Best Budget Home Theater 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews
So you want to build a home theatre at a low price. Well, you’re in luck because, In this article, we go through the best sound surround systems for your budget.
The beauty of home theatre systems is that there is an array of options at varying budgets so buckle up and prepare to learn about the speakers which best suits your needs.
Top 10 Best Budget Home Theater Systems Under $500
1. VIZIO Premium Home Theater Sound System
Kicking things off we have the Vizio Premium Home Theatre sound system, coming in at $459, some could argue on the expensive side of budget sound systems however, after diving deeper into the reviews you’ll see how the speaker justifies its price.
A stylish, detailed and expressive home cinema speaker package, impressive dynamics and speaker design these speakers provide a unique audio experience. Ideal for mounting underneath a TV or even on a bookshelf these speakers provide versatility and performance.
If you’re looking for a home theater on a budget, then this is by far the best surround system available for less than $500.
2. Polk Audio T50 150 Watt Home Theater Floor Standing Tower Speaker
Next up are some “Seriously Big Boy Tower Speakers” in Polk Audio’s floor standing speakers. If you’re after one of the best theatre experiences, at an affordable price, these things will provide everything and more.
This option kills two birds with one stone as not only are the speakers excellent quality, up there with the premium range according to the reviews, but they also provide a unique home theatre aesthetic too. Comprised of 1″ Tweeter, a 6.5 driver and two 6.5″ Bass Radiators these speakers are the real deal for their price.
3. Logitech Z506 Surround Sound Home Wi Fi System
If you’re after a less intrusive but more modern approach to home theatre living, look no further than the Logitech Z506 five speakers! Deep, clean booming bass with a high powered sub woofer (27 watts).
These versatile and multi-input speakers are up there among the best for their size and price range. If you want room filling sound, which includes left, right and center channels, two rear satellite speakers and one subwoofer, these surround speakers allow for an immersive 4K theatre experience in the comfort of your own living room.
If superior acoustic performance, premium materials and wireless capabilities while not requiring too much floor space is something you’re after…
Then Klipsch’s Black Reference theatre pack is what you’ve been waiting for. The eye opening features of these home theatre speakers alone justify the price tag.
The core component of these speakers, the linear travel suspension tweeters, are renowned as one of the best speakers in the world.
These speakers also have Injection molded graphite woofers which make these speakers exceptionally lightweight and ideal for wall mounting. A definite podium finish speaker among the list of home theatre systems for sound quality.
Finding an affordable home theater system can be a challenge. There’s no need to buy a high end one if your room doesn’t require it. Some fo the best budget wi fi systems can provide some amazing outputs.
5. Monoprice Premium 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Subwoofer
Another compact home theater system while continuing with the high quality at respectable prices: Monoprice Premium 5.1 Channel speaker package is the epitome of rugged design.
Monoprice’s rigid quality control standards deliver high quality products. But don’t let the ridiculously low price fool you, this 5.1 Channel Speaker system is just as much at home in the theatre room as it is in the living room.
This speaker package consists of five ultra hd sound speakers and one fine subwoofer for that complete surround sound experience.
When you want your bass down low, you need a subwoofer as part of your home audio/theater system. Monoprice has the basses covered with this highly regarded and well-reviewed 12-inch 150-watt powered subwoofer!
There are a few speaker packages on this list that can provide the audio quality one would want in a home theater. This one by Mono Price is certainly one of them and would be an amazing addition to your home theater setup.
Top 10 Best Home Theater Systems Under $1000
6. Yamaha UBL
Hang in there, not many more to go. Onto Yamaha and their YHT-4950U 4K Ultra HD 5.1 kit. Now I know a good speaker when I see one… trust me and this bad boy not only has unbelievable sound quality reviews but also included in the purchase is one AV receiver!
So not only do you get the five speakers, the big subwoofer and cables but you also get an AV receiver! Happy Days… one of the few kits to include one.
It has 4 HDMI ports.
Not only is this speaker badass and look slick, with its glossy black exterior, it is also bluetooth compatible so you can connect mobile devices to stream music and podcasts.
