Best 7.1 home theater systems of 2023
If there is one thing we can all agree with, that would be that nothing beats a pleasant evening spent with friends and family enjoying your very own home theater system.
Seriously, the opportunities for outdoor entertainment have become seriously limited and what we have at home is often the best we can get at all.
But, even if we put the restrictions we are currently facing aside, sitting there in the comfort of your home enjoying your favorite classics with all the perks of a genuine cinema experience is something worth investing your money into.
Of course, getting the best screen on the market makes only half of the experience we have described above. The other half lies in the sound. And if you want the real theater deal, you need as many surround speakers as you can get.
So, let's take a look at some of the best 7.1 home theater systems and see which one of them deserves to find a way into your home.
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Last Updated: February 2023
By Barry Allen: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best 7.1 home theater systems of 2023 available for those who are interested in ramping the quality of their sound up. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best 7.1 home theater systems of 2023 currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
best 7.1 home theater systems of 2023 – Comparison Table
Samsung Harman Kardon 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Fluance Elite Series Surround Sound Home Theater 7.1 Channel Speaker System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Best 7.1 Home Theater Systems - Top 10 Individual reviews
Ok, this was the main info about the top 10 most popular 7.1 home theater systems currently sitting on the market. And you had an opportunity to take a brief look at the system I consider the best. The short overview should give you some general idea about why I chose this specific product.
But, these are only broad strokes.
You see, 7.1 home theater setups are very complex systems that can provide drastically different performance based on some small features that may go under your radar without closer examination. Throw into the other factors that have nothing to do with the speakers themselves (the size of the room, acoustics, etc.), and you will get a lot of money on the table that can go to waste if you are not very careful.
That is why I strongly suggest that you go through the 10 reviews I have compiled below. There, you will find much more info about each one of these systems and how I felt they behaved in real-life. Observing a home theater sound system through sheer specs will provide you with only a part of the big picture. I did my best to give you this personal part of the story as well.
Also, what works for me may not necessarily work for you as well.
When you read all reviews, you may find something better suited to your home, personal taste, or budget. When I finish, I will also give you a short buying guide that will help you to narrow down your picks even further. But, more on that when we go through all these awesome products.
For now, fasten your seatbelts. We are just about to go through the 10 best 7.1 home theater systems the money can currently buy.
1. Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 - THE BEST PACKAGE OVERALL -
Our Rating: 92/100
When it comes to any kind of audio equipment, Klipsch is a name so familiar there you would be hard-pressed to find any kind of audiophile who isn't aware of this brand.
So, it is not that big of a surprise that this home theater speaker system came to the top of my list.
The first thing I would like to point out here is that this home theater sound system looks pretty awesome. The speaker package I got was painted all black and featured a pleasant matte surface that fits any kind of living room setting with ease and grace.
The copper domes that are here to break the monotony work like a charm and lend these speakers a heavy dose of style.
But, all the design choices made here are not only surface-level. For instance, the square horn tweeters located at the top of the front speakers and rear speakers (the so-called Tractrix horn tweeters) feature an increased efficiency and do a great job at increasing the dynamic range of these units.
Furthermore, the build quality is excellent, and HDMI inputs are easy to access, so all the best grades here.
However, the area which makes this product the best home theater system in this market corner, of course, the performance. The sound quality on display here is truly top-notch, and the 7 1 system easily covers all the frequencies that can be heard by human ears (up to 1.5 kHz).
I am particularly impressed by the quality of the subwoofer that produces an incredibly satisfying, precise, and deep bass. The rest of the speakers work just as well and produce the very crisp sound necessary for a truly immersive surround sound experience.
Of course, there are some flaws here. Namely, although they look good, the speakers are quite heavy, which may pose some problems with the maintenance. The much bigger concern, however, is that most of the specs are not specified, so while reviewing this, I have to rely exclusively on personal experience.
Our Rating: 90/100
Samsung is a brand with a stake in virtually all tech-related market corners. This may be a bit of a drawback since, as we all know, "Jack of all trades is a master of none."
