Home theater systems offer reliable combinations of speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, and receivers in a convenient package to create a more cinematic experience at home. If you already own a TV, you’re basically ready to purchase a home theater system. There are lots of things to consider before getting such a system so let’s take a look at the most important factors to take into account. You might also be interested in our articles about the best 4k projectors and the best boombox.
1. Surround sound speaker layouts
The more speakers you own means that you’ll get a more surround sound and create a more cinematic effect in your living room. This sounds like buying a bigger system would be the obvious choice but it’s not that simple. Besides the fact that the price can go up significantly, there’s also the matter of a going through a more complicated setting-up process to install and connect all the speakers. In the end, you have to take multiple factors into account when choosing the type of system. The size of your room and your budget, in particular, could play the most important roles.
Make sure that your system can accept multiple devices in case you wish to connect more than just a TV. What about a Blu-ray player or a games console? Most systems come with one or more HDMI inputs, others offer optical or coaxial audio inputs and they all can be very helpful. You might also stumble upon systems with a more limited offer in terms of input connections.
What’s great about home theater systems is how they are designed to work right out of the box. There shouldn’t be a need of buying extra cables and you don’t have to get worried about technical problems as everything will work harmoniously together. Most packages will include everything needed but you still need to make sure that all the accessories are there. Sometimes you need to buy an extra cable or two, especially if you have other components and devices that you want to use with the system.
These are the main things to consider before making the investment into a home theater system. One aspect that wasn’t mentioned is the sound quality. This is really a matter of personal preference and particular taste. A good rule of thumb is that higher-end systems will usually sound better but if you’re an avid audiophile you will probably look elsewhere where you can customize more precisely the combination of speakers and receiver. The following are the best systems to create an authentic home theater experience. These products have been selected based on their cost-effectiveness and they should suit a flexible range of budgets and needs.
Best 5.1 Home Theater System
The Yamaha NS-SP1800BL is a decent home theater system that will amaze you with a vibrant audio quality for an affordable cost. This is a combination of a powerful and small subwoofer with four speakers to create an authentic 5.1 surround sound.
The audio quality packed in this system is certainly worth the money. The powerful 100W subwoofer will be very appreciated by those who like rumbling bass that fills the whole room. The frequency response offers a decent range and the magnetic shielding for both the center and the front speakers will minimize any interferences allowing for flexible placement.
With sophisticated speaker drivers, this system will provide an accurate sound with rich harmonics and strong bass. The combination of the 2-way satellite speakers with a single 2-way center-channel one will bring a surround sound in any room.
The satellite speakers have 2.5” woofer drivers with single 0.5” tweeters. The middle range is reproduced in clarity with extra detail thanks to the work of the center-channel speaker. When you add the subwoofer into the mix, the audio quality will really experience a boost. Another thing that’s great about a home theater system like this one is how simple is the wiring.
One of the best features of this system which represents a huge help to increase the overall performance is the advanced YST. Yamaha’s Active Servo Technology is an exclusive technology which makes the amplifier and the speaker are put in tandem efficiently. This has great potential as it provides a motion canceling out impedance.
All in all, the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL is one of the best 5.1-channel systems that money can buy. The sound is really on par with what you’d expect from Yamaha’s reputation in the audio industry. The sound is clear and detailed. If you make this investment, you’ll definitely not be disappointed. Highly recommended.
- 5.1-channel system
- Dual 2.5-inch woofers
- Magnetic shielding for all speakers
- 8″ 100W subwoofer
- Advanced YST
- Requires a surround amplifier
Best 7.1 Home Theater System
For those looking to get a premium 7.1 home theater system, the Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 DTS-X is the way to go. It’s capable of creating a lifelike dynamic surround sound and offers an impressive range of connectivity options for the ultimate cinematic experience at home.
This system seems to go all out when it comes to audio performance. It will allow you to take advantage of 7 discrete channels that will envelop you with high-quality sound. The integrated quad-core DSP processor coupled with the cutting edge DTS-X technology takes the home theater experience to a new level.
