Watching movies and TV series as if you were in the cinema is possible thanks to a home theater system, which improves the sound. Consider the models on the market, which can have a competitive price or force you to make an important expense: which is the one that best suits your needs? The dimensions are crucial to ensure the minimum space in a small room. Our guide can provide you with tips to help you make the right decision. Take a look and, in the meantime, also consider which products have convinced us the most.
Sony BDV-N7200W is an aesthetically pleasing 5.1-channel 3D Home Theater System that is able to integrate well into both a modern and a classic environment. We also liked Yamaha YHT-1840 5.1 Home Cinema Kit, a model consisting of five satellites and a subwoofer and whose receiver is also capable of handling the video signal with 4K resolution.
Some people already refer to a large television as a home theater, even if it has no accessories. It is a feature of a home theater that doesn’t just have a large-format, high-quality picture. The sound should also correspond to that of a “real” cinema. The loudspeakers installed in modern television sets are now relatively good and can reproduce a perfectly acceptable sound.
However, they are not suitable for the cinema sound, because the sound must not only come from the front. The real surround sound is made possible by the best home theater systems for the money. This consists of a central home cinema receiver and several (usually 5) speakers.
Our Top Selection
The 5 Best Home Theater – Ranking 2020
If you are looking for the best home theaters for sale on the market, we invite you to read our guide which will help you select the product that best suits your needs. We have analyzed the most interesting offers following the analysis of the comments of the buyers, thus highlighting the pros and cons of each device to create a list from which you can choose independently.
- Sony BDV-N7200W 5.1 Channel 3D Home Theater System
The BDV-N7200W Home Theater, produced by the well-known Japanese company Sony, stands out first of all for its refined and markedly conceptual design, with its multifaceted speakers and the central unit with the controls in an asymmetrical position.
While the aesthetics of the Home Theater have impressed buyers positively, the same can be said of the sound; in fact it is a 5.1-channel surround system with 1,200 watts of power. The satellite speakers are based on Magnetic Fluid technology, so they are devoid of dampers and have a powerful performance; the integrated digital amplifier also reduces distortion on all frequencies and offers high definition audio output, thanks to the high speed of analog / digital conversion.
The system is obviously Wi-Fi and compatible with Netflix and other digital video streaming platforms; the only flaw, according to the opinions of some buyers, is the lack of an equalizer, which would have further increased the audio performance.
Design : It might seem like a superfluous detail, but the aesthetics of the Sony Home Theater had a major impact on the audience. Even the most critics were favorably impressed with its appearance.
Sound : The sound performance is not at the top of excellence but in any case it is of high quality, after all it is still compatible with the different Dolby Surround formats and with high definition audio.
Wireless : Obviously it integrates the Wi-Fi module and Bluetooth and thanks to the intuitive menu it is very simple to install and use; it can also play audio and video saved on external memories and mobile devices.
Equalizer : Unfortunately it lacks an equalizer, which would have further improved the already excellent sound rendering; according to some buyers, even the software needs improvement.
- Yamaha YHT-1840 Home Cinema Kit 5.1
The reflection on which home theater to buy becomes more difficult if we think of this Yamaha product, certainly not the cheapest, but one of the most valid in comparison to other similar models.
Consisting of a subwoofer and five speakers, it ensures an audio quality that also provides very satisfying bass, as well as allowing you to control them, to adapt them to your tastes. It can also play movies, since it has several inputs, in 4K quality and without smudging.
The cables included in the package are not of an acceptable length, according to some users, who also dislike the lack of compatibility with recent audio decoding.
Elements : The components of this home theater system are a subwoofer and five speakers, which guarantee you to enjoy movies and TV series as if you were in the cinema.
Inputs : Those available on this model allow you to view content on external devices, even in 4K quality.
Cables : The ones you will find in the package are not of the appropriate length, depending on who intends to place the product in a more distant position.
Compatibility : Those who are always one step ahead do not appreciate the lack of compatibility with the latest audio decoders.
- Bose Companion 50 Multimedia Speaker System
A multimedia system by Bose and equipped with Companion 50 speakers capable of offering a high-performance listening experience. The audio quality is of the highest level thanks to the large sound front that reproduces all the intensity of the music, both for songs and in movies or in the games you love. The power of the sound is amazing and can be compared to that of a surround system with more speakers. Detailed and deep bass combined with crystal clear sound are other positive features of the product.
To connect the system to your PC, TV or console just use the jack input supplied. Operation is simple and intuitive thanks to the all-in-one control unit to adjust the volume and activate or deactivate other functions.
In addition, to avoid wasting energy, the media player is equipped with a saving mode which starts automatically after about half an hour of inactivity.
Design : This multimedia system stands out for its modern and elegant aesthetic which hides technological functions inside to guarantee a pleasant listening experience.
Technology : Convince the presence of an all-in-one control unit with controls to raise or lower the volume, mute function and much more.
Sound quality : Another positive feature of the product concerns the audio quality. The system offers a listening experience for true music lovers, with deep bass and crystal clear sound that satisfies even the most demanding.
