Best Home Theater Systems for 2019

Steve Scott

Updated on

Nowadays, if you’re a movie buff or a dedicated gamer, it’s not a matter of should you get a home theater system than which one you should get. That is if you want to improve the overall experience and enjoyment. After all, a movie is not there for you to merely watch it. It is meant to tingle all the senses and to provide a full experience. A solid home theater system is there to help you immerse yourself in the world of whatever is in front of you. If you are a movie lover, check out our choices for the best home theater projector.

Luckily, there are countless options available out there, and we’ve compiled some of the most exciting choices.

Home Theater Systems Reviews - Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Yamaha YHT-4930UBL

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 12.38 x 17.13 x 6 in
  • Weight → 16.3lbs
  • Output Watts → 145 watts
  • Number of Audio Channels → 5.1

Key Features

  • 5.1 surround sound
  • Bluetooth for wireless music streaming
  • 4K Ultra HD pass-through with HDCP 2.2 support, HDR Video including Dolby Vision and
  • Hybrid Log-Gamma, and BT.2020
  • YPAO sound optimization
  • Virtual Cinema front
  • 4K video upscaling from HDMI input
  • HD Audio format decoding: Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and Dolby Vision Compatible

PROS

  • Yamaha is a quality A/V receiver manufacturer
  • Full 4K Ultra HD support
  • HDR10/Dolby Vision/HLG pass-through
  • Bluetooth connection for wireless streaming - both in and out
  • Compact speaker package for smaller rooms
  • Value for money

CONS

  • No wireless speakers for 5.1 surround sound

Yamaha YHT-4930UBL Review

If you're looking for an affordable option that gives you the best bang for your buck, then look no further from Yamaha YHT-4930UBL. This 5.1 home theater system is meant to aim at mid-range customers, meaning it is a perfectly sound choice even if you don't want to break the bank.

This home theater system is comprised of compact speakers, smaller in size, that won't take much of your space. The subwoofer is rated at 100 watts. Having a 6 ½" cone, it is bound to produce enough bass for your needs without ever taking up too much space. The sound coming from the speakers is top-notch, and the bass is just great.

When it comes to additional features, that's where Yamaha YHT-4930UBL shines. It has Bluetooth support so you can stream audio from other devices, and you can also connect to Bluetooth speakers and headphones, a feature not available on every device. You can use Yamaha's YPAO room optimization software to help you analyze your surroundings and optimize the sound quality accordingly.

YHT-4930UBL comes with a set of wired speakers, which can be good or bad, depending on your preference. They do produce excellent sound quality, but wireless speakers might offer you more freedom. Also, the audio tends to distort a bit at higher volumes so it might not be the best option for those who are looking to blast their speakers to the max regularly. However, YHT-4930UBL has proved to be one of the most reliable and affordable all-around home theater systems. 

Best Budget: Logitech Z506

Logitech Z506

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 19 x 15 x 8.38 in
  • Weight → 11.45 lbs
  • Output Watts → 150 watts
  • Number of Audio Channels → 5.1

Key Features

  • 5.1 surround sound
  • 150 Watts Peak/75 Watts RMS power system
  • Satellites: 48 watts RMS (2 x 8 W front, 16 W center, 2 x 8 W rear)
  • Subwoofer: 27 watts RMS
  • Supports multiple connection options
  • Connect up to two devices simultaneously

PROS

  • Budget-friendly
  • Fantastic sound for the price range
  • Easy placement of the speakers
  • Accessible controls on the right satellite

CONS

  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Only wired connection

Logitech Z506 Review

Logitech is a well-known brand, especially in the gaming industry, but their setups work just as well as home theater systems. One of the things that Logitech is also known for is the ability to make budget-friendly speakers that produce fantastic sound quality at the same time. And Z506 is no different. This 5.1 system has proven to be a much better choice than some of the more expensive setups, but even if it lacks certain features, it can all be forgotten due to the affordable price range.

It provides excellent sound quality, with crisp sound at low volume and clarity at higher volume even when the bass is predominant. With 2.7m center, 2m front, and 5 m rear cables it is relatively easy to find the best spot for the speakers in your room. Nearly all the controls are placed at the right satellite, thus making it easy to access, especially the power and volume controls.

However, Logitech Z506 doesn't offer features such as Bluetooth. For such a feature you will need to pay more, whereas some even cheaper models have this option included. All in all, Logitech Z506 tends to offer the best value for such a reasonable price.

