Sure, we can always watch TV with some built-in stock speakers and easily enjoy what show or movie we’re watching. However, if you really want to magnify the quality of what’s in front of you for a relatively affordable price, installing a home theater system will do wonders for your experience. The best home theater speaker system depends on a few factors that will depend on what you have in mind when visiting this guide today. Due to its all-around quality, affordable price and more, the Onkyo HT-S3700 ended up becoming our top pick. However, there are many more popular home theater systems out there to check out, which is why we compare and contrast the top 10 for you today.
Picking the best home theater speaker system
- Overall budget – The amount of cash you have saved up for your home theater system will steer you in a particular direction. If you checked out the Onkyo, you’ll see that was a decent chunk of money; however, it’s within the lower-middle price tier so keep that in mind when comparing to others. We’ve seen some even reach a grand or more — you’ll be getting what you pay for.
- How many pieces? The best models typically come with 5 speakers and a subwoofer (hence the 5.1 term for surround-sound systems) for combined delivery of crisp sound, clear highs and strong bass. Did you have a surround-sound system in mind? Or perhaps a few bookshelf speakers to save some money and room? We have a lot of the best 5.1 speaker systems in here, but provide a few more popular models that aren’t traditional to give you some options to if you like them.
- Additional features – Aside from making sure these systems had clear quality as well as decent power (depends on the model), some other side features you may like include: Wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth), various ports (USB, HDMI), fancy builds (cabinets, wires, connections), remote controls, attached DVD or Blu-Ray players, and more. We list the highlights of each.
Crutchfield’s choosing a speaker system guide is also pretty helpful for some more info on the subject. You can also check out our best soundbars article for a different spin on TV audio to compare and contrast.
The top 10 best home theater speaker systems
As stated previously, we feel the HT-S3700 is one of the best home theater speaker systems out there when it comes to overall quality, build, stability and price-tag. Thanks to its powerful 5.1 channel surround sound, 6 HDMI inputs with 4k/60Hz ready and a number of additional features, you will be happy with what you get for your money. Each of the channels comes with a solid 110 W, which means powerful sound for watching movies and your favorite TV shows, listening to music and playing games. Six inputs give you the ability to connect all of your different consoles and media players to it if that’s your style. There’s also a USB port for mass storage and you can play some files while you’re at it (MP3, FLAC, WAV, etc.). The remote is also pretty convenient to have at your fingertips.
This one also comes with built-in Bluetooth and EDR capability for convenient wireless connection for direct streaming from your mobile devices to the home theater system, so if you were also concerned with some wireless capability, this is a solid model to grab. With the Onkyo HT-S3700, you are getting WRAT amplifiers that will ensure some very precise and powerful sound reproduction. The very capable yet stylish speakers with added 8 inch subwoofer fully completes the outstanding 5.1 system impression — we love this one if it’s within your budget.
Here’s another one of the best home theater system models in its class, and it is a highly rated model by Pioneer with two floor loudspeakers, two bookshelf loud speakers, one center channel speaker, and an 8 inch subwoofer for solid bass. The 5.1 channel surround system delivers some solid sound reproduction regardless of use, whether you are enjoying a movie, TV show or a game from a console. Its 6 element crossover feature delivers some very clear sound quality so that it seems like you’re in the middle of the action.
Along with all the functionalities comes their signature Andrew Jones speaker design (we had to Google him too, don’t worry). This is a special build that’s noted to be more ideal for sound clarity and power — the curved cabinet design and grills on the speakers as well as all-metal connectors for a secure grip on the wires give this home theater system personality along with the incredible sound quality from across the sources. Thanks to Bluetooth wireless connectivity with your mobile devices you’ll also be able to use this for music streaming and the like as well. The Pioneer SP-PK52FS will definitely rival our previous pick as the best home theater speaker system if you have a little extra cash at hand and wanted something a bit nicer in terms of overall power and build quality.
