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.
Hi-fi purists will scoff at this system’s price tag, and its use of a 42-inch-long soundbar instead of three separate speakers (right, left, and center). But you can easily drown out the doubters after a quick setup – the soundbar connects to the TV, and the rear speakers connect to the wireless subwoofer – and your first taste of 5.1-channel surround sound. The system is better suited for film and TV, but it can also stream music from devices using Bluetooth. [$250; store.vizio.com]