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Best Home Theater System 2021 • 7 Home Theater Systems Reviews

A movie’s sound quality at the theater can be hypnotic. Watching at the movie theater is always special, even if the film itself isn’t so great. For this reason, many people wish to recreate this experience in their home. With today’s home theater systems, it’s possible to do just that.

Home Theater System Leaderboard 2021

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Tested Products 7
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Hours Spent 68
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Evaluated Studies 150
Considered Reviews
Considered Reviews 789

What is a home theater system and how does it work?

Basically, a home theater system, or home cinema, is one or more pieces of equipment designed to produce superior sound quality. It improves your experience when watching movies and TV shows, or when playing video games. You can install a system that meets your own specific requirements, as you can adapt it to almost any space or room configuration.

The usual setup will have 5.1 surround sound (four treble speakers and a subwoofer). However, there are also 7.1 and 11.4 versions. These will be connected to your AV receptor or a built-in amplifier that allows the system to produce a broad range of frequencies.

What types of home theater systems are available?

The first option in home theater systems is the number of speakers and subwoofers that the model comes with. This is indicated by the number given to that model. The most basic is the 2.1; however, this option can’t really be considered a “home theater system,” since its features are quite limited. For home theater systems, this option really starts at 5.1.

You can also distinguish between two different types of home theater systems based on their connectivity options: wireless home theater and HDMI home theater. The former largely or completely eliminates cables and works through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth systems, among others. The second type, HDMI, uses cables to transmit audiovisual information.

In recent years, other options have been added to the list, which may or may not fit the classification by connectivity. These include home theater projectors, which use a projection device (rather than your TV) to transmit the images. The other option is 3D, which provides an even more realistic and enveloping sound.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Home Theater Systems

At this point, you may be wondering if it’s worth the expense to buy a high-quality home theater system. If you are a movie buff, use streaming services, or play video games, then the answer is yes! A system like this can take your viewing and gaming experiences to the next level.

Advantages

  • It delivers realistic surround sound.
  • There is a wide range of models to find a system that suits your space and budget.
  • The combination of multiple speakers and a subwoofer intensifies the user’s experience.
  • Allows bass, mid-range, and treble frequencies to be played with more accuracy.

Disadvantages

  • They are usually complex systems that can take up a lot of space.
  • Installation can be quite costly.
  • The best models can also be quite expensive depending on their benefits and longevity.

Shopping Criteria for Home Theater Systems

When deciding on which home theater system is best for you, it is not enough to know the basics of this type of equipment. You should also evaluate a set of factors—available space and budget, for example. To make this easier, we have compiled the main criteria to keep in mind when buying a home theater system.

Budget

In general, a home theater system requires a certain investment. On average, they cost around $500, but there are cheaper options as well as more expensive choices. Obviously, you should base your decision not only on your budget but also on your needs. For example, if you already have a good Blu-ray player, why buy a home cinema with a built-in one?

On the other hand, if you are looking for a system with more than four speakers, you will have to pay more. Additionally, the best home theater systems that are compatible with laser-type projectors usually come with a hefty price tag. Evaluate all of these factors as well as the audio quality that you are looking for. But don’t worry, there are many high-quality, affordable options.

The best home theater systems have a panel that shows the high-frequency speakers and subwoofers that the model has.
HDMI connections are found in most home theater systems.

Your Current TV

It is useless to have the latest home theater system if it is not compatible with your TV or projector. It is also a shame to buy a compatible system that does not allow you to get the most out of the resolution it offers. For example, if you have a 3D TV, the best option is to buy a home theater system with 3D playback.

Home theaters come with a fairly large price tag, and if you have a simple TV, it may not even be compatible. So, instead of going out and doubling the price of the home theater by buying a higher-quality TV, try using a projector. If there is enough space on the wall and the room is large, the visual and auditory experience can still be incredible.

Connectivity

HDMI connectivity is a feature of most home theater systems. It should be your go-to option if you are looking for superior video quality and noise-free audio. This type of connectivity is also ideal in the gaming universe, so it is essential if you want to enjoy the latest movies or games with a unique sound.

Additionally, you can look for options like USB ports. These can allow you to enjoy digital content you have saved on your PC or external hard drive (i.e., videos, photos, or other types of scanned files). On the other hand, you may be interested in having Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, with which you can play content from your mobile devices.

