Nowadays, the only way to enjoy a truly immersive home entertainment experience is to have high-quality sound. No matter how fantastic the picture quality of your TV is, it won’t matter if the sound coming out of it is terrible. While most modern TV sets come with built-in speakers, this is usually not enough to deliver the punch needed to make you feel like you’re at a movie theater.
The good news is that consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to high-quality home theater speakers. They’re available in different varieties to suit all types of environments. Some people will opt for 5.1-inch speakers while others are willing to go up to 7.1 inches. It all depends on your needs, your budget and the type of features you prioritize.
In the following guide, we’ll provide you with tips on what to look out for when shopping for the best home theater speakers as well as a list of the greatest options available on the market.
What is a Home Theater System?
The foremost central aspect of the modern-day home theater system is a good quality TV set or even a projector. However, the TV isn’t enough. You need good quality sound to complete the equation.
The sound is what brings life to the pictures on the screen, and it can literally move the room in a way that helps the viewer understand the content being watched. It’s the essential aspect of a home theater system.
Here are the most important aspects of a home theater system:
✔ – It all starts with a TV set or projector screen
✔ – Next, you need a video source such as a Blu-ray player, cable or DVD player.
✔ – Next comes the theater receiver, which is like the power source of the whole system.
✔ – Last but not least you have speakers which include (but aren’t limited to): left and right forward speakers, left and right rear speakers, a center speaker, a subwoofer and a special effects speaker, etc.
Below we’re going to do a deep dive into all the various aspects of a home theater system and offer our two cents on what the pros and cons of each option are.
PLAN - PRICE
START UP - $ 29
Yamaha YHT-4930UBL 5.1-Channel Home Theater in a Box System, Bluetooth for Wireless Music Streaming with Compressed Music Enhancer
BUSINESS - $ 49
Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker Package, 120W Surround Sound System, Voice-Matched
ADVANCED - $ 99
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System, THX, Dolby Digital & DTS Digital Certified, Wall-Mountable, Continuous 500 Watts of Power
ADVANCED - $ 99
Onkyo SKS-HT870 Home Theater Speaker System, 130 watts 7.1-Channel Speaker Set, 230 Watts Subwoofer, Good for Games, Music
ADVANCED - $ 99
Leviton AEH50-BL Architectural Edition Powered By JBL 5-Channel Surround Sound Home Cinema Speaker System
Things to Look for When Shopping for the Best Home Theater Speakers
Now that you know what the various types of speakers are, it’s time to look at the most important considerations to make when shopping for the best home theater speakers.
The following section might be a bit technical for some, but we’ll try and simplify it so that it’s easier to understand for pretty much anyone.
Size and Type
One important specification that’s usually included in a speaker description is the type of speaker and its size. Smaller speakers are known as tweeters and they’re good at replicating high frequencies.
A larger cone is referred to as a woofer and it’s used to replicate lower frequencies. Larger speakers don’t necessarily offer more bass because this specification doesn’t explain the speaker’s tone and design.
Midrange speakers are usually right in the middle between a woofer and a tweeter. That’s why they’re known as full-range speakers that offer the best of both worlds.
Sound quality really depends on your individual ear for music or whatever you’re listening to. While a speaker might sound great to you, it might not be as great for someone else. Keep in mind that a speaker might have good looking specs and still not sound great. The only way to tell if a speaker is good for you is to listen to how it sounds.
If that’s not possible because you’re buying them online, then look out for customer reviews and take a closer look at the specifications as well.
The best home theater speakers usually sound good, especially if they’re manufactured by a leading brand. Remember that your amplifier will also contribute to the overall sound produced by your speaker and at the end of the day you get what you pay for.
Well-known brands and prestigious manufacturers will always produce the best speakers and you always know what you’re getting with them. Plus, speakers are a long-term investment and it’s worth paying extra since you’re going to use them for many years to come.
As the name implies, power handling refers to the amount of power that a speaker can handle as it receives it from the AV or amplifier. For best results, look at the amplifier’s rated output to ensure that it’s at the right level. Ideally, it should be the same value as that of the speaker. Ratings are typically listed as peak values or RMS or average values.
