After our research and testing the best home theater systems, it was easy to select the Logitech Z906 5.1 home theater system for our top pick spot. It offers an immersive audio experience with powerful, crisp sound, easy installation and plenty of audio inputs for the best user experience. It’s also incredibly easy to use.
To help you find the best home theater systems so you can create an immersive movie watching or music listening experience, we spent more than 15 hours researching 20 different options. As we performed our research and testing, we focused on sound clarity, ease of installation and user friendliness. We also considered design quality and warranties to ensure the product you buy will last you a long time. Keep reading below to learn more about the Logitech Z906 and the other best home theater systems on our list.
Top 7 Best Home Theater Systems
#1 Logitech Z906 5.1 Home Theater System
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Logitech is a powerful 5.1-channel surround sound home theater system with amazing audio quality, easy installation and is the only one our list that is THX certified. It’s also incredibly easy to use with a simple remote and receiver.
Read Full Review: Logitech Z906 5.1 Review
- THX certified for the best audio quality
- Easy to install and set up
- Six inputs
- No HDMI
- One-way satellite speakers
The Logitech Z906 is the successor to Logitech’s extremely popular Z5500 home theater system, and it does much to improve upon the previous generation. The sound system maintains a superb audio quality with 500 watts of continuous power and well-built speakers. The Z906 is a 5.1-channel surround sound system with 4 satellite speakers, 1 subwoofer and 1 center channel speaker. These speakers all produce amazing sound, but be aware that the satellite speakers are only one way, so you won’t get quite as much range as possible in those.
The overall installation is easy enough. The Logitech Z906 is a wired home theater system, and it doesn’t use proprietary connections so you can easily purchase longer cables, if needed. The Logitech system includes 6 audio input connections on the subwoofer, but it’s unfortunately lacking in HDMI cable ports, so you’ll need to connect Blu-Ray players via coaxial or optical S/P-DIF inputs. The system is also really easy to use. The remote is incredibly simple, and the AV receiver is small and clearly labeled. All in all, if you need an excellent all-around home theater system, the Logitech Z906 is the choice for you. If you want to transfer this quality sound to the car, you should also get the best aux cable.
#2 Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite Home Theater System
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Nakamichi home theater system offers powerful 7-channel surround sound, incredibly simple installation and dual wireless subwoofers for room-shaking bass. It’s also Dolby Atmos compatible which provides an unparalleled audio experience.
Read Full Review: Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite Home Theater System Review
- Best bass & Dolby Atmos compatible
- Amazing 7.2.4 surround sound
- 2 wireless subwoofers
- Short-range remote
- Delay when switching inputs
Nakamichi takes a unique approach to surround sound here with just a soundbar, 2 subwoofers and 2 satellite speakers. The Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 isn’t a traditional surround sound system with multiple satellite speakers around the room. Instead, the soundbar simulates the work of the front right, left and center channels, along with wide soundstage speakers for left and right ambient effects. The sound system also includes two wireless subwoofers and two rear two-way speakers. The rear speakers are wired directly to the subwoofers. We were very impressed with the overall sound quality the system outputs, especially with the Dolby Atmos compatibility.
The overall installation is incredibly simple with the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite home theater system. Simply plug in the soundbar and subwoofers, then power them on and they will automatically connect to each other. Connect the rear speakers to the subs and then you’re good to go. The Shockwafe Elite system is also really easy to use with the included remote, but we do wish the remote’s range was a little longer. You get 3 HDMI inputs, an optical input, and a coaxial input for plenty of connectivity options, meaning you can connect plenty of Blu-ray players and gaming consoles. To keep these cables from taking over your entertainment system, try also picking up some of the best cable ties.
#3 JBL Bar 5.1 Home Theater System
Award: BEST WIRELESS
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you’re looking for the best wireless home theater system, you can’t pass up this JBL home theater system. This is a 4K-compatible system with superb audio quality and powerful bass that’s easy to use and set up.
Read Full Review: JBL Bar 5.1 Review
- Unique detachable wireless speakers for full surround
- Amazing 7.2.4 surround sound
- 4K compatible
- Lacking in EQ controls
- Plastic build feels somewhat cheap
The JBL Bar 5.1 home theater system is incredibly appealing for anyone looking for powerful sound without taking up a lot of space or spending endless hours on installation. This is a truly wireless surround sound system that features a single soundbar, 2 wireless satellite speakers and a wireless subwoofer. One of the most unique aspects of this system is the fact that the satellite speakers magnetically attach directly to the soundbar and can be removed to create a surround sound experience when you want it. This essentially eliminates complicated installation processes. However, if you want it, the satellite speakers can be wall-mounted with the included mounting hardware.