Best High-End : Sonos 5.1 Surround Set

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 44.5 x 29.5 x 12 in (package)
  • Weight → 20 lbs (package)

Key Features

  • Built-In Wi-Fi & Ethernet Connectivity
  • Works with Alexa & Google Assistant
  • AirPlay 2 & Siri Compatible
  • 3.0-Channel System
  • Supports SonosNet Wireless Connectivity
  • Stream Music from a Variety of Sources
  • Sonos Controller App for iOS & Android
  • Works as a Standalone Music Player
  • Connects Directly to Internet Radio
  • Easy Setup & Flexible Placement

PROS

  • Elegant design
  • Minimum cord usage
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • A variety of built-in features
  • Continuous updates

CONS

  • Price
  • Lack of Dolby Atmos

Sonos 5.1 Surround Set Review

Sonos 5.1 Surround Set

Sonos is hitting the market pretty strong with this one, and for a good reason, too. Their 5.1 Surround Set presents a high tech home theater solution. It is equipped with state-of-the-art wireless speakers. Sonos Beam Soundbar, a Sonos Sub, and a couple of Play:1 speakers are included in this set. 

What's great about Sonos, you get an app that lets you control the surround system from any part of your household. You get a choice of streaming music from 30 various services while being able to play different songs in different rooms of your house, and all with different settings. Connecting to WI-Fi and updating the system is pretty straightforward.

The best thing about Sonos speakers is that the audio quality is always at the top of the game. The sound clarity is top-notch, even when played loudly. It has several incredible additional features, such as dialogue enhancement, when you want to increase the clarity of dialogue in a movie. Another great feature is the night mode, for late-night movie watching. With night mode you can increase the level of quiet audio parts or suppress any louder sequences. Since Sonos Surround Set is wireless, it can work wonders for an adventure such as outdoor movie watching.

Another significant aspect of this Sonos Surround Set is its modern, minimalistic design, something that people at Sonos always paid great attention to. This makes it easy to fit into any household. There is minimal usage of cables, allowing you to have a clutter-free, peaceful space. 

There are a couple of drawbacks to this setup, though. Sonos 5.1 Surround Set doesn't have Dolby Atmos functionality, unlike some of the cheaper models out there. Only Dolby Digital is available in this package. And of course, there's the matter of price. Although it offers superb sound quality, it is more on the high end, especially when compared to its competitors.

See related - Best Bookshelf Speakers 

Other Home Theaters to Consider

VIZIO SB46514-F6

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 48 x 22 x 16 in (package)
  • Weight → 56 lbs (package)
  • Output Watts → 150 watts
  • Number of Audio Channels → 5.1.4

Key Features

  • 5.1.4-Channel configuration
  • Built-in Wi-Fi & Ethernet connectivity
  • Chromecast built-in
  • Bluetooth audio streaming
  • Wireless subwoofer

PROS

  • Dolby Atmos functionality
  • Sound clarity
  • Setup is fast and easy
  • Very simple to operate
  • Google Chromecast, Bluetooth, and VIZIO Smartcast are built-in

CONS

  • Slightly expensive

VIZIO SB46514-F6 Review

Vizio's been at the top of the game with its SB46514-F6 soundbar. This setup includes a subwoofer, two surround speakers and a soundbar. The best part about this system is that it comes with Dolby Atmos functionality built-in. Such a feature cannot be found even in some more expensive setups. 

Its name hides all its features in plain sight. SB46 stands for a soundbar that is 46 inches long, and 514 stands for 5.1.4 configuration. Five speakers, one subwoofer, and four refers to the number of height channels available. Those height speakers really add to the sound quality and clarity. 

MONOPRICE 9723

monoprice 9723

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 17.5 x 17.3 x 17 in
  • Weight → 40 lbs (package)
  • Output Watts → 150 watts
  • Number of Audio Channels → 5.1

Key Features

  • Maximal output power reaches 200W
  • Frequency response 50 Hz – 250 Hz
  • RCA inputs and outputs
  • Hi level (speaker) input and output

PROS

  • The subwoofer adds the bass notes that ordinary speakers cannot provide.
  • You can blend the device with other speakers
  • It is very inexpensive

CONS

  • Heavy product
  • Massive, so it might be hard to find it a place
  • No wireless connectivity

Monoprice 9723 Review

Monoprice 9723 has been out there for a while now, and it seems it's not going away. Although lacking in brand recognition, the quality of the product makes up for all of that. As with many Monoprice products, 9723 comes at a low cost. But this low price allows you to go out and purchase a compatible receiver since it doesn't include one in the first place.

