LAS VEGAS--Boston Acoustics' SoundWare XS 5.1 system is about as small as you can make a 5.1 speaker system. Unless of course you ditched three of the speakers and the need for a separate AV receiver.
That's the thinking behind the new SoundWare XS Digital Cinema Surround Sound Speaker system, which features just two tiny SoundWare XS speakers, a compact subwoofer, and built-in amplification. It comes with a credit card-style remote and brackets for wall-mounting the front speakers.
The 100-watt system features both optical and analog inputs, as well as Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream music wirelessly straight from a smartphone. To get around the lack of rear speakers, the system includes Boston's proprietary Digitally Optimized Virtual Surround processing. Virtual surround generally falls well short of the actual surround-sound experience, but it often at least opens up the sound stage so that it feels a little bigger than plain old stereo.
The Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS Digital Cinema Surround Sound Speaker system will be available in January with a list price of $500. That's a lot of money to ask for a lifestyle system, especially with budget sound bars available for a few hundred dollars less.