The best gaming sound systems 2023: get a big sound upgrade this year

Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers
(Image credit: Future/Rob Dwiar)

One of the best gaming sound systems is going to be a seriously exciting way to take your audio to an all-time high for gaming, movies, and more. And while the audio market is dominated by headsets - which undoubtedly offer a convenient, cost-effective, and quality way to boost your game audio experience - a gaming sound system will offer a bombastic, room-filling way to achieve audio brilliance in your gaming and entertainment setup.

A good 5.1 setup will transform your gaming experience. The sound design in today’s triple-A games has never been so impeccably crafted – just look and listen to the likes of Red Dead 2, Control, and the Resident Evil remakes. To fully take your audio experience to the next level, and immerse yourself in all those headshots, explosions, and cowardly yelps, you need one of the best gaming sound systems to team with one of the best gaming TVs. Having said this, however, gaming sound systems have become increasingly well-engineered and offer a wider range of solutions than you may have once thought - you don't have to go massive to get great audio anymore.

We know some players will always play it safe and go with one of the best gaming headsets but a good gaming sound system has the capacity to take your living room and transform it into an audio-visual playground of virtual delights. Below, you’ll find a great range of audio solutions to a variety of budgets and setups, and we'll be looking to go large on this list of recommendations in the coming weeks and months.

The best gaming sound systems 2023

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The best gaming sound system - for value, performance, and flexibility

Specifications

Number of channels: 2
Included subwoofer: No (but can be added)
Requires separate amp: No
Connectivity: In: 3.5mm audio, Stereo RCA, Optical, USB, Bluetooth 5.0; Out: Subwoofer
Frequency: 55Hz-22kHz
Wattage: 2 x 65W
Dimensions (HxWxD): 10.98 x 6.69 x 11.65" (279 x 170 x 296mm)

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible audio across all media
+
Impressively powerful
+
Great connectivity
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Simple controls and remote
-
No virtual surround modes - it's just stereo

The M20s are an absolutely brilliant solution in your hunt for a gaming sound system. On the face of it, they might only be two bookshelf speakers but they are an incredible audio solution for gaming and can be deployed brilliantly for console-and-TV gaming or as part of a desktop gaming setup.

The audio provided is incredible, very powerful, rich, detailed, and just wonderful to soak up. Their execution and ability are also so good that you won't know you haven't got a central speaker if they are on either side of a screen - no virtual surround sound, yes, but the audio is that good nonetheless. The connectivity on offer also means there are extremely versatile (the only one missing is an HDMI ARC connection), while combining the amp into the powered speaker itself, removes all need for a dedicated amp. This speaker can be designated as left or right at the flick of a switch, along with bass optimisations, which both feel a bit like witchcraft too.

With a list price of $699 / £439 and often selling for less than that, they offer decent value too. While other gaming sound systems will be cheaper, remember you are getting audiophile-grade sound here, and some extremely smart engineering all inside two bookshelf speakers. And in that context of high-end audiophile speakers, they are incredibly attractively priced. The M20 HDs also genuinely show that you might not need a surround sound system for gaming to get the best audio - and if you need to, you can always expand the soundscape by adding a dedicated woofer down the road.

They are such a high-quality audio offering that I simply cannot recommend these speakers more, and I fear someone will have to prise them from my cold dead hands to remove them from my setup - they really are that good.

Read more: Q Acoustics M20 HD speakers review

(Image credit: Q Acoustic)
The best 5.1 gaming sound system we've tested

Specifications

Number of channels: 5.1
Included subwoofer: Yes
Requires separate amp: Yes
HDMI input: None
Frequency: 75Hz-22kHz
Wattage: 100W
Dimensions (HxWxD): Bookshelf speakers: 10 x 5.9 x 10" / 253 x 150 x 252mm; Subwoofer: 6.0 x 16.9 x 8.5" / 152 x 430 x 216mm; Central speaker: 11.8 x 18.9 x 5.9" / 300 x 480 x 150mm