So what exactly will you discover in this system? Let’s take a closer look at each of its components. First, there’s the 45” sound bar that comes loaded with 5 powerful Surround Effects tweeters which are sealed in 5 individual speaker chambers. This where most of the audio magic happens.
Then you’ve got the two 2-way Synchronized Surround Sound rear speakers which maximize the immersiveness of the sound. The sound of lower frequencies is taken care of by an 8” wireless subwoofer which promises a punchy bass ready to shake the whole room. A total of 13 speaker drivers deliver an impressive loud 105 dB lifelike sound with 600W of power.
Connectivity-wise, the manufacturer equipped the system with multiple connections. You’ve got Bluetooth with aptX available as well as the latest video standards such as HDMI ARC and 2.0, HDCP 2.2, and 4K Pass Thru. You can connect a maximum of six devices if you also count the optical and coaxial inputs. Customizing the system’s settings, switching source inputs, as well as various optimizations, can all be managed using a 52-key backlit remote.
This unit is an absolute joy to listen to. The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 DTS-X entertainment powerhouse is available at a reasonable price considering its premium features. It’s difficult to find an equal match for it when you balance its audio performance with the cost. For anyone who wants to create an authentic surround sound experience at home, this is recommended.
- 7.1-channels DTS-X system
- 8” Down-Firing Wireless Subwoofer
- Two 2-way 3S rear speakers
- 45 inch sound bar
- 600 Watts of power
- 52-key backlit remote
- Multiple connectivity options including Bluetooth with aptX
A more low-cost option for a 7.1-channel system is the Onkyo SKS-HT540 which promises an enveloping sound and an extremely accurate response. This has great potential when paired with a receiver and a DVD player and one of its most interesting features is the earth-shaking 230W subwoofer which delivers a memorable impact to your sound.
Any authentic home theater system needs to have a good soundstage and this model doesn’t disappoint. This speaker package features crisp 130W front and center speakers that will amaze you with balanced tones and clear details. The built-in 5-inch dual woofers mix well with the subwoofer which handles the powerful bass.
The innovative OMF technology which stands for Onkyo Micro Fiber is available for each speaker from the front and center. This is an advanced diaphragm technology that combined with the pure cotton cones delivers a very quick and accurate sound response.
All the eight speakers are wired for connecting with the receiver and are fairly easy to install. The frequency response is also decent promising an enjoyable home theater movie night. It’s also worth noting that Onkyo provides magnetic shielding so you can place the speakers almost anywhere without the danger of interferences.
In terms of construction, the speakers in this system are created in a black wood enclosure which is not very glossy and feels quite durable. The enclosures are made with functionality in mind so the system doesn’t have the most attractive look out there but if you care more about the sound quality, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Fitting for multiple room sizes, the Onkyo SKS-HT540 home theater system is a solid option for a 7.1-channel system. If you pair this with a high-quality receiver, the result will certainly be amazing. The sound quality is very distinct and you can be sure that you’re getting more than your money’s worth with this system.
- 7.1 Channel system
- 230W subwoofer
- 130W front and center speakers
- Magnetic shielding
- Simple push terminal connections
One nicely balanced system for creating a decent home theater experience is the Logitech Z906 5.1-channel model. It delivers in terms of power and provides flexible connectivity options and easy control thanks to a wireless remote. This system makes it a breeze to recreate the immersive feeling of a cinema into any room.
There are dynamic satellite and center channel speakers totaling 500W RMS power included in this system. Under certain conditions, it can peak at 1000W with a deep bass that can shake the entire room. You can enjoy theater-quality audio sound which also fits music and video games.
To be able to hear every detail you need a surround system that delivers a sound mix that’s reliably recreated. This is where DTS encoding comes into play. The fact that this system is THX certified also means that the speakers adhere to strict quality standards and it’s proof that they perform as they should guaranteeing a great cinematic sound.
