The rescue party in the edge of the seat thriller is moving from room to room searching for the hostage…the lead character turns around and whispers a message…..and this is exactly when you are unable to catch the whisper…because you have a substandard TV and home theater system combination. The tiptoe in a crime thriller, the rushing sound of a waterfall, a thousand voices raised in unison to cheer a team are the sounds that make television more interesting. Home theatres make a huge difference to the quality of a movie or a game that you watch on your television.
With a good home theater, you can also transform rooms in your home into music rooms that offer you the ultimate auditory pleasure with streaming audio from devices/services. The range of speakers and Hi-Fi audio equipment that is presently available are not just adding to the experience, but rewriting it. In combination with the right television screen, you can recreate a Cinematic experience in your living rooms. Before you set off on a search for the ultimate home theater experience, it pays to know what you need to look for in a home theater.
The thumb-rule of selection is simple – one size will not fit all, but, yes, there are different sizes for everyone – you need to pick one that meets your specific needs. The model that your neighbor owns may not be the best one for you, if your requirement for a home cinema is different or if the dimensions of your rooms are the polar opposite of your neighbor’s. Never trade off any qualities of a system because of a price difference. Remember, the best system is one that offers all the desired and additional qualities at eh most reasonable price.
It is also important to add that some features and functionalities are the results of advanced technology and therefore the cost of those systems may be higher. Home theaters, like all electronic gadgets in the digital era, come with technical specifications and terms that add a layer of complexities to the selection process. Fret not, we are here to help you negotiate all the complex terminology and specs to understand what’s best, and what’s not.
Here, we decode the specs for you, and showcase ten of the best home theater system models that meet different requirements and the accessories that add to the experience.
Best Home Theater Systems – Comparison Table
Let’s start with the Basics – WIRED System VS WIRELESS System
To narrow down your choice to a binary decision, the first step needs to be to understand the difference between a Wired System and a Wireless System. So, here’s the lowdown on the comparison.
Audiophiles have long sworn by Wired Systems because of the difference in quality. Though technology has advanced to a level where wireless systems can match the performance of a wired system, the preference has always been for Wired Systems, especially when it comes to sound reproduction quality.
So what gives? Let’s dive into the pros of a Wired System.
Pros of a Wired System
- A wired system, at least as of now, offers a higher quality of sound reproduction and is dependable.
- Interference is eliminated
- Interruptions as a result of connectivity issues or drops are not experienced
- Dispenses with the need for battery/recharging of remote units
Loyal users of wired systems often go so far as to say that Wired Systems are the Gold Standard of Home Theaters. It is hard to think of any product that does not have drawbacks; gaps that do not meet user expectations. So, here’s a look at the cons.
Cons of a Wired System
- The positioning of the speakers may sometimes be affected by the wiring requirements
- Speaker Wires sticking out and the main unit may present an ungainly look that can mar the appearance of your interior décor
- Relocating and fixing a wired home speaker system may be challenging
So, there you are, we have listed the pros and cons upfront. Let’s now look into the details in-depth.
In a wired system, the transmission does not rely on audio compression. This effectively means that the sound quality is consistent and will not change. With the possible exception of a power cut, there is nothing much that will impact the flow.
You will not experience cutouts or garbled reproductions that affect the experience. Undoubtedly, this means that you will not miss out on anything – you will get to enjoy a truly wonderful experience.
However, you will have to up with certain requirements for this outstanding experience. As mentioned in the cons above, the wires, which are the reason for the superior experience, may pose to be a problem.
Nonetheless, the best part of a wired speaker system is that you get full control over the Digital to Analog Converter.
Now, what was that?
Well, it means that digital output needs to be converted into analog so that you have heard it. For instance, the sound from a digital audio CD has to be converted into an analog output, which will help you to listen to the music.
With a wired system, you get the power to choose how you would like your output. You may be a bass lover, or you may be the type that loves clarity. To choose the right kind of output, you need an amp and DAC. The best part of a wired system is that you get to choose the output.
You may now understand why audiophiles love wired systems. Without a doubt, lovers of music have different choices. It is not just the genre of music, but the type of output. With a wired system, you get to hear exactly how you would like to hear something.
The lovers of technology stick to Wireless, all the way. The reasons are not entirely unfounded. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds where some of the biggest and most powerful changes have been in wireless technology. As the emphasis has been on wireless, the results of product innovation have more or less been on the wireless side. Let’s dig deeper and check out the pros.
Pros of a Wireless System
- Increased compatibility permits mixing and matching
- Dispenses with the need for wires and working out complex options to hide the wires
- Eliminates all obstacles in the positioning of speakers
- Permits users to change positions as per need or changed room dimensions
Wireless technology offers convenience that is hard to beat. You buy a system, plug it in, place the speakers at the most suitable locations, and start playing. It is as easy as that. The absence of messy wires means that you do not have to worry about anything other than getting the speakers within range, which is, in fact, quite a lot. It’s time to check out the cons of a wireless system.
Cons of a Wireless System
- Performance dips due to breaks in connectivity
- Audio compression and loss during transmission
- Depending on the type of wireless speakers, the range may be an issue at times
- No control over the choice of output
Now that we are done with the pros and cons, it is time to take a look at the details closely for a better understanding.
Wireless protocols and systems now permit you to patch up speakers of different manufacturers into a single grid. In other words, you can keep adding speakers and the speakers can be made to work in tandem, thanks to the spectacular advances in digital technology.
Moreover, you can get a wholesome experience and keep modifying the grid of speakers, which is something that is not easily possible with wired speakers. You can achieve this without the fear of sound mismatching, because of the uniform standards in use.
Wireless Systems have evolved and presently the chances of audio compression and loss during transmission are minimal. The possibility of losing out on some sound or music is minimal to an extent where you may not be able to spot the difference.
