Best Home Theater Systems For Your Budget and Room Size 2023
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What's the best home theater system? Well, it depends on you, the one in the driver's seat. There are so many different ways to deliver on a killer home theater system across a variety of room types, budget types, and personal preference. And we cover them all right here. A good sound system will make any TV look BIGGER. A killer surround sound speaker system will give you goosebumps. And the ultimate Dolby speaker system will truly suspend your disbelief and transport you to other galaxies. We're here for all of it.
There are three types of home theater shoppers. Some folks love the process and dive in head first, reading about all the options, researching how different component combinations deliver different results, and so on. Other folks could care less about options, details, and specs – they just want an awesome home theater, thank you very much. And then there’s the biggest group: everyone in the middle. Our “Best Home Theaters” guide was written for all, but especially those looking for veteran experts to share their picks of the best home theater systems.
Below you'll find our picks for best home theater systems in a variety of categories: best for the money, best looking, best in show, and so on. Along the way: no hype, no bull – just some occasional we-can’t-help-ourselves honest enthusiasm for a great home theater experience. You can also check out our recommendations for surround sound systems and speakers here. You can check out the FAQ at the bottom of the page, or talk with more than a dozen World Wide Stereo home theater pros that are leading the way – and also standing by to answer any and all questions – you got this.
Our Picks for the Best Home Theater Systems of 2023:
The Smartest Home Theater System:
Sonos Surround Set with Arc Sound Bar, Subwoofer, and One Gen 2 Speakers
The Best Surround Sound System for Small Rooms:
SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Package
The Best Compact 5.1 Home Theater System:
Sonos 5.1 Home Theater Set with Beam (Gen 2), Sub (Gen 3), and One (Gen 2)
The Best Wireless Home Theater System:
Bose Soundbar 900 with Bass Module 700
The Best 5.1 Home Theater System Under $2,500:
Bowers & Wilkins 5.1 Channel Satellite Speaker Package
The Best Budget Home Theater System:
Polk React Home Theater System with React Sound Bar, Wireless Sub, and Surrounds
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1. The Smartest Home Theater System:
Sonos made quite a name for themselves with their wireless connection and streaming ecosystem that simplified setup and pioneered voice control. The Arc Sound Bar builds on that brilliant system and fantastic sound quality and adds complete Dolby Atmos capability. The elegant, curved-mesh design of the Arc and the One Surround Speakers underscores this unified concept. The Sub subwoofer has a groundbreaking design: its twin drivers fire into an opening in the center of the cabinet, providing furniture-shaking low end, no matter where you put the speaker. This Sonos system creates an extremely high-quality 3D sound experience with a surprisingly wide soundstage and extraordinary midrange clarity that facilitates clear dialogue, and when streaming Atmos content, fantastic overhead and surround placement.
Whereas most multi-speaker wireless systems use their own proprietary wireless connections, Sonos uses your existing Wi-Fi system to communicate with its components. You can also plug an Ethernet cable into the sound bar or one of the speakers, and then the system will create its own dedicated wireless network to share audio and control information. Also note: Sonos is like LEGOs (which we wrote all about in our Sonos Buying Guide here). With superb Alexa and Google Assistant integration, the Sonos Surround Set is ready to the digital hub of your household, doing much more than stream the shows and music you love.
Also check out our in depth Sonos Arc Soundbar review.
- Arc Wireless Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos
- SUB Wireless Subwoofer (Gen 3)
- 2 - One Voice-Controlled Wireless Smart Speaker Gen 2
- Power Cords
- HDMI Cable
- Optical Audio Adapter
2. The Best Surround Sound System for Small Rooms:
Over the last two decades, SVS has grown into one of the most respected brands in the industry. Initially known for their sternum-vibrating / room-shaking / award-winning subwoofers, today’s new SVS systems can compete with anyone – and the SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 home theater package is a great example. Its compact and easier to fit in a smaller room but turn it up and boom: your small room becomes the Hollywood Bowl.
Each SVS Prime Satellite speaker is about the size of a loaf of bread and contains a 4.5-inch midrange driver and a one-inch tweeter. Small, yes, but they punch like Roberto Duran. The 12-inch driver in the already legendary, 300-watt powered SVS-1000 subwoofer will, on the other hand, have you holding on to your seat. It’s small, too, and neatly tucks into any corner. The system is wired as opposed to wireless, but for the price, the SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Package may just be the biggest “little” 5.1 system on the market. (Want something a little bigger? Check out SVS’s “Ultra” series line of speakers. We carry those, too.)
Another big SVS advantage: gaming. A lot of our customers keep their gaming systems in small dens and spare bedrooms. And if you really want to put yourself in the middle of a Gears of War or Call of Duty battle, sans headphones – and you don’t want to spend a fortune to do it – the SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Package is for you. SVS rocks.
Check out our full SVS Prime Wireless Speaker review.
