Three options for adding surround sound to your home theater

The immersive experience makes a big difference.
Sennheiser's Ambeo sound bar
Sennheiser's Ambeo sound bar Claire Benoist

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Most shows and movies stream with 360-degree audio that your wimpy TV speakers can’t handle. To fully experience every tire screech, you could crack open your walls and install an arsenal of equipment that will bombard your ears from every direction. Or you could opt for one of these simpler surround setups that wraps you in the sonic cocoon virtually—no remodeling necessary.

Sound bar (above)

To produce the rumbles of that big brontosaurus, Sennheiser’s Ambeo uses six 4-inch woofers and a pair of 3.5-inch mids to bounce deep tones off the walls and ceiling, nixing the need for a dedicated subwoofer. Five tweeters hit the high notes.

Yamaha's 5950U surround sound system
Yamaha’s 5950U surround sound system Claire Benoist


When you set up the five speakers and single ­subwoofer in the ­Yamaha 5950U, they ping calibration sounds out around the space to determine which ­audio setting is best for your home, even if you have high ceilings or an oddly shaped room.

Dolby's Dimension surround headphones
Dolby’s Dimension surround headphones Claire Benoist


Immersive audio becomes disorienting if it doesn’t match what you see onscreen. Dolby’s Dimension headphones use accelerometers to detect when you’re ­off-axis with your TV, and tweaks the timing so your eyes and ears agree with each other.

This story originally published in the Noise (Winter 2019) issue of Popular Science.