7 Best Home Theater Speakers for True Cinema Experience

Top home theater speakers selected by our experts on the basis of multiple parameters and test results

  • March 13, 2017

If there is one thing that still drives many people to go to the movies, it is the sheer experience of sitting in a dark place and being enthralled by the colorful visuals and stirring acoustics. It is true that they do not make good movies anymore, but watching that top-rated action movie on the huge ceiling-to-floor screen with wraparound sound that makes you feel like you are part of it. It is a one-of-a-kind experience and worth experiencing. Thankfully, as we enter 2017 and move ahead in the 21st century, this experience can be simulated right in your living room, thanks to newer technologies in the audiovisual department. You can get true cinema experience like you would in a theater, and all you will need is a wide screen television and a theater system. While our website’s main focus is to help you find the best consumer electronic products in the market, today we are going to focus on best home theater speakers.

You can go through the detailed reviews of the seven best home theater speakers and select the one that suits your personal needs and tastes. Once you are done, you will only need a subscription so that you can Netflix and chill on the weekends!

List of 7 Best Home Theater Speakers

It took us around two months to select, test, analyze, and rank these top home theater speakers. The following systems were ranked based on various factors such as wattage, audio output, design and build, acoustics, and the uninteresting yet crucial technical parameters. For now, let’s just see which ones made it to our list (updated in March 2017):

Note: All systems featured in this list are 5.1 (six channel) configurations.

Rank Device Name Speaker Type Bundle Call to Action
1 Pioneer SP-PK52FS Andrew Jones 5.1 Subwoofer, Floor-standing, Bookshelf, Center Channel 5 items Check Price
2 Fluance SXHTB  

Floor-standing, Surround, Center Channel

5 items Check Price
3 Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1B  

Subwoofer, Compact Satellite Speakers

6 items Check Price
4 Bose Acoustimass 6 Series V Base module (subwoofer), Ultra-compact Speakers 6 items Check Price
5 Yamaha NS-SP1800BL  

In-wall, Surround, Subwoofer

6 items Check Price
6 Definitive Technology ProCinema 400  

Subwoofer, Satellite speakers, Center-piece

6 items Check Price
7 ELAC Debut Series 5.1 Center Speaker, Tower 6 items Check Price
Know the Brands

When it comes to audio systems, Bose and Pioneer are the leaders as we close the first quarter of 2017. While Bose is the new favorite among automobile manufacturers for car stereo systems, Pioneer has migrated from being the former favorite to the first choice of homeowners. The oldest to be featured on our list, it is one of the top best-selling brands in the world right now, along with Yamaha. If you are familiar with companies like Denon and Marantz, it would be interesting to know that Boston Acoustics is now a part of them as they are all owned by a single company called Sound United, which also owns Polk, and that makes us a bit uncomfortable (don’t ask why). Fluance and Definitive Technology are both underdogs, but give great value for your money if you appreciate their models’ detailed sonic output. They have decent speaker models coupled with great design and build. Yamaha is popular amongst headbangers and musicians, whereas ELAC is the newest entrant in a market which does not appreciate newcomers and pathbreakers. Thankfully, ELAC is both of them and more and we love it.

Pro Tip – While buying, make sure you purchase genuine products that have appropriate brand seals and inscriptions. At a time when people are skilled enough to create uncanny rip-offs, it is our duty to check all the papers, including those warranty cards.

What Makes a Good System?

The foundation of a good home theater system lies in a receiver (or an amplifier) and multiple speakers. The receiver is what processes the audio information from your playback devices (DVD or Blu-ray player) and transmits it to the speakers. A regular theater system is configured from the total number of speakers or channels.

A general 5.1 speaker configuration has one subwoofer and five speakers (six channel system), two of which are usually used to give the surround effect. Following are the respective functions and importance of these speakers –

  • Left, center and right speakers – They transmit the core music, dialogue, and audio special effects. The centerpiece is placed below the TV screen whereas the left, and right speakers need to be placed in the front ideally but at an equal distance from both you and the centerpiece
  • Surround speakers (left and right) – They give you the lifelike experience and contribute by providing ambient sound effects for that in-the-film feeling
  • Subwoofer – It completes the audio circulation by giving weight to your viewing experience. It is credited with providing bass to your audio’s amplification.