Price : This is not an accessible product for those on a tight budget. Having said that, there is no question about the sound quality.
- Sony BDV-N7200W 3D Home Theater System, 5.1 Channel
Sony has made a really nice home theater system, although not without its flaws, but we will return to these later. The Sony BDV-N7200W offers you full-bodied, immersive and powerful high-resolution 5.1 surround sound, plus it is equipped with NFC technology that allows you to quickly establish a connection with compatible smartphones and tablets.
Football lovers can enjoy an even more realistic experience thanks to the live football mode. You like music? In this case, activate the Digital Music Arena and you will have the acoustics of the O2 London Arena. The device is also a 3D Blu-Ray player and has built-in Wi-Fi.
Everything can be managed comfortably thanks to an app that can be downloaded to your phone. The design is nothing short of spectacular. One of the most criticized aspects was the management software which is considered slow by many users. During the selection of the source, then, it happens that the system crashes.
Audio : The quality offered by the Sony home theater system is remarkable. The leap in quality compared to an entry level model is evident, since the audio is powerful and defined.
Design : So beautiful that we are sure it will be enough to convince many of you to buy this item.
Software : There is a big question about software that is really too slow and has been inundated with criticism from disappointed customers. Also, when you select a source it happens that the system crashes.
- Sony BDV-E2100 Full HD 3D Home Cinema System, 5.1 Channels
We include among the best home theaters of 2020 also the one proposed by Sony, among the best-selling on the web for its low cost. It is a 5.1 model that leaves nothing to chance: among its functions we find the command via Bluetooth, the connection with Wi-Fi and the possibility of interacting with Blu-Ray and Full HD, for a vision like in the cinema.
The presence of a USB port is valid, which guarantees to take advantage of contents on external memory sticks or memories. The materials are of good quality, as well as the aesthetic aspect, very pleasant. Too bad the power of 1,000 watts only stands out when the volume is kept at maximum.
Value for money : This model can be purchased without facing who knows what expense and guaranteeing not only good audio quality but also an appreciable aesthetic in any environment.
Functions : There are many, such as the ability to control the system via Bluetooth, support for the Wi-Fi network, watching movies with Blu-Ray or Full HD quality.
USB port : Nothing new if, with its presence, it ensures that you can use content on external devices.
Power : Despite having a 1,000 watt one, it doesn’t seem to produce enough audio quality that it can be heard at low volumes.
- Yamaha RX-V485 Multichannel MusicCast Receiver
The home theater amplifier proposed by Yamaha, model RX-V485, is not a product that we could properly define cheap, however, for those who have no budget problem, it could prove to be one of the most efficient receivers.
Using it you will have five surround channels with a power of 80 watts each and an impedance of 6 Ohms, more than satisfactory for listening to music and movies. It is perfectly integrated even in modern homes with MusicCast to connect wirelessly, both bluetooth and Wi-Fi, to any device, even the new Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
Users who have had the opportunity to try it say that it can be used with some satisfaction especially for home cinema thanks to features such as Dolby True HD, DTS-HD Master, Dolby Vision and Cinema DSP that create an enveloping and quality sound.
The only lack is the Dolby Atmos, however, as some buyers report, this technology is only useful if you have a 7.1 system, therefore with two additional speakers.
Wireless : You can install the speakers without the need to connect any type of cable, an advantage for all users who do not like invasive installations and want to have a tidy and clutter-free home.
Alexa : The Yamaha receiver is compatible with the entire range of Amazon products that take advantage of the Alexa voice assistant, even the simple and affordable Echo Dot, to have your music within your voice.
App : Using a smartphone or tablet you can manage all settings quickly and easily from anywhere in the house without having to rely on the remote control.
Dolby Atmos : There is no support for this innovative technology that allows an even more detailed and precise listening. Purchase to be reviewed if you therefore have a plant 7.1.
- Sony BDV-N7200W 3D Home Theater System
One of the elements that users have appreciated the most is the presence of the Blu-Ray 3D player which is backward compatible with DVDs, ideal for those who have a collection of movies on disc that they do not want to give up despite the popularity of streaming. The other side of the coin, the less positive one, is represented by the software of the system, considered a bit too slow, especially during the start-up phase. A detail that, if we consider the price, has dissatisfied some users. If you are looking for a complete home theater system, which has subwoofers, speakers and even Blu-Ray player, then you will hardly be able to find a product equal to Sony BDV-N7200W. Nevertheless, it must still be emphasized that the overall performance is of an intermediate level, a conclusion that goes a little to clash with the not exactly low selling price.
- Yamaha YHT-1840 5.1 Home Cinema Kit, Black
The quality of the components is guaranteed by a reliable brand like Yamaha and the result is a sound performance that completely satisfies, especially with DTS tracks, also taking into account the selling price. It does not support high definition audio, such as DTS HD Master and other newer encodings usually found in new Blu-ray releases. Considering the selling price and the brand, this is a product that will satisfy those who are looking for a good quality home theater. Certainly there is some deficiency but overall the judgment is positive.