What’s nice about this budget-oriented home theater system is how versatile it can be when it comes to connectivity. Up to six audio sources including computers and game consoles can be effortlessly connected thanks to the digital and analog inputs provided. Customizing the system however you want is also a breeze as you can place the satellites in multiple places including mounted on a wall.
Setting up your entertainment room according to your preferences is nice but this system also allows for convenient operation and control of its features. Thanks to a wireless remote you can sit back and relax while you adjust all the relevant settings from a distance. A compact control console is also supplied for your convenience.
Even though these speakers are tiny, they can provide a massive sound when paired with the thundering subwoofer. Considering everything about the Logitech Z906, it’s safe to say that this represents a cost-effective way to significantly enhance the audio quality. It will make you look forward to immersing yourself in your favorite movies and music.
- 5.1-channel system
- 500W RMS power
- Flexible setup
- Wireless remote
Featuring Dolby Atmos support, this home theater package from Onkyo will create a rich sound that can engulf any room. The HT-S5800 is an expensive model but it makes use of cutting-edge technologies to enhance the audio to the maximum. It’s also amazingly user-friendly so this is definitely an interesting option to consider.
Sturdy 2-way bass reflex speakers are included to deliver the sound in the front and for crystal clear sound reproduction, they come with 5-inch mid-range drivers and quality tweeters. The center-channel speaker has double drivers and a balanced-dome tweeter which ensures a great richness of the sound. The real impact is brought by the thunderous 120W subwoofer with its large 10-inch cone.
A solid feature, part of Onkyo’s amplification methods, is the way the discrete amps provide high current instantly. This way you can achieve a more dynamic sound quality and better speaker control thanks to an increased level of power precision.
Due to support for the latest video technologies such as HDCP 2.2, this system is ready to handle 4K UltraHD content. The system comes prepared for seamless work with streaming devices as it conveniently offers USB port to power the media device while it’s connected to the HDMI input.
The system comes with integrated Bluetooth connectivity that accepts a maximum of 10 compatible devices for streaming wireless audio content in high definition. Another notable feature of this system is the AccuEQ room calibration which measures two things. One is made for the system to correctly calibrate the distance, level, and crossover and this is done for all the speakers. The second measurement is intended for removing standing waves.
Loud and promising a hassle-free set-up experience, the Onkyo HT-S5800 infuses some of the best technologies to have reached the market in recent years into a powerful home theater system. With so many configuration options and connections available, this system deserves a spot on this list as it’s an exceptional unit for its cost.
- Dolby Atmos support for 5.1.2 Channels
- Wide Range Amplifier Technology
- 4K/60 Hz-Capable HDMI Terminals
- Bluetooth Wireless Audio Streaming
- AccuEQ Room Acoustic Calibration
The Polk Audio RM705 is a full surround set of speakers which uses the latest technology available to enjoy quality audio at home. One of the most striking features of this home theater system is the stylish design which can easily blend into any modern living room. The performance also seems to have great potential for the cost.
As this is a 5.1-channel speaker system, there are four satellite speakers, a center channel and a subwoofer that work together to revolutionize the sound in your room. The list of accessories contains wall brackets which offer a good degree of flexibility and there’s also a shelf cradle included for the center channel.
The subwoofer is a downward firing model which makes use of a Dynamic Balance driver, a composite driver technology specially engineered for producing an excellent frequency response. This is a patented technology which reveals hidden details in the sound and offers the ability to play loud sounds while minimizing distortions.
The bass feels tight and musical and for perfect control, there’s a built-in power amp allowing you to enjoy some unforgettable home theater thrills. The way the compact vented enclosure works with Dynamic Balance is another aspect worth discussing.
While it may seem for show, the shape is actually designed to minimize resonances and keep standing waves low. The Reuleaux Triangular Polygon enclosure will remove that “boomy” feeling which is a big turnoff for small speakers and is responsible for making their characteristically distorted sound.
In terms of visual impact, this system is definitely made for those who prefer systems that don’t stand out next to their furniture and the rest of the room’s décor. The speakers have a glossy finish and the minimalistic black look is a great match for any modern living room.