Still, this punchy 7 1 system proves that the famous Korean manufacturer knows how to throw a punch in the niche markets.
The best way to describe the look of this neat 7 1 home theater system is streamlined. Seriously, if you are in favor of something that looks hi-tech but trendy but subdued, the simplistic black design of the speaker set will be right down your lane.
I can only add that the build quality is simply great. Most of the components are made from plastic, but nothing here feels cheap, which is something we came to expect from famous manufacturers like Samsung.
What you get in the end is the total sum of 17 drivers capable of delivering stellar 7.1.4 sound, and that is the most important for this story.
Now, let's get to the more important topic, and that would be the performance. First and foremost, I have to mention that the speaker set is built according to Dolby Atmos standard so you do get the theater-like surround sound experience we all desperately crave these days.
The second perk of this 7 1 system leans heavily towards convenience. The speakers are Bluetooth compatible, so you will be able to stream the sound from whatever device you have at disposal.
When it comes to the overall audio experience, things are truly rock-solid. The setup offers a couple of different reproduction modes designed to boost dialogue, surround experience, or gaming soundstage. In all these cases, the system hits all the right frequencies and cells in the mid-range playing field.
The thing I would like to see in some of the future iterations is room correction. This way, all the settings are left to your own expertise.
Our Rating: 89/100
When you take a look at it, this surround sound system features a lot of similar building blocks as the home theater system coming from Samsung I have just covered above.
However, it is also apparent that the 7 1 system also comes at a much more affordable price.
Does this drop in price produce a noticeable drop in quality?
When it comes to the design, it seems that this home theater system checks all the right boxes that are relevant in 2023. The speakers look streamlined, trendy, and unobtrusive, and as far as I am concerned, they are pretty style-agnostic, so they should fit every room in existence.
The build quality is solid. Although we are not talking about the best materials in existence, I can conclude that the speaker package meets all modern requirements.
Also, we are once again dealing with a surround system where most of the drivers are located in the central soundbar unit. The pleasant surprise is the inclusion of a dual wireless subwoofer that promises a strong performance in the deep bass sections.
All these things amount to a performance that can be best described as clear, precise, and punchy. I am especially pleased with the sound quality when it comes to spoken dialogue. I never missed a single line spoken on TV, and neither will you.
The other thing I am very pleased with is the soundstage set by the high-quality central speaker located in the soundbar. As for the rear speakers, they create an enjoyable surround experience but don't offer anything new.
The areas where the price point of this affordable home theater speaker system becomes much more apparent are the advanced features (or lack thereof) and small performance quirks (e.g., sound drops) that are very noticeable in the long run.
But, for the most part, the sound system performed great.
Our Rating: 87/100
Fluance is a manufacturer with a pretty strong market presence, and the fact that they have managed to squeeze in not one but two packages competing for the title best 7 1 home theater system speaks enough about their solid rep.
So, how does this sound system compare to its sibling 7 1 system and the rest of the competitors we have on the list?
I would start this review by saying that the Fluance Elite Series Surround Sound Home Theater System is sold in a couple of different varieties. I opted for this black and white setup because it simply looks stunning.
All of the units in the package are made from high-quality MDF wood countered with great-looking black woofers and tweeters.
This contrast creates a compelling and clean visual impression ideal for modern setups like a monochromatic two-tone room.
Furthermore, all of the HDMI inputs are easy to access, all units (bookshelf speakers as well as a center speaker and front speakers) feature an excellent build quality. No complaints here.
How does this speaker package hold up performance-wise? Well, I have to admit I am pretty impressed.
For a start, the tweeters we can find on the surround speakers can hit some very high frequencies while the subwoofer keeps the bass very close to the frequency of 20 Hz. The result is the excellent sound quality that easily reproduces everything that's happening on the screen.
These good things are accompanied by the so-called Dynamic Surround that produces very low distortion and creates one incredibly immersive and intense cinematic experience.
The only major drawback that crosses my mind is the consistency of this performance. The issue may be the result of the speaker system uses an unspecified driver, but I have noticed quality varying from one to the other Blu Ray to Blu Ray disc.
