Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Welcome to our big sound system test 2021. Here we present all the sound systems we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best sound system for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a sound system.




Summary

  • A sound system is a multi-channel sound system designed to provide the most realistic spatial sound experience possible. A subwoofer is combined with a different number of speakers.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between 2.1 and 5.1 sound systems, which can also be expanded if desired. With five or more speakers, you can create surround sound.
  • When buying, you should pay attention not only to the sound quality, the performance, the control system and the integrated drive, but also to the number of audio channels.

The Best Soundsystem: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a sound system

What makes a good sound system?

High-quality speakers are a must for a good sound experience. There should also be enough speakers to provide surround sound.

Surround sound is an important component for the perfect sound system. A flat-screen TV alone is not enough to turn the living room into a cinema. This sound is created when the technology distributes the sound over several electronically controlled speakers in the room.

This allows you to tune in when listening to music as if you were sitting in the front row at a concert and right in the middle of the action when watching a film.

The number of speakers is also crucial; we are talking about at least two speakers and a subwoofer. The most common is Dolby 5.1, which is perfectly adequate as a home theatre system and creates incredible virtual surround.

Theoretically, there are no upper limits if the room allows it, so there are also 11.2 sound systems on the market. It is not only the number of speakers that is important, but also their quality, of course, whereby differences in sound are clearly noticeable.

How does a sound system work?

The loudspeakers are connected to an end device and thus generate an amplification as well as room filling of the sound.

In a 2.1 sound system, you simply connect the speakers to the PC or TV and get a stronger sound.

The 5.1 sound system, on the other hand, delivers a sound experience like you know it in the cinema, the sound does not only come from one direction, so that you get the feeling of being part of the film. It comes from five directions and is distributed to all speakers, thus achieving surround sound.

For example, in the film a sound comes from the rear left corner, then in your living room it will also come from there through the rear left speaker.

Did you know that perfect surround sound also depends on the media being played?

No matter how great your speakers and loudspeakers are, if the audio track of the DVD or Blue-Ray is of poor quality, it's no use.

What are the advantages of a sound system over a sound bar?

A sound system provides excellent sound that is distributed throughout the room. In addition, a 5.1 sound system can deliver perfect surround sound and bass.

The main advantage of sound systems over the cheaper alternative soundbars is the perfect home cinema sound feeling with a real surround sound from the 5.1 sound system and the room filling sound.

Advantages
  • Natural, true surround sound
  • Speakers can be perfectly aligned
  • Maximum bass
  • Audiophile presentation like in the cinema
Disadvantages
  • Does not produce full/real surround sound
  • Separate subwoofer is often needed

The speakers can also be perfectly aligned at will and to achieve the best possible sound. Maximum bass is also guaranteed, as well as an audiophile presentation like in the cinema.

Another advantage with a sound system is the speakers and subwoofer, with the soundbar a separate subwoofer is often needed.

In summary, you can see that the sound system delivers much better sound once it is installed correctly.

For what purpose do you want to use a sound system?

Sound systems can be used first and foremost for listening to music. You can also use it to play games on your PC or to watch films with the feeling of sitting in a cinema.

When choosing the right sound system for you, you should consider what you mainly want to use it for. If you only want to listen to music with it, a 2.1 sound system will do. It is best suited to be connected to the PC or laptop.

In this case, the speakers are kept small and take up little space. However, the power of these systems should not be underestimated. Not only can you decorate the living room with such a system, but also your own car.

They are also suitable for playing games on the PC, but if you want to immerse yourself completely in the virtual world, you should look for a 5.1 system. 5.1 Sound systems are mainly used as home cinema systems in a complete system with a Play Station 3, a DVD and Blu-ray player and a receiver.

To enhance the home cinema experience, the system can also be connected to a projector.

The development of sound systems is strongly related to the development of cinema films, so that optimal sound can be achieved within one's own walls.

What are the alternatives to a sound system?

The cheaper option would be a sound bar, which is also space-saving because the speakers do not have to be distributed throughout the room.

This makes installation much easier. However, you have to accept that the sound will not fill the room as much and you will have to do without real surround sound. Of course, the sound is still good.