- Bose Companion 50 speaker set 2.1 channels Black
A complete multimedia system that stands out for its excellent sound quality as well as for a cutting-edge design, typical of Bose. The cost is not affordable for all budgets and, since it is a successful brand, it is also the name of the brand that you pay for. If you are thinking of buying a quality multimedia speaker system we recommend that you consider this proposal. Featuring deep bass and detailed sounds, this all-in-one control unit stands out for its technology and minimal design that is well suited to any environment.
How to choose the best home theaters?
Choosing the best home theater requires a careful and precise study, not only of the characteristics of the individual devices but also of the space that you can dedicate to the system. Before venturing therefore between prices, offers and details of various kinds, ask yourself how many speakers you can install in your home.
Channels and speakers
Typically, basic home theater systems have a 5.1 configuration , which precisely indicates a connection capacity of 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer. Therefore, if you intend to opt for this scheme, make sure you have the necessary space in the living room or in the room chosen for the installation.
In fact, you will not be able to place the speakers at random or in the way that is most comfortable for you but, to have an optimal sound, you must take into account the layout of the room and try to arrange three speakers in an area in front of the spectator and two others behind, guaranteeing thus a three-dimensional sound that will allow you to enjoy music and films as if you were at the cinema or at a concert.
For users who have little space, it is also possible to opt for more compact systems, with a 2.1 configuration, in this case, however, the subwoofer is essential and cannot be omitted if you want an enveloping sound.
In addition to the number of speakers and their quality, you will need to evaluate the maximum power of each channel of your amplifier. The value to keep an eye on to understand this detail are the “watts”. The higher the number, the more powerful the sound. But be careful as you will find two labels: watt and watt RMS.
The second value is usually lower but it indicates the real power of the device since they are the watts delivered without any distortion. If you are unable to highlight the RMS value from the data sheet of the product you are interested in, and there are no comments from other buyers, remember to halve the watts indicated for a realistic value.
Home Cinema Technology
Thanks to modern compact TVs, it is possible to install a device in the home that has a much larger screen than those used in the past. With constantly evolving and improving image quality, the audio sector cannot be left behind. Those who are not satisfied with a simple soundbar, therefore, might want an amplifier that is equipped with the best technologies for listening to their favorite movies.
The technologies that you will have to consider in this case, making sure that the words in the data sheet are present, are related to Dolby such as Vision, Cinema, Master and the most recent Atmos, capable of supporting up to 128 sound objects, each with a three-dimensional space well defined for a total involvement of the viewer.
The installation of a home theater often worries consumers who do not want to radically change the apartment they live in. Sometimes, for the correct connection of the cables, it is in fact necessary to create a precise diagram and work in order to ensure that all the individual devices are able to reach the amplifier without hindering those who live in the house.
To avoid this difficult and definitely boring step, you can opt for a completely wireless home theater system . Thanks to Bluetooth technology and the ability to hook up to home Wi-Fi, many of today’s devices will require no wired connection, simplifying your life and installation.
The price may be slightly higher than speakers and amplifiers that still take advantage of cable connections but if you don’t have any budget concerns it could be the best choice.
From smartphones to tablets and TVs, up to the home, everything in our society is becoming “smart” and, of course, audio playback devices could not be excluded.
If you have one of the new Amazon products at home that take advantage of the Alexa voice assistant, you may want a receiver that can interact with them to play your favorite music tracks. In the list of products we have analyzed there are offers that could prove to be interesting and suitable for your needs, so do not forget to read our reviews carefully to be able to choose the best home theater system of 2020.
Wireless home theater, how does it work?
The home theater system does not necessarily have to be wired to be powerful and functional. In fact, numerous wireless products are available on the market which, in addition to guaranteeing simple installation, are also very immediate to use.
Their operation is in fact linked to the use of bluetooth or the home wi-fi connection, which allows them to interact with speakers, subwoofers and smart devices for the correct reproduction of audio content. If you don’t know how to arrange a 5.1 home theater, please read the previous section for more information about it.
How to connect a home theater to Samsung TV?
If you have a Samsung TV and don’t know how to connect your home theater system, it is important to know that all you will need is an HDMI cable – the ideal choice to ensure quality audio. First make sure you have the system ready, with all speakers and any subwoofers connected to the amplifier. What you need to do is use the HDMI cable, connecting it at one end to the TV and the other to the home theater system. Now select the AUX function to enjoy TV programs to the fullest.
How to connect a home theater to LG TV?
With LG TVs, connecting to a home theater system is available through two options: if your TV and audio device support ARC (Audio Return Channel) you will need to insert a High Speed HDMI cable into the first HDMI port of the TV and the other end in the HDMI ARC port on the audio device; if, on the other hand, there is no ARC support, you will have to opt for an optical audio cable capable of transmitting the sound from the TV to the system via light pulses (in this case it is important not to bend the cable or it may not work correctly).
If you are using the Optical Digital Out port you may need to lift a small spring cover or remove a plastic cap.
How to connect a home theater to Sony Bravia TV?
Users who have a Sony Bravia TV need not despair as they too can connect a home theater system quickly and easily to enjoy optimal sound while watching TV programs and multimedia content. In this case you will have three options: connection via HDMI port marked with the acronym ARC, which stands for Audio Return Channel, optical digital output and analogue output.
