Media content is evolving in an awesome way and now you can watch 4K movies and play 4K video games in the comfort of your own living room. It’s a truly amazing experience, as it gives us a sneak peek into the future, at what technology is capable of. However, if you want to actually enjoy the latest technological wonders to the fullest, you are going to need to meet developers and content creators halfway, by getting yourself the best home theater system.
This home theater review will offer you some insight when it comes to choosing the best home theater for your needs, so make sure to check out all the categories we’re reviewing. We’re going to show you which is the cheapest, but also which is the best home theater system you can get. With that being said, let’s get started and look at our first category in our search for the best home theater system.
Best Home Theater Systems Under $500
This home theater has a glossy finish and it’s quite pleasing to the eye. It comes with 4 two-way satellite speakers which bear the Energy mark, as well as 1 center channel, also courtesy of Energy. It caps at 200 Watts and it features a front firing port subwoofer. The subwoofer driver is 8 inches and uses Ribbed Elliptical Surround. It’s an overall solid option, and you have the luxury of mounting on the wall if you so desire, so you don’t have to worry about its bulkier form not fitting on the coffee table.
Flat On-axis Frequency
This technology keeps all frequencies flat, meaning that no frequency overpowers another. The end result here is that every note sounds just the way it was intended, and you get to enjoy a high-quality audio reproduction. This helps the sound be as natural as possible, which often translates to a much better sound experience in case of movies.
Energy’s Sound Dispersion Philosophy
This home theater system works with a constant dispersion of sound model. This means that sound is equally spread within a room at all times, radiating from the speakers in a uniform and equal format. This further enhances the audio experience and helps keep the immersion level high since the sound travels to all corners of the room at the same time.
While home theater systems, in general, have a lower distortion rate, this system goes the extra mile for a significant and noticeable improvement in this department. Energy uses high-end materials and technology in order to reduce distortion levels dramatically. The end result is a crisp and clear audio experience.
- Top of the line materials for high-quality audio
- Uniform, room-filling sound at all times
- Considerably lower distortion levels
- Many report a short lifespan
- Potential to overheat
While it has some serious competition in the race for the best home theater systems, we can definitely say that it’s one of the cheapest models available. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pack a bunch of useful features however. This Samsung model comes with support for Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround, offering a satisfying level of quality of its price point. It is a 5.1 Channel model that caps at 500 Watts and supports 3D Blu-Ray.
As if having 3D Blu-Ray wasn’t neat already, you also get the added benefit of media upscaling. What this means is that the device can take non-HD media such as DVD content, and upscale it to a near HD quality. In other words, it literally makes the content you’re watching better. Not bad for one of the cheapest options, right?
By using HDMI connectivity for both audio and video, the device ensures that you experience the best quality possible for anything that you’re trying to watch or listen to. It’s a feature that can easily slip by unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Being able to connect through HDMI helps the device keep media content crisp and clean, and play it at the highest quality level.
Yes, you have support for 3D Blu-Ray, but we realize that might not be the only format you deal with. After all, the Ultra HD era has just begun, so it’s totally understandable to still have non-HD media around. You’ll be pleased to know that this Samsung home theater system packs in support for a ton of different formats, from MP3, WMA and FLAC, to DVD, AAC and even JPEG.
- Dolby support for True HD audio
- Format versatility
- 3D Blu-Ray player
- Media upscaling
- Doesn’t work with all TVs
- No WiFi
Polk Audio RM705 is another 5.1 channel surround sound system on its way to becoming one of the best home theater system under $500 available. It follows the standard build with 4 satellites, one center channel and of course, one subwoofer. This section of the review presents a very good looking system with a sleek, modern appearance. It features reliable satellites that use a Reuleaux Triangular Polygon cabinet. This ensures that the tight-sealed, compact nature of the system doesn’t alter the performance e in any way.
