Are you unhappy with the mediocre sound quality delivered by your existing speakers or music system? Do you want to elevate your audio experience when watching your favorite movie or listening to your favorite podcast? Look no further than the best 3.1 sound systems on the market!
These compact yet power-packed sound systems deliver immersive and rich sound that can enhance your home audio experience.
In this guide, we will discuss 3.1 sound systems at length. We will outline things to consider while buying 3.1 sound systems, list the top 3.1 sound systems on the market (along with their detailed reviews) and answer some common questions about these speakers. Read further to know more.
Roundup of the Best 3.1 Sound Systems
|Overall Best 3.1 Sound System on the Market||Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700|
|Best 3.1 Sound System With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Support||LG GX Sound Bar with Subwoofer|
|Best 3.1 Sound System for Larger Rooms and Spaces||Polk Audio T Series 3.1 Channel Complete Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer|
|Best Budget 3.1 Sound System||Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer|
|Best 3.1 Sound System for Gaming||SAMSUNG HW-Q60B 3.1ch Soundbar|
How Does a 3.1 Sound System Work?
Here’s a deep-dive into the components, types and functionality of a 3.1 sound system.
Components of a 3.1 Sound System
A 3.1 sound system comprises four key components. These include:
- Left Speaker [L]: It reproduces audio from the left channel and is typically placed on the left side of your TV, PC or other source device. It produces a sense of directionality and spatial depth in the audio
- Right Speaker [R]: It reproduces audio from the right channel and is typically placed on the right side of your TV, PC or other source device. Its functionality is somewhat similar to the functionality of the left speakers in terms of producing a sense of directionality and spatial depth in the audio.
- Center Speaker [C]: It ensures overall audio clarity, especially in the case of on-screen dialogs and action, and is typically placed above or below your TV, PC or other source device.
- Subwoofer: It is the 0.1 component in the 3.1 sound system and responsible for reproducing the low-frequency notes or bass in the audio. A subwoofer adds impact and depth to the overall sound experience by delivering thundering bass. Since low-frequency sounds are non-directional, you can place it anywhere in the room per your requirements. However, for best results, we recommend placing it close to the left, right and center speakers.
A 3.1 sound system with individual speakers comprises one additional component, i.e., an audio receiver.
Types of 3.1 Sound Systems
You will typically find two types of 3.1 sound systems on the market:
- 3.1 sound systems comprising a soundbar and subwoofer
- 3.1 sound systems comprising three separate speakers, a subwoofer and an audio receiver
We’ve already described a 3.1 sound system with 3 separate speakers and a subwoofer above. However, in the case of a soundbar setup, all three speakers are integrated into a single unit to simplify the setup and eliminate wires/cords.
Working of a 3.1 Sound System
In a 3.1 sound system, audio signals from the source device (e.g., TV, computer, Blu-ray) are sent to the soundbar or an audio receiver (in case of a 3.1 sound system with individual speakers).
The soundbar or audio receiver processes the audio signals, divides them into suitable channels and forwards the signals to corresponding speakers. During this process, the audio receiver may also decode surround sound formats, such as DTS or Dolby Digital.
How to Find the Right 3.1 Sound System?
Here’s a quick list of factors you should consider while looking for the best 3.1 sound systems to suit your requirements:
1. Speaker Sound Quality
The sound quality of every speaker depends on three primary factors. These include frequency response, signal-to-noise ratio, and distortion.
Speakers with a wide frequency range can easily produce a variety of sounds, from rich bass (low frequency) to crisp treble (high frequency). Therefore, consider buying a 3.1 sound system comprising speakers with a broad frequency response.
Low distortion will ensure the sound remains clear and precise even at maximum volume. Similarly, a high signal-to-noise ratio will ensure the speaker produces minimum background noise and delivers impeccable sound clarity.
2. Layout and Size of Your Room
The size and shape of your room can impact the performance of your 3.1 sound system. While smaller rooms can benefit from compact sound systems, larger rooms may require more powerful sound systems.
Additionally, any furniture or blockades in the room can affect the speaker placement and overall sound quality.
As you have already seen above, the subwoofer is a vital component in a 3.1 sound system as it is responsible for producing the low-frequency sounds or bass. Therefore, ensure you are also considering the woofer size when looking for a suitable 3.1 sound system.
