Best Home Theater System 2021 (Whatever Your Budget)

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Are you looking to buy the best home theater system? Well, back in 1974 that would have been easy as only one existed, installed at Kirshmans furniture store in Metairie, Louisiana. Now Amazon alone lists over 2,000 items under ‘home theater’. 

And it’s not just the amount of equipment on offer that’s daunting if you’re in the market for a home theater system. By 1990, enthusiasts could buy 5.1 surround sound setups, whereas now you have to choose from 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 9.1, 9.2, 10.2, 11.2, and even 22.2 or variants of these!

Which is where this complete buying guide to choosing the best home theater system comes in. It will save you not only time but also money, whether you’re a newbie to home theater or an enthusiast.

So let’s dive in at the beginning with the basics (or use the table of contents to skip to the section you’re interested in most).

What‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌home theater system?‌ ‌

A home theater system is a collection of equipment that recreates the immersive experience of a movie theater in your own home. The best home theater systems will make sure you feel as if you are ‘in’ the movie, rather than just watching it.

  • If the characters on the screen are caught in a rainstorm, you’ll feel as if you’re getting wet yourself.
  • If they go on safari, you’ll hear the sounds of the wild animals all around you.
  • If they’re caught in an earthquake, you’ll feel, as well as hear, the rumble as the ground subsides.

The term ‘home theater system’ or ‘home cinema setup’ is also often used to mean the audio elements excluding the actual screen used to watch the movies. Obviously, home theater systems can be used to listen to music as well as watch movies. 

Home Theater Room
Home Theater Room

What’s the best way to buy a home theater system?

Home theater systems come in three main forms:

  1. Out-of-the-box systems. As the name suggests everything you need is included. The advantages are:
  1. They are usually the simplest systems to set up.
  2. They are often the cheapest as you don’t need to buy a seperate receiver.
  3. All the components are matched, so you don’t have to figure out what subwoofer goes with what speakers or what receiver. 

The disadvantages are:

  1. It’s often not possible to expand the system.
  2. These systems tend to be at the cheaper end of the home system market. However, there are some high quality out-of-the-box systems around.
  3. Speaker packages. These consist of the speakers without a receiver, and sometimes without a subwoofer. The advantages are:
  1. You can buy the receiver or sub you believe is best for your setup.
  2. You can buy a receiver that has the capacity to expand your system later. For instance you can buy a receiver for your 5.1 setup that has 7.1 or even 9.1 capabilities. 

The disadvantages are:

  1. It can be tricky to match the speakers and sub to a receiver if you don’t know that much about home theater setups.
  2. Sometimes the results can be less effective than a quality all-in-one package unless you do your homework. 
  3. Bespoke home theater setups. You can either design these yourself from the ground up or hire specialist companies to do it for you. The advantages are:
  1. You can design whatever system fits your room the best acoustically.
  2. You aren’t tied to a particular audio brand.

The disadvantages are:

  1. If you’re doing it yourself it is the most complicated of the options.
  2. If you’re hiring a specialist company, it is by far the most costly option.

I’ll be covering the first two in this guide.

What‌ ‌components‌ ‌does‌ ‌a home theater system ‌include?‌ ‌

Home theater systems vary enormously. Excluding the actual device used for watching the movie, they consist of:

A/V (Audio/Video) Receiver

This is the heart of your home theater setup. Most receivers double as amplifiers, although some higher-end systems employ separate amplifiers and even preamps. Receivers are either built-in or need to be bought separately. As mentioned before, receivers need to be carefully matched to the system in terms of power to the speakers and channels for the setup. For instance, a 7.1 receiver can be used for a 5.1 setup, but not the other way around.

Speakers

Your home theater system will only ever sound as good as its speakers, so it’s worth buying the best you can afford. There are different types of speaker:

  • Front left and right.
  • Surround sound.
  • Center channel.

Speakers can consist of one or more drivers, usually enclosed in an MDF or plastic box unless they’re in-wall speakers. They are either passive or active, wired or wireless.

Subwoofer

A subwoofer is a speaker specially designed to handle the low-end of the sound spectrum in your home theater setup. Some speaker systems even use two subs. Read more about subs here.

Soundbar

A soundbar as its name suggests is an enclosure in the shape of a bar. It contains multiple speakers. Its advantages are:

  1. It’s more compact than separate speakers.
  2. There’s less wiring.
  3. It’s often less expensive.
  4. It’s usually easier to set up.

