Home Theater Recommendations
All that stands between you and surround sound nirvana is well, the sound! But it’s not enough to go willy nilly and just get anything; I mean you do want to actually get something that you’ll enjoy right?
I’ve made many mistakes when it came to getting something that wasn’t suitable, so I decided to make this to help. Also do keep in mind that little factoid about timbre matching we talked about. While it isn’t 100 percent necessary, it will make an audible difference usually.
But here are some of the things that I have personally tried/bought and highly enjoyed. 😀
By no means is this entirely exhaustive though.
These are just some of the ones I’m personally familiar with and would recommend. I’ve given my personal opinion under each to give you some extra insight too.
Feel free to skip ahead to whatever section though since I’m not psychic and cant tell what kind of setup you plan on doing (would be cool though right?)
Bookshelf Left/Right Speakers
For a quality sounding speaker, the T15 are a solid choice. I can attest to it since this was one of the first speakers I owned. They work really good in small to medium sized rooms. Best way to describe these would be exceptionally articulate and clear.
There’s certainly a sense of quality with this one from the materials to the driver type. Basically put, it’s a great speaker and actually sounded pretty similar to the T15 in my opinion just slightly more detailed.
To summarize, these are a great pair of bookshelf speakers that do a great job of creating an immersive soundstage. Their clarity in particular is definitely a strong suit.
I’d say these are probably good for medium size to almost large rooms since the driver is larger. Super clear though it’s impressive. They definitely aren’t the smallest speaker so do keep that in mind but highly recommended.
The RB-81 is a pretty big speaker with an 8 inch driver and thus require adequate space. However I do have to say they are pretty amazing and they also get plenty loud even in larger rooms.
Another pretty cool brand to consider is JBL. From my experience, while they’re good for movies, I found them to be particularly fantastic for music. They have a really warm sound that’s really easy on the ears. So if you’re looking for speakers that would be good for music listening then these would be a great choice.
These speakers are really cool because they can either be used with your receiver, or work without one via their own power. That not only gives you a lot of variability in terms of how you use them, but it also means they can be used with computer speakers. Plus they sound great too.
This Center speaker has to be one of the best I’ve heard. I’ve owned this speaker and I would say the best way to describe it would be extremely clear and dialogue is really easy to hear. Definitely a good center and good for small to medium sized rooms.
No mistake about it this is fantastic speaker. It isn’t the smallest thing in the world so make sure you have the space. Would be a good compliment to any of the klipsch bookshelf speakers mentioned.
This is another great center speaker. Klipsch is known for sound clarity and articulation, and doesn’t disappoint here at all. It does pick up fingerprints easily though, and is pretty large so keep those things in mind. But the sound quality itself is really great.
As an all around great center speaker, this is one that performs well. I personally enjoyed it.
The good thing is you really don’t need to put insane amounts of thought into a surround speaker. While timbre matching all your speakers is important, it is not as much as a necessity with surrounds honestly.
This is because the job of a surround is responsible for general ambiance and directional cues. In short this means you don’t need to give an arm and a leg for good ones. You also can use left/right bookshelf speakers as surrounds too if you wanted to, but that’s up to you. Here’s a few I personally liked though.
Floor Standing Speakers
So no use in mentioning how large the following floor speakers are since well….they’re meant to stand from the floor! However if you are interested in floor speakers, I would not only recommend having the width available for them, but also placing them about 6 inches away from the wall so there isn’t any unwanted room gain (this is the over emphasizing of certain frequencies over others)
That way you’ll get the best sound possible. I would personally recommend a floor stander for three reasons over a bookshelf one; if you have a very large room, if you aren’t getting a subwoofer, and/ or if you’re primarily interested in music. Here’s a few good ones.
Think of this as the little subwoofer that could. While it won’t dig as deep as the big boys, wow is it powerful for its size. It would best be suited for small to maybe medium sized rooms. I actually did a full review on this one. ( Polk Audio PSW111 Review) The crux of it was if you live in a college dorm/ normal apartment or something similar, this would be the subwoofer for you. Also really good for music too.
This could be considered the bigger brother of the psw111, with a 12 inch driver compared to the 8 of the latter, this thing can put out some pretty impressive bass. It’s also a lot bigger, so if you think you have the space, then by all means go for this one. It’s definitely a step up and would be right at home in a medium sized room.
