What is the Best Cheap Home Theater System?

Posted by

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a real cinema-like movie-watching experience in your home. Numerous great-sounding home theater systems are priced well under $1000 or even under $500, and our article is here to present to you some of the best cheap home theater systems on the market. We will try to explain what to and, more importantly, what not to expect when buying a cheap home theater speaker system, give you some insights on the price/performance ratio of cheap home theater systems, analyze prices, and list our top suggestions for every budget.

Why Should You Buy a Home Theater System?

If you only have a pair of bookshelf speakers or, even worse, don’t have external speakers connected to your TV and listen to all the sound through those tiny TV speakers, buying the smallest possible 5.1 home theater system, even a cheap home theater system, will make a huge difference. It will expand the soundstage and create the feeling that the sound is everywhere around you and that you are right in the center of the action. 

The level of enjoyment and engagement you will get with a cheap home theater system is not even comparable to the experience you get from your TV speakers, even if they are high-quality speakers. Having a pair of powered bookshelf speakers connected to your TV is definitely better than using internal TV speakers and it creates a wider stereo image and louder sound, but it’s still not on par with a surround sound experience you will get with a home theater system.  Our article about 8 best cheap home theater systems will prove that even a cheap speaker system is better than internal TV speakers or an affordable stereo pair.

Our Top Picks

This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.

ProductPriceOverall RatingReview
Monoprice 5.1Check Price on Amazon4.1Read Review
Logitech Z906Check Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Klipsch Black Reference Theater PackCheck Price on Amazon4.8Read Review
Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQCheck Price on Amazon4.6Read Review
Onkyo HT-S3900Check Price on Amazon4.3Read Review
Polk Audio 5.1Check Price on Amazon4.7Read Review
Fluance Elite SeriesCheck Price on Amazon4.9Read Review
Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4Check Price on Amazon4.4Read Review

What to Expect (And Not to Expect) when Buying a Cheap Home Theater System?

Depending on what you consider cheap, you can expect different performance and different feature sets. 

If you can’t spend more than $100, you will get a simple 5.1 speaker set at best (in some cases, you will get 5 speakers without a subwoofer) with tiny speakers and probably an 8in subwoofer. Most speaker systems in this price range have poor-quality spring clip connectors and don’t really deliver the sound that can cover larger areas (they are made for small rooms). Also, it’s practically impossible to get speakers made by a reputable brand for that kind of money.

Most of these things apply to cheap home theater systems under $300 and under $500 (relatively small speakers paired with an 8in or 10in subwoofers, designed for small rooms), but you will get a much clearer sound reproduction, better sound quality, and more consistent overall performance.  Also, if you’re prepared to pay up to $500, you can get a system made by more reputable brands (Klipsch, Harman Kardon, Onkyo). 

Another option when it comes to home theater systems under $500 is buying some kind of surround sound system that includes a soundbar. These are usually not full home theater systems so you won’t get 5 speakers and one or two subwoofers. Instead, you will get a soundbar that replaces three front speakers, one subwoofer (often wireless), and two surround speakers (examples – JBL Bar 5.1, VIZIO V51-H6). Some soundbar-based home theater systems consist only of a soundbar with multiple drivers built-inside (sometimes even up-firing and side-firing drivers) and a subwoofer (surround speakers are not included). These systems can only simulate surround sound.

Paying up to $1000 for a home theater system opens some new possibilities. You can buy a great-sounding 5.1 or 7.1 system; you can buy a system that includes floorstanding speakers and a larger subwoofer. You can even get a nice wireless home theater system. 

For the purposes of our article about 8 best cheap home theater systems, we decided to set the limit at $1000, which is not really that cheap for some people but when you know that a great high-end system can cost several thousand or even more than $50,000, our limit seems reasonable.

Our list of 8 best cheap home theater systems consists of two parts – best under $500 and best under $1000. We did our best to find at least one speaker system for every price range. You just have to set your budget limit and find our top suggestion for that price range.  Enjoy!