Sensitivity rating is a feature you’ll find in pretty much every speaker on the market. This is also known as the efficiency and it basically shows you how effective the speaker is at transforming power into sound.
Low-quality speakers tend to transform the power they receive into heat instead of perceptible sound. As a result, the higher the volume gets the more power the speakers require, which is in stark contrast with efficient speakers that don’t need as much power.
When it comes to sensitivity, anything over 92 dB is good quality, while 84 dB and lower is where the quality starts to suffer. On the whole, speaker sensitivity is between 80 dB and 100 dB. However, there’s no way to compare speaker sensitivity unless you’re sure that they have the same impedance.
Speakers also come with an impedance value which is usually between 4 and 8 ohms. This is the speaker’s resistance or the level of difficulty involved in allowing the speaker to send an electrical signal. The impedance has a nominal value or an average value which is based on the audio signal frequency.
The amplifier is there to regulate impedance so it’s important to choose an amplifier with the right specs to make sure it’s compatible with your speakers’ impedance.
The average human being has a hearing range of 20Hz to 20kHz. But, as we get older, this hearing range typically diminishes significantly, which means you’ll feel instead of hearing the bottom end of certain sounds.
Speakers, on the other hand, are designed to repeat a particular frequency. The frequency response will let you know what this range is.
A speaker chart will let you know how well the sound will come through in a particular room and you should look out for a flat frequency response specifically. This tells you that it can replicate frequencies pretty well so long as it has a fixed level input signal. Therefore, it’ll never really be perfectly flat.
If you want to know how accurate your speaker will be at reproducing the full-range then you should look for its chart. A good quality speaker should at least replicate frequencies as perfectly as possible because that actually determines how well it’s able to reproduce audible frequencies.
Although these speakers are marketed as completely wireless, this isn’t necessarily the case. After all, they need to get power somewhere so they often come with a cord that connects to an adapter.
That’s why you still need to consider proximity to a power socket when buying wireless speakers so it’s easy to keep them powered up.
Types of Home Entertainment Speakers
There are lots of different speakers out there, but the following are some of the most common:
As the name implies, this is a full-size, standing speaker that you can mount on the floor. They come in different sizes to cater to different spaces and they’re usually designed for large rooms. They’re able to fill the entire room with sound to provide an immersive experience.
If you’re going to get floor-standing speakers, make sure they’re front-facing. Plus, the low frequencies offered by floor-standing speakers means that you’ll enjoy a full range of sound that permeates throughout the entire space.
Center Channel Speakers
Center channels speakers are essential to any good quality multi-channel sound system. it’s responsible for audio track dialogue and you can place it on the very middle of the whole system or between the front right and front left speakers.
Bookshelf speakers are nice and compact. They’re designed for use in small rooms and areas, or as the rear-channel aspect of a multi-channel speaker system. The only problem with these types of speakers is that you need to place them on an elevated surface like on a bookshelf or a speaker stand.
Dolby Atmos Add-on Speakers
We all want that Dolby Atmos quality sounds when watching movies because it makes you feel like you’re at an actual movie theatre. To get this type of sound quality though, you need two to four in-ceiling or upward-firing speakers.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to install upward-firing speakers because you can place them on top of the rear or front speakers.
Alternatively, you can get speakers that have built-in Dolby Atmos channel. These speakers operate by bouncing the sound from your ceiling so that it permeates the whole space. That’s why it feels like the sound is coming from everywhere and nowhere at once.
If you purchase DTS: X speakers then you need ceiling or upward-firing speakers in order to get the Dolby Atmos sound experience.
These types of speakers are designed for anyone that wants a clean aesthetic without sacrificing on sound quality. They also make ideal height channels when placed in a Dolby Atmos-enabled system.
Soundbars are primarily designed for compact spaces or anyone that wants an inconspicuous sound system. They’re a great alternative for anyone that cannot fit a conventional speaker system due to space restrictions. They’re sleek, compact, clutter-free and can fit into a tight spot without looking out of place or taking up too much room.
But, don’t let their size fool you because soundbars offer incredibly powerful sound delivery that’s way better than your average display.
