Best home theatre systems 2020: our top 6 home cinema speakers | Real Homes

Best home theatre systems 2020: our top 6 home cinema speakers

Find the best home theatre systems to take your movie marathons and TV series to new (audio) highs, in our expert guide

best home theatre system - Couple watching TV
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Getting the best home theatre system to reside with your television will dramatically enhance your audio visual experience, and create a more cinematic feel, all from the comfort of your living room.

While built in speakers – particularly in a high quality TV – soundbars and home cinema amplifiers can improve the quality of your viewing experience, this won't compare to the quality offered by a home theatre system made of multiple visual and sound enhancing components.

In this guide we have scoured high and low for the best systems which pack an audio punch, look good, are easy to use – and are easy to set up in the first place – and showcase a range of price tags. Keep scrolling for our six top picks, then check out our best TV guide to get your hands on the latest television spec, too.

The best home theatre systems you can buy right now

best home theatre system - YAMAHA YHT1840B 5.1 CHANNEL HOME THEATRE PACKAGE

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Yamaha YHT1840B 5.1 Channel Home Theatre Package

Best home theatre system: a solid setup that won't break the bank

Specifications
Channels: 5.1
HDMI Inputs: 4
4K: Yes
Includes disc player: No
Reasons to buy
+Plenty of inputs+Affordable price
Reasons to avoid
-No included Blu-ray player-No Dolby Atmos

Claiming the #1 prize is the Yamaha YHT1840. With this system you're getting 5.1 channels of surround sound audio, which is more than enough for most content. 

Despite not being future proofed with Atmos, the receiver still offers support for 4K, and there are also a comfortable four HDMI inputs so you shouldn't have to pick favourites amongst your AV gear for a few years yet. 

But our main reason for ranking the Yamaha so highly is its price. It's the cheapest setup on this list that doesn't omit 4K support from its list of features, which we think makes it a great buy. 

  • Buy the Yamaha YHT1840B 5.1 Channel Home Theatre Package

Pioneer FSW50 an example fo the best home theatre systems

2. Pioneer FS-W50(B) 2.1 Wireless Music System

Best home theatre system for wireless freedom: if you want to go fully wireless

Specifications
Channels: 2.1
HDMI Inputs: 4
4K: Yes
Includes disc player: No
Reasons to buy
+Completely wireless system+Can be expanded with optional wireless rear speakers
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Only 2.1 channels out of the box

We've allowed ourselves a couple of premium picks in our list, and the first of these is the Pioneer FSW50, a 2.1 channel system that retails for over a grand. 

What you're paying for here is a big step up in sound quality, as well as a completely wireless system. While the Yamaha YHT1840B above offers you the convenience of wireless rear surround sound speakers, the FSW50 extends this same convenience to all the speakers in the setup. 

Of course, you'll be paying for this convenience, and you also won't get an included disc player, a centre channel speaker, or any rear speakers. 

The latter point can be amended by expanding the setup with a pair of wireless rear speakers (sold separately), but even so the Pioneer FSW50 is a premium option if you care about sound quality over the quantity of channels.

  • Buy the Pioneer FS-W50(B) 2.1 Wireless Music System

Sony BDV-E2100 an example of the best home theatre systems

3. Sony BDV-E2100 1000 W Home Cinema System

Best home theatre system on a budget: it'll give your home cinema an entry-level boost

Specifications
Channels: 5.1
HDMI Inputs: 1
4K: No
Includes disc player: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price+Includes disc player
Reasons to avoid
-No HDMI passthrough-No Atmos

The Sony E2100 is for anyone with a budget that's slightly more stretched. 

The main thing you're giving up by going for this cheaper option is the wireless rear surround sound speakers. Rear speakers are still included (this is a 5.1 channel system after all), but you'll have to be prepared to run cables to the rear of your living room when you're setting up the system. 

You'll also be making sacrifices when it comes to the amount of HDMI inputs available. The E2100 is designed to either be used with its built-in Blu-ray player (there's no 4K source on board) or else using an HDMI ARC port to take audio from the TV. No HDMI pass through is possible with the E2100. 

Otherwise these speakers are a great budget buy. They'll give your TV's audio a boost, but don't expect the same level of performance as the more expensive systems on this list. 