The following overview shows the advantages of a sound bar and the disadvantages of a sound system:

Advantages
  • Easy installation/connection
  • Hardly any cable tangle
  • Modern, timeless design
  • Suitable for small to medium-sized rooms
Disadvantages
  • Many
  • Cables from receiver to speaker
  • Requires comparatively much space
  • Complicated installation process
  • Comparatively expensive

Decision: What types of sound systems are there and which one is right for you?

Generally, sound systems are distinguished by the number of speakers and subwoofers (woofers) they have, which can be seen in the name of the system. We basically distinguish between two sound systems:

  • 2.1 sound system
  • 5.1 sound system

The number before the dot stands for the number of speakers and the number after the dot for the subwoofers. From 5.1 upwards, we speak of multi-channel sound systems or surround sound systems.

With such a sound system, it is possible to create the most realistic soundscape possible. You should no longer have the feeling that there are boxes next to the TV giving you stereo cinema sound from the front, but experience the sound from all sides of your surroundings.

There are also additional expansion sets to perfect the sound even further:

  • 7.1 sound system
  • 9.1 sound system

Sound systems are first and foremost about the acoustic experience. However, this can also be enhanced by a 3D-capable Blu-ray player, which also makes it possible to deliver a great TV picture.

Add to this an AV receiver and you have a complete system, and with a matching TV set nothing stands in the way of complete home cinema fun.

  • Home theatre system

Depending on your spatial and financial capacities, as well as the planned use of the sound system, a different device is best suited for you.

What does a 2.1 sound system consist of and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The 2.1 sound system is relatively simple and only needs to be connected to a PC or TV.

It consists of only two front speakers that output the sound and a powerful subwoofer that outputs the bass.

The 2.1 sound system can be used for music, games and films. Especially for games and movies, the significantly larger subwoofer comes in handy by producing a powerful and rich bass.

Advantages
  • Room-filling sound
  • Few connection cables
  • Low installation effort
  • Relatively good price
  • No large room necessary (compact size
Disadvantages
  • No surround sound

For playing high-quality music, a high-quality 2.1 sound system with two large satellite speakers is suitable, which, in addition to good quality, also offer a high volume.

The special advantage of the 2.1 sound system is that only a few connection cables need to be laid, which keeps installation costs low. In addition, the costs for the effect-rich sound feeling that the system provides are not too high.

A large room is also not necessary compared to other systems, as it has a compact size.

The disadvantage of the 2.1 sound system is the lack of surround sound, which distributes the sound around the viewer and gives the impression of being part of the action. This technique is only possible with a 5.1 sound system.

In summary, the 2.1 sound system is sufficient for a good sound experience when listening to music.

What does a 5.1 sound system consist of and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A 5.1 sound system consists of five speakers for the mid and high frequencies and a subwoofer for the bass-heavy audio. The speakers just mentioned include

  • one centre loudspeaker, placed directly in front of the viewer
  • two front speakers, placed to the left and right in front of him,
  • two smaller satellite speakers or surround speakers at the back of the room
  • and a powerful subwoofer.

This sound system gives the user an authentic audio experience with realistic soundscape, as if you were actually there live. The powerful subwoofer provides the dense atmosphere and shock effects for action or horror films, as well as stadium atmosphere for sports broadcasts.

The 5.1 sound system is not only very suitable for an unforgettable cinema experience, but also for games. This enables players, for example, to locate their opponents more easily and thus gain a clear advantage.

Advantages
  • Ideal for action and horror films, sports broadcasts
  • Perfect home cinema sound experience from all directions
  • Professional complete system comes ready-tuned
  • Sound more room-filling than regular speakers or soundbars
  • Particularly suitable for games and concerts
Disadvantages
  • High effort in wiring the rear speakers
  • Require a lot of space
  • On average, significantly higher price

The good sound of this sound system should not be underestimated. For music lovers, there is the option of listening to concerts or pieces of music in multi-channel, so that you have the feeling that an orchestra is playing in your living room.

However, 5.1 systems are technically more complex, especially the wiring of the rear speakers is a hurdle. However, there are models in which these are addressed via radio.

Another disadvantage is the need for a lot of space and the higher average price.