Easy to set up and flexible speaker placement options this theatre system really has it all. But i guess thats what you should expect at this budget. Overall the key take away is amazing sound quality and AV receiver included. It is one of the best speaker packages on the list.
7. Samsung Harman Kardon
Time for me to try and not be bias with this one as ya boy actually owns this home theater kit and all i’m going to say is this: i’ve had many noise complaints while listening to music at university through these speakers. The audio quality is legitimately second to none.
However, despite this there are obviously other pro’s and cons so lets dive right into those. Firstly, a very sophisticated bit of kit, it looks aesthetic to the uneducated eye and also is very convenient with regards to utilizing space within the room as the soundbar can be mounted onto the wall with ease as all the kit to do so is included.
Furthermore, the right and left speakers are compact and are less intrusive on the eye and can be placed right up into corners of rooms due to their size.
But good things come in small packages as they offer a unique listening experience. Finally, the subwoofer is also pretty badass, it is not the biggest in size…, but fear not it most definitely provides the frequency range you’re after in a subwoofer.
All in all, the kit is really up there with the best and definitely competitive with others at this budget range despite its minimalist approach to home theater kits.
8. Onkyo 5.1.2 Ch. Dolby Atmos Home Theater Package
The penultimate speaker at this budget, well done on making it this far, pats on the back all around: Onkyo. Where to start. It supports Dolby Atmos up to 5.1.2 Channels.
It’s simple in set up through its rear panel diagrams make for easy connection and AccuEQ calibration. 4K sound through 60 Hz-Capable HDMI ports.
Bluetooth wireless audio streaming with an advanced music optimizer allow for a compressed digital audio quality and double bass function. To summarise this kit is again the real deal.
The wooden veneer exterior give off a stylish black wooden look which is seriously pleasing to the eye.
The feet of the central channel are injection moulded preventing any movement when at high volume output ideal for any floor surface. Finally it also includes a 115 watt 7-channel receiver (you know how much we love to hear that) which connects all your media players and sends video to the TV via HDMI.
Top 10 Best Budget High End Home Theater Systems Under $1500
9. Enclave Audio CineHome HD 5.1
Finally, here we are saving the best until last. Well, according to price anyway. If you are looking for superior audio quality then we recommend you take a deeper look at the Enclave Audio CineHome HD 5.1.
While this isn’t the suited towards someone with a low budget, if you have the money to invest you will NOT be disappointed.
The Enclave Audio CineHome HD 5.1 is a high ends setup that offers the sound experience you could only dream of.
Founded by George Lucas… whoever that is… this is regarded as the “definition of world class audio and video experience”.
I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty good. High definition, wireless and taking only minutes to set up this THX certified 5.1 HD sound system is at the pinnacle of the speaker game.
Compatible with any modern TV using a simple one cable setup the Enclave CineHub and a TV is all you need.
This setup is literally everything and more. It also has a reiever… and bluetooth so if that doesn’t convince you then i don’t know what will.
10. LG CJ98 3500
The LG CJ98 3500 certain stands out in terms of design. It reminds me of the old school speakers from the 90s. That’s an aesthetic that some people love and will absolutely make a bold statement in your living room. Can it provide the best surround sound?
Well, the sound is intense and would work for a small to medium-sized living space. It has Bluetooth functionality that allows you to connect your phone easily. You can then access music streaming software like Spotify.
What to Look for in a Home Theater Starter Kit
So we’ve established you want an entertainment system makeover but what does such a thing look like… or more importantly, what should you be looking for.
With technology ever-evolving and old systems becoming obsolete it’s important you get the most bang for your buck…so to speak.
In order to do that you need to know what you want from your future purchase because there’s a hell of lot which goes on beneath the bonnet in these complex systems so having a basic understanding before you buy puts you one step ahead of the pack.
Receivers. What are they? Who are they for? What do they do? These are all valid questions however fear not, as I am here to save the day and attempt to answer these first world problems.
So to put it bluntly and to cut a long tedious story short…. you’ll need to have a receiver in your kit, as they are used to power speakers. The catch however, is that not all home theatre kits have them.
