The 10 Best Home Audio Systems to Buy in 2018

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. Whether 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.

Bonus budget tip: Turn your old smartphone into a portable media player.

Best Overall: Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 DTS:X Soundbar

This massive 7.1-channel 600 Watt soundbar from Nakamichi delivers a powerful home audio experience for those who do not want to commit to the hassle and space of a full receiver system. While it might not rival a true system in terms of power and sound quality, it gives a rich and immersive surround audio experience that is perfect for people living in apartments or other small spaces.

The bar has five sealed speaker chambers and a quad-core DSP chipset, creating an acoustic wideness that brings your media to life with DSP EQ modes. The system is complete with 13 tuned speaker drivers, as well as an included eight-inch downward-firing subwoofer for deep rich bass. The satellite speakers are wireless as well, while the HDMI connected bar has 4K pass through and plays Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital plus content.  

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Bose SoundTouch 30 Series III Wireless Music System

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.

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.

Best Sound: LG CM4550

Sound engineers and amateur audiophiles agree: The LG CM4550 delivers rocking sound for an amazing price tag. While it might not match systems that run into the thousands, this is the home audio system you want if sound is your main focus and price is a factor. It delivers 700W of power, bringing a rich bass and crisp sound quality even when the volume is up to the max. Nice features such as Bluetooth allow anyone to easily connect their music, while Auto DJ eliminates gaps in between songs, great for a house party or a hyperfocused study session. The system comes with two speakers and a subwoofer, creating immersive sound with precision EQ drawing out all the elements of a song.

Runner-Up, Best Sound: Yamaha YHT-390UBL

Everything you need for excellent home theater audio comes in this box, a 5.1-channel setup from Yamaha that is optimized for 4K Ultra HD video and Bluetooth wireless streaming. The package consists of four surround speakers, a central channel and a powerful eight-inch 100-watt subwoofer. All the speakers are optimized with low-range enhancement technology that delivers a rich bass with efficient localization and acoustic balance. You also have the flexible option of Virtual Cinema Front, which places all the speakers at the front if you have a small room where rear speakers are not possible. No matter your setup, Yamaha’s YPAO will assist you by analyzing room acoustics to make automatic adjustments for optimal listening.

Best Under $75: Logitech Surround Speakers Z506

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Best In-Wall: Acoustic Audio High Definition Series HD 5.1

Transform your den into a bonafide home theater with this Acoustic Audio High Definition Series HD 5.1 channel speaker system. Seamless installation allows for the four rectangular front in-wall speakers and two round in-ceiling speakers to blend into your room, presenting a sleek and minimalist look. Two 10” in-wall subwoofers bring movies and games to life, while titanium tweeters deliver pronounced dialogue even during quiet scenes. All parts are white and can be painted any color to flow with your existing interior design. Expect vivid high definition sound from all speakers and relax with your favorite entertainment. 

Best Wireless: Wave Soundtouch IV

Luxury audio manufacturer Bose brings cutting-edge wireless connectivity to their world-class speakers in the Wave Soundtouch IV. Bose created a home audio system that makes it easier than ever before to play CDs (if that's still your thing), listen to the radio and stream your favorite music. The powerful app connects you to all your favorite streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Waveguider speaker technology delivers lifelike, room-filling sound that you would expect from high-end speakers. You can even combine the system with Amazon Alexa to use voice commands to control what you want to play. While one Wave Soundtouch is more than enough to bring sound to one room of your house, you can connect multiple devices to play music throughout the house.

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