Bose cinemate 520 home theater system review

Bose CineMate 520 Home Theater System

Bose cinemate 520 home theater system review

Nothing immerses you more into a movie on your TV screen like a room-filling surround sound! This is exactly what you get from a high-quality home theater system.

There are hundreds of home theater brands in the market, but I must say the Bose CineMate 520 leaves a good impression, especially for people looking to enhance the audio quality in their homes. 

According to fans, the sound system is designed to complement your movie and TV watching experience, but hearsay aside, let us put the Bose CineMate 520 in the spotlight with a comprehensive review of this product. 

 Bose CineMate 520 Home Theater System
96/100
our score
  • Stylish design with a jet-black finish
  • Compact build with a small footprint
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Universal remote control
  • Unlimited music streaming

Last Updated: September 1, 2021

Bose CineMate 520 home Theater System at a Glance: 

Specs and Features

  • Dimensions of the product: 16 x 20.19 x 21.5 inches
  • Weight of the product: 41.5 pounds
  • Stereo setup: 5.1
  • Wattage consumption: 50 Watts
  • Power Requirements- Acoustimass Module: 100 - 240 VAC, 50 / 60 Hz, 150 W
  • Power Requirements-Console: 100 - 240 VAC, 50 / 60 Hz, 60 W
  • Connectivity: HDMI, Bose Link, Stereo RCA, Digital Optical, Digital Coaxial
  • Warranty: 1-year for repairs or replacements

Bose CineMate 520 Review

The Bose CineMate 520 home theater system comes with several features that make it a worthy buy. 

It offers a packed performance, highlighted by a room-filling surround sound, a universal remote control, as well as the ability to connect via Bluetooth and WiFi for seamless connectivity.

But you need to hear it to believe it! We take an in-depth look into what you can expect from the CineMate 520. 

Bose CineMate 520 Design and Build Quality

The CineMate 520 home theater system comprises a 5.1 stereo setup that includes five small speakers and an Acoustimass module to deliver a sound that fills the room. The smaller speakers feature four slim-profile Direct Series II speakers to go with a single wider center speaker. 

Each of the slim speakers measures 7.5 x 3.3 x 3.3" and weighs 2.28lbs whereas the center speaker measures 3.4 x 7.3 x 3.3" and tips the scale at 2.2 lbs. All these speakers are fitted with two transducers that are set at customized angles for a surround-sound experience. 

Overall, the CineMate 520 boasts a stylish design, highlighted by a subtle black color. The slim profile of the speakers allows them to be wall hung allowing for easy installation. The subwoofer is decently sized, which enables you to set it up almost anywhere in the living room with little hassle. 

Meanwhile, the control console is slim enough to sit right under your TV set. It features a brilliant shine that helps to add to the overall décor of the space. Included is a universal remote control that is designed to be grippy and ergonomic in your palm. 

All the elements in the CineMate 520 theater system have a sleek jet-black finish, which blends easily with your room’s color scheme. The matte effect on the exterior, as well as the narrow strip of shine, makes them attractive.

 Bose CineMate 520 Home Theater System

The five smaller speakers are wired, so if you want to mount them on the wall or a stand, you will have to purchase the mounts separately. Unfortunately, this is a cost you’ll have to bear in addition to the already costly system. 

Despite the relatively small design of the 520, it still manages to deliver a great sound that will be suitable for movies and gaming. The Cinemate 520 wireless adapter proves to be a key selling point for this system. 

The wireless adapter lets you stream tunes from your music playlist or library via Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, iHeartRadio, and similar internet platforms. The adapter is also powered by Bluetooth or WiFi and you get to control your listening experience using the included universal remote from Bose. 

The Bose CineMate 520 home theater system comes with an ADAPTIQ audio calibration system. When you are done setting up your speakers, you can use the ADAPTIQ headset to personalize the response of the system to your room. 

This enables the 520 to adapt to and accommodate different sizes of rooms, as well as the acoustic attributes of the room with all its contents. When it comes to connectivity, you will find all the inputs and outputs on the control console. 

This features four HDMI inputs that link the system to other devices in your home theater set up. Other inputs included are a digital coaxial audio input, an analog R-L audio input, and a digital optical audio input. 

Furthermore, there is a single HDMI output for the television. Generally, you won’t have a hard time setting up and firing up the system; the user manual included is not only comprehensive but also easy to understand.

This is just one of the benefits of investing in the Bose CineMate 520 home theater system!

Bose CineMate 520 Performance and Sound Quality

Bose is known to produce audio equipment with great sound quality, and the CineMate 520 is no exception. The five speakers of the system create a wonderful musical experience that fills up the entire room.

The volume at a high range has negligible distortion levels. No matter how high you turn up the volume, the music plays clearly with impressive quality. Your listening experience will easily reach a next level with the 520.

The highs and mids sound great while the bass is solid. Thanks to the wireless Acoustimass module, the overall quality of the audio is greatly enhanced for the ideal home theater experience. This produces an impactful bass for the needed surround sound in the room.

It makes for the ultimate party experience and will come in handy when you have friends or family coming over. While the subwoofer may not deliver a roof-shattering bass response, the sound is strong enough to impress most users. 

This is especially true if you choose to install the system in a small to medium-sized room. Another great thing about this speaker system is that the Acoustimass module connects wirelessly to make for convenient placement. 

You can position it anywhere you want in the room. Nonetheless, you will still have to plug in the power cable for it to work. 

The ADAPTIQ autocalibration system incorporated into the CineMate 520 makes for high-quality performance in the home theater room you choose to install the unit. 

 Bose CineMate 520 Home Theater System

The technology serves to automatically optimize the sound system’s settings in line with the unique shape, size, and furniture inside your space to deliver consistently impressive sound throughout all the corners of the room. 

Each speaker is built to have a small footprint yet deliver big sound for your listening pleasure. The Direct Series II speakers can be mounted on the wall as the Acoustimass module tucks away behind the couch. 

You can still place it at the end of the table and the impact will still be compelling. Just remember to set the subwoofer on level ground and make sure that it is sturdy enough to keep the unit from vibrating and moving when the music is booming. 

Bose CineMate 520 Review: Weighing The Pros & Cons 

Pros

  • Stylish design with a jet-black finish
  • Compact build with a small footprint
  • ADAPTIQ autocalibration system
  • Wireless design and easy to install
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • High-quality 5.1 surround sound effect
  • No harmonic distortion at high volumes
  • Supports Dolby Digital sound
  • Universal remote control
  • Unlimited music streaming

Cons

  • Requires you to buy mounts separately
  • Slightly expensive
  • Takes time to connect wirelessly

 Bose CineMate 520 Home Theater System
96/100
our score
  • Stylish design with a jet-black finish
  • Compact build with a small footprint
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Universal remote control
  • Unlimited music streaming

Conclusion

Overall, the Bose CineMate 520 is a good option for a home theater system! It has the design to enhance the look of your interior décor and the performance to keep the party going into the night. 

The system features a straightforward setup process that will have you enjoying the great sound quality in no time. If you like to watch movies or listen to music, this is the unit to make you feel right at home. 

Furthermore, included is a 1-year warranty when you buy the system that compels the manufacturer to repair or replace any defects free of charge. The only issue is that the CineMate 520 comes with a slightly hefty price tag. 

If you can find your way past the price, this is a nice unit to have in your home!


Barry Allen

About the author:

Barry Allen

I grew up to be a self-proclaimed stuck-up audiophile, and I – partially – blame Pinnacle Speakers for it.


The whole point of me starting this website was to keep the tradition going. Although the means have changed, the mission remains the same: Bringing „sterling sound“ as they once put it into home theaters and sound systems worldwide! 


