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The 10 Best Home Theater Systems in 2023

The Best Home Theater Systems: Top 10 Reviews & Buying Guide: a modern home theater room

Updated:

The best home theater systems offer a great way to experience movies & TV in surround sound. Learn what to look out for and which are the top models to buy.

For many, the best home theater systems provide an excellent balance of good quality sound and easy installation.

In 2023, a top home theater system can give you a great audio experience to rival a more complex setup without the added complication of buying individual components.

This buying guide will give you the low down on all you need to know to get yourself up and running.

First, there is a general overview of all-in-one systems and some of the features you should be looking out for.

After that, there are reviews of some excellent options, helping you decide what to buy and why they will give you a great movie theater experience in your living room.

Top 10 Best Home Theater Systems Comparison Table

Image Model Speakers Wireless Speakers? Dolby Atmos?
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 Soundbar System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra Soundbar System 9.2.4 2x Subwoofer Yes Check Price
Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System
Polk Audio 5.1/Denon AVR-S960H System 5.1 No Support for 5.2.2 Check Price
Sonos surround set with Beam and Sub
Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc 5.1.2 Yes – all speakers Yes Check Price
Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Home Theater System 5.1 Yes – all speakers No Check Price
Yamaha YHT-5960U Home Theater System
Yamaha YHT-5960U Home Theater System 5.1 No No Check Price
Samsung HW-Q990B Soundbar System
Samsung HW-Q990B Soundbar System 11.1.4 Yes – all speakers Yes – integrated upfiring speakers Check Price
Bose Soundbar 900 Surround Set
Bose Soundbar 900 Home Theater Set 5.1.2 Yes – optional surrounds + subwoofer Yes – integrated upfiring speakers Check Price
Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Soundbar System
Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Soundbar System 7.1.2 Yes – all speakers Yes – integrated upfiring speakers Check Price
JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar System
JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar System 5.1.4 Yes – all speakers Yes – integrated upfiring speakers Check Price
Logitecha Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
Logitech Z906 Speaker System 5.1 No No Check Price

What is a Home Theater System?

It may seem like a stupid question, but one of the most challenging things is to pin down precisely what a home theater system is.

In simple terms, a home theater package makes it easy to improve the audio in your room, letting you turn off those lousy TV speakers and get a bigger and more satisfying sound when watching a movie.

All without needing a qualification in electrical engineering!

The problem is there are various ways of doing this. So, the term ‘home theater system’ can mean different things.

No wonder people get confused when trying to research this stuff!

When searching for the best home theater equipment, you often get a long list of AV receivers, soundbars, surround sound speaker packages and all-in-one systems.

But these all do different things. So, how do you decide what is best for you?

You should start by simplifying things and considering the basics.

There are two main ways to get good-quality home theater audio in your room:

  1. buy an AV receiver and a separate speaker package
  2. buy an all-in-one home theater system or soundbar

This article isn’t about the first option.

If you want to buy an AV receiver or separate surround sound speakers, then go to the following articles:

However, buying a separate amplifier and speakers is too complicated for many, and they want a more straightforward solution.

In this case, the best option is to look for an all-in-one home theater system or soundbar, which includes an amplifier and speakers all in the same box.

With these, you have everything you need without worrying about buying extra components.

That is the focus of this article.

Home Theater System Buying Guide

So, to recap, a complete all-in-one system designed for a home theater will combine an amplifier and speakers in the same package.

A few years ago, an all-in-one system was a different beast than it is today.

Previously, a system would often include an amplifier, a DVD player and surround speakers – all in a single package. This was often called home-theater-in-a-box.

However, times change, and systems like these aren’t common now.

You may still see some budget home-theater-in-a-box systems around, but these won’t have the best performance, and there are better alternatives these days.

At present, the primary choice is between two types of systems:

  1. All-in-one home theater systems: these come with an amplifier, a complete set of surround sound speakers and a subwoofer.
  2. Soundbar systems: all the speakers are built into a single, stylish and compact unit that you install under (or over) your TV. Some of these have additional surround speakers and a subwoofer to install around your room.

So, you must first choose whether you want a more traditional all-in-one package or a soundbar-based system.

So, what are some of the points to look out for?

Do You Need to Buy an Amplifier or Speakers?

Every complete system will include these.

The main advantage of an all-in-one system is that you will get an amplifier and speakers designed to work well together.

You don’t need to worry about matching the speakers with the amplifier – and you don’t need to be concerned with the technical details, which can be confusing for some.

A complete package also usually includes all the extras required to get it up and running, like speaker wire. However, you may want to double-check this, as some may not.

Of course, if you are buying a wireless system, speaker wire won’t be an issue!

Also, be careful when you are searching for these systems. 

You will find many products under this category – including surround sound speaker packages with no amplifier.

Many people get confused about this and may buy a standalone speaker package without realizing they will need an amplifier to make it all work.

So be careful you know what a product includes before purchasing.

All the systems mentioned on this page are complete systems with speakers and amplifiers.

What Connection Types Do You Need?

This is where it can get a little tricky.

The point of improving the sound is to hear audio from your devices. But which devices do you want to hear?

Do you want to hear the sound just from your TV? Or what about your Blu-ray player or game console?

Some systems allow you to connect external devices directly, while others don’t.

What about Netflix or Amazon Prime? Or content on your mobile device?

How do you get the audio from these to your new speaker system?

Finally, maybe you should allow extra connections for future purchases too?

So before buying, you must be clear about what you want to play through the speakers and then choose the right system that allows this.

Some systems will have one or more HDMI inputs, allowing you to connect your game console or Blu-ray player with a single HDMI cable (or anything else with an HDMI output).

HDMI, optical and coaxial connections on the rear of a media player

Others may have optical, coaxial or stereo analog inputs for audio, while some systems will have all of these.

But there are plenty of products with very few input connections.

Soundbars, in particular, often have very few inputs and are mainly designed to just play audio from your television.

However, some models do offer more input options where you can connect more devices.

Newer soundbars get the sound from your TV via an HDMI ARC connection, which allows the TV to send the audio down the HDMI cable into your soundbar.

However, if you have an older TV, you might not have an HDMI ARC connector. HDMI, yes, but maybe not the ARC version – which is newer.

In this case, you might need a system that has an optical connection, which is more common on older TVs.

So you should be clear on what you want to connect to your new audio system and buy the right product for your needs.

What Surround Sound Speaker Layout Do You Want?

As these speaker systems are for home theater, many will come with subwoofers and surround speakers, and the most common speaker layout is 5.1.

For example, a surround sound 5.1 speaker system has five main speakers – a center, front left, front right and two rear speakers.

The .1 refers to a separate subwoofer speaker, which provides extra bass.

5.1 Surround Sound System
5.1 Layout for Surround Sound

However, some systems may not include surround sound audio and only offer stereo, 2.1 or 3.1 layouts. But maybe this is all you want?

The home theater speaker layouts article examines 5.1 vs 7.1 and 2.0 vs 2.1 systems.

Many soundbar systems have all the speakers in one box, placed at the front of your room under the TV.

However, some soundbar packages come with separate wireless rear speakers, with only the front left, center and front right speakers in the soundbar.

More advanced systems support the newer 3D audio formats of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and may have upfiring speakers that bounce the sound off your ceiling to create height effects.

These upfiring speakers may be installed into the soundbar, or you may get separate speakers to place around the room, giving a much better surround sound experience.

If all this is important to you, first decide which speaker layout you want, and buy the model that provides this.

Whatever speaker layout you go for, you should also consider the speaker placement in your room to get the best sound from your system.

And, if you want to learn more about 3D audio, learn how Dolby Atmos works.

How Much Power Does a Home Theater System Need?

One of the main specs to look out for when buying a separate amplifier and speakers is the power rating.