Bluetooth and WiFi standards have evolved and the present crop of products available in the market is superior. The number of issues that users previously faced with wireless speakers has come down drastically due to the advances in technology and components. Wireless speakers indeed deprive the buyer of the choice to choose the exact type of output. However, the inbuilt systems in wireless speakers have also undergone multiple rounds of improvement, helping to reduce the gap between output quality of preferred amps and inbuilt ones.
Besides, the differences between a wired and a wireless system are two-fold. One is the difference in quality and the other is the difference in convenience. When it comes to quality there are differences, however, the differences have considerably narrowed. On the convenience aspect, wireless speakers are virtually unmatched. Here’s a little table to help you check out the differences.
|Wired Speakers||Wireless Speakers|
|Flexible choice of type of output through DAC and Amp||No choice of output with inbuilt components|
|Wires need to be routed and determine the positioning||The absence of wires permits positioning at will, subject to a range|
|Difficult to get different types of speakers to work in tandem due to sound mismatching issues||Software and protocols permit speakers of different types to work in tandem with each other|
|Less expensive||Relatively more expensive|
|Consistent quality as there is no loss due to audio compression and transmission||Chances of drop in quality and gaps due to audio compression and transmission|
This table gives you an idea of the technical differences between a wired and a wireless system. As a user or a prospective buyer of a home theater, you will be the best judge of understanding which works for you. Rather than following the decisions of others, you need to single out the advantages and disadvantages that are more relevant to you and then make the choice of a wired or wireless system.
3 Factors to Consider When Buying a Home Theater
Now that you have understood the noteworthy differences, it is time to look at the factors that you need to consider when you buy a home theater. Looks are certainly an added incentive, and will certainly add to the appeal of your room or the system. Some of the home theaters score over others in terms of classic and elegant designs. It surely does help to have better curb appeal, but if you were to check out the methods used by any audiophile, you will learn that the three most important aspects that need to be considered are Budget, Brand, Performance & Functionality.
So, let’s look into each aspect in detail.
To begin with, let’s first understand the range. The price range is from $310 to $4000, and the actual price depends on your choice of system. Remember, when you refer to a home theater, it means that you are only referring to the sound system and speakers and not the television or display unit. If you have the buying power to purchase a top-end model, then the budget will not be a problem for you. You will then have to check out the most suitable product, in terms of functionality, features, appeal, suitability, formats, actual use and the dimensions of the room.
However, if you are on a budget to have everything in place, you will need to work it out accordingly.
Now, this brings us to the question of how much you need to spend on a system?
The best way to answer this is to look at your specific needs.
- Are you looking for a top of the line premium system?
- Do you want a budget home theater system model?
- Are you in the search for a home theater mainly to play games?
- Is quality on your mind?
- Or is it convenience and esthetics?
Answer these questions to bring your choice down to a few models. The available models and types will give you a fair idea of how much you need to spend on a home theater sound system.
Here are a few tips to help you when you work out the budget for the home theater.
Rein in your desire to over-accessorize
Many buyers tend to over-accessorize. As a result of this, the budget shoots up uncontrollably. If you are opting for a home theater in a box, you will not have to spend on other requirements, such as cables. However, if you are choosing a customized option, bear in mind that the costs are bound to shoot if you have not planned out everything beforehand. The reason why a customized option may overshoot the budget is that you will be attracted by the specs of components. And it is not just the difference in the price of a single component.
By choosing an advanced component, you will then end up choosing components that match this one. As a result, your budget is likely to overshoot. However, if you have a firm plan in place and have worked out the budgets for each component in addition to the overall expenses, you will be in a better position to control the costs.
Understand the return policies and warranty cover
The return policies of products purchased online and in–stores are different from product to product. Ensure that you are clear about the policies. If you are unaware and proceed with a purchase on assumptions, be ready to face nasty surprises. The warranty cover of a product has fine text that needs to be understood. Blindly purchasing without checking out the terms of the warranty is not the most prudent manner of purchase.
If you opt for a component or model that does not offer a return policy/warranty, you will be holding onto an investment that has not offered you value for money. You will end up spending a lot towards shipping for service, and expensive replacement of components.
Be ready to spend anywhere between 500 dollars to 4000 dollars if you need a good home theater. Regardless of the model that you choose, ensure that you are picking one that meets your specific requirements. Choose one that is covered by warranties and has a reasonable return policy for online shoppers.
Brand value is not just another fancy term used by marketing professionals. Every Home Theater Brand has its level of value, and you know it as much as we do.
You may easily recall a home theater brand, but the question that needs to be answered is this – how do you relate to the brand? How will the home theater brand make a difference to your home? Will it fulfill a specific need, or will it offer an innovative function/feature that makes the experience unique?
For instance, a unique RF Remote will give the power to use it outside of the line of sight. A particular format may be unique to a brand. Likewise, a brand may be famous for sturdy designs, while some may be popular for extended warranty. These are different values that you need to look for in a brand.
In a world where most home theater systems appear similar, with the same tech specs, it may be difficult to spot a winner. With all-pervasive advertising, marketers manage to get their brands right on the top of mind recall position.
But does that meet your actual requirement?
It may or may not. The best option is to choose a home theater brand that will add value to your purchase. Here are simple tips that you can use to identify the most suitable brand.
- A home theater brand that has earned a reputation as a specialist in sound reproduction is a good choice
- A manufacturer of home theater or commercial theater systems for a long time with innovative products is the right choice
- A company that commands consistent and positive reviews for its home theater products line can be considered to be a specialist
- A home theater brand that fixed issues by recalling products is good
- A company that has sold the maximum numbers of home theaters consistently over a period is an indication of the best selling product.
- A model that has disrupted the domain with advanced technology and pathbreaking features – for instance, RF Remote, Immersive Sound, and automatic Volume Control – is a good choice.