As it delivers a hard-to-match level of quality for its price range, the Polk Audio RM705 is a set of home theater speakers which make no compromises on performance and construction. The wonderful sound should be suitable for a wide category of users who wish for enhancing their movie nights. This system is highly recommended for those who want to take their home theater experience to a more cinematic level.
- 5.1-channel system
- Elegant finish
- Reuleaux Triangular Polygon cabinet
- Magnetic shielding
- 4 satellites, 1 center channel, subwoofer included
Best Budget Home Theater System
If you’re not willing to spend a fortune on a home theater system, you can make a few compromises but still get your hands on a high-quality model which will enhance the sound in any room. The Monoprice 10565 fits the bill for those on a budget as it crams in a compact package a powerful sound and elegant looks.
This 5.1-channel system comes with 4 satellite speakers and one center speaker. They can work with a solid range of frequencies from 110Hz to 20kHz. These speakers make use of rear-firing ports so, ideally, they have to be placed farther from any obstacles in the back.
Driven by a reliable 200W amplifier, the powered subwoofer can handle frequencies ranging from 30Hz to 150Hz. As the subwoofer is a downward firing model, the manufacturer tweaked the design for extra stability by adding 4 rubber feet. On its back, there’s a phase control switch that enables you to make the right adjustments to it in relation to the other components. You can use the subwoofer with pretty much any amplifier as it comes with line and speaker level stereo inputs.
What’s great about this system is how compact are the speakers, perfect to fit even smaller rooms and fill them with quality sound. There’s a standard threaded insert provided for the speakers so you can mount them with ease anywhere you like.
Setting up this home theater package is a very straightforward process compared to some more complicated systems out there. All the speakers’ inputs are clear to see and easy to access and the terminals are spring-loaded. Just connect some cables and the fun is about to start.
Despite being a low-cost system, this model can surpass your expectations. It represents solid value for the money when you take into account the overall audio performance. There may be better systems out there but for those who want a reliable budget system, it’s great to see that you can find one in the Monoprice 10565.
- 5.1-channel system
- 8-Inch Downfiring Subwoofer
- 4 satellite speakers
- 1 center speaker
- Compact and lightweight
- Simple setup
Best Wireless Home Theater System
If you’re in the market for a top quality home theater system, the Yamaha YHT-3920UBL is a solid one to consider. It’s packed with powerful features to completely transform your movie-watching experience at home. It offers wireless music playback, the exclusive YPAO sound optimization technology, and a powerful 100W subwoofer.
This home theater system fits best movies and music as it comes with 4 surround speakers and one center channel. If you want a truly immersive experience, you can try to mount the speakers on the wall. Strong bass is ensured by an 8-inch 100W subwoofer which delivers clear lows using Yamaha’s Advanced technology.
In terms of connections, this system is quite well equipped. The speakers are wired but the system offers Bluetooth allowing you to enjoy your favorite music wirelessly from smartphones and compatible devices. Yamaha’s Compressed Music Enhancer has received certain enhancements to ensure a good sound quality during wireless transmissions.
The latest video standards such as 4K Ultra HD pass-through and HDCP 2.2 are supported. The former is capable of transmitting 4K video at 60 FPS while the latter brings you the enjoyment of 4K video quality with no degradation.
Another feature worth taking into account regarding this system is the automatic speaker set-up done by the Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer which detects the room acoustics and automatically adjusts to the optimal settings accordingly. It’s just a matter of minutes until the room is tuned for the best sonic experience. Alternatively, you can try the Virtual Cinema Front configuration for setting up the system. This is in case the room doesn’t permit for rear speaker placement.
For a reasonable price, you can have quality home theater system from a respected brand in the industry. The Yamaha YHT-3920UBL makes no compromises on sound quality and you can be sure that you’re making an investment into a product that will last for a long time.
- Bluetooth functionality
- 4K Ultra HD Pass-through
- 5.1-channel system
- HDCP 2.2 Support
- Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer
- YST II technology