Best 5.1 Home Theater Systems of 2021 – Top 10 Picks for an At-Home Cinema Experience

best 5.1 home theater systems - audiophile buying guide

Best 5.1 Home Theater Systems of 2021 – Top 10 Picks for an At-Home Cinema Experience

There was a time when home theater enthusiasts had to put their systems together using individual components. The process involved mixing and matching to get the right combination of floor-standing speakers, satellites, a hand-picked subwoofer, and an AV receiver to boot.

Decking out your home theater with a 5.1 setup or the so-called home-theater-in-a-box wasn’t an option back then – but it is now.

Complete 5.1 surround sound systems have become the benchmark of home theater sound, delivering a more immersive audio experience with the sound coming at you from all directions.

And you no longer have to go through the painstaking process of choosing each component manually. It’s very rarely worth the hassle, anyway – there are way too many mind-blowing home theater systems available.

On that note, I rounded up the best 5.1 home theater systems of 2021 for you.

So, be sure to keep reading! 

In a hurry? After 45 Hours of Research, We Recommend:

best subwoofer under 200 - Yamaha 10-inch powered subwoofer

After all the tests and comparison, this system is the best 5.1 home theatre speaker system of 2021. 

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer

Why it is better?

  • Based on Polk Audio’s T Series speakers
  • 15 multi-directional drivers and a powered 10-inch subwoofer
  • Engineered with proprietary Dynamic Balance technology
  • Elevates movie-watching, music, or gaming audio experience with three-dimensional life-like sound
  • Accurate bass with added depth
  • Perfect for small and mid-sized rooms
  • Can be upgraded to a 7.1 or 9.1 speakers system
  • Reasonably priced system
92/100
our score

sourses
31

RESEARCHED SOURCES

876

REVIEWS CONSIDERED

45

hours researching

52

products compared

Last Updated: September 1, 2021

By Barry Allen: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best 5.1 home theatre speaker systems available for those who are interested in ramping the quality of their sound up without breaking the bank. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best 5.1 home theatre speaker systems currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.

Best 5.1 Home Theatre Speaker Systems of 2021 

– Comparison Table 

Product

Type

Power Ratings

Frequency Range

Sound Driver

Input Options

Our Rating

Current Price

Polk Audio Home Theater System

Polk Audio Home Theater System

Tower/Bookshelf

Front R/L:
150 W
Satellite: 100 W
Center: 100 W
Sub: 100 W

38 - 24,000 Hz

Dolby Atmos/DTS

5-Way Binding Posts

92/100

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Surround Sound System

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack Surround Sound System

Bookshelf

Satellite: 50 W
Center: 75 W
Sub: 50 W

110 - 23,000 Hz; 38 – 120 Hz

Dolby Atmos/DTS

Wireless/
RCA

90/100

JBL Bar 4K Ultra HD Soundbar

JBL Bar 4K Ultra HD Soundbar

Soundbar

Total: 510 W

35 – 20,000 Hz

Dolby Atmos/DTS

Wireless/
HDMI

88/100

Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater System

Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V Home Theater System

In-wall

Total: 270 W

80-13,500 Hz

Dolby Atmos/DTS

RCA

88/100

Yamaha YHT-4950U 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Home Theater System

JYamaha YHT-4950U 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Home Theater System

Floorstanding

Front, rear and center: 100 W

28 - 25,000 Hz

Dolby Atmos/DTS

HDMI, wireless

84/100

Best Home Theater Systems – Top 10 Home Theater Systems Reviewed & Compared (2021)

Before we move on to the actual home theater speaker system reviews, I'd like to make something clear:

The goal wasn't shoving as many expensive surround sound systems into a single round-up as possible – far from it. 

Sure, price is generally a good indicator of quality. However, audio delivery, build quality, ease of use, and overall value were considered.

Moreover, I wanted to highlight a surround sound system or two in each of the key categories – from high-end to budget-friendly. That way, no matter what your needs and budget, I've got something for you! 

best 5.1 home theater system
Our Rating: 92/100

You could go cheaper or pay a whole lot more. But overall, Polk Audio is the best 5.1 speaker system for virtually anyone looking to kick their home theater experience up a notch. 

The Design

Polk Audio essentially allows you to create a home theater system using their renowned T-series speakers: 

The front speakers are none other than T50 floor-standing towers; the center channel speaker is the T30, while the T15 bookshelf speakers rule in the back. 

That's a total of 15 drivers – and a powered 10-inch subwoofer as the final piece of the puzzle! 

The system's compatible with most home theater receivers, so picking one shouldn't be too hard. 

The Performance

You'll have a total of 15 multi-directional speakers firing at you from every corner of the room. And to add to it, you have a 100-watt powered sub thundering from below, adding depth to the already immersive experience. 

If that doesn't say enough about what this 5.1 home theater system sounds like, I don't know what will. 

The speakers are built with Polk Audio's proprietary Dynamic Balance technology. 

To put it simply, you're in for wider dispersion, crystal-clear dialogue, soaring highs, wide-open mids, and room-filling theatre-quality sound – and minimal distortions. Moreover, it offers support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. 

Whether you're watching TV shows, action-packed movies, or listening to music, this T-Series home theater system can – and will – blow your mind.

Pros

  • 15 multi-directional drivers and a powered subwoofer
  • Upgradeable to 7.1 or 9.1 setups
  • Supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
  • Features Dynamic Balance technology

Cons

  • Receiver not included
Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
Our Rating: 90/100

My arduous search to find the best satellite speakers for home theaters led me right to Klipsch. 

As a well-known and firmly established brand, I was eager to investigate this model's specs and qualities. 

The Design

The speaker package features four identical satellite speakers equipped with a horn-loaded tweeter. 

To my pleasure, satellites themselves aren't flashy. They don't command attention but are easy to blend with their surroundings - regardless of your interior.

As always, Klipsch's squash orange highlights are a nice touch.

The only downfall of their design is the regression that Klipsch made when designing the wire plug. Namely, the entire hookup process is a tad more difficult, as they require a smaller gauge wire. 

The Performance

Atmos-compatible home theater systems are hard to pin down; however, Klipsch makes it seem easy with their Reference 5.1 home theater system. 

The trademark audio performance will have any new ear hooked in a matter of minutes. 

While the satellite speakers' size will have you working up numerous theories, their sound will blow you away.

Your ears will be blessed with all the power that a home theater line should have; the tonal imaging exceeded my expectations. 

On account of the built-in subwoofer amplifier, it does what it should do. While there are expected limits of the center channel speaker of this size, it still managed to deliver clear-cut sound with a lot of power.

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Modern, black design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Horn technology aluminum tweeters
  • Wi-Fi subwoofer

Cons

  • Wire plug design makes the installation process difficult
JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD Soundbar with Wireless Surround Speakers
Our Rating: 88/100

Movie lovers and home theater enthusiasts with a shortage of space, rejoice: 

JBL delivers wireless surround sound from a 5.1-channel soundbar! 

The Design 

It looks like a traditional soundbar but has two satellite speakers that connect to its ends using magnets. You can disconnect them if you have space and want to create a wireless 5.1 surround sound system. 

The subwoofer is wireless, too – at least in the sense that it connects to the soundbar wirelessly. 

Looks-wise, JBL opted to wrap the entire soundbar – satellite speakers included – in a perforated mesh.

The Performance

It's understandable to question a home theater system that falls somewhere between an actual surround sound system and a soundbar. 

JBL's 510-watt home theater system is powerful and optimized for the general TV-watching experience. It delivers clear dialogues, sharp trebles, and a solid balance between the highs and lows. 

However, due to the 35 Hz–20 kHz frequency range, it doesn't perform well with movies that pack lots of low-end. Also, beyond the three bass settings, there's not much else you can adjust. 

Still, you can get that satisfying room-rattling sound – and considering the price, JBL's 5.1 home theater soundbar is a tempting option.

Pros

  • Wireless subwoofer and detachable surround speakers
  • Bluetooth functionality
  • Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro Logic II
  • Three HDMI inputs

Cons

  • Not a true surround sound system
  • Lacks user-adjustable parameters
Best High-End 5.1 Home Theater System
Our Rating: 86/100

Bose has a reputation for designing high-quality sound systems, and Acoustimass 10 Series V is no exception. 

