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Top Gear for a DIY Home Theater System

A big-screen TV, sound bar, smart speaker, Blu-ray player, and streaming device that will turn any TV room into a movie house

A TV that is part of a DIY Home Theater system hanging on a wall
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Does the prospect of celebrating Valentine's Day with your significant other over an exorbitantly priced meal at a noisy, crowded restaurant lack appeal? If yes, consider a romantic meal at home followed by an evening of binge-watching your favorite rom-coms.

To help turn your living room into at-home movie theater, check out these recommended products—big-screen TV, sound bar, streaming device, and more—from Consumer Reports' tests.

Before you start that Valentine's Day movie marathon, be sure to stock up on some tasty treats. We’ve got plenty of healthy snack ideas in our ratings, as well as some useful tips for mindful munching while you snuggle.

1
TV
LG 70UK6570PUB
LG 70UK6570PUB

    LG 70UK6570PUB

    This 70-inch 4K UHD smart TV, well-priced for a 4K TV this size from a major brand, delivers excellent high-definition picture quality and very good UHD performance. Though its HDR performance wasn't quite as impressive, mainly due to a lack of sufficient HDR brightness, the TV does have very good sound.

    This model—which unlike the UK6300 models below it, has local dimming and support for a wider color gamut—comes with LG's updated smart TV platform, plus its ThinQ voice-enabled artificial intelligence platform, which allows it to interact with and control other compatible smart home products. The TV also supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa digital voice assistants, though it requires an optional LG Magic Remote. The set has four HDMI inputs, and two USB ports. 

     

    Check our buying guide and ratings for TVs.

    2
    Sound Bar
    Sonos Beam
    Sonos Beam

      Sonos Beam

      Sonos' newest model, called the Beam, is a compact smart sound bar speaker that delivers very good sound quality and is offered in a choice of black or white color schemes. It has a lot of features at a price several hundred dollars below the company's Playbar and Playbase models, which are both also highly recommended. The Beam has Alexa—Amazon's digital assistant—built in, so you can control it, other Sonos speakers, and additional Alexa-powered devices using voice commands. The Beam also includes support for Apple AirPlay 2, and the manufacturer says the Beam will start working with Google Assistant in the future.

       

      Check our buying guide and ratings for sound bars.

      3
      Smart Speaker
      Sonos One
      Sonos One

        Sonos One

        The Sonos One smart speaker takes the multiroom audio integration that Sonos is famous for and adds Alexa-powered voice commands.


        It also pairs seamlessly with the company's Sonos Beam smart soundbar and can work as the rear-channel speakers in a surround sound system (with a Sonos Sub subwoofer, which we haven't tested, completing the 5.1 system). 

         

        The Sonos One can also sit at the heart of a whole-home system that will allow you to listen to the latest episode of the “Reply All” podcast in the kitchen while streaming Beyoncé on Spotify upstairs, and all you need to do is ask.

         

        The One can even integrate with nonsmart Sonos speakers, most of which have done very well in our testing. It’s also one of the few assistant-agnostic speakers on the market. The Sonos One works with Alexa and Apple AirPlay, and the company has promised an update that will allow the speaker to play in the Google ecosystem. This cross-compatibility makes the Sonos One look futureproof in a market that’s in a state of flux.

         

        Check our buying guide and ratings for smart speakers.
         

        4
        Streaming Device
        Amazon Fire TV Cube
        Amazon Fire TV Cube

          Amazon Fire TV Cube

          We haven’t tested it yet, but the Amazon Fire TV Cube is basically a mash-up of an Echo Dot and Fire TV. As you'd expect, it has Alexa and can stream TV shows and movies from Amazon and other services, plus it can control many other home entertainment devices, such as TVs, sound bars, and wireless speakers.

           

          Check our buying guide and ratings for streaming devices.

          5
          Blu-ray Player
          Sony UBP-X800
          Sony UBP-X800

            Sony UBP-X800

            This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player from Sony, a step-up model from the company, delivers excellent 4K picture quality and UHD performance, plus a few more features than you'll find in the slightly less expensive UBP-X700 model, also in our ratings. This model has two HDMI outputs, which can be useful if your receiver can't pass through 4K video signals, as you can run one HDMI for audio and then connect the other HDMI output directly to the 4K TV or projector. Right now it supports the HDR10 HDR format, but later this year it will add Dolby Vision support via a firmware update. The player also supports high-resolution audio, as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive sound formats. It offers access to several online streaming video services, and includes Bluetooth capability—which lets you send music wirelessly to a set of Bluetooth headphones or speakers—something the less expensive UBP0X700 model lacks.

             

            Check our buying guide and ratings for Blu-ray players.

            Mary Beth Quirk

            A native Wisconsinite and avid cheese enthusiast, I've written thousands of stories—on topics ranging from product safety to the best way to cook a burger—in my six-year career as a consumer-focused journalist. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I have a very hard time passing up pizza. Follow me on Twitter (@marybethquirk).