Our advice is to opt for the HDMI port if possible as this is the most efficient connection. For those who do not have a compatible home theater, however, it is possible to take advantage of the optical digital port, being careful not to bend the cable since the transmission takes place via light pulses.
How to connect a home theater to the Philips TV?
To connect an external device to your Philips brand TV, you must first check the available cable connections. To get the best video and audio quality it is recommended to use the HDMI cable. If it is not possible to use this slot, you can decide to opt for the optical digital port, usually with a square shape and covered by a small plastic cap.
After inserting the cables into both the TV and the external device you can turn them on both and on the TV select the correct source (HDMI or digital optic). With these few steps you will have connected your home theater to the TV.
How to use a home theater
How to connect the home theater to the TV
To start using your home theater for watching movies, series or listening to music directly from your TV, you need to connect it to your TV. This connection is not difficult and can be done in various ways but there are two main ones that we will analyze: HDMI and digital optical port.
The HDMI connection is the simplest and fastest, all you have to do is connect the amplifier to the TV using the appropriate cable, taking care to choose HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) ports when available. For the other solution you need to be careful when installing the cable. The optical digital port, in fact, uses light pulses to send the audio signal to the amplifier. It is therefore very important not to tangle or bend the cable to allow the signal to travel smoothly.
How to assemble a home theater
Assembling and figuring out how to place a satisfying home theater in your living room or room for multimedia content viewing at best might seem like a complex undertaking, which only a true sound engineer could accomplish. In reality this is not the case and with a little common sense and some listening tests, very satisfying configurations can be achieved.
What needs to be kept in mind when installing amplifiers and subwoofers is the position of the listener / spectator. Starting from this point you will have to place three speakers in front and two behind, trying to install the subwoofer in a central area rather than in a corner. Starting from this setup, you can then move the individual elements while listening to a song to refine the positioning.
How to build a home theater system
If you are wondering how to make a home theater system and do not know which are the main components to choose, we invite you to continue reading to discover them.
The first device is definitely the TV, if you love to enjoy movies and sports you will have to focus on a TV capable of returning images at a high resolution, therefore a Blu-Ray player cannot be missing, if you are collectors who have all their favorite titles on disk.
Once the video aspect is covered, you can switch to the audio one where the choice is wider for the individual components, you can in fact decide to opt for a completely wireless Hi-Fi system, to avoid having the clutter of cables, or wired to save something. Based on the channels managed by the amplifier you choose, you will then have to select the number of speakers and subwoofers to be placed in the room (for example, an amplifier with 5.1 channels can manage five speakers and a subwoofer while a 7.1 can connect seven speakers for treble and a subwoofer).
The economic alternative is represented by the soundbar, very simple to position and install even for those with little space, however the result, qualitatively speaking, is not comparable to that of a real system.
This is how a home cinema system works.
In general, it would, of course, be possible with any classic audio amplifier to connect several loudspeakers that are distributed across the room. However, such amplifiers generally only differentiate between right and left to reproduce a stereo sound. In a home theater system, however, the sound is intelligently sent to the different speakers.
A home cinema system has up to 10 speakers. Underneath there is always a subwoofer that is responsible for the low frequencies. Added to this are the satellite boxes, which are equipped with tweeters and mid-range speakers. In some home cinema systems, a central speaker is added in addition to the subwoofer. The home theater receiver is now responsible for coordinating the connected speakers perfectly. This is not that easy since the loudspeakers around the home cinema system perform completely different tasks – in other words, the sound reproduction is always completely individual.
So that the coordination of the components used works optimally, a common quality standard was required.
This is called THX and comes from the same name, founded by the well-known director and cinema producer George Lucas. So you can see that the creators of this standard know exactly what they are doing – after all, they are part of the cinema system.
Advantages and areas of application
Of course, the invention of the television set was a big step towards home cinema. However, one quickly felt that domestic television enjoyment could only be compared to the cinema to a limited extent. The picture was significantly smaller, exclusively black and white for many years, and the sound could not even match that of the cinema. And yet: When the first televisions moved into the living room at home, the desire for your home cinema was already growing. There was more than enough work for the developers to make the home-use devices more and more cinema-like.
Anyone who has ever been able to enjoy the first-class sound of a private home cinema system cannot get rid of it. The previously usual stereo sound simply cannot keep up with the modern THX standard. Since a qualitatively appealing home cinema system is already available for very little money, more and more people get one for their living room.
What types of home theater systems are there?
Theoretically, a loudspeaker system with a soundbar plus a separate subwoofer can be referred to as a home theater system, even if it is a stripped-down one.
Most home theater systems are, of course, much more extensive. A distinction must be made between two different standards.
Home cinema system 5.1:
In most home theaters, systems with 5.1 standards are used. Directly radiating front-right, front-left, and also directly radiating center speakers are used here. The two rear channels can be dipoles as well as direct radiators that can be operated via an active subwoofer or an AV receiver. In total, the system must have at least five speakers to ensure true surround sound.
