It's time to convert your living room into a mini theater. You can experience the magic of surround sound and Dolby Atmos right at your home with proper speaker placement and crystal clear sound quality. Wanna know how to do it? Scroll down and read our buying guide to learn about the various factors to consider while buying a home theater.
Following the buying guide, there is a top 10 section where you can find recommendations to the ten best home theaters available to buy online. Choose from a wide variety of models from home appliance giants like Sony, Samsung, Yamaha, and JBL to transform your TV viewing experience.
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Buying a home theater shouldn't be on a whim. Even if you opt for the most expensive one in the market, you may not get the experience you want if certain factors like speaker placement, type, and room size aren't taken into consideration. Keep reading to know more.
In 7.1, "7" refers to the number of speakers, while "1" refers to the subwoofer. You may even come across a 7.1.2 surround sound system. The extra "2" refers to the overhead speakers or up-firing speakers providing Dolby Atmos surround sound.
This is the technology that gives the effect of jets flying over our heads in movies. The more speakers you have, the better the surround sound effect. An example of a typical 7.1 setup is center, front left, front right, left, right, rear left, and rear right. If you don't want rear left and rear right, you can move them overhead for the Dolby Atmos effect.
Consider the estimated room sizes in feet below. These are approximate values.
Home theater systems specify the combined wattage of all speakers. For small to medium-size rooms, 400 to 600 W speakers would be adequate; large rooms may need more than that. You can use a 400 W speaker system in a large room—you only need to turn the volume knob more for more loudness, making them play at higher powers, which will damage them in the long run.
You have three options to experience surround sound—soundbar, conventional speaker setup, and a combination of both. Let's look at the benefits of each of them.
But soundbars make Dolby Atmos possible without the need to install height channels or ceiling speakers. Sony's 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos soundbar is one such product. They have up-firing speakers that reflect sound off the ceiling to add height to the audio.
There are combinations of soundbars and surround sound speakers as well. In such products, the soundbar will have the subwoofer, center, front left, and front right speakers, and the left and right speakers will be separate for you to place on both sides of your listening position.
Conventional setup involves placing separate speakers in specific positions for experiencing surround sound. You may already know how to set up a 5.1 system from the sections above. But there is an exception for the left and right speakers in that setup.
Some people use them as rear left and rear right, which is a personal preference and not wrong. If you buy a 7.1 system, you will have three speakers in the front, two on the sides, and two behind you. A 9.1 setup will allow you to add two height speakers for experiencing Dolby Atmos.
A conventional speaker setup provides a more immersive experience compared to a soundbar. Make sure to place the speakers at ear level or a little above for optimum quality.
There are multiple ways of relaying audio from your TV, Bluray player, or AV receiver. You may use analog cables (red and white or red and black), HDMI, or optical cables, with the latter two being the advanced ones.
Most modern surround sound systems will have HDMI or optical connectivity, or both. These can relay high-quality audio compared to analog cables. Both HDMI and optical can pass high-resolution audio formats like Dolby Digital. But only HDMI can pass higher-resolution formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio.
Don't worry, the difference between them is so subtle that you may not even notice them. If your large screen TV only has HDMI, make sure the home theater system or soundbar you buy also supports HDMI connectivity.
Three different types of speakers are satellite, bookshelf, and floor-standing. Satellite speakers are small and best suited for living rooms. You can place them on your TV unit and on a platform fixed to the wall to experience surround sound.
Bookshelf and floor-standing speakers suit your living room too, but if you have a theater room in your house, these are better options. If you don't want to drill holes on the wall for fixing satellite speakers, go for floor-standing ones.
Since they are tall, the audio is played at ear level, giving you maximum surround sound quality. Speakers can also add to the aesthetics of your living room. If you want to give your living room or theater room a premium look, try to go for a bookshelf or floor-standing speakers.
As we have mentioned, a home theater system will only become complete if it has a device that handles the video aspect. An AV receiver is a device to which you have to connect everything that sends audio and video signals like cable TV, Chromecast, and Bluray player. The device will then sort the signals and pass the video signals to your TV or projector and audio signals to the respective channels.