  • Buy the Sony BDV-E2100 1000 W Home Cinema System

4. Monitor Audio Bronze B5 AV 5.1 Speaker Package

Best home theatre system for design: Great sounds with a classic look

Specifications
Channels: 5.1
Frequency response: 46Hz - 20kHz
Form-factor: Bookshelf/Floorstanding
Impedance: 6 Ohm
Reasons to buy
+Deliciously designed+Great sound
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing aside from the price

Spend a little more and the returns start to get slightly more marginal, but depending on how much you care about audio quality that might be a cost worth bearing. 

Monitor Audio are a brand that produce speakers up and down the price spectrum, but what's nice about their cheaper sets is that they tend to benefit from all the high-end tech that the firm develops for their more expensive speakers. 

The result is that although the Bronze speakers sit further down the brand's range, they sound like they should cost a great deal more thanks to their bags of detail and a tone that's overall very warm and clear. 

We're also particularly fond of the traditional wood look of the speakers, but this will of course come down to personal preference thanks to the four finishes that are available. 

  • Buy the Monitor Audio Bronze B5 AV 5.1 Speaker Package

best home theatre system: ELAC Debut C5 Center Speaker

5. ELAC Debut Home Theatre System

Best home theatre system for building your own: A great customisable package

Specifications
Channels: 5.1
Frequency response: 46Hz - 20kHz
Form-factor: Bookshelf/Floorstanding
Impedance: 6 Ohm
Reasons to buy
+Floorstanding or bookshelf options+Fantastic mids response
Reasons to avoid
-No package option in UK

If you're after a slightly more flexible surround sound setup, then ELAC's Debut series is a solid option. This is because, in the UK at least, it's impossible to buy the speakers as a 5.1 package. 

Instead you'll have to buy them separately. Although this adds a little complexity, it does mean that  you'll be able to choose between floorstanding and bookshelf speakers for your front stereo pair, which is enormously helpful if your living room only supports one or the other. This flexibility also means you can add a pair of Atmos-enabling upfiring ELAC Debut A4 speakers into the mix if you so choose. 

  • Buy the ELAC Debut Home Theatre System

best home theatre system: Monitor Audio Bronze B5 AV 5.1 Speaker Package

6. Monitor Audio Bronze B5 AV 5.1 Speaker Package

Best home theatre system: a fantastic premium set of speakers

Specifications
Channels: 5.1
Frequency response: 20Hz - 120kHz
Form-factor: Bookshelf/Floorstanding
Impedance: 8 Ohm
Reasons to buy
+Balanced sound+Sound has heft and presence
Reasons to avoid
-Black colour scheme costs more

If you want to really splash out on a set of home theatre speakers, then Monitor Audio's step up Silver 200 AV12 are a great set. 

There's very little to complain about here aside from the premium price. These are a set of very capable speakers, which has earned them WhatHifi's award for the best speaker package under £3,000.  Spending this much money gets you a truly impressive set of speakers that manage to walk that fine line between delivering powerful sound that's not lacking in detail. 

  • Buy the Monitor Audio Bronze B5 AV 5.1 Speaker Package

How to buy the best home theatre system

When it comes to buying the best home theatre system to suit your needs, there are a few factors worth considering before making your purchase. These include:

Consider what kind of home theatre system best suits your needs

In case you're new to the world of home theatre systems, let's run through the basic options available. 

At the very low end you have the option of relying on your TV's built in speakers. Depending on which set you buy the quality of these can vary a great deal, but most are designed to be as slimline as possible to avoid impacting upon the sleekness of the TV; and slimline speakers do not lend themselves well to sounding very good at all. 

The next step up is a soundbar or soundbase. These are a big improvement for many reasons, chief amongst them is that they're actually able to dedicate a decent amount of space to their audio drivers. However, they're limited in that they can only fire audio from one direction.

At the premium end of the spectrum you're expected to buy each component separately, or as part of a bundle, as in this guide. 

HDMI inputs

If you're planning on connecting multiple devices – for example games consoles, Blu-ray players and laptops – to your home theatre system, it's worth ensuring that you opt for a device with multiple HDMI inputs. 

4K quality

If you're looking for the best in audio and visual quality, you'll want to ensure your home theatre system is 4K compatible.

What is the best home theatre system?

If you want to buy the best home theatre system (in our opinion) we wouldn't hesitate to buy the Yamaha YHT1840B 5.1 Channel Home Theatre Package. It has everything you need to give your audio a boost, and it's not one of the most expensive on our list either.

Looking for more expert home tech advice?

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