The disadvantages of a soundbar are:

  1. Being compact, most soundbars have smaller drivers than their equivalent speakers in a home theater setup. 
  2. The position of the speakers is not optimal, being too close together.
  3. The speakers in a soundbar because of its position are really all front speakers, although some soundbar packages do include extra speakers and even a subwoofer.

Cables

Unless your home theater setup is entirely wireless or consists only of a soundbar, cables are an essential part of the system that is often overlooked. Some out-of-the-box packages include all the cables you’ll need. If you do have to buy your own, you don’t need to spend a fortune, but don’t go for the cheapest, you’ll regret it. 

The two most common cable types you’ll deal with in setting up your home theater are: 

  1. Speaker cable – used to connect your speakers to your receiver. 
  2. HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable – usually used to link your input (Blu-Ray player for instance) to your output (TV screen or projector). 

Other types of cable are:

  • Coaxial digital cable – carries up to six signals, so is great for home theater systems up to 5.1. 
  1. Optical cable – does the same job as HDMI in essence, although it can’t carry Blu-ray,  Dolby TrueHD and DTS.

What are the different types of home theater system? ‌

5.1 and 7.1 systems

Most systems are 5.1 or 7.1, although 9.1 and 11.1 are becoming more common. There are lower systems, 2.1 for instance, but 5.1 is the first true surround sound experience. 5.1 systems consist of 6 channels and usually, six speakers:

  • 2 x front.
  • 1 x center.
  • 2 x side.
  • 1 x subwoofer – the .1 after the 5 denotes that the system contains one sub

7.1 systems and upwards

7.1 systems consist of 8 channels and 8 speakers. The two extra speakers are dedicated rear speakers. 9.1 systems and 11.1 systems add more channels and speakers to increase the surround sound effect. As I mentioned, there are actually 22.2 setups out there, but they are beyond the scope of this article – and most peoples’ budgets! 

What are the different formats of home theater systems? ‌

DTS: X

This is a surround sound format specially created for home theater. It creates extra 3D effects using object-based codex so you have the impression the sound is coming from overhead as well as all around you. 

Dolby Atmos

This is another common surround sound format originally designed for movie theaters and then adapted for home theater systems. It’s similar to DTS: X except in some setups (5.1 and 7.1), it requires extra channels. Also with DTS: S you can isolate particular channels, such as the voice track in a movie, and bring them to the fore. Some systems incorporate both DTS: X and Dolby Atmos. 

Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS: Neutral X.

These are other, less common formats that you might encounter on your home theater system. They all enhance your watching and listening experience, so if your home theatre system supports all or any of them as well, that’s all to the good.

How‌ ‌do‌ ‌you ‌choose‌ ‌the‌ ‌best‌ home theater system ‌for‌ ‌you?

Number of Speakers

As the whole idea of great home theater systems is to create as immersive an experience as possible, theoretically the greater the number of speakers, the better. However, in the real world, this may not always be the case. 

  • The more speakers there are, the more expensive the setup becomes.
  • The more speakers there are, the more complicated the setup becomes. 
  • Your room may be too small to physically position all those speakers for optimal playback. This can actually lead to a more muddied sound that if you’d used fewer speakers.

Wired or wireless.

I personally hate cables! I’m forever tripping over them or getting them tangled. If you’re the same, it would seem to be a no-brainer to look for a wireless system. However, like the number of speakers in your setup, it’s not always better to go wireless.

  • In many so-called wireless systems, only some of the components are actually wireless. It may only be the subwoofer or a couple of the speakers. Fully wireless systems are still rare.
  • Wireless systems tend to be more expensive than their wired counterparts.
  • Wireless systems can suffer from dropout or lag.

Inputs

Like cables, this is sometimes not given enough thought. After all, unless you’re going to buy an out-of-the-box system, you’re going to have to connect everything up and that comes down to having the correct inputs including HDMI, RCA, optical-in etc. Or if you opt to go down the wireless route, you need to ensure the wireless components of your system are actually compatible. Not all wireless is the same.

Price

Home theater systems vary in price from a couple of hundred dollars to tens of thousands. It’s easy to get carried away and spend more than you intended. Obviously, a guide like this one will help you choose the optimum system for you for the best price.

Space

Home theater systems come in different sizes, and shapes. If you’re limited on space, there are soundbars or compact systems, and even ones that you fit in the wall.

How do you set up your home theater system?

Room calibration

No matter what type of home theater system you buy, you’ll need to set it up for optimum performance. The size and shape of your room are the two big factors in this, although there are a number of others. 