What does a 7.1 sound system consist of and what are its special features?

The 7.1 sound system is a further developed 5.1, in which the three front speakers, the two rear speakers and the subwoofer are joined by two side speakers on the left and right.

This system is also particularly suitable for elaborate blockbuster effects, as well as multi-track music and games in multi-channel sound, without losing the details.

With this technology, the sound flows better and the home cinema experience becomes even more effective. These sound systems are usually used in cinemas when the auditoriums are wide, as they ensure a pleasantly wide sound distribution in the room.

In particular, a distinction is made between direct radiators, which are suitable for placement in larger rooms, and dipole speakers for wall mounting at a short distance from the seating position.

What does a 9.1 sound system consist of and what are its special features?

A 9.1 sound system consists of three front speakers, two rear speakers, two side speakers, a subwoofer and the two front tweeters.

With the 9.1 sound system, two front tweeters are also used, which give the film sound more spatiality and brilliance.

This drives thunder sounds, such as rain, to mimic a third dimension. These front-high speakers should be placed directly above the screen or TV.

What does a home theatre system consist of and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Another option would be a Blu-ray home cinema system, which can be equipped with an integrated amplifier (receiver) and additional 2.1, 5.1 or 7.1 speaker systems.

The AV receiver ensures that various audio and video devices are connected and multiplies the acoustic output power via an amplifier.

The advantages of these complete systems are the precisely matched loudspeakers and subwoofers and a unit that includes an integrated Blu-ray player, usually with 3D function, an amplifier and connection options.

In addition, the player can be connected via LAN or wirelessly via WLAN, thus opening up further functions such as various apps.

Advantages
  • Exact coordination of the devices with each other
  • Additional functions through LAN or WLAN connection
  • No complicated wiring
  • Perfect sound
Disadvantages
  • Costly

In contrast to buying 5.1 or 7.1 sound systems on their own, there is no problem with complicated cabling here.

The subwoofer can usually be linked wirelessly to the central unit and wireless speakers are no problem either.

If you make sure that the system matches the TV when buying the complete system, all devices can be controlled with only one remote control. The only disadvantage is the high price that has to be paid for it.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate sound systems

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate sound systems. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Performance
  • Sound quality
  • Number of audio channels
  • Wireless speakers
  • Speaker control
  • Integrated drive
  • Usage

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Performance

When looking for the right sound system, you will often read something about 200 watts or even 500 watts. But what exactly does this have to do with the volume and does the motto "the more the better" apply here?

This cannot be said in a limited way, because the efficiency, which is given in decibels, determines the volume, but is usually not specified. In addition, the interaction with the amplifier also plays an important role.

Room size power
small rooms < 15 m² approx. 40 watts
large rooms > 25 m² min. 200 watts

The wattage only corresponds to the possible output of the loudspeakers; this says nothing about the sound quality. What you should pay attention to, however, is the size of the room in which the sound system is to be set up.

Smaller rooms will be fine with 40 watts, while larger rooms should be equipped with models over 200 watts.

Sound quality

The speakers are the most important audio component in achieving perfect sound quality.

When it comes to sound quality, the loudspeakers are of course the first priority, and this is where the money invested is most noticeable. Therefore, the selection of these is also enormously important.

First of all, you should know that you should spend at least as much on the speaker set as on the rest of the equipment. This includes, for example, amplifiers, Blu-ray players and cabling. There is no point in combining a €1000 amplifier with a €300 mini satellite.

It is obvious that higher price ranges are reflected in the quality.

Whether it's the power supply or the sound processor, upper class devices contain better components that reveal more details such as bass and treble.

If you have a limited budget, it is better to buy fewer good speakers than more mediocre ones.

Did you know that especially flat TV screens often have particular difficulties with good sound?

The particularly flat design does not leave much room for good speakers. In this case, it is worth investing in an external sound system.

Number of audio channels

Sound systems can have different numbers of audio channels and aim to provide the most realistic spatial sound experience possible. By audio channels, we mean all kinds of speakers.

If you look at the 5.1 sound system, you will notice that such a system consists of five equal main channels and one low frequency channel. Through these, sounds are transmitted without any problems.

