The 10 Best Satellite Speakers
This wiki has been updated 10 times since it was first published in June of 2019. They don't get as much attention as the front and center channels, but satellite speakers are very important to an immersive surround sound system. You'll want to consider standard, bipolar, and dipolar models that can be mounted on or in the wall, either at ear level or near the ceiling. We've ranked the best by performance, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 29, 2021:
While the choices we arrived at in our last update are largely still current, we did see fit to make three changes to our list, starting with the Polk Audio FXI A6, which replace the Polk FXI A4. The new additions include slightly larger 6.5-inch drivers than their predecessors, making them suitable for installation in larger living spaces.
Our next selection was the Fluance XL8BP, which are the latest iteration of the Fluance SXBP2s, which they replaced. Notable for having two sets of drivers and tweeters positioned at opposing angles, they project sound around the room, creating a highly realistic sound stage.
Lastly, we chose the Polk Audio OWM3, which do not have the frequency response to perform well on their own, but are an effective and affordable addition, when used with a subwoofer, or as part of a 5.1 surround setup. They are also versatile and can be easily positioned at many different angles with their included stands and hardware.
June 21, 2019:
The first step is to get quality front and center speakers as well as a powerful subwoofer. In fact, the sub is one of the most important parts, as it takes the strain of of the lower range off the other speakers. Once you have those in order, it's time to get some good satellites. Whether they're for side or rear channels, the considerations are pretty similar. You don't need a ton of bass, but some helps. Front-facing drivers are cheaper and smaller, but bipolar ones offer indirect soundwave production and greatly increase realism. Dipolar configurations take even more planning, and often need their levels adjusted separately from the other channels while setting up the system, but if you have a quality receiver the process will be much easier.
With that said, it's hard to argue with anything from Fluance. Their cabinets are pretty large, but they're quite attractively designed and shouldn't be an eyesore, and you'll forget how bulky they are once you hear how good they sound. The BIC model we highlighted is similarly large, but the 90-degree angle between its drivers makes it especially effective for Dolby Atmos systems. The SVS Prime Elevation are similarly great for object-based audio thanks to their partially down-firing nature. The Klipsch are relatively compact and lightweight, plus, they sound surprisingly full despite their small stature.
That brings us to Polk, who has a few models on our list. They've eaten up a huge chunk of the mid-range surround sound market, and for good reason. Everything we've listed here from them is a worthwhile choice, in particular the FXI A4s, which are dipolar/bipolar switchable and can provide a listening experience on a par with far more expensive devices. Furthermore, Polk's RCi line sound very impressive, because they actually use your entire wall as a speaker cabinet, helping a mere home theater to mimic the all-encompassing audio that accompanies viewings in actual cinemas.
Bowers & Wilkins M1 Because they're not quite as important as the front speakers, most people won't want to spend too much on satellites. But if you do want to make a significant upgrade at the cost of a few hundred dollars, the Bowers & Wilkins M1 is an excellent way to do so. It's the smallest offering from a company that sells some of the highest-quality loudspeakers on the planet, and its sound quality full justice to its pedigree. bowerswilkins.com
GoldenEar SuperSat This is a line of super-thin speakers that leverage premium components and design to deliver audio that sounds better than many large, bulky cabinets. They don't quite have the low range of standard speakers, but their incredibly low profile matches modern flat-screen TVs very well, in addition to making them unobtrusive additions to a home theater. Such technology will, of course, cost you quite a bit more than most people are willing to spend. goldenear.com
Sonos Architectural Sonos' Architectural speakers have a special place in the audiophile world, as they're renowned for being some of the best modern speakers for permanent installation that can be had for less than $1000 a piece. But not much less. Nonetheless, their in-ceiling and in-wall models are definitely worth looking into if your goal is a true high-fidelity listening experience for both movies and music. sonos.com