Luckily many home theater systems now come with software that will automatically calibrate the room for you, often by means of a microphone you place in different spots around the room while calibrating. Yamaha’s PAO (Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) is an example of automatic calibration that comes bundled with the system.

Acoustic soundproofing

The problem with any room is that it consists of walls, windows and doors. Okay, so you knew that already! The point is, all these surfaces are hard and flat, so are brilliant at reflecting soundwaves which means what you’re actually hearing isn’t your sophisticated new home theater system, but the reflected sound from your very unsophisticated walls. Guess which sounds best? 

The good news is, the answer is to fill your room with anything soft – sofas, cushions, curtains, etc – which is probably what you’ve already done. However, if this doesn’t improve the sound enough, you may have to invest in acoustic panels and possibly bass traps. Another thing that can improve your bass (and your relationship with your neighbors) are isolation pads.

Home cinema speaker system. Loudspeakers, player and receiver isolated on white. 3d

List‌ ‌of‌ ‌best‌ home theater systems‌:

1. Best home theater system overall (quality vs. price): SVS Prime Satellite

SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System

What do I like about the SVS Prime Satellite?

  • The five speakers can be used as side or rear speakers.
  • The subwoofer perfectly integrates with the speakers.

What don’t I like about the SVS Prime Satellite?

  • There’s no dedicated center speaker.
  • It doesn’t deliver huge amounts of power.

What is included in the system?

  • 5 x  Prime Satellite speakers.
  • 1 x SB-1000 subwoofer.

How well is the SVS Prime Satellite built and designed?

SVS has a name for quality audio products and the Prime Satellite speakers and sub are solidly built. They look very ‘industrial’ in a good way, with the cones and fastenings visible.

Color: Black ash.

Size: 14 x 22 x 14 inches.

Weight: 65lbs.

What does the SVS Prime Satellite sound like?

The Satellite speakers incorporate a 1 inch aluminum dome tweeter with an FEA–optimized diffuser and a 4.5-inch woofer with an aluminum shorting ring for reduced distortion, a vented voice coil former, and a cast ABS–fiberglass composite basket for precise component alignment. The SB-1000 subwoofer incorporates a 12-inch front-firing driver, powered by an amplifier rated at 300 watts RMS, 700+ watts peak power. The whole system sounds well-balanced and rich. The Prime Satellite system’s only real drawback is its lack of serious volume, only really noticeable in larger rooms.

How do I connect the SVS Prime Satellite?

The Satellite speakers incorporate a single set of 5-way binding posts. The subwoofer has line level inputs and outputs as well as high-level inputs. 

Do I need a receiver for the SVS Prime Satellite?

Yes. The Denon AVR-X1600H 4K UHD AV receiver would be a good choice and would give you the option to upgrade to a 7.1 system later.

Is the SVS Prime Satellite good value for money?

If you’re looking for an all-round 5.1 setup that doesn’t cost the earth but that sounds great in any small to medium sized room, then the SVS Prime Satellite should be your #1 choice.

Buy the SVS Prime Satellite on Amazon.

2. Best budget home theater system under $200: Monoprice 108247

Monoprice 5.1 Channel Home Theater 108247

What do I like about the Monoprice 108247?

  • The price!
  • The sound for the price – it’s frankly unbelievable.

What don’t I like about the Monoprice 108247?

  • Construction is a little flimsy.
  • The sub can rattle.
  • It’s not the most powerful system.

What is included in the system?

  • 4 x satellite speakers.
  • 1 x center speaker.
  • 1 x subwoofer.
  • 1 x RCA M/M stereo cable (74 inch long).
  • 4 x C brackets.
  • 8 x sound insulating foam pads.
  • Pair of plastic feet.

How well is the Monoprice 108247 built and designed?

Monoprice is a budget label and the construction of the speakers and sub is fairly lightweight. Nevertheless, for the price they are attractively enough finished and should last a fair while unless you intend to subject them to rough use. The package also includes extras like mounting brackets.
Color: Black.

Size: 16.8 x 15.2 x 19.4 inches.

Weight: 27.6 lbs.

What does the Monoprice 108247 sound like?

For the price, amazing! The center speakers use two 3 inch shielded mid-range cones, while the two satellites use one 3-inch cone and a 1/2-inch dome tweeter. Despite this small size, they handle up to 125 watts. The subwoofer incorporates an 8-inch downward-firing cone and is powered by a 60-watt (RMS) amplifier, giving the whole system good, if not stellar bass. There is the option to upgrade to the 12-inch sub which might be worth considering.

