for my cars and home theater!

Allen, Crutchfield Advisor

  • 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.

  • Paul from New Orleans from New Orleans

    Posted on 1/10/2017

    ^^ what that Paul said. Again. ^^

  • 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.

  • 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......

  • liubu from kentucky

    Posted on 5/19/2017

    great

  • 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).

  • 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.

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