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 is a speaker package that shares a lot of the DNA with its 7 1 home theater cousin called Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.2.4 800W.
As you can see from the very name, this home theater system, however, features slightly lower specs. How does this small drawback affect the overall quality of the sound system?
In terms of the design, Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 doesn't offer anything we haven't already seen in its bit more expensive sibling. But, that doesn't have to be all that bad since, as you remember, I was very pleased with how that sound system looked and felt.
The design is simple, trendy, and streamlined, and I am especially pleased with the grill that can be found all over the soundbar central speaker. All the elements used here look like they are built to last.
As for connectivity, this is yet another 7 1 home theater system that implements the wireless subwoofer, which should put a smile on the face of people who own a smaller room.
When it comes to the performance, I can only say that the 7 1 home theater system offers almost the identical experience as Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.2.4 speakers system. This applies both to good and bad things.
On a more positive note, the Dolby Atmos sound driver does make a huge quality difference and provides a precise and immersive cinematic experience. I am especially pleased with the mid-range performance that handles the spoken dialogue.
The drawback of this neat home theater speaker system is that this otherwise great performance is not all that consistent, so you will notice some bugs and sound drops.
What then is the difference between this and the previous home theater surround sound speaker system? Well, the setup is slightly underpowered and produces weaker bass. But that is something you can only notice in a smaller room.
And now that we had an opportunity to take a look at the second home theater speaker system coming from Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.2.4, it is time to once again check what's cooking in the Fluance kitchen.
This time, I am going to cover the famous Signature series. Let's see where this powerhouse ultimately stands.
It doesn't make more than a passing look at this ginormous home theater surround sound speaker system to see we are talking about one premium package you wouldn't have a problem showcasing in any room, regardless of the size and style.
All of the components and drivers feel classy, well put-together, and timeless, so as far as the design goes, I can even say we are probably talking about the best home theater system in 2023.
I am particularly happy with how silver and copper tweeters break the monotony of massive wooden-clad cabinets and provide them with a breath of life.
Well, I would like to say that this home theater speaker set represents the same incremental improvement in surrounding sound quality over its predecessor. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Namely, although most of the components that are built into the system are unspecified, I tested this speaker system back to back with the Elite series, and the results were virtually the same.
On the one hand, that is perfectly fine since the Elite Surround sound speaker system offers very good sound quality as a whole. The frequency response range is, once again, excellent, and the sound reproduction is precise across the board.
As a matter of fact, I was able to notice the slight improvement in the case of left and right surround speakers which had its effect on the sound detailing. The 12-inch subwoofer cuts deep and potent bass with ease and grace.
Unfortunately, all these good things somewhat fall apart if you throw in a wrong Blu Ray into the player. At this price point, that is not something I am so ready to bear with.
Our Rating: 86/100
And since all good things on this list come in pair, I decided to throw in yet another Klipsch home theater surround sound speaker system for good measure.
Don't be overly judgmental, this is arguably the best 7 1 home theater system in this range in 2023. The problem is that its price is not exactly aimed at an average consumer.
When it comes to design, Klipsch rarely makes mistakes, and these surround speakers are no exception. All the design elements the manufacturer is famous for are here - the black wooden cabinets, copper woofer domes, simple yet effective lines. This package is a true beauty to look at.
However, the product does take a slight dip in the area of connectivity. Namely, the connectors are very unreliable, and the speaker system doesn't support third-party cables.
So, you need to be very, very careful when setting up the system.
This problem is very uncommon for a speaker system that costs so much, but I promise, things only get better from this point on.
For instance, once again, we see the return of the fabled Hybrid Tractrix Horn Technology that enhances the sound and keeps reverb at the lowest possible level. The result is a full and precise sound that resonates across the room and easily translates the current motion of the movie.
This time, the cerametallic driver is a Sintered Fe-Cu material that makes the speakers somewhat heavy but ramps up the audio in lower frequencies and makes it clear and audible. When it comes to the central subwoofer unit, I have nothing but praises. The unit shakes the roof even when you put it in a bigger room.
As I already mentioned, when it comes to details like this, this is probably the best 7 1 home speaker system in 2023.