We chose to describe a six-channel system because it is the most popular configuration used by homeowners around the world. A 5.1 system covers the essential parameters for audio amplification and gives you the best home theater experience regardless of the size of the room. The only change in the 7.1 configuration is that you get two additional surround speakers, which enhances the overall experience by giving more bass to your audio output. If you are an audio fanatic and want to go beyond the normal, we would suggest you tinker around with 7.1 and 9.2 systems.

Together with a powerful amplifier, one of these seven best home theater speakers, and a high-definition flat screen, you are ready to enjoy theater-like experience right from the comfort of your home.

Pro Tip – Make sure you get a surge protector while you build your home theater system. It is a voltage regulating device which keeps the power supply capped at a predefined level so that voltage spikes do not fry your carefully-assembled system’s internals. Moreover, no company covers such a situation in its warranty’s terms and conditions.

What are Your Listening/Viewing Habits?

 

Music?

Do you intend to use your home theater system to listen to high-quality music through Tidal? Could it be that you want to use them to see how your garage-rock music is doing so that you can ask Gary to notch up that bass or Johnny to take it slow on the C minor?

Whatever your music listening needs be, if your focus is going to be on audio, then you need not consider the surround speakers. A pair of bookshelf speakers with a small subwoofer will be more than enough for your needs. You can instead invest on a better-quality receiver, which is an important factor when it comes to audio systems. However, if you are really into your music and want to take notes of the notes (pun unintended), then a proper sound system should be in order.

 

Cinema?

On the other hand, if it is to watch and enjoy cinema, then those extra set of surround speakers will be very helpful. Feature films nowadays have multichannel soundtracks, which means the track you are listening (audio #1) to in the background of a dramatic sequence (audio #2) in the film where characters are talking (audio #3) at the top of their lungs is all laid out on different channels. If you want the best experience, better have the music, dialogs, and sound effects on separate channels.

Note: We will be focusing on the best home theater speakers more from a movie watcher’s perspective.

What to Consider?

There are many things to consider before making the final purchase. Here are a few important points to tick off:

  • Receiver/Speaker Wattage – Experts recommend that users buy speakers after they have bought the receiver. This is mainly due to the wattage difference. Low-rated speakers will not match a high-rated receiver. Additionally, higher the wattage, heavier the weight of the speakers, and higher the audio quality
  • Room Size – If you are looking to convert your large (600+ square feet) room into a mini-theater, you need to have floor-standing speakers with a large subwoofer for extra vibrations that will cover your whole room rather than a part of it
  • Budget – This is a no-brainer. High cost does not always mean better quality. Base your conclusion on the brand instead

This is the primary factors that you need to consider before diving into the world of home theater speakers. Once you have a fair amount of idea about your listening/viewing habits and other criteria, you can easily move to the next step: finding the best home theater speaker!

Complete Reviews of the Best Home Theater Speakers

1. Pioneer SP-PK52FS Andrew Jones 5.1

You see the name Andrew Jones attached to a speaker system, and you know it is going to be the shiz. The renowned speaker designer is credited for developing some of the best loudspeaker designs for brands such as Pioneer and ELAC. Best known for his designs for Pioneer and ELAC brands, Andrew Jones creates his designs by tweaking existing technology and experimenting with various input and output transmission modules, as we are about to see in our top-rated home theater speaker. The Pioneer SP-PK52FS gives the highest value for money and is thus ranked #1 on our list.

Consisting of two front floor-standing speakers, a center speaker, a pair of bookshelf surround speakers, and a medium-size 100-watt subwoofer, it is very much capable of filling your room with heavy vibrations at a reasonable price. It can easily cover a 600+ square feet room without leaving space with its tremendous vibrations.

It delivers great sound till mid-range level although the audio quality “tears” a bit as you increase the volume, mostly because of the subwoofer’s misalignment with the center and front speakers. This should not be an issue if you are looking to watch movies as most filmmakers cap the volume to the mid-range level. Jump-scare sequences in horror films, however, will highlight this issue.