- A manufacturer who offers the maximum warranty period is one who is confident of the performance.
Performance and Functionality
A home theater is intended to give you an immersive experience. To get that it is necessary to have a system that offers enveloping sound coming in from multiple directions. With a 5.1 system, you receive sound from five directions with a subwoofer for additional bass and sound effects. Similarly, 7.1 and 9.2 offer additional multi-directional sounds. For enhanced sound effects, you need to ideally look at the raging trend – 3D sound. This object-based audio brings in an additional dimension to the sound reproduction with an overhead sound element that promises a truly immersive experience.
The performance of your home theater depends on multiple factors. Let’s take a look at the more important aspects that matter.
The best speaker is one that reproduces the original sound as perfectly as is possible. A speaker needs to produce maximum frequency response that will give it the ability to reproduce all sounds that we humans can hear. A top-notch speaker is one that has the best frequency response range.
Materials used in the manufacture
A variety of materials are typically used to create sound waves, and these include – paper, aluminum, glass fiber polymer, polypropylene, etc. Sound is created by speaker cones by pushing air.
Depending on the type of materials used, some cones may flex instead of the typical in-out movement. Cones that flex cause distortion in sound reproduction. Manufacturers overcome this by using the right kind of materials combination to keep flex low.
Similarly, there are advanced materials used in many components that leverage the inherent qualities of the materials to offer superior performance.
Enclosure for drivers
The enclosure that houses the drivers has an impact on sound reproduction. For those who may be aware, drivers are those round elements in the box, which are often confused and called the speakers, when in fact, they are not. An enclosure that is too wide, will result in noise reverberating inside, creating a distorted effect.
An enclosure that houses multiple drivers needs the right crossovers to understand the frequency produced by the specific driver. To break this down a little more, treble sounds are channeled to a tweeter, while bass goes to the woofer – treble is high frequency and bass is low frequency.
Drivers have different frequency ranges, which means that some frequencies are produced right, while others aren’t produced equally well. Home theaters that are high on performance are those that incorporate designs where the combination of drivers and crossover helps direct the drivers to produce frequencies that are best suited to the driver.
Though this may appear to be on the technical side, you can easily understand the whole system and use your knowledge to identify the most suitable combination of drivers and crossovers.
5.1 VS 7.1 VS 9.2 Systems
The first spec that you are likely to come across when you opt for the purchase of a home theater is the surround sound formats. You may find it difficult to understand the differences between 5.1 and 7.1 and 9.2. This may come in the way of making the right choice. Before we delve into the various systems and specifications, it is time to understand what the numbers mean.
- 5.1 System means that the home theater has 5 standard speakers.
- 7.1 System means that the home theater has 7 standard speakers.
- 9.2 System means that the home theater has 9 standard speakers.
Point one, and point two in the three systems indicate the number of low-frequency effects channel – in other words, the number of subwoofers in the system. This effectively means that the 5.1 system has one subwoofer, the 7.1 also has one, while the 9.2 has two.
Here is a look at the comparison between the three formats.
|Channels||6 (5 standard + 1 subwoofer)||8 (7 standard + 1 subwoofer)||11 (9 standard + 2 subwoofers)|
|Sound Quality||Standard surround sound||Greater depth and precision||Ultimate 3D surround sound|
|Suitable for||Small to medium rooms||Large rooms||Large rooms only|
|Formats||Dolby Digital, DTS||Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio||Dolby Atmos|
|Supported by||DVDs, video games,||PlayStation, Xbox One and Blu-ray players||PlayStation, Xbox One and Blu-ray players|
Here are the numbers explained. The 5.1 system has three speakers up front, with two behind you. A 7.1 system has three speakers up front, two behind and two on either side. A 9.2 system has three speakers up front, two on either side, two behind and two just ahead of the speakers on either side. This is the primary difference between the three systems in terms of speakers and positions. The output quality certain differs with advanced systems.
However, for the best results, the 9.2 system needs adequate space. A small room will not quite justify the use of an advanced home theater as the effects will be lost with all the speakers working. Therefore the first aspect needs to be the size of the room where you intend to place the home system. The second needs to be the purpose of using the home theater.
For instance, if you intend to use the home theater with Blu Ray Discs or Playstations/Xbox, then you need 7.1 or higher. If you want to keep costs as low as possible, you can opt for the 5.1 system – bear in mind that this will work only if you are planning to use it with DVDs and regular games.
Top-Rated Home Theater System
Best Overall Home Theater System – Elac Debut 5.1
This Elac Debut 5.1 is an exceptional alternative for dual-channel equipment and can be the core of a multi-channel setting. 3-way bass-reflex design combined with a subwoofer to complete a complete system that produces explosive high-quality sound.
- Three-way, bass-reflex Speakers
- 1 in fabric dome for Tweeter
- A pair of 5.25 in fiber cone for Woofer
- 5.25 in fiber cone for Midrange
- 42 to 20,000 Hz of frequency response
- 100 / 3,000 Hz of crossover frequency
- Brushed black vinyl cabinet
- Detachable cloth grille is included
- Dimensions: 38.0 in (H) x 7.9 in (W) x 8.7 in (D)
- Weight: 32.9 pound / 14.9 kg (for each)
In the box
- Floorstanding Speakers: 2 x Debut F5
- Bookshelf Speakers: 2 x Debut B4
- Center Speaker: 1 x Debut C5
- Subwoofer: 1 x Debut S10
- Audio-Video Receiver: 1 x Denon AVR-X2300W 7.2 Channel
- Bluetooth speakers
- Audio Return Channel
- Apple AirPlay support
- Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Audyssey Dynamic Volume, Audyssey MultEQ XT
|Offers a full-range surround system||May not be the best option for a 7.1 or 9.2 System|
|The 3-way, bass-reflex design produces ultra-high-quality sound||Suitable for small to mid-sized rooms|
|Full value for money|
With a frequency range between 35 Hz and 30kHz, the Elac Debut Home Theater System is certainly a good choice, especially considering the dynamic range of sound. The bass bites hard, and you will certainly feel the music in your nerves. The sound quality is realistic and you will find that this meets most needs easily. The icing on the cake is the Alexa functionality and improved video standards. For the price at which it is offered, it is certainly value for money, considering the features and functionality packed in the system.