You can connect devices to the JBL Bar 5.1 via Bluetooth or with one of three HDMI inputs, meaning you can connect all of your 4K devices and gaming consoles with ease. The JBL system is also incredibly easy to use. Most TV remotes are compatible with the system, but you can also use the JBL SoundShift functionality to switch between TV sound or tablet/phone sound for a truly seamless second-screen experience. We do wish the bar had some more EQ controls, but overall, the sound quality is powerful and balanced out of the box. It’s also got strong bass that fills the room. In the end, if you want stellar audio quality without the complicated setup, you can’t go wrong with the JBL Bar 5.1. If you don’t mind all the setup, take a look at the best center channel speaker.
#4 Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Home Theater System
Award: BEST COMPACT SYSTEM
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Polk Audio sound system packs a powerful punch in a super compact package that’s easy to use and easy to set up. It’s also a very affordable way to achieve cinema-quality sound.
Read Full Review: Polk Audio MagniFi Mini Review
- Powerful, high-end audio
- Super compact design
- Affordable cinema sound
- Treble could be better
- 1 HDMI input
If there’s one thing to know about Polk Audio, it’s that the company excels in delivering amazing, high-end audio experiences directly to your home. The MagniFi Mini home theater system is a testament to that fact. It may not look like it, but this compact audio system can fill your living room with powerful cinema sound. The compact design is perfect for anyone looking to save some space while still getting an amazing audio experience. Trebles could be better, but still impressive, especially when combined with solid bass and midrange frequencies.
There’s not much of an installation process to get the MagniFi system up and running. Simply plug in the soundbar and subwoofer and power them on in order to get them connected wirelessly. After that, you can connect your TV with the single HDMI input or other devices wireless via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, you’re a bit limited with the single HDMI port, but if you’re looking for something compact, you might not need more than that. If you’re looking for powerful, cinema-quality audio in an affordable and compact package, the Polk Audio MagniFi Mini offers the best high-end home theater speakers. And of note, this system boasts Google Cast, which works over WiFi to receive songs from your smartphone or smart device. With these casting abilities, you’ll be able to set that best HDMI cable to the side for good.
#5 Samsung HW-Q90R Home Theater System
Award: BEST 7.1 CHANNEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Samsung option is the best 7.1 home theater system on our list with super sound quality,17 built-in speakers, easy installation and excellent Adaptive Sound technology. It also features built-in 4K pass-through and HDR10 support.
Read Full Review: Samsung HW-Q90R Review
- 17 speakers; rich 7.1-channel audio quality
- Easy to use
- Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible
- Heavy and bulky
The Samsung HW-Q90R is a sound bar system that includes a subwoofer and two wireless rear speakers to create a brilliant 7.1.4 channel audio experience directly in your living room without complicated installation or functionality. The Samsung is incredibly easy to use with its included remote and onboard sound controls. Installation is also made easy with simple connections and wireless connection between the sound bar, the rear speakers and the subwoofer. You can even mount the system on the wall fit the included mounting kit and clear instructions.
When it comes to sound, the Samsung home theater system is a force to be reckoned with. With a total of 17 built-in speakers, you get a multi-dimensional cinematic experience that offers rich bass, clear midrange, and crisp highs. It also offers proprietary Adaptive Sound technology that can deliver optimized audio on the fly based on the sound signal coming from your TV or Blu-ray player. And with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatibility, this sound system can deliver a truly immersive and powerful audio 7.1 home theater experience. To best protect a speaker this nice, you’ll definitely want the best surge protector for it.
#6 Onkyo HT-S5800 Home Theater System
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Onkyo surround sound system is a traditional home theater system that gives you powerful Dolby Atmos audio and 4K compatibility. It’s also easy to get up and running, even for beginners.