You can buy AV receivers with Dolby Atmos that support as many as 13 speakers and two subwoofers (13.2 surround sound). If you plan to build a dedicated home theater room, choose an AV receiver that supports the number of speakers you want and can pass video formats like 4K, 4K Bluray, and 3D.
Some Bluray players in the market have the capability to upscale the video. If you have a full HD video, it can upscale it to 4K or even 3D.
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Blu-Ray Home Theatre System
Supports 3D Video Playback and Upscaling
Ultra HD 5.1 channel Home Theater System
AV Receiver Supports 4K HDR Video Transmission
Dolby Atmos Soundbar
Upfiring Speakers Produce Dolby Atmos Surround Sound
5.1 Channel Soundbar
With Detachable Battery Powered Speakers
Dolby Digital Tall boy Soundbar
Play Music Easily Through NFC-Enabled or Bluetooth Devices
5.1ch Home Cinema System
Color Coded Wires Allow Setting up the System in Seconds
Small Satellite Speakers Take up Very Less Space
5.1 Channel Sound bar
Supports Connection to TV via Bluetooth
5.1 Channel Blu-ray Home Theatre
Improved Sound Quality Using Crystal Amp Pro Technology
Home Cinema Soundbar System
Play Music Through the Soundbar Directly via Bluetooth
Sony BDV-N9200 is a 5.1 home theater system with a Bluray player that supports 3D video playback and upscaling of 2D videos to 3D. It can play 4K videos and allow 4K video signals to pass through without loss in quality and play on your TV.
The 1200W speaker system can produce powerful sound without muddiness in large rooms, and the magnetic fluid speakers with S-Master HX amplifier can convert the audio signals to provide High-Resolution audio playback. With built-in Wi-Fi, you can easily connect your smartphone, laptop or directly connect to the internet to play movies online and watch YouTube clips.
Using the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, you only have to place your NFC-enabled device near the system for it to play the music, eliminating the need for cables or a Bluetooth connection.
Yamaha YHT-3072 comes with an AV receiver that supports 4K HDR and 3D video passthrough. You can play them through your Bluray or media player, and the AV receiver would relay the signals to your TV or projector with no loss in quality. Its DSP technology supports playback of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio codecs for playing studio-quality sounds in your living room.
The YHT-3072's YPAO (Yamaha Parametric room Acoustic Optimizer) feature calibrates itself to produce the best sound for your room. You just have to place the supplied microphone at your desired listening position. This feature is beneficial if you decide to move the home theater to a different room,
This 5.1 setup is capable of producing powerful sounds in medium to large rooms. If you have a carpeted floor and shuttered windows, you can reduce sound reflection to avoid sound muddiness that could happen in large rooms.
This is the most expensive product on this list. The Sony HT-ST5000 is a 7.1.2 channel soundbar and subwoofer that simulates surround sound audio. Enabled with Dolby Atmos, it has two upfiring speakers that bounce sound off the ceiling to add height to the audio. Its unique technology simulates 360-degree sound without the need for placing speakers all around you.
It also allows 4K HDR video passthrough, a feature normally seen in AV receivers, thus reducing the need for more wires. With built-in Chromecast and Wi-Fi, the soundbar will directly connect to the internet to play your favorite music.
With 800W of power and S-Force PRO Front surround sound technology, the soundbar is capable of delivering quality audio even if your room is not set up for a surround sound experience.
The JBL 5.1 channel soundbar is capable of producing 510W of power suitable for small to medium-size rooms. It has two battery-powered detachable speakers with 10 hours of playtime. You can place them on both sides of your listening position for a true surround sound experience.
You can connect your Bluray player, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV Stick directly to the soundbar and play 4K videos, as it supports 4K video passthrough. This product suits you if your room doesn't have space or electrical connections for a conventional surround sound setup.
JBL is known for its thumping bass, and the 10-inch subwoofer can be wirelessly connected to the soundbar for enjoying rich and thrilling bass.
Sony HT-RT40 is a home theater system with a 3-channel soundbar, two surround speakers, and a subwoofer. The floor-standing surround speakers can be placed on your sides or towards the rear for experiencing perfect positional audio.
