How does the sound combine to get louder
The best 2.1 and 5.1 sound systems in 2021 - from 41 euros and with a very special tip against cable clutter!
In order to experience real spatial sound in your own four walls, you still need a sound system, as audible compromises have to be made with TV speakers and even with sound bars. Such sound systems, whose speakers are distributed at strategic points in the room, are coupled to the television, Blu-ray player, computer or projector.
Of course, there are plenty of audio systems that are of a higher quality than the ones we will present to you in this article. For those, however, five to six-figure sums are due. With our selection, however, we want to recommend the most suitable sets for film fans at realistic prices. For this purpose, we name the specific advantages, but also the disadvantages of the respective products.
- What is a sound system anyway?
- 2.1 sound systems - simple but effective from 41 euros
- 5.1 surround sound systems - it's all around for less than 200 euros
- 5.1 surround systems for high demands from 1,500 euros
- A very special tip: (almost) wireless surround sound
- Answers to the most important questions about home theater sound systems
A sound system is used to enable a spatial listening experience of sound content via several audio channels. For this purpose, a bass box, called a subwoofer, is combined with a different number of speakers that broadcast individual sound channels. The most widespread and proven are 2.1 and 5.1 sound systems, which is why we want to focus on them in the following.
The first digit always indicates the number of speakers, the second that of the subwoofer. If there are five or more appropriately arranged boxes, one speaks of surround sound. In addition to music freaks and gamers, there are of course home cinema enthusiasts in particular who swear by sound systems in order to be able to really immerse themselves in the action and emotions of a film with their help.
You only have a small room available, which is actually already full with the TV and a couch? Or do you watch your blockbusters on the computer monitor anyway? That's why you don't have to do without rich sound. The 2.1 systems (subwoofer plus two speakers on the left and right of the image source), which are now mainly designed for gamer PCs and Macs, are usually just as easy to connect to Blu-ray players, projectors or televisions.
Even such simple systems almost always achieve a significantly better, more authentic sound performance than a TV set. Here are some suggestions that we can use to make the Hollywood experience a whole lot nicer (and louder!).
Ideal for the tight budget: For those who want to bring more sonic volume into the booth, but only have a small budget, the wonderfully easy-to-use Logitech Z333 should be just right. Of course, you shouldn't expect any miracles, but the basses boom pleasantly full and the mids and higher tones are surprisingly clear and differentiated. This is far from standard for this price range. The active speaker ensemble can be connected to all devices with a headphone socket (3.5 mm) or cinch input and can even be retrofitted for wireless streaming. The corresponding cable or the Bluetooth audio adapter * are not included in the scope of delivery.
»Logitech Z333 at Amazon for 41.30 euros *
- Distortion only occurs at a very high volume
- super easy set-up and handling
- Can be operated on a television or DVD / Blu-ray player with a cinch or headphone socket (3.5 mm)
- Cinch cable and Bluetooth audio adapter not included
- Wired control unit firmly connected to the subwoofer
Hellish fat: The inventors of the Berlin company Teufel are known for high-quality loudspeakers and headphones that also look really smart and valuable. The surprisingly inexpensive Teufel Concept C 2.1 fits in seamlessly with this. After the quick, uncomplicated assembly and provided with the right action sounds, the active subwoofer is a dream with wonderfully precise, sonorous tones. In addition, his two smaller colleagues do a very good, dynamic sounding service even at high volume - regardless of whether it's for films and series, games or music.
»Teufel Concept C at Teufel for 299.99 euros *
- Bomb sound for this price range
- stable, wireless playback of mobile and stationary sources via Bluetooth
- Connection options via USB (Notebook / PC / Mac) as well as via analog inputs
- Radio remote control
- high quality
- comparatively high power consumption
- Indicator LEDs and headphone connection only on the rear of the subwoofer
Well-sounding misappropriation: A little improvisation rarely hurts. Not even when it comes to getting the best possible sound out of a simple set-up with a television and Blu-ray player. Originally built for computers by the manufacturer Bose, which is very popular with hi-fi fans, the Companion 50 even works excellently via the jack connection on the television or Blu-ray player due to the wonderfully differentiated, lifelike sound for this price class. And already we can look forward to a lot of, loud and quiet, top-sounding audio fun from the wonderfully spacey-looking boxes.
»Bose Companion 50 at MediaMarkt for 365.99 euros *
- astonishingly voluminous sound for this size
- Satellites equipped with their own tripods
- Headphone and AUX input on the remote control
- Cables can neither be changed nor extended
Retro future feeling in the living room: Okay, the GOgroove 2.1 sound system is less of a tip for sound fetishists than for film nerds who are into gimmicks, especially directly after the products from Teufel and Bose. It's simply great to use these pseudo-fluorescent pulsing boxes in parallel to the bass of the film music, SciFi classics such as "2001: A Space Odyssey", the first "Star Wars" trilogy or - best to match the funny retro future look! - enjoy the original "Tron".