How do I connect the Monoprice 108247?

The speakers have RCA line inputs and outputs. The subwoofer has line-level as well as speaker-level inputs.

Do I need a receiver for the Monoprice 108247?

Yes. The Sony STR-DN840 is a good choice, with the ability to upgrade to 7.1.

Is the Monoprice 108247 good value for money?

No. It’s incredible value for the money! It produces sound-quality and volume way above its price tag.

Buy the Monoprice 108247 on Amazon.

3. Best budget home theater system under $500: Onkyo HT-S3900.

Onkyo HT-S3900 5.1 Channel Home Theater

What do I like about the Onkyo HT-S3900?

  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • USB input.
  • Includes receiver.

What don’t I like about the Onkyo HT-S3900?

  • It lacks serious bass.
  • It also lacks volume.

What is included in the system?

  • 4 x satellite speakers.
  • 1 x center speaker.
  • 1 x subwoofer.
  • 1 x receiver.

How well is the Onkyo HT-S3900 built and designed?

The HT-S3900 is well-built and attractively finished. The receiver included is 4K compatible and decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, the most popular lossless multichannel soundtrack formats common to Blu-ray Disc.

Color: Black .

Size: 9 x 17.2 x 7 inches.

Weight: 17lbs.

What does the Onkyo HT-S3900 sound like?

Given this is a budget system, the sound is remarkably crisp and clear. Okay, if your thing is dystopian movie fests or intergalactic space wars, the HT-S3900 isn’t going to be dark or deep enough for you. On the whole, however, given the price, the sound quality is really impressive.

How do I connect the Onkyo HT-S3900?

One of the strong points of the HT-S3900 is its easy setup and choice of connections. An amplifier and media player are included in the receiver, so you can connect it up to your screen with one HDMI cable. You also get Bluetooth connectivity and can connect a compatible USB memory device with MP3, WMA, or AAC audio files.

The connections are also clearly labeled on the rear panel (it’s even printed upside down so you can read it easily while leaning over the device) and color-coded speaker cables are included.

Do I need a receiver for the Onkyo HT-S3900?

No. It’s included in the package.

Is the Onkyo HT-S3900 good value for money?

It’s exceptional value for money, especially given it’s Bluetooth compatible and includes a receiver.

Buy the Onkyo HT-S3900 on Amazon.

4. Best high-end home theater system: Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere.

Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere Home Theater System

What do I like about the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere?

  • The sound quality is otherworldly!
  • The package includes the excellent Marantz SR7013 receiver.

What don’t I like about the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere?

  • It’s pricey.

What is included in the system?

  • 2 x RP-8060FA floorstanding speaker with Dolby Atmos.
  • 1 x RP-504C center channel speaker.
  • 2 x RP-502S surround speakers.
  • 2 x R-120SW 12-inch subwoofer.
  • 1 x Marantz SR7013 9.2-channel receiver.

How well is the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere built and designed?

Like all Klipsch products, the build quality is exceptional. The enclosures are made from heavy-duty MDF with internal bracing and finished beautifully, while the internal components are superbly constructed to give unrivalled sound quality and durability. 

Color: Black with copper cones.

Size: 48 x 25 x 12 inches.

Weight: 401lbs.

What does the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere sound like?

The speakers feature 90° x 90° silicon composite hybrid Tractrix horns, linear travel suspension (LTS) titanium diaphragm tweeters and spun copper Cerametallic woofers. The RP-8060FA full-range tower speakers also feature high-performance 6.5 2-way up-firing Dolby Atmos height speakers integrated in the top.

The result is simply stellar in every area – stunning sound quality, powerful bass, huge volume. For the true audiophile, the difference between a top-of-the-range system like this and a mid-range setup is enormous. 

How do I connect the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere?

The speakers feature dual input terminals for bi-wiring / bi-amping capabilities which separate high and low frequency current into separate speaker cables.

Do I need a receiver for the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere?

No, the Marantz SR7013 9.2-Channel 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with Amazon Alexa and HEOS is included in the package.

Is the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere good value for money?

Despite the price, for what you get, it’s actually great value. It’s possible to pay way more and end up with a system that sounds nowhere near as good. But be warned. Once you’ve tried a system this stunning, there’s no going back!

Buy the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere on Amazon.

5. Best wireless home theater system: Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless.

Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless Home Theater System

What do I like about the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless?

