How to Set up Sonos Surround Sound

To set up surround sound with Sonos, you’ll need to have a Sonos sound bar and two surround sound speakers. You will also likely want a subwoofer in the mix. You can connect all these speakers within the Sonos app for full surround sound. 

I’m Donovan, a lifelong audio enthusiast, musician, and producer. I’ve set up many home theaters over the years and know what it takes to get a Sonos system dialed in. I’ve used many of the most popular Sonos speakers. 

This post will show you how to set up a Sonos surround sound system. I’ll highlight what type of speakers you need, how to get things set up in the Sonos app, and provide some other relevant information. I want to ensure you get a solid surround sound experience. 

Let’s dive in. 

Key Takeaways

  • Most people use a Sonos soundbar and two surround sound speakers for a typical setup. 
  • Adding a subwoofer to your Sonos surround sound will take your home theater to another level and add a lot to your listening experience. 
  • You can control and manage your speaker connections within the Sonos app, making it easy to dial in a surround sound setup. 
  • You cannot add more than two surround sound speakers to a Sonos setup because this is the maximum number Sonos supports. 

Setting up Sonos Surround Sound: Complete Guide

Setting up surround sound is a must for any home theater, and using Sonos to do this is easy. You have a few options for how to go about setting up surround sound with Sonos, and I’ll explore those here. 

I’ll break things down into a few different sections to give you a better understanding of what equipment you need and how to set it all up. I’ve set up numerous Sonos surround sounds this way, and it’s all pretty straightforward. 

A few tips to help speed things up are downloading the Sonos app onto your phone or computer and having your home theater room mostly set up ahead of time. 

The Sonos app allows you to control all of your speakers and connections easily, and you need to have the app to set up surround sound effectively. 

Setting up your theater room will help you with speaker placement and other audio considerations that will make your listening experience shine. 

Equipment for Sonos Surround Sound

Before you can set up your Sonos surround sound system, you need to get all of the speakers and other equipment to make this happen. The two most common surround sound systems are 3.1 and 5.1. 

These numbers refer to the number of speakers and subwoofers. So a 3.1 system has three speakers and one subwoofer. And a 5.1 system has five speakers and one subwoofer. Sonos does not support anything larger than a 5.1 surround system. 

I recommend going with a 5.1 system if you want an authentic surround sound experience. This involves getting a soundbar, two standard speakers, two surround speakers, and a subwoofer. 

You technically don’t need a soundbar or a subwoofer to make this happen. But again, if you really want good surround sound, you should have both of those things. 

Here is the list of Sonos speakers you need for a 5.1 surround sound setup: 

  • 1 Sonos soundbar
  • 2 standard Sonos speakers (for left and right channels)
  • 2 surround sound Sonos speakers (for surround sound)
  • 1 subwoofer (to highlight the low end for that cinematic-like experience. 

Speaker Placement for Sonos Surround Sound

Speaker placement is another critical consideration for a surround sound setup. If you don’t place the speakers in the proper locations in your listening room, you won’t get theater-like sounds from them. 

The soundbar should be placed directly in front of the TV. If your TV is on a stand, table, or dresser, just place the soundbar on that as well. 

Your two standard speakers should be placed on either side of the TV. Depending on their size, you can place them right on the TV stand or dresser, or you might need separate stands. You don’t want these on the floor, as that will affect overall sound quality. 

Your two surround sound speakers should go on either side of your listening room in the back near where you sit. In line with the couch or chairs that you have set up is a good idea. This doesn’t need to be precise, but you don’t want them too close to the TV. 

You can place the subwoofer right on the floor next to the TV. Most subs will have legs of some sort to keep them slightly elevated off the ground. Don’t place your sub against a wall, as you need a foot or more of room to avoid sound reflections. 

How to Set up Sonos Surround Sound in Sonos App

Now that everything is in position, it’s time to set up your home theater and surround sound system in the Sonos app. Download the app onto your phone or computer if you haven’t already done so. 

1. Open the Sonos app. 

2. Tap Settings

3. Tap System

4. Tap Products

5. Tap Sonos home theater room. Set up your home theater speakers here if you haven’t done so already. If this is your first time setting up Sonos, you’ll need to add speakers. 

6. Now go back to Products and tap Set up Surrounds

7. The Sonos app will walk you through the next steps of adding your surround sound speakers to your home theater room. 

Quick Tip: Make sure all your Sonos speakers are turned on before connecting them within the Sonos app. They may not show up as available speakers if they aren’t powered on. 

Why am I Not Getting Surround Sound from Sonos?

Over the course of setting up several Sonos surround sound systems, I’ve run into my fair share of problems. I wanted to share some troubleshooting tips to help you navigate the same problems of not getting surround sound. 

Remember that you need to activate the surround sound within the Sonos app. Just turning the speakers on and placing them in your home theater room does not make them automatically connect to the entire system. 

Sometimes you’ll need to reset a Sonos speaker if it’s not responding. This will iron out some bugs and glitches. Power down the speaker and then turn it back on while holding the Bluetooth button until the light flashes green to do this. 

Only some shows or movies are mixed in surround sound. If whatever you are watching doesn’t come in surround sound, you won’t hear it properly from your speakers. You can’t really resolve this issue, but you can still listen to it in normal audio. 

You also might need to change the audio format of your Sonos system and/or TV to address this issue. Sonos has some good tips on doing this here, but you also might need to go directly to your TV settings.  


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to how to set up Sonos surround sound. 

How do I turn on Sonos surround sound? 

You can turn surround sound on directly in the Sonos app. Go to the Settings tab and then select System. Go to Products and then select your Home Theater room. Tap Surround Audio under the Sound heading, and you should hear things in surround. 

How do I connect my Sonos soundbar to my surround sound? 

You can easily connect your Sonos soundbar to your surround sound by adding it to your Home Theater room in the Sonos app. With the soundbar turned on, the app should recognize it, and you manage the connection directly in the app. 

How do I set up 7.1 surround sound on Sonos? 

You can’t set up a 7.1 surround sound with Sonos. You can set up a 5.1 system with five speakers and a subwoofer, but Sonos only supports two surround speakers for a home theater room. This means you can’t achieve 7.1 surround sound. 

Is Sonos true surround sound? 

Sonos delivers authentic and accurate surround sound. While you can’t set up as many speakers as you might like for a full home theater, you can get surround sound effects when using a 3.1 or 5.1 setup. 

How do I reset my Sonos surround speaker? 

You can reset your Sonos surround speaker by powering off the speaker and then turning it back on while pressing and holding the Bluetooth button. Continue to hold down the button until the lights flash green, and your speaker will be reset. 

Final Thoughts

Setting up a Sonos surround sound system is pretty straightforward. Just ensure you have all of the speakers you want to use in place before dialing things in from the Sonos app. The app will help you manage connections and the surround sound settings. 

Even though you don’t absolutely need a subwoofer for surround sound, it will add a lot to your home theater experience. I think getting those low ends frequencies can make or break a movie night, so I highly recommend throwing a sub in your surround sound setup. 

What type of surround sound setup do you have? What’s your favorite movie to watch in surround? Let me know in the comments below. 

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