Thanks to technological innovation, soundbars now come with the latest cutting-edge sound technology. This means you’ll most likely come across models that have built-in Dolby Atmos technology so you can make the most of object-based audio.
Home Theater in a Box
A home theater in a box is the ideal solution for anyone that doesn’t want to purchase a separate speaker system. As the name implies, a home theater in a box is a comprehensive, all-in-one sound system that’s made up of multiple speakers, as well as connecting cables, a remote and a subwoofer.
It connects these different aspects with a multi-channel amplifier and most of the time a home theater in a box comes with its own Blu-ray or DVD player so you won’t have to purchase it separately.
Finding the best home theater speakers shouldn’t be difficult. As long as you know how much space you’re working with and the type of sound you want for that space, then you’re set.
Now that we’ve given you all the important features to consider when shopping for home theater speakers, it’s time to take a look at the best options on the market.
1 – Yamaha YHT-4930UBL 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker
The YHT-4930 is one of the most popular home theater speakers on the market and for good reason. It can singlehandedly transform your space into an immersive entertainment playground. This is a 5.1 channel surround sound system with ARX-V383 receiver, Dolby Vision, 4K Ultra HD video and Bluetooth connectivity.
Plus, it’s compatible with Hybrid Long-Gama and comes with an accompanying 5.1 channel speaker system. The subwoofer is powered by 100 watts of energy.
As if that weren’t enough, this sound system comes with the classic Yamaha Parametric Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO). This feature automatically customizes the sound according to the room’s acoustics. This system is perfect for wireless streaming and watching sports games.
Although these speakers are small, they offer an impressive bass thanks to the Extra Bass setting.
Perfect for small to medium-sized spaces
Comes with Bluetooth connectivity
Easy to install
Amazing sound quality
The wireless setting is not the best of the bunch
2 – Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker
This home theater speaker system comes with 5.1 channels and a powerful 200-watt subwoofer that produces 360-degree sound. You’ll enjoy the five 120-watt speakers, all of which are voice-matched and two-way enabled.
You’ll be able to adjust the bass through the subwoofer’s phase switchers and bass boost controls. Keep in mind that Harman Kardon is one of the most reputable speaker manufacturers on the market, so it’s really nice that it’s available at such an affordable price point.
Easy setup and installation
Comes at a great price
Delivers powerful sound with a 200-watt subwoofer and 120-watt speakers
It doesn’t come with a standard 7.1 channel surround sound
The speakers take up a lot of space
3 – Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
This Logitech Z906 is designed to move the room with sound. Switching it on is like watching a live show as it picks up on all the nuances of sound while delivering a truly powerful performance.
This system offers 500 watts of continuous power and a total of 1000 watt peak power. Since it’s THX-certified, you can hook it up to different types of devices.
You can connect it to your console, your computer and your TV at the same time. We also love the elegant and contemporary design of this speaker system. It’s easy to set up and you can place it pretty much anywhere because it doesn’t take up much space at all.
It’s great for indoor use and comes with DTS and Dolby Digital encoding. Keep in mind that this is a 5.1 system that has the ability to translate old audio recording sounds into modern standards. There aren’t a lot of systems that can do that.
Packed with all the accessories you need
You can hook up six devices at once to this system
Easy to install
Deliver crisp and powerful sound
Mid-range can be better
4 – Onkyo SKS-HT870 Home Theater Speaker System
The SKS-HT870 system from Onkyo offers some of the best surround sound speakers. It’s budget-friendly and offers great value for money. It comes with 4 surround-sound channels, a center channel speaker and a duo of slender tower speakers.
It’s also beautifully designed featuring a smooth finished black wood grain as well as beautiful black cloth grilles. Both the center and tower speakers feature a smooth gloss panel on the sides and on top.
Then you have the tower with its rounded metal base which is supported by a bass-enhancing port on the rear. All told, this system is 8-pieces of budget-friendly sound perfection.
Great value for money considering that it’s a 7.1 system
Offers great synchronicity between the speakers and the subwoofer
Amazing sound quality
These speakers are quite big and not suitable for compact spaces
5 – Leviton AEH50-WH Home Cinema Speaker System
This cute home cinema speaker system packs a punch. It comes with surround sound quality audio thanks to 5 shielded satellites which you can easily place next to your TV set.