Our Rating: 80/100
And now, after a couple of surround sound speaker sets that used pretty much same the same DNA (soundbar or not), it is finally time for something completely different.
Namely, this time we are dealing with the high definition in-ceiling setup that uses the best 7 1 home theater multi-channel technology.
In-ceiling 7.1 home theater speakers are inherently unobtrusive. After all, in order to set up your system, you need to mount them directly into the walls where they are supposed to disappear. So, it should not be that big of a surprise that these speakers are not quite the lookers.
And that is perfectly fine. What I was far more concerned with was the overall build quality of these bad boys which holds up pretty well. All the materials used for production are solid (love the leather-like dust cover), and they are put together just as fine.
I could live with better insulation, though.
Overall, nothing special but not bad either.
Reviewing these types of sets is very hard since, in the absence of separation in the form of the center speaker and left and right surround speakers, you are missing out on a lot of home theater experience. Also, I couldn't exactly tear down the room to test the speakers, so I had to emulate the enclosure.
Be that as it may, when I finally got speakers to work, I was very pleasantly surprised by how they behaved.
The sound was crips accurate and precise all across the frequency spectrum. The only exception were the lowest frequencies, where sound felt a bit flat and muffled.
Of course, a central subwoofer would elevate the performance even further, but that is something you can set up on your own with a bit of technical prowess.
Our Rating: 80/100
And we are finally setting our foot firmly into the realm of acoustic audio speakers. But, don't let this small notion deceive you.
This home theater system offers the performance that can stand toe-to-toe with some far bigger and more expensive speakers in higher price ranges.
I would start the review by saying that these speakers actually look quite nice for what they are supposed to be. Sure, they need to blend into the walls without too much hassle, but the manufacturer did found a way to make the speakers subtly pop up with their gold dust covers.
Overall, the visual impression is clean and functional. The build quality doesn't lag behind. The speakers feel robust and ready to withstand years of abuse before breaking.
However, if I tried to mount these acoustic audio speakers into the wall, I would probably be very frustrated by the different dimensions of speaker pairs that would make installation needlessly hard.
Now let's move on to the performance. Here, the speakers definitely raise above the expectations. The benefit of the dual woven bulletproof woofers can be heard from a mile. They deliver a truly devastating blow in the lower end and make the movie-watching experience all the more gratifying.
The rest of the drivers also deliver a pretty competent performance but don't really push the envelope in any direction. What you should know is that most of the frequencies that can be heard in a regular movie are covered and that the overall experience is very immersive.
Also, the speakers do quite a lot of a good job at the frequency separation, so you will get a genuine surround effect.
Our Rating: 77/100
And for the very end, we have yet another contender coming from the family of acoustic audio speakers. By, now you know what you can expect from this type of product.
Let's see how this home theater speaker system fares against its direct acoustic competitors.
The design of these speakers may not be overly inspiring, but it's definitely functional. It is obvious at first glance that the home theater speaker system was made to serve a utility purpose and keeping that in mind, I can say that the requirements are fulfilled.
The sturdy plastic feels reasonably robust, and from the design of the wall-locking mechanism, I can only assume they are relatively easy to install. Low profile housing makes this story even better. You won't have to dig enormous holes to make these speakers work.
However, the cables you get in the package are very short, which can prove to be a huge problem.
And now let's mention the performance. Here the things feel very solid but not exactly stellar. Namely, the speakers are able to reproduce a whole range of movie-friendly frequencies with precision and clarity. The bass was able to go as deep as 30 Hz, which is pretty good for this type of product.
However, the sound from the speakers sounded somewhat muted, which I contributed to the lack of proper enclosure. But, just to be sure, I tried enclosing the speakers and even went through my Blu Ray collection. And with every Blu Ray, the problem remained the same.
So, expect to get good quality but somewhat muffled sound.
A Couple of Things to Check Before Buying a 7.1 Home Theater System
Now that you've seen the options, it's time to find out what considerations must be taken into account when finding your ideal surround sound system.