You can connect the soundbar to your TV using a single HDMI cable or connect your Bluray or DV player using the optical connectivity option, thus reducing the need for messy wires. It also supports Bluetooth and NFC for playing music without wires.
Customers who bought this product are impressed with the superior sound quality it delivers. They found the initial set up to be easy, and many customers have been using it for over two years without any issues.
Sony HT-RT3 was awarded as "Best Design" at India Design Mark 2017. The 5.1 channel surround sound system produces cinematic sound using the S-Master digital amp, a technology that allows producing dynamic sound through small speakers.
The bookshelf speakers take up less space, so you can place them near your listening position or place them on a platform on the wall. You may place it on the sides or towards the rear for a surround sound experience. You can play music just by placing your NFC-enabled smartphone on the subwoofer and starting the music.
Elac Cinema 5 is a 460W surround sound speaker system suitable for small to medium-size rooms. It has five satellite speakers and an 8" subwoofer for producing cinematic sound in a smaller space. The compact design allows speaker placement in small spaces such as bookshelves, desks, mantelpieces, etc.
The system uses analog cables to connect to your TV, so you cannot experience Dolby Digital technology. Make sure that your TV allows 5.1 surround sound passthrough or add an AV receiver that supports it.
Customer reviews show that the speakers and subwoofer produce crisp sound and bass. The small satellite speakers blend well with the living room setup, and listeners have no idea where the sound is coming from.
Samsung HW-T670 suits well for small to medium-size rooms. You have the option to connect the system to your TV using an HDMI cable or wirelessly using Bluetooth. It also offers Bluetooth multi-connection that enables two different mobile devices to be connected at once.
The center, front left, and front right speakers are built into the soundbar, while the surround speakers can be connected wirelessly or using the color-coded wires that come with it. The 6.5" subwoofers will fill your entire room with thumping bass, and the system supports audio codecs like Dolby 5.1 and DTS Digital Sound.
The HT-J5100 is an affordable 5.1 home theater system from Samsung. It comes with three front speakers, two surround speakers, a subwoofer, and a Bluray Player. Using the Crystal Amp Pro technology, the system produces movie theater-like sound quality right in your living room. The 1000 W speakers are capable of delivering quality sound even in large rooms.
This product also supports advanced audio codecs like Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS-HD Master Audio. All speakers are separate and can be placed conveniently in your preferred positions. Some special features that come with this system are CD ripping, FM recording to USB, and CD recording to USB.
Sony HT-S20R has a soundbar and two surround speakers with a subwoofer. It produces 400W of power, fit for small rooms. The soundbar and satellite speakers take up less space but deliver 5.1 channel cinematic sound quality. You can connect the system to your TV using HDMI, optical or analog options.
The connectivity options are simple, allowing quick set up and music playback through USB or Bluetooth. Customer reviews show that the product delivers exceptional audio and rich bass.
Now that you have selected your desired home theater, it's time to decide the viewing experience you want. Our articles about the top ten best smart TVs and home projectors in India will help you with just that. What if you are watching a movie or playing video games while other family members are in the room?
You don't want to disturb them nor put headphones on as you won't be able to hear if they say anything. A wearable speaker is a convenient solution for that. Click on the links below to learn more about these electronics and buy from our Top 10 recommendations too.
When buying a home theater, make sure that it is adequate for your room size and setup. Reflective surfaces like tiled floors and glass windows may make the sound seem muddy. So, if you have a large living room or a dedicated home theater room, try to carpet the floors and shutter the glass windows.
If you want to design your room in advance for optimum sound quality, try to make it rectangular. The TV or projector should be placed on the wall with the least length. You can place the surround speakers on the sides or the rear, depending on the number of channels you have.
Author - Arun F Xaviour
No. 1: Sony | Blu-Ray Home Theatre System | BDV-N9200
No. 2: Yamaha | Ultra HD 5.1 channel Home Theater System | YHT-3072
No. 3: Sony | Dolby Atmos Soundbar | HT-ST5000
No. 4: JBL | 5.1 Channel Soundbar | JBLBAR51BLKEP
No. 5: Sony | Dolby Digital Tall boy Soundbar | HT-RT40
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