Read Full Review: Onkyo HT-S5800 Review
- Extraordinary 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos audio
- Fairly easy installation
- Digital display on receiver
- Music audio could be better
- Receiver sometimes runs hot
The Onkyo HT-S5800 is a 5.1.2 channel surround sound home theater system that delivers a powerful and immersive Dolby Atmos audio experience. It delivers 115 watts per channel with wide range amplifier technology (WRAT) for a much better audio experience overall. You even get 4K compatibility, which gives this audio system longer lifespan and better compatibility with cutting-edge televisions. You can even stream audio from your mobile devices via built-in Bluetooth. One of our favorite features that the HT-S5800 offers is its impressive AccuEQ technology, which automatically calibrates EQ settings for the optimal audio experience.
Despite being a traditional wired home theater system, the Onkyo HT-S5800 is actually fairly easy to install. The included instructions are clear and comprehensive, and they even include easy-to-interpret diagrams that help you get things connected in the right manner. Once up and running, the system is simple to use because of its receiver’s digital display and simple remote. The receiver can run hot at times, but this is only after extended periods of use, so it shouldn’t become too much of an issue. The overall quality of the system is something worth noting, as well. Everything is built with durability in mind. With the proper care, this system will last you a long time.
#7 Bestisan 80W Sound Bar Home Theater System
Award: BEST ON A BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Bestisan audio system is a room-filling soundbar that is easy to use and extra affordable, to boot. Featuring multiple sound modes and simple installation, you can’t go wrong with this option if you’re on a budget.
Read Full Review: Bestisan 80W Sound Bar Review
- Solid 3D stereo sound
- Excellent Bluetooth 5.0 functionality
- Three different audio modes
- Sound bar only
- No HDMI input
While the Bestisan 80W sound bar home theater system is only a sound bar without any of the extra subwoofers or satellite speakers, it still features audio that’s powerful enough to fill your living room with rich sound. The sound bar is made from two 2” tweeters and two 3” drivers to achieve a 3D stereo audio experience. Our favorite feature on this sound bar, though, is the option to switch between three different audio modes: Movie, Music and Dialog. Each mode has its own, self-explanatory purpose and our testing revealed that each was suited for the task. The remote also gives you the option to increase or decrease bass and treble levels for a more customized experience.
Installation is as simple as plugging in the sound bar and getting it connected to your TV. Unfortunately, you don’t get any HDMI ports, but you still get optical, auxiliary, USB and RCA inputs. You also get excellent Bluetooth 5.0 connection to connect to phones, tablets, and Bluetooth-compatible TVs. All in all, if you’re looking for the best budget home theater system, you can’t go wrong with the Bestisan 80W sound bar.
How We Decided
Our primary concern in choosing the best home theater systems was the quality of the audio experience each option provides. The purpose of a full home theater system is to create a cinema-like experience with either true or simulated surround sound. As such, we rated only included the best-sounding systems on our list. We gave bonus points to systems that are compatible with cutting-edge audio technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but still focused mostly on the quality of the out-of-the-box audio experience.
Next, we focused our testing efforts on installation. While you can certainly hire home theater professionals to come install your new system, we rated options higher if they were easy enough to install on your own. For starters, the best home theater systems will include clear and comprehensive installation and operation instructions. However, we did favor wireless systems more in this category, since they are the easiest to install.
Finally, we considered the overall design and durability of each home theater system we included on our list. If you’re spending a large chunk of money on a comprehensive audio experience, you should feel comfortable knowing that the system will last you a long time. We favored options that included wall-mounting hardware so you could install systems on the wall out of the reach of children.
Best Home Theater System Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Pre-packaged vs. Custom Designed
The first consideration to make when purchasing a new home theater system is whether you want to purchase a pre-packaged system or a custom system. Pre-packaged systems come with everything you need to get started and are often made really easy to install yourself. They also tend to be more affordable than other options. On the flip side, you are also limited to the options the manufacturer provides instead of being able to tweak and customize your system. Custom designed home theater systems are much more expensive than pre-packaged solutions, but they can also be customized to your individual preferences. They’re also usually installed by home theater professionals, so you won’t have to worry about messing up during installation due to lack of knowledge. Since it’s next to impossible to test custom home theater systems, our list only features pre-packaged options.
- Surround Sound vs. Sound Bar
Next, you’ll need to consider whether you want to purchase a surround sound system or a sound bar setup. Surround sound features many more speakers, typically including a subwoofer, front left and front right speakers, rear speakers and a center channel speaker. As you might imagine, surround sound creates a much more immersive audio experience for your home theater, but it usually comes with a much bigger price tag. Sound bars are more affordable options than surround speakers, but they also don’t offer the same level of immersion. Sound bars combine the separate speakers of a surround system into one unit, with or without a subwoofer, depending on the model you purchase. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that sound bars are inferior. They simply offer a different kind of audio experience. If you don’t want to shell out the cash for a full surround sound system, sound bars are excellent alternatives that still offer a high-quality audio experience.
