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.
This is another relatively traditional surround sound setup, but one for those who crave complete separation – audio that seems to come at the listener from specific, discrete directions, rather than being blended into zones. So as a 7.1 channel system, the HT-S5500 adds two speakers (as compared to a 5.1 system), which are placed directly to the right and left of the audience. The overall effect is extremely immersive, even if it does require hiding even more cables throughout the room. Good news: Since this is a Home-Theater-in-a-Box, it includes a receiver. [$549; onkyousa.com]