Since it’s designed with JBL sound technology, you can rest assured that it’ll provide you with great quality sound. You can fully customize the channels to go from 5 to 7. Plus, the creamy-white design means that you can easily place this system in any area of your home and it’ll perfectly complement your décor.
It’s worth noting that these speakers are highly compatible with a majority of receivers and they don’t have to be from the same brand. The package comes with an RCA cable and a subwoofer for your listening pleasure. Meanwhile, the satellites come with customized tweeter and woofer as well.
Comes with conventional audio wiring topology
Video magnetic shielding
Doesn’t offer value for money
6 – Definitive Technology ProCinema 6D Home Theater Speaker System
This 6D home theater speaker system comes with fantastic features such as a rear replacement, left and right pressure-coupling, BDSS technology, 4 equal satellites, and a large center speaker. These different components distribute the workload so that the entire system is able to deliver a core-shaking surround sound experience.
You’ll notice just how dynamic and rich the sound is with every new track and this is all thanks to low-frequency sound effects. The 10-inch subwoofer comes with a solid cone that makes for realistic sound effects. This is also due to the fact that the cone is perfectly supported to prevent any sound distortion.
The SuperCube feature offers a 250-watt amplifier and a custom-designed center channel that makes it easy for the system to handle even the most explosive sound effects. To top it off, the tweeter is constructed from pure aluminum to maintain optimal treble frequency. It’s definitely one of the best surround speakers for home theater.
Great center channel speaker
Offers well-balanced sound
The company has the worst customer service
7 – Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System
Bose is a well-known brand as it has consistently delivered high-quality products throughout the years. Their 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System is ideal for playing video games, watching movies and listening to the latest music releases.
It offers an incredibly crisp sound that permeates the entire space fully so that it feels like you’re in a movie theater. This system comes with 5.1 channels which are customizable according to your listening preferences.
This system also comes with Direct/Reflecting Series II speakers which you can customize and place wherever you like. The Boss Acoustimass should be included in the 10 best home theater speakers for the money.
Adjustable volume control
Great low notes
Surround sound is immersive
Doesn’t deliver the best sound
8 – JBL Cinema 510 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System
JBL can always be relied upon to provide amazing quality at affordable prices and they certainly don’t disappoint with this fantastic 5.1 channel home theater speaker system. It is certainly one of the best home theater speakers to consider if you’re on a budget.
The speakers are constructed from high-quality materials including metal mesh to let the sound come through clearly. On the exterior is a brushed black finish enclosure with silver trim accents and a glossy black finish.
The only downside is that the speakers have spring-clip terminals and tiny openings that make it difficult to input most large speaker cables. But, you can always stick with the JBL wires that come with the speakers.
Easy to setup
Best home stereo speakers
Small spring-clip terminals
9 – Klipsch HDT-600 Home Theater System
This Klipsch HD Theater 600 speaker system features a 2.5-inch low-frequency satellite, a 0.75-inch dome tweeter made from sturdy aluminum and a “MicroTractrix” horn. The latter is a great feature that boosts the entire system’s performance.
On the back and front satellites, you’ll notice an accompanying woofer within each enclosure while the center channel comes with two woofers. The ABS plastic constructed enclosures are fully sealed so that the sound doesn’t leak out and this perfectly complements the rounded design on the back and sides.
It maintains the speakers’ structural integrity while minimizing the internal standing waves. You can place the speakers horizontally or vertically depending on your preferences and they’ll still perform in pretty much the same way.
The package comes with a pair of adhesive rubber pads to keep the speakers from scuffing your floors and your furniture. As such, these speakers can be mounted on the floor or on the wall through a threaded insert located on the rear of the enclosures.
Great midrange articulation
Rich yet harmonious sound
It’s kind of difficult to position these speakers
10 – SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System
Weighing in at 6.5 pounds in total, this 5.1 speaker system comes with a 4.5-inch midrange woofer combo and a one-inch tweeter. The entire set is small enough to fit into the smallest of spaces. It offers a frequency response of 69Hz which is pretty decent considering the price tag, and it’s super easy to combine it with any subwoofer you like.