This subwoofer definitely packs a punch, and one you can feel at that. SVS is one of the best subwoofer brands from my experience in my opinion. All I can say is that it’s an excellent performer. It definitely makes movies fun that’s for sure.
This thing is a beast, that’s the best way to put it. Remember when I said you’d ideally want a subwoofer that goes into the 30 Hz range? This one goes to 16 Hz….yeah kind of ridiculous. Truthfully, this is an all around amazing sub. The bass that it exudes is clean, tight, punchy, and deep. It’s one you’ll not only hear, but feel.
If space is an issue, but you still want quality sound, these soundbars would be worth a look.
The receiver is important because for the most part, this is where your speakers will actually plug into. Here are a few receivers that’ll get the job done. Also if you have a newer TV that is capable of 4k, HDR (high dynamic range), and or extended color, make sure the receiver says that it supports that. Otherwise it will only work via an optical cable and not HDMI.
*Quick note about this receiver, it’s a stereo receiver meaning it only supports 2 speakers used in stereo*
If you’re concerned with getting a receiver and you plan on doing 5.1, the RX-V385 is a solid choice. Also looks really nice in person honestly, and it supports the newest standards like 4k and hdr.
What I like about this receiver is the fact that it’s 5.2, meaning it will allow you to connect 2 subwoofers if that is something you are interested in. Also supports 4k/hdr.
Super awesome considering the fact that it supports all the newest tv standards, 7.2, and even Bluetooth capability. Plus it looks good!
High End Speakers
I just want to say that I haven’t owned any of these next few speakers personally, but I have heard them before and…just wow. They are certainly in a league all their own, and if you want something incredible, then these are a few I would personally select from experience.
This one.. I’m sorry but I have to say something about this one. This is so beyond words when it comes to bass. You know how something is so hard to describe that you can’t find the right words to depict it? Yeah, that’d be this instance. There’s a good chance you probably haven’t experienced something like this. There’s so much depth to the bass. It’s incredible.
Things to go with the speakers
Just a little inside tip from me to you, you don’t need to spend insane amounts of time worrying about different wires contrary to popular belief.
The job of a wire is simply to transfer a signal from one point to the other; and the only time it would truly make a difference is in two instances, if there was something wrong with the wire the person was using already, or if the newer wire is an entirely different iteration of tech all together (like a new HDMI standard or something similar) I don’t want you making the same mistakes that I made.
For a soundbar you typically don’t need speaker wire since would just need an hdmi or optical cable depeding on what kind of connection your soundbar uses. But with speakers they utilize speaker wire to function.
HDMI cables help pass audio and video to your receiver so that the entire system properly functions. With the relatively recent introduction of 4K and even 8K resolutions HDMI cables have evolved to carry the necessary bandwidth to function and are backwards compatible with prior resolutions.
And also just as another heads up, you will need to strip the insulation off the speaker wire itself to actually connect it to your speaker. This is an invaluable tool because this will allow you to strip the speaker wire without having to use scissors or a knife or anything to do it.
I can’t say how many of these might be used since I don’t know your exact setup and every home theater might be different, but keep in mind that each speaker uses 1 pair to connect to it, and then another pair to the receiver.
This is for 3 really specific scenarios, if you had a game console and wanted to connect it to your receiver, or if you are getting a soundbar/dvd player that didn’t support hdmi then you’d optical instead. Also if you get a receiver that doesn’t support HDR but your TV does, then you’d need one for that type of content in that instance.
Another really specific scenario that may apply to you would be if you need what’s called an RCA cable, which can look like the picture there. A single RCA cable plugs into your subwoofer, and the other into your reciever. Reason why it depends though is that you may not even be getting a subwoofer at all, in which you that wouldn’t be applicable.
This is if you wanted to calibrate your speakers manually yourself, rather than getting a receiver with an automatic mic. But if you choose to do it this way, this is a really good little meter.
Speaker stands are really cool though since some allow you to clamp your speaker in place without worrying about knocking it off a table or shelf.
A universal remote is something a lot of people don’t think too much about, but one of these can make controlling your entertainment system a lot easier. This one in particular is pretty fantastic since it supports up to 8 devices at once. I also did an article on universal remotes as well if you’re curious about a few other ones I found to be pretty awesome.