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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > TV, Home Theater & Audio > Surround Sound Setup

Surround Sound Setup Cost

How Much Does Surround Sound Setup Cost?

low costLow: DIY Wiring Kits Run $165-$400average costMedium: Hiring a Firm Can Run $315-$800+
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Soundtracks of movies, video games and tunes of all type come alive with surround sound, which instead of the two speakers of a standard stereo system, literally surrounds you with what one expert calls a "balanced sonic stew." Creating that balance requires mounting 6-8 speakers in place and running wires along baseboards, under crown molding, or inside the walls.

Typical costs:

  • Most home theater or surround sound kits do not include the wiring needed for installation. Do-it-yourself costs for wire, wall box connectors, brackets, mesh tape and other supplies can run $100-$500 or more depending on distance covered and the type and quality of components chosen. Just the wire itself can be 50 cents to $5 or more a foot, depending on type and quality. sells complete wiring kits[1] for $165-$205; sells a more comprehensive wiring kit[2] for $400.
  • Hiring someone to wire your surround sound system can run $150-$600 or more, depending on the whether the wires are run along the baseboards or through the walls, the distance covered by the wires; and the type and quality of wiring used. (Some of the less-expensive installation packages may not include the cost of the wire itself.) offers 5-speaker set-up at $199-$439 for labor only (materials such as wire, cable or speaker mounts are not included), while Best Buy offers similar installation service for $150-$525; with the lower cost not including any wall or ceiling mounting and the higher-price package including some materials..
  • Another option is to buy wireless speakers[3] starting around $80-$300 and going up depending on type and quality. Although many experts say the quality of wireless speakers[4] has improved considerably, the sound may not be as clear as hard-wired speakers and Wired Magazine[5] says wireless is not yet good enough.
Related articles: Home Theater, Speakers, Stereo Receiver, TV Installation

What should be included:
  • A 5.1-channel surround system has five speakers -- two front, a center and two rear -- plus one subwoofer, which handles low frequency sounds; a 7.1-channel system has seven speakers, plus the subwoofer. describes how to[6] mount the speakers and hide the wire; gives placement planning tips[7] ; and for those deeply into electronics, explains in detail how to create the best circuit for maximum benefit[8] from your surround sound system.
  • Quality wire is important. The longer the distance from the speaker to the amplifier, the better the quality of wire needed (a lower-number gauge of wire is higher quality). A general rule of thumb is at least 16-gauge wire if the distance from speaker to receiver is less than 80 feet; 14-gauge for 80-200 feet; and at least 12-gauge or better for anything longer than 200 feet. And if you're running the wires through the walls, you need speaker wire that meets building codes. provides an overview[9] for choosing speaker wire.
Additional costs:
  • If you want the wires concealed in the wall and the room has no attic or crawlspace access, costs may go up considerably; exact prices will depend on the extent of work needed to run wires through the walls studs or the floor/ceiling joists.
Shopping for surround sound setup:
  • Most retailers such as Best Buy[10] sell installation services with their products; and there are also specialized installation companies such as ZipInstallation. A handyman may be able to do a simple installation, but be sure the handyman is skilled at electrical/speaker wiring. You may also require the services of an electrician if a new outlet or extensive rewiring is needed.
  • For a complete home theater installation which includes surround sound, search for a member of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association[11] .
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