  • I have a pathological hatred of cables, and, joy of joys, it’s fully wireless!
  • I can be quite low-tech when the need arises and the inclusion of an analog 3.5 mm input as well as Bluetooth is a plus.
  • If you have a problem setting them up, Enclave’s customer service is legendary!

What don’t I like about the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless?

  • It isn’t the easiest system to set up.
  • The speakers are not a standard shape, so fixing them to the wall can prove tricky.

What is included in the system?

  • 1 x soundbar.
  • 4 x satellite speakers.
  • 1 x subwoofer.

How well is the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless built and designed?

The CineHome Pro is the world’s first WiSA compatible THX Certified system. THX was set up by George Lucas who you think might know a thing or two about creating a great movie experience. According to THX, “THX Certification is reserved for only the best products that offer uncompromising quality, performance, and consistency.”  The CineHome Pro is certainly stylish and supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS Digital surround and Dolby Pro Logic II. 

Color: Black.

Size: 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches.

Weight: 65lbs.

What does the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless sound like?

I was concerned that a fully wireless system might impact the performance, but I was wrong. The sound quality is superb, the bass thunderous and no dropouts (although a few customers have mentioned minor problems with this).

How do I connect the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless?

Being fully wireless and equipped with eARC, ARC, or optical-inputs, all you need is one cable to your TV and you’re done! It’s also Bluetooth 5.0 enabled so you can control everything through the Enclave CineHub Remote App. And for analog freaks, there’s that 3.5 mm input.

Do I need a receiver for the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless?

No, the CineHub acts as a receiver.

Is the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless good value for money?

If you want to say goodbye to cables and hello to fully wireless, the Enclave Audio CineHome Pro is a superb choice. And the sound quality is as good as a wired setup.

Buy the Enclave CineHome PRO 5.1 HD Wireless on Amazon.

6. Best Dolby Atmos home theater system: Vizio SB46514-F6.

VIZIO SB46514-F6 5.1.4 Home Theater System

What do I like about the Vizio SB46514-F6?

  • It sounds great.
  • The wireless subwoofer. 

What don’t I like about the Vizio SB46514-F6?

  • The setup could be easier.

What is included in the system?

  • 1 x soundbar.
  • 1 x wireless subwoofer.
  • 2 x surround speakers.
  • Wall mounting hardware.
  • RCA to 3.5 mm stereo audio cable.
  • HDMI 2.0 cable.
  • Power cables.
  • Speaker cables.
  • Digital optical cable (Toslink).

How well is the Vizio SB46514-F6 built and designed?

The SB46514-F6 looks sleek and well-made. The soundbar contains front, rear and side speakers, while the two surround speakers include overhead drivers, keeping the whole system compact and tidy. It’s not just a Dolby Atmos system either, it works with Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS Digital Surround and DTS HD Master Audio. It will even work with MP3, .WAV and PCM. It also includes sound enhancement technology such as DTS Virtual: X, DTS TruVolume and Dolby Audio Processing.

Color: Black.

Size: 46 x 2.6 x 3.35 inches.

Weight: 40.5lbs.

What does the Vizio SB46514-F6 sound like?

The speakers include mid-bass drivers with neodymium magnets, tweeters and passive radiators, while the subwoofer has a 10-inch driver in a bass reflex ported enclosure. Overall the sound is superbly clear with plenty of depth in the low end, without any muddiness.

How do I connect the Vizio SB46514-F6?

It comes with HDMI, HDMI ARC, 3.5 mm stereo mini jack, S/PDIF Coax, Toslink Optical, and USB Input. You can stream with Chromecast, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it works with Google Assistant and also includes LAN and CEC.

Do I need a receiver for the Vizio SB46514-F6?

No, there’s one built in.

Is the Vizio SB46514-F6 good value for money?

For a truly brilliant Dolby Atmos soundbar system, the Vizio SB46514-F6 is unbeatable for the money.

Buy the Vizio SB46514-F6 on Amazon.

7. Best 5.1 home theater system: Elac Debut 2.0

Elac Debut 2.0 5.1 System

What do I like about the Elac Debut 2.0?

  • Even given the price, it’s amazing value.

What don’t I like about the Elac Debut 2.0?

  • Nothing!

What is included in the system?

2 x F6.2 floorstanding speakers.

1 x C6.2 center speaker.

2 x B6.2 bookshelf speakers.

1 x Elac sub3010 subwoofer.

How well is the Elac Debut 2.0 built and designed?

