Polk Signature Elite ES10
The small ES10 is easy to fit or install just about anywhere, so it’s ideal as a surround speaker.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $249.
Polk Signature Elite ES30
The ES30 is a good, affordable center-channel match for the ES15 and ES10 speakers in a surround-sound system.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $299.
The Polk Signature Elite Series is the best deal we’ve found in a surround-sound speaker system. The Signature Elite line—a subtly updated version of our previous pick, the Signature line—includes a variety of models, but we recommend the ES15 for the front left and right channels, the ES10 as surround speakers, and the ES30 center speaker. In our tests, this combo’s performance was competitive with that of everything else we tried in its price range—and better than that of some more-expensive systems we tested. The ES15 sounds clear with music and movie dialogue, and it handles loud, deep bass without complaint. The ES30 center speaker produced clear dialogue in our tests, and its sound matches that of the ES15 pretty well. (The low-profile ES35 center speaker is easier to fit in some places, but it doesn’t sound as full.) The Signature Elite Series speakers are available in a black, walnut, or white finish, and their design is far more stylish than we expect to see in such an affordable speaker line.
ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2
The B6.2 bookshelf speaker has a powerful sound, and a matching Dolby Atmos add-on module is available. But it’s bulky and not very attractive.
ELAC Debut 2.0 B5.2
The B5.2 is a little smaller and usually a bit less costly than the B6.2, so it’s a good choice for the surround channels.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $250.
ELAC Debut 2.0 C5.2
This fairly compact center speaker is a good match for the B6.2 bookshelf speakers.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $196.
The ELAC Debut 2.0 speakers are larger and have a more robust sound than the Polk Signature Elite Series, which might make this system a better choice for someone who has a large room or likes to listen at higher volume levels. Many system configurations are possible; we recommend two B6.2 bookshelf speakers for the front left and right channels, the slightly smaller B5.2 as surrounds, and the compact C5.2 center speaker. ELAC also offers the option to add matching A4.2 Dolby Atmos–enabled speakers, which makes it easy for you to create an even more immersive surround-sound experience if you own an Atmos-equipped AV receiver. But the Debut 2.0 speakers are bulkier and far less attractive than those in the Polk Signature Elite Series.
Monolith by Monoprice THX-265B
The Monolith by Monoprice THX-265B is bulky and plain-looking, but it plays movies at commercial-cinema volume and has an upward-firing Atmos speaker built in.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $350.
Monolith by Monoprice THX-365C
The THX-365C adds a midrange driver that lower-priced center channels usually lack, so dialogue sounds clear in every seat of a home theater.
The Monolith by Monoprice THX speakers are designed for serious home theater enthusiasts who like to play movies at or near the volume they would hear in a well-calibrated commercial cinema. The THX-265B bookshelf speakers produce a notably smooth, natural sound, and they also incorporate upward-firing, Dolby Atmos–enabled speakers that bounce sound effects off the ceiling to deliver more immersive sound from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks. The THX-365C center speaker is a three-way design, with a separate midrange driver that lets it deliver consistently natural-sounding dialogue across a wide area. The system’s rather plain design and finish might make it unwelcome in many living rooms, but for a serious basement or den home theater, it’s tough to beat.