The 4 Best Home Theater Systems of 2021

Bring the movies into your home

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The best home theater system should support surround sound, 4K HDR, and have passthrough so you can connect your receiver to multiple devices. The advantage of picking up a system is that it offers easy setup, but you should still leave room for expanding your setup in the future. For a home theater setup on a budget, take a look at our general list of the best home theater systems under $500. Otherwise, read on below to see the best home theater system.

The Rundown
Its THX-certified speakers are wall-mountable to create a truly custom surround sound experience.
The entire system is wireless, eliminating the need for connection cables and allowing you to customize your setup.
The speakers include a single aluminum dome tweeter for exceptional high tones and four slim mid-range speakers.
This 2.1 channel soundbar and subwoofer combo supports Bluetooth and works great with games and other media.

Best for PC: Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound

Logitech Z506 5.1 Surround Sound
What We Like
  • THX certified speakers

  • Speakers are wall mountable

  • Connect up to 6 devices

What We Don't Like
  • Reports of failing receivers

  • Non-returnable

  • Reports of failing speakers

If you’re an avid PC gamer (or use your computer to stream movies and music on a regular basis), check out the Logitech Z506 home theater system. The entire system is optimized for use with computers, game consoles, and mobile devices. Its THX-certified speakers are wall-mountable to create a truly custom surround sound experience.

The receiver is compact, perfect for small TV stands or desktops with limited space, and features both digital and analog connections, so you can use it with everything from modern PC rigs to retro game consoles. You can connect up to six different devices and switch between them easily with the included remote control.

As a whole, the system delivers up to 500 watts of stable, consistent power, and peaks at 1000 watts when you need absolutely room-shaking sound. The speakers and subwoofer utilize 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound so you never miss any audio details in your music, movies, and games.

Channels: 5.1 | Wireless: No | Inputs: Digital and analog | Digital Assistant: None | Number of Speakers: 6

Best Wireless: Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System

Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
What We Like
  • Wireless

  • Fast and easy set up

  • Analog, optical, and Bluetooth connections

What We Don't Like
  • Reports of inconsistent performance

  • Reports of speakers disconnecting from receiver

  • Reports of bad remotes

The biggest hassle of setting up any home theater or surround sound system is figuring out how to best place and hide the wires that connect the speakers to the receiver. With the Enclave Audio CineHome home theater system, you won’t have to worry about that. The entire system is wireless, eliminating the need for connection cables and allowing you to customize your setup to accommodate oddly shaped rooms. Our reviewer liked that feature, though he noted that each of the six components of the speaker system requires its own wall socket power source. The Smart Center acts as a central hub and allows you to connect several systems together without needing a second receiver. 

The five speakers utilize 5.1-channel Dolby Digital surround sound to provide a truly cinematic experience. The Smart Center features three HDMI inputs as well as an HDMI pass-through, CEC, and ARC connections. The receiver also has Bluetooth connectivity and utilizes an app to connect your smartphone or tablet to the system and download firmware updates. Setting up the CineHome system is fast and easy; the system is ready to go right out of the box with a plug-and-play set up process.

Channels: 5.1 | Wireless: Yes | Inputs: HDMI and optical | Digital Assistant: None | Number of Speakers: 6

"For music it delivers a clear and enjoyable experience with especially strong high notes, though it tends to struggle with mids and low bass ranges." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Enclave Audio CineHome

Lifewire / Andy Zahn 

Best for Small Rooms: SVS Prime Satellite

SVS Prime
What We Like
  • Ultra compact design

  • Tweeter speaker included

  • SoundMatch tech for smooth transitions

What We Don't Like
  • No receiver included

If your living room or media room is short on space, but you want a home theater system that’s big on sound, check out the SVS Prime Satellite speaker system. The five speakers and subwoofer feature an ultra-compact design that’s perfect for rooms where space is at a premium. The subwoofer measures just 13 inches so it can be tucked away behind a couch, TV stand, or even a curtain. It is built with an aluminum shorting ring to reduce distortion and a cast ABS plastic and fiberglass basket to precisely align components for superior bass. 