The power rating gives an idea of how loud a system will be in the room and, in some cases, how well an amplifier will drive a set of speakers.

However, you can often ignore the power ratings for all-in-one systems and soundbars because comparing the specifications for different systems is almost impossible.

And, the diverse ratings don’t give much clue how loud it will be in your room anyway.

Some models like the Yamaha and Onkyo all-in-one systems give power ratings similar to standalone AV receivers, which are specifications measured against an accepted standard.

With these, you can compare one device with another and have a pretty good idea of how loud it will be just by looking at the numbers.

Power Rating of a Yamaha YHT-4950U Home Theater System
Power rating of a Yamaha YHT-4950U home theater system

But, with many all-in-one systems and soundbars, this pretty much all goes out the window.

Many brands calculate the peak power for a single speaker (which will never be reached in practice) and then multiply this by the number of speakers in the system.

This doesn’t tell you much about actual performance.

Some brands give high ratings because they appear impressive – but they aren’t measured against the same standards as most home theater and hi-fi products.

Any system that declares it has 1000 watts of power isn’t telling you much. Well, that’s not entirely true. It tells you that you can’t rely on their numbers to know how loud their system is.

These systems won’t be as loud as the specifications suggest in the real world.

Some manufacturers like Sonos and Bose don’t offer any power ratings at all.

In some ways, this is the best way to deal with the power rating for an all-in-one system.

The amplifiers and speakers are designed to work well together and comfortably fill an average-sized living room.

As a rough guide, most systems or soundbars will be suitable if your viewing distance is around 6-12 feet.

Larger spaces might still be fine, but it all depends on how loud you want to have the sound and how far away you are sitting from the speakers.

If you have more specific needs, maybe an all-in-one system isn’t the right choice for you?

In this case, a separate home theater receiver and speakers will give you more options to increase the volume in the room.

If interested, read the articles about AV receiver power ratings and matching amps and speakers.

You will learn that power specs may not be as important as you first thought.

Do You Want Wired or Wireless Speakers?

A few years ago, you had no choice, but there are now some excellent options if you want wireless speakers.

Some wonder if you can get the same audio quality as a trusty old cable. Others could care less and can’t wait to remove all those annoying speaker wires.

Which are you?

The simple answer is that most people won’t tell the difference between the two, so it’s probably not worth worrying about.

If you are picky about sound quality, you will likely already have high-end equipment and won’t be looking to buy an all-in-one system.

Generally, many soundbars come with wireless subwoofers and surround speakers, while all-in-one systems are more likely to rely on cables.

But not always.

How Good Is the Sound Quality of Home Theater Systems?

If sound quality is essential to you, then a rule of thumb is you get what you pay for.

Although, as with many things, not always!

It will probably be no surprise if the higher-end models sound better than the budget systems.

However, if you are an audiophile looking for the best audio performance, then maybe a separate receiver and speakers might be a better bet – rather than an all-in-one system?

There’s no right and wrong here.

Everyone has different views on what sounds good – and what is good enough.

What sounds great to one person might not be so amazing to another.

There’s always a trade-off between what you are willing to pay – and what you consider to be value for money.

Any soundbar will improve on the sound you get from your TV speakers – even the cheapest models.

So, if that is all you need, there’s no need to break the bank.

However, if you want something that sounds good for TV, movies and music, you will need to up your budget a little more – maybe around the $400-$500 range as a minimum.

You’ll need to go higher still if you are critical about audio and want the best sound quality.

Do soundbars and budget all-in-ones sound as good as proper hi-fi amplifiers and good-quality tower or bookshelf speakers?

Honestly, no. But it does depend on what you are used to listening to.

If you don’t already have a dedicated music system – then a complete system will probably be fine for your music-listening needs.

Good quality hi-fi amplifiers, and expensive speakers with large drivers, will always sound better than the small speakers you get in soundbars and most all-in-one systems.

But, they cost more too.

The bottom line is that if you are critical about sound quality, the best solution is to go and get a demo of the system so you can hear it yourself.

If not, you will need to rely on the opinion of others.

How to Choose a Home Theater System

Before buying a home theater package, think about these issues:

  • Type: Do you want a more traditional all-in-one surround system with an amplifier and speakers or a more modern soundbar system? Another option is to buy an AV receiver and a separate surround sound speaker package, but this is more complex to set up.
  • Price: Your budget will quickly narrow down your choices. The cheapest home theater system is a simple stereo soundbar. Surround sound is better for movies, but it’s not essential. For systems with a heftier price tag, you will generally get more features, better build quality and improved sound quality.
  • Speakers: How many speakers do you want? Do you just want stereo sound or a 2.1 system with a subwoofer? Or, you can get 3.1 with a center speaker, 5.1 surround sound, or Dolby Atmos systems with upfiring speakers for 3D sound. These might be 5.1.2 or 7.1.4.
  • Center Speaker: Do you want a system with a dedicated center speaker to help with clearer dialogue? Or is stereo enough? Most all-in-one systems will have dedicated center speakers, and some soundbars have a center speaker built into the unit along with the front left and right speakers. However, many soundbars are stereo only.
  • Surround Sound: Do you want a system with individual surround speakers that you need to install around your living room? Most all-in-one 5.1 systems will have these, while many soundbars will accommodate all the speakers in the soundbar itself. However, some soundbar systems do have rear surround speakers.
  • Connections: Check how the system connects to your TV – HDMI, optical or analog stereo? Many soundbars use HDMI ARC, so your TV needs to support this too. Also, do you want to connect external devices like a DVD or Blu-ray player? Your system will need extra connectors for all these.
  • Features: Which other options do you need? Bluetooth? Music streaming capabilities? Video streaming services like Netflix or Spotify?
  • Wireless: Do you want wireless speakers? Many all-in-one surround sound systems will use wires to connect the speakers, although some have wireless speaker options. Some soundbars have a wireless subwoofer and options to add wireless surround speakers, but many don’t.

Top 5 Home Theater Systems Reviews

When buying home theater equipment, one of the most challenging things is narrowing down your choice.

With all the options, looking for the best surround sound system can make your head spin.

Hopefully, the previous section will have given you a better idea of what you are looking for.

But now, here are some popular options to help your narrow your choice.

There are systems at different prices, so there should be something for all budgets.

For soundbars, the systems mainly have dedicated surround sound speakers.

But if you want to look at a full range of soundbars – from budget to high-end or from stereo to Dolby Atmos – take a look at the guide to the best soundbars for your TV and home theater.

The main thing to remember is that there isn’t a perfect home theater system that will suit everybody, and all the models here have positives and negatives.

People have different needs and expectations. Different budgets. Different rooms.

Some features are required, some are nice to have, and some won’t be needed.

So you need to decide which system matches your needs best.

1. Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC Soundbar System

If you’ve never heard of Nakamichi before, you may be surprised to learn they have a rich history of making high-quality AV products.

Founded in 1948, this Japanese company became well-known in the 1970s with a series of ground-breaking stereo cassette recorders.

Yes, kids, we used to use tape! Don’t laugh.

However, Nakamichi began producing a range of high-performance soundbar systems in 2016, leading to the current flagship model, the Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 soundbar system.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC Soundbar System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC Soundbar System
Image Credit: Nakamichi

Thumbs Up

  • Powerful home theater sound
  • Many speaker placement options for a true surround sound experience
  • SSE processing engine to optimize the sound for your room
  • Dual subwoofers
  • Plenty of connections for external devices
  • eARC HDMI connection
  • 4K HDR passthrough
  • Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Wall-mountable

Thumbs Down

  • The system isn’t the most stylish design.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra Highlights

One of the standout features of the Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra soundbar system is the sheer number of speakers.