You'll have to make peace with the hefty price tag, though.

The Design 

Powerful sound in a compact package – that's the best way to describe this Bose system. 

The slim and compact profile of the redesigned Direct/Reflecting Series II speakers is a huge plus, as it lets you enjoy the surround sound without the speakers grabbing all the attention. Moreover, you can flush-mount them on the wall for an even sleeker, modern – and space-saving – effect. 

The proprietary cables make for a cable management nightmare, but overall, the installation's a breeze.

The Performance

The slim profile might not be confidence-inspiring, but Bose's angled drivers produce a gorgeous sound that fills large rooms with ease. 

It's Bose's top-performing Acoustimass system for a reason. 

The end output of this 5.1 system is fantastic. Crisp vocals, crystal-clear mids and highs, a sound that envelopes the room, and booming bass without audible distortions; it's one heck of an immersive audio experience. 

Plus, you have the option to tweak not only volume but the low-frequency effects to your liking, too. 

However, you won't get to experience it until you purchase a receiver – which only adds to the already high-end price tag.

Pros

  • Slim profile flush-mount speakers
  • Suitable for larger rooms
  • Adjustable volume and low-frequency effects
  • Wall mounts included

Cons

  • Uses proprietary wiring
  • Receiver not included
  • Pricey
Yamaha YHT-4950U 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Home Theater System
Our Rating: 84/100

Want a 5.1 home theater package bundled with an AV receiver at a mid-range price? 

Go with Yamaha YHT-4950U. 

The Design 

The Yamaha YHT-4950U is a home-theater-in-a-box solution. Five speakers, a subwoofer, an AV receiver, and speaker wire – all in one package. 

If you don't want to bother matching your speakers to a receiver, this is the way to go. 

The compact size and simple-but-elegant glossy finish won't "take over" your room; blending in, even in small spaces, is what they do. The speakers are equipped with 2.75-inch full-range cones, with an 8-inch driver in the sub. 

As for connection options, you'll find four HDMI ports on the receiver.

The Performance

Yamaha YHT-4950U gets bonus points for the super-easy to setup. Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO) does the heavy lifting, analyzing room acoustics, and adjusting the audio accordingly. 

You're also getting out-of-the-box support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision, as well as Bluetooth connectivity.

The system has a 28 Hz–25 kHz frequency range, delivering tight and crisp sound throughout – except in the lower registers. The bass is there, but depending on what you're watching, the 50-watt subwoofer is "adequate" at best. 

Still, if you're okay with entry-level surround sound, this system's overall performance and sound quality are more than satisfactory. Also, it adds more depth than you'd expect from such a compact setup. 

Pros

  • Complete home-theater-in-a-box system
  • Includes an AV receiver
  • Bluetooth functionality
  • Supports Dolby Vision
  • Features YPAO room optimization
  • Mid-range price

Cons

  • Not a wireless option
VIZIO SB4051-D5 SmartCast 5.1 Slim Sound Bar System
Our Rating: 84/100

VIZIO designed the SB4051-D5 home theater system with a soundbar as its centerpiece – but it's the VIZIO SmartCast app that's the star of the show.

The Design 

Encased in a simple mesh grille and oh-so-slim, VIZIO's speakers are modern-looking, with a minimalist design language. And since the system only features three physical speakers – two satellite speakers and a soundbar – and a subwoofer, it's incredibly space-efficient, too. 

It's refreshing to see a slim subwoofer that doesn't look like a large black box – especially a wireless one. 

Oh, and you'll be glad to know that the system uses an HDMI ARC connection.

The Performance

This system handles five audio channels surprisingly well – although it's not on par with more expensive speaker packages. 

Separation isn't as wide because the left, right, and center channel all sit in one unit. You're still getting a good sense of space, though. 

I also noticed that the two satellites tend to put a slight emphasis on the lower mids – but that's not a complaint. Everything blends in nicely with the low-end output of the subwoofer. 

The coolest part, however, is the compatibility with the VIZIO SmartCast app. 

Yes, the system comes with a remote – but the app turns your smartphone or tablet into a remote controller, allowing you to do so much more!

Pros

  • Slim and sleek design
  • Slender, uniquely-shaped wireless subwoofer
  • VIZIO SmartCast app compatibility
  • Bluetooth functionality
  • Supports Dolby and DTS

Cons

  • Front and center channel struggle with separation
Logitech Z906 Surround Sound System
Our Rating: 86/100

As a committed audiophile, I recognize the need for the perfect home theater speaker system. The Logitech Z906 is among the best speakers in the mid-price range.

If you're hungry for more info, read the complete review below.

The Design 

To nip it in the bud, the design of this home theater speaker system isn't why you should get it.

These dark grey, rugged-looking, chunky satellite speakers look like they belong in a man-cave or behind the doors of a PC tech's room. The design doesn't scream "living room." 

However, the build of this speaker system is entirely something else: 

The previously mentioned rugged enclosures are incredibly robust, and speakers are sturdy, especially the center channel speaker.

The Performance

Let's get over the sore spots now. This set lacks the HDMI inputs & Digital True HD/DTS X. This fact solely sets its overall position in this list a bit further down. 

Once that bump is out of sight, I want to point out the things I enjoyed: 

The attention to and the delivery of sound detail – even the slightest ones – is amazing. When it comes to dialogue clarity, I was impressed with the surprising thickness of high frequencies. And don’t get me started on the 1000-watt power rating. 

There is a slight yet noticeable difference that I picked out while testing it with music; the sound is good, but the entire set was clearly designed with movies and games in mind.

Pros

  • Immersive & clear sound experience
  • Great construction quality
  • Powerful bass and subwoofer
  • Exquisite front left and right speaker

Cons

  • No HDMI inputs or Digital True HD/DTS X
Onkyo HT-S3900 5.1-Channel Home Theater Receiver/Speaker
Our Rating: 85/100

Looking to have the cinema experience at the palm of your hand, but you're notoriously picky? 

Stick around to uncover the charms of the Onkyo HT-S3900, my budget-friendly option for the whole surround sound experience. It might win you over!

The Design 

The minimalist design topped off with a matte black finish is easy to blend in any environment, be the speakers' place in the background, or somewhere more noticeable. 

I noticed that the center speaker feels a bit plasticky, but I was ready to forgive it, considering the whole system's build quality.

Their solid, sturdy design oozes reliability, which is rarely found in budget options while much needed.  But Onkyo managed to pull it off.

The Performance

The controlled power philosophy that Onkyo is famous for is what makes this home theater sound system the best budget home theater option.

Onkyo's signature?

Dynamic audio reproduction delivers sound quality on par with some of the best surround sound setups. 

It truly brings out the authentic sound intended to be perceived by keen listeners. 

Another important aspect of this 5.1 home theater system is the addition of a receiver that promptly decodes Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound formats. That's a must for any Blu-ray player.  

The overall audio performance leaves me more than satisfied, considering that finding the perfect budget-friendly pick can take hours and hours of testing without any improvement at times.

Pros

  • Best fit for smaller spaces
  • Excellent audio performance for the money
  • Sturdily built floorstanding speakers
  • Bluetooth Wi-Fi connectivity

Cons

  • Subwoofer rumble is not the clearest
  • The manual lacks information
Enclave Audio CineHome HD 5.1 Wireless Home Theater System
Our Rating: 87/100

For my best wireless speakers, tune into my investigation of the Enclave Audio Cinehome. 

If you think that this 2016 system is outdated, you're in for a surprise. Quite the contrary!


The Design 

Aesthetically speaking, the Enclave Audio Cinehome design is rather standard and neutral, making them perfect for any living space that you want to enrich with superior sound.

What’s more, their compact design is ideal for any position you intend to put them into without hogging up too much space. The speakers can be mounted but work fine as tabletops, too. 

