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Best wireless surround sound systems

Four ways to get immersive sound without all the wires

In this article: Want the surround sound experience without the hassle of running and hiding wires for rear speakers? Consider these system options:

  1. Home theater receivers that support optional wireless rear speakers
  2. Sound bars as the center of your wireless surround sound system
  3. Klipsch Reference Wireless system with WiSA technology
  4. TV headphones with simulated surround sound

S

urround sound is an amazing experience that makes you feel like you're right there inside the action when you're watching movies, playing video games, and enjoying sporting events. But running wires to rear speakers can be a real hassle. Wireless surround sound systems give you all the gain with none of that pain.

We're going to show you four great ways to set up wireless surround sound, but first, let's answer a couple of frequently asked questions.

Can I use Bluetooth for surround sound?

Sorry, it's just not possible at this time. Surround speakers play a very specific part of a movie or TV show's soundtrack, and Bluetooth doesn't have enough bandwidth to handle the additional information. You can use them to enhance stereo sound, but that's about it.

What do you mean by "wireless?"

Keep in mind that the term "wireless" only refers to signal transmission without wires. Wireless speakers still need power, and nobody's figured out how to safely broadcast electricity (yet). There are some truly wire-free battery-powered speakers that need to be recharged regularly, but most still need to be plugged into a power outlet.

Now that we've cleared that up, here are four very convenient ways to create a wireless surround sound system in your home.

1. Receiver plus optional wireless rear speakers

Some Yamaha surround sound receivers let you use self-powered wireless speakers for the rear channels. Since 2018, their Wi-Fi receivers have used MusicCast to wirelessly transmit surround sound channels to compatible speakers.

Yamaha receiver

Select Yamaha receivers with MusicCast can be used with compatible speakers to build a wireless surround sound system.

You can get two MusicCast 20 speakers in a bundle. Then add a MusicCast SUB 100 for deep, clear bass.

The center, left, and right speakers still require wired connections. But those wires can be tidied up and even completely hidden with some basic cable management tricks.

2. Sound bar plus optional wireless rear speakers

There are plenty of high-quality sound bars with wireless surround speakers included, or with optional wireless surrounds. Below you'll see a few of our favorites. Check out our buying guide for more information on what to look for in a sound bar.

Sonos

You can build a Sonos system to your own specifications, because each modular component connects wirelessly to the pieces you already have. That makes it ideal for building a wireless surround sound system.

Start with a Sonos Arc or Sonos Beam to provide the front left/right and center channels. Each sound bar can then be paired wirelessly with a Sonos Sub to create a 3.1 home theater system. Add a pair of Sonos One SL speakers as wireless surrounds, and you've got a full 5.1 system for wraparound sound. We've bundled some Sonos systems for you to eliminate the guesswork.

sonos surround

Speakers like the Sonos One can serve as wireless rear speakers on movie night, and also bolster your whole-home music-playing system.

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are built into these systems, so you can play music, ask for weather and traffic updates, create a shopping list, set reminders or alarms, and control connected smart home devices like lights and thermostats — all with your voice.

JBL Bar 9.1

The JBL Bar 9.1 is the only wireless surround sound system that offers truly wire-free battery powered surround speakers. Two surround sound speakers detach from the sound bar and can be placed wherever you like. Re-attach them to the bar when you're finished watching or playing, and they'll recharge automatically.

JBL Bar 5.1 Powered home theater system.

The Bar 9.1's battery-powered rear speakers recharge when connected to the sound bar. A full charge gives you about 10 hours of surround sound.

As far as sound goes, JBL always knows how to pack the bass. The subwoofer is no exception. Meanwhile, the sound bar is powerful enough as a center, left, and right channel to bring the soundtrack and accentuate the dialogue.

3. Klipsch Reference Wireless system with WiSA technology

Klipsch created a system called WiSA (Wireless Speaker & Audio) in answer to customers' frequent requests for a truly wireless surround sound system. An Axiim LINK wireless home theater transmitter is the heart of the system. It uses a USB cable to connect to compatible sources, including:

  • Xbox One consoles
  • 2019 and 2020 LG OLED or NanoCell TVs
  • Windows® PCs
  • Mac® computers
klipsch WiSa 700Ax20

In a WiSA-enabled system, sources plug into a wireless transmitter, which sends signal to specially-equipped Klipsch speakers.

The transmitter broadcasts wirelessly to all of the WiSA-enabled speakers, including center channel and front speakers, surrounds, and subwoofers. Each speaker must be plugged into a wall socket or power protection, but requires no speaker wire (non-WiSA Klipsch speakers can't be integrated into the wireless system.)

The Axiim LINK HD does automatically recognize and connect to new wireless speakers as they're added, so you can start with a modest Klipsch Reference Wireless 3.0 System and add more WiSA-enabled speakers and subwoofers whenever you're ready to level up.

If you're already convinced, jump straight to the Reference Wireless 5.1 System, and have the immersive, wire-free movie night or video game experience you've always dreamed of.

4. Headphones with virtual surround sound

It's pretty common for gamers to wear a headset while playing, to facilitate communication. But headphones can also be used to enhance late-night TV watching and improve clarity for hearing-impaired viewers. Some manufacturers are aiming to make the experience even better, cleverly simulating surround sound in some headphone designs.

sony surround sound headphones

These Sony headphones allow you to hear clear dialogue and listen without disturbing others, and they feature immersive simulated surround sound effects.

Sony TV headphones

Sony WH-L600 headphones feature simulated 7.1-channel surround sound with Dolby® Digital and DTS® decoding. The included docking station that charges the headphones when they're not in use, and it houses an RF transmitter with truly impressive 98-foot wireless range. The base accepts HDMI ARC and optical digital input.