Best High-End Home Theater System – Bose Lifestyle 650
Bose Lifestyle 650 home theater system is probably one of the most popular. The advanced technologies ensure that the sound quality is true as realistic, offering viewers sound from all around, with deep and clean bass.
- 5.1 system, supports Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, and Multichannel PCM
- Video source compatibility- Support for six 4K/60 video sources (HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2)
- ADAPTiQ audio room calibration technology
- The slender center channel creates a true 360 degrees sound
- Quiet Port technology and DSP for reducing distortion
- Works with Alexa for voice control
- Console:15.98 Width x 2.56 Height x 10.16 Depth inches (8.8 pounds)
- Omnijewel center speaker 21.34 Width x 1.9 Height x 1.84 Depth inches
- Omnijewel speakers 1.84 Width x 5.77 Height x 1.84 Depth inches
- Wireless receivers for rear speakers:6.54 Width x 1.6 Height x 3.07 Depth inches
- Acoustimass wireless bass module:11.61 Width x 12.8 Height x 11.61 Depth inches
- Premium glass and brushed anodized aluminum
|360 degree sound||The subwoofer needs to be unplugged and plugged back|
|SoundTouch works with home Wi-Fi network to stream music services||Customer service is now routed to a different nation, with unsatisfactory service|
|Wireless Acoustimass 300 module offers immersive sound|
|Works with Alexa|
|Proprietary Unify technology offers intuitive onscreen menus|
|Universal remote control for simple everyday operation|
Bose sound systems are legendary and this model adds to the stable of topline products. However, like everything else at Bose, this is priced slightly beyond the reach of most average buyers of home theaters. But, for those who can afford it, this is certainly one of those few models that add a touch of elegance to the décor, while delivering incredible distortion-free sound. Bose systems are renowned for cutting down on noise, and this system lives up to the Bose reputation easily.
Best for budget buyers – SVS Prime 5.1 Home Theater System
SVS Prime 5.1 compact home theater system with powerful satellite speakers and an incredibly pulsating subwoofer. Enjoy surround sound and the experience of immersive audio in your homes.
- 5 SVS Prime Satellite speakers – 1″ aluminum dome tweeter with FEA–optimized diffuser
- 5″ woofer for exceptional bass response
- The aluminum shorting ring reduces distortion
- Vented voice coil former with unique ABS–fiberglass composite basket
- Proprietary SoundMatch 2–way crossover on Prime Satellite speakers
- Compact 13-inch cabinet
- SVS SB-1000 subwoofer – 12-inch front-firing driver and 300 watts RMS
- 700+ watts peak power amplifier
|The best 5.1 home theater surround sound system available under 1,000||The speakers do not match the superior performance of the subwoofer|
|Compact and versatile speaker delivering world-class sound and audiophile precision||More suitable for a small or mid-size room|
|Complete multi-channel experience for movies and music|
With a frequency range between 20 Hz and 25kHz, this system offers superb clarity and is the ideal 5.1 channel system. If you can get over the fact that the SVS Prime does not look very dapper, you will find that the performance makes up for the looks.
The subwoofer is something that this model can hold up for others to see, belting out superior performance and giving you an overall interesting experience. This works best in smaller spaces, though this does not mean that it is unsuitable for large spaces. It is a relative quality.
Best Wireless Home Theater System – Onkyo HT-S5800 5.1.2
The Dolby Atmos format brings sound from all directions. The channel-based audio bed in the Onkyo HT-S5800 combines with object-oriented sound to create specific effects around the room, for an electrifying experience.
- High Current Power Supply Transformer and Wide Range Amplifier Technology provide 115 Watt per Channel
- Equipped with 4K/60 Hz-Capable HDMI Terminals for UHD
- Double Bass Function
- Easy Connection – 5.1.2-Channel System with Simple Rear Panel Diagrams
- Top-Shelf Speakers and Powerful Subwoofer
- Dolby Atmos is supported up to 5.1.2 Channels
- AccuEQ Room Acoustic Calibration
- Two-way bass reflex front speakers with 5-inch mid-range drivers
- Balanced-dome tweeters for accurate sound
- Advanced Music Optimizer helps improve Compressed Digital Audio Quality when streaming through Bluetooth
- Double 3 1/4 inch precision drivers in center speaker with balanced-dome tweeter
- 10-inch cone for superb bass impact
- 4K Ultra HD ready
- HDMI and HDCP 2.2 compatible
|HDMI Video Up-Conversion||Subwoofer life is relatively less|
|Single wire for video input||HDMI to projector connection needs improvement|
|AccuEQ conducts 2 measurements- one to set the level, distance, and crossover for ALL speakers|
This home theater in a box with a frequency range of 28Hz to 20kHz is a great buy for those who look for exceptional sound quality. The matching of the speakers and receivers are a testimony of the superior engineering design and manufacturing.
The quality of the sound is nice and strong and is full value for money. Priced lower than comparative models, the cost makes the Onkyo HT-S5800, a better choice over models with similar specs.
Best for Gaming – Logitech Z906 5.1
THX-certified speaker system converts rooms into home theaters with amazing quality in 5.1 system. The Logitech Z906 5.1 HTS Offers the ultimate cinematic experience with theater-like acoustic effects with Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks.