SO IT IS IMPORTANT TO ALLOW ROOM IN THE BUDGET incase you do not have one. Coming in at an unjustified $100-200 dollars is the price region we’re looking at for a receiver so ensure the one you purchase is up for the job you’re after. It’s important you buy one capable for that 4K HDMI or HDR job.
Does size really matter…? Well… obviously for speakers anyway the answer is yes. This is because although compact speakers are great for saving space and you can put them on your bookshelf to look all cute…. physics basically teaches us that speakers need room to “breathe” for that full HD sound you’d ideally want from a speaker.
Speakers need good bass frequencies, a good bass range and depth to allow for optimum sound quality and volume. So yes… the bigger the better.
It’s important to check the channels of the speaker package you buy. You need to monitor if you’re after a stereo or that good surround sound action.
Both have their benefits however ideally for a home theatre set up you’ll be wanting a 5.1 surround system with at least five speakers and one deep subwoofer. Otherwise just save your money and time and buy a soundbar and stick it under your television.
Speaker Placement For Maximum Effect
Location, Location, Location where do you need to place your speakers for that maximum Glastonbury effect. Finding the optimum location to place your speakers is paramount to the success of your home theatre experience.
You can maximize the effect from your budget surround sound system by ensuring you place the speakers in the correct location. Where is the best location? Good question. Let’s find out:
Center Channel Speaker Placement
Right, kicking things off we have the Center Channel Speaker. AKA the big boy, aka the most important speaker to rule them all. Why? Because the Center Channel speaker plays a crucial role in the set up as it is the main speaker for dialogue and vocals.
You want the people on the screen to sound like they’re in front of you not somewhere in the back of the room like they’re speaking to you from your kitchen while you’re sitting in the living room right? Yes. Okay, let’s move on to the best location to put it.
Ideally, above or below the screen, typically underneath works best for optimum sound quality however it’s not too important, as long as it is in front of you that is all that matters. Just don’t go placing it too far away from the screen as it will lead to sound quality issues such as making the sound appear removed from the picture on the screen.
One thing to note and take into consideration regarding location is having the speaker somewhat at ear level whether that’s above or below your TV. The tweeters within the speaker are ideally meant to be around ear level… so that’s something to bear in mind.
In a bookshelf or floorstanding speaker, the tweeters are always above the subwoofer however in center channel speakers they’re within the line of the woofer. If positioning the speaker at ear level is impossible because you have some mad crazy high sofas or something then try to angle the speaker up or down slightly to ensure it’s aimed at your head.
So to conclude, somewhere central to the Television and slightly underneath pointing towards you at ear level when you’re sitting down. So ontop of a table or something below your TV works best… but whatever, put it wherever you want… who cares it’s your speaker.
Front Left and Right Speaker Placement
Great, now that we’ve addressed the most crucial speaker, time for some depth and surround sound experience.
The front left and right speakers are the equivalent to your hi-fi system, as in they handle most of the music and sound effects in movies and soundtracks but sometimes they might reproduce dialogue but typically background dialogue and not the main.
Therefore, regarding location it is important to try and balance the two speakers. So for example don’t have one on the right 10 ft from the screen and one on the left 2 ft from the screen, they work best in complement distance off one another.
Imagine a triangle with the speakers and yourself on each corner of the triangle. The speakers should be near enough in line with the center speaker and act as a tripod, so to speak, with you being the top of the triangle.
Don’t worry too much. The beauty of having a AV receiver will compensate for the variance in difference in the distance between the speakers.
Get it as close as you can to the template triangle format however don’t go doing any major reconstruction work of your living room theatre to make it work, as it will still sound great even if it’s slightly off.
In terms of high from the ground, again ideally….ear hight is the secret. Are you noticing a trend here? Many people like to have the front and left speakers slightly infront of the center speaker and pointing towards the seating area. This is know in the industry as ‘Toeing-in’….apparently.
The benefit of toeing in the speakers is a more fixed sound to one point, more focused if you will, which is great if there’s few seats in one general location however if you’re in a room with a lot of furniture then toeing-in your speakers is not ideal if you want that wider soundstage.