Sonos home theater guide: the Sonos surround setups actually worth buying

The Sonos Arc white soundbar with the Sonos Sub in white in a wooden living room
(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Era 300 and the Sonos Era 100 are now with us! And with the release of two of the most exciting new smart speakers the company has released in years comes a whole host of fresh Sonos surround setups for audiophiles to immerse themselves in.

Up until this point, the best home theater system you could put together with Sonos units involved pairing the Sonos Arc with a pair of (soon to be discontinued) Sonos One smart speakers, and the expensive but excellent Sonos Sub (Gen 3). With the Sonos Era 100 all set to replace the Sonos One as potentially the best smart speaker for most people, we’re here to guide you through the Sonos surround setups that make most sense in 2023. 

The Sonos Era 100 speaker pictured on a wooden surface next to a record player.

Now the Sonos Era 100 is here it might be time to rethink what the ultimate Sonos setup looks like. (Image credit: Sonos)

If you’ve never paired Sonos devices before, rest assured setting up a home theater system is refreshingly easy. All you need to do is download the Sonos app for your iOS or Android device, go to the Settings tap, tap System, then select ‘Sonos home theater room’. From here, the app will tell you how to pair your speakers units to establish a proper surround sound setup. It’s an easy process that only takes a few minutes.

Below, we suggest a range of Sonos home theater systems spanning a variety of budgets and space restrictions. So if you’re wondering what the best Sonos soundbar and sub is to pair with those Sonos Era 300 or Sonos Era 100 speakers you’re hungrily eyeing up, read on. Also, check out what Sonos promo codes are available to bring the price down. 

The Sonos Era 300 in black pictured on a wooden cabinet

Got your eyes on a new Sonos Era 300? We understand. Read on to see what we'd recommend pairing it with. (Image credit: Sonos)

What is the best Sonos surround setup for me?

With the arrival of the Sonos Era 300 and Sonos Era 100 smart speakers, there’s suddenly a wave of fresh Sonos surround sound combos you can put together.

When it comes to building the Sonos home theater setup that is best for you, you should consider several factors. Your budget is obviously the main concern, but you also need to think about how much space you have in your lounge / entertainment area. You may be thirsting for that dream Sonos Arc / Sonos Era 300 / Sonos Sub setup, but if space is at a premium, you’ll find there are cheaper and more suitable Sonos surround sound packages to fit your living space.

Here is our guide to the Sonos home theater setups that make most sense broken up into price and most practical usage case scenarios: 

The ultimate Sonos surround setup

The ultimate immersive Sonos setup, which consists of two Era 300 speakers, a Sonos Arc and Sonos Sub.

Called the Ultimate Immersive Set with Arc, this Sonos setup consists of two Era 300 speakers, a Sonos Arc and a Sonos Sub. (Image credit: Sonos)

If money is no object and you’ve got plenty of space, we recommend buying the ‘Ultimate Immersive Set with Arc’, as Sonos calls it. This dream 7.1.4 channel home theater setup costs $2,471 / 2,466 / AU$3,881 when bought from the Sonos website, and consists of the following components – which can also be purchased individually from third-party retailers:

  • 2x Sonos Era 300 – $853 / £853 / AU$1,423
  • Sonos Arc – $899 / £899 / $1,499
  • Sonos Sub (Gen 3) – $799 / £799 / $1,099

This is the absolute top of the line surround sound system if you’re a Sonos disciple. And even a quick glance of our Sonos Era 300 review proves, according to TechRadar’s Managing Editor of Entertainment, Matt Bolton, it's arguably ‘the best bang-for-buck single-unit speaker around’. Still not sure? It's also a ‘transformative upgrade to the Sonos Arc when used in a home theater system’. 

The Era 300 has upfiring, angled speakers, six beefy drivers, and four compression drivers. With support for spatial audio, pairing Era 300 speakers with the Sonos Arc adds real height to the soundscape of the premium soundbar. This is also the company’s first speaker to support Dolby Atmos, and although that’s disappointingly limited to Amazon Music for now, Sonos has promised Apple Music will be supported in the future. 

The dome of sound that is created when you pair two Era 300 speakers with an Arc and Sonos Sub is transformational, and a huge upgrade over any previous Sonos movie setup. This is currently the most impressive Sonos surround sound setup you can assemble.