- 1 digital surround sound
- Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks
- Wall Mountable Satellites: 4 x 67 W
- Subwoofer: 165 Watts
- Continuous 500 watts of power, with a peak of 1,000 watts
- Connects up to six devices—computer, music player, TV, game consoles, and other media players
- Compact control console and wireless Infra-Red remote
- Compatible with devices with headphone jack (3.5mm), RCA, six-channel direct, digital coaxial input or optical inputs
|Z906 speakers convert two-channel into surround sound||Not returnable|
|Compact stackable design||Durability needs improvement|
|Connects up to six devices|
While it is possible to use a regular home theater system to work with gaming PCs, it is always a better option to choose a system that is more suited for gaming purposes. Special 5.1 home theater speaker systems that are designed with the gamer in mind, come with special advantages that add to the gaming experience.
This model is compact and allows you to get as close as possible to the gaming PC. The location of the sound is of great importance to a gamer and this system does this job admirably.
Best Dolby Atmos Home Theater System – Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-280F 7.2.2
This 11.2-channel AVENTAGE network AV receiver with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X offers exceptional surround sound realism. Klipsch Reference Premiere RP-280F‘s High-resolution audio playback offers access to streaming music services via built-in Wi-Fi.
- Yamaha RX-A3060BL 11.2-Channel Audio-Video Receiver
- 2 x Klipsch R-115SW 15-Inch Subwoofers
- Dolby Atmos Speakers: 2 x Klipsch RP-140SA
- Floorstanding Loudspeakers: 2 x Klipsch RP-280F
- Surround Speakers: 4 x Klipsch RP-250S
- Center Channel Speaker: 1 x Klipsch RP-450C
- 4K UHD and high dynamic range (HDR)
- The device supports MusicCast to deliver wireless multi-room audio playback
- Large Reference Premiere RP-280F floor-standing speaker
- Redesigned Tactrix Horn improves high-frequency response
|Audio playback and access to online music||A remote could have made a big difference|
|Control from a simple app||More suitable for mid to large size rooms|
|Compressed molded rubber construction reduces harshness and improves detail|
Klipsch RP-280F model achieves sound reproduction with the least possible distortion. This is because the amplifier does not get burdened. The range handles all the instruments, the horn tweeter greatly increases the efficiency and also works as an acoustic amplifier. This effectively means that the model consumes less electricity.
Further, the designs have received a classic makeover and are a lot different from the predecessor models. The dynamism has increased and so has the resolution, combining to offer superior experience. The bass module is cleaner by the design that eliminates turbulence during the movement of air.
Smartest Home Theater System – Sonos 5.1 Home Theater Surround Set
The 2 Room Starter Set is the ideal way to experience the magic of music. The Sonos 5.1 wireless Home Sound System fills multiple rooms as desired offering realistic sound reproduction.
- Compact soundbar for TV with Amazon Alexa voice control
- AirPlay 2 compatible with iOS devices.
- Intense bass with two force-canceling speakers for deep sound
- Automatically pairs with TV and remote
- Ability to add Sonos speakers throughout the home
|Wirelessly stream iTunes and Amazon Cloud Player library||Leans toward the expensive side|
|Fits anywhere in the home|
|Set up and expand to every room|
|Control from Android device, iPhone or iPad through Sonos CONTROL app|
This is essentially an advanced audio solution for your home. The use of an app makes this product the most suited for the digital ecosystem, allowing you to fully control the sound system from your mobile. You get to transform your mobile into a remote. The ability to play music from streaming services and connect to the WiFi makes the solution uber convenient.
By integrating with Alexa, you get convenient control over the sound system. The intelligent Sonos Home Theater system also has a solution for viewers who wish to watch a movie without disturbing others. The system detects and automatically adjusts the volume, to help you listen to whispers and thunder alike, without waking up the others in the home.
Best of the rest – Paradigm Cinema 100
Paradigm Cinema 100 home theater system meets all requirements – budget, style, and space. The award-winning Cinema speakers are now available for home use for enjoying seamless music.
- Wire Mesh Tweeter Guard
- Fluent response through Dual Ported Design
- Bass/Midrange Cones: Superior S-PALTM
- Driver: Superior 8 inch High-Excursion
- Output: 300 W Dynamic / 100 W RMS
|Recreates the cinematic effect||The quality of the mounts need improvement|
|Ultimate deep bass|
With an impressive frequency range of 32Hz to 20kHz, this model works in tandem with receivers to offer a truly enriching experience. The materials used in the products, for instance, are in a class of its own, which works with the crossovers to create the biggest impact on the output quality.
Moreover, the whole combination of components that make up the home theater is seriously a good choice. Despite the higher costs, you will find that this works beautifully giving you full value for your money.
The Pioneer HTP-074 immersive 5.1-channel home theater system offers superior quality sound with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio surround soundtracks, bring home the world of true high-definition entertainment from Blu-ray Discs.
- Ultra HD pass-through with HDCP 2.2 (4K/60p/4:4:4)
- HDR support
- 3D ready (Blu-ray Disc, broadcast, and games)
- Dolby TrueHD/Dolby Digital Plus/Dolby Pro Logic II
- 1 Channel AV Receiver with Bluetooth
- AV Receiver: 100 Watt per channel (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 0.7 percent, 1 channel Driven)
- 5 compact (150 W) speakers and a subwoofer (100 W)
- HTP-074 5.1-Channel Home Theater Package
- 4 HDMI inputs and Ultra HD (4K/60p/4:4:4)
- Supports audio streaming from compatible devices
- Next-Generation Video Standard Ready
|Lossless codecs identical to the studio master||With Xbox one S HDR does not pass through the receiver|
|Plug and play connectivity for WMA/AAC/MP3 music files|
|Advanced Sound Retriever restores the output of compressed audio|
This home theater in a box is certainly one of those models that you’ve probably dreamt of – the superior sound of the 5.1 channel and the 100W of power are bound to be a thrill for audiophiles. The advanced features of the system such as the 3K Ultra HD pass-through and the support for the best standards make this an altogether enriching experience. The wattage in each channel reproduces clear audio, while the resolution moves to the next level.