Another cool aspect of this system is its magnetic shield which prevents it from going nuts if you decide to put it right next to a monitor or HDTV. Most people don’t live in huge mansions and no matter how much free space you have in a room, we tend to preserve it to the best of our abilities anyways. With that in mind, it definitely counts as a plus when you can safely put your home theater system, however, close to your TV or screen. And hey, if you really want to preserve space, you can even mount these babies on the wall. Yup, that’s a feature as it comes with wall-mount brackets. You can really have your way when it comes to customization.
This system comes with a really sweet design that follows a three-side model. This allows you to place it next to walls or on wall mounts without any problems, not to mention that you can minimize the visual impact the system has when you actually mount it. We’ve all been there, when we put something really bulky on a shelf and it just looks unnatural. That kind of stuff won’t be a problem here, thanks to this neat design.
Great Synergy Between Enclosure And Hardware
The drivers used in this home theater system use top-notch materials that actively increase the performance of how sound is delivered through this specific enclosure type. In other words, Polk Audio RM705 uses specific drivers from specific materials to complement their enclosure. This helps deliver things like superior bass or a cleaner sound.
- Great design
- Design-hardware synergy
- Multiple mounting options and accessories included
- Doesn’t do that well in larger rooms
- Cables can slip from the ports
Here we are with yet another Samsung entry in our review for the best home theater system under $500. This time around we’re dealing with a more expensive product, but it’s still in the cheapest category. It’s a 5.1 channel system capping at 1000 Watts with an incorporated 3D Blu-Ray player. Similar to the other Samsung system in the under $500 category, it comes with support for both Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround. It has the higher ground, however, thanks to its additional features, such as WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. This counts a ton when it comes to convenience and accessibility since most devices these days are leaning towards a wireless connectivity through the aforementioned technologies.
No matter how awesome a home theater system is, at the end of the day it’s just a device that runs media. And the thing is, that media have to come from somewhere. So the more options it has in terms of compatibility and connectivity, the easier it will be for you, the user, to actually enjoy that Blu-Ray movie with surround sound. There is what seems to be an endless list of compatibilities for the Samsung HT-J5500W, and it might be an important part of what makes it one of best under $500 home theater system in our review
Smart TV On Demand, Courtesy Of Opera TV
While you might not have a Smart TV, you can emulate the features you would get with such a device thanks to the integrated Opera TV functionality. With this home theater system, you can download and use a large variety of Opera TV apps. Ultimately, this turns your regular TV into a full-blown Smart TV, complete with media streaming capabilities and more. Just like with an actual Smart TV, you can watch shows, movies, and even stream games, from a large library.
The upscaling feature is back. If you are trying to watch anything that’s not HD, what many would agree to be the best home theater system so far has the ability to upscale content to a near HD picture. That’s an important feature to have, especially for your perfectionists out there (there’s nothing wrong with wanting the absolute best), so this counts as a major plus for the Samsung HT-J5500W.
- Smart TV features and functionalities through Opera TV
- Media upscaling
- 3D compatibility
- Wireless connectivity through WiFi and Bluetooth
- Subpar Bass
- Doesn’t support some 5G or dual band routers
Best $500 – $1000 Home Theater Systems
That’s it for the cheapest section. Now it’s on to the middle segment, where we’ll be reviewing the best home theater system options priced between $500 and $1000. If you were looking to up the price point, check out the following systems. You might just find the precise experience you were looking for.
This is our first entry in the mid-price range section of the review. You can already tell that we’re dealing with more serious stuff since this is a 7 surround speaker setup that includes the aforementioned 7 speakers and also 1 subwoofer. This thing is capped at 170 W per channel and uses dynamic audio amplification tech for a richer sound experience.
It’s a system that banks a lot on sound quality as a key component, and you can tell especially through features like the 8 HDMI inputs. Connecting through HDMI allows for a better quality media to be transferred between devices and ultimately create a better experience for the user.
Going Into More Depth
This system’s speakers come with a very impressive feature, specifically the Acoustic-Suspension height support, which is Dolby Atmos enabled. All that fancy talk aside, it basically means that these speakers pack state of the art technology to help guarantee a superior sound quality in a surrounding environment.