Elac is known as a quality brand and the Debut 2.0 certainly lives up to that reputation with thick MDF cabinets, internally braced, with a quality vinyl finish. The sub’s EQ can be controlled via an app to ensure perfect integration.

Color: Black ash.

Size: Not stated.

Weight: 100lbs.

What does the Elac Debut 2.0 sound like?

The floorstanding speakers include three 6.25-inch woven Aramid-fiber woofers with

three rear-firing reflex ports down their length. The silk-dome tweeter features a wide-roll surround and is responsive up to 35,000 Hz. The subwoofer is powered by a 200 watt RMS (400 Peak power) BASH amplifier and includes a 10-inch high-excursion doped paper cone and a passive radiator. 

The whole setup sounds like a home theater system costing twice the money. The depth of detail you can hear is astounding. However, if you’re looking for a system that will overwhelm you with a sheer wall of sound, the Debut 2.0 may not be for you. Even though it is powerful, it really excels in creating crystal clear high quality audio.

How do I connect the Elac Debut 2.0?

The speakers have 5-way metal binding posts, while the sub has L/R/LFE and RCA connections.

Do I need a receiver for the Elac Debut 2.0?

Yes. The Marantz NR1711 8K Slim 7.2 Channel Ultra HD would be a good choice.

Is the Elac Debut 2.0 good value for money?

The Elac Debut 2.0 is one of the best value for money 5.1 home theater systems available at the moment. 

Buy the Elac Debut 2.0 on Amazon.

8. Best 7.1 home theater system: Klipsch 7.1 RP-250.

Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 Reference Premiere Home Theater System

What do I like about the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250?

  • Everything! Okay, to be specific, the sound – it’s awesome!

What don’t I like about the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250?

  • The price. But then again, it’s absolutely worth it.

What is included in the system?

  • 2 X RP-250F floorstanding speakers.
  • 1 X RP- 250C center channel speaker.
  • 2 X RP-240S surround speakers.
  • 2 X RP-150M monitor speakers.
  • 1 X R-110SW 10-inch 200 watt subwoofer.
  • Free WA-2 wireless subwoofer kit.

How well is the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 built and designed?

The RP-250 is beautifully made inside and out. Quality MDF is braced internally to give solid, vibration-free enclosures in which to mount Klipsch’s high-end componentry.

Color: Ebony with copper cones.

Size: Not stated.

Weight: 271lbs.

What does the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 sound like?

The floorstanding speakers and the center channel speaker include dual 5.25-inch Cerametallic cone woofers, while the surround speakers have dual 4-inch Woofers and the monitors single 5.25-inch woofers. The 10-inch 200 Watt Subwoofer comes with a WA-2 Wireless Subwoofer Kit. 

The thing about Klipsch home theater systems is that however much you pay the sound quality is always top-rate and the RP-250 is no exception. There’s no one component that stands out, each element doing its job superbly of letting you get lost in the  movie theater experience. In fact, the RP-250 has become something of a classic in the home theater world.

How do I connect the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250?

The speakers come with single binding posts, while the sub comes with a wireless kit.

Do I need a receiver for the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250?

Yes. I recommend the Marantz SR6014 9.2 channel 4K UHD which gives you room to upgrade too.

Is the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 good value for money?

For the sheer quality of build and sound, Klipsch products are hard to beat. And for the price, the RP-250 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a high-end 7.1 system that won’t break the bank.

Buy the Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 on Amazon.

9. Best 9.1 home theater system: Klipsch 11.2 Atmos.

Klipsch 11.2 Atmos Home Theater System

What do I like about the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos?

  • The superb sound quality.
  • The all-in-one package

What don’t I like about the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos?

  • Nothing! 

What is included in the system?

  • 2 x RP-280F tower speakers.
  • 1 x RP-450C center speaker.
  • 2 x R-115SW subwoofers.
  • 4 x RP-250S surround speaker.
  • 4 x CDT-5800-C II In-ceiling speakers.
  • 1 x RX-A3070 receiver.

How well is the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos built and designed?

Not surprisingly on this list is another brilliant offering from Klipsch. All their products are superbly engineered and robustly built. The cabinets are made from heavy-duty MDF with brushed polymer veneer baffle finish and include heavyweight removable grilles.

As well as the stunning RP-280F tower speakers, the setup includes the RX-A3070 9.2 channel receiver which is capable of 11.2 channel processing. It also features Atmos and DTS:X, and 4K Ultra HD and high dynamic range (HDR). With the free MusicCast app you can also add additional wireless speakers in up to 9 additional rooms. 

