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Home Theater Speaker Packages or Separates: Which Is Best?

front view of three hi-fi speakers.

When setting up your home theater system, you must decide whether to opt for a speaker package or separate components.

Both options have advantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your preferences and priorities.

Speaker packages can provide an excellent basic system at a more affordable price, allowing you to upgrade individual components as your budget allows.

However, opting for separates can offer higher sound quality and the flexibility to customize your system, tailoring it to suit your specific needs and preferences.

When deciding, consider factors such as room size, desired sound quality, and budget.

Remember that a well-chosen combination of speaker types can deliver an immersive and enjoyable home theater experience tailored just for you.

Overview of Packages and Separates

If you are new to home theater or hi-fi, you might not understand what a home theater package is.

Or, for that matter, what buying separates means in the world of home audio.

If so, here is an overview to quickly get up to speed on what I am talking about.

Speaker Packages

Speaker Packages are pre-configured sets of speakers designed to provide a balanced and harmonious surround sound experience. 

These packages typically include multiple speakers, such as front, center, surrounds, and a subwoofer. 

Klipsch HD Theater 600 Home Theater System
Klipsch HD Theater 600 Home Theater System
Image Credit: Klipsch

By purchasing a package, you can ensure that all components in your home theater will have a consistent and complementary sound profile.

Be careful not to confuse these with an all-in-one home theater system that has all the speakers plus an amplifier of some description.

In this case, I am only talking about a speaker package that comprises speakers alone. You will need a separate amplifier or AV receiver to make them work.

Separate Speakers

Separates, however, allow you to pick and choose individual components to create your own unique home theater system. 

This gives you greater flexibility in selecting the components that best suit your individual needs, preferences, and budget.

You can still buy all the speakers from the same brand – each from a separate range – but you can also purchase specific speakers from different brands. 

For example, you might want a front left/right and center speaker from KEF, but you like the rear surrounds produced by Klipsch.

KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
KEF Q150 Bookshelf Speakers
Image Credit: KEF

This is where buying separates is more flexible but also more complicated!

This is how I built my speaker system. 

I use the same brand for the front left/right and center speaker, another for the surrounds, another for the Dolby Atmos speakers and another for the subwoofer.

But all this has changed over time. I didn’t build it like this all in one go.

However, it all sounds great together.

Learn more: How to choose home theater speakers

Factors to Consider

When weighing the pros and cons of speaker packages and separates for your home theater, consider the following factors:

  • Sound quality: The sound quality of a speaker package may be more balanced and cohesive as the components are designed to work together. However, with separates, you have more control and can fine-tune the system to your preferred sound profile.
  • Power: Separates can often provide more power than an all-in-one home theater system. This is particularly useful if you have a larger room or want to accommodate more-demanding speakers.
  • Flexibility: Separates offer more flexibility in terms of upgrading and expanding your system over time. For example, you can replace a center speaker without replacing the entire system.
  • Specifications: Matching impedance and power handling between your speakers and amplifier is crucial in a separates setup, as mismatched impedance can lead to poor sound quality or even damage the equipment. This is not a concern with home theater packages since everything is already matched and configured.
  • Cost: Generally, speaker packages are more cost-effective, as they include all necessary components at a bundled price. However, separates may be a more economical choice if you already have some components, such as an AV receiver or speakers.
  • Room Size and Acoustics: Consider the size and acoustic properties of the room for your home theater. A larger room may require separate components for better sound quality. In contrast, a smaller space may be better suited for a cohesive speaker package.

As you explore your options for a home theater system, consider these factors to make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Whether you opt for a speaker package or separates, either choice can deliver an immersive movie-watching experience in the comfort of your own home.

Let’s look at some of those considerations in more detail.

Advantages of a Home Theater Speaker Package

Here are some reasons you might want to buy a home theater speaker package.

Balanced Sound Quality

A package of speakers ensures that your speaker system will have a consistent sound all around the room.

All makes of speakers will sound slightly different from each other. They will have contrasting tones and will reproduce high and low frequencies differently.

Therefore, in a surround sound system where the soundtrack is spread around the speakers in the room, it is beneficial to have speakers with a similar timbre working together.

If not, you may be distracted by the sound changing slightly as a sound effect or dialogue is panned between speakers.

For instance, the sound of someone speaking may start in the center speaker but then move to the front right speaker as the camera angle changes.

If your center and front left/right speakers sound slightly different, it may seem odd when the same voice switches to another speaker.

That’s not to say buying separate speakers makes this impossible. But it is more challenging to get right.

Matching Specifications

The consistency of a speaker package is also essential when you think of other variables in speaker design.

When choosing speakers, there are several technical things to consider, such as the speaker power ratingspeaker impedance matching and speaker sensitivity – as well as the design or look of the speakers.

In a speaker system package, you can be confident that all these factors will be consistent, saving you the problem of matching all these things speaker by speaker.

This is the main advantage of a speaker package. You get a consistent look and sound and get a good match for your amplifier with the minimum effort on your part.

Cost Efficiency

A speaker package can be a more cost-effective option.

Instead of purchasing individual components separately, a package deal typically includes a surround sound system at a lower combined price, like a 5.1 surround sound setup or even a soundbar system.

This allows you to achieve a complete audio experience without breaking the bank.

Space Saving

Another benefit of home theater speaker packages is their space-saving design.