If you want a complete home theater system that will immerse your whole room in surround sound, you’ve come to the right place.

The Ultra system comes with the main 45-inch soundbar, two side surround speakers, two rear surround speakers and two wireless subwoofers.

If you are looking for a discrete soundbar system that you can hide in your room, this package isn’t for you.

However, the good news is that having this number of speakers will give you the best 3D surround sound effect.

In total, the Ultra series has a total of 18 speaker drivers:

  • Soundbar: 6x 2.75-inch full range drivers / 2x 1-inch tweeters
  • Side Surrounds (each): 1x 3-inch full range driver / 1x 1-inch tweeter
  • Rear Surrounds (each): 1x 3-inch full range driver / 1x 1-inch tweeter
  • Subwoofer (each): 1x 10-inch down-firing subwoofer

The speaker system isn’t completely wireless.

Both subwoofers are wireless, so they can be positioned easily, but the four surround speakers must be wired to the subwoofers – two for each.

Having two subwoofers means you should get excellent low-end coverage around your room.

Nakamichi claims that any decent home theater system must have two subwoofers, which isn’t the case. But, especially in larger rooms, it will help distribute the low-end sound equally for everyone watching.

However, dual subwoofers might be too overpowering for a small room – assuming you’ve got enough space for them!

Another innovative feature of the surround speakers is that they can be configured to suit the room.

There are six placement options, and the standard position is to have each surround speaker in an upright position.

However, they can also point upwards for Dolby Atmos elevation speakers or be placed together and work as dipole speakers to create a more diffuse sound.

Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC Specifications
Channels 9.2.4
Center Speaker Yes
Included Speakers 1x Soundbar, 2x Subwoofer, 4x Rear Speakers
Optional Add-on Speakers No
AV Connections 3x HDMI (eARC), 1x Optical, 1x Coaxial, 1x 3.5mm Stereo Analog, Bluetooth
Other Connections 1x USB (updates only)
Dolby Atmos No
UHD/HDR Support 4K/60Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Voice Control No
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS, PCM Stereo & Multichannel
Dimensions: Soundbar (W x H x D) 45.5 x 3.6 x 3 in | 1156 x 91 x 76 mm
Weight: Soundbar (lbs/Kg) 6/2.7
Dimensions: Rear Speakers (W x H x D) 5.6 x 8.1 x 4.8 in | 142 x 2.6 x 122 mm
Weight: Rear Speakers (lbs/Kg) 2.9/1.3
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 12 x 20.2 x 13.6 in | 305 x 513 x 305 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 23.8/10.8

You can mix and match these positions for a range of placement options.

There are plenty of connections on the soundbar’s rear, and it is unusual to get this many HDMI ports outside of an AV receiver.

There are 3 HDMI inputs for connecting external devices, plus an HDMI eARC output for connecting to your TV – and full passthrough support for 4K HDR and Dolby Vision.

If that wasn’t enough, you also have an optical, coaxial and 3.5mm AUX input for other audio sources.

If you are looking for the best Dolby Atmos soundbar system for your home theater, then the Nakamichi Ultra should be on your list of options.

Take a look at this listening battle from CES2018 if you want some more information on the performance:

YouTube video

While the Nakamichi Ultra is the top-of-the-range, there are two models with fewer features.

So, if you like the idea of a Nakamichi soundbar system but want to spend a little less, you might want to consider the Elite or Pro versions.

The Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite soundbar system is a 7.2.4 system.

It is the same as the Ultra, except for two slightly smaller 8-inch subwoofers and only two surround speakers.

The Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro soundbar is a 7.1.4 system, and it is the same as the Elite version, except it only comes with a single 8-inch subwoofer.

This might be better for smaller rooms.

While these Nakamichi soundbar systems are easy to buy in the US, they are not so readily available worldwide.

However, if you are keen to buy one of their systems and you are outside of the US, they do ship worldwide from the Nakamichi eBay store.

Nakamichi refreshed the Shockwafe range in 2022.

While the systems remain essentially the same, the new versions are labeled Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC, Shockwafe Elite 7.2 eARC and Shockwafe Pro 7.1 eARC.

While the older models are called Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 SSE, Shockwafe Elite 7.2 SSE and Shockwafe Pro 7.1 SSE.

The main improvements in the eARC models are:

  • HDMI 2.1 eARC connection
  • Improved Bluetooth performance with aptX-HD support
  • Slight power increase from 1000 to 1300W
  • Improved full-range speaker cones and silk tweeters
  • More powerful subwoofers with an improved frequency response
  • Redesigned backlight remote

The older SSE models are cheaper, so you can save money by getting the older systems if you don’t need the new features.

Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC
What Is It: A large home theater system with dedicated surround and Dolby Atmos speakers.
Pros:
  • 9.2.4 surround sound system
  • 4x surround speakers
  • 2x 10-inch subwoofers
  • HDMI: 3-in/1-out (eARC)
  • Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DD+, DTS:X, DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Dolby Vision & 4K HDR passthrough
Cons:
  • Not the best-looking system
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT B&H

Alternative Models:

Nakamichi Mid-Range System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2 eARC
What Is It: A mid-range Dolby Atmos home theater soundbar system. Cheaper than the Nakamichi Ultra, although with fewer speakers.
Pros:
  • 7.2.4 surround system
  • HDMI: 3-in/1-out (eARC)
  • Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DD+, DTS:X, DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Dolby Vision & 4K HDR passthrough
Cons:
  • 2x rear speakers (the Ultra has 4)
  • 2x 8-inch subwoofers (the Ultra's are 10-inch)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT B&H
Nakamichi Entry-Level System
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 eARC
What Is It: A Dolby Atmos home theater soundbar system for smaller rooms. The cheapest Nakamichi system, but it only has one subwoofer.
Pros:
  • 7.1.4 surround sound
  • 2x rear speakers
  • HDMI: 3-in/1-out (eARC)
  • Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DD+, DTS:X, DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Dolby Vision & 4K HDR passthrough
Cons:
  • 1x 8-inch subwoofer (the Ultra & Elite have two)
BUY AT AMAZON BUY AT B&H

2. Polk Audio 5.1-Ch Home Theater Speaker System with Denon AVR-S960H Receiver

The next suggestion isn’t exactly an all-in-one system; it’s a surround sound speaker bundle and a separate AV receiver.

Why has this been included in this article about complete systems?

There are two reasons:

  • Because it’s an excellent system that will compete in sound quality and price with anything on this page.
  • Because it highlights the earlier point that an all-in-one system isn’t the only way to go.

You can buy an outstanding AV receiver, purchase a separate package of speakers, and get a better system for your money.

The downside is it will be slightly more tricky to set up, so it’s probably not recommended for a complete novice.

But it will be easy enough if you’re reasonably comfortable with modern AV technology.

Polk Audio 5.1-Ch Home Theater Speaker System with Denon AVR-S960H Receiver
Image Credit: Polk Audio & Denon

Thumbs Up

  • Everything you need for an excellent home theater system
  • Great value for money
  • Excellent mid-range Denon AV receiver with 8K video support
  • A better speaker package than you get with most all-in-one systems
  • Support for upgrading to a Dolby Atmos system
  • Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio high-resolution audio support
  • Loads of input connections
  • HDMI ARC and eARC
  • You can add more or upgrade the speakers later

Thumbs Down

  • A bit more complicated than buying an all-in-one system, but not much.

Polk Audio 5.1/Denon AVR-S960H Highlights

There are two main parts to this system.

One is the AV receiver, and the other is the surround sound speaker system.

The speakers and the AV receiver are mid-range in price and sound quality. You can buy cheaper systems, but you can also pay a whole lot more!

Something like this will be perfect for someone who wants to go up a level or two without breaking the bank.

The AV receiver included here is from one of the best AV receiver brands – Denon.