In most cases, the concert mode is used, in which the rear speakers are mirrored to the front speakers. It is particularly important to pay attention to a uniform height of the speakers.
However, if the distance between the seat and the rear speakers is less than one meter, professionals recommend using dipoles. This can be the case, for example, if the rear speakers are installed behind a sofa that is located directly on the wall.
Home cinema system 7.1:
The home cinema system with 7.1 standards is particularly recommended for large rooms where there should be several optimal seating positions. While the 5.1 system is specifically designed for one seat, the 7.1 standard has several “sweet spots,” i.e., suitable listening positions.
Other reasons for the 7.1 system include the higher overall sound level and the fact that many Blue rays already have a 7.1 soundtrack. In other words: a 7.1 home cinema system can get significantly more sound out of these films. Most of the differences, however, only become clear when the different systems are compared directly.
This is how home theater systems are tested.
Although the manufacturers offer very different versions of the home theater system, which meets different standards and has different associated components, the product testers have found ways to test and compare the home theater systems. Examples of test criteria are the following.
Installation / construction
In theory, you can, of course, have a home theater system installed by a specialist. However, this causes high costs (in some inexpensive home theater systems, the installation costs could even exceed the purchase price). You have to expect a longer waiting time until the professional has an appointment-free.
In general, home theater systems can also be installed by an experienced layperson. The operating instructions must be easy to understand. The components to be installed should also be self-explanatory as much as possible to rule out technical breakdowns as much as possible. If problems nevertheless occur, troubleshooting should also be possible without a specialist.
In the test, many home cinema systems fail because the operating instructions were written in such incorrect language that even real professionals give up annoyance.
Size and format of the components
Sure, ideally, a home cinema system is spread out in a particularly large room, where it can then develop its sound optimally. Very few buyers of home theater systems have so much space. Nevertheless, home cinema systems can also be installed in smaller apartments, provided that the individual components are not too large for this. The time of the huge loudspeaker boxes is over, but the home theater system’s satellites also like to grow tall. If an excellent sound can also be obtained from small speakers, this is worth particularly good censorship for the testers. Because then the satellites can also be accommodated on the shelf or in other difficult to access places in the room.
Sound quality when playing movies
This is the mandatory exercise of a home theater system. Because of course, it has to work in the sense of its name and deliver the best possible cinema sound. The rushing headwind, the squeaking of a door in the left background, and the witch’s laugh, in which the direction cannot be interpreted: All these sound effects must be optimally distributed in a good home theater system. As a viewer, you should feel like you are in the cinema, so you should become part of the scenery.
In this context, the testers also pay attention to the home cinema system’s fulfilled playback standards. Dolby Digital is mandatory; THX is a special quality feature.
Sound quality when playing music
Hardly any home cinema system is used exclusively for purely cinematic use. It should be just as suitable for the acoustic reproduction of concert films as for listening to music. The home cinema system is usually the center of entertainment electronics within your own four walls. Radio, CD player, and possibly even a record player are also integrated here. Of course, the sounds must not be distorted when playing music. The product testers especially focus on the bass and the very high notes.
What should I watch out for when buying a home cinema system?
It wasn’t that long ago that home theater systems were a thing for technology freaks with a particularly thick wallet. In the meantime, such devices are already available at prices that make them affordable for everyone. However, what looks like a clear advantage raises completely new questions: If many home theater systems are offered that do not exceed your budget, you can pay much more attention to the details. Therefore, you should consider the following questions before buying:
Who operates the home cinema system?
This question is often underestimated. Of course, a technology freak who wants to buy a home theater system will not buckle at possible technical pitfalls. But if he wants to surprise his ninety-year-old grandmother with the perfect cinema sound in her living room, it must be as easy to use as possible – at least in most cases. Otherwise, the shot quickly backfires when the nicely meant gift becomes an incomprehensible annoyance. It can, therefore, be very helpful to find out the usability of the product testers. But the seller of a home cinema system can also help here.
Where is the home cinema system installed?
As already described, a home cinema system is particularly suitable for the particularly large living room. In general, such a system can also be installed in relatively small rooms, but special construction methods must be observed.
As a rule of thumb, the following can be summarized: In large rooms, a 7.1 home cinema system can be the right choice; in rather small rooms, 5.1 is more the appropriate standard. Manufacturer information or a product test can answer the question of which home theater system is suitable for which room size.
Are special requirements to be met in terms of quality or appearance?
If all home theater systems were identical, there would be no need to compare the products. There are so many differences that one should pay attention to individual requirements.
These can be qualitative, for example: While “Otto normal consumers” are completely happy with a home cinema of average quality, a sound esthete could still hear distortions and discord. It also makes a big difference whether someone particularly likes listening to classical concerts in their home cinema or watching action films (and of course listening too).
The other sub-aspect is the visual question. In the 1980s and 1990s, hi-fi systems and loudspeakers were almost always black – and this is still the predominant color today.
In general, however, you can choose from a very wide range of colors and shapes, in the spirit of your taste and the style of your furnishings. However, for product testers, the appearance plays a rather subordinate role: the design of a home cinema system is certainly rated. However, no product tester can look into every living room of potential buyers to take individual requirements into account when making their assessment.