Larger subwoofers typically produce more powerful bass; however, they take more space and are less portable as compared to smaller subwoofers.
The power of a subwoofer is measured in watts. Therefore, a subwoofer with higher wattage means it is more powerful.
Also consider the frequency range of the subwoofer to assess its bass-producing ability.
4. Speakers vs. Soundbar
If you are looking for a minimalistic and space-saving 3.1 sound system, we recommend choosing a soundbar and woofer setup. Soundbars are easier to install in comparison to speaker systems. However, if you are more concerned about the audio quality and flexibility of the sound system, we recommend checking a 3.1 sound system with individual speakers and subwoofer.
For a more detailed comparison, check out our guide on soundbars vs speakers!
5. Audio Codec and Format
It’s also worth considering different audio codecs and formats a 3.1 sound system supports to assess and evaluate its compatibility with different source devices.
Some popular audio codecs and formats you sound system should support are:
- Dolby Digital
6. Connectivity Options
Next, ensure the sound system you are planning to buy comprises multiple connectivity options to work with different devices. Common connectivity options provided with 3.1 sound systems are:
- Analog RCA
7. Additional Considerations
Along with the factors discussed above, we also recommend considering the following aspects of the 3.1 sound system:
- Upgradeability: If you plan to expand your 3.1 sound system to a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system in future, consider choosing a soundbar or audio receiver with additional connection options to support more speakers.
- Ease of setup and intuitive controls: Consider buying a 3.1 sound system that comes with easy, quick and hassle-free installation. Also, ensure it comprises intuitive, user-friendly controls (preferably a remote control) for easy operation.
5 Top-Rated 3.1 Sound Systems on the Market
1. Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700
Overall Best 3.1 Sound System on the Market
- Excellent sound quality; immersive and spacious soundstage
- Powerful and rich bass
- Multiple connectivity options
- Elegant and eye-catching design
- ADAPTIQ audio calibration feature
- Built-in voice assistants
- Easy to set up and use
- Easy to upgrade to a 5.1 setup
- Sturdy build
- Does not support advanced audio codecs, such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X
If you are looking for a premium-quality 3.1 sound system with fantastic sound performance, versatile connectivity options, and sleek design, we bet you cannot go wrong with the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700. We simply loved and admired every aspect of this sound system and here’s why!
Together, the Bose Soundbar 700 and Bass 700 sound excellent. They cover a wide frequency range (the soundbar comes with a frequency range of 60 Hz to 20 kHz and the subwoofer comes with a frequency range of 30 Hz to 150 kHz) and deliver balanced and dynamic sound. We loved the bass performance of this system; it’s thundering yet well-balanced in its own way.
The Bose Sound 700 uses Bose’s proprietary technologies such as PhaseGuide and QuietPort and custom drivers to produce an immersive and wide soundstage. We also loved the vocal clarity produced by this soundbar. The Bose Bass Module 700 also comprises built-in custom drivers and a high-quality digital amplifier to produce bass (or low-frequency sounds) with greater accuracy.
Even though this 3.1 sound system does not support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, it sounds impressive when watching movies/shows and listening to music. Therefore, it is perfect for everyday usage and home cinema sessions where hi-res audio is not a critical requirement.
We tested this 3.1 sound system with different content types such as movies, podcasts and movies, in rooms of different sizes, and were impressed with its performance each time.
In terms of design, this 3.1 sound system looks elegant and aesthetically pleasing. The soundbar features a metal grille and glass top, and the woofer perfectly matches the soundbar design. The Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700 is currently available in two colors: Black and White.
Another thing we really liked about the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700 is its versatility. The Bose Soundbar 700 comes with multiple connectivity options, such as Bluetooth, HDMI-ARC, optical, and Wi-Fi. Therefore, you can easily connect it with different devices for streaming content. The Bass Module 700 connects to the soundbar using Bluetooth.
Some additional impressive features of this sound system include ADAPTIQ audio calibration, which optimizes the soundbar’s performance per your room acoustics, ensuring exceptional sound quality, and the option to expand this sound system into a 5.1 setup by adding more Bose speakers.
In conclusion, the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700 is one of the most versatile and powerful 3.1 sound systems on the market. Therefore, it can be a great option for those looking for a premium-quality solution. Even though it’s more expensive than the other sound systems on our list, it’s real value for money. This sound system’s features, performance and design make it the overall best 3.1 sound system in our opinion.
