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Best Home Theater Systems for 2022

From streaming soundbars to stereo loudspeakers to dedicated Dolby Atmos systems, these are the packages we recommend.

If you're looking to upgrade the sound on your TV, there are tons of home theater systems available. So many options, in fact, that it can be overwhelming. But fret not -- CNET is here to help you break it down! The first decision you'll need to make is whether you want a soundbar or a full home theater system. When it comes to the absolute best performance possible, nothing beats an AV receiver and a multi-speaker setup, but soundbars win out when it comes to simplicity and affordability. 

Soundbars offer a lot of performance in a compact package and cost a lot less to get up and running. You can even choose one with advanced features like Dolby Atmos and Wi-Fi streaming. Some soundbars offer optional subwoofers and rear speaker upgrades, though if you want to truly mix and match speakers, then an AV receiver is for you. 

Receivers offer a lot in the box and, unlike soundbars, they have plenty of HDMI inputs to accommodate different sources. You can start with just a couple of stereo speakers -- I did without surround-sound speakers for about five years before I upgraded, and didn't feel I was missing out.

Whichever route you choose -- soundbars or AV systems -- there should be something here for you. These are the best home theater systems available right now. We'll update this list periodically as we review new products.

When it comes to bang for buck, it doesn't get much better than the Roku Streambar home theater system. This speaker offers both a dialogue-enhancing soundbar and a built-in 4K streamer in one package. If you want more bass or surround speakers, the system is also upgradable. You can choose the speaker package.

Read our Roku Streambar review.

 

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Klipsch Reference Theater Pack

Best surround-sound speaker package under $500

Originally retailing for $1,200, the Klipsch Reference Theater Pack is currently on sale for a third of that. This set features big sound from a compact 5.1-channel surround sound system and it is a perfect home theater option for apartments or games rooms. This speaker system is excellent for movies and not bad for music either. Just add a receiver.

Read the Klipsch Reference Theater Pack review.

 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

If there's one thing we're spoiled for choice for it's affordable stereo speakers, and for $499 the bookshelf speaker 3030is offer excellent playback of both movies and music. While the $400 Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2s are a cheaper and more transparent, the Q Acoustics are more even-handed and have better bass response. This makes the 3030i more suited to a living room home theater situation, especially if you're not using a subwoofer.

Read our Q Acoustics 3030i review.

 

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

While the rotating speakers of the Vizio Elevate are cool, that system doesn't offer the best bang for your buck within the company's range. The Vizio M512a is a Dolby Atmos soundbar that includes 4K Dolby Vision, a subwoofer and rear-channel speakers, making it a sort of hybrid between a receiver-based system and a soundbar. It also provides incredible sound quality for music and movies for a hair under $500.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Despite the fact that there's basically no 8K video available now, you still can buy an 8K-compatible receiver. Early in 2021, it was discovered that some 8K receivers models couldn't pass 4K/120Hz video from the Xbox Series X. However, since the following summer, Yamaha, Denon and Marantz receivers have been free of bugs, so you should be able to buy with a renewed sense of confidence.

While the Yamaha RX-V6a with its striking looks and rock-solid performance is the best of the crop, it's also out of stock at most places. If you need an 8K receiver right now then the TX-NR6100 is a worthy replacement. It offers a superior streaming suite -- including Chromecast built-in -- and better ease of use. It is a bit more expensive than the Yamaha, however, at $800 (versus $600). 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you demand the best Dolby Atmos performance from a single soundbar, it doesn't get any better than the Sennheiser Ambeo audio system. It's not cheap, and it's not small, but if you want the best sound, this is it.

Read our Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar review.