10 Best 5.1 Speakers | March 2017

We spent 25 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. So you have just about finished building your awesome new home theater. The TV is hanging on the wall and the 5.1 receiver is ready to deliver truly immersive, movie theater-like entertainment. All you need now is a set of these 5.1 speakers. They will blow you away with booming bass, crisp highs and clear midrange sound for all your TV shows, sports, movies, music and gaming. Skip to the best 5.1 speaker on Amazon.
10 Best 5.1 Speakers | March 2017

Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 2
Best Inexpensive
The Boston Acoustics SoundWareXS has angled speakers that offer flexibility when it comes to mounting placement and a powered subwoofer that features radiused edges that mimic the satellite design for a visually pleasing system. Unfortunately, setup is tricky.
The Harman Kardon HKTS has four speakers each, with a soft-dome tweeter that's strong, but lightweight enough to reproduce high frequencies with detail and clarity, bringing the movie theater experience to your home. Unfortunately, the included cable is very short.
The Orb Audio Mini is perfect for the audiophile with a small home theater. It has five compact speakers that are slightly raised off the ground to prevent bounce-back distortion from the floor, and includes all of the wiring and brackets necessary for a full installation.
The Monoprice 108247 has four speakers with convenient spring-loaded signal connectors, and a subwoofer that can take either line or speaker-level inputs. This allows it to be used with any amplifier, even older amps without dedicated subwoofer outputs.
  • includes wall mounting brackets
  • no sound distortion at high volumes
  • doesn't come with speaker wires
Brand Monoprice
Model 108247
Weight 30.1 pounds
The Yamaha NS-SP1800BL offers restored harmonics, crisp highs, and accurate bass through wide-range system frequency response. The removable grill cloth keeps dust out and prevents damage, while the center speaker delivers excellent midrange dialogue.
  • includes non-skid pads for the base
  • extra long speaker wire
  • magnetic shielding on all speakers
Brand Yamaha
Model NS-SP1800BL
Weight 34.4 pounds
The VIZIO SB3851-C0 comes with a stylish and functional 38-inch sound bar and a deep-thumping subwoofer that lets you feel the action in your content. It also has an intuitive LCD screen remote that makes it easy to adjust frequencies and volume.
  • delivers sound that fills large rooms
  • designed to minimize wires and cables
  • each volume level is a big jump
Model SB3851-C0
Weight 23.7 pounds
The Onkyo SKS-HT690 has slick and sophisticated high-gloss two-way acoustic suspension front and center speakers for sound that makes it seem like the musicians are in the room, no matter where you stand. Plus it's magnetically shielded to prevent interference.
  • built to resist vibrations
  • solid construction that will last years
  • low-end push terminal connections
Brand Onkyo
Model SKS-HT690
Weight 45.2 pounds
The Logitech Z906 comes with a Bluetooth audio adapter that has an impressive 50-foot range, so you can stream music from your smartphone or tablet. It also boasts 1,000 watts of peak power, allowing for extremely high volumes that won't blow out the speakers.
  • compact control console
  • connects to up to six devices
  • includes a wireless remote
Brand Logitech
Model Z906
Weight pending
The Creative Inspire T6300 uses a conventional port tube within a tight enclosure that greatly improves frequency distribution of the whole system, delivering louder playback with more mid level bass. It also has a powerful subwoofer, and the system is priced under $100.
  • includes troubleshooting software
  • bold looking satellites
  • preserves tonal accuracy
Brand Creative
Model 51MF4115AA002
Weight 10.4 pounds
The Bose Acoustimass 6 Series has almost invisible speakers that can mount flush to your wall and weigh just 1.2 pounds each, so you can easily place them around your room for an incredible surround sound experience. Plus it delivers great deep low notes.
  • connectors are clearly marked
  • heavy gauge cable included
  • perfectly accurate sound reproduction
Brand Bose
Model 720960-1100
Weight 46.2 pounds

Why Are They Called 5.1 Speakers?

The numbers in home theater systems are often regarded with confusion among customers. From 2.1 to 11.2, it is easy to think that the number denotes a ratings system of some sort. The truth is easier to understand, yet does require some explaining.