One of the standout features of this model is the energy-saving mode that makes it one of the most frugal models when it comes to the consumption of power. The designs of the speaker are compact, yet pack in a powerful punch for the apparently smaller size. Similarly, the subwoofer can knock the socks out of you with superior sound effects.
Yamaha YHT-4930UBL 5.1-Channel Home Theater in a Box System with Bluetooth
Yamaha YHT-5930 UBL 5.1 Channel powerful audio system automatically calibrates the listening environment for optimal sound performance. Compressed Music Enhancer is optimized for Bluetooth audio transmissions for reproducing music that is vivid and lively with superior sound quality.
- Compressed Music Enhancer helps wirelessly stream audio through Bluetooth
- 4K UHD with HDCP 2.2.
- Glossy Black speaker
- Subwoofer power: 100 watts
- Subwoofer size: 6-1/2”
- Rated Output Power: 100 W (8 ohms, 0.9 % THD)
- Virtual Cinema Front
- Automatic speaker setup through YPAO sound optimization
- Smaller speakers comprise of extra Bass setting
- DSP Programs:17
- Hybrid Log-Gamma, and BT.2020
- Virtual Cinema Front
|Surround sound even without a rear speaker||The power unit could do with improvements|
|Extra bass from smaller speakers through enhancement technology|
|Wall mounted convenience|
This model is perfectly suited for viewers with lesser space. The 5.1 channel is compact and offers true value for a relatively reasonable price. The sound quality is good enough and will certainly meet all the requirements of users who need a home theater in a small room.
In addition to this, the quality of sound reproduction is crisp, and the support of popular formats makes listening to a real pleasure. As one of the lesser-priced models, it springs a surprise with superb performance. Though it may not compare with the top-end models, it supports Bluetooth devices, in addition to the HDMI inputs. It is a much better performer than the standard home theater systems with Blu Ray receivers.
How Much Does a Home Theater System Cost?
The price range is one of the most extensive. You can get a good branded 5.1`Home Theater for $310, and in case you are willing to shell out enough for a top of the line model that offers thunderous bass effects and crystal clear clarity for an immersive experience, then you can have the best one for a little less than $4000.
The price difference brings on a world of difference to the quality and the sound effects. It takes the sound effects to a new level, and importantly, you get to control the system with an RF remote. This means that the remote works through walls. Sitting in your bedroom you can turn up the volume or use any of the functions on the remote to control the system in the living room, separated by walls in between. Well, money does certainly get you quite a lot.
What you must look in cost-wise?
Buyers looking for a budget model can get real value for money. For three hundred dollars, a buyer can get a system that works perfectly well for a mid-size room. The effects from any of the reviewed 5.1 systems are adequate to meet needs and are the best choice for rooms that are not very large. Individuals who prefer to go in for a 5.1 model for gaming purposes will find that the reviewed model is the most ideal.
Importantly, the relatively lower cost is because of the need-based features in the product. Gaming consoles and accessories are more of niche products and the features, functionalities are targeted specifically at the gaming community. The sound reproduction and the effects are immersive and perfectly suited for a gaming session.
The price range of the ten reviewed models is staggered and meets the requirements of every potential buyer. Products are available for $310, $500, $1000 and slowly go all the way right up to $4000. You will find one that suits your budget easily. The priority is to first identify your requirement and then choose a model based on the requirements.
The pricing needs to be considered after matching the requirements. If the price band needs to change, you can then look at the next price band, which is more likely to have functions and features that are similar or overlap the next one. The only possible exception is the home theater system that is perfectly matched for gaming requirements.
It is possible to save a considerable sum of money when you go about purchasing your home theater. You can do this without compromising on your requirement or the quality of the experience.
It sounds a bit difficult, right?
Well, it is true. Here are three ways to cut costs without any tradeoffs.
- Do not buy everything in one slot – While this may appear at first glance to be a hard choice, you can get the most out of this. Recycle your existing speakers or soundbars, to go with the new system, and slowly add on components. Understand more about the compatibility of various components and the condition of your existing components. This will help you to understand if the old one will work perfectly and in tandem with the new products.
- Add components gradually and acquire superior quality equipment– When you add components or upgrade, take care to ensure that you do it slowly. The whole idea is to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck. Invest only in components that are of superior quality. Never compromise on the quality of components because of your desire to cut costs.
- Make your purchases online – Online purchases bring you a world of advantages. From the choice of all the products to amazing discounts, you can get more for less. It is common knowledge by now that the business models of online stores facilitate operations at lower overheads. This benefit is passed onto buyers (yes, you) in part. This effectively means that you get products delivered to your doorstep at considerably lower costs.
Choose the right model, the right marketplace, and make your purchase. Since home theaters are upwards of about 300 dollars, you can expect a considerable difference.
DOLBY, DTS:X, and AURO-3D: Surround Formats Explained
The first thought that comes to mind when we think of a home theater is the surround sound format. In fact, the very reason for most buyers opting for a home theater is to enjoy the surround sound speaker systems’ format. The enveloping nature of the sound effects, add to the visual effects, offering a truly immersive experience.
For many years, stores in the business of selling home theaters played short clips of movies like Behind Enemy Lines to showcase the electrifying effect of the system. The scenes that stores played were the action in the rail yard, where the lines trip one by one, building up action. The sound wrapped around prospects and the hidden speakers worked together to create a spectacular effect. The magic of surround sound truly captured the minds of buyers. Well, here’s a peek into the three popular formats – Dolby, DTS:X and Auro-3D.
DOLBY – This is one system that users of all generations are likely to be aware of, due to its once virtual monopoly in commercial cinema. While this has been interchangeably referred to as a surround sound system for 5.1, it is effectively digital encoding of the signal. In other words, Dolby can be the encoding of 2.1 or 5.1. Due to the popularity of 5.1 at one stage and the association of Dolby digital decoding, it went on to be known as Dolby Digital.