Different people require different sets of features; gaining a better understanding of home theater systems will help ensure that nothing essential is overlooked in the selection process.
We know there are lots of choices available, but that's why you're here, right?
Yeah, the size of your room doesn't really have anything to do with surround systems, but it will have a huge impact on your ultimate purchase decision. How, you might ask?
Well, let us start with the dimensions. Smaller rooms naturally have less available square footage, so you will need to pick the satellite speakers that can successfully fit in this tight space. The other option is to mount the speakers on the walls, but in that case, don't forget to add a couple of dollars more to the overall price of the package.
The second thing where the size of the room factors in the story is the necessary volume of the speakers. If your home theater falls on the smaller side, you should aim for precise reproduction rather than loudness.
In this case, the rule you should abide by is "the more, the merrier." These 7 1 home theater packages come in different types of setups. Not all of them include all types of speakers necessary for the ultimate cinema experience.
Ideally, your package should center, rear, and subwoofer. This way, the sound that reaches you will get an added amount of bass, and all corners of the rooms will be filled with clear music and crisp audio.
The point of every surround sound setup is to deliver... Well, the crisp and accurate sound. But, since we are dealing with systems that include several units, all of them coming with different specs, speaking about some universal features that determine sound quality is very hard.
Instead, I am going to use this opportunity to cover some of the terms I have used in the previous reviews.
- Frequency response range - This term describes the range of sound frequencies the speakers can hit. Ideally, your system should be able to cover anything between 20 Hz (subwoofer) to 20 kHz (bookshelf speakers and other units).
- Sensitivity - This term indicates the speakers' ability to convert electrical signals to sound output. In this case, better sensitivity translates to louder sounds. It is measured in decibels (dB) and usually sits in the range between 80 and 110.
The modern speakers also include features like power handling and impedance, which are important for using amps and building your own speaker system. But, since you are buying an entire 7 1 system, this time, they are not as relevant, so I'm going to skip them.
External and internal connectivity
By external connectivity, I mean the ability of your speakers to connect to different home theater devices, primarily the screens. Keeping that in mind, unless you have a really, really old TV, HDMI will be your connectivity channel of choice. So, choose the packages that include this type of ports and preferably HDMI connection cables.
But, even the good old HDMI is slowly losing ground in comparison to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that are, admittedly, much more convenient options and don't create the labyrinth of cables around the living room.
But, wireless streaming has one drawback. Namely, the connection is nowhere near as reliable as the one you get with cables. So, you can expect some lost audio bits and drops in quality from time to time.
In my opinion, your ideal surround sound system should offer both these options so you can use them at your own discretion.
Dolby ATMOS vs. Auro3D vs. DTS:X
The names above represent the three biggest and most famous surround sound brands in the world. The way they factor in the story about your future 7 1 home theater system is that the manufacturer of the speakers will most likely use the software (sound codecs) produced by one of these three companies.
To make things a bit clearer, sound codecs process the digital information by using special algorithms and produce life-like acoustic audio that comes out of the speakers.
Dolby ATMOS is by far the most widespread out of the three and features the best third-party support. Currently, the DA standard is used by companies like HBO, Sony, Fox, and a growing number of games like Star Wars Battlefront. The audio is great, but it requires a very specific layout of the speakers.
DTS:X standard is often used in theaters all around the world. The main thing that sets it apart from 3D sound formats is the immersive format that doesn't require any specific speaker layout.
Auro-3D is the latest entrant in this race that unfortunately still features the smallest market share and scarcest third-party support. The setup also requires the use of overhead speakers that can be a bit convoluted. But, the sound quality is really top-notch.
Design and build quality
Last but not least, I would like to point to the design and build quality of the speakers for your home theater system. Why I put them on the last spot?
Well, they don't really have an impact on the performance of the speakers, which is, in my honest opinion, the first thing you should focus on when buying a speaker system. But, that doesn't mean they are not important.
Since you are buying building your very own home theater 7 1 system, I might just assume you won't watch all those movies alone, so the speakers should look reasonably good and fit whatever style you were going for in your living room.