The number to the left of the decimal represents the number of full channels the theater receiver can provide. Each of these channels has the ability to produce the normal range of audio frequencies the human ear can hear; from the high ringing of some action effects to even some normal bass notes in music. It is curious to note that our interpretation of this psychoacoustic range of sounds actually shapes our reality, which may shine some light into why surround sound speakers sound more real than normal speakers.

The number varies from two all the way to eleven, meaning there are between two and eleven channels available. It is important to get a receiver that matches with the number of speakers the user would like. If a 2.1 receiver is purchased, yet the user is hoping to use 5 full channel speakers, they will be quite disappointed as there will be 3 extra speakers that cannot be used. They would have had to purchase a 5.1 receiver to utilize all of them.

The number to the right of the decimal represents a different channel called the low frequency effects channel. This channel only produces extremely low frequencies ranging from 3 to 120 Hz, and is for a designated subwoofer. Because there is usually only one subwoofer, most speaker systems end in .1.

There are a few uncommon cases of speaker systems which have two low frequency effects channel outputs. This could be for left and right subwoofers, or for large areas like auditoriums which need more than one subwoofer to fully fill the space. In these cases, the speaker system would be marked 5.2, for example. It is not a requirement to use both of the channels, but can be beneficial if one subwoofer does not provide enough output. To simplify the concept, the 5.1 can be read as five full channels, one low channel.

Things To Look For In 5.1 Speakers

The most important aspect to consider when shopping for 5.1 speakers is the build quality. After spending a few hours setting up, installing, and programming the surround sound system as you want it, it would be a waste if the speakers blew within the first few uses. This is why it is so important to check for good cabinets like wood or high quality plastics, and to inquire about the diaphragms used in the speakers.

The price will also be a factor for some. Speakers are finely tuned acoustic instruments, and the highest quality items will obviously cost more. However, it is possible to do some research and come away with quality speakers that do not break the bank.

Another thing to consider is the subwoofer cabinet. The quality of the cabinet design is important to keep from hearing rattling noises or distorted sounds over time. To be sure of this, the enclosure should be capable of withstanding the air pressure the speaker will provide while resisting deformation over time. This usually involves creating cabinets made of various types of wood which are the most sturdy and affect the sound less than other options.

The cabinets will also have some sort of vent to allow pressurized air to exhaust in order to prevent damage to the cabinet. There is a lot of pressure created by speakers, and woofers especially, so be wary of any cabinet that does not have some sort of vent.

Understanding The 5.1 Speaker Setup

There is a reason that the 5.1 speaker setup has been the industry standard for over twenty years now, and that is because it works very well. Having five full range channels provides enough of a spread for most rooms, and allows the sound to both fill the space while providing enough dynamic sources to make people feel as though they are part of the event.

When a 5.1 speaker system is first opened up, it may look confusing and intimidating. There are a few different components which need to be understood before installing any home theater system. Once they are fully comprehended, the speaker system will provide endless hours of entertainment.

Advancements in television technology have brought us closer than ever to feeling as though we are in the action. While much of this has to do with the empathetic nature of humans when watching movies, that nature is definitely influenced by the realistic experience provided by well-produced movies on a life-sized screen. This visual experience is accented perfectly by the depth provided by a 5.1 channel speaker system.

It is key to understand how each of these channels works together to deliver that experience though. The center channel of the speaker system will provide an anchor point for the sound. This channel is usually where the spoken dialogue or musical lyrics will come out, and helps to keep most of the attention towards the television. The left and right front channels are the immediate accents to this channel, and provide the soundtrack information, backing tracks, or left and right audio for any stereo tracks. The rear left and right channels or the surround channels are where much of the immersive feeling is felt from.

When designing sound production for 5.1 surround sound, sound technicians have the unique opportunity to pan sound from one end of the room to the other by having it start in one channel and move to another. This can create the sound of a car passing by or fill the room with different ambient sounds from the crowd at a live event taping. Capping it all off is the subwoofer, which provides the extremely low frequencies. Rumbling motors, explosions, and the bass notes of an amazing concert can all be felt with ease. Together, the six speakers work in harmony to make heartfelt songs more moving, and horror movies even more scary. This makes some researchers question if it leads people to be desensitized to violence or not. One thing is for certain, the experience is immersive.

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Last updated: 03/26/2017 | Authorship Information