What I found quirky about the Enclave Audio Cinehome surround system is the rather odd positioning of functions. 

However, the lack of intuitive design shouldn't be a deal-breaker, considering what it brings to the table.

The Performance

If you are hunting for a quality upgrade to your home theater surround system, these provide a solid option for an upgrade.

The two full-range drivers and Dolby Digital & DTS combo are what managed to win me over when it came to this set. 

Did I mention it sports 3 HDMI inputs?

Tonally, the performance of this home theater system is exceptional. 

The sound is crisp and clear; rumbles are detailed and defined, and the bass gives it the extra oomph when needed. 

What ultimately vaulted the Enclave Audio Cinehome past the competition is the breezy Wi-Fi connectivity. The lack of wires is freeing, and the Wi-Fi connection itself is instant and perfect.

Pros

  • Crisp sound
  • No latency in the Wi-Fi connection
  • Near-instant pairing
  • Solid construction
  • Great audio quality

Cons

  • A bit pricey
Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ 5.1
Our Rating: 84/100

Last but not least, meet the Harman Kardon Home Theater package. 

It may not be the best home theater system if you're a fan of blasting out high volumes – but it's a great pick for an entry-level movie theater experience.

The Design 

Design-wise, all about this home theater system is convenient.

The smooth black plastic cabinets aren't too big, making them ideal for smaller setups and smaller rooms.

Oh, and can we address the fact that today's speaker market is burdened by overly complicated speakers that sacrifice user-friendliness?

I'm always glad when I stumble upon a speaker system with intuitive controls, such as this one.

Ultimately, the matte black finish lends it an air of sophistication.

The Performance

The basic notion that one gets from these speakers is that they will produce a clean yet crisp sound.

And I blame it on voice-matched two-way satellite speakers coupled with a 200-watt subwoofer. 

Now, I've seen some picks with more powerful subs that will have your room filled with bass. So, while bass lovers may not be satisfied, this one is more than satisfactory for a home theater speaker system.

That said, the left and right satellites and the center speaker don't skimp on the audio quality of the sound effects.  

The entire surround sound experience is immersive, as it delivers each ambiance spot.  And if that's not enough, this home theater system is easily upgradeable into 7.1 channels.

Pros

  • Intuitive
  • Compact
  • Excellent and entertaining surround sound
  • Dynamic range
  • Easy on your wallet

Cons

  • If powerful bass is what you seek, search elsewhere

How to Get the Best 5.1 Home Theater System for Your Living Room: Audiophile's Buying Guide  

best 5.1 home theatre systems buying guide

If there was one common theme I noticed among home theater enthusiasts, it's this:

Many tend to shell out top dollar on brand new TVs for their home theater – which is understandable – but are somehow perfectly happy with skimping out on speakers and sound quality. 

That last bit is what's so mind-boggling to me.

No, scratch that.

It's pure blasphemy. 

But you're here – which means you probably know better than to repeat the mistake that so many other home theater enthusiasts make. You get the importance of having the best 5.1 home theater system and its effect on the overall audio experience.

Now, the first step was seeing what the speaker systems market has to offer in 2021. The second – and that's where this guide comes in – is figuring out which 5.1 speaker package is right for you. 

The Art of Matching Speakers & Amps: Pay Attention to Wattage 

Okay, you might call me Captain Obvious for it, but I'll start with the basics. 

Any 5.1 home theater systems, regardless of the brand, quality, price point, or audio performance, will consist out of three things: 

A set of surround speakers – five, to be exact – and a subwoofer, and a receiver or amplifier that supplies them with power. 

And since your home theater system is obviously going to need electricity to deliver sound – or turn on, for that matter – the system's power ratings are going to be a crucial factor. 

The good news is that matching speakers and amplifiers shouldn't be too hard. Each system has its own set of requirements, and for the most part, it's about sending the right amount of power – continuous (RMS) and peak – out to the drivers. 

Unless you go with an amp with a lower RMS rating than what's required by the speakers or push them to the limit for extended periods, you should be fine. 

Frequency Ratings: How Wide Is the Range of Sound? 

You've seen the comparison table. You've read the 5.1 home theater system reviews. It's safe to assume that, by now, you understand that frequency range is a pretty big deal. 

Now, let's get one thing straight: 

Your ears generally won't be able to pick up on sounds outside the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range. Don't be swayed by the flashy speaker systems that can hit insane highs of up to 50 kHz; your ears won't care. 

However – and this is where things get tricky – a more extensive frequency response range will ensure noticeably better detailing, precision, and clarity throughout the range. 

So, no, your ears won't go beyond the limits of human hearing all of a sudden, but: 

The frequency range will be a tell-tale sign of audio performance and sound quality, indicating how high – and low – each system speaker can go. 

Dolby Atmos vs. DTS:X – The Battle of Surround Sound Codecs  

Older home theater systems were only capable of delivering two-dimensional sound. So, while you were technically surrounded by sound, it was limited to moving front to back and left to right. 

Dolby Atmos and DTS X object-based surround sound formats were the first to introduce the third dimension – height – to sound. Individual sounds moving through your listening space in 3D made the surround sound experience more true-to-life and immersive than ever. 

So, what's the difference between Dolby and DTS surround sound codecs, then? 

Dolby Atmos, the OG immersive audio technology, relies on overhead speakers to create the illusion of height in a 3D sound experience. DTS:X is considered the more user-friendly codec of the two, as it has no official requirements for the speakers' locations in the room. 

HDMI & Other Input Options Explained 

The next thing you should consider here is what you're connecting your speaker system to – and the connection ports featured on your TV or other audio devices. 

I'm probably stating the obvious here, but: 

A better sound experience is the whole reason why you're getting a 5.1 home theater system – and there's no way to achieve that if the connection types don't match. 

Your new set of speakers will likely feature multiple audio ports, be it a coaxial, component, or optical ones. Some may even feature easy-to-use, high-quality HDMI ports, which are pretty much the industry standard these days. 

Either way, you should check the connectivity options your TV and streaming devices – or even game console – have before choosing a speaker setup. 

Oh, and if you're going to limit yourself to a single connection type, let it be HDMI ARC: 

Not only is HDMI technology incredibly versatile, but it can transmit surround sound – and video signal – through a single HDMI cable without any noticeable quality losses, too. 

Yes, Room Size Matters 

Who knew you'd end up having to measure the square footage of your room when all you wanted was a new 5.1 speaker system, huh? 

All jokes aside, there's no need to whip out the measuring tape – although room size should be a factor in your purchase. 

If that sounds a bit contradictory, that's because there are no official rules or standards regarding matching your speaker system's audio performance to your room size. Most "guidelines" – or recommendations – will be a mix of experience, preference, and common sense, rather than actual measurements. 

There are some suggestions on getting the right 5.1 surround sound system for your space, whether we're talking large, open spaces, or small rooms: 

If you're setting up your home theater in a large room – meaning more than 250 square feet of space – there's no need to hold back on power or size. 

Small rooms of under 150 square feet can easily get overpowered by a larger speaker setup, though. Something compact and decently powered will be a better fit – and save you the unnecessary costs, too. 

Best Home Theater Systems – Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Which is the best 5.1 home theater system? 

A: Polk Audio gets my vote of confidence, my seal of approval – or whatever else you want to call it – as the best home theater system of 2021. 

However, it's not the only option worth considering.

If you want wireless connectivity, Enclave Audio CineHome HD is a safe bet. If you'd prefer a soundbar, go with JBL Bar. And if you'd like a home-theater-in-a-box system, choose Yamaha. 

It's about finding what works for you – and in that sense, any of the home theater systems you saw today could be the right fit.

Q: Which brand is best for a home theater system?

A: Many – and I mean MANY – brands out there delivered some of the best home theater systems available in 2021.