Since these systems are designed to work together, they are often more compact and easily integrated into your living space.

With a home theater speaker package, you can enjoy a high-quality audio experience without sacrificing valuable room in your home.

As ever, there are exceptions to every rule. So if you do your research, you can buy compact speakers from different brands separately.

But it’s more complex than buying a complete package in one go.

Advantages of Speaker Separates for Home Cinema

Alternatively, here are some reasons to buy speaker separates instead.

Sound Quality and Performance

Separates offer an edge over packaged systems if you want to achieve the best possible sound quality in your home theater system.

By choosing specialized components for each aspect of your setup, you can ensure that each part is optimized for its specific role in the process.

For instance, upgrading to a dedicated center speaker can improve sound quality by providing a cleaner and more powerful signal for the dialogue in a movie.

Or by purchasing dedicated Dolby Atmos surround speakers, you get a more immersive sound by buying a speaker with directional tweeters or a bipole design to spread the audio better.

This can enhance your experience when listening to music or watching movies with Dolby Atmos audio.

Upgrade Flexibility

Another advantage of going with separates is the ability to upgrade individual components as newer technology emerges. 

If you love staying up-to-date with the latest advancements in audiovisual technology, separate speakers allow you to easily replace a single outdated component without affecting the rest of your system.

For example, suppose you want to upgrade to floorstanding speakers for your front left and right pair.

In that case, you can easily do so without replacing your entire setup. This flexibility can also save you money in the long run.

Even if you are starting from scratch with no existing speakers, buying separate surround sound speakers allows you to spend more of your budget on the most important speakers, like the center and fronts, and less money on the less critical speakers, like the surrounds.

Customization

Separates allow you to tailor your home theater system to your unique needs and preferences.

Whether you have specific room requirements, speaker choices, or simply fancy a particular sound signature, separates make it easier to customize your system to your liking.

By being able to handpick each component, you get to create a customized audio experience that best suits your preferences.

This level of customization also ensures that you get the most out of your investment since you’re only buying the components essential for your entertainment needs.

The Best of Both Worlds

Of course, you could incorporate both approaches into your speaker system over time.

You might start with a speaker package, then gradually replace the most critical speakers when you can afford it.

A speaker package can provide an excellent starter system. But, later on, you can spend more on higher-quality speakers when finances allow.

You might replace the center speaker or subwoofer with dedicated models with better sound quality and performance.

You may eventually replace all the original speakers, but this way, you can gradually build a top-quality sound system without spending too much money all in one go.

What if you want to build a big 5.1.4 surround sound system with Dolby Atmos speakers?

In this case, there are fewer options for a complete package with Dolby Atmos speakers included.

However, you could buy a 5.1 package for the primary speakers and add some extra Dolby Atmos speakers to complete your system.

Learn more: What are the different subwoofer connection types?

Which Speaker System Should You Buy?

The good news is no matter which way you want to go, there are plenty of great options to buy.

Of course, this does make things more difficult too!

Here are a few suggestions for complete packages that are excellent options.

Budget Home Theater Speaker Package
Klipsch Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
What Is It: An entry-level 5.1 surround sound speaker package for medium-size rooms with four premium satellite speakers, a center speaker and a subwoofer.
Pros:
  • Great value
  • Tractrix® horn technology and aluminum tweeters
  • Spun copper IMG woofers
  • Wireless down-firing subwoofer
  • Renowned Klipsch speaker technology
Cons:
  • Not suitable for large rooms
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE
Top Mid-Range 5.1 Speaker Package
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System
What Is It: An excellent mid-range speaker package with all the speakers you need for a great quality 5.1 speaker system.
Pros:
  • Compact design with satellite speakers
  • Excellent SVS sound quality
  • A good all-rounder for movies and music
  • Trusted brand for all types of home theater speakers
Cons:
  • No dedicated center speaker
  • It might lack power for large rooms
BUY AT AMAZON FIND THE BEST PRICE
High-End Home Theater Package
Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2 Home Cinema System
What Is It: A high-quality 5.1.2 home theater speaker package for medium-size rooms with three standard satellite speakers, two Dolby Atmos-enabled satellites and a subwoofer.
Pros:
  • 5 satellite speakers for a more discreet look
  • Upfiring Dolby Atmos modules built into the front two speakers
  • Excellent stereo imaging with a clean sound
  • A fast 8-inch subwoofer that complements the smaller satellite speakers
Cons:
  • You might want larger speakers for a big room
CHECK PRICE: AMAZON CHECK PRICE: AUDIO ADVICE

For separate speakers, there are too many options to list here.

But you can get some ideas by visiting the best home theater speakers for surround sound.

Main Takeaway: Speaker Packages vs. Separates For Home Theater

Consider your needs, preferences, and budget when deciding between a home theater speaker package and separates.

A speaker package may be the most practical and economical option for your setup, providing a consistent sound throughout the room.

However, investing in separates might be the better choice if you want to scale up your system or power more demanding speakers.

These offer higher performance and greater flexibility, allowing you to customize your audio experience to your specific requirements.

Remember to research and compare brands, performance, and features before deciding.

By evaluating all aspects of your home theater setup, you can ensure that you choose the best solution to enhance your audio experience, creating the perfect environment for enjoying your favorite movies and music.

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About The Author

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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