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Wireless surround sound buying guide

Home theater without all the wires

Joshua honed his knowledge of home audio/video gear during an 8-year stint as a Crutchfield Advisor. He can talk tech with the best of them, but he lives for the emotional experience of music. He brings that outlook to his writing, and to his side gigs as a folk guitar player. He stays active by chopping firewood and exploring our national parks.

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Hearing a movie's soundtrack the way the director intended is a powerful part of the home theater experience. But there's always been a catch. For years surround sound has meant running wires to speakers in the back of your room, and routing a long cable over to your subwoofer. If only there was an easier way!

Well, now there is. New technology has made wireless surround sound a reality. You can use existing speakers or get complete wireless systems. We'll show you the options.

What we mean by wireless

Before we dive into specifics, let's tackle the term "wireless". Often when we think of wireless products, our smartphones or Bluetooth® speakers come to mind. In these examples, wireless means battery powered.

In the case of surround sound, wireless refers to signal transmission. We can broadcast surround information to compatible speakers with minimal wiring. But, a constant power supply for the equipment is still required. You'll need to plug even "wireless" speakers into a power outlet. Or better yet, a power protection device.

The best wireless surround sound system available

Klipsch Reference Premiere HD system

Klipsch combines legendary speaker design with modern wireless technology for superb surround sound.

The Klipsch Reference Premiere HD system offers one of the best surround sound performances I've heard in years. Wired or wireless. Best of all, you don't need a home theater receiver to make it work.

You connect your cable box or Blu-ray player to a central hub. The hub decodes and processes the surround sound information. It then beams each channel's signal to the appropriate speakers throughout the room. Each speaker has its own built-in amplifier. The system offers easy, one-button pairing. 

The secret behind Klipsch's system is a new wireless technology called WiSA. It transmits high-fidelity audio along with calibration and system setup information to each speaker. The result is crisp, dynamic sound from every channel.

Klipsch Reference Premiere HD center speaker back view

Setting up the Klipsch system is as easy as following the instructions on the back of the speakers.

One of the things I love about the Reference Premiere system is its ease of expansion. You can start small with the hub and a pair of front speakers and expand all the way to a full 7.1 surround sound system. Add a center channel, a subwoofer, and surround speakers for incredible theater-like performance.

The system can also be reconfigured anytime. Say you start with bookshelf speakers in the front of the room. If you upgrade to floor-standing towers later, you can move the bookshelf speakers to the sides or to the rear. Each speaker channel can be reassigned anytime. 

Easy surround sound with Sonos

Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, PLAY:3 speakers

The Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, and PLAY:1, PLAY:3, or PLAY:5 speakers can be configured for wireless surround in your TV room.

Sonos wireless music speakers have been customer favorites for years. Now, they've taken their wireless expertise and applied it to 5.1-channel surround sound.

Like the Klipsch system, Sonos doesn't use a receiver. Instead, the centerpiece of their low-footprint system is the PLAYBAR. This impressive sound bar can be wall-mounted or placed on top of a cabinet. It provides your left, right, and center speaker channels. It also handles the system's audio processing. Simply feed your TV's optical digital audio output into the PLAYBAR. It will take care of the decoding and signal distribution.

Complete Sonos PLAYBAR system

The complete Sonos PLAYBAR system offers detailed surround sound without taking up much space.

By itself, the PLAYBAR provides crisp dialogue and a room-filling front soundstage. Add the PLAY:1PLAY:3, or PLAY:5 wireless speakers in the back of your room for immersive surround sound. For chest-thumping bass add the Sonos SUB. I also recommend adding the Sonos BOOST to your PLAYBAR system. It strengthens the Sonos network to give you the best performance possible. 

Setting up a PLAYBAR system is easy using your smartphone or tablet. For a closer look at the complete system, check out our Sonos PLAYBAR 5.1 system setup guide.

Immersive 5.1 surround sound from Definitive Technology

W Studio Micro sound bar and W7 wireless speakers

Pair the W Studio Micro with two W7 or W9 wireless speakers for room-filling surround sound.

Like Sonos, Definitive Technology offers a high-performance sound bar that can be expanded with wireless rear speakers. At only 1-3/4" tall, the W Studio Micro™ easily sits below the bottom of your TV. The system includes an 8" powered subwoofer for an immersive front soundstage.

Pair the W Studio Micro with two W7 or W9 wireless speakers for a complete home theater experience. When used as surround speakers, the W7s or W9s receive a Dolby®-decoded signal to provide dynamic, wraparound sound effects. The W Studio Micro system also delivers wireless music streaming through DTS Play-Fi®.