As for build quality, the things should be pretty clear here. Much like all other things spread around your room, your future subwoofer, front speakers, and surround speakers will get knocked down more than a couple of times. It is in your best interest they can survive all those small bumps.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best 7 1 Home Theater Systems
Q: What is the best 7.1 home theater system?
A: In my honest opinion, the best 7.1 home theater system you can get in 2023 has to be Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 Reference Premiere Surround Sound Speaker Package. The package simply checks all the right boxes. The subwoofer and the center speaker both produce incredibly crisp and loud performance while surround speakers create immerse movie-watching experience. Sure, I would like to have Wi-Fi connectivity, but this is only a small takeaway.
Q: What is better - 5.1 or 7.1 surround system?
A: Here, the answer is quite simple - 7.1 surround sound system takes the easy win. Let's quickly break this down together. The main reason you are buying more speakers beyond your basic 3.1 setups is to create an immersive experience where, depending on what's happening on the screen, different speakers will blast different sounds and frequencies. As I will explore in greater depth further down below, 5.1 speakers do an admirable job in this regard.
But seven surround speakers always beat the five of them, so there's that. And believe me, although two speakers may sound menial, they do create a huge real-life difference, especially in bigger rooms.
Q: Which brand is best for a home theater system?
The opinions about this one are split, to say the least, but I can wholeheartedly say that the top three brands are Klipsch, Fluance, and Nakamichi. I would still give Klipsch a slight advantage over the other two names since it represents the best 7 1 premium and refined option in 2023.
Q: Does 7.1 surround sound make a difference?
A: The short answer is - yes. This comes especially true when we compare this type of home theater system to lower-tier setups that are able to provide only the basic sound reproduction experience without creating the so-called "surround" experience.
What am I exactly talking about? Well, you know when you go to the cinema, watch some action blockbuster, someone sits in the car and starts roaring across the road, and you get an impression that the sound is traveling across the hall?
That is because the sound is actually traveling across the hall, or to be more precise, the illusion of motion is created by blasting the sound from some extensive speaker set. Well, the 7.1 home theater surround sound systems in 2023 are designed to bring that immersive experiences into your living room, and yes, they do make a huge difference.
Q: Is 5.1 surround good enough?
A: This really depends on your budget, personal requirement, and the size of your room. To be quite honest, 5.1 home theater speakers are able to offer a pretty high-quality surround sound performance in smaller rooms. If you ask some of the owners how they feel about them, they will have nothing but praises.
But, when we move the story to larger venues, you will quickly be able to see that you are missing out on a lot of experience with these two speakers. I guess it's like screen size. Your smaller screen may work fine, but as soon as you move on to something bigger, there is no way you will be able to go back.
And then there is the matter of standards in 2023. For instance, technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS were designed specifically to work with 7 1 home theater systems.
Q: Is there anything better than 7.1 surround sound?
A: This one is open for discussion but let's say - yes. The surround sound system I am talking about is called 9.2 and, as the name suggests, features two subwoofers and as much as 9 surround speakers. So, naturally, they must be better than 7 1 home theater systems, right?
Well, the difference is noticeable only when you move the story to the rooms when this difference can actually be noticed. The thing is, most of the living rooms in 2023 don't offer nearly enough space for a 9.1 home theater system to spread its wings and showcase the true power.
Q: Is wired surround sound better than wireless?
A: Different people have different opinions about this issue. One thing's for sure - a wireless speaker system will always be far more convenient than the wired-ones. No cables mean fewer things for you to worry about, believe me, with so much front and rear speakers in the mix, things can become really messy.
On the other hand, the sound quality of wireless speakers may not be as good as the one coming from wired speakers. This difference is especially noticeable in the lower price segments.
And then, there are the wi-fi outages. As every earbud owner knows, wi-fi speakers tend to drop signal from time to time. The chances of this happening become lower as you climb the price ladder, but they are still there.
Q: Is a 7.1 surround sound worth it?
A: A 7.1 system is a great choice for larger rooms where sound may get lost in the space. It provides a deeper surround sound listening experience. Theater quality media designed for a 7.1 system will come through clearer than it would on a 5.1 system.