BEST CHEAP HOME THEATER SYSTEMS UNDER $500

Best Cheap Home Theater System Under $100 – Monoprice 5.1

Monoprice 5.1

Editor’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Monoprice is known for its budget-friendly audio gear. Their 5.1 speaker system is our top choice under $100. You can probably find something even cheaper but there’s no chance you can get the same performance at this price point. 

The system consists of 4 identical satellites (front and surround speakers), center channel, and an 8in subwoofer. All the speakers have a nice black finish and black grilles with the Monoprice logo.

Each satellite houses one 3in paper-cone mid-woofer and one .5in balanced-dome tweeter. The center channel has two 3in woofers (the same kind as the woofers inside satellites). All the speakers have the same specs – 8Ω impedance, 85dB sensitivity, and 150Wpeak power input. These speakers can handle anything from 150Hz to 20kHz.

All the included speakers (except for the subwoofer) come with C-brackets for wall mounting. The speakers feature 5-way binding posts and can accept a 16-Gauge wire.

The subwoofer has a down-firing bass driver and a front-firing bass reflex port. On the rear panel of the subwoofer, you have high-level and line-level inputs (it’s compatible with all kinds of receivers, even those without a subwoofer output). Next to the line-level inputs, you have two dials – bass level and crossover dial (50Hz-250Hz). The RMS power output of the subwoofer is rated at 60W.

Since the system is small and compact, you can’t really expect a roof-shaking bass, but you will get a pretty good performance. The subwoofer will add a nice punch to every movie track and the speakers will create a very engaging surround sound effect. 

Advantages

  • Very cheap (priced under $100)
  • Compact
  • Simple and stylish design
  • The subwoofer has line-level and high-level inputs
  • Adjustable low-pass frequency
  • Very good overall performance (considering the size and price)

Disadvantages

  • The grilles are not removable

Best Cheap Home Theater System Under $300 – Logitech Z906

Logitech Z906

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Logitech Z906 is a powered 5.1 system. It’s primarily designed for PCs but it’s also perfectly compatible with TVs or any other audio source with digital optical, coaxial, or analog outputs.

Z906 home theater system consists of 5 speakers (4 identical satellites, one horizontal center channel), one subwoofer, and one console (used to control the system, select input, engage different surround sound settings, etc.). You will also get a simple remote, cable for the console, and all the necessary speaker wire (18-Gauge).

Each speaker (4 satellites and center channel) houses one 3in polished aluminum full-range woofer. The enclosures are made of plastic and have a nice black finish. On the front panel of each speaker, there’s an aluminum grille in the middle, the THX logo at the top, and the Logitech logo at the bottom. On the rear panel, each speaker has a pair of spring-clip terminals.

The subwoofer is the heart of the system, while the included console is the brain. The subwoofer houses most of the connections and all the class-D amps for all the speakers. The sub features 5 different connections– one 6ch direct input (for connecting to a PC soundcard), one RCA input, two optical, and one coaxial input. Furthermore, the sub houses the console connection and 5 speaker outputs. The advertised total RMS output is 500W (165W subwoofer + 5x67W satellites). Inside the subwoofer, there’s one front-firing driver and one side-firing bass reflex port. 

The console allows you to select the input, adjust the volume, up-mix any stereo to 3D surround sound, 4.1, or 2.1 sound. The console also houses one AUX input and one headphone OUT.

Z906 is THX-certified, which guarantees great surround sound performance. The speaker system is loud, powerful, and offers an immersive movie-watching experience.