Reasons to buy

+
Exciting, beautifully accurate surround sound
+
Audio is so rich across all games and media
+
Great room-filling surround sound

Reasons to avoid

-
The subwoofer can sound a little on the weedy side
-
The speakers are seriously chunky
-
Getting hard to find stock now

Your delicate little ears deserve the best. If you want to serve them up a sensory experience they’ll never forget, the Q Acoustics 3050i is the system your discerning lugs demand. Despite being almost two years old, this stellar surround sound package delivers an audio experience of remarkable fidelity. Plump for the full 5.1 setup, and the precision the 3010i is capable of mustering is nothing less than sensational. The crystal clear sound makes it easier than ever to pick out the oncoming footsteps of a rival player in a heated game of COD, while the crunching mid-range levels bring explosions to life with a super satisfying punch. 

A few words of warning, though. Firstly, the 3010i’s speakers are hefty customers – you’ll need a fair amount of space to properly accommodate them. Secondly, the subwoofer, while still capable of delivering reasonably deep bass response, sounds a little hollow at times. Oh, and you’ll also need a separate amp to plug your consoles into, driving up the already wallet-pummeling price even further. Still, Q Acoustics really has produced a superbly stylish set that can deliver the sort of sublime sounds your TV’s speakers could only have1naughty dreams about. 

Read more: Q Acoustics 3010i Series 5.1 Cinema Pack

The best value all-in-one gaming sound system

Specifications

Number of channels: 2.1
Included subwoofer: No (built-in)
Requires separate amp: No
Connectivity: HDMI ARC, Optical (x2), 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth 5.0
Frequency: 65Hz-22kHz
Wattage: 100W
Dimensions (HxWxD): 23.5 x 2.5 x 4" / 600 x 64 x 94mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent audio quality 
+
Great presets and modes
+
Terrific value
+
Great compact, all-in-one design, and performance

Reasons to avoid

-
No USB input
-
No clear volume gauge

Known for its audio pedigree, but maybe less so in gaming, Yamaha and the SR-C20A all-in-one soundbar exemplify the former and then tears down any barrier or preconceptions there may have been about Yamaha and gaming audio.

This neat, compact, and brilliant soundbar is such an easy recommendation on its design and audio quality alone - compact enough for under a monitor, and rich and loud enough to fill a room easily. However, when you throw in its value-busting price tag too, it's the perfect, perfect choice for someone looking for a simple one-and-done solution in their gaming sound system search.

First the audio quality: as an all-in-one soundbar, there can be an immediate thought and worry that there just won't be any bass. However, bass is not lost here. I haven't ever felt that a subwoofer was necessary, and have enjoyed fulsome, rich audio blasting into my face no matter the media. It really is that good. Secondly, the design: it is sleek, well-built, and compact enough that it can neatly slot on your desk under a monitor, or under a TV in smaller living spaces. And with there being no need for a subwoofer, it's immediately neater and tidier, losing that cable that others demand. 

Caveats are only a few and feel a bit nitpicky on the whole when everything else is considered. The volume gauge could be better and a bit clearer, or more tangible - it relies on the same lights as the inputs are assigned, and increases the amount that is lit from left to right as volumes goes up. The remote is a bit plain and plasticky, but it is clear and helpful enough for those who will use this under a TV or sit back from it from time to time. And that lack of USB input would be a nice option to have as Yamaha promotes the soundbar as perfect for gaming too.

However, for the price, we really haven't tested a better all-in-one soundbar for gaming. An easy choice as your next do-it-all gaming sound system.

