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Ultimate Buying Guide for Home Theater, Sound System and Wireless Speakers
Whether you want something compact and portable or speakers that are meant for the ultimate party experience, we’ve got you covered.
Some say “Bose or bust” thanks to the brand’s incredible reputation in home audio. The Bose SoundTouch is a classic space-saving audio device. Along with dedicated remotes featuring assignable shortcut buttons, the SoundTouch supports Bluetooth streaming in addition to WiFi, allowing it to stream audio beyond built-in music sources like Sirius XM and Spotify. The entry-level SoundTouch 10 is a great deal, offering full, rich sound that fills the room. You can also choose from the SoundTouch 20 and 30. If you want a powerfully compact speaker to fill larger rooms, go with the 30! The new Bose Skill for Alexa also allows you to enjoy hands-free voice control of your SoundTouch using an Alexa-enabled device. You should also check out the Bose SoundLink Revolve+.
Photo: Courtesy of Bose
JBL Pulse 3
This is ideal for backyard parties by the pool. While most people seek out wireless speakers for their ability to go with them from room to room, the portability ups the risk of accidents! The JBL Pulse 3 is your answer to drops in the pool or getting left out in the rain thanks to its IPX7 waterproof housing. Other notable features include the 360° sound with 360° light show and built–in rechargeable battery that delivers up to 12 hours of playtime. You can expect supreme sound quality and a noise and echo canceling speakerphone that allows you to take calls from the device with a touch of a button. Check out these 10 outdoor speakers for great backyard tunes.
Photo: Courtesy of JBL
Sony 7.2 Channel Home Theater AV Receiver
Sony is an electronic power house, so it comes as no surprise that the brand puts out quality home audio products. For theatrical surround sound in your home, whether you’re looking for a simple two-channel setup or a full-fledged 7.2 channel system, wired or wireless, the STR-DN1070 delivers. You’ll hear sound from all directions with max 7.1.2 surround sound, making the system perfect for movie nights or entertaining in style. And along with the high-resolution audio creating immersive sound, the system incorporates wireless multi-room and front surround, making flexibility of your audio environment incredibly accessible. Check out these helpful hints on home theater setup.
Photo: Courtesy of Sony
LG Sound Bar SK10Y
Brands have answered consumers’ needs for more minimal home audio designs without sacrificing sound quality, and LG’s Sound Bar SK10Y is not to be missed. Providing powerful surround sound, this is the ideal product for home theater sound without sacrificing space. Along with Dolby Atmos support, High-Res Audio certification and Chromecast compatibility, there are plenty of features to rave about—not to mention the partnership with audio experts Meridian Audio to bring you surround sound that soundbars have never accomplished before. It’s also the largest soundbar LG has ever produced, measuring 65 inches wide. The SK10Y comes with a wireless, 15-liter, front-firing subwoofer as well. Looking to save space? Check out these 10 space-saving ways to trick out your home.
Photo: Courtesy of LG
Bose 151 SE Environmental Speakers
Deck out your deck with these environmental speakers from Bose, featuring a full stereo sound over a wide listening area. The weather-resistant speakers have been tested to withstand snow, rain, salt and extreme temperatures, and can be mounted horizontally or vertically with included brackets/hardware. The small and sleek look keeps them out of sight, blending easily into your environment. Inside each speaker you’ll find 2-1/2-inch full-range drivers that promise full stereo sound across a much wider area than conventional outdoor speakers. Check out this tutorial on how to build speaker stands.
Photo: Courtesy of Bose
Yamaha YHT-5920UBL Home Theater System
This 5.1-channel surround sound system from Yamaha combines the best of both worlds: an AV received and a 5.1 compact speaker package. The system comes with compact black gloss speakers. The center channel and satellite speakers feature 2-3/4-inch full-range cones, which ensures your room isn’t taken over with major bulk like other systems. For the bass lovers, you can expect a compact subwoofer that has a 6-1/2-inch cone and is rated at 100 watts. You’ll also get 6 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, 1 optical audio, 2 coaxial audio, 4 analog audio and 4 composite video inputs. There is also a single composite video output. Purchase MusiCas wireless speakers for around your home, which the receiver supports, so you can have a multi-room audio experience. Want a designated movie room? Here’s how to soundproof it.