One of the biggest merits of this speaker system is its ability to transmit top-quality vibrations at a price almost half than other models that have the same power.

Salient Features:

  1. Curved front-to-back panels on the center channel for easier shelf mounting
  2. All-metal connectors
  3. Perfect for large rooms (living rooms)
  4. Great surround output
  5. Mix of large and medium-size speakers for selective playback

The Pros

  • Large and heavy-duty speakers
  • Great bass and clean audio at mid-range levels

The Cons

  • Does not come with speaker wires and composite cables
  • Poor design and build quality
  • Blending misalignment between subwoofer and front speakers

Verdict

If you are a cinephile with a big room and a small budget, the Pioneer SP-PK52FS is going to be your wisest purchase this year. Have trust in Andrew Jones and watch your next film in all its glory without having to visit the expensive theater at the end of the street!

2. Fluance SXHTB

Around since 1999, Fluance is known only for their home theater speakers as it is pretty much the only thing that they manufacture. Based out of Canada, Fluance’s speakers provide great sound quality through a solid construction that makes its competitors take notes on how to get that combination right. The SXHTB model comes with two bookshelf satellite speakers, two standing floor speakers, and a center speaker.

It does not have a subwoofer, however, its loud sound is mainly contributed by the two standing speakers, both of which can be tuned to the highest volume and you will not catch a single tear. Unlike most audio systems and the above model by Pioneer, this one boasts of timbre-matched speakers which are the differentiating factor between different sounds, irrespective of their pitch and loudness. We think this is the single biggest factor which makes Fluance SXHTB one of the best home theater speakers in the speaker-land right now.

Salient Features:

  1. Tall floor-standing speakers (39 inches) for maximum output
  2. Lifetime warranty and customer support
  3. Timbre-matched speakers
  4. MDF wood construction for reduced cabinet resonance

The Pros

  • Crisp sound with no misalignment issues
  • Made of good quality materials; no cheap plastic components

The Cons

  • No subwoofer
  • Average design

Verdict

At almost half the price of the #1 home theater speaker, you need to put your belief in Fluance’s Canadian technology and get ready to enjoy the most realistic cinema experience.

3. Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 5.1

Have you ever wondered why you do not get the same audio and bass quality of that of a car system in your house? Well, the size of the encapsulation is an obvious difference, but what if you could get something to mimic the car’s audio technology? Well, let’s leave Pioneer and Blaupunkt behind and focus on the decades-old American audio equipment minor, Boston Acoustics. Famous for providing audio equipment to Chrysler, Jeep, and Chevrolet cars, this small company entered the home theater speakers market in the late 80s and has refused to budge down.

Its SoundWare XS 5.1 can be best described as a heavy load in a small package. Equipped with one huge 100-watt subwoofer and five tiny polyhedron-shaped satellite speakers, this one is not only a delight to watch and use, but also is capable of delivering high-quality crisp audio. It is one of the best home theater speakers because of its audio transmission power, design, build quality and innovative design. This is a one-of-a-kind speaker set that will also add a dash of charm to your living room. After watching a movie, your guests are sure to ask you about your home theater system. While you tell them about it with nauseating details, we will rejoice here at our office assuming that you mentioned us.

Salient Features:

  1. Cool-looking design for the new generation
  2. One-of-a-kind tiny polyhedron speakers
  3. Deep Channel Design (DCD)
  4. Perfect “break in your speakers” set

The Pros

  • Great surround sound
  • Big and powerful subwoofer
  • Articulating mounting brackets for easy positioning
  • Five-year warranty

The Cons

  • Satellite speakers may give noise at high audio ranges
  • No variable settings switch in the subwoofer
  • Lack of center speaker can affect dialogs/vocals while watching movies/TV shows

Verdict

If you are looking for great audio quality in the smallest possible package, the Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS should be your first choice. One thing that users point out while appreciating this model is you can place the five speakers anywhere in your room and still get the perfect surround experience.

Pro Tip – If you are wondering what “break in your speakers” mean, just understand that there is a popular notion among audiophiles which states that sound quality of speakers increases as you “break it” (run/play it) for longer periods. Time to play that Radiohead song on loop for 8 hours?

