Best wireless surround sound systems
Top ways to get home theater without all the wires
My love for all things audio started back in the '90s when I built my first subwoofer enclosure. After joining Crutchfield in 2007, I spent seven years as a product advisor, designing A/V systems for homes, cars, and the occasional party bus. These days I specialize in home speakers and distributed audio systems, focusing on 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'm a hobbyist photographer and enjoy visiting our national parks.
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Enjoy room-filling surround sound without wires running all over the floor.
In a Nutshell
Want the home theater experience without the hassle of running and hiding wires? Consider these system options:
- Go for a complete 5.1-channel wireless surround sound system from Sonos.
- Choose a sound bar that can be expanded to 5.1 with wireless surround speakers.
- Use a home theater receiver that supports wireless surround speakers.
Hearing a movie's soundtrack the way the director intended is a powerful part of the home theater experience. But that hasn’t always been easy. Surround sound has traditionally involved a slew of wires and cables running all over the room. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent carefully hiding my system’s wires over the years.
Thankfully, new technology has made wireless surround sound a reality! And there are some really cool options available. Have questions as you're reading? Give one of our friendly advisors a call for free, personalized system advice.
Easy 5.1-channel surround sound with Sonos
Check out this short video from Sonos to see how their system works.
The centerpiece of the system is the PLAYBAR. It acts as your left-, right-, and center-channel speakers. It also handles all of the system’s audio processing. Simply feed your TV's audio output into the PLAYBAR, and it takes care of signal decoding and wireless audio distribution.
Each Sonos speaker has a built-in amplifier, so the only wires are the AC power cords. The intuitive control app turns your phone or tablet into the remote control.
However, if you have a large room, or really want to crank your system to “11”, I recommend buying the system à la carte. Pair the PLAYBAR with two PLAY:3 or PLAY:5 wireless speakers for next-level home theater performance.
Here the Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, and a pair of PLAY:3 speakers combine for fantastic wireless surround sound.
Set your TV on Sonos' amplified speaker platform
The newest addition to the Sonos family is the PLAYBASE. It works just like the PLAYBAR, but acts as an amplified speaker platform upon which your TV sits. It's a great option for keeping your system clean and neat if you aren't wall-mounting your television.
You can build your PLAYBASE system using the wireless Sonos speakers mentioned above, or purchase it as a complete package.
Start with a sound bar and expand to 5.1-channel wireless surround sound
Sound bars have long been a popular way of improving a TV’s front soundstage. Now, an increasing number of sound bars can be expanded into a 5.1 system with wireless rear surround speakers. Some sound bars, like the JBL Bar 5.1 and the Polk Audio MagniFi MAX SR, even come with wireless surround speakers in the box!
Enjoy an awesome home theater experience without running or hiding any speaker wires or subwoofer cables.
Going the sound bar route gives you some budget and space flexibility. Start your system with a sound bar and wireless sub for improved dialogue, volume range, and bass response. Then when you’re ready to expand your system, add a pair of matching wireless surrounds. They add those crucial special effects that make movies so much fun to watch at home.
Some sound bar systems like SONOS and Denon HEOS let you use the wireless surround speakers as standalone music players when you’re not watching TV. Take one into the kitchen while you’re cooking. Or set one up on your porch and stream music from your phone or the internet while you hang out with friends. When you’re ready to fire up a movie or watch a football game, bring the speakers back into the living room and your surround system is ready to rock again.
The innovative JBL Bar 5.1 surround system comes with detachable, rechargeable surround sound speakers. Set them up near your couch when you're ready to watch a movie, and plug them back into the sound bar to charge when you're done.
Our sound bars buying guide will help you choose the best sound bar for your system.
In the world of surround sound, wireless refers to signal transmission. We can broadcast an audio signal to powered speakers without speaker wire. 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 home theater receiver reimagined
For years home theater receivers have required hard-wired connections for surround speakers. Denon has changed this with the HEOS AVR — a 5.1-channel receiver that can broadcast surround information to compatible wireless speakers in the back of your room. Check out our in-depth staff review for a breakdown of all of its features.
Dave Brown, Crutchfield writer and editor, took the Denon HEOS AVR home for an in-depth, hands-on review.
Don’t have room for surround speakers? Build a strong front soundstage
Sometimes our rooms can’t accommodate surround speakers at all. And that’s okay – you can still get great TV sound without wires getting in the way. Here's where a traditional wired system makes sense. Since all of the equipment is in one area, the wires are easily hidden.
Love watching movies? Go with a 3.1 system. This adds a center channel speaker to a 2.1 system for improved dialogue and a wider front soundstage.
If you’re going the front soundstage route, I recommend powering your system with a home theater receiver. It handles the audio/video processing and provides amplification for the speakers. And it gives you expansion flexibility should you decide to add surround speakers down the road.
Connect with a Crutchfield advisor for a personalized recommendation
Laid back, reliable, informative...Oh, and I'm way into wireless, too!
Christopher, Crutchfield Advisor