When you’re talking about a home theater system, you often get a chance to mention media streamers. It only seems fair that one of the best home theater systems would have its own, built-in Chromecast, right? Well, you’re getting one anyway, when you purchase the Onkyo HT-S7800 and it’s a pretty awesome feature. The built-in Chromecast comes as a nice surprise but it only makes sense given the price point of the device. The surprises keep on rolling with airplay, Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Deezer and even radio, all in one package.
You also get connectivity through Bluetooth and of course, WiFi. Having WiFi and being able to connect other devices wirelessly might seem like a modern-day standard, but compared to other home theater systems, it can really feel like a godsend. Nevertheless, the connectivity plays a big role in how you actually enjoy your home theater.
Onkyo HT-S7800 also has a feature that allows you to send internet-based audio to receivers/speakers in another room, which can be great in multiple situations. If you’re having company or you have a guest sleeping over, being able to enjoy your home theater system without compromising even for one night is really neat.
- Multizone audio
- Built-in Chromecast
- It doesn’t do as well with movies, as it does with music
- Bluetooth setup can be wonky
Our next stop in the home theater review is the Yamaha YHT-5920UBL. It is a 5 channel system so it’s going back to the old school model. It puts a lot of emphasis on what it can do for you as a music player, which can be awesome, depending on how much you actually want the system for music. That’s not to say however that it doesn’t play nice with movies.
Plenty Music Features
The system is packed with music options, including the most popular apps around. You can tune into Pandora, Spotify, and Air Play, not to mention that you connect some of your favorite devices through WiFi or Bluetooth. It also has a MusicCast feature which allows you to wirelessly cast audio in other rooms through the system, which can come in handy.
YPAO is a feature developed by Yamaha, and it stands for Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer. What this basically does, measures the acoustics in the room where audio is playing through the home theater system. Next, it compares those numbers to those necessary for a great audio experience and it crunches the numbers so that it obtains the perfect results. Then it just optimizes the system’s audio delivery to match and enhance the parameters recorded in the room.
Convenient iPod USB
One of the coolest and easiest ways to listen to music still is by connecting your iPod or iPhone to some kind of dock. While the Yamaha YHT-5920UBL doesn’t come with a dock, it does have a dedicated USB port on the front, which is specially made so that you can plug and play directly from your iPod or iPhone. It’s a really an easy to implement feature and more products should have it. For the time being, however, it’s just a major plus for Yamaha.
- Optimized sound delivery through YPAO
- iPod and iPhone dedicated USB port
- Access popular music services like Spotify and Pandora
- Audio streaming across rooms limited to streaming services
- Subpar included speaker wire (better off getting your own)
Best High-end Home Theater Systems for more than $1000
Here we are boys and girls, this is the final stretch of our review of the best home theater systems. After going through the most expensive options on the market, we will finally draw a line and see which is the best home theater system. Of course, our home theater review wouldn’t be complete without diving in this rather pricey segment, so let’s get on with it and see which system is the king.
Our first high-end contender in this home theater review is the Samsung HT-H7730. It’s a 7.1 channel home theater system that features 3D Blu-Ray disc support. Furthermore, its features greatly empower its resolve, almost transforming into a Smart TV in its own right. The system’s design is definitely not lacking creativity, with differently sized speakers creating an intriguing overall piece that could very well dub as a living room art piece. It’s certainly the kind of modern appearance most people think about when they hear “home theater” or “surround sound”.
As you would expect from a player of this caliber, it comes with support for WiFi, greatly extending its range of connectivity. It also has a Smart Hub, which plays into that pseudo – Smart TV vibe we were talking about. Speaking of wireless, the rear speakers are also wireless, giving you more freedom in terms of organizing and placing your system in the room.