View on Amazon: Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700
2. LG GX Sound Bar with Subwoofer
Best 3.1 Sound System With Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Support
- Excellent sound performance
- Immersive audio experience
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support
- Sleek and minimalistic design
- Multiple connectivity options
- Deep and rich bass delivered by the subwoofer
- Easy to set up and use
- Durable and versatile
- Can be upgraded to a 5.1 sound system by adding additional rear speakers for a surround sound experience
- Subwoofer connects wirelessly to the soundbar
If you are looking for a 3.1 sound system with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, we highly recommend exploring the LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer. This 3.1 sound system delivers impressive and impressive hi-res audio experience.
In terms of performance, this 3.1 sound system delivers an immersive and well-rounded audio experience. After all, it features Dolby Atmos, DTS:X sound and Meridian Audio technology. Moreover, the system has a wide and spacious soundstage, and delivers clear audio quality. Therefore, it works best when watching movies and shows, or listening to music or podcasts.
We couldn’t really find much details about LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer system’s frequency response; however, per our experience, the subwoofer delivered powerful bass performance. Nevertheless, we felt the bass is slightly lacking in the case of larger settings. Another interesting technology used in this 3.1 sound system is AI Sound Pro, which automatically adjusts and optimizes the sound performance based on the content you are playing.
To be honest, we were torn between the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700 and LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer system when picking our overall best choice; however, the former somewhat exceeded expectations when we looked at all the aspects. Nevertheless, in terms of a 3D immersive audio experience, we clearly voted the LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer system as the best!
We also really liked the LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer system’s elegant and simplistic design. You can conveniently place the soundbar and subwoofer combo on a shelf or mount it on the wall per your requirements. Overall, this 3.1 sound system’s design is compact.
Like the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700, this 3.1 sound system also comes with multiple connectivity options. Therefore, it is versatile and compatible with a host of streaming devices. Some of the connectivity options in this sound system are HDMI eARC (for supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X), optical input, Bluetooth and wireless.
We tested these 3.1 sound systems with LG TVs as well as TV by other brands, and did not experience any compatibility issues. However, ensure your TV supports HDMI eARC if you want to make the most of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The optical input does not support them.
In conclusion, the LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer combo is a premium 3.1 sound system with a plethora of features and functionalities that you will love. Even though its price is higher (but lower than the Bose 3.1 sound system), you won’t regret investing in this premium audio system. We barely experienced any issues with this sound system.
View on Amazon: LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer
3. Polk Audio T Series 3.1 Channel Complete Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer
Best 3.1 Sound System for Larger Rooms and Spaces
- Excellent sound quality
- Powerful, deep and rich bass
- Easy to set up and use
- Simplistic and elegant design
- Durable and sturdy
- Floor-standing speakers provide a wide soundstage
- Compatible with most AV receivers on the market
- Can be expanded into a 5.1 or 7.1 setup
- Does not support advanced audio codecs and formats
- Requires an AV receiver to function
If you are looking for a 3.1 sound system for a large room or spacious area, the Polk Audio T Series 3.1 Channel Complete Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer can be a great buy. This system comprises a T30 center channel speaker, two T50 tower speakers and a powered subwoofer. Since the tower speakers provide a wider soundstage and better sound dispersion, this system sounds powerful irrespective of the room size.
In terms of sound performance, this sound system is almost as good as the first two options on our list. In fact, the bass performance of this 3.1 sound system is slightly better than the LG GX Soundbar with Subwoofer combo. All the components of this sound system are supported by Polk’s proprietary Dynamic Balance Technology.
The T30 center channels comprises a 1-inch silk dome tweeter and two 5.25-inch midrange drivers. Therefore, it ensures exceptional clarity in dialogs and vocal deliveries. We did not experience any sound clarity issues with this sound system when watching TV shows and movies. The frequency range of this center channel speaker is also fairly decent (55 Hz to 24 kHz).
The two T50 floor-standing speakers are one of the best floor standing speakers on the market and deliver exceptional surround sound. Each T50 speaker houses a 1-inch silk dome tweeter, a 6.5-inch midrange driver and two 6.5-inch passive bass radiators. We were thoroughly impressed by these speakers’ frequency range (38 Hz to 24 kHz). No wonder they were delivering fantastic bass effects.