Advantages

  • Affordable powered system (priced under $300 and doesn’t require a receiver)
  • Compact
  • Stylish
  • Intuitive controls
  • Versatile connectivity (6ch direct inputs, RCA, optical x2, coaxial)
  • The console houses an additional AUX input and a headphone jack (located on the right panel)
  • THX-certified
  • Handles DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Powerful and immersive performance

Disadvantages

  • Poor-quality spring-clip terminals
  • Optical cable and coaxial cable are not included in the package

Best 5.1 System Under $450 – Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

The majority of Klipsch 5.1 systems are priced well over $500, so you can consider this Klipsch Reference Black a real gem.  It’s a compact 5.1 system, perfect for small and medium-sized condos. This is probably the tiniest Klipsch 5.1 home theater system. 

The packaging contains four satellites, a dedicated center channel, a powered (wireless) subwoofer, and an RF transmitter that allows you to stream audio wirelessly to the subwoofer (you are supposed to connect it to the sub output on the AV receiver).

Each satellite houses one 3.5in spun-copper woofer and a small 0.75in LTS tweeter with the Klipsch’s iconic Tractrix Horn. The center channel has two 3.5in woofers and one 0.75in tweeter in the middle. All 5 speakers have 8Ω impedance. The sensitivity of the satellites is 91dB and the sensitivity of the center channel is 94dB. The satellites can handle 50W RMS, while the center channel handles 75W RMS. The speakers are compatible with 14 to 18-Gauge speaker wire (not included) and they are all wall-mountable (mounting kits are not included).

The included subwoofer can be used as wired or wireless. The sub houses one down-firing bass driver paired with a bass reflex port. The RMS power output is rated at 50W (built-in Class-D amp). The rear panel of the subwoofer houses all the connections and controls. You have line-level inputs, phase and auto ON switches, gain dial, and low-pass dial (38Hz-120Hz). The included RF transmitter is pre-paired with the subwoofer and works flawlessly in different room configurations.

Klipsch Reference Black delivers pretty good performance when placed in a small room (up to 15×15). The bass is punchy, the mids are detailed and clear. The highs are slightly elevated but not too bright. When you turn up the volume and especially when the subwoofer is supposed to deliver some very low frequencies, there will be some distortion.

Advantages

  • Priced Under $500
  • Recognizable iconic Klipsch design
  • 3.5in spun-copper IMG woofers and 0.75in LTS tweeters with a Tractrix Horn
  • 325W total RMS power output (1250W peak)
  • Wall-mountable satellites and center channel
  • Wireless subwoofer (comes with a wireless transmitter)
  • Adjustable bass crossover (38Hz-120Hz)
  • Clear, balanced, and engaging sound output (punchy lows, clear mids, slightly elevated highs)

Disadvantages

  • Not a great choice for large rooms
  • The subwoofer struggles with frequencies under 60Hz

Best 5.1 System Under $500 – Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ

Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Like all the previous systems, HKTS 16BQ is also simple and compact. It has slightly larger satellites than the Klipsch Black Reference, but it’s still easy to install and can fit many places.

The packaging includes 4 satellites, one center channel, one powered subwoofer, all the necessary speaker wire, LFE cable for the subwoofer, power cable for the subwoofer, and a user manual. You will also get all the necessary brackets for wall mounting (for the satellites and center speaker). 

Each satellite houses two drivers – one 3in woofer and one 0.5in tweeter. The center channel has dual 3in woofers and one 0.75in tweeter. The subwoofer has a down-firing 8in driver. All the included speakers have the same impedance (8Ω) and the same sensitivity (86dB). The recommended amplification for the satellites and center channel is 10-80W. The subwoofer’s peak output is rated at 200W. 

The subwoofer has all the controls and inputs on the back. You have the phase switch, bass boost switch (it elevates the bass response), bass level dial, and input selector. The subwoofer has two kinds of inputs – line-level LFE input and line-level L/R inputs (but doesn’t have high-level inputs). The crossover (low-pass filter) is not adjustable. 