Despite being a quite large model, at 12" and almost 40 pounds, the subwoofer lacks in power. However, for such a restricted budget it offers decent sound and details.

KLIPSCH HDT-600

Klipsch Hdt-600

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 3.85 x 3.6 x 6 in (satellite), 3.85 x 9 x 3.6 in (center), 12,5 x 12,5 x 13.9 in (subwoofer)
  • Weight → 25 lbs
  • Output Watts → 100 watts
  • Number of Audio Channels → 5.1

Key Features

  • High-gloss black finish
  • Includes four satellite speakers, one center channel speaker, and one subwoofer
  • 8-ohm compatible
  • Spring clip connectors
  • Acoustic suspension (sealed) design
  • Frequency response: 150-20,000 Hz
  • Handles up to 100 watts
  • Mounting brackets and threaded inserts for wall-mounting the satellites

PROS

  • Detail clarity
  • Crystal clear dialogues
  • Bass strength
  • High value for money
  • Modern design

CONS

  • Large speakers
  • A bit heavy to carry around

Klipsch HDT-600 Review

The Klipsch products have proven to be one of the best surround sound speakers out there and it's no different with HDT-600. This is a 5.1 system that boasts with astounding sound production and overall performance. The detail clarity is just astonishing. You might catch yourself noticing and experiencing nuances you might not have otherwise. 

When it comes to vocal reproduction, Klipsch HDT -600 shines through. The dialogues are crystal clear, coming from the center front speaker. Even when you crank up the volume to the max you still don't lose any of the audio quality. The 8" subwoofer produces such an output that the bass can shake the foundations of your house.

There aren't many drawbacks to this model. The only minor flaw is that the speakers are a bit larger so finding a place for them can prove to be a hassle. They're also a bit heavy, so carrying them from one place to another might be difficult. That being said, the sound quality will make you forget these cons in a moment.

See related - Best Outdoor Projector and Movie Screens

ONKYO HT-S5800

ONKYO HT-S5800

Specifications:

  • L x W x H → 18 x 36 x 13 in (package)
  • Weight → 77 lbs (package)
  • Output Watts → 115 watts
  • Number of Audio Channels → 5.1.2

Key Features

  • Dolby Atmos Support
  • 115 W per Channel
  • Discrete Amp Circuits
  • HDMI® 4 In / 1 Out
  • Latest HDMI Specification & HDCP 2.2 for 4K UltraHD
  • Built-in Bluetooth Wireless Audio Streaming
  • Diagrams for Easy Connection
  • AccuEQ Room Acoustic Calibration

PROS

  • Dolby Atmos
  • A/V receiver included
  • Height channels included
  • Simple setup
  • Bluetooth connectivity

CONS

  • Subpar receiver quality
  • Lack of Wi-Fi and ethernet

Onkyo HT-S5800 Review

This 5.1 surround system is great if you want to kill two birds with one stone. With it, you get Dolby Atmos included, without having to break the bank in the process. It also comes with the A/V receiver included which will also save you some money. And the best part with Onkyo HT-S5800 is that it comes with height channels included, a feature that you won't find in some of the more expensive models, like Yamaha YHT-4930UBL. This feature allows you to set up a full, rich surround sound quickly.

The receiver included with it isn't one of the best out there. Onkyo HT-S5800 has yielded better results with receivers from other renowned manufacturers like Yamaha. So if you have the resources for it, consider getting a better receiver to improve the sound quality.  

Best Home Theaters: Buying Guide

There are a lot of things to take in before buying a home theater system. Here are some of the aspects you should consider:

5.1 vs. 7.1 Home Theater

The first choice you have is to determine whether you need a 5.1 or 7.1 home theater system. Simply put, those numbers point to the speakers available to you within such a system. Naturally, you can go smaller or bigger, for example with 3.1, 9.2 or 11.2 systems, but 5.1 and 7.1 are currently the most popular packages out there. 

A 5.1 home theater system consists of five speakers and an additional subwoofer, while 7.1 has seven speakers ( .1 or .2 refers to the number of subwoofers in a given package). The subwoofer is responsible for handling the bass notes, and all the other speakers handle the rest.

