Have you had enough of your TV’s lackluster audio?
Would you like to take in movies like their creators wanted you to, in vivid and soul-shaking sound?
It’s time to retire your TV’s speakers and let the best home theater system take over!
Navigate Our Top 7 Home Theater Systems
|Home Theater System Image||Home Theater System Name||Speaker System||4K Ultra HD Compatible||Price|
|Sonos 5.1 Home Theater System||5.1||Yes|
|Enclave Audio CineHome HD||5.1||Requires Workaround|
|Onkyo HT-S9700THX 7.1-Channel Network A/V Receiver/Speaker Package||7.1||Yes|
|Logitech Z506 Surround Sound Home Theater Speaker System||5.1||Yes, Requires a Different Cord|
|Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System||5.1||Yes|
Be sure to check out the Home Theater System Buying Guide!
Although top of the line TVs try their best to simulate surround sound, there’s only so much built-in speakers can do. Nothing beats a perfectly positioned set of specialty speakers when it comes to helping you imagine two people speaking in the rain or a crowded street, not to mention make your whole being tremble with the force of a spectacular explosion. Audio offers practically half of every movie’s true experience, so why limit yourself to getting only a small part of it?
Whether your 20-year-old system is due for a replacement or you’re doing the research before getting your first one, going in with some sense of what you want from a home theater system is paramount – you wouldn’t want to lay down hundreds, even thousands of dollars for electronics that aren’t as close of a fit to your expectations as possible.
Neither would I, which, apart from helping you out obviously, is the chief reason this informative guide exists. After putting more than a dozen acclaimed models to the test, seven were left standing as true examples of excellence in a number of areas, be it the superb quality of their sound, booming vibrations their subwoofers produce or their incredible value. You can read all about them and a general home theater system guide after that to gain the knowledge you’ll benefit from when you go on the hunt for a system of your own.
So, put on some music you like and continue on to the reviews!
1. Sonos 5.1 Home Theater System – The Overall Best Home Theater System Today
Are you a perfectionist when audio is concerned? Is the quality of the sound while enjoying some of your favorite TV programs or games equally or more important to you than the image quality of your television set? Provided you’ve enthusiastically nodded to both of these questions and want to spare no expense in setting up a system that’s the definition of quality, Sonos’ all-around package is the overall best home theater system available today.
It consists of four items you can also buy separately – a long main sound bar, a slim subwoofer and two smaller speakers that complete the surround sound experience. They’re all great products on their own, but when purchased as a whole almost nothing comes close to the balance, clarity and depth of sound they produce.
The sound bar has nine built-in drivers which can all be regulated to produce different results, the most interesting ones being enhanced clarity of speech, nuanced sound positioning depending on which side it’s supposed to come from, and a nighttime mode that’s super useful for when you can’t turn the TV up but still want to hear fainter sounds. The subwoofer opens up new dimensions of bass, bringing out all the hidden aspects of your favorite songs. Lastly, the two smaller speakers can be placed anywhere in your home and deliver crisp sound either in tandem with the rest of the system, or separately. Everything is connected wirelessly and easy to control.
Audio enthusiasts, gamers and movie buffs alike who’ve got some extra cash to invest in the hobby will jump at the chance to own it. If you’re one and are after a comprehensive, deeply satisfying experience of beautiful crisp sound, then Sonos’ theater system is by far the most worthwhile electronics bundle to spend your money on.
2. Enclave Audio CineHome HD – The Best Wireless Home Theater System
One of the worst things about getting a new home theater system has to be the setup. There are so many different speakers to set up, and that’s the easy part! Connecting them all requires A LOT of wiring as well as a healthy dose of patience, or it did until wireless finally put an end to the nightmare. Enclave delivers a high-definition, true 5.1 experience with this system without a stray cable in sight.
It’s all thanks to the marvel of wireless connection which connects the central speaker to all the others. In genuine 5.1 surround sound fashion, you get the central speaker, a subwoofer and pairs of front & back speakers. All they require to run is a power source and input from either a TV, game console, satellite or even your smartphone that connects to the system via its own app.
