Sound systems

The 3 best surround sound systems of 2022

Our choice

Polk Signature Elite ES10

The small ES10 is easy to set up or set up just about anywhere, so it’s ideal as a surround sound speaker.

Polk Signature Elite ES30

The ES30 is a good affordable center channel match for the ES15 and ES10 speakers in a surround sound system.

The Polk Signature Elite Series is the best deal we’ve found in a surround sound speaker system. The Signature Elite line – a subtly updated version of our previous pick, the Signature line – includes a variety of models, but we recommend the ES15 for the front left and right channels, the ES10 as the surround speakers, and the central ES30. In our testing, this combo’s performance was competitive with anything we’ve tried in its price range and better than some more expensive systems we’ve tested. The ES15 sounds clear with music and movie dialogue, and it handles strong, deep bass without complaining. The ES30 center speaker produced clear dialogue in our tests, and its sound matches that of the ES15 quite well. The Signature Elite Series speakers come in a black, walnut, or white finish, and the design is far sleeker than we’d expect from such an affordable speaker range.


Beginnings ELAC 2.0 B6.2

The B6.2 bookshelf speaker has powerful sound and a matching Dolby Atmos add-on is available. But it’s bulky and unattractive.

Beginnings ELAC 2.0 B5.2

The B5.2 is a little smaller and generally a bit cheaper than the B6.2, so it’s a good choice for surround channels.

ELAC 2.0 C5.2 debut

This fairly compact center speaker goes well with the B6.2 bookshelf speakers.

The ELAC Debut 2.0 speakers are larger and have more robust sound than the Polk Signature Elite series, which might make this system a better choice for someone with a large room or who likes to listen at louder levels. higher volumes. Many system configurations are possible; we recommend two B6.2 bookshelf speakers for the front left and right channels, the slightly smaller B5.2 as surround and the compact C5.2 center speaker. ELAC also offers the ability to add A4.2 Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, making it easy for you to create an even more immersive surround sound experience if you have an Atmos-equipped AV receiver. But the Debut 2.0 speakers are bulkier and much less attractive than the Polk Signature Elite series.

Choice of upgrade

Monolith by Monoprice THX-265B

Monoprice’s THX-265B Monolith is bulky and simple in appearance, but plays movies at commercial theater volume and incorporates an upward-firing Atmos speaker.

Purchase options

*At the time of publication, the price was $350.

Monolith by Monoprice THX-365C

The THX-365C adds a mid-range speaker that low-cost center channels typically lack, so dialogue rings clear in every seat of a home theater.

Monolith by Monoprice THX speakers are designed for serious home theater enthusiasts who enjoy playing movies at or near the volume they would hear in a well-calibrated commercial theater. The THX-265B bookshelf speakers deliver particularly smooth, natural sound, and they also incorporate upward-firing Dolby Atmos speakers that bounce sound effects off the ceiling to deliver more immersive sound from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. The THX-365C center speaker is a three-way design, with a separate midrange driver that allows it to deliver natural-sounding dialogue over a wide area. The system’s rather simple design and finish may make it undesirable in many living rooms, but for a basement or serious home theater it’s hard to beat.