3. The Best Compact 5.1 Home Theater System:
There are a few things more harmful to household harmony than a small living room with half the floor space cluttered with audio gear. The Sonos 5.1 Home Theater Set is a brilliant choice for any apartment dwellers who crave true surround sound and Dolby Atmos compatibility. The second-generation Beam sound bar is only half as wide as many of the larger sound bars on the market yet is fully compatible with 3D audio in a variety of formats. It connects with all modern televisions with HDMI eARC, so not only can it pass through true Atmos content, but it’ll be compatible with formats coming down the pike in the future.
The Sub subwoofer with its center-facing drivers can be placed nearly anywhere you have a spot of it, yet it can still provide floor-rattling sound effects. Place the two surround speakers behind your sofa, and within a few minutes of easy setup time you’ve got a full-on 5.1 system, complete with Dolby Atmos height channels.
Sonos has been a market leader with integrating Google Alexa, so you can stream from a variety of services and apps, configure the settings, and control additional speakers throughout your home just by using your voice. Apply AirPlay 2 makes it a snap to stream content from your Apple devices. Need to be considerate of neighbors or progeny sleeping in the next room? Just activate Night Mode to reduce the volume of the booms and thuds while raising the level of the romantic whispers, so can keep the experience while keeping the peace.
Also check out our full Sonos Beam Gen 2 Soundbar Review.
- Beam (Gen 2) Compact Smart Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos
- SUB Wireless Subwoofer (Gen 3)
- 2 - One Voice-Controlled Wireless Smart Speaker Gen 2
- Power Cords
- HDMI Cable
- Optical Audio Adapter
4. The Best Wireless Home Theater System:
Save: $150.00 (9%)
In our “Best Sound Bars of 2023” article, the Bose Soundbar 900 won smartest sound bar for surround sound. Now here as the core component in the Bose Smart Wireless Home Theater System, Bose does it again. The Bose SB900 won because we turned it on and were promptly blown away by a sound field that A) seemed much wider than any other pre-packaged system we tested, B) made dialogue – even soft or whispered dialogue – crystal clear, and C) was equally effective no matter where we sat.
Every component in this system is part of Bose’s family of smart wireless speakers. Start with this system, and place a Bose Home Speaker 500 in the kitchen and the smaller TV Speaker in your bedroom for a multi-room audio experience throughout the house. And with Amazon Alexa built-in, you can control it all with simple voice commands.
5. The Best 5.1 Home Theater System Under $2,500:
For decades, Bowers and Wilkins has provided monitor speakers to the artists, engineers, and producers who create your favorite music and soundtracks. Audio professionals have come to rely on the accuracy and beauty of the sound of Bowers & Wilkins monitors. And now, Bowers & Wilkins has come up with a brilliant way to provide that same sound in a remarkably compact monitor speaker that’s designed to be the core of a stereo system or part of an integrated 5.1 system. When you swivel an M1 Satellite Speaker into a horizontal position, it can excel as the center channel speaker of a 5.1 system. The M1s provide extraordinarily clear and focused sound, yet they can fit easily on a bookshelf, a table, or a floor stand, or you can use the included brackets to mount them on your wall.
The ASW608 Compact Subwoofer barely takes up one square foot of floor space, yet delivers bass frequencies without distortion, even at a volume that rattles your windows. If you’ve been dreaming of adding a high-end surround system to your home theater, you couldn’t ask for a better option then the Bowers & Wilkins 5.1 Channel Satellite Speaker Package. Give our experts a call anytime to talk about options for configuring these speakers in your space, as well as choosing a receiver that’s optimized for your needs.
6. The Best Budget Home Theater System:
This affordable system gives you sound and functionality that defies comprehension when you know how inexpensive it is. The Polk Audio React system provides astonishing 5.1 surround sound, has the simplest wireless setup imaginable, gives you complete voice control, and integrates with all your home devices. At the heart of the system is the React Sound Bar, which amazed bloggers, reviewers, and even audiophiles with its excellent sound, slim profile, and comprehensive Alexa implementation. This model provides a significant upgrade to its sound and Alexa functionality (and say goodbye to that distracting light ring), while still maintaining its compact size.
Besides the React Sound Bar, the set includes the React Subwoofer and a pair of SR2 Wireless Surround Speakers. Even with its booty-shaking 7" downward-firing speaker, the subwoofer doesn’t hog floor space. The surround speakers aren’t much bigger than a video game console — they take up hardly any space when you put them on a table or shelves — but they’ll fill your room with real 5.1 sound. Once you’ve powered them up, setup requires less time than it takes to make breakfast. Just scan the QR code on the back of the sound bar, and your Alexa app handles the rest, giving you very clear instructions and confirming when everything is ready to go.
Even by itself, the React Sound Bar is a tremendous upgrade to the sound quality of your TV’s built-in system — with DTS, it can deliver 3D sound for games and movies that is quite impressive. Once you connect the other components, the system reconfigures its EQ settings to give you an immersive sound surround experience that we find immensely satisfying.
- React Home Theater Sound Bar with Alexa Built-In
- React Wireless Subwoofer for React Series Sound Bar
- SR2 Wireless Surround Speakers for React Series Sound Bar - Pair
- Power Cords
- 6.5' high-speed HDMI Cable (4K compatible)
- 6' Optical Cable
Three quick things about this guide...