The Denon AVR-S960H is a mid-range model – but that doesn’t mean it will give you an average sound. Denon makes excellent receivers at all price points, and the AVR-S960H is no exception.

It is a 7.2-channel receiver with a power rating of 90 watts per channel (8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven), which will provide plenty of power for most home theater rooms.

One of the advantages of an AV receiver is they provide more input connections than most all-in-one systems, and here you have 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs.

This is plenty for all your external devices like Blu-ray players, cable TV boxes and game consoles.

This receiver also supports the new video formats of 8K/60p and 4K/120p – plus, HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG passthrough. Ideal if you have a new game console with HDMI 2.1 support – and it will also stand you in good stead for future purchases.

The main HDMI output supports ARC and eARC. This means you can send high-resolution audio from your TV’s internal apps and back into your speaker system. Very useful!

You also get the following:

  • 2 x component video inputs
  • 2 x component video outputs
  • 2 x composite video inputs
  • 1 x composite video output
  • 2 x optical audio inputs
  • 1 x coaxial audio inputs
  • 4 x stereo RCA inputs
  • 1 x phono input
  • 1 x Ethernet port

Of course, all these extra connections are only a bonus if you need to connect more devices.

There is also a zone 2 pre-out for sending stereo audio to a different room in your home.

This receiver also comes with the outstanding Audyssey MultEQ room calibration software, which will do an excellent job of getting a balanced sound in your room.

You could get a slightly cheaper AV receiver if you wanted to reduce the cost slightly. If so, look at the guide to the best AV receivers under $500 for some ideas.

If not, the Denon AVR-S960H is a solid choice.

Polk Audio 5.1/Denon AVR-S960H Specifications
Channels 5.1 (Support for 7.2/5.2.2)
Included Speakers 1x Center, 2x Front Tower, 2x Rear Bookshelf, 1x Subwoofer
Wireless Speakers No
AV Connections 6x HDMI in (1x 8K), 2x HDMI out (eARC), 2x Optical in, 1x Coaxial in, 4x Analog Audio in, 2x Component in, 2x Composite in, 1x Component out, 1x Composite out, 1x Zone 2 out, 1x USB (Front), 1x Phono
Other Connections 2x Subwoofer RCA, 1x Headphone
Network / Wireless Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (Send & Receive), Airplay 2, HEOS
Dolby Atmos Yes – with additional speakers
UHD/HDR Support 8K/60p & 4K/120p, HDCP2.3 / HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Voice Control Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Josh.ai
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DD+, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS, DTS-ES (Matrix6.1 & Discrete6.1), DTS 96/24, DTS Express, DTS-HD HR Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS:X, DSD, LPCM (Up to 192/24 7.1ch)
Selected Processing Modes Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X, DTS Virtual:X
Power (W)* 90
Dimensions: Receiver (W x H x D) 17.1 x 6.6 x 13.4 in | 434 x 167 x 341 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight: Receiver (lbs/Kg) 21/9.5
Dimensions: Center Speaker (W x H x D) 19 x 6.5 x 8.5 in | 483 x 165 x 216 mm
Dimensions: Front Speakers (W x H x D) 9.25 x 36.5 x 8.75 in | 235 x 927 x 222 mm
Dimensions: Rear Speakers (W x H x D) 6.5 x 10.63 x 7.25 in | 165 x 270 x 184 mm
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 14 x 14.4 x 16.1 in | 356 x 366 x 409 mm
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, 0.08% THD, 2 Channels Driven

Moving on to the speakers, you have a very nice 5.1 surround sound speaker system from Polk Audio – a respected name for many years in the AV world.

The speakers might be part of the Polk T-Series entry-level home theater speaker lineup, but they will be a cut above most speakers you get with all-in-one systems.

And, if you prefer, you can always buy their higher-end speakers or upgrade later.

The included front left and right speakers are the Polk Audio T50 floor-standing tower speakers.

Each floor-standing speaker will give you an excellent front stereo image with a balanced sound from a single 1″ tweeter, one 6.5″ mid-range driver and two 6.5″ bass radiators.

The sound at the front is completed by the Polk Audio T30 center channel speaker, which will complement the floor-standing speakers with a single 1″ tweeter and two 5.25″ drivers for the mid and low end.

For the rear of the room, this package includes the Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers.

These could be used as front speakers in some systems, but here they are meant to be installed as your surround sound pair.

Again, they will work well with the Polk speakers in the front of the room.

The final piece of the jigsaw is the Polk Audio PSW10 powered subwoofer.

This 10″ subwoofer is not so big that it will overpower your room, but it will provide a solid bottom end for music and movies alike.

All in all, it is an excellent mid-range 5.1 surround sound speaker package.

You can also buy the speakers separately if it’s easier. Although a bundle will often prove cheaper.

If you are interested in 3D audio, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, this system can also handle that if you buy some extra speakers.

The Denon AVR-S960H is a 7.2-channel receiver, meaning you can install a 5.2.2 surround sound system with two extra height speakers.

All you need is to buy two Dolby Atmos elevation speakers to add to the Polk Audio package – or you could get an extra pair of the T15 bookshelf speakers, which would also work well.

Alternatively, you could buy a different brand for your height speakers.

Having the same brand for Dolby Atmos speakers is less critical than for the front left/right and center speakers.

The final thing that you would need is some speaker wire.

This doesn’t need to be too complicated, and you don’t need to spend too much on this.

You are good to go if you buy some no-frills 14 or 16-gauge copper speaker wire, and something like this will be fine:

KabelDirekt Pure Copper Stereo Audio Speaker Wire
KabelDirekt Pure Copper Stereo Audio Speaker Wire
Image Credit: KabelDirekt

The important thing is to ensure you buy enough.

Calculate how far you will need to run to each speaker, and the rear speakers are the ones that will need the most.

If you want to save some money, CCA wire will do instead of pure copper, and you can learn more about this in the guide to buying the best speaker wire.

At the end of the day, buying a speaker package and a separate AV receiver isn’t for everyone.

If it seems too much like hard work for you, there are plenty of great all-in-one systems on this page.

Top Entry-Level 5.1 Speaker System
Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System
What Is It: An excellent entry-level 5.1 surround sound speaker package from Polk Audio. Ideal for a small to mid-size room.
Pros:
  • 2x T15 bookshelf speakers
  • 2x T50 tower speakers
  • 1x T30 center speaker
  • 1x PSW10 10-inch powered subwoofer
  • Works with most home theater receivers
BUY AT AMAZON
Top Mid-Range AV Receiver
Denon AVR-S960H 7.2-Ch AV Receiver
What Is It: A superb mid-range AV receiver from Denon. Works with most surround sound speaker packages and supports all the latest audio formats.
Pros:
  • 7.2-channels
  • HDMI: 6-in/2-out
  • 1x HDMI 2.1 8K input
  • Dolby Atmos 5.2.2 support
  • 90 watts power rating
  • Audyssey MultEQ room calibration
  • HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
  • Dolby Surround, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS Neural:X
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

3. Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc

You might be surprised to see Sonos speakers appear in this list of home theater surround sound systems.

Many people think that Sonos just produce excellent standalone wireless speakers and soundbars.

But, what many don’t know, is you can build an excellent 5.1 surround sound system by combining the different speakers in the Sonos range.

By starting with a soundbar for the front three speakers, you can add two rear speakers and a subwoofer by purchasing other Sonos speakers.

Then, use the Sonos app to combine these into an excellent wireless surround sound system.

Read on for more detail on how to build a 5.1 system with Sonos speakers.

Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc
Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc
Image Credit: Sonos

Thumbs Up

  • High-quality 5.0.2 soundbar
  • Upgradeable – you don’t need to buy the complete package all in one go. You can start with a soundbar and later add the sub and surround speakers.
  • No speaker wires.
  • Able to add extra Sonos speakers in other rooms for multi-room audio.
  • Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Thumbs Down

  • Limited inputs for other devices.
  • Quite expensive once you add all the extra speakers.

Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc Highlights

The system featured here is built around the excellent Arc soundbar, which provides the primary front speakers in a 5.1 surround sound system – front left, center and front right.

However, don’t forget that you can build a similar system using any of the other Sonos soundbars:

  • Beam (Gen1 or Gen2)
  • Ray
  • Playbar

The specific speaker layout you get at the front will depend on the soundbar you buy, as they all have slightly different configurations.

The Arc is the most advanced and includes four extra channels – two extra speakers for surround sound and two upfiring speakers for Dolby Atmos – essentially creating a 5.0.2 layout with the soundbar alone.

The other soundbars have the following speaker configurations:

  • Beam (Gen 1): 3.0
  • Beam (Gen 2): 3.0.2
  • Ray: 2.0
  • Playbar: 3.0

After deciding which soundbar to buy, you can add more of the Sonos speaker range for a complete surround sound system.

You can add the Sonos Sub to fill out the sound with some real low bass action – either the full-sized Sub (any generation) or the newer Sub Mini.

After that, you can use the Sonos App to add surround speakers to get yourself an immersive surround system with sound from around you.

The following speakers can be used in pairs to create the rear surround speakers:

  • Five
  • One
  • One SL
  • Play:1
  • Play:3
  • Play:5 (gen2)
  • Two of your own speakers using the Amp or Connect:Amp

You just need to make sure the two surrounds are of the same type.

Once the app has created your surround setup, you are good to go.

Sonos Immersive Set with Arc Specifications
Channels 5.1.2
Center Speaker Yes
Included Speakers 1x Soundbar, 1x Subwoofer, 2x Rear Speakers
Optional Add-on Speakers No
AV Connections 1x HDMI (eARC), 1x Optical (via adapter), Wi-Fi, AirPlay2
Other Connections 1x Ethernet
Dolby Atmos Yes
UHD/HDR Support N/A
Voice Control Sonos Voice Control, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Selected Audio Decoders PCM (Stereo & Multichannel), Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS
Dimensions: Soundbar (W x H x D) 45 x 3.4 x 4.5 in | 1142 x 87 x 116 mm
Weight: Soundbar (lbs/Kg) 13.78/6.25
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 15.8 x 15.3 x 6.2 in | 402 x 389 x 158 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 36.3/16
Dimensions: Rear Speakers (W x H x D) 4.69 x 6.36 x 4.69 in | 120 x 162 x 120 mm
Weight: Rear Speakers (lbs/Kg) 4.08/1.85

The next question is, how do you get TV and movie audio into the speakers?

The Sonos Ray and Playbar have an optical audio input, so connect the optical output from your TV to the soundbar, and you will hear 5.1 Dolby Digital sound in your speakers.

There is one thing you should be aware of.

To get this working correctly, you must ensure that your TV can output 5.1 Dolby Digital from the optical output.

Some can, and some can’t.

It is more likely to work for internal TV apps but not for external devices connected via HDMI directly to the TV.

You might find this article on 5.1 surround sound passthrough on TVs helpful.

There is a better solution with the Sonos Arc and Beam (Gen 2) soundbars, as they have an HDMI eARC port, which you can connect to a suitable HDMI port on your TV.

The eARC HDMI ports also support high-resolution audio formats from your TV, such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio.

However, they will also work with the older HDMI ARC port if that’s all your TV has.

If you only have an optical audio output on your TV, you also get an adapter to connect the optical output to the HDMI input.

If you want to connect an external Blu-ray player to your Sonos surround sound system, you have two main options:

  1. Connect the Blu-ray player to the TV via HDMI – and send both audio and picture to the TV. Then, pass the 5.1 audio from the TV optical output to the Sonos – or via HDMI ARC for the Arc/Beam. This is the recommended way to connect a Sonos soundbar.
  2. Connect the Blu-ray player to the TV via HDMI – for the picture only. Then use an optical connection direct from the player to the Playbar/Beam/Arc. Some Blu-ray players have two HDMI outputs. If so, you could also use this for sending audio to the Arc or Beam. The downside of doing this is that the soundbars only have a single input. So, connecting multiple devices can get tricky. One way to solve this is to buy an optical audio switch.

So, even though the connection options are pretty limited, for many people, this will be all you need to get surround sound in your living room.

Flagship Sonos System
Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Arc
What Is It: A high-end 5.1.2 wireless surround sound system. The main speaker is the Sonos Arc soundbar, plus the Sonos Sub (Gen 3) and two One SL speakers.
Pros:
  • eARC HDMI connection
  • Audio Formats: PCM (Stereo & Multichannel), Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS
  • Voice Control: Sonos Voice Control, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
  • No speaker wires
Cons:
  • Limited input connections
  • Expensive
BUY AT SONOS Find the Best Price

Alternative Sonos Sets

Mid-range Sonos System
Sonos Premium Immersive Set with Beam
What Is It: A 5.1.2 wireless surround sound home theater speaker system. Includes the Beam (Gen 2) 3.0.2 soundbar.
Pros:
  • 1x Beam (Gen 2) soundbar
  • 2x One SL surround speakers
  • 1x Sub (Gen 3)
  • Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus audio
  • Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay 2 network
  • Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Cons:
  • The soundbar might be too small for large TVs and rooms.
BUY AT SONOS BUY AT WWS
Compact Sonos System
Sonos Immersive Set with Ray
What Is It: A compact wireless surround sound system. Includes the Sonos Ray soundbar, Sub Mini and two One SL speakers.
Pros:
  • 22-inch soundbar
  • Discrete system for smaller rooms and TVs.
  • High-quality Sonos speaker technology
  • Connections: 1x Optical, Wi-Fi, AirPlay2
  • Voice Control: Sonos Voice Control, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Cons:
  • Too small for large rooms
BUY AT SONOS BUY AT WWS

4. Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System

You will be excited by this option if you are looking for one of the best wireless surround sound systems.

The Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Home Theater System has no wires to connect the speakers to the main unit at all.

Plus, it delivers uncompressed high-resolution audio, which should satisfy many audiophiles.

Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
Image Credit: Enclave Audio

Thumbs Up

  • High-quality WiSA wireless audio
  • Uncompressed LPCM, Dolby Digital and DTS Surround support
  • Low latency audio
  • Easy to install and set up
  • THX-Certification
  • HDMI ARC and eARC support
  • Can be wall-mounted

Thumbs Down

  • No option to expand to a Dolby Atmos system
  • No support for Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio
  • No supplied remote control

Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Highlights

The Enclave Audio CineHome PRO 5.1 is another excellent wireless surround sound system from this exciting brand.

Enclave Audio specializes in wireless audio systems using WiSA technology.

WiSA stands for Wireless Speaker & Audio Association, a group of more than 60 brands working together to define standards for high-resolution, low-latency, multi-channel wireless audio.

So, if you see a product with the WiSA logo, you can be sure of audiophile audio quality delivered without wires – up to 24-bit/96kHz audio at a low latency of 5.2ms.

Perfect for a home theater sound system.

Another great feature of the CineHome PRO is THX certification.

THX has provided a benchmark for audio and video products for many years, and you can be sure that a THX-certified device meets high and specific performance levels.

This system comes with five surround speakers and a 10-inch wireless subwoofer.

The front left, front right and center speakers each contain two 3-inch full-range drivers and a single 1-inch tweeter.

The two rear speakers have a matching configuration – except they only have one full-range driver each.

The design of the speakers may not be to everyone’s taste, but for most people, the tall and thin speakers will give a modern look to any room.

They do an excellent job of being relatively discreet while providing plenty of power and sound quality.

Enclave Audio CineHome PRO Specifications
Channels 5.1
Included Speakers 1x Center, 4x Satellite, 1x Subwoofer
Wireless Speakers Yes – all speakers
AV Connections 1x HDMI in (eARC), 1x Optical in, 1x 3.5mm Stereo Analog in
Other Connections 1x USB (Service)
Network / Wireless Bluetooth 5.0
Dolby Atmos No
UHD/HDR Support N/A
Voice Control No
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS, LPCM Uncompressed
Selected Processing Modes Dolby Pro Logic II
Dimensions: Hub (W x H x D) 5.1 x 1.6 x 7 in | 130 x 40 x 178 mm
Weight: Hub (lbs/Kg) 0.9/0.4
Dimensions: Center Speaker (W x H x D) 24.1 x 3.4 x 5.3 inch | 613 x 87 x 134 mm
Weight: Center Speaker (lbs/Kg) 7.3/3.3
Dimensions: Front Speakers (W x H x D) 3.4 x 24.1 x 5.3 inch | 87 x 613 x 134 mm
Weight: Front Speakers (lbs/Kg) 7.3/3.3
Dimensions: Rear Speakers (W x H x D) 3.4 x 16.4 x 5.3 inch | 87 x 413 x 134 mm
Weight: Rear Speakers (lbs/Kg) 4.6/2.1
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 11.8 x 18.8 x 14.4 in | 306 x 477 x 365 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 26.7/12.1
Additional Details THX-Certified, WiSA- Certified

The final speaker in the package is a striking V-shaped 10-inch wireless subwoofer. Big enough to really pack a punch – but not too large to get in the way.

The system is controlled by the compact CineHub, which powers the speakers, and is where you connect your devices.

The number of connections is relatively modest but will be sufficient for most people.

There is a single HDMI eARC/ARC connection that you connect to an HDMI ARC input on your TV – which sends the audio from your television to the speaker system.

You also have an optical audio input and a 3.5mm AUX stereo analog audio input which you can use for connecting other devices.

Or, you can use the optical audio input for receiving audio from your TV if it doesn’t have an HDMI ARC connection.

Finally, the CineHub also supports Bluetooth connections, so you can send audio from your mobile devices into your speaker system.

The setup and control of the CineHome PRO system are done in the free Enclave Audio mobile app.

The app is also used in place of a regular remote control, to pair the wireless speakers and adjust the speaker’s levels and distance settings.

However, if you wish to use a normal handheld remote, you can use a universal remote control.

Or, if you are using the recommended HDMI ARC connection, you can use your regular TV remote for basic control if you have HDMI-CEC enabled.

A cheaper model in this range has fewer features if you want to keep costs down.

The Enclave Audio CineHome II system has most of the benefits already discussed, and the main differences are:

  • No THX Certification
  • A smaller 8-inch subwoofer
  • The front and center speakers are smaller
  • The front left and right speakers have a single 3-inch driver
  • The rear surrounds are a compact bi-pole design

Apart from that, you get the same wireless WiSA technology to deliver high-quality audio in your room.

Top Wireless Home Theater System
Enclave Audio CineHome Pro 5.1 Home Theater System
What Is It: A high-end wireless 5.1 home theater system for those who value great sound.
Pros:
  • THX-certified
  • Low latency, 24-bit/96kHz wireless audio
  • 1x HDMI Arc/eARC, 1x optical, 1x 3.5mm stereo analog inputs
  • Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS 5.1, Uncompressed LPCM audio
  • Bluetooth
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

Alternative Model:

Mid-Range Wireless Surround Sound
Enclave Audio CineHome II 5.1 Home Theater System
What Is It: A cheaper, mid-range 5.1 home theater system from Enclave Audio.
Pros:
  • High-quality wireless 5.1 surround sound
  • Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS 5.1, Uncompressed LPCM
Cons:
  • Smaller 8-inch subwoofer
  • Smaller front and surround speakers
  • Not THX-certified
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

5. Yamaha YHT-5960U Home Theater System

The Yamaha YHT-5960U home-theater-in-a-box package is a 5.1-channel surround system. It is an excellent mid-range choice for people who want good home theater sound but don’t want to spend too much.

Yamaha makes many high-quality AV receivers, and this system is essentially a Yamaha AV receiver bundled with a compact 5-speaker package and a subwoofer.

So, it’s a good option if you are interested in buying an AV receiver system – but don’t want the extra trouble of pairing it with a set of speakers.

The YHT-5960U is an update on the previous recommendation, the YHT-4950U, and Yamaha has improved this package in several ways – including adding support for 8K video.

Yamaha YHT-5960U Home Theater System
Yamaha YHT-5960U Home Theater System
Image Credit: Yamaha

Thumbs Up

  • Yamaha makes quality home audio equipment
  • Full 4K Ultra HD support – upgrade available to 4K/120 and 8K/60
  • HDR10+/HDR10/Dolby Vision/HLG passthrough
  • Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio support plus HDMI eARC
  • Yamaha YPAO™ room optimization
  • Bluetooth connection for wireless streaming – both in and out
  • Compact speaker package for smaller rooms
  • Plenty of input connections plus two pre-outs for a second subwoofer
  • Reasonable power specification
  • Good value for money

Thumbs Down

  • No wireless speakers for 5.1 surround sound – although an upgrade is available using MusicCast Surround
  • No support for Dolby Atmos

Yamaha YHT-5960U Highlights

The home theater speaker package with this system comprises compact black gloss speakers, and the matching look is one benefit of buying a complete package.

The front left and right, center channel and satellite speakers have single 2 ¾” full-range cones, while the front and surround speakers weigh in at 1.3 lbs each, and the center is slightly heavier at 1.6 lbs.

The smaller size of the speakers provides a discreet look that won’t take over your room, which is an essential consideration for many people who share their home theater room with a general living space.

If you set the crossover frequency at the right point, you can still get a full sound from smaller speakers.

This is where the subwoofer comes in, handling the lower frequencies that the small fronts and surrounds might not do justice to.

To help with that, you can use the supplied microphone and YPAO room optimization software to analyze your room and set the best parameters.

YPAO will automatically find the best crossover points and speaker distances, which many all-in-one systems don’t have. So this is a good plus point for this Yamaha all-in-one.

The integrated room calibration software can make the difference between good and excellent sound in your room, so always ensure you run this.

The subwoofer has an 8″ cone rated at 50 watts (5 ohms, 100 Hz, 10% THD), which offers plenty of bass for movies and music without taking up too much floor space.

Yamaha YHT-5960U Specifications
Channels 5.2
Included Speakers 1x Center, 4x Satellite, 1x Subwoofer
Wireless Speakers No (support for optional MusicCast wireless surround speakers)
AV Connections 4x HDMI in, 1x HDMI out (eARC), 1x Optical in, 1x Coaxial in, 3x Analog Audio in, 1x USB
Other Connections 2x Subwoofer RCA, 1x Headphone
Network / Wireless Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (Transmit & Receive), MusicCast Surround + Multi-Room, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect
Dolby Atmos No
UHD/HDR Support 4K/60Hz, 4K/120AB, 8K/60B, HDR10+, HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG
Voice Control Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution, DTS, PCM Stereo & Multichannel (Max. 192 kHz/24-bit), DSD 2-ch to 6-ch (2.8 MHz)
Selected Processing Modes Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X, Cinema DSP, Dialog Level Adjust, Silent Cinema / Virtual Cinema DSP
Power (W)* 80
Dimensions: Receiver (W x H x D) 17.1 x 6.7 x 14.9 in | 435 x 171 x 379 mm (w/o antenna)
Weight: Receiver (lbs/Kg) 19.4/8.8
Dimensions: Center Speaker (W x H x D) 10.78 x 4.38 x 4.63 inch | 274 x 111 x 118 mm
Weight: Center Speaker (lbs/Kg) 1.61/0.73
Dimensions: Satellite Speakers (W x H x D) 4.38 x 6.88 x 4.63 inch | 111 x 175 x 118 mm
Weight: Satellite Speakers (lbs/Kg) 1.3/0.59
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 11.5 x 11.5 x 13.8 in | 280 x 292 x 340 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 18.7/8.5
Additional Details High slew rate amplifier, speaker wire included, remote control
* 8 Ohms, 20 Hz–20 kHz, 0.06% THD, 2 Channels Driven

All the speakers are wired, and the speaker cable is included as part of the package.