DTS:X – This system has certain similarities to the Dolby Atmos system. It does not require a specific speaker layout, quite similar to the Dolby Atmos system. The DTS:X Signals undergo audio decoding to any of the channel types – 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, etc. The advanced system places sound objects in virtual 3-D space. This is markedly different from the typical assigning of sound to particular channels and speakers.
Auro-3D – This is a consumer version of the format used in commercial cinema theaters. This audio format is available only in a limited number of high-end home theater receivers, and AV preamp processors. You need a total of 10 speakers, excluding subwoofers to enjoy full immersive 3D Audio. In other words, this involves speakers installed at two levels in the typical 5.1 channel layout. Here, one of the speakers is installed on the ceiling, typically above the area where you are likely to be seated.
Building a Home Theater From Individual Components
When you decide to put together a home theater system from individual components, you need to factor in various aspects. How many speakers are required, the most suitable channel type, the size of the speakers, soundbars, the subwoofers, the theater receivers, the preamp, and the amp.
Quite a load isn’t it?
However, you can achieve this if you get a firm grasp of the components that need to be a part of the system. You could do this by first acquiring all the knowledge and tips that are necessary to do it like a pro. Let’s take a peek into the activity.
Number of speakers
With most home theater systems belonging to the 5.1, 7.1 or 9.2 channels, it would be a good idea to opt for one of these. This essentially means that you need to look at putting together at least five speakers and a subwoofer – three ahead of you, two behind, and one subwoofer. Remember the center speaker needs to be below the display unit, as this is more or less the central unit, with the others playing out in tandem.
Size of speakers
It would be a good idea to go in for slightly larger speakers, especially considering that you are putting together components yourself. The ones that are ahead of you to the right and the left need to be large enough to pack the punch that is required for the immersive experience. Top end home theater systems come with Omni jewel and jewel cube speakers that are relatively smaller in size.
However, when you are building a home theater with components, we assume that you may be looking at different options rather than a high end fixed system. To sum up, it would be a good idea to choose slightly bigger speakers.
This is a compact option that clubs three speakers into one. In case you get the feeling that the effect would be compromised as the spacing differs, rest assured that your apprehensions are unfounded. Soundbars offer a similar experience and are a perfect option for buyers who need to factor in budget and room size constraints. You will be surprised at the punch a sound bar system can pack when it is paired right.
Without subwoofers, your music and sound effects will feel empty and lacking the excitement that keeps you on the seat. The subwoofers work in tandem with the system for the perfect sound combination. Since you are building a system, it would be the best option to mix and match, test and throw in an additional subwoofer to correct the drop in the bass that is expected in most rooms.
When you put together a Home Theater System, bear in mind to have all the components in place. You are going to keep the expenses low with the customized building. You might as well make the most out of it and get the best combination. One can also future proof the home theater by opting for components that will permit to upgrade to the next level by the inclusion of additional components at a later stage.
How to Assemble a Home Theater System?
Understand the components that need to be purchased. For instance, every home theatre includes speakers, one receiver, video input from a game console or DVD player, and a television. The best option would be to make use of components that are available with you and purchase only those components that are not available.
The first step that you need to undertake when setting up your home theater system is to identify the most suitable location. This is important as most individuals end up purchasing components that are unsuitable for the dimensions of the living room. After you have zeroed in on the components, you need to install the power strips. This has to be close to the chosen location for the television.
Depending on the primary use of the home audio system, you will have to go about installing the speakers. This will also determine the number of speakers that you will purchase. Further, if you have a small room, it would be a good idea to go in for a soundbar that combines different speakers into one compact unit. If the size of your room is big enough to accommodate a 5 channel or 7 channel speaker set, then you could choose either. It should also help to bear in mind the ambient noise level off the premises and the maximum sound that you feel is ideal.
Besides, you can customize the surround sound system by building it yourself. To put together a surround sound system in a room that has more than 700 square feet of space, and you will require two front-facing speakers, two side speakers, two rear speakers, one center speaker, and one subwoofer.
With these speaker components in place, you didn’t need to determine the exact location for the positioning of the television and the viewer. The viewer needs to occupy the center of the room, as all the front, rear, and side speakers need to work in tandem with the viewer right in the center. When your workout plan for this, bear in mind to consider the location of all the other furniture in the room.
Placement of the front speakers
The front speakers need to be positioned at ear height, facing the center of the room. The speaker which is marked as the center speaker needs to be positioned below the television. While some people are known to install this above the television, it would be a better option to keep it below. The speakers that you place on either side of you needs to be at a level that is slightly above the level of the viewer. It would be a good idea to place the speakers in line with the sitting position of the viewers but at a level higher than the viewers.
Placement of the rear speakers and subwoofer
The rear speakers need to be placed adjacent to each other on the wall behind the viewer. The subwoofer can be placed on the side of the television. If you opt for more number of speakers, the ideal position should be slightly ahead of the side facing speakers.
Accessories you Might Need and That Comes in Box
There are certain accessories in the home theater system that you will definitely need and most of which are bound to come in the box. Here is a look at the accessories that will help to get the complete viewing experience. Most of the reviewed brands feature important and necessary accessories. If you need accessories that are not available in the box then this will help you identify what you may require additional.
Depending on the type of the system that you opt for, wired or wireless, you will have to go in for in-wall or box speakers. Apart from the speakers, you will require a speaker volume control mechanism that will give you the power to control the volume throughout the sound system. This is necessary considering the fact that certain types of digital media output may be louder than others. With volume control, you will be able to keep the sound under control.
The next set of accessories that you will require is a good pair of headphones. If the home theater system is used for playing games, it is highly likely that the gaming enthusiast will prefer headphones to play the games without disturbing others in the home.