The system uses a combination of digital and natural sound in order to create a soothing blend. The digital sound provides a crisp element, whereas the integrated amp tube provides a natural sound with much warmer tones to complement the digital portion. When the two meet, they create a complete sound experience, so you can enjoy audio at a superior level.
A Smart Experience
It’s not just the Smart Hub that plays into the Smart nature of this convincing candidate for the best home theater system. It also provides access to the most popular streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, giving you access to your favorite content at any time. It’s a really important benefit because today’s media is shifting more and more towards a streaming based market, where Netflix is dominating. Incorporating that into your home theater experience is a key feature.
- Smart features
- Wireless speakers for multi-room audio
- 3D Blu-Ray
- Media upscaling
- Weak bass
- Hard to use the web browser with a remote and needs third party peripherals
- Receiver only works with the speakers
At this price point and with the Bose seal of approval, this device is on its way to becoming the best home theater system. But that doesn’t mean it gets a pass from our home theater review, so let’s look at the features.
This is one of Bose’s best if not the best 5.1 system. The classic 5.1 setup is shining in all its glory here, as this home theater solution excels in both music and movies, but also does great with TV content. How does it do it? Well, there are a number of things: First off, this system uses the Omni Jewel satellite speakers, which are some of the smallest speakers you can find, from Bose at least. There’s also a slim center channel which helps a lot with securing a prominent sound. In fact, it ensures 360 degrees sound at all times.
It Looks Like A Million Bucks
You have to pay a hefty price for this system, and Bose won’t let you forget it that easily. The appearance of this system is probably one of the most impressive in all of our home theater review. It uses premium class glass and brushed anodized aluminum and just like gift-wrap paper, it makes the cool thing inside all the better.
If this wasn’t one of the best home theater system options, would it come with Quiet Port technology, which enables wireless bass? Hard to say, but the feature is here and you might as well enjoy it. This feature also works towards eliminating distortion through advanced DSP. The bass is not just wireless, but it’s supposed to be really good and deep sounding as well, perks of using such advanced tech.
Room Audio Fine-Tuning
The system will calibrate audio in the room and optimize the audio settings so that you get the best, customized experience. It’s a very useful feature as it lets you enjoy your home theater system to the max regardless of how audio parameters might have changed since the last time you used it. Think of noisy neighbors, a moody pet or just an annoying thunderstorm (technically not all of those are in the room, but you get the point).
- Wireless bass
- Stunning aesthetics
- Room-based audio calibration
- Not enough manual sound adjustment settings
- Not enough power to fill a large room with sound
Here we are, the last system in our home theater systems review. Will this one be the best home theater system? Who knows. Well, we know, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out how it fares against our other picks.
First of all, it follows the traditional 5.1 channel setup. While some appreciate the 7-piece systems, there are many that love the 5.1 setup because it can be a lot more practical as far as space management is concerned and even sound quality in some cases. The next thing we have to talk about is the design. If you like big, black, boxy things, this is the perfect match for you. It really doesn’t get any blacker and boxier than this. In all seriousness, it has a minimalistic approach to its design and while the boxy aesthetics might not be everyone’s cup of tea, you can’t deny that they have the potential of blending in neatly with your home environment. Just stick the speakers near a wall and it’s like getting a perfect match in Tetris.
No Receiver Needed
This is a pretty intriguing feature. Basically, this system works without needing an actual video or audio receiver because those functions are incorporated in another one of its components, namely the central hub. Additionally, you won’t need any cabled for your speakers and such either, further enforcing the idea that this setup will save you a lot of space (and why not, a little bit of money as well).
360 Degree Enhanced Audio
The WiFi speakers generate 24 bit HD wireless audio, and promise a 360-degree experience for all your audio. That’s pretty impressive, and it lets you exercise complete freedom as far as moving around goes, and just changing your position. The sound is able to propagate so efficiently through these speakers because of the full-range drivers featured on each side.
As with other home theater systems in our review, this one comes with support for Dolby Digital and DTS. This means that the audio quality is professionally tailored to produce a much more enjoyable experience and it’s a feature that should definitely be appreciated.
- WiFi everything, no need for cables or even a receiver
- 360 degree enhanced audio
- Dolby Digital and DTS support
- Bluetooth functionality can be wonky and troublesome
- Speakers glow blue at night, can be inconvenient
- The remote is not that great in quality
The best Home Theater System in each category
Our home theater review has reached its final chapter. Your search for the best home theater system is finally over, as we are now going to present you with the best pick from each of the categories from this review.
Best Buy Home Theater System
When it comes to a price/features ratio, the Onkyo HT-S7800 is the best option. 7 speakers, 1 subwoofer and 170 W dynamic audio amplification, comes with a gorgeous surrounding environment.
It also has it’s built-in Chromecast which is one of the reasons that it’s the best value for money home theater system.
The Best Cheap Home Theater System Under $500
When it comes to the best home theater system that will save you the most money, the winner is the Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Theater System. It comes with 4 two-way satellite speakers and top of the line materials for high-quality audio at 300 Watts. It’s one of the cheapest systems with such powerful features.
The Best Home Theater System (Editors Choice)
When it comes to the device that offers the most promising features and the best quality overall, the Samsung HT-H7730 is the way to go. WiFi support and Smart Hub features make this home theater system the winner. It also comes with a soothing sound blend and wireless speakers.
Home Theater System Buyer’s Guide
Once you have all the necessary information to select one of the best options to be your new home theater system, it’s time to take that to the next level by checking out this buyer’s guide. This guide will allow you to gain a new perspective on home theater system shopping, and what you should be looking at in order to get the best deal for your specific needs and budget. No product is universally the best, and as such you shouldn’t be looking for such a product. Here are the most important aspects of pinpointing the best option for you.
Are You Willing To Up The Budget?
The whole point of having a budget is the fact that you can’t or won’t go past that limit. However, in some cases, it can be highly beneficial to increase your budget, even if by a tiny bit. Depending on whether you’re willing to make this adjustment or not, you can add new home theater options to your list of potential candidates that otherwise would have barely missed the mark. Looking into more expensive models can be a stretch, but sometimes it can really pay off.
On the flipside, it’s important to note that it doesn’t always work like that. Jumping over your initial budget limit might not guarantee you a net superior range of options. Therefore, sometimes you’re better off sticking to your original guns and being content with what that price range offers. The upcoming points will help you decide which side the fence you’re on, as they have to do with valuing features and recognizing what is worth the extra money.
The features are essential to a good product. They tell you what that product can do and they define what its limitations are. The more features a product has, generally the better. It’s important for any decent home theater system to have a healthy range of features, but not all of them are valued equally, based on context.
Let’s say that you’re looking at two home theater systems. Both of them lack a feature that is present on a third model. But for one them, not having that feature is no big deal whereas, for the other, it’s a very important downside. What gives? Well, the main influencer here is the price tag. For the significantly less expensive model, not having that feature doesn’t make the purchase any less desirable. For the far more expensive model however, lacking that feature means a great deal because it’s not justifying its price anymore.
What Are You Looking For?
One very important aspect of finding the best fit for you, is to not let others what you need. The internet is full of posts and people that will gladly give you a lecture. “OK, kid, here’s what you want to do. You’re going to get a system that has this, and that, and definitely that other thing”. Instead of taking this approach, it is paramount that you come up with your own preferred feature list. This will give you the custom profile of the best home theater system for you. Sit down and note all the things you want your home theater system to be capable of doing. To make it easier for you, here are some questions you can sue to get the answers you’re looking for.
Do You Need Multiroom Linking?
Multiroom linking is a feature that allows you to send the audio signal to other wireless speakers connected to the main receiver on your home theater system. This can be great for parties or generally situations in which you need audio in more than just one room. But if you’re content with just having audio in one room, not having this feature doesn’t mean much.
Are You Looking For A 7.1 Or 5.1 Channel System?
These are the two main types of systems you’re going to encounter on the market. The main difference between them is obviously the fact that the 7.1 channel comes with more components. If you live in a very small apartment or the room it’s going in just doesn’t have space, the traditional 5.1 channel system might be more adequate.
What About Surround Sound?
Surround sound is very important for a lot of people but it might not be for you. Surround sound is pretty much the audio version of 3D, where you get sounds from all directions in a strategic manner that attempts to immerse you in the movie or content you’re watching. Generally, it’s a good sign for a home theater system to deal well with surround sound, but it’s not a rule of thumb. There are systems that don’t really offer a compelling surround sound experience but have one mean frontal engage.
Where Do You Want To Put It?
Believe it or not, the shape of the home theater system counts for more than just aesthetics. While the looks for a system are subjective, its capability of being mounted on a wall is not. Many prefer to have their home theater system mounted on a wall or placed on a bookshelf. It’s mostly about room management and how you can properly position the system to get the best sound and to keep wires and cables out of your feet. Some home theater systems come with their own mounting rack and tools necessary to install it. Others just offer the possibility of being mounted but require you do buy the mount and tools from the aftermarket, whereas a third category just isn’t mountable on walls.
How Loud Does It Have To Be?
When it comes to home theater systems, you have to think about many things, one of them being the actual sound volume. Some systems are louder than others, but in some cases you don’t need a lot of volume. If you live in a small apartment, in between cranky neighbors, a system that doesn’t go that much up in volume could be just fine. If you live in a huge, empty house, you’re going to need more volume to fill it up and actually enjoy the content you’re watching/ listening to. Of course, you can throw a couple more multipliers in there, such as the surround sound aspect, in order to get a fine tuned appreciation of a model’s worth.
More Than An Audio System
Some home theater systems are more than just audio systems and offer some impressive characteristics. Some come with their own 3D Blu-Ray player, which means that you can watch 3D Blu-Rays courtesy of your new home theater system. If you were looking to upgrade both your audio and video solutions, having that integrated Blu-Ray player can be a really useful feature. However keep in mind that the models that offer such a feature are generally more expensive. If you already have a compelling video solution, you might want to look for cheaper systems that don’t have that extra, unnecessary feature.
Home theater systems can offer more than just a Blu-Ray player. Some even offer Smart TV functionality and can transform your regular TV into a Smart TV. This is done through the home theater system’s own interface which can be navigated on a TV screen. You can have apps and internet based functions just like on a Smart TV. But again, this could either be very useful or just a burden in the price area.
-Connectivity and compatibility
Looking At Ports And Connectivity Features
A home theater system can be very efficient but even the models that come with Smart TV features are very far away from being smart devices themselves. What this means is that almost always your home theater system will need to pair with other devices, like a TV, a media player, a music player, or anything of the sorts. For this, it needs proper set of ports and connectivity options that cater to your specific needs.
One of the most important things to take into consideration when shopping for a new home theater system is whether or not it has the kind of ports that you need. If you want to connect it to your HDTV, you are probably going to need it to have at least one HDMI connection. Maybe you don’t spend as much time watching TV, but want your home theater system booming when you’re doing chores around the house. Having a way to connect your mobile phone to the system, for instance, would be really handy here. That could be either Bluetooth or WiFi, or even an iPhone/iPod dock.
Looking At Formats And Readable Files
What kind of content you can play on your system depends heavily on what formats it is able to read. If you’re leaning more towards the audio side, you will want a large variety of audio file formats at your disposal. The best approach here is to check what kind of formats are used for your preferred content and see if a home theater system you’re interested in offers that. If you also rely on your home theater system for video delivery, it helps for it to be compatible with a larger number of video formats and not just one.
As you can see, Samsung had quite bit to say in this review. Now that you have all the facts and know which is the best home theater system in each category, which one will you opt for? Will you stick with the cheapest one in our review, or will you spend a little more with something like the Samsung HT-H7730? Let us know in the comments which is the best home theater system for you.