Color: Black ash with copper cones.

Size: Not stated.

Weight: Not stated.

What does the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos sound like?

All the speakers in the 11.2 Atmos package feature Klipsch’s superb linear travel suspension titanium tweeters with spun copper Cerametallic cone woofers and 90 x 90 hybrid Tractrix horns and ports. The four CDT-5800CII ceiling speakers include treble and midbass attenuation switches and can be painted. The R-115SW subs with front-firing slot ports include an all-digital 800 watt amplifier and can be upgraded to wireless with an optional WA-2 Wireless Subwoofer Kit.

The overall sound is truly immersive with huge amounts of volume and bass on offer. However, the 11.2 Atmos also shines in the sheer detail and clarity that come through at any volume.

How do I connect the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos?

You can connect to the 11.2 Atmos wirelessly via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or AirPlay wireless connectivity. There’s even a phono input if you’re a vinyl freak. There are L/R line-level/LFE RCA inputs and dual binding post speaker terminals for bi-amping or bi-wiring.

Do I need a receiver for the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos?

No. The package includes the RX-A3070.

Is the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos good value for money?

It may seem a lot of bucks, but you get a high-end 11.2 Atmos system that sounds EPIC! And that makes it excellent value for the price.

Buy the Klipsch 11.2 Atmos on Amazon.

10. Best home theater system with a soundbar: Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite.

Nakaminchi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 Soundbar Home Theater System

What do I like about the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite?

  • The two subwoofers are wireless.
  • The ease of setup.

What don’t I like about the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite?

  • The rear speakers connect to the subs rather than being wireless, which would have been neat.

What is included in the system?

  • 1 X 7.2.4 channel 800W Dolby Atmos soundbar.
  • 2 X rear surround speakers.
  • 2 X 8-inch wireless subwoofers.

How well is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite built and designed?

The Shockwafe Elite is beautifully built and designed. It also has the advantage that if you’re pushed for space or cash, you can downgrade to one sub or upgrade to a 9.2 system. 

Color: Black and white.

Size: 48.2 x 14.8 x 17.8 inches.

Weight: 63.5lbs.

What does the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite sound like?

The Shockwafe Elite uses SSE (Spatial Surround Elevation) Technology with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Unusually the system comes with not only a soundbar but also speakers and a subwoofer. In fact two 8-inch subwoofers. And I’ve got to say, it works! The combination saves some space without sacrificing the surround-sound aspect. For the money, it really is better than most soundbar setups, and equally good as the equivalent non-soundbar systems.

How do I connect the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite?

The Shockwafe Elite is compatible with Dolby Vision, 4K UHD pass-thru, and High Dynamic Range (HDR). It includes the following inputs:

  • 1 x HDMI ARC.
  • 3 x HDMI.
  • 1 x optical.
  • 1 x coaxial.

Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are supported via the HDMI inputs.

Do I need a receiver for the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite?

No. There’s one built into the soundbar.

Is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite good value for money?

If you’re looking for a surround sound system that incorporates more than just a soundbar then the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite is a front runner.

Buy the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite on Amazon.

11. Best compact home theater system: Yamaha YHT-4950U.

Yamaha YHT-4950U 5.1 Channel Home Theater System

What do I like about the Yamaha YHT-4950U?

  • It includes the excellent Yamaha RX-V385 receiver.
  • It still provides high-quality sound even though compact in design. 

What don’t I like about the Yamaha YHT-4950U?

  • None of the speakers are wireless, although you can upgrade to the Yamaha YHT-5950UBL which, although still wired, supports MusicCast which allows you to add wireless speakers to the setup.

What is included in the system?

  • 1 x center channel speaker.
  • 2 x front channel speakers.
  • 2 x surround speakers.
  • 1 x subwoofer.
  • 1 x Yamaha RX-V385 receiver.
  • Cabling.

How well is the Yamaha YHT-4950U built and designed?

Yamaha has a reputation for building reliable products that do what they say and the YHT-4950U follows in that tradition. It’s a no-nonsense 5.1 compact setup that’s easy to connect and use. It includes a YPAO (Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) which analyzes the room acoustics and precisely adjusts the audio to provide the best sound for your room.

Color: Black.

Size: 22.5 x 22 x 18 inches.

Weight: 40lbs.

What does the Yamaha YHT-4950U sound like?

