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Best soundbars and home audio for the holidays

If you're looking to recreate the movie theater at home, these are the best gifts for your family and friends.

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This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

With a lot of people still staying close to home, many of us have been spending a lot of time hunkered down watching TV and listening to music. So if there's a music fan or movie buff in your life, this year it makes sense to give them home theater gifts that will take watching their favorite movie to the next level. Maybe a streaming device or something that will crank the audio capabilities of their smart TV up to 11?

Perhaps you don't have a cinephile on your holiday gift list, but maybe you do have a music lover who's really into vinyl. Then you want to make sure their speaker system is as good as it can be. After all, when you have a library of old records, you shouldn't skimp on sound quality.

Whether it's a soundbar for the games room, a new AV receiver for a movie lover's home theater system or a new turntable for a music enthusiast's living room, there's a perfect gift here for practically everyone.

And now, on to our holiday gift guide for top audio gifts.

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The Creative Stage offers everything you need for sound on a smaller TV or gaming system: HDMI, a separate subwoofer and a clear display. It also helps that the sound is light years ahead of other systems at the $100 mark.

Read our Creative Stage review.

 

$93 at Amazon
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The Vizio V21 is a 2.1-channel soundbar, which offers a host of connections including HDMI. Stepping up to $130 gets you better sound than the Creative can muster, plus a wireless subwoofer. No more wires trailing across the room!

Read our Vizio V21 review.

 

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You can certainly spend more on a smart soundbar -- the two Sonos cost $400 and $800 respectively -- but the Yamaha YAS-209 offers excellent bang for buck. It sounds fantastic and it offers Amazon Alexa for controlling your smart home. 

Read our Yamaha YAS-209 review.

 

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The Roku Streambar is an all-in-one entertainment system with a streamer and a speaker in one. It offers 4K video output and excellent dialogue reproduction in an easy-to-use unit. If you want to upgrade a loved one's older TV, this is the best way to do it.

Read our Roku Streambar review.

 

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The Sonos One has been around for a little while now but it's so versatile that I've seen it anywhere from living rooms to shops to restaurants. For $200 it offers excellent sound, great multiroom capabilities and the choice of either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice control, and it's AirPlay compatible, too.

Read our Sonos One review.

 

$219 at Audio Advice
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The Fluance RT8X range offers excellent value for vinyl fans, with the RT82 sitting right in the sweet spot. It includes convenience features like a speed switch, height adjustable feet and auto-stop. In our breakdown of five $300 turntables, the Fluance came out on top. It sounds great and it's built to last.

Read our Fluance RT82 review.

 

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The Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 speakers offer a taste of the high end in a relatively affordable bookshelf speaker model. They offer a tidy build, front-firing reflex ports for better flexibility and a detailed, enjoyable performance for a TV or movie night. Partner it with a high quality amp or receiver for the best results.

Read our Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2 review.

 

$350 at Audio Advice
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When the Vizio SB36512-F6 came out it proved that you didn't need to spend a grand to get an Atmos soundbar, you needed less than half that. Unlike the still-great Sonos Arc, the Vizio includes both a wireless subwoofer and dedicated rears for the best surround sound experience.

Read our Vizio SB36512-F6 review.

 

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The Onkyo TX-NR696 is the best receiver of 2020 so far. It offers a wealth of features, including numerous streaming options -- like Chromecast built-in -- and it sounds really good into the bargain.

Read our Onkyo TX-NR696 review.

 

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