Photo: Courtesy of Yamaha
Sonos is quickly catching up to the reputation of Bose, offering various high-quality audio options. The Sonos Play:1 is the perfect mini device to tuck on a shelf for rich sound that fills the room. Because it’s humidity resistant, you can bring it in the backyard while you’re gardening or in the bathroom while you shower. The speaker is wall or stand mountable, streams over Wifi (not Bluetooth) and can work as a Sonos home theater rear speaker (just buy two!). Check out these 45 home tech add-ons that will change your life.
Photo: Courtesy of Sonos
Onkyo HT-S9800THX Home Theater System
Well-revered for their AV receivers, Onkyo doesn’t disappoint since its one of the few receiver manufacturers that produces a dedicated home theater system. Thanks to support from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, this system can support up to 7.1 surround sound out of the box, or 5.1.2 if you choose to play object-audio soundtracks. Check out this trash can amplifier.
Photo: Courtesy of Onkyo
Bose Lifestyle 650 Home Entertainment System
You can’t really be surprised Bose has made the list so many times! The look of AV technology can be just as important as the sound it puts out, and for that, there is this home entertainment system from Bose. The Lifestyle 650 is a 5.1 surround sound home theater system featuring a speaker for the center that comes in the form of a 21-inch soundbar that houses five precision speakers. OmniJewel satellite speakers, small but mighty wireless speakers with a 360-degree sound field, serve as the front left/right and surround left/right. And for the ultimate bass, there’s the 12.8-inch-high wireless Acoustimass bass module. You may also be interested in how to make a quick speaker for your smartphone.
Photo: Courtesy of Bose
Sonos 5.1 Home Theater System
This isn’t your traditional home theater system! In fact, it’s a multi-room wireless speaker system, with no receiver or wires to be found. It is, to say the least, the future of smart home technology. We are undoubtedly moving more and more away from systems that are one-dimensional, so it makes sense that Sonos would capitalize on a versatile home theater system design. The wireless speaker system can double as a 5.1 surround sound system, putting together the 3.1 setup using either a PLAYBASE or a PLAYBAR, which can then be paired with a sub. The base or bar will serve as the center, front left and front right speakers, and the sub as the subwoofer. Add surround sound speakers using the Sonos App, which can be: Two PLAY:1s, Two PLAY:3s, Two PLAY:5s (gen2), or a CONNECT:AMP. It’s a pretty customizable system to say the least! Check out this list of home tech products you need.
Photo: Courtesy of Sonos
Definitive Technology BP9080x
If you’re willing to dole out some serious cash for speakers with crystal clear sound, this luxury audio option is for you. These tower speakers feature user independent control of the subwoofer volume, so they can be adjusted to fit the size of your room. If you like to go loud without the treble frequencies being affected, you’ll get what you want with this product. Even when the room begins to shake, the speakers perform perfectly. Other notable features include the 455-watt subwoofer delivering massive bass and the Dolby Atmos / DTS:X integrated height speaker module for multi-dimensional sound. It should be noted that each tower is sold separately. Check out these 39 awesome home tech products, and one really geeky one!
Photo: Courtesy of Definitive Technology
Klipsch Forte III
For the ultimate bass lover, these floor-standing speakers from Klipsch are sure to impress. Well-built and designed, these speakers offer a clear and intricate mid-high range, as well as a 12-inch subwoofer and a 15-inch passive radiator situated in the back of the speaker to keep low frequencies properly dispersed. Another luxury purchase, Klipsch is known for delivering high-end audio products that live up to their price tag. Be mindful that they’re very heavy, so placement in your living room is key, since you don’t want to move them around. You may even want to add these speakers to your man cave!
