TVs may have built-in speakers, but getting a home theater system can seriously improve the quality of those family movie nights. Not only will the sound be louder, but it will sound much better with a lot more emphasis on the lower-end of that audio. The multiple speakers in the room will make whatever you're watching feel much more immersive, too.
Thankfully, while there was once a time when buying a home theater system meant spending thousands of dollars, these days you can get a decent system for only a few hundred bucks. Still, if you've decided you want to invest in a home theater system, you'll want to consider a number of different things.
For starters, you'll want to decide whether or not you're looking for an all-in-one home theater system, called a Home-Theater-In-A-Box (HTIB), or if you want to buy the speakers and the receiver separately. That's what audiophiles sometimes do to make sure they get the best quality for each aspect of the system. For this article, we're only talking about HTIB systems, because it gets a little more complicated when we're considering separate speakers, receivers, and other components.
Next up, you'll want to think about the inputs and outputs on the receiver. If you're buying a HTIB, it'll offer all the outputs to the speakers that you'll need for that system, but inputs may be a different story. You might, for example, have multiple HDMI-enabled devices you'll want to use, or you might want to use analog inputs.
Thirdly, you'll want to think about how the different components of the system speak to each other. The cheaper systems will likely use cables, and you'll want to manage those cables around the room. Some systems, however, stick to wireless solutions, so you won't have to worry about cable management. Some systems also allow you to wirelessly connect from your phone, so you'll be able to do things like play music from your phone on your home theater system.
Whether you're looking for a basic cabled home theater system, or a full wireless speaker system with all the bells and whistles, this list should have the right system for you.
Here are the best home theater systems:
Updated on 10/24/2019 by Christian de Looper: Added two new home theater systems, updated prices, and improved formatting.