What is the budget?
This aspect comes before all other questions. Anyone who can draw on financial resources from the full, of course, has the complete selection and only needs to focus on the criteria mentioned above. However, it rarely happens that money is irrelevant when purchasing a home cinema system. Yet, even for potential buyers with a rather tight wallet, it is worthwhile not just to pick the cheapest device.
Product testers prove time and time again, even with home theater systems, that the cheapest devices are sometimes the most expensive. Because if you are annoyed about technical deficits right from the start and the first malfunctions occur after a short time, it is not far from the home cinema system’s disposal. But if you take a little more money into your hand, you may be able to enjoy your new home cinema system for years.
Incidentally, home cinema systems in the lower price segment often already have automatic measuring devices. A cumbersome and complicated configuration of the individual speakers is therefore not necessary.
Brief information on 7 leading manufacturers
Although the name sounds English or American, DENON is a Japanese company. However, one of the founding fathers of the manufacturer of high-quality hi-fi and home theater components was an American entrepreneur, which must have been highly unusual since its founding in 1910.
Over the following decades, DENON distinguished itself as a manufacturer of first-class devices and was also significantly involved in the development of new technology. In 1939, DENON introduced the first professional recording device for records, in 1970 DENON launched the first PCM recorder, which is considered the forerunner of today’s CD players. As a matter of course, DENON also developed the first CD player for the living room at home (1982) and later the first A / V amplifier with the support of Dolby Digital. As one of the leading companies, DENON was also involved in the development of the current Blue Ray standard.
DENON is also one of the market leaders in the field of home cinema systems and, as such, enjoys an excellent reputation in the industry and among the testers. In terms of price and quality, DENON products are above the middle range.
In Central Europe, Hyundai is best known for the vehicle division of the South Korean company. The group of companies founded in 1947 as a construction company is a conglomerate that is involved in almost every economic area. Hyundai produces machines, ships, vehicles, building technology, and consumer electronics, has its bank, and has a hotel group in its portfolio.
So who should be surprised that Hyundai has its home cinema systems in its range? The price level for these Hyundai products is comparatively low. Nevertheless, the South Koreans’ home theater systems can repeatedly invalidate the usual prejudices (“cheap scrap”) in numerous product tests.
And another Japanese company that has had an English name for a long time. Pioneer was founded in Tokyo in 1938. The name was changed in 1961. In the first decades, Pioneer produced almost exclusively loudspeakers, but then began manufacturing car radios in the 1960s. Again and again, Pioneer has proven to be an innovative company. It was not without pride that the first CD-based GPS navigation system was presented in 1990. The four-channel effects mixer DJM 800 is one of the best-selling mixing consoles for the club area.
To date, Pioneer has an excellent reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality consumer electronics. Of course, this also applies to home cinema systems, which are nevertheless offered at a fair price-performance ratio.
The devil is in the details – but for many details, a devil is needed. An advertisement saying by the German loudspeaker manufacturer Teufel could be something like this. In fact, in many product tests, the loudspeakers and home theater systems of the company, which was only founded in 1980, prove to be of such high quality that even the finest details of music and speech can be heard. Without having to invest an excessive amount of money in advertising and PR, Teufel was able to gain a steadily growing fan base over the years. When it comes to good home theater systems, Teufel always plays a role. The costs for Teufel devices are in the higher range, but the quality simply has its price.
In Central Europe, Samsung is known primarily for its smartphones. After all, the South Korean company is number 2 behind the best-known smartphone manufacturers right behind Apple.
But actually, Samsung is far more than a manufacturer of smartphones. The conglomerate, founded in 1938, is by far the largest employer in South Korea. Samsung is active or at least involved in almost all areas of the economy.
On the international stage, the company was able to position itself as a producer of consumer electronics. The Koreans produce cameras, televisions, radios, loudspeakers, and home theater systems. An often low sales price naturally caused initial skepticism among product testers as well as among customers. However, this remains mostly unfounded: Samsung is also on par with its competitors in terms of quality. There is probably hardly anybody among the younger people in this country who does not own a Samsung product or has owned it before. Samsung home products can often be found at particularly low prices. Entry-level quality does not have to mean having to put up with inferior devices.
Sony has an excellent reputation among global players in consumer electronics. After the company was founded in Tokyo in 1946, which was almost destroyed at the time, the company did not produce a rice cooker as a stubborn founding myth claims. In fact, consumer electronics were used right from the start. Sony
did early on emerged as an innovative company, for example, in the development of the first transistor radio after the Second World War. The enthusiasm for innovation should not diminish later, either: In 1979, Sony launched the Walkman, a portable cassette player that was to have a lasting impact on people’s music consumption. Years later, they boasted of being co-inventors of the music CD (in cooperation with the Dutch company Philips). The Dutch have almost all of the fame in the history books for this. With the players, however, it was Sony again that was ahead. With the portable CD player Discman, Sony was able to build on the great success of the Walkman almost seamlessly.