A bonus option is the YHT-5960U receiver supports Yamaha’s MusicCast Surround system, so you can replace the rear surrounds with Yamaha’s compact wireless MusicCast speakers.

This allows you to have wireless rear speakers in your 5.1 setup.

You could buy these along with the main package or upgrade later when ready.

The YHT-5960U also supports Yamaha’s MusicCast multi-room audio, where you can add wireless speakers around the rest of your home.

Again, you just need to buy one (or more) MusicCast speakers to get this working.

This model also has built-in Wi-Fi and ethernet for connecting to streaming music services like Pandora, Napster, TIDAL and Amazon Music HD.

The receiver doesn’t have as many input connections as some of Yamaha’s higher-end models, but there are still more than many home theater systems offer.

There are 4 HDMI 2.1 inputs and 1 HDMI output, all with 4K/60, 4K/120AB and 8K/60B passthrough and HDCP 2.3 support.

HDMI 2.1 support also includes useful features for gamers and movie enthusiasts like:

  • ALLM: automatic low latency
  • VRR: reduces stutter using a variable refresh rate
  • QMS: reduces blank screens before content is displayed
  • QFT: provides smoother gaming performance

However, the 4K/120 and 8K/60 support depends on a firmware update, so check with your retailer before buying if this is important.

If you are interested, you could buy the receiver that comes with this system separately – it is the Yamaha RX-V4A.

HDR passthrough is available for the most common versions. Therefore, you have support for HDR10+ (via a future update), HDR10, Dolby Vision, HLG and BT.2020 out of the box.

In addition, you have 1x optical, 1x coaxial and 3x analog audio inputs.

Although this is unlikely to trouble most people, support for composite video connections has been removed from the previous YHT-4950U model.

This unit has Bluetooth support to stream audio from your handheld device into the sound system.

And you aren’t limited to just streaming into the receiver. The YHT-5960U system will also send audio to Bluetooth headphones and speakers, which not all devices with Bluetooth will do.

Top AV Receiver + 5.1 Speakers
Yamaha YHT-5960U Home Theater System
What Is It: A quality mid-range 5.1 home theater system from Yamaha. Ideal if you want the flexibility of an AV receiver without the headache of picking the right components.
Pros:
  • 5.2-channel AV receiver
  • Five compact surround speakers
  • One 8-inch subwoofer
  • HDMI: 4-in/1-out (eARC)
  • 4K/60 pass-through with HDR10+, HDR10 & Dolby Vision
  • 8K/60B & 4K/120AB support (via firmware update)
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

Alternative Model:

Entry-Level Yamaha 5.1 System
Yamaha YHT-4950U Home Theater System
What Is It: A cheaper alternative to the YHT-5960U. The YHT-4950U is an older model, with fewer features, but still the same excellent Yamaha sound.
Pros:
  • Compact 5.1 surround sound speaker package
  • HDMI: 4-in/1-out (ARC)
  • 4K/60 plus HDR10 & Dolby Vision
  • Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus
Cons:
  • No 8K/60 & 4K/120 support
  • No HDMI 2.1 support
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE

The Next 5 Best HTiB Systems

If that isn’t enough choice, here are five more excellent options, completing the rest of the top 10 best home theater systems.

You will find plenty more possibilities here, including some budget models, if the previous models are more than you are willing to pay.

You will find plenty more options here, including some budget models if the previous models are more than you are willing to pay.

Depending on your budget/requirements, these are good choices, so don’t rule them out:

6. Samsung HW-Q990B 11.1.4 Soundbar

A high-end Dolby Atmos soundbar system with a wireless subwoofer and two rear wireless surround speakers.

Samsung HW-Q990B Soundbar System
Samsung HW-Q990B Soundbar System
Image Credit: Samsung
Samsung HW-Q990B Specifications
Channels 11.1.4
Center Speaker Yes
Included Speakers 1x Soundbar, 1x Subwoofer, 2x Rear Speakers
Optional Add-on Speakers No
AV Connections 3x HDMI (eARC), 1x Optical, 1x USB, Bluetooth, AirPlay2, Spotify Connect, Tidal (Hi-Fi) Connect
Other Connections No
Dolby Atmos Yes
UHD/HDR Support 4K/60Hz, HDR10+
Voice Control Alexa
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby MAT (Atmos Music), DTS:X, DTS-HD HRA, DTS-HD MA, DTS Express, DTS 5.1
Dimensions: Soundbar (W x H x D) 48.5 x 2.7 x 5.4 in | 1232 x 69 x 137 mm
Weight: Soundbar (lbs/Kg) 17/7.7
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 8.7 x 16.3 x 16.1 in | 221 x 414 x 409 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 25.8/11.7
Dimensions: Rear Speakers (W x H x D) 5.1 x 7.9 x 5.5 in | 130 x 201 x 140 mm
Weight: Rear Speakers (lbs/Kg) 7.5/3.4
HIGH-END SAMSUNG SYSTEM
Samsung HW-Q990B Soundbar System
What Is It: A high-end 48-inch Samsung soundbar system for those who want good home theater sound without a complicated set up.
Pros:
  • 11 speaker channels plus four upfiring Dolby Atmos speakers
  • Includes a center speaker for clearer dialogue
  • 3x HDMI eARC connections
  • Bluetooth, AirPlay2, Spotify Connect, Tidal (Hi-Fi) Connect
Cons:
  • Expensive at full retail price
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Alternative Model:

Cheaper Samsung Soundbar System
SAMSUNG HW-Q910B
Pros:
  • Channels: 9.1.2
  • Center Speaker: Yes
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes
  • AV Connections: 2x HDMI (eARC), 1x Optical, 1x USB, Bluetooth, AirPlay2, Spotify Connect, Tidal (Hi-Fi) Connect
  • Dimensions: 43.7 x 2.4 x 4.7 in | 1110 x 61 x 119 mm
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7. Bose Soundbar 900 Home Theater Set

A high-end Dolby Atmos soundbar for your home theater with an optional wireless subwoofer and dual wireless surround speakers.

Bose Soundbar 900 Surround Set
Bose Soundbar 900 Home Theater Set
Image Credit: Bose
Bose Home Theater System Specifications
Channels 5.1.2
Center Speaker Yes
Included Speakers 1x Soundbar, 1x Subwoofer, 2x Rear Speakers
Optional Add-on Speakers No
AV Connections 1x HDMI (eARC), 1x Optical, Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect
Other Connections 1x Ethernet
Dolby Atmos Yes
UHD/HDR Support N/A
Voice Control Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus
Dimensions: Soundbar (W x H x D) 41.1 x 2.29 x 4.21 in | 1044 x 58 x 107 mm
Weight: Soundbar (lbs/Kg) 12.7/5.8
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 11.6 x 12.9 x 11.6 in | 295 x 328 x 295 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 30/13.6
Dimensions: Rear Speakers (W x H x D) 1.8 x 5.8 x 1.8 in | 46 x 147 x 46 mm
Weight: Rear Speakers (lbs/Kg) 0.8/0.36
Flagship Bose Soundbar System
Bose Premium Home Theater System
What Is It: The flagship Bose soundbar with a wireless subwoofer and two surround speakers.
Pros:
  • Complete Bose surround sound system
  • 5.1.2 channels
  • Supports Dolby Atmos with built-in upfiring speakers
  • Control with the Bose Music App or included remote control
Cons:
  • You can't add more speaker channels
  • Limited inputs
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8. Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Soundbar System

A 7.1.2-ch soundbar from this popular home theater speaker brand with a dedicated center speaker and upfiring Dolby Atmos speakers.

Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Soundbar System
Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Soundbar System
Image Credit: Polk Audio
Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Specifications
Channels 7.1.2
Center Speaker Yes
Included Speakers 1x Soundbar, 1x Subwoofer, 2x Rear Speakers
Optional Add-on Speakers No
AV Connections 4x HDMI (eARC), 1x Optical, Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay2, Spotify Connect
Other Connections 1x USB (for updates)
Dolby Atmos Yes
UHD/HDR Support 4K/60Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Voice Control Amazon Alexa
Selected Audio Decoders LPCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
Dimensions: Soundbar (W x H x D) 41.1 x 2.29 x 4.21 in | 1044 x 58 x 107 mm
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 11.9 x 16 x 15.7 in | 302 x 406 x 399 mm
Flagship Polk Soundbar System
Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR Soundbar System
What Is It: The flagship Polk soundbar home theater system with two wireless surround speakers and a subwoofer.
Pros:
  • 7.1.2 channels
  • Plenty of inputs, including 4x HDMI (eARC)
  • Large 43-inch soundbar and a 10-inch subwoofer
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio
Cons:
  • Limited room equalization options
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9. JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar System

A mid-range 9.1 soundbar home theater system with a wireless subwoofer and portable surround speakers – with support for Dolby Atmos audio.

JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar System
JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar System
Image Credit: JBL
JBL Bar 9.1 Specifications
Channels 5.1.4
Center Speaker Yes
Included Speakers 1x Soundbar, 1x Subwoofer, 2x Rear Speakers
Optional Add-on Speakers No
AV Connections 2x HDMI (ARC), 1x Optical, 1x USB, Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay2
Other Connections 1x Ethernet
Dolby Atmos Yes
UHD/HDR Support 4K/60Hz, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Voice Control No
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS, PCM Stereo & Multichannel
Dimensions: Soundbar (W x H x D) 34.8 x 2.4 x 4.7 in | 884 x 62 x 120 mm
Weight: Soundbar (lbs/Kg) 8/3.64
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 12 x 17.3 x 12 in | 305 x 440 x 305 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 24.5/11.1
Top JBL Surround System
JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar System
What Is It: A popular 9.1 home theater system from JBL with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio - includes a wireless subwoofer and portable surround speakers.
Pros:
  • 5.1.4 channels
  • Medium-sized 35-inch soundbar and 10-inch subwoofer
  • Detachable and portable rear speakers
  • No wires
Cons:
  • Limited input connections
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10. Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System

A budget home theater system with 5.1 speakers

Logitecha Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
Image Credit: Logitech
Logitech Z906 Specifications
Channels 5.1
Included Speakers 1x Center, 4x Satellite, 1x Subwoofer
Wireless Speakers No
AV Connections 2x Optical, 1x Coaxial, 3x 3.5mm Stereo Analog, 1x RCA Stereo Analog
Other Connections Headphone jack
Dolby Atmos No
UHD/HDR Support N/A
Voice Control No
Selected Audio Decoders Dolby Digital, DTS
Dimensions: Satellite Speakers (W x H x D) 3.9 x 6.5 x 3.6 in | 99.3 x 165.3 x 92.3 mm
Weight: Satellite Speakers (lbs/Kg) 1.85/0.84
Dimensions: Center Speaker (W x H x D) 6.5 x 3.95 x 3.68 in | 166.3 x 100.3 x 93.5 mm
Weight: Center Speaker (lbs/Kg) 1.96/0.89
Dimensions: Subwoofer (W x H x D) 11 x 11.5 x 13.8 in | 280 x 292 x 350 mm
Weight: Subwoofer (lbs/Kg) 18.8/8.54
Additional Details THX-Certified, remote control included, speaker wire included
Top Budget 5.1 Surround System
Logitech Z906 Home Theater System
What Is It: A compact 5.1 speaker system for those who want surround sound without breaking the bank.
Pros:
  • 5.1 surround sound
  • Great value
  • Compact system that won't take up much space
  • THX-certified
Cons:
  • No Dolby Atmos or high-resolution audio formats
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Conclusion

As you can see, buying the best home theater system can be a perfect way to get a great surround sound experience.

There are several excellent home theater packages and soundbars that will provide fantastic sound in any home.

It would be best if you didn’t rely on the sound from your TV speakers – get a proper speaker system and really enjoy watching that movie.

If an all-in-one system is the best way for you to get a great audio experience, then go for it. You won’t regret it.

These systems are perfect if:

  • You want to keep the cost down.
  • You don’t want to bother with too much setting up and configuration.
  • You don’t want the headache of matching amplifiers and speakers.

An all-in-one home-theater-in-a-box or soundbar can be perfect for many home theaters and give you a setup you will love.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an Amplifier Necessary for Home Theater?

You don’t have to buy an amplifier to get home theater audio. If you don’t want a bulky amplifier, buy an active soundbar system with its own internal amplifier. Some models also have separate rear speakers, Dolby Atmos speakers and subwoofers for creating an immersive surround sound effect.

What Are the Best Home Theater Systems for a Living Room?

Several different types of home theater systems will suit any living room. If you don’t have much space, you can buy a simple soundbar system or a compact amplifier with small satellite speakers for surround sound. For a larger room, you might want to buy a more powerful AV receiver and a bigger bookshelf or floorstanding speakers. You don’t have to get a subwoofer for your home theater audio, but if you do, you can get small subwoofers if you don’t have much space – or bigger models that will provide excellent low bass for movie sound effects.

What Comes With a Home Theater System?

An all-in-one home theater sound system should have everything you need to get great audio. This will include an amplifier, surround sound speakers, and even the speaker wire to connect everything together. Then, you simply connect the audio output from your TV, Blu-ray player, or other audio sources to the sound system. These days, systems don’t usually include a DVD or Blu-ray player, and you will need to buy these separately.

How Many Speakers Do You Need for Home Theater?

The most common speaker layout for home theater is a 5.1 speaker system. 5.1 surround sound has five speakers in the room – front left, center, front right, surround left and surround right – plus a subwoofer. However, there are other speaker layouts that you can use for home theater. A 3.1 speaker system is like a 5.1 layout but without the surround speakers. Or, you can use 7.1 or 5.1.2 speaker layouts if you want a better surround sound effect. See the guide to home theater speaker layouts for more information.

Which Is Better, a Soundbar or Home Theater?

There are pros and cons to both types of systems. A soundbar usually takes up less space and is cheaper to buy, and is a good choice for inexperienced users who want home theater audio that is easy to set up. A dedicated home theater audio system usually has a separate amplifier and more prominent speakers. This will provide better sound quality in many cases, but it will also be more expensive to buy and more complex to set up. Of course, if you spend more on a high-end soundbar system, you can get sound quality on par with a complete home theater.

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The Best Home Theater Systems
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About Home Cinema Guide

Paul started the Home Cinema Guide to help less-experienced users get the most out of today's audio-visual technology. He has been a sound, lighting and audio-visual engineer for around 20 years. At home, he has spent more time than is probably healthy installing, configuring, testing, de-rigging, fixing, tweaking, re-installing again (and sometimes using) various pieces of hi-fi and home cinema equipment. You can find out more here.

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