1. This is not about TVs.
It’s the question we get most: “So, what exactly is a home theater system?” And though (obviously) a good TV and/or projector and screen are principal to the experience, home theater is all about sound. Or more to the point: sound so real, so lifelike and so 3-dimensional, it suspends disbelief and puts you in the action. And the bigger and better the sound, the bigger and better the experience. (If you do want to upgrade your TV, our Top TVs of 2023 buying guide is a must-read.)
2. What you need:
A typical home theater system includes a home theater receiver (where the power comes from / what everything connects to) and speakers – including (but certainly not limited to): a center speaker, right and left front speakers, right and left rear speakers, special effect speakers (or height speakers) for Dolby Atmos, and a subwoofer or two.
3. The three distinct types:
The type of home theater system you choose will depend on several factors, but here's the good news: there’s a home theater solution for every situation. The three types include:
- Pre-packaged home theater systems (aka home-theater-in-a-box). Very easy to set up and everything matches.
- A home theater system made up of separate components. More customizable with respect to sound and design aesthetics.
- A dedicated, custom designed and installed home theater. Where we gut the whole room and start over – new walls, new ceiling, built-in components, luxury theater seating and lighting, cinematic touches throughout, and so on. (What we call “the whole shootin’ match.”) Pricey, yes, but more common than you might think.
This article covers the first two. For those interested in the third – a dedicated, custom designed and installed home theater – please contact us here. Our designers and home theater technicians will provide options, references and photos of award-winning, custom home theaters designed and built by World Wide Stereo to exacting specifications.
What do I need for a Dolby Atmos setup?
The first thing you'll need for a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos home theater setup is a Dolby Atmos capable receiver. Additionally, you'll need eight speakers: a center speaker, two left and right main speakers, left and right surrounds, a pair of Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, and a subwoofer.
You'll also need to handle the visuals, whether that be from an external device like a blue ray player, a projector, or the internal apps on your TV.
Lastly, you'll need the proper cables. High-speed HDMI cables, enough speaker wire to connect all of the speakers, and an RCA cable long enough to connect your subwoofer to your receiver.
We know this seems like a lot, but don't worry. For receivers, you can consult our AV Receiver Buying Guide and gear guide to help you decide on the best option. If you're looking for a new TV to compliment your new Dolby Atmos system, we've got your back there, too! Check out our guide on how to choose which TV to buy to see all our suggestions on how you can pick the TV that meets your needs no matter what your budget is.
How much does a home theater cost?
It really depends on what you want, the size of the room, and your budget. A home theater setup can vary from $667 to $8,000 or more. Fortunately, we have home theater bundles for every price range!
What home theater receiver do I need?
That depends on what the rest of your setup is like. We'd recommend taking a look at our AV receivers Buying Guide to find out what to look for to fit your needs! If you're still having trouble, you can always reach out to us, with over a dozen seasoned pros standing by to help you figure out precisely what you need!
What home theater system should I buy?
You should buy what fits your wants and needs, and never settle for less! For a good starting point, you can take a look at some of our recommendations here.
What home theater projector should I buy?
We'd suggest you take a look at our guide for Best Projectors. There are plenty of options there for different needs and budgets; we're confident you'll find one that fits you. If you're still feeling a little lost, you can always contact us and one of our pros will be able to give you a recommendation based on your needs.
Can I connect my home theater to my laptop or PC?
It depends on the system, but if it can be set up through a single HDMI cable or wirelessly, it can be!
Are home theater systems good for music?
Heck yeah they are! While music might not be as immersive as movies or TV shows with a good surround system, it can still certainly provide a fully immersive surround listening experience.
Are Home Theater Systems Wireless?
Not all of them, but there are wireless options available!
Still not sure? We got this.
Even with our Home Theater Systems Buying Guide and our “best” picks above, maybe you’re not sure what to get, or what to do next. No surprise there, home theaters come in many, many variations… and shopping for the right one for you, your house, and your budget can be a bit intimidating. Which is why we invite you to call or email us anytime.
We can help you hone your choices, open your eyes to possibilities you may not have considered, and save you money in the process – just like we’ve done for thousands of customers over our 40 years in the business. We’ll need your room dimensions, a general idea of your room layout, how much you can spend… even what kinds of movies, shows, and music you like best. Our one and only goal: helping you get it right. Our one and only motive: doing such a great job, you tell your friends, neighbors (even your cousin Ricky) about us.
One more thing:
A last word of advice: if not us, buy your new home theater from a trusted, authorized dealer. And the more experience and longer the track record, the better. A good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens.
Speaking of trusted dealers...
World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do and love talking about it, too. We opened our doors in 1979, gained a small yet diehard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy. Read more about us here.
We’ve made it easy to find the best deals on home theater systems from brands like Sonos, SVS, KLH, Klipsch and more. Our deals update daily so you don’t miss a beat, and we’ve got your back through with our price match guarantee, 60-day returns, easy financing, and free shipping. Don’t see what you want on sale? Give us at 1.866.961.7781 or chat with an expert.