To date, Sony is one of the most important players in the field of consumer electronics. Whether television, camcorder, loudspeaker, audio amplifier, or home theater system: Sony is always a predicate for good quality. No wonder that Sony has had a device with a cult character on the market for years with its “Play Station” game console.
It is therefore not surprising that the Japanese home theater systems are repeatedly positive in product tests. Although they are rarely found at a bargain price, the testers repeatedly emphasize the excellent price-performance ratio of the Sony products.
Yamaha is definitely one of the most mentioned names when it comes to large Japanese companies. Yamaha was founded in 1889 as a manufacturer of musical instruments. To date, a wide variety of Yamaha instruments have enjoyed an excellent international reputation, both among amateur and professional musicians.
Slowly, but emphatically, Yamaha felt its way into other industries. For example, the products of Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., which was founded in 1955 as a subsidiary, are now as well known internationally as musical instruments. Whether motorcycle, quad, or ship engine, you can hardly get past Yamaha here.
It seems almost logical that the production of micro and entertainment electronics, which was operated from 1971, should also be a complete success. Shortly after its market launch, Yamaha synthesizers and speakers achieved cult status. It was often the musicians already mentioned who gave the Japanese the fullest confidence not only in the case of musical instruments but also in devices for playing music.
The home theater systems from Yamaha impress die-hard Yamaha freaks and also convince time and again in the product test. Typical Yamaha.
Internet vs. Specialist trade: where is the best place to buy a home cinema system?
In general, it makes sense to get detailed information about different home theater systems before buying. You should know exactly what you want, what is needed, and how best to install the home theater. It also makes sense to compare prices and use the results of product tests. If it turns out that the consumer electronics store in the hometown has the best offer, the home theater system should, of course, be bought there. This will only be extremely rare:
In most cases, the specialist trade on site is more expensive than a comparable online shop, and it cannot offer nearly as many products to choose from. If you have informed yourself in detail, buying online makes the most sense in almost all cases.
The history of the home theater system
No home theater without a cinema. In both cases, one thinks above all of the large format pictures, but the sound plays an equally important role. It was completely different when the German inventor and film manufacturer Oskar Messter offered the first film projectors and the associated films for the home at the end of the 19th century. Just like in “real” cinema, these were all silent films in black and white.
The home cinema area was only really revolutionized with the introduction of the Super 8 film, which was introduced in 1965. For the first time, private individuals could not only make sound films themselves at low costs but ideally also watch them in their own home cinema. It was not uncommon for a large-format television screen to be called home cinema at the time – and the acoustics could not keep up with that of the “real” cinema.
It took many years of development to get the sound experience that today’s audio standard 5.1 offers. Said standard was defined in 1987 by a committee. In the early 1990s, this standard, which was originally developed for “normal” cinema, was first introduced into the living room at home. Since then, it has been theoretically possible to enjoy a spatial sound in your own four walls like in a cinema. Most of the necessary devices have only been really affordable for a few years. Previously, the home theater systems were more for well-heeled hi-fi enthusiasts.
Facts, Figures & Figures for Home Theater Systems: What is Dolby?
Everyone uses it, but hardly anyone knows what is behind it: Although many users of home theater systems know that an audio playback standard (“ Dolby Surround ” or “ Dolby Digital ”) could be hidden behind it. In fact, Dolby Laboratories Inc. is a company from the United States, whose developments in terms of spatial sound are omnipresent today, and so omnipresent that global standards have emerged from them.
The “ THX ” standard, which was also developed as a surround sound standard for the cinema, is somewhat less well known. However, THX is becoming less and less important in Germany. This also applies to the home theater area, where THX can hardly be found.
Regardless of the standard with which a home cinema system works: As a user, you are not dealing with either Dolby or THX. There you leave it with the “theory,” i.e., the development of the norm. The devices themselves, however, are produced by different manufacturers.
10 tips for care
The two biggest enemies of the private home theater system are called moisture and dust. Consequently, the care tips mentioned here revolve around these two troublemakers.
Be careful with moisture.
As already described, a home cinema system can theoretically also be used in the pool area. Then it would be particularly important to protect the individual components from moisture because even the air humidity can irreversibly damage the devices.
However, very few people will probably have to worry about the humidity inside the building – but it looks different outside or on the terrace. Unless it is raining, home cinema systems can be used for the cinema night or for the transmission of the international football match. But even after the hottest summer evenings, the devices must be brought home. Because even in midsummer, dew liquid forms at night, which must not come into contact with the sensor technology.
Wet cleaning? Yes, but only rarely – and correctly
With coarser soiling, it is sometimes impossible to avoid cleaning the home cinema components with a damp cloth. The best way to do this is to use window cleaners that are sprayed onto a cleaning cloth. This can prevent moisture from getting inside the device.
Maintain plugs and contacts
Depending on the material used, plugs can tarnish or even corrode under certain conditions. In general, plugs are almost maintenance-free, but they can still be wiped from time to time with a dry, clean microfiber or handkerchief.
Use home cinema in a dust-free environment.
Not only the moisture but also the dust affects a home cinema system. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that the system is used in a low-dust environment. Your own living room is predestined for this, but the carpenter’s workshop is an absolute taboo.