In a 5.1 system you will have the center speaker placed directly in front of you, usually under your TV set. Two front speakers will be placed to the left and right of it, while the remaining two could be placed either to your side or behind you. The subwoofer’s best place is in the corner of your room at floor level, where you can get the most out of it. 

7.1 system, on the other hand, will have both a pair of side and back speakers, in addition to the aforementioned front ones, giving you even more immersive surround feeling.

As a rule of thumb, when choosing the best setup for you, you should consider the size of the room where you'll be using that system. The smaller the room, the smaller the system required to get the job done. So, if you have limited space, the 5.1 system will be more than enough. On the other hand, a 7.1 setup is excellent for a large area, where you could place the additional speaker above and behind you.

image showing 5.1 vs. 7.1 Home Theater

A/V Receivers Explained

The A/V receiver is the heart and soul of any home theater setup. Without it, you wouldn't be able to get audio and video to your desired output devices. Hence the A/V stands for Audio/Video. The primary purpose of the A/V receiver is to receive signals from the input device (like a DVD player or a gaming console) and send them to the output device such as your TV or surround system. So an A/V receiver serves as a place where you'll connect everything from your speakers to your TV or gaming gear. Check out our guide on best AV receivers out there.

In many cases you might be compelled to go out and buy this piece of equipment independently from your home theater system. Luckily, nowadays many setups come with a receiver already built inside.

Popular Surround Sound Formats

Although the number of speakers in setup is essential, there are still other crucial things to consider if you want to get surround sound. For example surround sound formats, which have been introduced in the late 20th century, and are getting improved daily, just to get the best possible audio quality. Some of them are mandatory and are supported by every A/V receiver out there, while others can be found only in some devices. Here are some of the most common sound formats:

Dolby Atmos

Chances are you've once come across the term Dolby Atmos, and for a good reason. It has become the industry standard over the years since it was introduced in 2012. First it was introduced in movie theaters across the globe but has since become available in TVs, smartphones, and home theater systems.

At first, when Dolby Atmos was used in a movie theater setting, it allowed even up to 64 speakers to be positioned everywhere around you. That added a different dimension to the sound, thus giving the sound designers a chance to convey different sound to a specific area. The result is a more immersive experience when you feel all the action is happening in the same room where you're sitting. 

In the past sounds were limited to specific channels, meaning certain audio parts would be played on particular speakers. With Dolby Atmos this limitation is off, and now you don't have to hear individual sounds on a specific speaker.

The one downside to Dolby Atmos is that not every system can provide it or is compatible with it. So, you need to check whether your speakers, player or receiver support Atmos, which can prove to be a hassle.

DTS:X

DTS:X is another standard in the industry, but with one significant upside when compared with Atmos. It is much easier and cheaper to set up. As opposed to Dolby Atmos, you don't have to get additional speakers and you can utilize a 7.1 or 9.1 setup and get a similar result. Naturally, it doesn't have that added dimension that Atmos provides, but it gives you an exceptional experience for a fraction of the price. 

Dolby TrueHD

The main problem with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X is that many receivers won't be able to support such formats so you'll have to look elsewhere. Dolby TrueHD is a reliable alternative to these two. That being said, it doesn't provide such a great result, but it can produce more than decent sound quality if you don't own a 9.2 setup or bigger. With TrueHD sound quality is not lost through compression, which results in a well-defined surround experience.

Dolby Digital Plus

This format extends Dolby Digital and supports eight channels. While it is present in 7.1 systems, it is compatible with standard 5.1 setups, meaning that on a 5.1 receiver, you won't hear a 7.1 mix but a 5.1, since the rear channels will blend with left and right channels. Dolby Digital Plus is optional for Bluray and many studios still provide sound in Dolby Digital 5.1 format.

Wired or Wireless – What to choose?

One of the first things you'll have to decide upon is whether you need a wired or wireless home theater system. Both solutions have their benefits and drawbacks, and which one you'll choose is up to your personal preference.

Wired speakers have a more in-depth, richer sound, because of uninterrupted data flow and no compressions that hinder the sound quality. They are more stable than the wireless ones since they only rely on the power switch. There are no sudden breaks in connectivity that might occur in wireless systems. 

However, wired systems are undoubtedly a mess. All those cables tend to make clutter and pose a threat of tripping over them, or worse, damaging them. Also, a wired system has its limitations when it comes to speaker placement since you'll usually place them at the spot where they'll make the least amount of mess.

