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Best Home theater systems & soundbars

Consumer Reports Ratings for Best Home theater systems & soundbars

Best Home theater systems & soundbars

We tested 49 home theater systems & soundbars to determine the best-performing models. Our expert lab technicians tested each Home theater system & soundbar based on the following criteria:

  • Upconverted DVD picture quality
  • Versatility
  • Number of channels
  • Ease of use
  • Sound quality
  • 480i DVD picture quality
  • Number of speakers supplied
  • HD picture quality

Below lists the Home theater systems & soundbars that rated best in each of the tests our experts looked for. Learn about how these tests were performed and find out which Home theater system & soundbar is rated best when you subscribe.

Consumer Reports Ratings for Best Home theater systems & soundbars

Best Home theater system & soundbar for Upconverted DVD picture quality

DVD picture quality represents trained panelists' evaluation of clarity and color accuracy of an upconverted HD (1080p) signal, from the HTIB system's Blu-ray or DVD player playing DVD content on a HD TV. All signals were sent through an HDMI connection.


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for Upconverted DVD picture quality has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Updatable software/firmware, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Composite video (in/out), USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for Versatility

Versatility score is based on the presence or absence of useful features. The inputs and outputs shown are on the receiver. (Does not include outputs on the video player, if that is separate.)


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for Versatility has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Subwoofer dimensions (HxWxD), Active subwoofer, Wireless subwoofer, 3D capable HDMI switching, Bass and treble tone controls, Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, DTS 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Updatable software/firmware, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Bluetooth, Composite video (in/out), Mini-jack input for MP3 player, USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for Number of channels

Number of audio signal channels supplied by the system. An HTIB system usually has 5.1 channels (front left and right, center, surround left and right, and subwoofer--that's the .1) or 7.1 channels (same as 5.1 but adds rear surround left and right). Note that some systems will require additional amplifiers to drive some speakers (i.e. subwoofers and/or rear surround channels).


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for Number of channels has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Subwoofer dimensions (HxWxD), Active subwoofer, Wireless subwoofer, 3D capable HDMI switching, Bass and treble tone controls, Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, DTS 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Updatable software/firmware, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Bluetooth, Composite video (in/out), Mini-jack input for MP3 player, USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for Ease of use

Ease of use indicates how easy it is to set up the system and use controls on front panel and remote.


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for Ease of use has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Subwoofer dimensions (HxWxD), Active subwoofer, Wireless subwoofer, 3D capable HDMI switching, Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, Dolby Pro Logic II analog audio processing, DTS 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Bluetooth, Composite video (in/out), Mini-jack input for MP3 player, USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for Sound quality

Sound quality represents tonal accuracy and ability to reproduce fine sonic detail of the front speakers, subwoofer, center-channel speaker, and surround speakers. Sound quality judgments are made with the system optimized using its own auto speaker set-up function (if so equipped), and with its own tone controls and/or pre-set tone settings (if any) adjusted for most balanced sound.


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for Sound quality has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Subwoofer dimensions (HxWxD), Active subwoofer, Wireless subwoofer, Bass and treble tone controls, Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Bluetooth, Composite video (in/out), Mini-jack input for MP3 player, USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for 480i DVD picture quality

DVD picture quality represents trained panelists' evaluation of clarity and color accuracy of a Standard definition (480i) signal, from the HTIB system's DVD player playing DVD content on a CRT TV. All signals were sent via a S-video connection if available, or a composite video connection.


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for 480i DVD picture quality has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Updatable software/firmware, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Composite video (in/out), USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for Number of speakers supplied

Number of speakers that come with the system. An HTIB system usually comes with 5.1 speakers (front pair, center, surround pair, and subwoofer--that's the .1), and some systems come with extra rear surround speaker pair for a 7.1 setup.


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for Number of speakers supplied has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Side surround speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Subwoofer dimensions (HxWxD), Active subwoofer, Wireless subwoofer, 3D capable HDMI switching, Bass and treble tone controls, Speaker set-up test tone function, Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, DTS 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Bluetooth, Composite video (in/out), Mini-jack input for MP3 player, USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.

Best Home theater system & soundbar for HD picture quality

HD picture quality indicates trained panelists' evaluation of clarity and color accuracy of a high-definition progessive-scan (1080p) signal, from the HTIB system’s Blu-ray player playing Blu-ray content on a HD TV. All signals were routed through an HDMI connection.


This Home theater system & soundbar which tested best for HD picture quality has the following features: Front speaker dimensions (HxWxD), Dolby Digital 5.1 digital audio decoding, Other DSP modes, Updatable software/firmware, Other features, Stereo analog audio (in/out), HDMI (in/out), Coaxial digital audio (in/out), Optical digital audio (in/out), Component-video (in/out), Composite video (in/out), USB ports, AC outlets (switched/unswitched) and Other connections.