The separate low-frequency conal is the so-called subwoofer, which is connected separately for the correct bass.

The main channels of a 5.1 sound system are divided in the room into two front speakers, a centre speaker and two back speakers.

This results in a first-class surround sound through the individual channels. The number of audio channels depends on the type of sound system.

Wireless speakers

Wireless speakers are very easy to use, which means trouble-free installation and more freedom in setting them up, as there are no cables to get in the way.

Problems often arise when setting up the speakers because the room is unsuitable, you don't want a tangle of cables in the middle of the room and hiding under the carpet or tearing out the floor is not an option either.

Wireless speakers come with advanced wireless technology that reproduces sound crystal clear. The rear speakers usually have a small receiver that is already integrated and through which they are connected to power. The front speakers are connected to the AV receiver by cable, as usual.

This technology allows a great deal of freedom in positioning and installation is correspondingly easier. However, a higher price must be paid for this effective solution.

Wireless devices allow more freedom when setting up the sound systems. In addition, other devices can be connected to the speakers at short notice.

Speaker control

Speakers can be controlled either on the unit itself or by remote controls.

When choosing speakers, control is probably not the first consideration, but it is a matter of convenience. A distinction must be made between whether the speakers can be controlled by a remote control or on the speaker itself.

On some sound systems, all controls, such as the on/off switch and volume control, are easily accessible on the right satellite speaker.

On the other hand, there are wired control units with convenient access also to the Bluetooth pairing button. There are also sound systems that can be controlled by individual remote controls.

To avoid having separate remote controls for each device, such as TV, Blu-ray player and more, you can replace them with one.

Another option of operation is through the smartphone or tablet. There are easy-to-use apps for this from some providers.

Integrated drive

In addition to a sound system, you can get a drive. However, since this usually involves high costs, a sound system with an integrated drive is more suitable, which then represents a home cinema system.

DVD or Blu-ray drives can be used, although it is clear that Blu-ray players are more modern and 3D-capable. Even if you don't own Blu-ray discs yet, such a player can get a lot out of the old DVDs and improve their quality.

Furthermore, it is possible to integrate the players into the network via LAN or WLAN, which opens up a new range of functions.

You can use various apps, the browser and video-on-demand portals, and via DLNA the device can also access files on other network devices such as network hard drives.

With Airplay support or via a docking station, iOS devices such as iPod, iPhone or iPad can also play their media files via the complete system.

In addition, you could buy the complete system to match the TV, so that the Blu-ray player, speakers and TV are perfectly coordinated. This should not be a problem in most cases, as most TV manufacturers are also active in this sector

Use

2.1 Sound systems are primarily suitable for everyday music listening. If you plan to listen to orchestral music, a 5.1 sound system would make more sense, because only then will you get the feeling of sitting in a concert.

For playing games on the PC or consoles, both are also available and offer even stronger effects through the 5.1 sound system. For watching films, a complete home cinema system is best.

Before buying a sound system, you should know what you want to use it for later. There is a system for every user, with the right speakers and number of speakers.

It is crucial whether you only want to listen to music, use it as a home cinema system or for the game console.

Facts worth knowing about sound systems

Origin of the sound system

The origin of the sound system lies in Jamaican culture, which is a mobile discotheque. The first sound systems were created in the 1950s, when Jamaican music was also undergoing a strong development and new music styles were emerging.

Dances or bashments were held in so-called "dance halls" by the first record players.

The soundsystem moved into Germany in the 1980s, but not before the mid-1990s, when there was a mass formation of new soundsystems due to increased dancehall and reggae events.

How is a sound system set up?

To achieve the desired effect of the sound system, the placement of the speakers is very important to consider.

The ideal speaker placement is usually not given for reasons of space, but there are some things that should definitely be taken into account and even small changes have audible effects.

Compact speakers should not be placed on the floor, generally speakers should not be placed on shelves, and it is not advantageous to install them firmly in cupboard walls.

Speaker stands or wall brackets would be perfect, but you can also place your speakers on suitable feet to prevent vibrations from being transmitted to the floor.

Other rules of thumb for speaker placement depend on the type of sound system and the number of speakers.

Image source: pexels.com / Anthony

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