Wireless systems, like Sonos 5.1 Surround Set, make a room much more spacious as the amount of clutter is brought to a minimum. Placement options are much higher since you aren't restricted by the use of cables, thus allowing you to get the best performance from your speakers. 

There are a couple of downsides to wireless systems. First of all, they are not cheap and are pricier than wired systems. There are also some concerns regarding their performance since the wireless data transfer requires a certain amount of compression, which tends to lead to lower sound quality. Another major issue with wireless systems is that there often comes to problems with disconnecting and signal breaks which can affect your overall experience and enjoyment.

What will you use it for?

All home theater systems are built with movies, TV and gaming in mind, and that's where they shine the most. This means you'll get the most out of a home theater system when you use it with a TV. That being said, you don't have to worry about getting a surround system specifically for watching movies or for gaming. Modern systems are designed to handle everything in front of them equally. They will do their best work when you watch your favorite TV show, as well when playing a new game with your friends. But if all you do is listen to music you might opt-out of buying such a system. Listening to music, which is mixed for two channels usually, on five or seven speakers, might be an overkill.

How to Set Up a Home Theater System?

Now that you've purchased the home theater system, it's time to set it up properly. At first it might seem daunting and overly complicated, but we're here to guide you through the process.

Speakers

The first matter of business is setting the speakers in the appropriate positions. The proper location for the front right and left speakers would be at the side of your TV set. The center speaker should be placed between those two speakers, which means you should put it under the TV, maybe on a shelf.

When it comes to rear and side speakers, the name says it all. Rear speakers should be positioned right behind you while the side speakers should stand to your left and right. On some occasions you might need to purchase stands for these types of speakers.

Subwoofer

After you've found the place for the speakers, you'll also need to find one for the subwoofer. Finding the right spot for it is crucial for excellent sound quality. The best place for a subwoofer is in the corner of the room, possibly slightly removed away from the walls. You could also place it to the side of the front speakers if that suits you better.

Cables

After positioning the system you'll need to connect it with wires. You'll have to buy a roll of wire and measure the distance between the receiver and the speakers. After that, cut it to length. The next step is stripping the wires and cutting off the insulation. When you get to the bare wire you can connect it as such, or use banana plugs. After that, you should connect the speakers to the port in the back of the receiver. Every speaker will have a red and black connection, red being the positive and black being negative, meaning you'll have to connect the positive on the speaker to the positive on the receiver, and likewise the negative.

What are subwoofers and crossover?

A subwoofer's role is to produce the bass, adding that touch of color to the sound, and making things more interesting, allowing you to experience every kick or punch more intensely. An easy indicator if a system has a subwoofer is in the number after the decimal. 5.1 system has one subwoofer, and 7.2 has two, and so on.

However, to get the most out of a subwoofer, you'll need to set the crossover properly first. In other words, set the frequency at which the subwoofer will produce bass notes. Take a look at your speaker's specs and see how low the frequency goes, and then set the crossover to a similar value.

What is Room Calibration?

Home theater systems will work differently in different surroundings. So, depending on a room, the home theater system might shine or fail. Home theater manufacturers got clever and built a software that adjusts the sound to the room where the system was set up. It is referred to as room calibration, which takes the surroundings into account and allows you not to worry about having the perfect conditions for your new home theater system. Room calibration is a feature that usually comes with high-end systems or receivers, and you'll seldom find it in cheaper products. 

How to Get a Better Sound Without Room Calibration?

If you don't have a system with room calibration, you might need to become a little resourceful and make the most of your space. Since the sound travels through air and reflects through everything on its way, you might want to avoid having your room empty or full of hard surfaces. Fill your room with objects that absorb sound, like cushions, drapes or carpets. Given that most rooms already have these items you are probably halfway there.

When Should You Go Bigger?

There are numerous reasons why you might want to invest in a bigger sound system. Living in a larger place, wanting to add another dimension to the experience or just being a tech buff are all valid reasons. So if you have a separate A/V receiver, you can add more speakers as most of the receivers allow this option. But if you want to add a height speaker you might have to get a model that allows that. Whichever it is, first decide what you need and want from your sound, and simply go from there.

In Conclusion

Naturally, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding to get a new home theater system, whether it is the price, sound quality, connectivity, design, available sound formats and many more. One could get lost just thinking about it. Thus, the main thing to do here is to know what you want, what your budget is, and to limit your expectations to what you can afford. 

My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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