Photo: Courtesy of Klipsch
Samsung HW-K950 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos
Another soundbar that can’t be missed is this topnotch option from Samsung. The sleek design doesn’t sacrifice quality, thanks to the multiple built-in speakers (is 15 enough for you?!) that point up and out, allowing you to feel like you’re smack dab in the middle of a symphony, or beneath a rain storm. The Dolby Atmos-equipped device is designed to bring out even the most subtle sounds, and thanks to the side-firing speakers built in, you’re able to hear crisp audio no matter where you are in the room. What’s especially enticing about the soundbar is that it comes in a curved or straight design, which is ideal for ensuring the product fits with the design of your TV—making it true to the minimal look that doesn’t take away from the appearance of your living room. You can connect to powerful wireless subwoofers as well, making for the ultimate customizable home theater system. Built-in Bluetooth connectivity allows you to stream and play music wirelessly from your phone, laptop or other Blutetooth-enabled device. You can expect a system that offers nine channels (5.1.4), including the five standard surround channels, four “overhead” channels (via speakers designed to bounce sound off the ceiling) and a bass channel.
Photo: Courtesy of Samsung
KEF LS50 Wireless
If you want the most inconspicuous speakers to tuck right into your decor, get these wireless bookshelf speakers that have just about every input imaginable. Along with an aesthetically pleasing compact design, they offer incredible sound quality and are super user-friendly since all you have to do is plug in the speakers and turn on the music. You can connect wirelessly via dual-band WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth 4.0, as well as wired via an asynchronous USB Connection, digital (TOSLINK) input, or an RCA analog input. You may also be interested in these 9 simple tips for faster home WiFi.
Photo: Courtesy of KEF
Q Acoustics BT3
Stylish and compact, these speakers from Q Acoustics feature Bluetooth capability, a remote control, a 3.5mm input, a digital optical input and active speakers. Does it get more digitally integrated than that? The sound quality isn’t sacrificed either, putting out quality sound that evenly covers the entire frequency range. They’re a perfect addition to your bookshelf, and a great alternative to a soundbar. If you want to drown out outside noise while doing work in your office, you might want to consider soundproofing it!
Photo: Courtesy of Q Acoustics
VIZIO SB3621n-F8M 36″ 2.1 Channel Sound Bar System
For those looking for supreme performance in a soundbar without the hefty price tag, try the VIZIO SB3621. It has an adequate array of inputs including Bluetooth. It will also decode Dolby as well as DTS. After a seamless set-up, you can expect crystal clear sound with less than 1% total harmonic distortion, virtual overhead sound and room-shaking bass with the wireless subwoofer. Did you know a VIZIO HDTV is cheaper at Walmart than Amazon?
Courtesy of VIZIO
Polk MagniFi Mini
The Polk MagniFi Mini is a perfect companion for your small room needs. An alternative to the size of other soundbars on this list, you won’t believe the sound that comes out of the MagniFi Mini despite its small stature. It offers a mix of notable features, including crystal clear dialogue with Polk Voice Adjust technology, wireless music streaming, optimized movie, music, and Sport EQ settings and a night-mode one button that lowers the bass and increases Voice Adjust without raising the Master volume. If you’re looking for small space ideas, check out these small workshop storage solutions.
Photo: Courtesy of Polk Audio
Denon HEOS 1 HS2 Wireless Speaker
This portable, waterproof WiFi speaker knocks it out of the park when it comes to big sound from a compact product. Notable features include high resolution audio support, Bluetooth integration, humidity protection and an optional battery pack called the HEOS 1 GO Pack, which offers a high-capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can provide 6 hours of playback time. Furthermore, the HEOS 1 enclosure is sealed for humidity resistance, making it ideal for use in a damp environment. Speaking of waterproof, check out how to prevent window leaks with proper window installation.
Photo: Courtesy of Denon
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