The handle to the feather duster
If you rarely use a feather duster, you might come up with the idea that you only distribute the dust with one. The dry feather duster charges so that it attracts the dust like a magnet. So if you go with the feather duster over the hi-fi system, you don’t push the dust in its joints and cracks, but mostly remove it quite thoroughly. The components of a home theater system can simply be dusted off simultaneously with the rest of the interior, without any additional treatment.
Use microfiber cloths
Microfiber cloths also prove to be real dust magnets in use. In contrast to a feather duster, which hovers only loosely over the device, you can exert strong pressure with the microfiber cloth if necessary. In this way, many stubborn stains can be removed without using chemical cleaning agents.
Use a compressed air spray.
Unlike any other spray, the compressed air spray is a dry affair. As the name suggests, it contains pure air (sometimes pure nitrogen), but no moisture. Compressed air spray is available in stores in handy cans, which optionally have a longer hose on the nozzle. This can also be used to reach bottlenecks and the inside of the device in order to loosen the dust that is stuck there. Important: Before using the spray, be sure to unplug the device.
Glasses cleaning cloths are awesome.
If dry microfiber cloths are not enough, but you do not want to use a window cleaner straight away, damp glasses cloths are also suitable. Although these are comparatively small, they can easily remove stubborn dirt in a small area. Since glasses cleaning cloths are usually soaked with alcohol, which evaporates very quickly, the cleaned surfaces do not have to be dried afterward. However, the following also applies here: the mains plug must be removed before cleaning.
Professional equipment cleaning
If home theater components have been in use for a long time or are used, professional cleaning of the equipment could make sense. The devices are opened by the professional, who thoroughly removes dust and dirt deposits inside the device. It is not recommended that laypersons carry out such cleaning themselves, as this could damage sensitive but necessary small parts of the electronics.
Repair or replace defective components
In general, as with all technical systems, a defective home cinema system should no longer be used. Some defects, if not repaired right away, can result in significantly greater damage.
The central elements of a home cinema are the largest possible, high-contrast picture area and the sound system described here as a home cinema system. Nevertheless, various things fall into the “ useful accessories ” category. With almost all the accessories mentioned here, it is up to you what you need and what you choose.
A real advantage of home cinema is that it is almost completely free in terms of furnishings. Hobby cineastes can set up their favorite room so that it is reminiscent of a “real” cinema in many ways. In general, any type of furniture is suitable, so it can also be a hammock. However, it should be noted that the sound is not equally good at all positions in the room. So if you want to install your home cinema in the pool area, you should first choose a favorite spot in the water and align the home cinema system accordingly.
Incidentally, many providers specialize in the seating of home theaters and have a nice selection here.
For many people, a large television screen is already cinema quality. Then it should also be a device with large screen size and UHD resolution so that the images are actually displayed razor-sharp. The Ambilight backlight can also add to the cinema feeling.
But it only becomes truly cinematic when the image is projected onto a screen using a projector. For a long time, these devices were considered to be of inferior quality or unaffordable. You can now get a higher quality projector for just a few hundred euros. It may also make sense to invest in a screen since the projected images usually appear sharper and more contrasting than on a normal wall.
Those who can look forward to a good quality picture and sound in their own home cinema are technically not far from the 3D cinema. The players have long since moved into the living room at home – the only thing missing is the 3D glasses that you can borrow in the cinema to watch some films made with 3D technology. It is possible to make the home cinema three-dimensional for a surprisingly small amount of money. There is no closer to the action on film – at most as extras on set.
In the case of wired home cinema systems, it is inevitable to connect the satellite speakers as well as the center and subwoofer boxes to the home theater receiver. But even the actual wireless versions don’t get along completely without cables. Thus, source devices, such as digital receivers, CD, or media players, have to be connected to the home theater receiver, using cables. Only the connection between the receiver and speakers works wirelessly.
In general, the following applies to all required cables: If you pay attention to quality, you get a particularly good sound result. You can hear bad cables with a particularly thin cross-section, which is not a particularly pleasant experience. Good cables can be recognized by a thicker material, and the connectors are already coated with precious metal (usually gold or silver). This not only protects against corrosion but also ensures a particularly stable, good plug contact.
When setting up or optimizing a home cinema system, you cannot avoid thinking about good cables. Incidentally, it is not uncommon for a cable to cost a three-digit amount. In most cases, product testers confirm that this investment is well worth it. After all, these are completely maintenance and wear-free cables and can, therefore, ensure optimal data transmission for many years to come.
Alternatives to the home cinema system
A real alternative to the home cinema system cannot be mentioned. Sound systems such as the soundbar and the associated subwoofer can also ensure a good sound experience. However, the real surround sound that is produced by a home cinema system cannot be created. Because of such a system, you need speakers that work perfectly together, arranged around the seat and, if necessary, reproduce very different tones.
A de facto alternative is, of course, used wherever no home theater system has been installed. Because then the sound comes from the built-in or externally connected stereo speakers. If they are high-quality speakers, they can also produce crystal-clear sound and rich bass. However, there is no real surround sound – even if several stereo speakers are connected.