Exciting wireless surround from Polk Audio

Polk Audio Omni SB1 Plus

Polk Audio's Omni SB1 Plus sound bar can be expanded with wireless rear speakers.

Polk Audio also offers an expandable sound bar system. Pair their Omni SB1 Plus with two wireless Omni S2Omni S2R, or Omni S6 speakers for an exciting surround sound experience.

A complete system that won't break the bank

Samsung home theater in a box system

An all-in-one powered home theater system is an affordable solution for a rec room or game room.

If you're looking for a fun, easy-to-use system, check out a Powered Home Theater System. These budget-friendly packages come with everything you need, including a Blu-ray player. Enjoy movies from Netflix through Wi-Fi®. Or play your Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs. These systems include a small wireless amplifier for the rear speakers. No longer will you have to snake speaker wire over doorways or across the living room floor.

Connect with a Crutchfield Advisor for a personalized recommendation

Have questions about choosing the right equipment for your surround system? For one-on-one shopping advice, call, email, or chat with us today.

Our Advisors can send specific Crutchfield pages to your screen, saving you a lot of browsing time. Best of all, they know the gear inside and out, so they can help you make the best choice. Unlimited lifetime tech support is included with your order.

Laid back, reliable, informative...Oh, and I'm way into wireless, too!

Christopher, Crutchfield Advisor

Last updated January 12, 2017
  • Jim Thomas from Spring, TX

    Posted on 12/30/2016 12:52:30 AM

    I have a home theater system that is of good quality components but it just doesn't deliver the sound quality I'm looking for. The system consists of a Pioneer VSX-820-K receiver, Klispch Synergy F-2 Towers, Synergy S-2 surrounds (2), Synergy center, and a Velodyne VRP-10 Sub Woofer. Also the BRD is a Sony BDP-S570. The system sounds OK but it seems like I have to push it quite a bit before begins to perform, somewhere around 60% Volume. Any suggestions what I can do to beef it up? I've been thinking more reciever power like the Yamaha 1060, but don't know what else may be a better choicer should I be looking at a different sub-woofer or whatever?

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/30/2016 10:50:46 AM

    Hi Jim, a better receiver will make a world of difference in how your system performs. Indeed, a high-current option like the Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A1060 will deliver more dynamic sound with better control than your Pioneer.

    That's no knock on the VSX-820-K, but the Yamaha you mentioned is a high-performance race car that will get the most out of your Klipsch speakers. Yamaha also uses advanced room correction to make sure that speaker distance and room acoustics are properly accounted for.

    I'd stick with the sub you're using now and focus on the receiver as the next step. Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions!

  • Lynn de la Torre from Racine, Wi

    Posted on 1/16/2017 7:23:27 PM

    Hi! I am building a home and wonder if it wouldn't be more appropriate to install surround sound now? Does anyone come to the house to design a system? Thank you!

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/17/2017 1:47:56 PM

    Hi Lynn, right now is the perfect point in the home-building process to plan your audio system. I recommend giving our A/V Design team a call. They can help you find the best solution for your home. Good luck with your build!

  • Bob Philhower from Valley Cottage

    Posted on 1/29/2017 8:52:07 PM

    I have an existing 3.1 setup in my living room and am looking to upgrade to 5.1 and hoping to avoid running speaker wire.

    Is there a way I can do this without investing in an entire new system? Ideally I'd plug something into two channels on my receiver and then pair speakers to it.

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/30/2017 2:07:47 PM

    Hi Bob, if your receiver has multi-channel RCA outputs, I recommend the Russound X1-TX8 transmitter to send surround information to the X1-RX220 wireless amplifier. You can then use any surround speakers that you'd like in the back of the room.

    The 'TX-8 can also broadcast to your subwoofer at the same time using the X1-RX2 wireless receiver

  • Joel

    Posted on 2/24/2017 4:52:47 PM

    Thank you so much for this article. I just called in two days ago with this question and was told the expensive Klipsch stuff was the ONLY option. Now I have more (and cheaper) research to do! :)

  • Joe from Houston

    Posted on 3/18/2017 4:08:55 PM

    I want to downsize my 6.1 speaker system. I like the idea of a soundbar with wireless sub, but I would like to add in-ceiling surround speakers. Does anyone do this? Wireless in-ceiling speakers that connect to the soundbar? Thanks.

  • Joshua Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/20/2017 5:19:49 PM

    Hi Joe, the trick with in-ceiling speakers is that they'll always need a hard-wired power source (whether it's an AC plug to an outlet, or speaker wire to an amplifier). So far, no one has figured out a totally wireless in-ceiling speaker.

    There are a few different sound bar systems that use rear surround speakers that you can mount to the wall. I'm going to pass along your info to one of our advisors for a recommendation.

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