The best high-end Sonos surround setup

The best premium Sonos surround sound setup with two Sonos Era 100s, an Arc and a Sonos Sub.

This is the Premium Immersive Set with Arc, which features two Sonos Era 100s, a Sonos Arc and a Sonos Sub. (Image credit: Sonos)

If you need to save a little money but still want the ‘lite’ version of the flagship experience above, the ‘Premium Immersive Set with Arc’ can be purchased from the Sonos site for $2,096 / £2,086 / AU$3,216. It consists of the following speaker setup, which can all be purchased separately: 

  • 2x Sonos Era 100 – $468 / £473 / AU$758
  • Sonos Arc – $899 / £899 / $1,499
  • Sonos Sub (Gen 3) – $799 / £799 / $1,099

Though it costs a little more than we’d like, the Sonos Era 100 looks to be an excellent upgrade on its predecessor, the Sonos One. It’s capable of producing a wider stereo-like soundstage owing to its dual-tweeter arrangement, while it boasts richer bass than the One. 

Unlike the Sonos Era 300 that operates in stereo when paired with a Sonos Arc – still the best soundbar for Sonos fans – the Era 100 is limited to mono sound when in home theater mode, meaning you’re limited to a 5.1.2 setup. This still produces an impressive soundscape, albeit one that’s not quite as all-encompassing as a surround system with two Era 300 units acting as rear speakers. 

Looking to save further cash? Consider switching out the Sonos Sub in this setup for a Sonos Sub Mini; a subwoofer that’s substantially smaller but still boasts plenty of bass.  

The best mid-range Sonos surround setup

The Sonos Immersive Set with Beam, which consists of 2 Sonos Era 100, Sonos Beam and Sonos Sub Mini

With the Immersive Set with Beam, you can pair two Sonos Era 100 speakers, a Sonos Beam and a Sonos Sub Mini. (Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos surround system that strikes the most sensible balance between price and performance is the ‘Immersive Set with Beam’. At $1,356 / £1,354 / AU$2,081, this setup is still pretty pricey, but hopefully shouldn’t break the bank for Sonos fans. This home theatre system consists of: 

  • 2x Sonos Era 100 – $468 / £473 / AU$758
  • Sonos Beam (Gen 2) – $499 / £499 / $699
  • Sonos Sub Mini – $429 / £429 / $699

While it can’t quite compete with the room-filling audio of the Arc, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is the perfect soundbar for smaller spaces. The Sonos Sub Mini will also add a lot of bass to your soundbar setup for a lot less than its bigger brother. Not only will this mid-range Sonos surround system save you money, it’s also ideal for consumers with limited space, as every component in this setup has a smaller footprint than the systems above. 

The best budget Sonos surround setup

A Sonos surround sound setup with two Sonos SLs

With this simpler setup, you can pair two Sonos SLs with a second gen Sonos Beam. (Image credit: Sonos)

For Sonos fans who are light on both funds and space, it’s best to do a mix-and-match setup of individual components. As exciting as the Era 100 speaker is, dropping hundreds on a pair of units before throwing in an added soundbar can’t exactly be described as affordable.

On that note, we can’t recommend adding a subwoofer to this budget Sonos surround setup, as even the Sub Mini would hike up the cost big time. Instead, we recommend the following setup for people who want a surround sound experience but have a limited budget and not much floor space: 

  • 2x Sonos One SL – $398 / £358 / AU$578
  • Sonos Beam (Gen 2) – $499 / £499 / $699

Though the Sonos One SL will be discontinued soon, it remains a terrific microphone-less speaker that is ideal for those who aren’t fussed about voice control features. Pair two SL units with a Sonos Beam, and you have a budget-conscious Sonos surround setup that’s perfect for a cramped apartment. 

Dave Meikleham

Dave is a freelancer who's been writing about tech and video games since 2006, with bylines across GamesRadar+, Total Film, PC Gamer, and Edge. He's been obsessed with all manner of AV equipment ever since his parents first bought him a hideously garish 13-inch CRT TV (complete with built-in VCR, no less) back in 1998. Over the years he’s owned more plasma and OLED TVs than he can count. On an average day, he spends 30% of his waking existence having mild panic attacks about vertical banding and dead pixels.