True audiophiles know that a soundbar, while great for amplifying the television's in-built speakers, leaves something to be desired. The singular unit may be sleek, wireless and easy to set up, but its sound doesn’t envelop quite like in a surround sound system. Are you looking to bring the cinema home? Here's what you can do.
Do I need a home theatre system?
If you prefer a blockbuster sound paired with your screen, then a multi-speaker setup is mandatory. You could either expand your soundbar system for quick results or invest in dedicated front, rear and centre speakers to recreate a cinematic feel.
Amir Anwar, director and co-founder of home entertainment solutions Dubai Audio, says a home theatre system is for anyone wanting to make the most of their TV viewing experience. "Nowadays, all streaming services, including Netflix and Apple TV, stream in surround sound," he said.
Select shows and movies that support surround sound will, naturally, fare better with a home theatre system.
What are the different home theatre setups?
Some prefer the traditional arrangement, decking out the living room with multiple speakers and a subwoofer, all hooked to an AV (audio/video) receiver. According to Anwar, a basic home theatre system starts from a 5.1 channel, which is made up of five speakers and a subwoofer.
Then, there’s the minimalistic soundbar system that features a wireless subwoofer, best suited for smaller TV rooms and studios. It's the simplest setup for beginners. Anwar added: "These days, for convenience, many users also satisfy their home theatre requirement by connecting a soundbar and a wireless subwoofer to their TV for surround sound."
Both deliver a wraparound audio bubble, but a receiver-based system brings the audience a clearer, bigger and richer performance than the soundbar. Those after an organic surround sound will be more interested in studying individual passive speakers.
"A single speaker can't emulate what is possible from a stand-alone 5.1, 7.1 and more advanced home theatre setups. An AV receiver and individual speakers are essential for dedicated home theatre rooms or experiences. A soundbar won't satisfy expectations here in terms of performance," explained Anwar.
Which home theatre system is the best for me?
Contrary to popular belief, a receiver-based system doesn't always break the bank. In fact, our audio expert tells us that some packages can cost the same as the latest soundbar systems.
You might also notice a price hike with speakers that include Dolby Atmos technology. This feature gives one the impression of a movie playing in all directions, especially overhead. If you want true 3D immersion, consider the height dimension that an Atmos format adds.
Based on nearly three decades of experience, Anwar picks the US loudspeaker manufacturer Klipsch for delivering unrivaled audio performance.
We've gone ahead and compiled the best-rated home theatre setups for you below. Shop as a Prime member to get free delivery on some of these units.
1. Best Overall: Klipsch Reference Theater System 5.1.4
- A solid 5.1 base system
- Dolby Atmos speakers with four height channels
- Mountable and compact-sized
- Compatible with most receivers, especially Pioneer and Onkyo
- Needs an AV receiver
Get a solid start with Klipsch's powerful passive speakers. Although these don't come with their own receiver, Anwar tells us that they're optimised for Pioneer and Onkyo models. The 5.1.4 Reference Theater System is an all-in-one setup, combining left, right, centre and two rear speakers with a 10-inch subwoofer. It's integrated with Dolby Atmos, hence the addition of four height channels on top of the speakers that craft a real surround sound bubble. All units are surprisingly compact, too, so they complement a sleek living room right away. Reviewers from Amazon US call it the best entry-level Atmos setup in the market. The four satellite speakers are mountable, if you prefer the added physical height or want to free up floor space. Do note that no component is wireless and needs a 9.2 channel receiver to work. For a Klipsch soundbar system, check out the Cinema 600 3.1 channel setup.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh375 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best AV Reciever Bundle: Yamaha 5.1 YHT-1840 Home Theatre
- AV receiver with four HDMI inputs and one ARC output
- Includes five small speakers and one subwoofer
- Cinema DSP can virtually add rear speakers
- Receiver supports 4K video at 60p
- Value for money
- No Dolby Atmos
Yamaha's complete 5.1 surround sound system comes with an AV receiver – perfect for those who don't want to spend extra. Our pick is a set that includes two pairs of front and rear speakers, a centre speaker and a cubic subwoofer. Expect stellar 4K video support with HDR (high dynamic range) through the receiver that has four HDMI ports for your TV, gaming console, DVD player and more. It also comes with an HDMI ARC (audio return channel) port for dual audio feed to and from the TV. Instead of Dolby Atmos, the Yamaha setup uses the Cinema DSP technology to recreate cinematic audio. Even if you're unable to install rear speakers behind the sofa, this surround sound mode virtually adds them to mimic a 7.1 system. Once again, none of the speakers are wireless, if this is going to be a dealbreaker for you.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh174.92 for 12 months with select banks. Add professional installation for Dh225.
3. Best Soundbar with Dolby Atmos: Samsung 5.1.2Ch Wireless Soundbar
- Integrated with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
- Best compatibility with Samsung smart TVs
- Modern setup for a clean look
- Doesn’t come with rear speakers
Own a Samsung smart TV? Pair it with this comprehensive home theatre system by the electronics brand. It keeps your setup neat and wireless with two up-firing speakers built into the soundbar for a surround sound experience. There's the subwoofer, too, for delivering bass. Its Q-Symphony feature syncs with your Samsung TV speakers to give you seamless acoustics. The connection is completely wireless, so all you have to do is link the 5.2.1-channel system to your television via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. If you have gamers at home, they'll love the automatic switch to Game Mode sound for a curated audio bubble. Moreover, the setup is powered by DTS:X and Dolby Atmos. Even though it lacks rear speakers, reviewers say the soundbar makes up for it with the up-firing channels. They describe the bass as deep and heavy, and call it a superb piece of kit for a 4K smart TV. Others use it to elevate their gameplay by connecting it to Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh158.25 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh108 and two years for Dh154.
4. Best Value Speaker Set: Pioneer Home Theatre Speaker 5.0
- Value for money
- Pairs with any amplifier or AV receiver of your choice
- Tower speakers have built-in woofers and tweeters
- Misses a subwoofer
If you already own a trusted AV receiver, then opt for Pioneer's home theatre speaker package. At this price point, you’re getting two tall front speakers integrated with twin woofers and tweeters, a centre speaker and two small surround speakers. Granted, since it’s a 5.0-channel format, there’s no separate subwoofer in the unit. Five-star reviews can’t stop marvelling about how good the system sounds right out of the box, even without calibration. For a more streamlined setup, add an Atmos-enabled 5.2 Pioneer AV receiver here.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh107.50 for 12 months with select banks.
5. Best Soundbar System: Sony HT-S500RF 1000W 5.1 Ch Soundbar
- Dolby Digital and DTS support
- Rear speakers for a real surround sound
- Excellent bass from subwoofer
- Streams wirelessly from phone via Bluetooth
- HDMI ARC and optical input options
- Still wired
Here’s a soundbar home cinema system, complete with Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Surround, for smaller spaces. The Sony 5.1 setup is backed by two rear speakers, a subwoofer and the main soundbar that carries the stereo and centre channels in one. All components deliver a total output power of 1,000 watts, so expect added depth and detail to movies, TV shows and gaming. The subwoofer takes care of all the cable points, which include an HDMI ARC and an optical input, if your TV doesn't support the former. There's still Bluetooth connectivity despite being a wired setup to let you stream songs from your phone. Reviewers say it feels like a theatre with any smart TV, having tried it with Samsung and LG models. The bass from the subwoofer is great, and the dialogue is clear. Check out individual soundbars for smaller setups here.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh96.78 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh69 and two years for Dh97.
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