7 Reasons to Avoid New Home Theater Speakers Today

Home theater speakers can provide an incredible, immersive listening experience. But they also come with significant downsides that make them impractical for many users. This guide covers key reasons why you may want to avoid installing new home theater speakers in your home.

Set Up Complexity

For anyone without expertise in home audio/video systems, setting up a home theater speaker system can be overwhelmingly complex:

  • You need to carefully place each speaker and subwoofer according to acoustic principles to get proper directional sound. This requires carefully measuring room dimensions and mapping out precise speaker locations.

  • Running lengthy wires from speakers back to receivers and amplifiers demands neatly hiding wires for a clean look. This can mean wiring inside walls or under floors.

  • You must properly connect the various components like the AV receiver, amplifier, game consoles etc. A faulty or incomplete connection means no sound.

This setup process requires significant knowledge, time and patience even before you can enjoy any sound. And if anything needs troubleshooting later, the complexity quickly becomes frustrating.

Expensive Initial Investment

A full home theater audio system with 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound requires multiple speakers, a powerful AV receiver and amplifier. Costs quickly escalate:

  • Quality floor-standing front speakers alone can cost $500-$1000 for a pair. Surround speakers add several hundred more.

  • AV receivers with latest Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround decoding run $500+. Amp costs extra.

  • And that ignores the cost for HDMI cables, speaker wire, tools etc.

As a result the total investment often reaches well over $2000-$3000. This high price bars many households from adopting true surround systems.

Wireless Latency Problems

Wireless speakers avoid messy wires trailing across rooms. But they come with a fatal flaw – wireless latency issues.

Any electromagnetic interference causes lags between wireless speakers. This destroys the timing precision essential for surround sound directionality. Nearby appliances like microwaves commonly cause interference.

Latency might manifest as distracting echoes or delays between audio channels. This ruins movie soundtracks or gameplay requiring pinpoint directional audio accuracy.

The only solution lies in running physical speaker wires – but that eliminates the key wireless convenience benefit.

Tricky Maintenance

Home theater gear requires careful maintenance for peak operation over years of use. But maintenance grows time consuming across numerous speakers and components:

  • Speaker cones must be inspected and cleaned periodically to prevent dust buildup affecting audio quality.

  • All connecting wires should be checked for proper connectivity to avoid sound drops. Loose plugs are common failure points.

  • AV receivers, amplifiers etc. may need firmware updates, sensor cleaning or part replacement after years of use.

Ignoring maintenance eventually degrades the surround experience – noises, audio artifacts and shiftimg directionality creeps up over time. But constant upkeep is tedious with so many separate pieces.

Requires Other System Upgrades

To fully utilize surround soundâ€TMs directional audio capabilities, other media system components need matching upgrades:

  • If video quality falls short from an older TV, even incredible surround audio loses impact. A cutting-edge display like an OLED screen, delivering ultra crisp 4K HDR visuals, better matches the sound system investment.

  • Playing surround mixed media also requires newer Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles, streaming devices etc. Older media equipment sticks to stereo audio only.

The compound cost of simultaneous upgrades keeps many users from buying into true home theater setups.

Alternatives Exist

Compelling surround sound alternatives now exist delivering nearly equivalent immersive audio for far lower complexity and costs:


  • Modern premium soundbars like the Sonos Arc use psychoacoustic processing to create phantom directional audio channels using just left, center and right speakers. This avoids surround speaker placement challenges while creating surprisingly immersive audio.

  • Adding a separate subwoofer delivers earth shaking bass lacking in slim soundbars. Wireless models like Sonos Sub dodge speaker wire runs.

  • Total cost for soundbar home cinema systems runs under $1500 – much lesser than full surround builds.

Smart Speakers

  • Smart speakers like the Apple HomePod Mini and Amazon Echo Studio decode Dolby Atmos for rich 3D audio from streamed/smart TV content.

  • Just two smart speakers placed correctly can fill smaller rooms with decent directional audio for under few hundred dollars total.

  • Easy setup just requires Wi-Fi and app based configuration for automatic multi-speaker audio calibration. No expert audio know how needed.

In-wall Speakers

  • In-wall speakers install inside wall cavities just like ceiling speakers. This completely hides surround speakers for seamlessly integrated aesthetics not possible otherwise.

  • Since custom installer handles placement and positioning, in-wall speakers require almost zero effort for buyers to enjoy directional room filling audio.

Costs do trend higher than regular surround systems but deliver better aesthetics more comparable to luxury built-in installations.


Home theater speakers provide incredible directional audio when properly set up. But significant expertise, effort and maintenance needs limit realistic adoption for many users. Purpose built alternatives like soundbars and smart speakers deliver 80-90% of the immersive experience for a fraction of complexity and cash. Unless you absolutely need theater grade surround sound, grab one of the easier plug-and-play choices instead.

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