Sony also dialed in four listening modes for specific use cases: Voice, Theater, Games, and Sports.

JBL surround sound gaming headphones

JBL Quantum headphones are designed to enhance gaming, and some add simulated surround sound to the experience.

JBL Quantum

JBL's Quantum 600 and Quantum 800 headphones are designed for gamers — the built-in microphone might give it away. A USB transmitter plugs into your gaming console or computer and sends virtual surround sound to the wireless headphones. With no wires in the way, you can flinch when startled, lean into the turns while racing, or walk away in disgust when the final boss beats you again.

And JBL offers downloadable QuantumSURROUND software that offers surround sound decoding for up to 7.1 channels, provides directional and spatial awareness cues, and customizes the sonic experience based on your head size and body height. That's pretty cool.

Connect with a Crutchfield Advisor

Have questions about choosing the right equipment for your wireless surround sound system?

For one-on-one shopping advice, contact us today. Free lifetime tech support is included with every order.

  • Guri Primor from California

    Posted on 10/19/2020

    do the speakers work with 220 volt?

    Commenter image

    Emily S. from Crutchfield

    on 12/3/2020

    Hi Guri! No, you should not plug any of these into a 220v outlet. Thanks for the question!
  • Matt from Cleveland, OH

    Posted on 10/14/2018

    Looking to re-do my office setup....primarily for music listening but also TV occasionally......currently Klipsch Synergy B3 bookshelf speakers, Klipsch C1 center channel (which doesn't work with my receiver for music), Klipsch subwoofer, Pioneer VSX 517 receiver. All from 2006-2007 era. Looking to replace all....keep the bookshelf setup, get a nice center channel, subwoofer, upgraded receiver....and looking to add wireless rear speakers that would be wall mounted about 2-3 feet behind me on the wall. Am not interested in a soundbar or anything like that, and would like a receiver with multiple digital outputs for TV and music. I wouldn't have too big of an issue plugging in rear speakers to power outlets. I don't know if higher end wireless speakers exist that I could get the rest of the system from the same company (all my other systems are all the same.....Magnepan, Klipsch, Sony). Any ideas?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 10/15/2018

    Hi Matt! Thanks for reaching out — I'm putting you in touch with one of our advisors, who will get a bit more information from you to help design you new system.
  • Kevin from Garden Grove

    Posted on 9/21/2018

    I have a Denon X3400 receiver and QSC 10" as my front right and front left speaker, a QSC as my subwoofer and klipsch as my center. I would like to wirelessly add surround speakers(Left/right) and possible surround rear(left/right). What speakers do you recommend? I read that Denon has HEOS technology. I heard its similar to Sonos. Would you recommend going this route?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 9/24/2018

    Hi Kevin! I'm putting you in touch with one of our Advisors who will help you choose the best options for your system.
  • Edwin A Santiago from Chelsea

    Posted on 8/5/2018

    My question is can you tell me if the Cavelli cv-19 5.1 home theater is as good as the bose home theater system not wireless?? Which would you keep?

    Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    on 8/8/2018

    Hi Edwin, I'm not familiar with Cavelli (it's not a brand we carry), so I'm afraid I don't have any insight into their speaker performance.
  • Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/3/2018

    Hi Oscar, that's right. Your soundbar uses a proprietary wireless technology that is designed to work with the SWA-9000S wireless surround speaker kit. The good news is that it comes with everything you need to complete your system.

  • Oscar from Las Vegas

    Posted on 7/3/2018

    Hello, I have Samsung soundbar HW-MS6500. I wanted to add wireless surround speakers and a SW, but I was told it only works with Samsung brand speakers. Do you know if that's correct?

  • Dr M G Prabhu from dubai

    Posted on 5/25/2018

    I am a dental surgeon by profession, having music as my hobby, which is my life, runs in my blood. Most of the weekends I spend my time meeting people whohave dedicated their life for music, music equipements, the sound systems, visiting the adio/video shops where I can find the audio/video units, to study, understand. I am a member of many groups in music, but since I started to go through your articles, your explanations, all extrodinary, very simple to understand and digest even to very beginer in music field. God bless you all people who have dedicated your life for music, as music being a God's gift, which relieves the mind from every tensions, soothing thousands of people at the same time, really music is marvellous. I learnt a lot,a lot, specially in home theater science, right from buying the right units, placing them, matching them, etc, with a great depth and success too. Keep the good work. Congratulate Mr Bill and the entire team for their great success.

  • Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/23/2018

    Hi Matt, an HDMI switcher, like this one from Metra, is ideal for your scenario. It lets you connect up to five HDMI sources to a single HDMI input on on your TV.

  • Matt from Melbourne

    Posted on 3/23/2018

    Hi! I have a Sonos Playbar now and I'm looking to purchase the rest of the 5.1 components. However, my challenge is my Sony TV only has 4 HDMI inputs and I have 5 (minimum) HDMI devices. I've been looking for a Sony receiver to expand my HDMI options, but there is nothing I'm finding that doesn't also include an amp and wired speaker options. I really don't want to drop hundreds on something with all of those features when I just need something to expand my HDMI device count to pass A/V to my TV. Would love to hear what you guys are recommending to customers who are embracing the wireless speaker systems, but have needs that traditional AV receivers offer.

  • Commenter image

    Kramer Crane from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2018

    Hi David, it's been discontinued by Klipsch and we no longer carry that line. I haven't heard anything about a replacement, but I'm hoping we see something soon — that system rocked.

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