- Number of Channels
If you decide to go with a surround sound home theater system, you’ll need to determine how many speakers, or channels, you want. In general, the more speakers you install, the better audio experience you’ll have. Channels are numbered in ways like 5.1, 7.1, etc. The first number indicates the number of total speakers in the setup. The second number indicates the number of subwoofers. And the third number, if applicable, indicates the number of Dolby Atmos speakers are in the setup for special effects.
Any multi-channel home theater system features an audio-video receiver that both powers and orchestrates the entire setup. The AV receiver receives and processes the audio signal coming from your TV or Blu-ray player and doles it out to your home theater speakers. If it’s needed, an AV receiver will come with your purchase.
- Wired vs. Wireless
Wireless speaker packages are becoming more and more popular in today’s world of ever-advancing technology. Without the need for wires, a wireless home theater system is much more versatile and easier to install than their wired counterparts. Wireless systems can also stream audio from any device connected to your network and you can control the system from your smartphone. However, wired systems are usually more reliable and provide a higher level of audio quality than wireless alternatives.
- Ease of Use
Installing a home theater system can be a difficult task to undertake, especially if you don’t have any previous experience doing it. However, using a home theater system shouldn’t be difficult. Fully capable systems are also multi-functional and allow you to switch between different modes and audio sources. Consider all of the functions these systems provide, as well as how easy they are to operate. The best options include comprehensive instructions that teach you all of the functionality, as well as a remote that is clearly labeled and simple in its design.
Home Theater System FAQs
Which brand is the best for home theater system?
There isn’t one single brand that is the best when it comes to home theater systems. On the other hand, there are plenty of excellent brands to choose from. Consider purchasing from companies like Sony, JBL, Onkyo, Samsung, Bose and Polk Audio, for starters. Each of these companies provides a stellar audio experience for any home theater.
What is the best home cinema sound system?
The best home cinema sound system on our list is the Logitech Z906. With 5.1 surround sound, 500 watts of continuous power and six source inputs, the Logitech is versatile and easy to use. If you’re looking for immersive and powerful sound, this Logitech system is a hard option to beat.
Who makes the best surround sound system?
The best surround sound system on our list is the Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite. This is a 7.2.4 channel surround sound system that delivers superior audio quality in your living room, no matter the angle. And with two subwoofers, you get powerful bass that you can feel in your very core.
Which is the best 5.1 home theater system and how does a 5.1 channel system work?
The best 5.1 home theater system on our list is the Logitech Z906 surround sound speaker system. However, the other 5.1 options on our list, like the JBL Bar 5.1 and Onkyo HT-S5800, are both excellent options. A 5.1 surround sound system uses five audio channels (hence the “5”) plus a subwoofer channel (the "1" in 5.1). 5.1 systems work through the same speaker channels and configuration, having a front left and right, a center channel, two surround channels, plus a low-frequency effects channel designed for the subwoofer. On the other hand, a 2.1 system uses 2 speakers and one subwoofer channel.
Latest Home Theater Systems Reviews & Buyer Guides
What Else Should You Know About Home Theater Systems
Picking the best home theater system for your home is important, which is why Gadget Review offers home theater system reviews to help you make up your mind when watching television on your new 4k tv! Our top home audio reviews reveal how the best audio systems get remarkable surround sound right out of the box, including soundbars and wireless speakers, with all the components designed to quickly and easily work together with minimum stress and maximum acoustic fidelity. We've found there's a vast variety in home theater system prices. An inexpensive Sony or Panasonic theater system may give you several speakers for only a couple hundred dollars or less. A Bose home theater system, on the other hand, may cost a thousand dollars or more, but offer high fidelity sound and unbeatable surround sound features.
Gadget Review can help you choose the top home theater systems for your home or apartment in 2019, with top lists of our favorite products and information on the latest deals or home theater developments so you know what's happening in the audio world. Whether you want a few simple speakers and a stereo receiver, or full wireless surround sound that allows you to put speakers wherever you want, we offer advice on what to get, whether to go the professional route for installation and which of the latest systems looks the best.