HKTS 16BQ sounds surprisingly good for its size. It is not the best choice for large rooms but it can really shine when placed in a small or medium-sized room. The bass reproduction is probably the only problem, especially if you are a bass enthusiast. The bass response is elevated and quite punchy but doesn’t go very low. The subwoofer struggles with anything below 60Hz. The midrange and dialogs, on the other hand, are perfectly clear and detailed. The same goes for treble.

Considering all the features and the build quality, the Amazon price seems unreasonable (just under $500). You can find it on some other websites (like Walmart) for less than $300.

Advantages

  • Compact and easy to set up
  • All the speaker wire and mounting equipment included in the package
  • Low-profile center channel
  • Bass-boost feature for the subwoofer
  • Adjustable phase and bass levels
  • LFE input and line-level L/R subwoofer inputs
  • Engaging, well-balanced sound reproduction with a punchy bass, detailed and dynamic mids, and fairly clear and consistent highs

Disadvantages

  • Poor quality spring-loaded terminals
  • The subwoofer struggles to deliver really low frequencies (anything below 60Hz)
  • The low-pass filter is not adjustable 

Best Cheap Home Theater in a Box Under $500 – Onkyo HT-S3900

Onkyo HT-S3900

Editor’s Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Three of the previous four cheap home theater systems were passive and required an AV receiver. So, if you opt for any of those systems, you will have to buy a receiver separately and that will be an additional cost. If you want everything in one box and don’t want to spend more than $500, your best option is Onkyo’s HTiB HT-S3900.

The packaging includes 4 satellites, one center channel, one powered sub, and Onkyo’s HT-R397 AV receiver. With the receiver, you will also get the remote (+ batteries), calibration mic, and FM/AM antennas). 

Each of four tiny satellites and a center channel has only one 3in full-range woofer (no tweeters). The impedance of each speaker is rated at 6Ω. The subwoofer is passive (not powered) and has a down-firing 6in bass driver and a front-firing bass-reflex port. 

The included receiver is also a budget-friendly option with a modest number of connections but with support for some of the latest audio and video standards. The receiver has 4 HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output, one optical input, one coaxial input, and 3 RCA inputs. Also, the receiver has built AM and FM tuners. And it has a headphone output and a USB port. Finally, if you want to stream music from your phone, you have Bluetooth connectivity with aptX support.

The receiver supports HDR10 and 4K/60Hz pass-through. It’s also HDCP 2.2 compliant. 

HT-R397 has 5 speaker outputs for the front, center, and surround speakers as well as powered subwoofer output (not preamp subwoofer output) for the included passive subwoofer. The advertised power output is 100W per channel (6Ω loads, at 1kHz, 0.07% THD).

The system delivers decent performance with clear vocals and dialogs, fairly accurate highs, and just a hint of bass (it would be a good idea to replace the subwoofer with a bigger unit). This home theater system won’t rattle your walls or shatter the windows, but it’s enjoyable and it’s a significant upgrade compared to the internal TV speakers.

Advantages

  • It’s a whole home theater system in a box (you don’t have to look for the receiver)
  • The whole system (receiver + speaker system) is priced under $500
  • Relatively fast and hassle-free installation (calibration mic included)
  • The receiver has 4 HDMI inputs and one HDMI ARC output (+ one TOSLINK IN, one coaxial IN, and three RCA inputs)
  • Built-in AM/FM tuners
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • The receiver supports 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDR10, HDCP 2.2
  • Decodes the most common Dolby and DTS surround sound formats (up to Dolby True-HD and DTS-HD MA)
  • 100W per channel power output (with 6Ω loads, at 1kHz, 0.07% THD)
  • Good midrange and treble reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Spring-loaded speaker terminals (not compatible with banana plugs)
  • The included subwoofer doesn’t go really deep (it’s highly recommended to replace it with something bigger)
  • The included subwoofer is passive (if you want to replace it, you will either have to buy a passive sub or a powered subwoofer with high-level inputs)

BEST CHEAP HOME THEATER SYSTEMS UNDER $1000

If you’re looking for a bigger home theater system (something with larger speakers or with more than 5 speakers and one subwoofer) or for something more convenient (like a wireless surround sound system), you will have to invest more than $500. The following systems are our top choices under $1000.

