Like vehicles, there are home theater systems for every budget. At one end, you can find home stereo systems and soundbars for a few hundred bucks that look great and provide very clear sound. At the other, there are multi-speaker home theater systems that go for thousands of bucks and make you feel like you’re actually in the cinema.
A soundbar is a long, thin bar containing several loudspeaker drivers that produces a stereo effect and surround sound. Soundbars are small, easy to re-position, and easy to set up. Some soundbars come with a wireless subwoofer (a loudspeaker designed to reproduce low-pitched audio frequencies known as bass and sub-bass) for extra effect.
The bigger out-of-the-box home stereo systems typically come in two forms. A 5.1 surround sound system comprises front left, front right, front center, surround right, and surround left speakers and a subwoofer. A 7.1 surround system is the same as a 5.1 but with an additional set of rear surround speakers.
Today, many of the best home theater speakers come with built-in Dolby Atmos, cinema-grade surround sound technology developed by Dolby Laboratories. This is the best surround sound system technology on the market and is a must if you regularly invite people over to watch films.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive sound system that packs a punch, then you can’t look past the VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar. For a fraction of the cost of a big sound system, the SmartCast offers a system with DTS digital surround sound and accompanying wireless subwoofer.
The best thing about the SmartCast is how easy it is to set up. Because this is a soundbar, you don’t need to do much. Just take the HDMI cable out of the box, plug it into the soundbar’s HDMI port at one end and your TV’s HDMI port at the other, and you’re good to go. It also has built-in Chromecast, enabling you to stream your favorite music from your phone to your soundbar.
This product from Yamaha is quite simply the best multi-speaker home stereo system in its price range. It comes with powerful 5.1.-channel surround sound, an AV receiver with full 4K ultra HD HDMI support, as well as support for HDR video including Dolby Vision.
This home theater system comes with one center channel, two front channels and two surround speakers, plus a subwoofer. It is easy to set up, thanks to Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO), which analyzes the room acoustics and adjusts your audio to provide the best possible sound.
For shoppers looking to buy a comprehensive home theater without breaking the bank, you can’t look past the Onkyo HT-S7800. Not only does it support 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos, but its front left and right speakers also include special drivers that literally bounce sound off your ceiling.
This system is large, consisting of 5 speakers (left, center, right, left surround, right surround) and a 10-inch subwoofer. It also has a 7.2-channel A/V receiver that gives extra oomph to the overall surround. For people who like using their sound system for music, it has built-in Chromecast, AirPlay and Wi-Fi capability.
There are all sorts of price points in the home theater market and the Sonos Arc 5.1 Surround Set fits neatly at the higher end of the mid-range systems. This completely wireless system lets you connect over Wi-Fi from your remote control, app, or voice (with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant). It comes equipped with Dolby Atmos 3D sound and upward-firing drivers that bounce sound off the ceiling.
Sonos equips its home systems with a range of proprietary technologies, including: Phased Array, which creates five channels that deliver sound to your ears from all directions at the right moment; and TruePlay, tuning technology which optimizes the sound for the unique acoustics of the room where Arc is placed, calibrating the height channels for precise localization.
You’ll need a big house if you go with this home theater system, because it is huge! But if you have the space it’s worth it, because Klipsch’s series of Reference Premiere home theater systems will bring you as close as possible to a genuine cinema experience. Thanks to Klipsch’s proprietary Tractrix horn loading technology, the sound experience is as close to lifelike as a sound system can get.
Klipsch sells all its components separately, or you can buy them as one boxed system. Altogether, the system includes four floorstanding speakers, a separate Dolby Atmos speaker, a center channel speaker, and 15” bass-reflex subwoofer. Few systems cost more than this, but what price can you put on the best home theater speakers on the market?
Logitech is probably best known for making keyboards and mouses, but it also has a handy range of budget home theater systems. The best of the bunch is the Logitech Z906. Not only does it offer an immersive surround-sound experience straight out of the box, but it can also fit on your TV stand without blocking the view of the actual television.
This audio system comprises four satellite speakers, one center channel, and a subwoofer. It also comes with an awesome six-channel direct cable that lets you connect to up to six devices simultaneously. Just choose the audio input via the control console or wireless remote control and away you go.
Bose’s signature soundbar can be purchased separately or paired with other parts such as wireless sound speakers and wireless bass modules. We recommend pairing it with the surround speakers for a cinematic experience that won’t cost an arm and a leg – and won’t have you sorting through cables like similarly priced audio systems.
The Bose Soundbar 700 is a powerful soundbar with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and built-in Amazon Alexa. Even without the surround speakers, this product is built with specially designed drivers that deliver spacious sound. Also, Bose’s proprietary PhaseGuide and ADAPTiQ technology simulates surround sound by reflecting sound around the room and adjusting the sound based on your room’s size and shape.
When setting up an outdoor home theater system during the summer months, there’s no need to spend more than a few hundred dollars. For a dedicated outdoor system, look no farther than the Polk Atrium4 – a speaker set specially designed to withstand poor weather conditions. The Polk has a steeply angled baffle design that fills open spaces with full-range sound.
The small size of this system makes it ideal for moving around. Best of all, it has a one-click speed-lock mounting bracket that allows you to click the speakers into place vertically or horizontally for the best possible sound wherever you are.
This small speaker system from JBL is perfect for combining TV and gaming. Its 6.5” down-firing bass reflex 60W subwoofer brings deep bass, which is perfect for all those big explosions in your favorite video games. It also comes with voice-matched satellites, guaranteeing clear, consistent sound from all 5 speakers.
Setting this system up is simple, with easy connectivity to any audio/video received in minutes. Also, the system is compact and designed in a sleek black coating that makes it fit in anywhere – whether in your living room or a bedroom or gaming room. This makes it the best home stereo system for gamers.
There are a few candidates out there for the best-looking home theater system, but the Focal Sib Evo edges out the others. The sound system is great – as you would expect with Dolby Atmos compatibility, and upward firing drivers. It also has in-built technology that reflexes sound waves off the ceiling toward the listener using an extra speaker driver on top of the loudspeaker.
The best thing is the symmetry, with five virtually identical loudspeakers/satellites plus subwoofers. With its sleek black look and compact design, this system blends perfectly into any room.