In terms of sound, there are of course no great demands in terms of high and low volume with a wattage of 40. The Logitech Z333 system mentioned at the beginning sounds richer and better all round. Nevertheless, the active speakers are definitely above the performance of a regular TV set. But the fun only really starts when the room lighting is switched off and we experience the visual spectacle. Installation is child's play, because the connection to the sound source is via AUX plugs. If you have enough storage space, you should always dig these things out when it is thematically appropriate to the selected film. Because you almost feel like you are in a small space glider.
»GOgroove 2.1 in blue at Amazon for 62.99 euros *
»GOgroove 2.1 in red on Amazon for 62.99 euros *
- a real eye-catcher due to the funny design
- Sound completely okay for this price range
- easy handling
- a slight clinking and snarling sound at a higher volume
5.1 systems consist of a subwoofer plus five speakers. One of them (the so-called center speaker) is in the middle or directly below the image source, two on the left and right of it and two more on the back. All five are geared towards the position of the sound consumer. Of course, this arrangement requires a lot more space than the 2.1 devices and it costs accordingly more. The advantage, however, is that - thanks to the surround effect - a much more intense, immersive sound experience is offered. For example, the “Top Gun” fighter jets or the X-Wings in “Star Wars” do not just thunder from left to right, but straight across the audience.
Even with dialogue scenes, the spatial feeling is often astonishing. The whole emotional violence of a score by geniuses like John Williams or Hans Zimmer, which sometimes only slowly creeps up "from behind" and at its climax shattering the entire cinematic world, only develops when you are practically sitting in the middle of the orchestra. And outside of a large cinema hall equipped with top equipment, this works best with a surround sound system. Here we have put together some of them, which we consider to be particularly recommendable for us film buffs, but which do not cost home and yard straight away.
Attractive for beginners: If you want to get into the surround sound experience for the first time, but with a fat sound, the Logitech Z906, which has emerged from various test reports as the leader in its price segment, is well served. Everyone who wants to hear their favorite action films with a really loud, yet surprisingly differentiated roar, will be thrilled. Gaming is also great with this THX-certified (a strict performance standard for surround speakers), consisting of active speakers. It's easy to set up. There are also six inputs for the simultaneous connection of TV, Blu-ray player, consoles, smartphone, iPod, etc.
»Logitech Z906 for at Amazon 353.00 euros *
- powerful surround sound, especially suitable for action films
- THX certified
- can be set up, adjusted and operated easily
- digital / analog connection options
- slight transparency weaknesses with pure music playback
- Bluetooth adapter * must be purchased separately
On your own two feet: You don't want to (or are not allowed to?) Drill holes in the walls of your home in order to hang up the speakers of a surround system at the right height? Perhaps there are huge shelves in front of the walls full of the beloved Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs, so that you can't get to them anyway? Then you still don't have to be satisfied with 2.1. Because the auna Areal 653 provides the solution at a fair price with powerful sound: The active satellite speakers have their own pedestal. The surround sound is picked up directly from the Blu-ray player via the cinch input.
»Auna Areal 653 at Amazon for EUR 184.99 *
- no hanging necessary as boxes have their own bases
- Strong, clear sound for this price range
- quality look
- Wireless streaming via Bluetooth from smartphone or computer
- no HDMI or optical inputs
- an adapter must be purchased for direct TV connection
- very tight cables included
The eye listens: When the mighty bass box (60 x 40 x 30 cm, 29.5 kg) of the Numan Ambience 5.1 system stands on its own, it looks a bit like a washing machine in small format due to the light color and the bass reflex hole . In combination with the five finely crafted satellites, however, their entire charm develops - not just the visual, but above all the sonic. Lively mids, very powerful, yet precise low tones and a convincing surround sound in all (cinematic) situations are among the great pluses of the product conceived in Berlin. Even unpacking and the easy-to-use assembly should be a small highlight thanks to the white fleece gloves supplied and the individual boxes packed in protective fabric covers.
»The Numan Ambience 5.1 on Amazon for 344.99 euros *
- great surround sound
- stable processing
- pleasantly discreet, very valuable-looking design
- only the subwoofer is active; the satellites need an AV receiver
Better than its price: The biggest pluses of the Teufel Concept E 450 are the excellent, powerful surround sound for the course called, as well as the stylish look with high-quality material. In order to overwhelm the sound of the system and make it clink and crackle, film fans have to pull out very heavy action guns like the "Avengers" or "Transformers" rows and turn the volume control in the corresponding scenes up to the pain threshold or above turn up.
While the gigantic bass box is placed on the floor as usual, the smaller speakers all have stable, practical hook holes on the back. So they can be easily hung on the wall. Teufel has created a product here that easily outshines many, often much more expensive, competitor loudspeakers.
