5.1 surround sound cheapest options that meet criteria

Sep 24, 2015
I see many forums asking for the best surround sound but their needs are always slightly different so I thought i would make my own post. I would be very grateful if anyone could chip in.
Im looking to set up the surround sound around my PC in the corner of my living room where i will use it for gaming. In the below diagrams the x is where i sit and the equals signs(=) are the proposed speakers positions.
| .x.............|
I also want to be able to move the two inner most speakers out to fill the room for when we occasionally watch films together like below - the pretty 'x' is my GF ;)
| .......xx......|

There is only 2 speakers that would need to move but i wonder if that means wireless is worthwhile? On the other hand i don't mind having wires run across the floor for the 2 hours it takes to watch a film. To place a value on it, all else being equal i would upgrade to wireless for around £50. Could maybe be persuaded to go further if people think its well worth it.

I would not be too worried about volume as i live in a flat and i dont like loud parties but we are beside one of the busiest main roads in my city so it would need to have decent power. My in-built laptop speakers cannot compete with the cars outside but i imagine any speaker set with its own power source would have no problem.

I am by no means an audiophile and probably a little tone deaf but i want reasonably good speakers for others to enjoy that will last me a long time.
My price range is hard to say because i basically want the cheapest that meets all the above needs. If spending an extra £50 is going to guarantee they are loud enough or of a quality that will last many more years or do some special sound thing that only my musical friends can hear that i guess its worth it. I can go up to around £400 but i think there is probably much cheaper options that would suit my modest needs?

Hope that is enough info. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!
The only speakers that would be really wireless are battery powered ones. The wire that is eliminated is the long speaker wire but you usually have to plug the speakers into your ac outlet to power the built in amp and receiver.
I would suggest that the easiest way to do this is to run wires to both positions. Leave then both connected and plug the speakers into the ones you want to use.
Better quality sound means clearer sound at all volumes so better equipment will not be wasted.
Something like this might be a good start
You can always upgrade the speakers when and if you choose to do so.
Wireless is not really good for audio. I would just have a longer cable for the Right front and Right surround speakers so that you can move them. Although I am not sure why you would sit in the middle for movies and to the left for video games since the tv is in the same place.
And if you have the speakers in the same movie arrangement spot you will still hear the sound effects, without being an audiophile you would not notice the delay.

I would stay away from Onkyo though. They have not managed to sort out their digital board problems they have had for the last 4 years. Thus you can expect the board to die in it in 1.5-2 years.

Here is what I would recommend:
This is a good entry level amp that should give you many years of service: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Yamaha-RX-V377-Channel-Theatre-Receiver/dp/B00KADOJ9U/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1443112281&sr=1-3&keywords=yamaha+home+theater+system
This is a decent little set of surround speakers with a powered subwoofer. You can upgrade this as your needs change: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pioneer-S-HS100-Channel-Bookshelf-Speaker/dp/B003OQ4I1O/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1443112587&sr=1-3&keywords=5.1+speaker+subwoofer

It is best to start out with a powered subwoofer setup to begin with. I made the mistake of starting out with a home theater in a box setup and quickly outgrew it and needed a new receiver and new sub to truly get the power that I needed (I moved into a larger home and the receiver powered sub was no match for my larger living room with joined kitchen and vaulted ceilings)
for your situation i'd just go with a standard 4 corner speaker setup and not worry about changing it.

moving speakers around isn't going to really give you much benefit over keeping them stationary.

agreed, getting a budget amp with some home theater speakers is the best route.
Sep 24, 2015
Thanks to everyone for the help. Ok so it looks like wireless is not worth it.
One thing i am a little confused on is HDMI pass through or being able to use the monitor without having the amp turned on. It sounds like you only need it if you put the video through the amp. Not sure why you would want to do that? If there is no good reason then i would rather just plug in the optical cable when i need it and have both screens (PC monitor and projector) plug into my computer. As il be using my PC, i dont need a built in Blu-ray although it looks like they all have one anyway.

On a side not, im not sure how to post this as a comment rather than an answer...
hdmi passthrough generally refers to running signal from Component -> Receiver -> Tv/Monitor and having the video content pass-through to the monitor. Afaik all receivers require power on to have passthrough active. why this is a nice feature is so that you can have a single hdmi cable from your device into the receiver with a single hdmi out of the receiver to the screen. if you have multiple devices this can save on a whole bunch of cabling.

hdmi is superior to optical in that hdmi offers fully uncompressed audio (best quality) while for 5.1 optical has compressed. think about the difference like FLAC vs MP3 sound files. depending on your ears you might not notice a difference but there is one. also of note: you would need to make sure your soundcard or motherboard supports 5.1 over optical (not all do!) and on the receiver end as well (most receivers do, some HTIBs do NOT!..read next paragraph about that)

the "all in one" type sound systems with a dvd/br/speaker control combo box are HTIBs (home theater in a box) style systems. so whats the difference between going with a standard receiver (which is its own separate box.. not combined with other functions like dvd/br) paired with a speaker set and htibs? for one, htibs, especially the cheaper units may not play nice with external sources and may limit you to 2.0 sound (sometimes even if they have optical or hdmi they still limit you). receivers have no such limitations on hdmi and most should not on optical either. receivers handle multiple inputs better as well - for connecting pcs, game systems, dvd players ,etc.

what i would recommend is a "Receiver" paired up with speakers - not a Htib. the models listed above are all NOT htibs. the one AA suggested is a receiver paired with speakers, the ones boosted suggested are a receiver and a speaker set.

normally i'd say for that kind of money you would be looking at the energy 5.1 classic (monoprice 10565 is a knock-off thats a bit cheaper) and a cheap receiver ... but its not commonly available in UK unfortunately. i know wharfdales are good speakers in uk as well but those are above your budget. i'm not too familiar with all of the UK choices.

you did just submit a comment. either "submit your answer" takes you to the full edit window, or the quick reply box at the bottom then pushing the submit button does as well. basically this button just makes a reply.. whether it be an answer or reply its the same thing (perhaps just poor wording on the button)


^ wharfedales are bargain basement stuff now produced in china - the quality has degraded massively from 10 years ago.

douglaseuankgmailcom - your little diagramnis not showing your screen/screens orientation or your actual speaker channel setup - would be easier if you expand on your drawing just a little more - you're not showing a centre speaker either??

Do the speakers need to be on stands or can you wall mount them ??

I'll tell you now £400 can get you an absolutely outstanding setup if you buy from the right places selectively.
Sep 24, 2015
@ssddx thanks for all the attention on this thread and some really informative answers.
It seems the diamond 10.x is discontinued? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wharfedale-Diamond-10-SX-HCP-Blackwood/dp/B007Q1FMSG
Because i don't have a TV or gaming console, i liked the idea of just plugging in via optic but if it takes a performance hit i should probably make sure i can use HDMI when i want to.
The energy 5.1 is looking quite a bit more expensive compared to the pioneer recommended by boosted1g: http://uk.akg.com/akg-product-detail_uk/cinema-510230.html?gclid=CO_mkfWPk8gCFWrkwgodSn0Nhg
I may just take boosted1g on his suggestion and go with that as its cheap and i guess it covers all i need. Is there any draw backs or other ones i should consider? I am happy looking out parts to build a PC but this stuff feels so much more difficult to research for some reason.

@madmatt30 im not much of an artists as you can tell! The center speaker would sit on my desk beside my monitor. I would have a projector against the wall for films like this:
| .......xx......|
Where the @@ symbol is the projected image. I never considered what to do about the center speaker in that instance. I guess it would just need to stretch down to below the projector. The room is roughly 4*3 meters btw.

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