Polk Audio 5.1

Polk Audio 5.1

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Polk is one of our favorite budget-friendly brands. Polk audio gear is maybe not as good as it used to be a few decades ago, but the performance you get for the price is still quite amazing. This Polk’s 5.1 system is not even that cheap but its performance definitely exceeds the price tag.

The system consists of two T50 floorstanders, one T30 center speaker, two T15 bookshelf speakers (surround channels), and a PSW10 subwoofer. You won’t get the speaker wire or the mounting brackets – you have to buy all the equipment separately.

Each floorstander has a 6.5in woofer, 1in dynamic balance tweeter, and two 6.5in passive bass radiators. The center channel has dual 5.25in woofers and one 1in tweeter. Each bookshelf speaker has one 5.25in woofer, one 0.75in tweeter, and a front-firing bass reflex port. The floorstanders and center channel have 90dB sensitivity and 6Ω impedance. T15 speakers have 89dB sensitivity and 8Ω impedance. The recommended amplification for every speaker is 20-100W. The floorstanders and bookshelf speakers can handle 150W max, while the center channel handles 100W max.

The included subwoofer is powered and has a front-firing 10in bass driver paired with a front-firing bass reflex port. The RMS power output is rated at 50W (100W peak). On the rear panel, the subwoofer houses high-level inputs, line-level L/R inputs, phase switch, bass volume dial, and a low-pass filter dial (80-160Hz).

All the speakers have a very attractive greyish veneer finish and are very durable. Also, all the speakers feature binding posts, which is a much better option than spring-loaded terminals. The posts are compatible with banana plugs. Only the subwoofer has spring-loaded terminals but they are only used for high-level inputs (most people will use line-level inputs).

All the T series speakers use Polk’s proprietary dynamic balance drivers that are supposed to improve the sound dispersion and minimize the distortion. The overall performance of the system is quite impressive. The midrange reproduction is impeccable – very clear, very detailed, and transparent. The highs are also detailed and consistent, without any brightness. The bass is punchy, fast, and well-controlled but it still feels like it’s missing that very deep rumble. The system is perfect for medium-sized rooms and can even be a decent choice for larger rooms (but with an upgraded subwoofer).

Advantages

  • Very good build quality
  • Attractive design that fits most rooms
  • Removable grilles
  • Mountable surround speakers
  • Powered subwoofer with an adjustable low-pass filter and bass levels
  • Great overall performance, especially considering the price

Disadvantages

  • Upgrading to a 12in subwoofer is highly recommended (especially if you want to use the system in a larger room)
  • The center channel is not made for wall mounting (you will need a custom-made bracket to mount it)

Best Home Theater System Under $800 – Fluance Elite Series

Fluance Elite Series

Editor’s Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Fluance is another great budget-friendly option. Maybe even better than Polk. We are about to review Fluance SX51WHR 5.1 system which is, in our opinion, one of the best systems under $800. If you need something cheaper, check out this smaller Fluance SX50WHC 5.0 system (priced around $300).

SX51WHR is pretty large. It consists of two chunky 38in tall floorstanders, one 15.8in wide center channel, two 9.7in tall surround channels, and one DB10 10in subwoofer. They all have impeccable MDF cabinets and they all use 5-way binding posts (the floorstanding speakers have two pairs for bi-amping and bi-wiring). Also, all the speakers have easily removable grilles.

The floorstanders feature a 2-way design and have three drivers – two 6.5in woofers and one 1in tweeter. The crossover is set at 3.5kHz. The enclosures are ported (two rear-firing bass reflex ports). Their frequency response spans from 49Hz to 20kHz. The impedance is 8Ω, the sensitivity is 89dB, and the recommended amplification is 50-160W RMS.