Moreover, many of these brands made it to my round-up, including Polk Audio, JBL, Klipsch, Bose, Logitech, and Yamaha. Unless it's your first time venturing into the speakers market, you probably recognize these brands as household names.

That list is far from complete, though. There are many more options to explore, some better known than others. Plus, we all have our preferences – and brand loyalty is something to be considered, too.

However, the brands mentioned above do stand out as some of the most reliable, well-known, and reputable when it comes to the best surround sound systems.

Q: What is the best budget home theater system?

A: The overall enhancement of your TV-watching experience – both in terms of general audio quality and surround sound effects – makes the best home theater systems a necessity in 2021. 

I mean, you should be able to get lost in immersive, high-quality audio even when you're watching your favorite movies at home.

Wouldn't that cost an arm and a leg, though? 

Well, no – quality doesn't necessarily mean expensive in this case. The year 2021 has brought us some great home theater setups that will blow your mind and deliver a complete cinematic experience – without blowing your budget along the way.  

Onkyo HT-S3900, Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ, Klipsch Reference Theater Pack – and my top pick, Polk Audio – have all stepped up, delivering exceptional sound at reasonable prices.

Q: What is the best affordable surround sound system?

A: Again, it's entirely possible to find some excellent systems in 2021 – if you're willing to do some digging. Luckily, I already did the heavy lifting for you and narrowed your options down to a few easy-on-the-wallet surround sound speakers worth considering. 

If you're tight on money but want the speakers that can turn regular TV-watching into an immersive cinema-like experience, Logitech Z906 is the best surround sound system for the job. 

It's a super-affordable solution for your TV, game console, or computer that delivers digital surround sound without breaking the bank.

After it's all said and done, we recommend:

best 5.1 home theatre system you can get - Polk Audio 5.1

After all the tests and comparison, this sub is, hands-down the best choice under 200 dollars. 

Polk Audio 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Powered Subwoofer

Why it is better?

  • Based on Polk Audio's T Series speakers 

  • 15 multi-directional drivers and a powered 10-inch subwoofer 

  • Engineered with proprietary Dynamic Balance technology 

  • Elevates movie-watching, music, or gaming audio experience with three-dimensional life-like sound 

  • Accurate bass with added depth 

  • Perfect for small and mid-sized rooms 

  • Can be upgraded to a 7.1 or 9.1 speakers system

  • Reasonably priced system

88/100
our score

Final Home Theater System Recommendations for 2021

I recommend the Polk Audio Home Theater System – but I'm not the one who'll be watching movies at your place. You are. 

So, take your pick. 

You might need to rearrange the furniture a bit. You might even have to save up some money to get it. Heck, you might have to move to a bigger house! 

It doesn't matter: 

The immersive at-home cinema experience brought to you by the best 5.1 home theater systems of 2021 will be worth it! 

Best 7.1 home theater systems of 2021

Best 7.1 home theater systems of 2021

If there is one thing we can all agree with, that would be that nothing beats a pleasant evening spent with friends and family enjoying your very own home theater system. Seriously, the opportunities for outdoor entertainment have become seriously limited and what we have at home is often the best we can get at all.

But, even if we put the restrictions we are currently facing aside, sitting there in the comfort of your home enjoying your favorite classics with all the perks of a genuine cinema experience is something worth investing your money into.

Of course, getting the best screen on the market makes only half of the experience we have described above. The other half lies in the sound. And if you want the real theater deal, you need as many surround speakers as you can get.

So, let's take a look at some of the best 7.1 home theater systems and see which one of them deserves to find a way into your home.

In a hurry? After 78 Hours of Research, We Recommend:

best subwoofer under 200 - Yamaha 10-inch powered subwoofer

After all the tests and comparison, this system is, hands-down the best choice. 

Why it is better?

  • Premium design
  • Excellent subwoofer and center speaker
  • Crisp and precise rear speakers
  • Immersive home theater surround experience
  • Good value for the money
  • Good compatibility
92/100
our score

sourses
50

RESEARCHED SOURCES

130

REVIEWS CONSIDERED

78

hours researching

30

products compared

Last Updated: September 1, 2021

By Barry Allen: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best 7.1 home theater systems of 2021 available for those who are interested in ramping the quality of their sound up. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best 7.1 home theater systems of 2021 currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.

best 7.1 home theater systems of 2021 – Comparison Table 

Product

Type

Power Ratings

Frequency  Range

Sound Driver

Input Options

Our Rating

Current Price

Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 Reference Premiere Surround Sound Speaker Package

Floorstanding

500W

35-25,000 Hz

Dolby Atmos

Wireless

92/100

Samsung Harman Kardon 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Samsung Harman Kardon 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Soundbar

510W

34-17,000 Hz

Dolby Atmos

HDMI

90/100

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Nakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Soundbar

800W

35-22,000 Hz

Dolby Atmos

Wireless, HDMI

89/100

Fluance Elite Series Surround Sound Home Theater 7.1 Channel Speaker System

Fluance Elite Series Surround Sound Home Theater 7.1 Channel Speaker System

Floorstanding

400W

80-20,000 Hz

DTS-X/Atmos

RCA

86/100

Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Soundbar

800W

35-22,000 Hz

DTS-X/Atmos

HDMI

86/100

Best 7.1 Home Theater Systems - Top 10 Individual reviews

Ok, this was the main info about the top 10 most popular 7.1 home theater systems currently sitting on the market. And you had an opportunity to take a brief look at the system I consider the best. The short overview should give you some general idea about why I chose this specific product.

But, these are only broad strokes.

You see, 7.1 home theater setups are very complex systems that can provide drastically different performance based on some small features that may go under your radar without closer examination. Throw into the other factors that have nothing to do with the speakers themselves (the size of the room, acoustics, etc.), and you will get a lot of money on the table that can go to waste if you are not very careful.

That is why I strongly suggest that you go through the 10 reviews I have compiled below. There, you will find much more info about each one of these systems and how I felt they behaved in real-life. Observing a home theater sound system through sheer specs will provide you with only a part of the big picture. I did my best to give you this personal part of the story as well.

Also, what works for me may not necessarily work for you as well.

When you read all reviews, you may find something better suited to your home, personal taste, or budget. When I finish, I will also give you a short buying guide that will help you to narrow down your picks even further. But, more on that when we go through all these awesome products.

For now, fasten your seatbelts. We are just about to go through the 10 best 7.1 home theater systems the money can currently buy.

1. Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 - THE BEST PACKAGE OVERALL - 

Our Rating: 92/100

When it comes to any kind of audio equipment, Klipsch is a name so familiar there you would be hard-pressed to find any kind of audiophile who isn't aware of this brand.

So, it is not that big of a surprise that this home theater speaker system came to the top of my list.

The Design

The first thing I would like to point out here is that this home theater sound system looks pretty awesome. The speaker package I got was painted all black and featured a pleasant matte surface that fits any kind of living room setting with ease and grace.

The copper domes that are here to break the monotony work like a charm and lend these speakers a heavy dose of style.

But, all the design choices made here are not only surface-level. For instance, the square horn tweeters located at the top of the front speakers and rear speakers (the so-called Tractrix horn tweeters) feature an increased efficiency and do a great job at increasing the dynamic range of these units.

Furthermore, the build quality is excellent, and HDMI inputs are easy to access, so all the best grades here.

The Performance

However, the area which makes this product the best home theater system in this market corner, of course, the performance. The sound quality on display here is truly top-notch, and the 7 1 system easily covers all the frequencies that can be heard by human ears (up to 1.5 kHz).

I am particularly impressed by the quality of the subwoofer that produces an incredibly satisfying, precise, and deep bass. The rest of the speakers work just as well and produce the very crisp sound necessary for a truly immersive surround sound experience.

Of course, there are some flaws here. Namely, although they look good, the speakers are quite heavy, which may pose some problems with the maintenance. The much bigger concern, however, is that most of the specs are not specified, so while reviewing this, I have to rely exclusively on personal experience.

