While most gadgets have become gloriously intuitive, surround sound systems seem to be stuck in amber. There are usually cords and cables everywhere, the pros and cons of different products aren’t always clear, and even basic features require working knowledge of obscure hi-fi audio lingo. We can help. Whether you’re completely new to this category, or you're simply curious about the current state-of-the-art in immersive audio, we’ve highlighted the systems worth looking into. It’s a wide range, with something for whatever type of movie or music lover you happen to be.
Definitive Technology SoloCinema XTR
We know that a soundbar and a subwoofer don’t officially add up to 5.1 surround sound, but the reason this pair of devices is so expensive is because it comes so damn close. The soundbar uses a witch’s brew of crosstalk-cancellation algorithms to trick your ears into either hearing or ignoring the audio from each of the nine embedded speakers, based on which channel it’s emulating. Never mind how it works though—if you’re sitting at the appropriate distance, and using the highest-quality audio (such as from a Blu-ray disc), the effect is stunning. Another great feature—the soundbar can act as a mini-receiver, accepting a handful of connections from sources, and then hooking to the TV with a single HDMI cable. [$1600; definitivetech.com]