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The Best Compact Surround Sound Systems

written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 9/5/2009

While many surround sound systems exist, finding ones which are not large and heavy is more difficult. Finding surround sound which is both small and high in quality is even more difficult. The three systems listed here, however, will not disappoint.

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    Big Sound, Little Speakers

    Surround sound systems can do amazing things for the home theater experience. But surround systems are also often large and bulky. Those who don't have a dedicated home theater room will often have a hard time finding the space needed for placing all of the speakers which come with the typical 5.1 or 7.1 channel set-up. This is doubly true in the case of certain high-end setups, which often feature very large subwoofers and tower speakers.

    But those who have limited space for surround systems, fear not - there are some compact surround sound systems available. These systems are small enough that they can fit in just about any home theater or living room, even a large bedroom, yet they still provide an impressive surround-sound experience.

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    KEF KHT3005BL 5.1 Surround Sound System

    The KEF KHT3005BL produces huge sound but is still compact If you're looking for a compact home theater system which looks - and sounds - as good as high-end tower speakers, then look no further. The KEF KHT3005BL is easily one of the best surround sound systems available regardless of size. It offers 5.1 surround sound which comes through the typical set-up of four satellites, one center speaker, and one ten-inch subwoofer.

    The system is designed with unique egg-shaped pods which look like something from a sci-fi movie. Their excellent design is sure to start a conversation when noticed, but the simple black or silver color schemes reinforce the small size of the speakers and ensure that they will not distract visually from other elements of a home theater. But don't let the small size of the system fool you. The KHT3005BL is an extremely robust system capable of producing clear, room-filling sound. Of course, you would expect no less, as the system will set you back nearly two thousand dollars.

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    Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 Surround Sound System

    The ProCinema 600 system is a good compromise between a quality budget system and a multi-thousand dollar setup It isn't unusual to see a trade-off required among compact surround sound systems. Smaller units often require some additional design effort to match the impact of larger models, and that translates into extra cost. That effort can of course be scattered to the winds, but doing that results in a compact surround sound system which sounds, well - compact. Fortunately, the Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 provides a good middle-ground, giving quality audio without an absurd price tag.

    The ProCinema 600 is a typical 5.1 surround sound system with four satellites, one center channel, and an eight-inch subwoofer. The sound quality from the small satellite speakers is crisp, although the eight-inch subwoofer has a hard time presenting true ground-shaking bass. That said, it is more than enough for a typical room, and the ProCinema's price of between $700 and $800 big ones makes the system an outstanding value overall. The only potential glitch is an unusual wiring setup which requires that wiring be routed through the subwoofer then then out to the front satellite speakers.

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    Energy Take Classic 5-Pack + Subwoofer

    The Energy Take Classic system is very inexpensive, but still provide room-shaking sound When it comes to quality satellite speakers, there are few available which are as small as those in the Energy Take Classic 5-pack. Each unit measures about seven inches tall, four inches wide and four inches deep. They only weigh about four pounds, as well, making them quite easy to mount on a wall or ceiling. While smaller units are certainly available, you'd be hard pressed to find a smaller unit which was also of comparable quality.

    That's because the sound quality of the Energy Take Classic speaker is extremely good for any size of satellite. Sound from the satellites is clear and does an excellent job of reproducing surround-sound effects. The center channel is distinct despite a limited axis. The 200-watt subwoofer is better than average among eight-inch units and provides enough bass for any room. On the downside, the Energy Take Classic speakers can become quickly overwhelmed as the volume is turned up, resulting in degradation of sound quality.

    However, the Energy Take Classic makes up for this short-coming with an excellent price. Oddly, the Energy Take Classic 5.1 Surround Sound System seems difficult to find. However, it can be re-created by purchasing the Energy Take Classic 5-pack and the Energy Take Classic eight-inch subwoofer. The result is an excellent compact surround sound system for about $350 dollars. Energy Take Classic system sounds nearly as good as the ProCinema 600 system, so the low price of the Energy Take Classic system makes it impossible to not recommend.