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Most Popular: Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1 DTS:X Soundbar at Amazon
"For those who do not want to commit to the hassle and space of a full receiver system."
Best Overall: Bose SoundTouch 30 Series III Wireless Music System at Amazon
"Captures every guitar strum, bass note and pin-drop from your music playlist."
Best for Small Rooms: Sony CMTSBT100 Micro With Bluetooth at Amazon
"A bookshelf-style speaker with 50 watts of power."
Best Wireless: Bose Wave SoundTouch IV at Best Buy
"Combine the system with Amazon Alexa to use voice commands to control what you want to play."
Best Intro: Logitech Surround Speakers Z506 at Amazon
"Includes six black speakers and a ported down-firing subwoofer for clean booming bass."
Best for Large Rooms: Acoustic AA5170 Home Theater 5.1 Bluetooth at Amazon
"That sweet middle ground of booming power and affordable price."
Runner-Up, Best for Small Rooms: VIZIO SB4451-C0 SmartCast at Amazon
"Delivering an immersive audio experience in a compact space."
Best 5.1-Channel: Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack at Amazon
"A home audio system that delivers high quality, room-filling sound without bulky speakers."
Best Budget Surround Sound: Rockville HTS56 at Amazon
"When you need a great surround sound system on a small budget, the Rockville HTS56 is the one for you."
Best Floor Tower: Polk T50 at Amazon
"An impressive floor tower to kickstart or upgrade your home theatre system."
Negates the need for a receiver
Solid sound quality
Less known brand
Sound quality pales to higher end systems
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 passthrough and plays Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital plus content.
Great when space is at a premium
Wireless and bluetooth enabled
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 Wi-Fi 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 is well worth the splurge.
Versatile connectivity options
Expansive features in a small package
External media playback is limited
Suited for smaller spaces, the bookshelf-style, Sony CMTSBT100 Micro Music System has 50 watts of power, a built-in CD player, 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 or laptop.
The brushed metal and old school style gives the CMTSBT100 a retro look. And while it may lack a native iPod dock, 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 up to 250 songs and due to its power-saving functionality, powers down after a short period of inactivity.
Can chain multiple devices together
Luxury audio manufacturer Bose brings cutting-edge wireless connectivity to its 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 or 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 higher-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 also connect multiple devices to play music throughout the house.
Satellite speakers are a bit small
Our most affordable recommendation, 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 our other recommended audio systems, the Z506 still comes equipped with 75 watts of balanced power, enough to fill a room with sound and even 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, or any external source. While the speakers may work with game consoles and TVs, when connected, the audio produces only 2.1 audio quality without the surround sound.
Inexpensive 5.1 sound
Tons of connectivity options
Doesn't offer the assurances of larger brands
Sound quality suffers at higher volumes
You might think that powerful multimedia audio sound systems would cost you an arm and a leg, but the Acoustic Audio AA5170 Home Theater 5.1 Bluetooth Speaker System 700W with Powered Sub represents a sweet middle ground of booming power and affordable price. The system comes with six speakers, providing great coverage of any room you put it in.
At an excellent price, the system includes an amplified subwoofer; five discrete independent channel input/output speakers suited for surround sound; Bluetooth connectivity for mobile streaming, an SD card input, flash drive MP3 player for assorted music playlists, an FM tuner to play your favorite radio stations, and 3.5 aux to RCA wires so you can 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 fluidly with your personal computer/laptop, gaming system, digital media player, or any other audio/video device equipped with Bluetooth, RCA, or 3.5mm auxiliary interfaces.
Tons of inputs
Can't compete with larger units
Designed to fit snugly in smaller spaces, the VIZIO SB4451-CO system includes a 44-inch 5.1 channel soundbar, a wireless subwoofer, and two rear speakers—delivering an immersive audio experience in a compact space. The subwoofer packs a punchy 40Hz to 90Hz of bass with the main system offering a frequency range of 40Hz - 20kHZ, along with a maximum volume of 103dB with less than 1% Total Harmonic Distortion. The VIZIO features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and has Chromecast built-in, so you can access all your favorite tunes and movies from any platform. You’ll also find plenty of available inputs, for USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, analog, and digital media.
Flexible mount options
Reports of missing subwoofer feet
Not optimal for large rooms
reports of mid-range sound issues
If you're looking for a home audio system that delivers high quality, room-filling sound without bulky speakers, check out the Klipsch Black. This audio system comes packaged with five speakers and a single subwoofer that are each designed with a small footprint to be tucked out of sight. Each speaker is made with Klipsch's proprietary tractrix Horn technology to deliver clean, natural sound when watching movies or streaming music.
Each speaker features a keyhole mount and a threaded insert to give you a variety of mounting options for custom placement. The subwoofer features a down-firing driver to utilize the floor when creating deep bass ranges. It's also wireless to give you more placement options. The entire system is made from injection-molded graphite for long-lasting strength and durability as well as reduced distortion.
Built in receiver
Independent volume control
Plug and play
No HDMI input
Reports of failing speakers
Reports of audio/video syncing issues
When you need a great surround sound system on a small budget, the Rockville HTS56 is the one for you. This home audio system comes with five speakers and an eight-inch subwoofer. The subwoofer features a built-in AV receiver as well as an FM radio antenna so you won't have to spend extra cash on a separate unit.
Each speaker, as well as the subwoofer, has independent volume control for superior sound customization no matter how big your media room is. This system utilizes Bluetooth, USB, and RCA connections so you can hook up your TV, DVD or Blu-Ray player, and game consoles without frustration. The Rockville HTS56 home audio system also has four LED lighting modes with seven different colors to help customize your media or game room's look.
Dolby and DTS support
Use with almost any receiver
Easy set up
Reports of DOA units
If you're looking for an impressive floor tower to kickstart or upgrade your home theatre system, check out the Polk T50. This tower speaker features a one-inch, silk dome tweeter, a 6.5-inch midrange driver, and two 6.5-inch passive radiators to improve the tower's bass response. The cabinet itself is made of acoustic-neutral MDG material to reduce audio distortion and resonance for clean, clear audio when watching movies or listening to music.
The T50 supports both Dolby and DTS 5.1 channel audio and can be used with other Polk speakers to build a true surround sound home theatre system. The tower can be used with almost any AV receiver so you don't have to worry about buying specialized audio equipment. The T50 is sized perfectly for small to mid-sized rooms.
Sound quality - Sound quality can be a very personal feature — some people enjoy deeper bass while others prefer a more balanced sound. Different speaker systems have different sound profiles (which can also be tweaked slightly by repositioning speakers in your room).
Room size - Power isn’t everything and wattage is often overrated. If your speakers are intended for a smaller space, you likely don’t need a full 7.1 channel setup; a soundbar or single speaker might do the trick. If you want to fill a larger room with sound, though, spring for something more powerful.
Wired vs. wireless - As with headphones, wired systems often deliver better sound, but their setup tends to be more complicated. If you’re willing to trade a little sound quality in favor of convenience, a wireless system is a good bet.
Subpar sound quality
Large soundbar and subwoofer
One of our testers liked that this product was simple to install: “The instructions were straightforward and had detailed pictures of how to set up the system for one or more devices,” she said. Other highlights, according to one reviewer, were its Bluetooth connectivity and the fact that its subwoofer was “wireless and could be connected behind the couch.” Its sound quality, however, could have been better: “When you play loud music,” explained one tester, “the system struggles and the sound is no longer crisp.” One of our reviewers also said that even though the design was nice overall, “the soundbar and the subwoofer were a bit large.”