Un next, we have another solid home speaker system with 5.1 channel surround sound quality if you wanted to save a few bucks as opposed to the previous few models listed. You have some Dolby Digital DTS digital surround audio quality, one USB in, one HDMI out and a digital audio input. It also comes with some Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity for convenient options. When you connect the home theater system with compatible devices over Bluetooth, the sound bar feature will offer you easy and convenient one-touch control for some easy entertainment control.
Another feature that makes the HT-J5500W one of the best home theater system choices is the fact that it enables you to experience both 2D and 3D HD quality. The bundle comes with one center speaker, two front speakers, a subwoofer, two satellite speakers, a 3D smart Blu-ray player and a remote to control it all. The Samsung HT-J5500W is a nice budget-friendly home theater system that will enable you to enjoy cinema-quality surround sound in your living room, and is well worth the money if you also needed a Blu-ray player on top of it.
Up next, we have another popular home theater system, and this time by our beloved Sony brand. We’d say this is our pick for the best budget-friendly speaker system out there since it’s one of the cheapest in this top 10 guide. With its 5.1 channel surround build, the bundle provides several setup choices when it comes to the creation of a full surround experience. With a subwoofer and micro satellite speakers, HDMI imaging, 300 watts of total power (50 in each piece), 1080p up-scaling for easy operation (compatible with all players), as well as provided DVD player, you’re equipped in most desired areas (or at least the absolute essentials) a home theater system will bring you. It also comes with 2 USB ports for convenient connectivity with a USB memory card or computer — not too bad for that super low price.
You can easily enjoy DVD content as well as different online content, including music, movies and photos. This home theater system is stylish and elegant while being multi-functional and capable. If you are looking for one of the best home theater system options when it comes to entertainment capabilities, the Sony DAV-TZ140 is one of the most versatile and capable options. It’s pretty darn cheap as compared to a lot of models in here, so grab it if you wanted to take it easy on your wallet.
Paradigm Cinema 100 CT
This one has a bit of a different build and aesthetic look to it, but still provides one of the most powerful punches in the theater system game today. It includes 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer for an all-encompassing surround experience and will really bring a high-quality home theater audio mood to your home. The Cinema 100 CT includes driver integration across a full spectrum of frequencies for smooth crossover, dual ported design, 8″ drivers, discrete output amps, 300 watts of dynamic peak power (100 watts RMS), and sleek size as compared to those bulky loudspeakers you’ve seen among other bundles.
Satin-anodized aluminum domes with strong magnets made of neodymium give you high power handling for exceptional sound quality no matter what the source and the high-quality materials (aluminum, polymers, high-quality mesh) provide durability to give you a long-term investment here. That’s where the price begins to hike up — the build of these are a lot more advanced than others. We also love the more compact size so they don’t completely stand out and take a lot of room like the others within the speaker system category. The Paradigm Cinema 100 CT is one of the best home theater system options when you want to satisfy several needs at one: style, easy-placement, capability and storage — if you can afford this one, you won’t be disappointed in the experience you’ll be adding to your life.
Bose CineMate 15
Here’s a bit of a different spin to make its ranks as one of the best home theater speaker systems in the market. If you’re able to get away without grabbing a surround-sound 5.1 bundle (or perhaps want to add-on to your existing setup), this one is amazing. Although not too cheap, the CineMate 15 is packed with some great features and specs, such as multiple audio inputs (versatility in terms of choice — digital optical, coaxial, and analog), compact size (recommended for only tabletops), easy-to-use remote, and a reputation for deep bass. When you connect the Soundbar to your TV with one connection, thanks to the built-in Bluetooth, you will be able to easily control the home theater system from one spot.