»Teufel Concept E 450 from Teufel for 599.99 euros *
- first class sound in all aspects
- excellent workmanship
- easy to use remote control
- streaming-capable via Bluetooth
- no HDMI input
- no headphone output
Small but mighty: According to the manufacturer ELAC, the Cinema 30 sound system offers the right surround sound backdrop for every genre. And in fact, in rooms up to approx. 25 square meters with the very stably processed and valuable-looking components, there is actually something like a real movie theater atmosphere in terms of sound. There is always a high level of dynamism and sophistication. The investment should pay off quickly, especially for people with a versatile film taste.
»ELAC Cinema 30 at Amazon for 1,489.99 euros *
- amazing spatiality and precision in sound
- very stable processing with aluminum housings
- Satin finish
- very low power consumption in stand-by mode
- an additional AV receiver is required
Even the neighbor applauds: The euros required for the Teufel Definion 3 Surround Power Edition 5.1 may seem steep at first. But besides us, numerous other testers (HifiTest, AreaDVD, etc.) also consider the price to be more than appropriate in relation to what is offered.
The four, almost 120 cm high, standing speakers (37 liters interior volume, 24 kilograms weight) that rest on secure feet make a powerful visual impression. In connection with the beefy bass reflex subwoofer (13 kg) and the center (11 kg) they are stunning. Voices, musical instruments and sound effects can be located transparently in the room at any time; accompanied by unadulterated timbres and fine dynamic precision.
Such a sound is actually only known from loudspeakers, which are a lot more expensive. Excellently processed with high-quality materials and sophisticated technology, the set comes either in elegant anthracite or white / black. Your neighbors will be grateful that even they can clearly hear every word, every pistol shot, every musical note ...
»Teufel Definion 3 Surround for 4,199.99 euros on Amazon *
- by far the cleanest, most complex sound of any product in this article
- Top processing
- Automatic switch-on / switch-off
- an AV receiver is required
You don't want to do without surround sound, but don't feel like tripping over speaker cables lying on the floor? But to lay the strings awkwardly on or in the wall is too annoying for you? Then a wireless system would be the right choice. Wireless does not mean that there are no more cables at all and that everything works via Bluetooth, like with modern headphones *.
It is now possible to “transmit” the sound from the receiver to the speakers, but even then the speakers still have to be supplied with power. Wireless energy transmission is unfortunately still science fiction, so each speaker still needs at least one cable. There are also some battery-operated loudspeakers, but these are not exactly a revelation in terms of sound and their consumption is so enormous with reasonably regular use that they are actually forbidden from an ecological perspective.
Manufacturing complete systems that reliably send their signals to all five speakers (plus subwoofer) of a surround system over several meters through the air is also damn expensive and hardly profitable for the manufacturer. Which is why almost all manufacturers are currently restricting themselves to only offering soundbars in the wireless segment - possibly coupled with additional satellites. The loss of quality in the sound is clearly audible here.
Nevertheless, we have a very special tip for you on how to get closer to wireless surround sound enjoyment than ever before ...
The clever and relatively cheap solution: You need a regular 5.1 sound system for this (which you may already have). While the center box, the subwoofer and the front speakers are still set up with short cables next to or under the television, a so-called rear station now comes into play for the rear speakers.
This includes a small transmitter that is simply connected to the pre-out output of the receiver via cinch. Two receivers connected directly to sockets supply the passive satellites with energy and sound information via short cables (not included). In this way, data only needs to be transmitted to two and not to six recipients. We recommend the Teufel Rearstation, which achieves excellent results and which, surprisingly, has hardly any noticeable loss of sound.
»Teufel Rearstation for 399.99 euros at Teufel *
Why buy a new system right away? Can't I combine existing speakers from different manufacturers and connect them to a 5.1 receiver? In theory, yes. With surround sound in particular, it is essential that the speakers are coordinated and harmonize with one another. For example, if a sound effect flies from one point to the next in a room, it would be very confusing to our ears if its sound changes along the way. And that is guaranteed to be the case with different speakers.
Don't you have a soundbar? Soundbars placed discreetly under the television or the screen are a popular, inexpensive and space-saving alternative to complex sound systems. But they only simulate the surround sound - more or less effectively depending on the quality and price of the device. But only boxes combined with one another in the right places in the room deliver real surround sound. In addition, a separate subwoofer usually has to be purchased for a soundbar anyway.
What is the difference between active and passive boxing? In contrast to their passive counterparts, active loudspeaker systems can be connected directly to the PC, TV set, Blu-ray player, projector, etc. No receiver / preamplifier is required. This is usually replaced by the subwoofer, in which an amplifier module is already integrated, through which the other boxes (called satellites) are then supplied.
You are so enthusiastic about your new sound system that you want to expand it with additional speakers. Is the? 2.1 sound systems can easily be converted to 5.1. It is the same with 5.1 sound systems towards 7.1, for example. With an AV receiver that is 5.1 or 7.1 capable, that's no problem. Other options are for example 5.2, 6.1 or 11.2. In addition to the amplifier, other speakers of the same model must of course be purchased.
* These links are so-called affiliate links. We receive a commission when purchasing via these links or when taking out a subscription. This has no effect on the price.
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