The 8 Best Home Audio Systems to Buy in 2016

Find the best sound system for large rooms, small rooms and more

There’s something amazing about an audio system transforming your living space into a music hall or movie theater and making you feel like you're in the center of the action (whether it's a soothing rainforest ambience or the crack of thunder in a rainstorm). But finding the right system to fit your space and budget can be difficult, so we have whittled the list down to the best five on the market. If you're looking for that full immersion of beautiful sound with expensive high-end acoustic HD sound equipment or just want to spend less than $100 to liven up the your bedroom’s atmosphere, these audio systems will be music to your ears.

1
Best Overall: Onkyo HT-S3700 5.1-Channel Home Theater

Onkyo HT-S3700 5.1-Channel Home Theater
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Onkyo HT-S3700 5.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker Package is rated as the No. 1 Home Audio & Theater System on Amazon.com to date. This high-end audio system is suited for the most sound discriminate users who want nothing less than to be blown away by an encapsulating full movie theater experience.

Though it’s the most expensive product on this list, the 5.1 channel surround sound system supports HDMI 2.0, meaning that your breathtaking movie blockbuster and video game will be synced to the tune of 60 frames per second. It handles Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks on Blu-ray Disc, so you’ll never skip a beat, and it even includes lip syncing.

Packed with 110 watts per channel, the system comes with six overhead mounted speakers with 4k/60 Hz HDMI 2.0 inputs to connect all of your media players and gaming consoles, as well as an HDMI output with ARC to add surround sound to a broadcast TV. The DSP-optimized Bluetooth not only allows for wireless music streaming from your smartphones or tablets, but it means the entire system is wireless; there are no messy cables that will interfere with your room’s aesthetics. Buy from Amazon »

2
Best Budget: Sonos Play:1

Sonos Play:1
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Sonos Play:1 is so good, that it easily earns the best budget title. Although there’s no way around the WiFi-only aspect of the Play:1, it’s hardly a deal breaker and, in fact, might be a strong benefit. The design is a little clunky, with some comparing it to a coffee can, but at 4.7 inches wide, 6.4 inches deep and weighing 4.1 pounds, it’s not designed for portability.

Setup is a snap. Just download the free Sonos app for Android or iOS, run the app, follow the instructions and play. One caveat is that music must be played back from the Sonos app since it doesn’t utilize either Airplay or Bluetooth. However, given the wide range of streaming choices (Spotify, Google Play Music and Prime Music), you shouldn’t run into a problem. Unfortunately, Apple Music doesn’t work with Sonos, but you can utilize your full iTunes library through the app.

The 3.5-inch woofer and two amps are powered by a wall outlet connector and can easily fill up a room with volume and sound. For the price tag, the Play:1 is not just the most affordable Sonos speaker to date, it’s also a great choice if you're looking for something simple and easy without having to spend a lot of money on a huge audio system. Buy from Amazon »

3
Best Design: LG LHB655

LG LHB655
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Sleek, minimalistic and beautiful, LG’s LHB655 home theater system is without a doubt the best designed home audio system. It’s well within the price range of similarly featured offerings, but the slim and tall design make it all the more appealing and attractive for placement around a living or family room. The 5.1 channel system is aided by its 43” speakers to spread sound throughout the room. With 1000w of total output power, the LHB655 tower/tallboy speaker stands connect to the central speaker containing the subwoofer and the DVD and Blu-ray-ready main console. Additionally, the main console includes a premium content offering for services such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and more – if you have the right subscriptions. While it’s likely you are receiving the very same premium content from your TV, it’s a little added something that tells us LG wanted this to be a main audio hub in your home.

The rear of the main console includes Ethernet connectivity, an HDMI port for connection to a TV, as well as a USB port (just in case you’re still listening to music off a thumb drive).  LG has proven time and time again that they are more than just a phone company and the sleek lines of the LG are only matched by its sound. The only catch? At 53 pounds, there’s nothing small about this system. Buy from Amazon »

4
Best Under $75: Logitech Surround Speakers Z506

Logitech Surround Speakers Z506
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The most affordable on the list, the Logitech Surround Speakers Z506 is a wired two-channel sourced 5.1 and 3D stereo surround sound system that includes six black speakers and a ported down-firing subwoofer for clean booming bass. Though the system lacks Bluetooth connectivity like the other audio systems listed, it comes with 75 watts of balanced power, enough to fill a room with sound and also rattle a few windows. The speaker bass comes with a control dial that lets you easily adjust bass levels.