Read more: Yamaha SR-C20A review

4. Razer Nommo Pro

The best PC-first premium gaming sound system

Specifications

Number of channels: 2.1
Included subwoofer: Yes
Requires separate amp: No
Connectivity: Optical, USB, 3.5mm, Bluetooth
Frequency: 35Hz-20kHz
Wattage: Not stated
Dimensions (HxWxD): Satellites: 7.9 x 5.5 x 11.4" / 200 x 140 x 289mm; Cylindrical woofer: 15.4 x 10.6" / 391 x 269mm

Reasons to buy

+
Razer audio quality
+
THX certified sound
+
Built in bluetooth
+
Dolby 5.1 virtual surround

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared to other speaker sets
-
Very big

If you're on the lookout for a premium gaming sound system then the Razer Nommo Pro system is perfect. It is premium in every way, from build quality to design, and from audio quality to (inevitably) price. However, the quality speaks - and sounds - for itself here.

I used these speakers everyday for about two years for everything from Zoom calls to music (of all kinds) to gaming and watching TV or films. The audio is incredibly crisp, clear, and rich in all of the above. Teamed with Razer's Synapse app on PC, the customization and flexibility at your disposal increases exponentially and you can really tune the THX-certified audio to your precise liking. There's also a control dial and switch which sits neatly on your desk and means you're not reaching around every speaker for dials and buttons, which is obviously great. However, the sound quality is good and you could just plug and play this set anywhere and not have to worry much about tinkering.

You will still have to get the positioning of the speakers right and they are quite sizeable, taking me by surprise when I received them (the woofer being a particularly large boi). But they are slick and chic and ooze that Razer aesthetic, and yes, including the RGB glow we all know and love.

During sales events, the Nommo Pro has been seen having price cuts of 40-50%, so when these do happen, that's the time to get some serious bang for your buck in the best computer speaker department. A great premium gaming sound system.

5. Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers

The best value PC-first gaming sound system

Specifications

Number of channels: 5.1
Included subwoofer: Yes
Requires separate amp: No
Connectivity: Optical (x2), 3.5mm, RCA, digital coaxial, six-channel direct input
Frequency: 35Hz-20kHz
Wattage: 500W
Dimensions (HxWxD): Satellites: 6.5 x 3.9 x 3.6" / 165 x 99 x 92mm; Subwoofer: 11.5 x 11 x 13.8" / 292 x 280 x 350mm; Central speaker: 4 x 6.6 x 3.7" / 292 x 280 x 350mm; Control unit (HxW): 11.5 x 11 / 293 x 281mm

Reasons to buy

+
Useful, space-saving design is well suited for bedroom use
+
THX certificate ensures believable surround sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t support True Dolby HD
-
Lack of HDMI and USB slots feels short-sighted

Though it’s been primarily designed for use with a PC, Logitech’s Z906 actually makes for a great value gaming sound system for the living room. Its space-saving speakers output audio at both 20kHz and 35Hz, while its compact subwoofer belies its small stature by delivering superb, bone-rumbling bass response. The lack of HDMI inputs is a bummer, but the bundled central console at least lets you switch between audio modes from afar with the unit’s remote. Said modes include a pretty convincing 3D sound effect, further bolstering the Z906’s already room-filling audio.

The lack of support for formats like Dolby True HD stings a smidge, but the Z906 partially makes up for this omission with its THX 5.1 certification. George Lucas’ billionaire ears know good surround sound. Considering the budget price of the system, Logitech really has done quite the job with the unit’s build quality. The satellite speakers are particularly sturdy, in spite of their size. If you’re strapped for cash the Z906 delivers plenty of powerful audio bang for your buck – and if you’re on a super tight budget, the insanely cheap Z506 is worth considering, too.

Arguably the best looking gaming sound system speakers

Specifications

Number of channels: 2
Included subwoofer: no (but can be added)
Requires separate amp: No
Connectivity: In: 3.5mm audio, Optical, Bluetooth; Out: Left speaker, Subwoofer
Dimensions : 170mm x 130mm x 135mm (6.7in x 5.1in x 5.3in)
Frequency: 55Hz-22kHz
Wattage: 0.5W standby, 9W typical

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality
+
Very stylish design
+
Versatile
+
Handy remote

Reasons to avoid

-
No USB connectivity
-
Remote range/receiver could be better

The Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers are up there with the best gaming sound systems thanks to their versatility, style, and sound quality that's right out of the top drawer. Despite mainly being marketed as a set of Bluetooth-first speakers, they also function just like a set of the best PC speakers. If anything, the Bluetooth support simply adds to their number of uses. Should you opt for the BackPack model, you can even take one of them on the go without any wires or cabling attached, which really increases their value, if you ask us.