There’s no point having the latest home theater system if it is not compatible with your TV.

Power and Speakers

Power is an important factor, but not a defining one. This greatly depends on the size of your space as well as the number of viewers who will be enjoying the system. The larger the space and the more people, the more power you will need. But you also don’t need something super-human. With 1,000W (common in many models), you will have more than enough power.

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FAQs

How do I install a home theater system?

The first important factor to consider when installing one of the best home theater systems on the market is space. Think about the size of the speakers or the subwoofer. Verify that they will comfortably fit in the room where you’re planning to use them. Once you have purchased your system, position the speakers as evenly-spaced as possible throughout the room.

Once the speakers and the subwoofer are in place, it’s time to connect them. If you purchased a wireless home theater system, you will not need to worry much about cables. Otherwise, be sure to read the instruction manual for how to connect and turn on your new speakers and subwoofer.

Finally, connect the receiver to the television, projector, or computer you are planning to use (provided they are compatible, of course). Now you can turn on your home theater system, TV, or other playback device and make sure sound is coming from each of the speakers.

What type of speakers create the best home theater system environment?

The best wireless or wired home theater systems can have up to four different types of speakers. Equally, each type can offer one or more individual speakers. This depends on whether the system is 5.1, 7.1, or 11.4. The different types of speakers include front speakers, center speakers, back-surround speakers, and side-surround speakers.

Front speakers
These are the foundation of the speaker system. They are placed on either side of the screen. To obtain the best results, they should be directed toward the viewers. That is, they should be placed in front of the viewers at an optimal distance.

Center speakers
In general, these speakers are placed behind the television, computer, or projection screen. They are responsible for providing the intensity and power of the main sound of a movie, TV program, or video game.

Back-surround speakers
These speakers are ideally placed on either side of the viewers. They play the rear audio channel, adding to the surround sound effect. Not all systems include them (for example, Dolby Digital surround).

Side-surround speakers
These speakers are placed on either side of the viewers. They do not need to provide exceptional sound quality, since they are intended only for the reproduction of certain sound effects.

What is a subwoofer in home theater systems?

The subwoofer in a home theater system is nothing more than a speaker. Of course, it has certain features that make it special. In fact, the subwoofer is what can make the difference between a mediocre and a quality home theater product. The subwoofer’s main purpose is to produce sounds of the lowest frequencies. This gives the sound more depth, guaranteeing a hyperrealistic experience.

Why do some home theater systems come with a player?

When looking at the best home theater systems on the market, you will see that some come with a built-in Blu-ray or DVD player. Your decision here will depend on the equipment you already own. Perhaps the speakers are all you need, or maybe it would be a good opportunity to upgrade the player you have. It’s up to you.

Keep in mind that a home theater system without a player is usually less expensive. If you are going to buy one that comes with a player, be sure that it can play Blu-ray discs. If you find one that can play other formats, even better. Also, consider the maximum resolution it allows and its compatibility with your current TV or projector.

What are decoders for home theater systems?

The film industry has been developing decoding techniques for years, which give a rich, three-dimensional experience to the sound. Each format was developed by a different lab and has its own patent. The best home theater systems have decoders that can reproduce the most popular audio systems.

Dolby Digital: Widely used in DVD, Blu-ray, and digital television. Specializes in the bass.
Dolby Digital EX: Variant of Dolby Digital format. Includes an additional channel. Compatible with previous formats.
DTS: The quintessential competitor of Dolby Digital. Similar features and present in a large number of players. Its main advantage is that it plays sound effects on a separate channel. The DTS-ES is the homologous version of the Dolby Digital EX.
Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Pro Logic II: These need fewer resources to produce a clearer sound compared to Dolby Digital decoders (both are run by the same company).
DTS Neo 6: Like the above format, its technology is based on matrices. It uses five or six channels with high-quality surround sound.
THX Certification: More than a decoder, it is a certification that guarantees that the equipment offers at least the quality standards required to offer cinematic quality sound. It uses an exclusive equalization and is present in actual movie theaters as well as in-home theaters.
THX Surround EX: Compatible with the previous decoders, it is able to create an atmosphere of surround sound through any source of home theater audio.

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