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Wireless surround sound buying guide

Home theater without all the wires

Kramer launched his career with Crutchfield in 2007. He spent eight years as a product advisor, delighting in helping customers choose the best solutions for their systems. His passion for A/V gear and new technology led to a specialization in speakers and smart home equipment, which he covers for the Crutchfield website and Discovery Book catalog.

More from Kramer Crane

Klipsch Reference Premiere HD 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. Get best-in-class performance with wireless bookshelf and tower speakers from Klipsch. This 5.1 system can be expanded to 7.1-channel surround sound for the ultimate movie watching experience.
  2. Go for a complete 5.1-channel surround sound system from Sonos.
  3. Choose a sound bar that can be expanded to 5.1 with wireless surround speakers. This is a great way to start small and grow your system over time.

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. They range from modest sound bars with compact rear speakers, to wireless tower speakers that thunder with detail.

The best wireless surround sound system available

Let’s start with the biggest and baddest wireless system that we carry: the Klipsch Reference Premiere HD Wireless. Klipsch set this system up in our training room for some movie demos and it blew me away. It was one of the best surround sound performances I'd heard from them in years, wired or wireless.

There are two aspects of this system that I really dig. First, you don't need a home theater receiver or any speaker wire to make it work. That’s huge! Second, you can mix and match bookshelf and floor-standing speakers to customize a system that’s perfect for your room.

Klipsch Reference Premiere HD Wireless 5.1 Surround Sound System

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

Here’s how their system works: Connect your cable box, gaming system, or Blu-ray player to a central hub via HDMI. The hub decodes and processes the surround sound information. It then beams each channel's signal along with system calibration information to each speaker.

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.

I mentioned that you can mix and match speakers. You can also start small and grow your system too. Get started with the hub and a pair of wireless bookshelf or floor-standing speakers. Expand all the way to a full 7.1-channel surround sound system by adding a center channel, subwoofer and side and rear surround speakers.

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.

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.

Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, PLAY:3 speakers

The Sonos PLAYBAR, SUB, and PLAY:1 speakers combine for fantastic wireless surround sound.

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.

Complete Sonos PLAYBAR system

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

The newest addition to the Sonos family is the PLAYBASE. This works just like the PLAYBAR, but acts as a platform for you TV to sit on. It's a great option if you aren't wall-mounting your TV. Pair any of the Sonos wireless speakers as well as their sub to the PLAYBASE for a wireless 5.1 system.

Start with a sound bar and expand to 5.1-channel 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.

Wireless surround speaker system

Enjoy an awesome home theater experience without running or hiding any speaker wires or subwoofer cables.

I like this route for a couple of reasons. First, it 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.

The other main benefit to these systems is that your wireless rear speakers can be used 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.

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.

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, 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.

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

Christopher, Crutchfield Advisor

Last updated May 22, 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?

  • Kramer 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!

  • Kramer 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.

  • Kramer 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.

  • Kramer 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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