The center channel and the surround speakers also feature a 2-way design. The center channel has dual 4in woofers and one 1in neodymium tweeter. It’s ported on the back. The surrounds have one 4in woofer, one 1in tweeter, and two tiny front-firing bass-reflex ports. The recommended amplification for all these speakers is 30-100W, the impedance is 8Ω, and the sensitivity is 86dB.

The included subwoofer has a 10in front-firing bass driver and a front-firing bass-reflex port. Its RMS power output is rated at 45W (120W peak). The low-pass crossover is adjustable (40Hz-180Hz). You can also adjust the bass level and phase. The subwoofer has both – high-level inputs and LFE low-level input.

This Fluance Elite 5.1 system delivers impressive performance for the price. The bass is punchy, accurate, and fast. The mids are detailed and dynamic, the vocals are crystal-clear, and the treble is just a little bit brighter than it should be.

Advantages

  • Impeccable build 
  • Simple yet eye-catching design
  • Available in three finishes – white, black ash, and natural walnut
  • Impressive price/performance ratio – perfectly balanced, detailed, and engaging sound reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Adding a larger subwoofer would make it perfect (but it’s not bad at all even with a 10in subwoofer)
  • The treble is slightly brighter than it should be (but it’s not fatiguing or ear-piercing)

Best Soundbar-Based Wireless Home Theater System Under $1000 – Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4

Editor’s Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Check Price

Impressions

Paying $800 for a soundbar-based home theater system may seem a bit too much, but it’s not. Especially when you know that you don’t need any additional equipment to make it work (most importantly, you don’t need a receiver).

The system consists of a large DTS-X/Atmos soundbar, two wireless subwoofers, and two surround speakers. It’s classified as a 7.2.4 system, so the soundbar replaces 5 (or even 9) speakers (all three front speakers, two surround speakers, and 4 Atmos speakers). This is one of the highest-rated wireless home theater systems on the market and it’s also one of the cheapest true soundbar-based surround sound systems. However, classifying it as a 7.2.4 system is a bit unrealistic.

The system comes in a very generous package that includes almost everything you need to make it work. Besides the speakers, you will get all the power and speaker cables (the surround speakers are not wireless and are supposed to be connected to the subwoofers), a set of audio cables (+ one HDMI cable), and all the mounting equipment. The only thing you won’t get are the speaker stands for the surround speakers. 

As usual, the soundbar is the heart and brain of the system. It has all the connections and it communicates with the wireless subwoofers. It houses three HDMI inputs, one HDMI ARC output, coaxial input, optical input, AUX input, and a USB port. The soundbar is also Bluetooth-enabled (BT 4.1 with aptX) so you can stream audio wirelessly to it. The soundbar houses six 2.5in full-range drivers arranged in three channels (front left, front right, center) and two side-firing 1in tweeters for improved surround effects and wider soundstage.

The subwoofers are wireless. Each has one down-firing 8in bass driver and a rear-firing bass reflex port. The surround speakers are connected to the subwoofer (the soundbar sends surround tracks to the subwoofers, and the subwoofers forward that signal to the surround speakers). Each surround channel has one 3in woofer and one 1in tweeter.

The max power output of the speaker system is 800W and the frequency response is 38Hz-22kHz.

The system supports 4K/60Hz pass-through. It supports HDR and Dolby Vision, and it’s compliant with HDCP 2.2. The soundbar can decode all the common DTS and Dolby surround sound formats. That includes DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. 

The speaker system delivers impressive performance with a wide soundstage and immersive surround effects. The bass is present and is powerful. It only lacks some rumble. Some of our colleagues commented that it sounds better than some more expensive soundbar-based wireless home theater systems. It can definitely beat any similar system in its price range (under $1000). Height effects are not very accurate and don’t really improve the listening experience.