Pros

  • High-quality 7.1 system
  • Excellent subwoofer and center speaker
  • Clever design choices
  • Compatible with all Blu Ray standards

Cons

  • Tad bit pricey
  • Unspecified specs
Our Rating: 90/100

Samsung is a brand with a stake in virtually all tech-related market corners. This may be a bit of a drawback since, as we all know, "Jack of all trades is a master of none."

Still, this punchy 7 1 system proves that the famous Korean manufacturer knows how to throw a punch in the niche markets.

The Design

The best way to describe the look of this neat 7 1 home theater system is streamlined. Seriously, if you are in favor of something that looks hi-tech but trendy but subdued, the simplistic black design of the speaker set will be right down your lane.

I can only add that the build quality is simply great. Most of the components are made from plastic, but nothing here feels cheap, which is something we came to expect from famous manufacturers like Samsung.

What you get in the end is the total sum of 17 drivers capable of delivering stellar 7.1.4 sound, and that is the most important for this story.

The Performance

Now, let's get to the more important topic, and that would be the performance. First and foremost, I have to mention that the speaker set is built according to Dolby Atmos standard so you do get the theater-like surround sound experience we all desperately crave these days.

The second perk of this 7 1 system leans heavily towards convenience. The speakers are Bluetooth compatible, so you will be able to stream the sound from whatever device you have at disposal.

When it comes to the overall audio experience, things are truly rock-solid. The setup offers a couple of different reproduction modes designed to boost dialogue, surround experience, or gaming soundstage. In all these cases, the system hits all the right frequencies and cells in the mid-range playing field.

The thing I would like to see in some of the future iterations is room correction. This way, all the settings are left to your own expertise.

Pros

  • Good surround sound experience
  • Good design and build quality
  • A lot of different sound settings
  • Dolby Atmos compatible

Cons

  • Low level of automation
  • Most of the drivers are in the soundbar
best 7.1 home theatre system of 2020 - HNakamichi Shockwafe Elite 7.2.4 - Affordable choice
Our Rating: 89/100

When you take a look at it, this surround sound system features a lot of similar building blocks as the home theater system coming from Samsung I have just covered above.

However, it is also apparent that the 7 1 system also comes at a much more affordable price.

Does this drop in price produce a noticeable drop in quality?

The Design 

When it comes to the design, it seems that this home theater system checks all the right boxes that are relevant in 2021. The speakers look streamlined, trendy, and unobtrusive, and as far as I am concerned, they are pretty style-agnostic, so they should fit every room in existence.

The build quality is solid. Although we are not talking about the best materials in existence, I can conclude that the speaker package meets all modern requirements.

Also, we are once again dealing with a surround system where most of the drivers are located in the central soundbar unit. The pleasant surprise is the inclusion of a dual wireless subwoofer that promises a strong performance in the deep bass sections.

The Performance

All these things amount to a performance that can be best described as clear, precise, and punchy. I am especially pleased with the sound quality when it comes to spoken dialogue. I never missed a single line spoken on TV, and neither will you.

The other thing I am very pleased with is the soundstage set by the high-quality central speaker located in the soundbar. As for the rear speakers, they create an enjoyable surround experience but don't offer anything new.

The areas where the price point of this affordable home theater speaker system becomes much more apparent are the advanced features (or lack thereof) and small performance quirks (e.g., sound drops) that are very noticeable in the long run.

But, for the most part, the sound system performed great.

Pros

  • Good price-value ratio
  • Solid build quality
  • Dual wireless subwoofer
  • Bunch of connectivity options

Cons

  • Absence of advanced features
  • Occasional bugs
Our Rating: 87/100

Fluance is a manufacturer with a pretty strong market presence, and the fact that they have managed to squeeze in not one but two packages competing for the title best 7 1 home theater system speaks enough about their solid rep.

So, how does this sound system compare to its sibling 7 1 system and the rest of the competitors we have on the list?

The Design 

I would start this review by saying that the Fluance Elite Series Surround Sound Home Theater System is sold in a couple of different varieties. I opted for this black and white setup because it simply looks stunning. 

All of the units in the package are made from high-quality MDF wood countered with great-looking black woofers and tweeters.

This contrast creates a compelling and clean visual impression ideal for modern setups like a monochromatic two-tone room.

Furthermore, all of the HDMI inputs are easy to access, all units (bookshelf speakers as well as a center speaker and front speakers) feature an excellent build quality. No complaints here.

The Performance

How does this speaker package hold up performance-wise? Well, I have to admit I am pretty impressed.

For a start, the tweeters we can find on the surround speakers can hit some very high frequencies while the subwoofer keeps the bass very close to the frequency of 20 Hz. The result is the excellent sound quality that easily reproduces everything that's happening on the screen.

These good things are accompanied by the so-called Dynamic Surround that produces very low distortion and creates one incredibly immersive and intense cinematic experience.

The only major drawback that crosses my mind is the consistency of this performance. The issue may be the result of the speaker system uses an unspecified driver, but I have noticed quality varying from one to the other Blu Ray to Blu Ray disc.

Pros

  • Reasonably affordable
  • Stellar design
  • Good frequency response range
  • Punchy 10-inch central subwoofer

Cons

  • Slightly inconsistent performance
Our Rating: 86/100

Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 is a speaker package that shares a lot of the DNA with its 7 1 home theater cousin called Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.2.4 800W.

As you can see from the very name, this home theater system, however, features slightly lower specs. How does this small drawback affect the overall quality of the sound system?

The Design 

In terms of the design, Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 doesn't offer anything we haven't already seen in its bit more expensive sibling. But, that doesn't have to be all that bad since, as you remember, I was very pleased with how that sound system looked and felt.

The design is simple, trendy, and streamlined, and I am especially pleased with the grill that can be found all over the soundbar central speaker. All the elements used here look like they are built to last.

As for connectivity, this is yet another 7 1 home theater system that implements the wireless subwoofer, which should put a smile on the face of people who own a smaller room.

The Performance

When it comes to the performance, I can only say that the 7 1 home theater system offers almost the identical experience as Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.2.4 speakers system. This applies both to good and bad things.

On a more positive note, the Dolby Atmos sound driver does make a huge quality difference and provides a precise and immersive cinematic experience. I am especially pleased with the mid-range performance that handles the spoken dialogue.

The drawback of this neat home theater speaker system is that this otherwise great performance is not all that consistent, so you will notice some bugs and sound drops.

What then is the difference between this and the previous home theater surround sound speaker system? Well, the setup is slightly underpowered and produces weaker bass. But that is something you can only notice in a smaller room.

Pros

  • Good price-value ratio
  • Solid design
  • Dolby Atmos-powered performance
  • Excels in mid-range

Cons

  • Occasional bugs and quirks
Our Rating: 86/100

And now that we had an opportunity to take a look at the second home theater speaker system coming from Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.2.4, it is time to once again check what's cooking in the Fluance kitchen.

This time, I am going to cover the famous Signature series. Let's see where this powerhouse ultimately stands.

The Design 

It doesn't make more than a passing look at this ginormous home theater surround sound speaker system to see we are talking about one premium package you wouldn't have a problem showcasing in any room, regardless of the size and style.

All of the components and drivers feel classy, well put-together, and timeless, so as far as the design goes, I can even say we are probably talking about the best home theater system in 2021.

I am particularly happy with how silver and copper tweeters break the monotony of massive wooden-clad cabinets and provide them with a breath of life.

The Performance

Well, I would like to say that this home theater speaker set represents the same incremental improvement in surrounding sound quality over its predecessor. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Namely, although most of the components that are built into the system are unspecified, I tested this speaker system back to back with the Elite series, and the results were virtually the same.

On the one hand, that is perfectly fine since the Elite Surround sound speaker system offers very good sound quality as a whole. The frequency response range is, once again, excellent, and the sound reproduction is precise across the board.