4. Bose Acoustimass 6 series V

When it comes to audio equipment and accessories, Bose is second to none. With cutting edge technology and sleek design, it is one of the pioneers of noise-cancelling audio devices.

If the one by Boston Acoustics looks bigger to you or if you are not sure about the brand, try the Bose Acoustimass 6 series V, and you will never complain about size again. Tailored for people who have smaller rooms and desire of head-banging to their favorite metal bands, this one offers great sound quality in a light package. With one subwoofer and small tiny satellite speakers, this model is capable of producing full audio for all your needs – whether you are a metal headbanger or a casual movie-watcher. You can increase the volume of your player, of your software interface, and still get the loudest audio without a hint of noise.

The only major problem we found with is the process of setting up. Firstly, you cannot use your existing cables and wires as Bose recommends and complies with only those that are made by the brand itself. Secondly, compared to how home theater systems are hooked up, this will require you to read the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. For example, in the Acoustimass 6 Series V, you have to plug the speakers into the bass module which is then connected to the receiver. The connection for the subwoofer is different, and you will need a separate wire. However, if you follow the manual, you will not have any problems. Plus, they have an excellent customer support center.

It is because of its small size and crispy audio quality even at high ranges that helped it feature on our list of the best home theater speakers.

Salient Features:

  1. Bose’s patented Acoustimass module
  2. Extended controls for volume and frequency effects
  3. Great for instrumentals

The Pros

  • Realistic sound with great bass
  • Tiny satellite speakers that can fit anywhere
  • Excellent acoustic

The Cons

  • Setting up the speakers can be difficult
  • Slightly expensive compared to its peers

Verdict

If you have always preferred your electronic devices from the industry leaders, then the Bose Acoustimass 6 series V is an essential addition to your home. It looks good and sounds good – which is a rare combination.

5. Yamaha NS-SP1800BL

If you are looking for budget home theater speakers that also match your house’s interior and is manufactured from a renowned brand, look no further. This Yamaha will take care of all your listening needs as it boasts of a powerful subwoofer that is way ahead of its time and price, four small satellite speakers, and a center system for perfect matching.

If you are a fan of Japanese technology, then the Yamaha NS-SP1800BL is going to impress you both with its sonic impact in your room while you watch your favorite Star Wars movie and the competitive pricing.

Salient Features:

  1. Compact design
  2. Advanced Yamaha Active Servo Technology (YST) to cancel out impedance
  3. Magnetically shielded
  4. Best entry-level homes theater speakers

The Pros

  • Powerful subwoofer which gives a rumbling bass to your hi-def movies
  • Comes with speaker wires
  • Easy to mount, but will require external brackets
  • Affordable

The Cons

  • Tendency to create echoes at mid-range volumes between the center and front speakers
  • Lower quality surround sound

Verdict

If you want best home theater speakers at a budget and still want to look cool in front of your guests, get this Yamaha model and then a popcorn vending machine.

6. Definitive Technology ProCinema 400BK

Around since 1990, Definitive Technology attracts a niche group of audiophiles who are more interested in treble and bass over less-important ambient sounds. The American electronics major is popular for all types of audio enhancement equipment such as wireless audio systems, soundbars, and headphones.

Pro Tip – If you think investing in a six channel system for your music-listening needs is superfluous, why not go for a soundbar? It gives powerful audio output and is a cheap alternative.

If impeccable clarity is one of your most important requisites, the Definitive Technology ProCinema 400 is not going to let you down. Be it an instrumental rock song with sporadic lyrics or an ambient science-fiction film, the clarity of the dialog is top-notch on these speakers which consist of four satellite speakers with a subwoofer and a centerpiece. While the subwoofer and center speaker deliver crisp sound, the satellite speakers tend to give a hollow surround effect i.e. they are unable to distinguish between the different sounds (special effects and dialogues). This can play with your movie-watching experience, especially if the film has a multi-layered soundtrack (which most films do). However, the overall tone is simply mind-blowing.