The speakers include a single aluminum dome tweeter for exceptional high tones and four slim mid-range speakers to provide a fuller sound when streaming music or movies. The system utilizes SoundMatch 2-way crossover technology for smooth transitions between sound frequencies and directional sound. Its Black Ash veneer adds a touch of classic style that will complement almost any living room or media room decor.

Channels: 5.1 | Wireless: No | Inputs: Analog | Digital Assistant: None | Number of Speakers: 6

Best Samsung: Samsung HW-R450

Samsung HW-R450
What We Like
  • Affordable price

  • Plug and play setup

  • Includes wireless subwoofer

  • Supports Bluetooth

What We Don't Like
  • Not as room-filling as full home theater

  • Subwoofer performance not impressive

The 2.1-channel Samsung HW-R450 is a good starting point as a home theater for Samsung TV owners. That said, it'll work with other brands too. The soundbar works plug-and-play, automatically pairing with the wireless subwoofer provided both of them are connected and have power. There's also Bluetooth so you can play music from your phone.

In terms of interesting features the soundbar has a Smart Sound Mode that analyzes content to optimize sound settings. Game Mode does something similar, boosting sound effects in the game. Finally, if you want to build out to a full home theater system at a later date, you can pick up a wireless surround kit to get the full setup.

Channels: 2.1 | Wireless: Subwoofer | Inputs: HDMI, Bluetooth | Digital Assistant: None | Number of Speakers: 2

Final Verdict

The best home theater system for most people is the Logitech Z506 (view at Amazon). It offers robust surround sound on its THX certified speakers, can connect up to 6 devices, and works for both TVs and PCs. We also like the Enclave Audio CineHome 5.1 (view at EBay) for its wireless connectivity, quick, easy setup, and profusion of connections.

About Our Trusted Experts

Patrick Hyde has been covering consumer tech for Lifewire for years, specializing in general content.

Andy Zahn has been reviewing devices for Lifewire since 2019. He specializes in smart home, general consumer technology, smartphones, photography, and home theater devices.

FAQ
  • How can you play TV surround sound through home theater speaker systems?

    If you want to have surround sound with your home theater system, there are three ways you can do it. The main one is to use HDMI ARC which will allow playback with any additional cables. If that isn't supported, your next best option is to use an optical digital cable or coaxial digital cable for digital audio. Your last option is to go old-school with an analog audio cable.

  • How do you set up a home theater system?

    Setting up a home theater system can vary in complexity depending on what type of system you're trying to set up. Our overview of 2.0, 2.1, 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 channel systems can help break down the components you need and the features offered. Once you've hammered out what you want, take a look at our guide on how to set up a home theater system with separate components.

  • How do you connect an Amazon Fire Stick to a home theater system?

    Connecting an Amazon Fire Stick or another streaming device to your home theater system is actually fairly simple. All you have to do is connect your TV to the HDMI ARC port on an AV receiver. Then you can plug the Fire TV Stick into a spare HDMI port on the receiver. Most apps support 5.1 surround sound, though that may not be the case for all of them.

What to Look For in a Home Theater Starter Kit

Surround Sound

Do you want to be surrounded by the action of your favorite films? For those seeking a room-encompassing experience, keep your eyes peeled for 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound offerings. A 5.1 system will offer two rear, two front, one center channel, and a subwoofer, while a 7.1 will include two additional speakers for the sides. To get a full overview, take a look at our article on 2.0, 2.1, 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 channel systems.

4K and HDR

Not every receiver will support newer technologies such as 4K video or standards such as Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). If your television supports these abilities and you wish to take advantage of them, make sure your receiver can handle the job. Our article on the different types of HDR, like HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision can help provide some insight on HDR formats, upscaling, and other features.

Pass-through

How many items do you have in your home theater system? Be sure to select a receiver that can handle the number of devices that you will want to use. For example, someone with a cable box, Apple TV, PlayStation, and Xbox will need at least four inputs. For audio, it may be a good idea to get a system that supports HDMI ARC since it can allow you to use the home theater system without needing to connect analog or digital optical cables.

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