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Best wireless surround sound systems

Top ways to get home theater without all the wires

Sonos PLAYBASE Wireless 5.1 Surround Sound System

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:

  1. Go for a complete 5.1-channel wireless surround sound system from Sonos
  2. Choose a sound bar that can be expanded to 5.1 with wireless surround speakers.
  3. Use a home theater receiver that supports wireless surround speakers.

Full Story

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

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

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.

The PLAYBAR 5.1 system is available as a complete package, which includes the PLAYBAR, two PLAY:1 surround speakers, and the wireless SUB. This is a great fit for most spaces.

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.

Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, PLAY:3 speakers

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!

Wireless surround speaker system

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.

JBL Bar 5.1 wireless speakers

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 with HEOS AVR

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.

A 2.1 system combines a pair of bookshelf or floor-standing speakers with a powered subwoofer. This makes for a strong front soundstage for TV and movies, and also a rockin’ stereo music system.

Front sound stage

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.

Check out our intro to home theater speakers to learn more about choosing speakers. Read our guide to choosing speaker wire to find the right wire for these two systems.

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. Free lifetime tech support is included with your order.

Last updated 12/8/2017
  • Jim Thomas from Spring, TX

    Posted on 12/30/2016

    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?

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/30/2016

    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

    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!

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/17/2017

    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

    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.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/30/2017

    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

    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

    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.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/20/2017

    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.

  • Scott from Cottonwood, Az

    Posted on 6/10/2017

    Your sonos 5.1 photo says playbar and play 1's but play 3's are in the photo. Just an observation

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/12/2017

    Scott — good catch. I've updated the caption, thanks!

  • John from Sacramento

    Posted on 8/10/2017

    I am renovating a mountain cabin (no internet access yet, but I can get decent FW stereo), and Id like to install a mid-level home theater receiver with 2 wireless or wired shelf speakers for hanging , plus a good sub woofer. Ideally I can upgrade this later with surround sound. Any suggestions for the first phase ? Second phase will be satellite internet and 4K big screen.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/11/2017

    Hi John, that sounds like a fun project. I'm putting you in touch with one of our advisors, who will help you design the best system for your cabin. Good luck with the reno!

  • Shane

    Posted on 8/14/2017

    Does the Klipsch system support Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio?

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/14/2017

    Shane — not currently. Right now the system supports Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Digital EX, and DTS NEO:6. I'm hopeful that future firmware updates will bring additional format compatibility.

  • Randy from Chicago

    Posted on 10/26/2017

    Hello Mr. Crane, I want to spend about $1500-$2000 for a wireless speaker system. In other words I want a system where I don't have to run wires to the rear speakers, any suggestions? (By the way I don't mind wires to the bass or receiver) Thanks in advance for any insight!

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/27/2017

    Hey Randy, you'd be hard-pressed to top the Sonos PLAYBAR 5.1 Home Theater System for what you're looking to do. It's far and away out most popular wireless surround system, and it's super simple to set up and enjoy.

  • Steven from Yorba Linda

    Posted on 11/1/2017

    Hello Mr Crane, I want to spend around $1000 for wireless speaker system, and I don't want to run wire to the rear speakers. I am thinking on "Klipsch RSB-14 + RW1 speakers as rear speaker" or "Polk Audio MagniFi MAX SR". Any suggestion?? MagniFi MAX SR is not released yet, no reviews yet. I skipped Sonos playbar 5.1 since it doesn't come with HDMI and Bluetooth.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/1/2017

    Hi Steven, I haven't heard the new Polk system yet. But the Klipsch package you're considering is a pretty sweet system, and would work nicely for you. I also like the new JBL Bar 5.1, which has the first completely wireless surround speakers we've ever seen. I recommend checking it out!

  • Gary

    Posted on 1/5/2018

    It's good that our living room is surrounded by speakers because we love music and watch movies. it's a bit expensive but watching movies and listening music is surely a different perspective.

  • Scott from Hermosa Beach, CA

    Posted on 1/9/2018

    I am considering getting a Sonos wireless surround sound system. I have a couple of questions. 1. I currently get my TV signal through a Tivo box. Currently the TIVO signal goes through a receiver but will I need a receiver if I get the Sonos system or can I just HDMI from the TIVO to the TV and then link up the Sonos system to the TV? 2. Does the Sonos system have the ability to be zoned? For example, if I have guests over and I have music playing on Sonos speakers scattered around the house (including the ones attached to the TV), can I then isolate the TV speakers so I can be watching TV in one room and listening to music in the others?

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/10/2018

    Hi Scott, yep — everything will work exactly as you described (no home theater receiver needed). You'll connect your video sources to your TV via HDMI, and then send the audio out to the PLAYBAR via an optical digital cable (it comes with one).

    Each Sonos speaker in your house can be grouped together (so you could play the TV audio through the entire house). Or, each one can play something totally different. You could certainly have a game going on the TV, and have music play through the rest of your Sonos speakers in your house at the same time.

  • William Sykes from Pleasanton

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    Hello, I have a Pioneer VSX 1124 receiver, Polk Audio Rti A7 front speakers and Polk Audio center speaker and Polk Audio sub woofer. Is there any way I can add wireless surround speakers to my system? If so, who makes them ? Or what can I do Thank you

  • David from Cape Canaveral

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    What happened to the Klipsch HD wireless 5.1 system.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    William — I don't believe we currently carry any wireless transmitters that would work for your system. But I'm going to pass along your question to an Advisor, who will reach out to discuss options with you.

  • Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    Hi David, it's been discontinued by Klipsch and we no longer carry that line. I haven't heard anything about a replacement, but I'm hoping we see something soon — that system rocked.

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