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Selecting Blu-Ray Surround Sound Systems

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 9/8/2009

If you've been wanting to make the leap to Blu-Ray, but don't know enough about surround sound to pick a system out for yourself, read our article. we take a look at the two best surround sound systems for your situation.

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    So Many Choices...

    Blu-ray by itself is already an impressive technology, and while I hate to take a tagline from BOSE, great picture without great sound is not good. That then begs the question: “What sound system do I need to take advantage of the Blu-Ray to its maximum potential?” Here are two to start off with:

    Onkyo HT-SP908 7.1 Channel System


    The Onkyo systems aren’t usually cheap – this one gives you the complete package for $900. Now, if that sounds like too much, consider the following:

    1. You get the complete, complete package – this includes even an upconverting DVD player that you won’t need, but it also includes the receiver and several cables.

    2. The receiver alone would set you back nearly $300, and that’s not even counting a single speaker.

    3. The set comes with SEVEN, yes, count them, SEVEN speakers.

    4. You’re getting a surprisingly good 7.1 surround sound system that is capable of handling any HDMI source you throw at it

    The HT-SP908 is a total solution, but more than that, the 7 speakers and the Subwoofer provide the HD sound you’ve been looking for. Even if your room is small, the 7 speakers are small enough to tuck into bookcases, nooks, and just to hang off the walls. If you’re looking to spend under $1000 for an amazing system, this is definitely one of the best deals you’ll find out there in the wild.

    Panasonic SC-BT100 5.1 Channel System


    The SC-BT100 provides less sound and only 5 channels of surround sound for a fraction of the cost, at about $500 instead of the almost $1000 price tag of the HT-SP908. But there’s a few things to keep in mind when looking at this speaker system.

    First of all, the system is only 5.1 – while I’ve already written about the differences of 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound in my video gaming surround sound article, suffice it to say that the 7.1 systems are the future.

    Keep in mind also, that the Panasonic systems aren’t as high quality as the Onkyo systems. They’re less specialized as a company, whereas Onkyo only makes these kinds of surround sound systems. Be prepared for lower quality speakers than the ones found in the first package.

    One of the major selling points of this system is the fact that it comes with a complete set of speakers and the BD drive. If you don’t have the blu-ray drive yet, you definitely want this one over the other one to avoid having to spend several hundred extra for the Blu-ray player.

    Fundamentally, speakers are a personal choice. But if you’re more of an audiophile, I would recommend the first speakers rather than the second ones. And vice-versa if you’re wanting a complete package rather than just the speakers and receiver.