As a matter of fact, I was able to notice the slight improvement in the case of left and right surround speakers which had its effect on the sound detailing. The 12-inch subwoofer cuts deep and potent bass with ease and grace.

Unfortunately, all these good things somewhat fall apart if you throw in a wrong Blu Ray into the player. At this price point, that is not something I am so ready to bear with.

Pros

  • Good frequency response range
  • Punchy subwoofer
  • Good overall performance
  • Stunning design

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Some compatibility issues
Our Rating: 86/100

And since all good things on this list come in pair, I decided to throw in yet another Klipsch home theater surround sound speaker system for good measure.

Don't be overly judgmental, this is arguably the best 7 1 home theater system in this range in 2021. The problem is that its price is not exactly aimed at an average consumer.

The Design 

When it comes to design, Klipsch rarely makes mistakes, and these surround speakers are no exception. All the design elements the manufacturer is famous for are here - the black wooden cabinets, copper woofer domes, simple yet effective lines. This package is a true beauty to look at.

However, the product does take a slight dip in the area of connectivity. Namely, the connectors are very unreliable, and the speaker system doesn't support third-party cables.

So, you need to be very, very careful when setting up the system.

The Performance

This problem is very uncommon for a speaker system that costs so much, but I promise, things only get better from this point on.

For instance, once again, we see the return of the fabled Hybrid Tractrix Horn Technology that enhances the sound and keeps reverb at the lowest possible level. The result is a full and precise sound that resonates across the room and easily translates the current motion of the movie.

This time, the cerametallic driver is a Sintered Fe-Cu material that makes the speakers somewhat heavy but ramps up the audio in lower frequencies and makes it clear and audible. When it comes to the central subwoofer unit, I have nothing but praises. The unit shakes the roof even when you put it in a bigger room.

As I already mentioned, when it comes to details like this, this is probably the best 7 1 home speaker system in 2021.

Pros

  • Stellar design
  • Truly excellent surround sound quality
  • The subwoofer works like a charm
  • Hybrid Tractrix Horn Technology

Cons

  • Poor connectivity
  • Very expensive

Our Rating: 80/100

And now, after a couple of surround sound speaker sets that used pretty much same the same DNA (soundbar or not), it is finally time for something completely different.

Namely, this time we are dealing with the high definition in-ceiling setup that uses the best 7 1 home theater multi-channel technology.

The Design 

In-ceiling 7.1 home theater speakers are inherently unobtrusive. After all, in order to set up your system, you need to mount them directly into the walls where they are supposed to disappear. So, it should not be that big of a surprise that these speakers are not quite the lookers.

And that is perfectly fine. What I was far more concerned with was the overall build quality of these bad boys which holds up pretty well. All the materials used for production are solid (love the leather-like dust cover), and they are put together just as fine.

I could live with better insulation, though.

Overall, nothing special but not bad either.

The Performance

Reviewing these types of sets is very hard since, in the absence of separation in the form of the center speaker and left and right surround speakers, you are missing out on a lot of home theater experience. Also, I couldn't exactly tear down the room to test the speakers, so I had to emulate the enclosure.

Be that as it may, when I finally got speakers to work, I was very pleasantly surprised by how they behaved.

The sound was crips accurate and precise all across the frequency spectrum. The only exception were the lowest frequencies, where sound felt a bit flat and muffled.

Of course, a central subwoofer would elevate the performance even further, but that is something you can set up on your own with a bit of technical prowess.

Pros

  • Reasonably affordable
  • Solid build quality
  • Good all-around performance
  • Precise sound reproduction

Cons

  • Muffled low frequencies
Our Rating: 80/100

And we are finally setting our foot firmly into the realm of acoustic audio speakers. But, don't let this small notion deceive you.

This home theater system offers the performance that can stand toe-to-toe with some far bigger and more expensive speakers in higher price ranges.

The Design 

I would start the review by saying that these speakers actually look quite nice for what they are supposed to be. Sure, they need to blend into the walls without too much hassle, but the manufacturer did found a way to make the speakers subtly pop up with their gold dust covers.

Overall, the visual impression is clean and functional. The build quality doesn't lag behind. The speakers feel robust and ready to withstand years of abuse before breaking.

However, if I tried to mount these acoustic audio speakers into the wall, I would probably be very frustrated by the different dimensions of speaker pairs that would make installation needlessly hard. 

The Performance

Now let's move on to the performance. Here, the speakers definitely raise above the expectations. The benefit of the dual woven bulletproof woofers can be heard from a mile. They deliver a truly devastating blow in the lower end and make the movie-watching experience all the more gratifying.

The rest of the drivers also deliver a pretty competent performance but don't really push the envelope in any direction. What you should know is that most of the frequencies that can be heard in a regular movie are covered and that the overall experience is very immersive.

Also, the speakers do quite a lot of a good job at the frequency separation, so you will get a genuine surround effect.

Pros

  • Good design
  • Quality materials
  • Good bass performance
  • Solid surround effect

Cons

  • Awful fitting
Our Rating: 77/100

And for the very end, we have yet another contender coming from the family of acoustic audio speakers. By, now you know what you can expect from this type of product.

Let's see how this home theater speaker system fares against its direct acoustic competitors.

The Design 

The design of these speakers may not be overly inspiring, but it's definitely functional. It is obvious at first glance that the home theater speaker system was made to serve a utility purpose and keeping that in mind, I can say that the requirements are fulfilled.

The sturdy plastic feels reasonably robust, and from the design of the wall-locking mechanism, I can only assume they are relatively easy to install. Low profile housing makes this story even better. You won't have to dig enormous holes to make these speakers work.

However, the cables you get in the package are very short, which can prove to be a huge problem.

The Performance

And now let's mention the performance. Here the things feel very solid but not exactly stellar. Namely, the speakers are able to reproduce a whole range of movie-friendly frequencies with precision and clarity. The bass was able to go as deep as 30 Hz, which is pretty good for this type of product.

However, the sound from the speakers sounded somewhat muted, which I contributed to the lack of proper enclosure. But, just to be sure, I tried enclosing the speakers and even went through my Blu Ray collection. And with every Blu Ray, the problem remained the same.

So, expect to get good quality but somewhat muffled sound.

Pros

  • Good build quality
  • Precise sound
  • Affordable price
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • The sound can appear muffled at times

A Couple of Things to Check Before Buying a 7.1 Home Theater System

And now that we've gone through all 10 products competing for the title of the best surround sound system currently available in the stores let us quickly break down some of the most important considerations you will need to go through to find the best match for you.

As I mentioned in one of the previous sections, different people have their own specific needs. Learning more about home theater systems will definitely help you to find your ideal pick.

So, without further ado, let's see what we have on the table this time.

Room size

Yeah, the size of your room doesn't really have anything to do with surround systems, but it will have a huge impact on your ultimate purchase decision. How, you might ask?

Well, let us start with the dimensions. Smaller rooms naturally have less available square footage, so you will need to pick the satellite speakers that can successfully fit in this tight space. The other option is to mount the speakers on the walls, but in that case, don't forget to add a couple of dollars more to the overall price of the package.

The second thing where the size of the room factors in the story is the necessary volume of the speakers. If your home theater falls on the smaller side, you should aim for precise reproduction rather than loudness.

Speaker placement

In this case, the rule you should abide by is "the more, the merrier." These 7 1 home theater packages come in different types of setups. Not all of them include all types of speakers necessary for the ultimate cinema experience.

Ideally, your package should center, rear, and subwoofer. This way, the sound that reaches you will get an added amount of bass, and all corners of the rooms will be filled with clear music and crisp audio.

Audio performance

The point of every surround sound setup is to deliver... Well, the crisp and accurate sound. But, since we are dealing with systems that include several units, all of them coming with different specs, speaking about some universal features that determine sound quality is very hard.

Instead, I am going to use this opportunity to cover some of the terms I have used in the previous reviews.