Everything works as soon as the central speaker recognizes an input source. You can use its remote to quickly switch between inputs, adjust individual volumes or change to a different audio preset. Whatever you’re listening to, the speakers’ WiSA technology makes sure that the sound is uninterrupted, crisp and lag-free.
Cord cutting is the way to go, and Enclave shows us ow it’s done and why there’s such a clear advantage to it with the best wireless home theater system around. Say goodbye to the knot of wires that’s been plaguing your living room, and hello to top-quality, immersive audio.
3. Onkyo HT-S9700THX 7.1-Channel Network A/V Receiver/Speaker Package – The Best 7.1 Home Theater System
Dolby 5.1 has been the standard for immersive TV sound since the 90s, but its limited 5 channels meant that there was still room for improvement. With the advent of 7.1, two more channels were added, filling in the gaps between the front and rear speakers. The HT-S9700THX, a popular, advanced and high-quality system from Onkyo uses this modern technology to transform the way in which you listen to all kinds of content at home.
The THX-certified 8-speaker combo package delivers a movie-like experience to your home. It also supports Dolby Atmos, the newest audio technology that perfectly creates 3D sound not just from the sides, but from above too. The two additional middle speakers really help in smoothing out sound transition from front to back, approaching natural sound closer than 5.1 ever could.
Other than fantastic sound, the HT-S9700THX offers many options when choosing its input. There are seven HDMI inputs which support HDMI 2.0, as well as access to internet radio & streaming services, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, making this one of the most versatile home theater systems in the guide. Helping you keep track of everything is a detailed remote which easily switches sound sources, presets and more with a button press.
While not without fault, the HT-S9700THX is still the best 7.1 home theater system in a medium price range. The noticeable improvement in sound depth and the many sources it can tap into to bring it to you make it a system you’ll love as soon as an action scene starts or your favorite song comes blasting out of its speakers.
4. Logitech Z506 Surround Sound Home Theater Speaker System – The Best Home Theater System to Buy on a Budget
Extremely advanced home theater systems can literally cost tens of thousands of dollars, but what about the most affordable ones? As you’d expect, you’ll find a lot of systems whose quality is questionable at best, especially once the price starts dipping well below the $100 mark. There are however diamonds in the rough, and Logitech’s Z506 certainly qualifies!
It’s a small but powerful system capable of decent 5.1 performance in a bedroom or other room which isn’t too spacious. All six speakers come with an ample length of wire and are controlled through a simple set of knobs and buttons on the right front speaker. These include volume control, subwoofer adjustment and power.
There are two inputs, a 3.5mm jack and a set of stereo jacks, which are enough for a TV, an iPod or your PC. Two input sources can be active simultaneously and switched between. The speakers are a little small so you might need to turn the volume up, but once you find the balance of volume and bass levels, the overall experience is decent.
Considering the sound quality you get at a fraction of some of the other systems price, Logitech’s Z506 is the best home theater system if you’ve never experienced surround sound before and don’t wish to spend a lot on it, or if you’re enhancing a smaller media room.
5. Yamaha YHT-3920UBL – The Best Home Theater System under $500
With a bigger budget come improved options and if that budget is bigger than a couple of Benjamins some really nice systems like the Yamaha YHT-3920UBL become available. Occupying the sweet spot between price and quality, it’s the best home theater system under $500. Let’s explore more!
To start with, it is a 5.1 capable surround system with very nice looking, unobtrusive speakers. It supports everything from 4K HD through playback via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It’s unusual to get subwoofers with dedicated power at this price point, but Yamaha’s 8-inch beast runs on its own 100 watts, has a separate power button and enhances both music and movies with a rumbling bass that makes you shiver.
Another fact I particularly like about Yamaha’s system is the very detailed sound level setup you can either tinker for hours with if you’re an audiophile, or let the proprietary YPAO technology do it for you. It’s a smart setup process which assesses how sound behaves in the space you installed it in and determines optimum levels for your specific environment.
The Yamaha YHT-3920UBL is an all-around solid home theater system with an exceptional subwoofer, nuanced sound options and enough volume to really shake up your average-sized room. For the budget-conscious music or movie lover who doesn’t like compromising on quality too much, there is no better option in this price range.
6. Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System – The Best Home Theater System Under $1000
Larger rooms require more sophisticated speaker systems. Not only do they need to put out a louder, more pronounced sound, they also need to take the room’s size into account and create a realistic sound without echoing. Boze knows how to tackle audio challenges like this one and its Acoustimass 10 Series V is a stylish, practical and great-sounding system built for that genuine cinematic experience.
Although it doesn’t support 7.1, it produces sound rich in character and range, driving 5.1 to the heights of its capabilities. It’s all in the speaker design! They’re slimmer and more elegant than previous versions with no discernible loss in playback quality. They’re light and come with built-in wall-mounting brackets for easier installation.
The subwoofer on the other hand is a hefty piece of kit with the performance to back its weight up. Putting out finely-tuned deep sounds that manage to remain clean and impactful even with the volume all the way up, it’s one of the package’s greatest assets.
Those are just one-time annoyances though, and once everything is up & running the Acoustimass performs as you’d hope from a system that costs almost a grand. It’s the best home theater system under $1000 for large media rooms and even smaller auditoriums or community centers, delivering rich sound that’s as close to a real theater as you’re going to get for that kind of money.
7. Samsung HT-J5500W – The Best Home Theater System for the Money
All the home theater systems reviewed thus far only focused on one thing – sound. While that’s the central appeal of these devices, they lose out on much of their functionality if there’s no newer TV or media player to hook them up to. With Samsung’s HT-J5500W, you get great quality sound and crystal clear movies all in one package.
The audio side of things consists of your standard 5.1 setup – a receiver, subwoofer and four speakers. Properly positioned, they put out a pleasing, well-balanced sound that’s crisp and free of interference, even if you decide to annoy your neighbors by blaring loud music through them. Their small and slim form helps the speakers blend into the environment and become part of the room’s décor.
What makes this the best home theater system for the money are the inclusion of a high-quality Blu-ray player as well as the connectivity features of its receiver. The former lets you play movies at high resolutions, enhancing the already good audio performance with picture quality that matches it. Even more interesting are its smart features – Opera TV comes pre-installed, opening up a sizeable selection of apps and turning your ordinary TV into a smart one. Its receiver supports streaming through Wi-Fi and direct connection via HDMI, USB or optical audio cable.
With so much to offer and limitations many but the most hard-core audio fans can easily gloss over, it’s safe to say that Samsung has created a balanced and appealing home theater system. It is inexpensive, packed with features other systems lack and, most importantly, doesn’t compromise sound quality because of it. It’s the perfect model to round the guide out with, and a very inviting one in general.
Home Theater System Buyer’s Guide
- The Receiver – Every system’s heart and soul, the receiver is there to connect all of your speakers and direct them which source to play back from. It mixes the sound, hooks up to your Wi-Fi and supported devices. The more of these you want to run simultaneously, the more HDMI inputs it should have. An analog input for older hardware wouldn’t hurt either. Remember that some speaker systems don’t come with a receiver, so buying one separately can drive the price you hoped to pay up significantly.
- 5.1 vs 7.1 – There are now many 7.1 systems you can pick up, but that doesn’t mean that the best home theater system for you needs to support it. 5.1 is still perfectly fine for standard-sized spaces while 7.1’s two additional side speakers really do make a difference in deeper rooms.
- Sound Bars – Sound bars are alternatives to the central and front speakers that have recently become popular. They’re much wider than conventional speakers and have many built-in drivers that help the sound bar accurately reproduce sounds from either side or the middle. Since it gets rid of at least two wires and takes up less vertical space, the sound bar is a worthwhile alternative to the conventional front part of your system.
- Balancing the Needs of Music and Movies – Although one home theater system is all you need for a thorough enjoyment of both, depending on which of the two you listen to more you’ll want your system to have different strengths. Movies support a full sound and effect range which comes to the forefront during dialogue and scenes with a lot of effects and action in them. So, if you’re a movie buff, the quality of the central speaker and subwoofer matter most. Music is still largely stereo-based, meaning that you should go for better front speakers if you spend more time listening to it than watching movies.