The package comes with the Prime satellites, a 12-inch front driver to accompany the SB-1000 300-watt subwoofer. The cabinet itself measures 14 inches and its 27 pounds of amazing bass quality.
It comes with all the features you’d expect from a speaker system of this size and thanks to the various inputs you can connect a number of different devices. This includes line-level RCA outputs and inputs. Other features to look forward to with this home theater speaker system is a low pass filter, phase control, and optimal volume control.
Made from ABS-fiberglass composite basket
Comes with five high-quality speakers
Doesn’t take up a lot of space
Best home theater for the money
Commonly Asked Home Theater Speaker Questions
Next, in our quest for the best home theater speakers, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that people ask when shopping for speakers.
Is 7.1 Worth It?
To be honest, it’s not necessary or worth it. 5:1 is usually not that different from 7:1 and this goes for soundtracks as well.
The same can be said about Dolby Atmos because although it comes with height speakers, it doesn’t really offer a lot of supporting material. A high-quality Atmos soundtrack is usually very simple and doesn’t offer any vivid sounds effects. But, it does offer a really nice ambiance. All told, either option is necessary but if you’re willing to shell out extra cash for the sake of bragging rights, why not?
Do I Have to Get an AV Receiver with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?
A lot of people use Bluetooth connectivity to stream music and movies from their smartphones. That’s why most speakers come with Bluetooth functionality and while it’s not exactly necessary, it’s still nice to have.
On the other hand, you have Wi-Fi which is a bit more complex than Bluetooth as it comes in many standards. With that said, Google Chromecast will probably win out as the comprehensive Wi-Fi standard across all devices. Otherwise, consumers are forced to choose between Chromecast, Apple Airplay and DTS Play-Fi among other Wi-Fi systems.
Should I Consider Virtual Surround?
You’ll find a lot of soundbars on the market which claims to offer a rear-speaker-free surround-sound experience. But, this isn’t always the case. While virtual surround sound will expand the soundstage to make it seem like the audio is coming from all over, it’s not really worth the price tag.
The only exception we can think of is Yamaha’s YSP Digital Sound Projectors. Although pricey, this line of soundbars is actually really good at providing a real surround sound experience.
Can the Soundbar Block the Remote Sensor?
This might be a problem for some and it’s probably why pedestal design soundbars are so popular. They’re typically common with brands like Sonos, Bose, and Zvox. Otherwise, it all depends on how you position the soundbar, its dimensions and the location of the sensor.
You’ll also come across soundbars that have an IR repeater feature. This allows the signal to reach your soundbar no matter how much interference is between it and your TV set.
PLAN - PRICE
START UP - $ 29
Definitive Technology ProCinema 6D Compact 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker System, 250-Watt Powered Subwoofer, Center Channel + 4 Speakers, Sleek, Modern Design Look
BUSINESS - $ 49
Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater Speaker System, Excellent Surround Sound for Larger Rooms, Adjustable Controls, Marked Cables & Connectors for Easy Setup
ADVANCED - $ 99
JBL Cinema 510 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System with Powered Subwoofer, Brackets for Wall-Mounting, Easy to Install, 2-Way Satellite Speakers, Voice Matched
ADVANCED - $ 99
Klipsch HDT-600 Home Theater System, Fiber Composite-Woofer, Four High Gloss Satellites, 100-Watts Amplifier, One Center Channel & One Subwoofer, Adjustable Wall-Bracket
ADVANCED - $ 99
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System, 300 Watts RMS, World-class Subwoofer, Super-Compact, Accurate Frequency Response, Provides Truly a World-Class Sound
We all want to have the best surround speakers but many of us may not always know what to look for. Through the course of this article, we shared with you all the different features to look out for when shopping for a home theater speaker system as well as a list of what we consider to be the best home theater speakers.
In our opinion, the SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System takes the prize of being the best option out of all the speaker systems we reviewed. Why? Because it’s made from high-quality materials, it’s lightweight, easy to install, compact and easy to use.