  • Frequency response range - This term describes the range of sound frequencies the speakers can hit. Ideally, your system should be able to cover anything between 20 Hz (subwoofer) to 20 kHz (bookshelf speakers and other units).
  • Sensitivity - This term indicates the speakers' ability to convert electrical signals to sound output. In this case, better sensitivity translates to louder sounds. It is measured in decibels (dB) and usually sits in the range between 80 and 110.

The modern speakers also include features like power handling and impedance, which are important for using amps and building your own speaker system. But, since you are buying an entire 7 1 system, this time, they are not as relevant, so I'm going to skip them.

External and internal connectivity

By external connectivity, I mean the ability of your speakers to connect to different home theater devices, primarily the screens. Keeping that in mind, unless you have a really, really old TV, HDMI will be your connectivity channel of choice. So, choose the packages that include this type of ports and preferably HDMI connection cables.

But, even the good old HDMI is slowly losing ground in comparison to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that are, admittedly, much more convenient options and don't create the labyrinth of cables around the living room.

But, wireless streaming has one drawback. Namely, the connection is nowhere near as reliable as the one you get with cables. So, you can expect some lost audio bits and drops in quality from time to time.

In my opinion, your ideal surround sound system should offer both these options so you can use them at your own discretion.

Dolby ATMOS vs. Auro3D vs. DTS:X

The names above represent the three biggest and most famous surround sound brands in the world. The way they factor in the story about your future 7 1 home theater system is that the manufacturer of the speakers will most likely use the software (sound codecs) produced by one of these three companies.

To make things a bit clearer, sound codecs process the digital information by using special algorithms and produce life-like acoustic audio that comes out of the speakers.

Dolby ATMOS is by far the most widespread out of the three and features the best third-party support. Currently, the DA standard is used by companies like HBO, Sony, Fox, and a growing number of games like Star Wars Battlefront. The audio is great, but it requires a very specific layout of the speakers.

DTS:X standard is often used in theaters all around the world. The main thing that sets it apart from 3D sound formats is the immersive format that doesn't require any specific speaker layout.

Auro-3D is the latest entrant in this race that unfortunately still features the smallest market share and scarcest third-party support. The setup also requires the use of overhead speakers that can be a bit convoluted. But, the sound quality is really top-notch.

Design and build quality

Last but not least, I would like to point to the design and build quality of the speakers for your home theater system. Why I put them on the last spot?

Well, they don't really have an impact on the performance of the speakers, which is, in my honest opinion, the first thing you should focus on when buying a speaker system. But, that doesn't mean they are not important.

Since you are buying building your very own home theater 7 1 system, I might just assume you won't watch all those movies alone, so the speakers should look reasonably good and fit whatever style you were going for in your living room.

As for build quality, the things should be pretty clear here. Much like all other things spread around your room, your future subwoofer, front speakers, and surround speakers will get knocked down more than a couple of times. It is in your best interest they can survive all those small bumps.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best 7 1 Home Theater Systems

Q: What is the best 7.1 home theater system?

A: In my honest opinion, the best 7.1 home theater system you can get in 2021 has to be Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 Reference Premiere Surround Sound Speaker Package. The package simply checks all the right boxes. The subwoofer and the center speaker both produce incredibly crisp and loud performance while surround speakers create immerse movie-watching experience. Sure, I would like to have Wi-Fi connectivity, but this is only a small takeaway.

Q: What is better - 5.1 or 7.1 surround system?

A: Here, the answer is quite simple - 7.1 surround sound system takes the easy win. Let's quickly break this down together. The main reason you are buying more speakers beyond your basic 3.1 setups is to create an immersive experience where, depending on what's happening on the screen, different speakers will blast different sounds and frequencies. As I will explore in greater depth further down below, 5.1 speakers do an admirable job in this regard.

But seven surround speakers always beat the five of them, so there's that. And believe me, although two speakers may sound menial, they do create a huge real-life difference, especially in bigger rooms.

Q: Which brand is best for a home theater system?

The opinions about this one are split, to say the least, but I can wholeheartedly say that the top three brands are Klipsch, Fluance, and Nakamichi. I would still give Klipsch a slight advantage over the other two names since it represents the best 7 1 premium and refined option in 2021.

Q: Does 7.1 surround sound make a difference?

A: The short answer is - yes. This comes especially true when we compare this type of home theater system to lower-tier setups that are able to provide only the basic sound reproduction experience without creating the so-called "surround" experience.

What am I exactly talking about? Well, you know when you go to the cinema, watch some action blockbuster, someone sits in the car and starts roaring across the road, and you get an impression that the sound is traveling across the hall?

That is because the sound is actually traveling across the hall, or to be more precise, the illusion of motion is created by blasting the sound from some extensive speaker set. Well, the 7.1 home theater surround sound systems in 2021 are designed to bring that immersive experiences into your living room, and yes, they do make a huge difference.

Q: Is 5.1 surround good enough?

A: This really depends on your budget, personal requirement, and the size of your room. To be quite honest, 5.1 home theater speakers are able to offer a pretty high-quality surround sound performance in smaller rooms. If you ask some of the owners how they feel about them, they will have nothing but praises.

But, when we move the story to larger venues, you will quickly be able to see that you are missing out on a lot of experience with these two speakers. I guess it's like screen size. Your smaller screen may work fine, but as soon as you move on to something bigger, there is no way you will be able to go back.

And then there is the matter of standards in 2021. For instance, technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS were designed specifically to work with 7 1 home theater systems.

Q: Is there anything better than 7.1 surround sound?

A: This one is open for discussion but let's say - yes. The surround sound system I am talking about is called 9.2 and, as the name suggests, features two subwoofers and as much as 9 surround speakers. So, naturally, they must be better than 7 1 home theater systems, right?

Well, the difference is noticeable only when you move the story to the rooms when this difference can actually be noticed. The thing is, most of the living rooms in 2021 don't offer nearly enough space for a 9.1 home theater system to spread its wings and showcase the true power.

Q: Is wired surround sound better than wireless?

A: Different people have different opinions about this issue. One thing's for sure - a wireless speaker system will always be far more convenient than the wired-ones. No cables mean fewer things for you to worry about, believe me, with so much front and rear speakers in the mix, things can become really messy.

On the other hand, the sound quality of wireless speakers may not be as good as the one coming from wired speakers. This difference is especially noticeable in the lower price segments.

And then, there are the wi-fi outages. As every earbud owner knows, wi-fi speakers tend to drop signal from time to time. The chances of this happening become lower as you climb the price ladder, but they are still there.

After it's all said and done, we recommend:

best 7.1 home theatre speakers of 2020 - Klipsch RP-250

After all the tests and comparison, this system is, hands-down the best choice.

Klipsch 7.1 RP-250 Reference Premiere Surround Sound Speaker Package

Why it is better?

  • Premium design
  • Excellent subwoofer and center speaker
  • Crisp and precise rear speakers
  • Immersive home theater surround experience
  • Good value for the money
  • Good compatibility
92/100
our score

In the end...

I hope this short overview of the 10 best 7 1 home theater systems gave you some general idea about who's who in this interesting audio equipment market corner. Creating your own home theater can be an incredibly fulfilling experience. 


But, if you ever want to enjoy your flicks on the big screen, you need the appropriately booming sound to complete the experience. The contemporary 7.1 speaker systems are a good place to start the search. 

Best Satellite Speakers – Full-Bodied Sound Experience

best satellite speakers for your home

All audiophiles are looking for a speaker that will enable them to explore the maximum possibilities of the surround sound system. And there's hardly a better unit for that purpose than a satellite speaker.

I'd be hard-pressed to name a better duo than a subwoofer for the bass sound and a satellite speaker for mediums and highs.

They both don't take up much room and yet add so much to your audio needs.

From home theater speakers for a near-cinematic home entertainment experience to your high-fidelity desktop speaker, there's a pick for everyone in the category of satellite speakers.

If you want to invest in the best satellite speakers for your home, dive into the reviews!