The subwoofer’s bass performance was also exceptional. Now you can imagine what can happen when all the components work together to deliver punchy and power-packed bass.
While setting up this 3.1 surround sound system, we realized that it is compatible with a variety of AV receivers. All you need to do is connect the speakers and subwoofers to your AV receiver using the provided speaker cables.
In terms of design, the Polk Audio T Series 3.1 Channel Complete Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer is simple and elegant. Therefore, it can easily blend with your existing home theater setup.
Lastly, since this 3.1 sound system is speaker-based, it requires connection to the AV receiver to function. Therefore, the connectivity criteria will depend on the connectivity options available in your AV receiver. We connected the speakers to our AV receiver using speaker cables and the subwoofer using a separate RCA cable.
In conclusion, the Polk Audio T Series 3.1 Channel Complete Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer can be a great buy for those looking for a 3.1 sound system for a larger space. This sound system is powerful and more affordable than the first two options. However, it does not support advanced codecs and formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
4. Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer
Best Budget 3.1 Sound System
- Great sound quality
- Deep and rich bass
- Easy to set up and use
- Durable and sturdy build
- Provides an immersive audio experience
- Supports Dolby DTS and DTS:X
- Comes with a remote control for added convenience
- Subwoofer connects wirelessly for easy connectivity
- Seven different sound modes to optimize your sound experience
- Multiple connectivity options
- Compatible with voice assistants, such as Alexa and Google Assistant
- Surround sound may not be as impactful as that of multi-speaker-based 3.1 sound systems
If you are looking for a budget-friendly 3.1 sound system, you are in for a surprise! We not only have affordable options but affordable options with 3D immersive audio. Yes, that’s right. The Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer supports Dolby DTS and DTS:X for an immersive audio experience. Isn’t it a great deal?
The Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer delivers excellent sound performance across a wide frequency range. Low-frequency power, mid-range clarity, and high-frequency detail; this 3.1 sound system combines these three to reproduce accurate and detailed sound.
The soundbar comprises three front channels (left, center and right) that function together to deliver dynamic and powerful sound performance. The subwoofer produces deep and rich bass, and connects automatically to the soundbar using wireless functionality.
As this 3.1 sound system supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, you can also enjoy an immersive audio experience by providing a wide soundstage. Another impressive aspect of this sound system with regards to its sound performance is Sony’s Vertical Surround Engine technology. With this technology, you don’t need to add additional speakers to your 3.1 sound system. It mimics height and surround sound effects without additional speakers and enhances the immersive experience multifold.
In terms of design, the Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer is as elegant and minimalistic as the other options on our list. Per our evaluation, this 3.1 sound system is more portable than all the other soundbar-based 3.1 sound systems on our list.
Lastly, with regards to connectivity, this 3.1 sound system provides you with a wide range of options, such as HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, optical input, Bluetooth and wireless.
In conclusion, the Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer is pocket-friendly, powerful and versatile 3.1 sound system. It also supports Dolby Vision and 4K HDR passthrough, ensuring there’s no impact on the video quality when 4K HDR sources are connected to the TV using the soundbar.
View on Amazon: Sony Z9F 3.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Atmos and Wireless Subwoofer
5. SAMSUNG HW-Q60B 3.1ch Soundbar
Best 3.1 Sound System for Gaming
- Excellent sound quality
- Stellar immersive audio experience
- Easy to set up and use
- Compatible with multiple devices; versatile
- Durable and sturdy finish and build
- Supports advanced audio codecs and formats
- Pocket-friendly price
- Game mode
- Adaptive Sound technology for optimized sound
- Absence of rear speakers for a surround true sound experience
If you are an avid gamer and looking for a 3.1 sound system specifically designed for gaming enthusiasts, we highly recommend checking the Samsung HW-Q60B 3.1 ch Soundbar. This 3.1 sound system comprises 3 front channels, 1 subwoofer and 2 up-firing channels, and comes with a GAME mode to optimize sound performance per your gaming requirements.
The SAMSUNG HW-Q60B 3.1ch Soundbar delivers a 3D immersive audio experience, which is one of the most critical requirements for gaming. After all, this 3.1 sound system supports advanced audio codecs and formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Another impeccable feature that contributes to this 3.1 sound system’s power-packed performance is Adaptive Sound. This feature optimizes the sound performance of the Samsung HW-Q60B 3.1 ch Soundbar per the content you are playing.
We recently had the opportunity to test this 3.1 sound system with different games to evaluate its performance in each scenario. We also activated the soundbar’s Game mode during your evaluation.
First, we tested the Samsung HW-Q60B 3.1 Soundbar with racing games and we were impressed by the clarity of the screeching of tires and engine roars. The Adaptive Sound feature ensured the audio remained clear and crisp, even during the most chaotic moments on the road.
Second, we evaluated the performance of this 3.1 sound system with action-oriented games that include gun wars and explosions. In this scenario, the subwoofer delivered powerful and punchy bass, while ensuring audio clarity and quality. The soundbar produced dynamic and immersive virtual surround sound (with the 2 up-firing channels) and we could easily determine the direction of the gunshots and bombs.
In terms of design, this 3.1 sound system looks sleek and minimalistic. However, the soundbar is long and more suitable for larger TVs. It may not look good with smaller TVs and gaming setups. The wireless subwoofer is lightweight and portable.
Even though the Samsung HW-Q60B 3.1 Soundbar is best suited for gaming, per our experience, we think it’s versatile as it comes with multiple connectivity options to accommodate different use cases and devices.
Different connectivity options in this 3.1 sound system are HDMI ARC/eARC (to send audio from your TV to the soundbar using a single HDMI cable), HDMI (to establish direct connection with gaming consoles, Blu Ray, etc.), optical input (to send audio from your TV to the soundbar in case your TV does not support HDMI ARC), Bluetooth (for wireless streaming from smartphones, tablets, etc.), and USB (to play audio files from a USB storage or update the soundbar’s firmware).
In conclusion, the Samsung HW-Q60B 3.1 Soundbar works wonders with all types of games. This 3.1 sound system also comprises a Q-Symphony feature which only works with Samsung TVs. Therefore, if you have a Samsung TV, you can enjoy even better sound performance. It is also pretty budget-friendly (more affordable than the budget option on our list). The only thing this setup lacks is a pair of rear speakers to take the surround sound experience to the next level.
View on Amazon: Samsung HW-Q60B 3.1 Soundbar
Frequently Asked Questions About 3.1 Sound Systems
A 2.1 sound system comprises two front speakers (left and right) and a subwoofer.
A 3.1 sound system comprises three front speakers (left, center and right) and a subwoofer. And, a 5.1 sound system comprises five front speakers (front left, rear left, center, rear right, and rear front) and a subwoofer.
You may need a separate receiver depending on the 3.1 sound system you are planning to purchase. Some 3.1 sound systems come with built-in receivers, while others require separate receivers.
Yes, you can upgrade your 3.1 system to a 5.1 system by adding additional rear speakers. However, ensure your audio receiver or soundbar supports 5.1 channels and have the required connectivity options for additional speakers.
You can use different methods to connect your 3.1 sound system to your TV depending on the input and output options available in your sound system and TV. Some options include:
– HDMI eARC
– HDMI ARC
– Analog audio cables
– Optical input
However, remember that wireless connectivity options may not provide the same audio quality as wired connection, especially if you are looking to play hi-res audio.
A 3.1 sound system can provide a decent audio experience in a large room. However, if you are looking for a 360-degree surround sound experience we recommend considering 5.1 and 7.1 sound systems.
Nevertheless, if you are only looking for a 3.1 sound system for a large room or space, then consider getting one with tower speakers (like the Polk Audio T Series 3.1 Channel Complete Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer on our list).
A 3.1 sound system offers a dynamic and powerful audio experience for movies, TV shows, and music. With a dedicated center channel, a 3.1 sound system greatly enhances dialog clarity when compared to a 2.1 system. Therefore, it can be an excellent choice for home theater enthusiasts looking for clear, crisp and immersive audio.
Per our experience and detailed evaluation, the Bose 3.1 Home Theater Set: Soundbar 700 + Bass 700 is the overall best 3.1 sound system. It is versatile, stylish, durable, and built to last. Also, it delivers excellent sound quality and bass performance. Even though it is pretty expensive and does not support advanced audio codecs, we experienced maximum dialog clarity with it.