The 10 Best 5.1 Speakers

Updated December 08, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

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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 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. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best 5.1 speaker on Amazon.

10. Monoprice 10565 Premium

Basic, low cost, and better than expected sound quality for the price would be the best way to describe the Monoprice 10565 Premium. It fits well within most people's surround sound budgets and the speakers can handle 100 watts of power without crackling.
  • built-in 200-watt sub amplifier
  • small speakers are easy to place
  • require some breathing room
Brand Monoprice
Model 110565
Weight 35.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Polk Audio TL1600

The Polk Audio TL1600 has a downward firing subwoofer that effectively spreads the bass out around the room as opposed to directing it into one place. When combined with proper placement of the front and satellite speakers, it creates a perfectly balanced sound system.
  • sound dispersing acoustic lenses
  • keyhole mounting slot
  • may hear sub buzz in total silence
Brand Polk Audio
Model TL1600 sys.
Weight 40.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Paradigm Cinema 100 CT

The Paradigm Cinema 100 CT is a top notch choice for those who want a compact system, but don't want to sacrifice too much on low-end sound. It offers good dialogue clarity and just enough bass to feel those explosions, though not enough to make the couch vibrate.
  • comes with mounting brackets
  • have a wide frequency range
  • signal crossover point is too high
Brand Paradigm
Model Cinema100CT
Weight 48 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Orb Audio Mini

With the Orb Audio Mini you get a futuristic sound system that takes up minimal space, yet still produces a big sound. The cutting-edge round design of the speakers makes for less distortion than traditional rectangular models.
  • gold-plated connectors
  • unique modular design
  • sound varies based on where you sit
Brand Orb Audio
Model 5.1 Mini HT
Weight 25.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Klipsch HD Theater 600

The Klipsch HD Theater 600 offers serious value for your money. It was designed with both efficiency and performance in mind, so not only does it consume a small amount of power, but it also produces well-balanced audio with a high degree of bass.
  • attractive high gloss speaker boxes
  • good for music and movies
  • doesn't come with speaker wire
Brand Klipsch
Model HD Theater 300
Weight 33.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Enclave Audio CineHome

The Enclave Audio CineHome is a full 5.1 system that comes with its own center hub, eliminating the need for you to purchase a separate receiver. Its surround sound satellites have tow drivers on opposing sides to really spread out the sound.
  • three hdmi inputs
  • details every sound nuance
  • setup is extremely simple
Brand Enclave Audio
Model 006007
Weight 64.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Pioneer SP-PK Andrew Jones

The Pioneer SP-PK Andrew Jones comes in both floor-standing models and bookshelf style speakers, both of which offer excellent sound, so feel free to pick the ones that best fit into your decor. Unfortunately, it seems a bit let down by the somewhat dated design.
  • will immerse you in movies
  • good choice for gamers
  • sounds better after being broken in
Brand Pioneer
Model SP-PK52FS
Weight pending
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V

Despite the small size of the speakers, the Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V delivers impressive theater-like sound no matter the size of the room. The slim design of the satellites allows for flush mounting against a wall, and the sub has dual high-performance drivers.
  • compatible with amps from 4 - 8 ohms
  • almost no distortion at high volumes
  • comes with a lot of speaker wire
Brand Bose
Model 720962-1100
Weight 60.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Vizio SB3851-C0

The Vizio SB3851-C0 comes with a stylish 38" sound bar and a thumping subwoofer that completely envelop you as you binge on your favorite shows. It delivers crystal clear sound up to 100dB, so you don't have to worry about sound distortion when you crank up the volume.
  • wireless for easy installation
  • simple bluetooth pairing
  • sleek minimalist design
Model SB3851-C0
Weight 22.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Elac Debut F5

The Elac Debut F5 is for serious audiophiles who want bold sound with a perfect balance of room-vibrating bass, a smooth mid-range, and clear highs. You can even tune the subwoofer's bass output to match the acoustic peculiarities of your room.
  • great dialogue clarity
  • sub is controlled by a companion app
  • disperses sound around large rooms
Brand Elac
Weight 157.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

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 on December 08, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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