The package includes 2¾-inch full-range cones in the front and center speakers and an 8-inch sub. Together with the RX-V385 receiver, the system delivers a good balanced sound. The bass is no living room-shaker and the whole system’s not going to have the neighbours calling the cops even at high volume, but for the money, it’s pretty impressive.

How do I connect the Yamaha YHT-4950U?

Inputs include:

  • HDMI inputs
  • 1 x HDMI output.
  • 1 x optical audio.
  • 2 x coaxial audio.
  • 3 x analog audio.
  • 3 x composite video inputs.

There is also a single composite video output.

It supports 4K video, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma and Bluetooth, while Yamaha’s CINEMA DSP technology supports playback of HD Audio (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio).

Do I need a receiver for the Yamaha YHT-4950U?

No, the Yamaha RX-V385 receiver is included.

Is the Yamaha YHT-4950U good value for money?

It’s a great system if you’re lacking space or simply don’t want to spend too much for a 5.1 system.

Buy the Yamaha YHT-495OU on Amazon.

12. Best home theater system for small to medium rooms: Logitech Z506.

Logitech Z506

What do I like about the Logitech Z506?

  • The price.
  • It comes with color-coded cables. 

What don’t I like about the Logitech Z506?

  • It will only really generate surround sound if connected to a 5.1 computer sound card.

What is included in the system?

  • 2 front speakers.
  • 2 x rear speakers.
  • 1 x center speaker.
  • 1 x subwoofer.
  • 1 x 3.5 mm to RCA cable.

How well is the Logitech Z506 built and designed?

Logitech is a budget brand, but a quality budget brand if that makes sense. For the price the products are better built then you’d expect.

Color: Black. 

Size: 15.94 x 7.13 x 11.06 inches.

Weight: 11.5lbs.

What does the Logitech Z506 sound like?

Okay, it won’t please a real audiophile and it’s not going to provide you with room-shaking volume levels, but it’s a budget system designed primarily for use with computers, although it can work with other setups.

How do I connect the Logitech Z506?

It includes:

  • 3 x 3.5 mm audio-in jacks.
  • 1 x 3.5 mm headphone jack.
  • 2 x stereo RCA input jacks.
  • 4 x RCA input jacks for the speakers.
  • 1 x DB 9-pin connector.

You can have up to two devices connected at the same time.

Do I need a receiver for the Logitech Z506?

No. The subwoofer acts as a receiver.

Is the Logitech Z506 good value for money?

The Z506 is a great budget option for small to medium sized rooms, especially if you’re going to be using your computer’s 5.1 sound card.

Buy the Logitech Z506 on Amazon.

13. Best in-wall home theater system: Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall.

Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall

What do I like about the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall?

  • The all-in-one package even includes the speaker wire.

What don’t I like about the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall?

  • It lacks a subwoofer.

What is included in the system?

  • 1 x high definition digital cinematic sound 770 Watts 7.1 channel 3D A/V receiver.
  • 6 x in-ceiling speakers.
  • 100 feet of speaker wire.

How well is the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall built and designed?

Like most Yamaha products it’s well made and well thought out. Connecting it up is straightforward and the 770-watt receiver works well with the setup.

Color: White but can be painted.

Size: Not stated.

Weight: 74lbs.

What does the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall sound like?

The six, two-way, 150-watt ceiling speakers include 8-inch cone woofers and 1-inch swivel titanium dome tweeters. The sound is crisp and clear, with surprisingly decent bass. The addition of a subwoofer, and even a center speaker, would improve the system even more.

How do I connect the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall?

The package includes an iPhone and iPod dock. 100ft 16 AWG speaker wire is also included.

Do I need a receiver for the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall?

No, it’s included in the package.

Is the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall good value for money?

If you’re looking for an in-wall system that sounds good and is fairly simple to install, then the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall set up is a great option.

Buy the Yamaha 7.1 In-Wall on Amazon.

FAQs

Which brand is best for home theater systems?

There is no single leading brand. If you’re looking for a budget system, Monoprice and Logitech have established a name for themselves. Yamaha or Onkyo make good medium-priced systems, while Klipsch are known for higher-end setups.

Which is the best 5.1 home theater system?

I recommend the Elac Debut 2.0. It’s not cheap, but in terms of value for money, it’s unbeatable.

Which sound system is best for home theater systems?

In terms of value for money, the SVS Prime Satellite is hard to beat. If you can afford it, the Klipsch 7.2.2 Reference Premiere is an amazing system.

What is the best 7.1 home theater system?

The Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 would be my top choice. It’s become a classic and it’s hard to beat Klipsch’s sheer sound quality. 

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