Perhaps most importantly, these speakers offer excellent sound quality at high and low volumes and showed no weaknesses at all when we tested them with the full spectrum of games and musical genres. If you want a gaming sound system that can sound just as good blasting Alter Bridge as it does Austin Wintory, these are a safe bet.

Not to mention, the Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers look beautiful on a bookshelf, desk, or TV stand thanks to their classy wooden design. They're available in a walnut or soft grey colour, and either will help to bring your gaming setup together. They even come with a handy remote that lets you control volume and connection on the fly. If they had USB connectivity, they'd be simply irresistible. As they stand, they're still up there with the best on this list.

Read more: Ruark MR1 Mk2 speakers review

What surround sound is best for gaming?

Objectively speaking, the more fulsome, extensive, and 'wide' your surround sound setup, the better! For example, if you have a 7.1 system this will just have the ability to present 'more' surround sound to you than a soundbar only or a 2.1 system. So if you're looking for an objective answer, then, yes, more is more here.

However. Paying for something like a 7.1 or a 5.1 system could really cost you dear, and especially right now in late 2022, that might not be a viable option. As a result, we'd recommend looking at those gaming sound systems which keep things simpler, but do still punch above their weight  -modern soundbars, stereo speaker + subwoofer combos, and 2.1 systems definitely punch above their weight and offer superb surround sound. The other way to look at getting the best surround sound for gaming into your life, maybe to utilise a top gaming headset for where it's most crucial (multiplayer, online, etc) and a gaming sound system for when you're not playing competitively or with friends.

Do I need 7.1 surround sound for gaming?

In the simplest of answers, you don't necessarily need 7.1 surround sound for gaming - but it can enhance your experience. From knowing exactly where your enemies are and are coming from, to hearing faint audio cues, and to living every moment in a wild and natural open world, surround sound can definitely increase your immersion. 

However, a lot of folks find that gaming headsets can deliver this more clearly than gargantuan 7.1 systems - even down to a travel perspective; a headset will deliver the audio quickly to your ears/brain and do so with no travel, and be uninterrupted. Our top pick for a sound system is also stereo, not surround, as this audio profile still has its place; and gaming headsets are always there to provide that surround sound option too.

What is better for gaming, surround sound of stereo?

With the advancements of virtual surround sound, 3D audio, and gaming audio generally, we'd always try to recommend a surround sound system to boost immersion, performance, quality, and overall gaming experience. 

However, having said all that, our top pick currently for best gaming sound system is a stereo set! That's because while surround sound gaming audio has indeed got incredible, stereo has too, and if you find yourself a belting stereo set (like the Q Acoustic M20HD speakers on this list) then you'll have a great experience. The quality and availability  of awesome gaming headsets which can offer the surround sound needed for online and multiplayer gaming also helps to make the decision over which gaming sound system to go for easier as you can - with increasingly excellent value - pair one with the other to get the best of both worlds.

For more audio options, check out the best computer speakers we've tested, along with the best wireless gaming headsets and best gaming earbuds to cover all of your bases.

I'm the Commissioning Editor for Hardware at GamesRadar+ and have been here since the hardware team's inception in late 2018. I'm also a writer on games and have had work published over the last six years or so at the likes of Eurogamer, RPS, PCGN, and more. Day to day, I take care of a whole host of gaming tech reviews, buying guides, and news and deals content that pops up across GamesRadar+. I'm also a qualified landscape and garden designer, so I do that in my spare time. I'm also an expert on the virtual landscapes and environments of games and love to write about them too, including in an upcoming book on the topic!