Video Scaler and Processor
An important accessory that may sometimes not be a part of the home theatre box will be the video scaler and processor. This will bring you the visuals on screen from various video sources.
Another component that may not be a part of a typical home theatre system will be the video display unit. In most cases, this may be a high-definition television, while others may opt for a video projection system.
Universal Remote Control
A universal remote control is certainly an important accessory, considering the number of components that comprise the home theatre. This will help you to have control over all of the equipment without having to handle multiple remote controls. It would be a good idea to opt for an RF remote control unit which will give you better control from beyond walls.
Power Management System
In addition to the above, an important and recommended accessory includes a power management system that will help to protect all the equipment from power surges.
It will also help to have a superior quality cleaning kit that will help you to clean and keep the equipment in good condition.
Here is a look at three accessories that are of great importance in a home theater unit. Depending on the type of installation that you intend to carry out, it may sometimes be impossible to complete it without the following accessories.
Foam Wedges- Foamily 12 Pack- Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges
These are a pack of 12″ x 12″ x 1″ wall tiles. The twelve tiles are good enough for home units, studios, recording studios, vocal booths and are also used in control rooms. The tiles can be held in place by Spray Glue. The tiles are Fire retardant ASTM E84 Class A and are of superior quality High NRC. All that is required in terms of care is the occasional vacuuming to keep the dust away.
The wedges of 1-inch thickness offer reasonable sound control on walls and ceilings. The foam is intended to significantly reduce noise in scenarios where moderate deadening is necessary. The ideal frequency ranges are mid-to-high, and the design of the foam tiles are permitted each to be affixed to the adjacent one easily.
The tiles can be used anywhere to block sound and dispense with echoes in a room, for instance, walls, ceilings, doors, and windows. It handles reflections pretty well, though it will not correct standing bass, which requires bass traps.
The best option to affix the foam wedges is to use Command Strips, which work perfectly. attach 2 strips to the upper corners, and press into the foam firmly for around 10 seconds, which will create permanent bonding.
Stand – Atlantic 77335799 Speaker Stands for Bookshelf Speakers
This set of 2 bookshelf speaker stands comes with a 45-degree adjustable mount that helps you to position the speakers easily. The pedestal of the speaker stand is hollow, and offers rear access for wire management, helping to give your home theater unit a clean and neatly organized appearance.
The stand is made from steel, permitting you to place speakers that are up to 20lbs in weight. Despite the robust construction, the Speaker Stands can be assembled in a matter of a short time. The non-marring feet are innovative and the dimensions of the speaker stands are 10″ x 10″ x 30″.
The Bookshelf Speaker set in black comes with 4 adhesive strips and 4 spike studs. This gives two different options for the surface of the stand. The dimension of the speaker plate is around 6” x 6” and is designed to support large bookshelf speakers. This is an important accessory and helps you to keep the speakers firmly in position without creating a messy look. The hollowed stand and the easy access to the wire help you to quickly rearrange the position for the perfect combination of surround sound system for your home theater unit.
Smart Remote Control – Logitech Harmony Elite Remote Control, Hub and App
This is a robust and inherent remote that supports voice control through Alexa. You can control up to 15 home entertainment devices (including your home theater system).
Control through swipe and tap. The one-touch controls option permits you to automatically turn on devices and get them to the right settings. This is fully supportive of Amazon’s Alexa for voice activation.
Additionally, it comes with a Harmony app. The app transforms your mobile devices (Android and iOS) into universal remote controls. The closed cabinet features enable you to control devices even when you are away from your home. It comes with a handy charging station. This is a powerful, intuitive way to help you control you’re how you enjoy your entertainment.
Furthermore, you can use it to control the music from anywhere in the home, or adjust the lights in your residence from anywhere in the city, or control the blinds as per requirement. You can integrate your lighting, your locking devices, the thermostat and many other connected home devices to work in tandem, through a single-touch operation.
Picking the best Home Theater System
We are living in an experiential era and the technology has taken experiences to an altogether new level. Time pinched individuals find it a lot more convenient to watch a movie at home with family or catch a game with friends in the comfort of home for those very special moments. It is therefore important to have the best option in place.
If you have to work within a budget, you can still get the best product. It is only a question of opting for a staggered purchase.
However, it is important to never settle for substandard components in the pursuit of a bargain. The best brands in the market and the models reviewed here have been around for a long time, and the relatively new entrants have made a huge splash in the world of home theater systems. The featured models are among the best in the market and you can easily make your choice as per your specific needs.
Here’s a little recap of how you could go about getting the best value for your investment. Get one as per the size of your room, and to meet your requirements. If you’re looking for a reason to buy, there are plenty. Your home theater unit may not necessarily be used for a single type of leisure activity. For instance, a member of your family may be an avid gamer and may need the home theater system to play games. Other members of the family may need it for immersing in music or watching movies.
Your choice of the right home theater should then be the higher version among the two, and it needs to cater to both requirements. Understand the specific features and specifications of models that are more suited for a particular activity and work around your budget to identify the most suitable model. One model may not suit all, but yes, there certainly are models for every activity. Choose wisely, sit back, and let the music play.
Which brand is best for the home theater system?
There is no particular brand we can suggest. However, you should only go with brands that have years of experience such as Bose, Elac, Yamaha, Onkyo, Sonos, Pioneer, Enclave, Sony, Logitech, SVS, Klipsch, Paradigm, Denon. They may be a bit expensive, but their brand reputation, customer service, and reviews make them unbeatable.
Which is the best 5.1 home theater system?
Every system has some pros and cons. Read our review above to learn which system suits you the best.
Which is the best wireless home theater system?
If you prefer a wireless system over a wired system, there are tons of systems that will be available for you to choose from. We have reviewed some, but there are more systems that can be considered.