Additionally, convenient wireless connectivity means you can enjoy all your favorite content including television, movies, music and gaming, on your home theater system – all controlled from your smart device. Their coined ‘Acoustimass module’ will improve the sound quality and live-effect of all the content you watch, while the Soundbar will enable you to control everything from a single control. The Bose CineMate 15 home theater system will deliver some very clear surround sound despite the lack of the traditional 5.1 setup along with the powerful bass that you probably didn’t have the chance to hear from television before, due to the Soundbar and Acoustimass module. It may be exactly what you’re looking for.
This particular system by Yamaha comes with built-in Bluetooth connectivity for live streaming of music, movies and TV shows from across a variety of sources. The 5.1 channel surround sound quality combines with a unique ‘YPAO system’ (automatically calibrates to the environment in terms of room acoustics) for optimum performance of sound from your home theater. It also features 4K Ultra HD support and HDCP 2.2 compatibility for some top-notch HD quality of sound and picture (60 frames per second).
Lastly, the ‘Compressed Music Enhancer’ feature will digitally process sound to restore what has been lost — it sounds a bit fancy, and although not completely necessary, doesn’t hurt whatsoever if you were concerned with extra features that will boast that sound up. The Yamaha YHT-4920UBL is a bit expensive, but one of the best home theater system choices due to its power, capability and versatility.
Elac Debut B6
People tend to go with this one if they want to mix and match. The Elac Debut B6 comes with sturdy and advanced drivers with a three-way bass-reflex design that will uplift the sound quality and performance. They look super sharp, sit nicely as bookshelf speakers where they can fit, possess a 1 x 1″ cloth dome tweeter, 1 x 6.5″ woofer (Aramid-fiber cone), as well as a nice frequency response of 44 to 20 kHz. CNet’s Elac Debut B6 review rated them very, very high.
The sound will be equally fantastic whether you are watching your favorite TV show or movie, listening to music, or playing a game on a game console. The black brushed vinyl cabinet (only available in this color) gives the system a sleek and attractive design that is further underlined by a removable grille on the speakers. The Elac Debut B6 is only a single piece of theater upgrade here, but if you grab it (or a pair of two of them) to either upgrade your current setup or start a mix-and-match system from scratch, this’ll remain the staple-point of your experience.
If you wanted the perfect solution for the best home theater system that fit within the middle price-point of all of these models as well as a look that may fit perfectly with the aesthetics of your home, this is a solid and highly rated model to consider. For a great price, you are getting 5 speakers and a subwoofer for some super clear 5.1 channel surround sound combined with intensive bass, powerful mid-range and spunky high frequency sounds. The system is made of MDF wood and a reinforced front baffle to minimize that irritating resonance.
All speakers are connected together with wire compatible connectors and a banana plug for convenient combined networking and usage. The system is magnetically shielded in order to avoid interference with other video devices in the room; there is also an isolation platform with built-in floor spikes to lift speakers up off the floor. On top of it, the SXHTB+ comes with an 18 gauge internal wire to minimize signal quality loss. If you are looking for the best home theater system when it comes to top quality elements and ultimate performance along with long-lasting reliability and friendly pricing, then the Fluance SXHTB+ is definitely a home theater system to consider — the sleek and elegant wooden look alone caught our eye when compared to the others.
To top off our list, we have a solid little system here. With a solid build and pretty impressive specs, this theater speaker system will deliver a cinema-esque experience right to your home. This one is also designed by that guy we looked up earlier (Andrew Jones), and again this means this particular speaker was designed for some great natural and room-filling sound experience. It’s particularly for the base of your TV (especially if you’ve mounted it), so again if you were in looking in the market for a different spin as opposed to the typical 6-piece bundle, this is a great addition for any existing setup.
The composite wood cabinet of the speaker base reintroduces long-lasting quality and a recognizable Andrew Jones elegant and slim design – as well as excellent control over disruptive and irritating resonance. There are also built-in amplifiers for each individual driver (six of them with 28 Watts of power each). The Pioneer SP-SB03 comes with 3d sound expansion, which is perfect for a movie watching experience. The built-in Bluetooth enables connectivity with an array of sources.