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.
JBL Cinema 510
The Cinema 510 is bare-bones surround sound, but without the bargain-basement audio quality. There’s a surprising amount of punch in the five 5.2-inch-high satellite speakers, which are small enough to be unobtrusive. And the more visible 60W subwoofer does its job while looking classier than it should at this price. The system’s only drawback is the lack of a specific center channel (the satellites are all identical in design), which is only a concern for viewers who have a hard time picking dialogue out of a movie’s audio mix. [$300; jbl.com]