You’re not limited to only hooking the system up to your computer, as the package induces a 3.5 mm or RCA audio out allowing for an easy connection to your video game consoles, iPods, etc. Though the speakers may work with game consoles and TVs, when connected, the audio produces only 2.1 audio quality without the surround sound. Buy from Amazon »

5
Best For Music: Bose SoundTouch 30 Series III Wireless Music System

Bose SoundTouch 30 Series III Wireless Music System
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Bose SoundTouch 30 Series III will capture every guitar strum, bass note and pin-drop from your music playlist. Its patented technology is engineered to fill any room, large or small, with deep and robust sound, and since it's just a one-piece system, set-up is a cinch. Bluetooth-enabled and wireless, additional Bose speakers can be added on, meaning you can turn a warehouse into a concert hall.

Bose works with your home WiFi network and Bluetooth enabled devices so you can stream audio from any device such as your computer or smartphone via the SoundTouch app. Music services like Pandora, Spotify and SiriusXM can be accessed from the system in one touch, allowing for Internet radio and music library playlists.

Bose advertises the SoundTouch 30 Series III as their “best-performing one-piece wireless music system” which means it’s on the more expensive side, but well worth the splurge. Colors come in black and white. Buy from Amazon »

6
Best For Large Rooms: Acoustic Audio AA5170 Home Theater 5.1 Bluetooth System

Acoustic Audio AA5170 Home Theater 5.1 Bluetooth System
Courtesy of Amazon.com

You might think that powerful multimedia audio sound systems would cost you an arm and a leg, but they don’t have to. The Acoustic Audio AA5170 Home Theater 5.1 Bluetooth Speaker System 700W with Powered Sub is the beginner audiophiles purchase when looking for that sweet middle ground of booming power and affordable price. The system comes with six speakers, so you can cover all corners of any room you put it in.

For less than $100, the system includes an amplified subwoofer; five discrete independent channel input/output speakers suited for surround sound; Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream music from your mobile devices (users have reported that it's sometimes wonky); an SD card input; flash drive MP3 player for assorted music playlists; an FM tuner to play your favorite radio stations; and 3.55 aux to RCA wires so you can plug in and start listening immediately.

The Acoustic AA5170 Home Theater uses only 700 Watts with a power frequency of 20Hz to 20KHz, packing a compact, yet powerful speaker package suitable for any home theater system (although static can occur if played too high). The AA5170 works fluently with your personal computer/laptop, gaming system, digital media player, “i” device or any other audio/video device equipped with Bluetooth, RCA, or 3.5mm auxiliary interfaces. Buy from Amazon »

7
Best for Small Rooms: Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System with Bluetooth and NFC

Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System with Bluetooth and NFC
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Suited for smaller spaces, the bookshelf-style, Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System has 50 watts of power, a built in CD player (just in case you want to play that mix you burned back in 2000), AM/FM radio, a USB input for your music playlist, Bluetooth connectivity and one touch NFC so you can stream music via your smartphone, tablet and laptop.

The brushed metal and old school style gives the CMTSBT100 a retro look. And although there is no dock for an iPod, the USB port provides a 2.1 amp charging capability in case you want to simultaneously power your smartphone and play music from it.

But don’t expect too much raw power, as the device’s USB port can only read 250 songs and due its power-saving functionality, powers down within a short period once music is paused. Buy from Amazon »

8
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Yamaha RX-V379

Yamaha RX-V379
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Choosing a runner-up to our overall best choice in this category feels like a tall order, but Yamaha’s RX-V379 has risen to the task. You’ll find powerful sound, good detail levels, Bluetooth capability and musical performance that is superb for the price. It’s a straightforward receiver. There’s no networking or WiFi, but the addition of Bluetooth is one of the first times it has been included at this price point (so feel free to connect your favorite media player and gaming console). The 4K pass-through offers up to 60fps support with HDCP 2.2 protection for playing future 4K Blu-rays. With a 5.1 channel receiver, you’ll find four HDMI inputs and one output, which feels like more than enough for this entry-level price point. There’s also one optical port, one USB port and two coaxial inputs, plus three analog inputs for older technology. The RX-V379 menu skips fancy visuals, instead opting for just enough information on what you need. The power rating on the V379 is rated at 100 watts per channel, just below our vote for best overall at 110 watts. Buy from Amazon »

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