Salient Features:

  1. Internals made of aluminum, thus reducing the overall weight
  2. 150-watt subwoofer
  3. Smallest speakers (in this list)

The Pros

  • Great dialogue clarity due to its powerful center speaker
  • Satellite speakers can be mounted on the wall
  • Five-year warranty

The Cons

  • Low overall sound output
  • Low-end surround sound quality with very low submersion quotient
  • Humming issue in the subwoofer at high-range

Verdict

Definitive Technology ProCinema 400BK is for those who want an intermediate-level home theater setup that is best for all types of applications. Clarity and sharpness are two great points that users love in this model.

7. ELAC Debut series
In 2016, ELAC celebrated its 90th anniversary, and we are here marveling at its ageless technology that is powering so many American households since the start of the 20th century. The German research-based technology company is world-renowned for its range of top-quality audio systems – loudspeakers, power supplies, and electronic accessories. Moreover, the Debut series is one of its bestselling and best-reviewed models.

Designed by Andrew Jones, the ELAC Debut series boasts of a center speaker, two tower speakers, one automatic subwoofer, and two bookshelf speakers for added audio output. It is a monster when it comes to cinematic sound, as is evident from its two tower and bookshelf speakers that transmit maximum audio output. Those four speakers are so powerful and clear in their output transmission that even if you power them individually, you can fill up a room with loud vibrations (a reason why their individual reviews are also rare in the online scene). Perfectly matched with its strongly-built centerpiece, these speakers give the best floor-standing audio experience you can get at this price even if you compare it with Pioneer and Fluance. While some users kick up a fuss with the price, we can assure you that it’s worth it. The ELAC Debut is a premium product and the most expensive one on this list.

Salient Features:

  1. Custom-designed subwoofers with aramid-fiber cones
  2. Subwoofer has auto power on/off feature
  3. Strong speaker design and timbre-matched response

The Pros

  • Powerful front and surround speakers
  • Impeccable sound clarity
  • Longer life than most traditional brands

The Cons

  • The speakers are large and may need a bigger room for proper placement
  • The price is on the higher side

Verdict

If you have ever heard of ELAC and want to experience true German technology, grab this model – which consists of some of their top-rated speakers. If you have never heard of ELAC, now is the time to upgrade your old Sony system and relive the true cinematic experience.

Pro Tip – Over the past few years (2010s decade), ELAC has shot its way up to be counted amongst the leaders of home audio systems. So, if you are someone who is looking for a generic two-speaker system so that you can listen to your daily dose of music, the Debut F5 and B5 series are inarguably the best two choices.

Honorable Mentions

The single reason why we featured models of seven different brands is because we wanted to highlight unique peculiarities of each of these companies so that our readers can consider them to come to a better conclusion. Every brand has at least one defining character, and to an extent, has helped them to be featured on our list. Also, to be impartial in our reviews, we have also taken into consideration the reviews by other industry experts (CNet, for example) with whom we believe are authoritative enough when it comes to audio equipment analysis. However, in our attempt to be as fair as possible, there are some models or brands which failed to reach our top seven list due to one or two misses. It is just that we feel the above-listed seven are better and rank higher in the important departments.

Of course, we know it is impossible to cram all the best home theater speakers and systems into a single list that features only seven. In our weeks-long research and testing process, we found that there are brands that manufacture home theater speakers which are equally good and which should get some love for all their good features. Some of them are:

  • JBL Cinema 610
  • Klipsch Quintet 5.0
  • Polk Audio TL150
  • Orb Audio Mini

In the rare case where none of these seven best models match your taste, you can go through these four speakers and see if they are what you are looking for. Our in-house experts recommend them.

Conclusion

Going through online reviews as you start your hunt for the best home theater speakers can be a nightmare. There are tons of reviews of thousands of products and configurations by hundreds of reviewers on tens of websites. Whom to trust? Which site is authoritative enough? Which product is the best? What features to look for? What is the price range?

In this article, we have tried our level best to address all these issues and bring you a clear guide to buying the best surround sound speakers. We hope you will find this list useful as you plan to watch the Academy Award-winning film, Moonlight when it releases on Blu-ray. (Just make sure you watch few minutes of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land before you start.) Just order one of these from Amazon, set it up using a fine receiver and some good-quality wires, cables, and brackets, and get that popcorn bowl ready. You are about to experience a change in your life.

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