Advantages

  • Reasonable price
  • Attractive design
  • Easy to set up
  • Intuitive controls (fully-featured remote included)
  • Dual wireless subwoofers
  • Versatile connectivity (HDMI IN x3, HDMI ARC OUT x1, Coaxial, Optical, AUX)
  • Bluetooth connectivity (BT 4.1 with aptX)
  • Immersive and engaging sound reproduction

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t come with an app
  • The calibration mic is not included (you have to follow the placement instructions from the manual)
  • Poorly executed height effects

This concludes our list of 8 best cheap home theater systems. Hopefully, it made some things a bit clearer for you and maybe even helped you find a perfect cheap speaker system for your home theater setup. For additional tips and guidelines, read our Buyer’s Guide.


Buyer’s Guide – Things to Look for in A Cheap Home Theater System

Price

Since we are speaking about the best cheap home theater systems, price is a huge factor. The good news is that you can find a decent system even if you can’t spend more than $100. However, we advise you to invest a bit more, especially if you want to buy something made by a reputable brand. If you don’t have that kind of money right now, wait a month or two and save some money. Our recommendation is to spend $500-$1000 on a home theater system. Some of the best budget brands are Fluance, Polk, Sony. You can also find some smaller 5.1 Klipsch and Harman Kardon systems in this price range. You can even find a wireless home theater system (wireless surround speakers and subwoofers) for less than $1000.

Size

Most home theater systems priced under $500 consist of small speakers and a relatively small subwoofer (8in or 10in). These systems are made for small and medium-sized rooms. Some home theater systems under $700 and $800 consist of large floorstanding speakers and are a great budget option for larger rooms. 

Build quality

The price basically determines the build quality. Cheaper home theater systems (those under $300) usually consist of plastic speakers. Even pricier speaker systems ($300-$600) made by well-known brands (Klipsch, Harman Kardon) are made of plastic. Most speaker systems within the $600-$1000 price range have higher-quality and more durable MDF enclosures. 

Specifications – drivers (size, type, number), impedance, sensitivity, power ratings, required amplification)

We all read the specs when buying any kind of electronics, but not all people understand those specs.

When it comes to drivers, you should pay attention to the size, type, and number of drivers. The size is one of the things that determine how low a home theater system can go. You can’t expect the same kind of bass reproduction from an 8in bass driver and from a 12in driver. 

Also, the material the drivers are made of can tell you a few things about the speaker. For starters, it can tell you how durable the speaker is. It can also tell whether the speaker system is overpriced or not. If all the speakers in a home theater system have paper drivers and the system is priced well over $1,000, you can consider it too pricey. 

Cheaper speakers often have only one driver built inside and that driver is responsible for the whole audible spectrum (full-range drivers). This is rarely a good thing since large drivers are not very good when it comes to treble reproduction, while the small drivers can’t deliver any real bass. So, that’s why pricier speakers have two or more different-sized drivers built inside (woofers are responsible for lows and mids, and the tweeters are responsible for highs). 

The power rating tells you how much power a speaker can handle continuously and how much power it can handle in peaks (RMS and Peak Power Inputs). You will need to pay attention to these numbers when looking for a matching AV receiver. 

Impedance and sensitivity are closely related specs. Impedance is, just like power rating, very important when looking for a matching receiver. The receiver’s power outputs are often given for different impedances (4Ω, 6Ω, 8Ω). You have to find the output for your speaker’s impedance and have to check if the receiver is compatible with that impedance. The sensitivity tells you how loud your speakers can be. Higher values are always recommended (90dB+). If all the other specs of two speakers are the same and you’re using the same amplifier with the volume set at the same level, the speaker with higher sensitivity will deliver louder sound. 

Sound quality

All the specifications and impressive numbers don’t mean much if you don’t like the sound. That’s why it’s highly recommended to test the home theater system you want to buy and find out whether you like what you hear or not. We’re giving our best to describe the sound of each system but nothing compares to a real-life test.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *