Our editors independently research and rate the best products. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links on our site. Learn more

best home theater systems

The Best Home Theater Systems in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

A home theater system provides an incomparable cinema experience in your own four walls. Our team of experts has dealt with this matter and sifted through numerous tests on the Internet to create a list of the best home theater systems.

SAMSUNG HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio

SAMSUNG HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio
12,015 Reviews
SAMSUNG HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio
  • BLUETOOTH TV CONNECTION – Connect listen enjoy Bluetooth TV…
  • POWERFUL BASS – Deep rich bass feel the action and the beat…
  • SMART SOUND – Optimized sound for your favorite content the…
  • ONE REMOTE CONTROL – A world of sound with 1 remote is all…
  • GAME MODE – Optimized gaming sound connect your console to…

Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System

 Our Pick
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
4,671 Reviews
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
  • 5.1 digital surround sound: Hear every detail in your Dolby…
  • THX certified home theater speakers: Your assurance of true…
  • Delivers a continuous 500 watts of power, with the ability…
  • Flexible setup: Connect upto six devices : Computer, music…
  • Easy sound control: Compact control console and wireless…

Samsung SWA-8500S 2.0 Speaker System

Samsung SWA-8500S 2.0 Speaker System
6,270 Reviews
Samsung SWA-8500S 2.0 Speaker System
  • Bring wireless surround sound to your Samsung sound+…
  • Wall Mountable
  • Create an immersive surround experience to bring you into…
  • Simply plug in and pair to enjoy all the action of your…
  • Compatible Models – 2019 Models: HW-Q70R/ Q60R / R650 / R550…

Acoustic Audio AA5172 700W Bluetooth Home Theater 5.1 Speaker System

Acoustic Audio AA5172 700W Bluetooth Home Theater 5.1 Speaker System
2,362 Reviews
Acoustic Audio AA5172 700W Bluetooth Home Theater 5.1 Speaker System
  • Bluetooth 5. 1 Home theater speaker system – stream music…
  • Easy plug and play connections – standard RCA inputs connect…
  • Highest Quality – powered subwoofer speaker is 12. 3″ X 6….
  • System requirements – standard US 110V grounded wall plug,…
  • What’s in the box – Acoustic Audio by Goldwood AA5172…

Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System
4,875 Reviews
Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System
  • 5.1 Channel 1000-Watts Peak Power. 500-Watts Program Power….
  • 8″ Subwoofer with Built-In Receiver. 1x 3″ Center Channel…
  • Built-In FM Receiver with Amazing Reception. Digital…
  • SD Input (max file size 16Gb). 2 ¼” MIC Inputs with Echo…
  • The Subwoofer unit has 4 LED lighting modes: selectable with…

Onkyo HT-S3900 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker

Onkyo HT-S3900 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker
630 Reviews
Onkyo HT-S3900 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker
  • 120 W/Ch. (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 10% THD, 1 Channel Driven) with…
  • HDMI 4 in/ 1 out pass-through of the latest Ultra HD 4K/60…
  • Dolby Trued and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. THD+N (Total…
  • Easily enjoy streaming music with Bluetooth wireless…
  • Includes high-quality six-piece surround-sound speaker…

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System

 Our Pick
Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
1,134 Reviews
Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
  • The Klipsch reference theater pack delivers a superior…
  • Klipsch’s exclusive Tractrix Horn technology and aluminum…
  • To complement the easy placement of the wireless subwoofer,…
  • The reference theater pack brings the Klipsch cinematic…

FAQ: Home Theater Systems

What is a Home Theater System?

The world of technology today offers a wide standard. There is hardly anything left that differs from the former professional devices. So, what was once reserved for cinemas, can now be used at home with ease. If you are interested in a home theater system, the choice is often not easy. There are many models, which are marked with different facts.

First of all, a TV is necessary so that you can see a picture. Today, flat screen TVs are increasingly distributed and purchased, as they bring up a better picture. Flat screen TVs have a very large-screen design, which allows the use of high-quality technologies, so that there is a high-quality image transmission, but the sound usually falls by the wayside with these models. It is therefore advisable to connect a separate speaker system. Most people will purchase a 5.1 surround sound system, which is best suited as a home theater system and is also referred to as such.

5.1 home theater systems describe that sounds are transmitted through 5 channels. There is a separate low frequency channel called a subwoofer. The use of the 5 channels results in excellent surround sound. The 5 channels are divided as follows: Two front speakers, a center speaker, and two rear speakers are used. The subwoofer is also connected and provides a good sounding bass.

With a home theater system, you feel like you’re in a movie theater, which ensures that you are in the middle of the movie action through the sound system. There are other home theater systems that we will present to you in more detail later.

How does a Home Theater System work?

A home theater system works according to a simple system. The home theater system consists of 6 parts. Subwoofer and 5 channels, which are recognizable as speakers. If you position them optimally in the room, the result is a perfect surround sound that lets you participate live in the movie action.

The channels split up again, so there are two front speakers that provide the stereo sound. As the name suggests, the ones in the front are placed towards you. There is a center speaker that forms the center. Ideally, this is positioned near the TV. The sounds from the center of the picture are reproduced via this speaker. Consequently, the dialogues of the film usually come out of it.

In addition, two back speakers are used, which should be positioned behind you. Sounds and effects are transmitted from them. This interaction of the individual channels results in an ideal surround sound. The subwoofer also ensures that the bass and low-frequency effects are presented as well as possible.

Home theater systems come in different sizes. You can choose between a system with small or large speakers. There are also systems that have floor standing speakers.

What to look for when buying a home theater system?

As already mentioned, the choice on the market today in the field of home theater system is probably greater than ever before. Especially in recent years, more and more people have decided to make the investment and buy a suitable model.

However, this is modern and at the same time sensitive technology with many features. Especially technical laymen are quickly overwhelmed with the choice when looking for a new home theater system. However, this is usually not a big problem at all, because even in the search for the right system for use in your own four walls, we are of course very happy to help you.

For this very reason, we will show you below which aspects and points you should definitely pay attention to when buying. With the help of this presentation, you will then be able to quickly and effectively choose the right home theater system, order it and have it delivered to your home. 

First and foremost, when buying a new system, you should of course make sure that it really offers you a good sound. This is where the significant differences between the numerous models on the market lie, and the sound is a very important point.

Incidentally, the sound or the high-quality reproduction of audio in the home theater system test is of course also used again and again and contributes a significant part to the rating here. In the end, it is always a question of personal taste how the sound should turn out. Nevertheless, there are some points of reference that you should always pay attention to when choosing a new system.

Because a balanced sound plays an important role here. Both lows as well as mids and highs should clearly come into their own here. Unfortunately, this is a big problem, especially with the cheap models on the market.

Most models are very bassy, which sounds like a lot of power and modern technology at first glance. However, especially for music and modern movies, the balanced sound plays a very important role and should always be present if possible.

Also in terms of sound, you should pay attention to how the playback is used at a higher volume. Because among other things, this is also the rather bad models in the field of home theater system can be identified.

Especially with the cheap models with little power and inexpensive equipment, it shows very quickly that the quality with the increasing volume decreases more and more. This is actually not the case with the really good models, and this can also be recognized very quickly, if desired, of course, by laymen.

Is the new home theater system really suitable for one’s own requirements? This is one of the most important questions you should always ask yourself, even when searching for the right model. Not all variants are the right choice and you may have the problem that you have chosen a good model, but it is still not suitable for use in your own home.

This is the case, for example, if the actual speakers are too large for the corresponding room. Also too short cables can quickly become a problem here, you have here then but not the possibility to complete the installation as desired. So before you buy, you should think carefully about what requirements you have for the new system and how it looks with the given conditions in your own four walls.

Small rooms and co. can then very quickly become a big problem here and you have to start looking for a new home theater system right after the decision has been made, because it is not suitable for use after all.

Another very important point concerns the general functionality and equipment. Because on the one hand, of course, the design is very much the same in the models from the home theater system sector today, but still there are significant differences in the equipment.

This already starts with the included remote control. On the one hand, it is not even included in all models, and on the other hand, they do not always offer all important functions.

Usually, it should not only be possible to select the source and the volume, but also to adjust the settings in terms of playback and sound within a few minutes. The same applies to the individual options for adjusting the volume and playback. Most models on the market today offer you a variety of options here, because as already mentioned, the demands are of course different.

With a good model, you should make sure that not only a regulation of the bass is possible, but also an adjustment of the mids and treble is not a big problem. If you adhere to these points and perhaps carry out a short but comprehensive comparison on the Internet and in online stores in advance, you will have found the perfect home theater system within a short time and nothing will stand in the way of your order.

Advantages of Home Theater Systems

Home theater systems are mostly used to give the TV a better sound. Nothing is more unpleasant than a movie whose effects do not come out perfectly. The movie seems boring and only convinces in a few cases. If the same movie is watched with a home theater system and the effects are transmitted optimally by the system, the movie appears in a different light and seems more effective and interesting. Cinema lovers benefit from a home theater system because with them it is finally possible to watch movies in cinema quality at home.

You can also use the home theater system in other ways. If you are a lover of games played through a console, a home theater system provides the special effects. Especially action-packed games, benefit from the home theater system. Again, you feel as if you are completely integrated into the game. In addition, the game seems more real and varied. So even for the game console, a home theater system is a sensible purchase.

Types of Home Theater Systems

Home theater systems differ in their construction and size. There are home theater systems that are labeled 2.1 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1. There are also complete systems that are equipped with a receiver.

2.1 Home Theater Systems

If you don’t have such a big budget but still want to improve the TV sound, you can buy a 2.1 home theater system for about US$150. It consists of two speaker boxes and the subwoofer (THX). The boxes are usually placed to the right and left of the TV screen. Some also buy a 2.1 home theater system for your computer or laptop, if you watch a lot of movies on it, it makes a very big difference to the built-in speaker, of course.

5.1 Home Theater Systems

A 5.1 home theater system is a system that is equipped with 5 sound channels. That is, there are 5 speakers that provide a perfect surround sound at different positions in the room. The 1 stands for a subwoofer, which provides the necessary bass. There are systems that you can attach directly to the TV or work with a receiver. The important thing with the 5.1 home theater system is the optimal positioning of the speakers to get an appropriate result.

6.1 Home Theater Systems

This system is also a home theater system, which is equipped with corresponding speakers. Unlike the 5.1 home theater system, however, not only 5, but 6 speakers are brought in. The 6th speaker is a back speaker, which is placed directly behind the seat in the room. If it is now detected that an equal level is reached on the other two back speakers, the sound is also transmitted to the 3rd back speaker. This has the advantage that a realistic room sound is achieved. However, the home theater systems are priced far above a 5.1 home theater system.

7.1 Home Theater Systems

In the 7.1 home theater system, there are 7 speakers and a subwoofer instead of 5. Since the introduction of Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD or Dolby Digital Plus sound formats, the demands are constantly increasing, so the home theater system must also be expanded. Manufacturers have developed the 7.1 system, which includes two more speakers. These are additionally placed on the side walls to further improve the spatial effect. For the 7.1 home theater system to work, a receiver is absolutely necessary. When buying a receiver separately, be sure to check for compatible connection options.

Home Theater Systems with or without receivers

Furthermore, there are home theater systems that can be used with or without a receiver. 5.1 systems can usually be connected directly to the TV and do not require a receiver. However, there are also manufacturers who equip the home theater system with a receiver to offer the consumer even more convenience. Which system you ultimately choose is up to your own discretion and depends on the requirements.

Wireless Home Theater Systems

Since another disadvantage is the tangled cables that arise when setting up the speakers, some manufacturers have already launched wireless home theater systems on the market. These have the advantage that they can be placed in the room without having to worry about the length of the cables. The unsightly cables along the baseboard or on the ceiling are thus a thing of the past.

However, this system also offers a disadvantage – the connection. It is often Bluetooth speakers, so it is imperative that you should pay attention to the Bluetooth version. From Bluetooth 4.0, comes an almost interference-free transmission zustanden.

How are Home Theater Systems tested?

Since the arrival of home theater systems in the home walls, manufacturers and models have multiplied. The market is crowded and offers a very large selection. If you are looking for a home theater system, you will encounter a great many models that differ in performance and quality. However, it is often not even possible to differentiate the systems, which often also tends to make a wrong purchase.

Therefore, we have created the Home Theater System Test and offer you a lot of information about the respective models. Home theater systems can quickly cost more than US$1000. This is due to the sophisticated technology that is inside the speaker system. In addition, it is crucial which accessories are still in the scope of delivery. Systems with a receiver are usually also a bit more expensive.

We therefore started the test already in the purchase phase and with the search for the cheapest model. We usually found this on the Internet, so we ordered the home theater systems from online stores. A crucial point was also the delivery as well as the packaging. We also post a review point that informs about the ease of commissioning.

How quickly can the home theater system be set up and connected. We got some expert help for this, which helped us set up a sound system correctly. We show them in detail how easy even the cables are connected and how handy the home theater system is.

Furthermore, there is a practical test, which we particularly enjoyed. We used appropriate film material for each practical test. Thus, equal conditions could be created. We tested the functionality, the setting variations and of course the effects.

Again, we used professionals to help us with this, who taught us about the corresponding qualities. At the end, there is still information about the manufacturer and its service. In a final conclusion, we summarize the facts once again and can give you a clear buy recommendation. Thus, you will see whether the home theater system meets your requirements or whether you would perhaps be better advised with another system.

Tips for a Home Theater Systems Purchase

If you are interested in a home theater system, you will encounter many models. In order to make a purchase decision, it is important that you know what factors should be considered when buying a home theater system. We have then gathered together some of the most important factors that are a fundamental part of a purchase.

I/O

In order to connect a home theater system, it must of course be possible to connect it to the TV or receiver. There are several methods to connect the home theater system. Some systems allow an optical cable while others rely on an HDMI cable. Older connections such as RCA are also usually still available. So before you purchase a home theater system, make sure you know what connections are needed.

Accessories

Where to connect the home theater system. It can be connected to the PC, the TV or a player. This requires various cables, which should be included in the delivery. However, there are models where this is not the case. Pay attention to which accessories are included and possibly purchase the appropriate cable separately.

Wattage

In order for the home theater system to provide a decent surround sound, the wattage is not the only crucial point, but depends on many factors. It is not necessarily said that a home theater system with a high power rating can also provide optimal quality. The wattage also depends on the room size. 40 watts is more suitable for small rooms. More than 200 watts are suitable for large rooms.

Wattage

In order for the home theater system to provide a decent surround sound, the wattage is not the only crucial point, but depends on many factors. It is not necessarily said that a home theater system with a high power rating can also provide optimal quality. The wattage also depends on the room size. 40 watts is more suitable for small rooms. More than 200 watts are suitable for large rooms.

How to install a Home Theater System

Properly set up your own home theater system does not have to be difficult. First, the question should be answered, which technical devices are necessary. If there is less than one HDMI port on the AV receiver, the TV set should be included additionally. There are in most cases several HDMI inputs.

What does HDMI connection mean? HDMI is the latest standardized connection norm for noble picture and sound enjoyment. What is an AV receiver? Audio and video signal receiver. The device processes audio and video signals and passes the signals on to the corresponding devices such as TV sets or boxes.

The AV receiver as a powerful control center

The positive thing about a good AV receiver is the option to run all devices through this control center.

A noble AV receiver as a single component offers from the outset several options to connect other devices such as the PS 3, a Blue-ray player and the digital receiver.

High-priced devices often have an antenna connection and a phono connection for the classic record player.

If one wants to fall back on a compact home theater system 5.1 at a budget of US$300 to US$500, there AVB receiver and Blue-ray player are offered in one device.

In most cases, these devices offer fewer connection options than voluminous components and AV receivers naturally offer very less performance in sound.

The connection for a good sound

Regardless of whether a single AV receiver or a complete home theater system is connected, HDMI or YUV should be used. To get the highest quality out of the system, HDMI should be used in any case.

This means all picture materials such as Blu-ray player, digital TV receiver or PS 2 are connected to the AV receiver via the HDMI cable. Before it is passed on to the boxes and the TV, the decoding of the signals is done by the AV receiver.

If the TV set has an integrated TV receiver for TV reception, then the sound is derived from the TV set via an optical Toslink cable and passed on to the AV receiver. This allows the picture to pass through the TV and the stunning sound to pass through the home theater system.

When using the HDMI cable, you can use the new HD sound formats (Dolby HD and DTS HD) of a Blu-ray disc if the AV receiver accepts these sound formats.

With the optical cable option, only the Dolby Digital or DTS format can be used, because the cable does not have enough bandwidth. Dolby Digital is perfectly adequate, the sound is indeed stunning and are available on almost all DVDs and on every Blu-ray disc additional.

Correct position of the seats

In the back of the room are the seats and the sofa. The best acoustics can be perceived there. The perfect seat is available only once. All other seats do not receive the acoustic obstructions. Professionals can determine this in contrast to ears of a layman.

The seating area should be placed behind the half of the room. The seating area should not be placed too close to the wall or it will cause interference. If the option exists, the sofa should be placed at a further distance from the wall and more to the rear third of the room.

The front

The field of vision is directed to the front There the TV set, the center and the front speakers are placed. The front should not be located on a wall with a door.doors and windows provide an obstruction to the symmetry.

The center

The center should be given an optimal place and the front speakers find their perfect use on both sides next to the TV set. One fifth of the room width guarantees the perfect placement. The more distance there is from the side walls, the better the sound effect. The main speaker should be placed in the center and not too close to the TV set.

Mounting the rear channels

Behind the seating position, the back speakers are set up. A special angle must be taken into account when setting up the speakers. The exact specifications can be found in the user manual.

Only the manufacturer can give a precise description. A slightly higher positioning makes sense. In the case of a 6.1 or 7.1 home theater system, the speakers should be set up according to this. To achieve an ideal result, the speakers should have the same distance to each other.

The subwoofer

After the speakers are well positioned, the subwoofer is placed between the center and the front speakers. If there is no space available, a cabinet should never be selected as a substitute. Unintended vibrations of the piece of furniture will cause a negative sound.

The placement of a subwoofer is not subject to any special regulations.

The subwoofer can also be positioned in the rear area, because human hearing cannot detect low frequencies. The different positions of the basses and lows are output unevenly. The ultimate location of the subwoofer is a matter of space. When placing the subwoofer, it should never end up in a corner.

This creates an unpleasant powerful drone. About one fifth of the room length is sufficient if the subwoofer finds its place on the wall. A further distance from the wall is also perfect.

Setting up the speakers

To create the perfect room sound, there are some regulations for the home theater system. Floor standing speakers are suitable for the floor, other speakers should always be mounted at the required heights to avoid premature reflections. Speakers that do not carry a floor speaker designation should not be placed on the floor.

It is also important that speakers are not mounted behind the front edge of a piece of furniture. The speaker should form an even edge with the piece of furniture. It makes sense for a speaker to protrude one or more centimeters.

This influences the room sound quality. If the speaker is positioned further back, optimal distribution of sound is no longer guaranteed and the quality is reduced.

Under no circumstances should loudspeakers be placed on a shelf. They minimize the function and act like an additional cabinet. The shelf has a funnel function and contributes to poor transmission of sound. The flexibility of the speakers must be maintained.

Perfect is the use of speaker stands or brackets for the wall with flexible movements. If neither is available, you can also put the speakers on feet. As accessories, these feet are offered in online stores and it makes sense to purchase the home theater system there.

Home Theater System Accessories

As soon as speakers are placed somewhere is a suitable accessories. If you purchase a home theater system where the speakers are placed on the floor, the manufacturing process has already taken care of a good sound distribution.

If you place the speakers on a TV board, it is advisable that the speakers are provided with feet. These can be purchased separately as accessories in selected online stores. The feet ensure a perfect sound output, so that no sound is reflected early from the support surface. In addition, there are special wall mounts that create a certain distance from the wall. Direct contact with the wall should always be avoided.

There are special stands for both speakers and subwoofer, which ensure perfect placement. If you want to achieve a perfect room sound result, the purchase of these fixtures is recommended. Because if the speakers are well placed, the rest is done in a few simple steps.

Cable management rails are also one of the accessories that should be thought of. If you do not necessarily want to find the cable tangle on the floor, you can purchase so-called cable guides in any hardware store. The cables are pulled through the guide and disappear into the small housing. Usually, the guides have different sizes and are hardly noticeable in the corners and edges of a room. They are attached either with nails or can be glued.

So, if you want to prevent the cable tangle, you should use a sufficient amount of cable guides. Also note that the cable guides may require a longer speaker cable to each channel. When buying the home theater system, make sure that the cables can be extended as much as you want without any loss of quality.

Home Theater System Alternatives

A good alternative to a home theater system is a soundbar. This is constructed like a surround system, but the difference is that all the speakers are in just one cabinet. The soundbar is usually placed under or above the TV and provides a virtual surround sound.

However, the soundbar is more suitable for small to medium-sized rooms. In addition, the surround sound provides a somewhat inferior quality, so that an optimal result can only be created with a home theater system. So, if you can’t find the space for a home theater system, the soundbar can be an alternative, but you will have to make some sacrifices.

If it is not at all possible to choose a speaker system, there are alternatives where you have to make some sacrifices. Soundplates can also be an alternative to a 5.1 home theater system. These devices are similar to a soundbar, but are mounted directly under the TV. Usually, these models have an already integrated subwoofer, which explains the length and width of the models. The result is moderate to good in small rooms.

If you do not want to spread a tangle of cables or cable runs in the room, you can use alternative systems with wireless speakers. There are also home theater systems that include a wireless subwoofer. However, you can only get a real cinema feeling if several speakers are distributed in the room. Small rooms can be equipped with the alternatives without suffering an audible loss of quality.

However, if the alternatives such as soundbars or soundplates are used in large rooms, the negative characteristics can no longer be ignored and the joy of cinema fun will dwindle just as quickly. Quality also has its price with the home theater system, which you should consider beforehand.

Last product update on 2021-09-24 | Source: Amazon Affiliate