Top 5 home theatre speaker systems

A spectacular speaker showdown.

If you've got a modern big-screen TV or projector setup, chances are you're interested in getting the highest quality, most immersive cinema experience possible. Where many systems stumble, though, is with sound quality. A bundled 'home theatre in a box' (as all-in-one systems are disparagingly called) won’t always provide the best quality sound — often missing all manner of high, low and middle frequencies. If you want the best quality sound for movies, your best bet is a surround sound system with a dedicated home theatre amplifier/receiver and a matched set of quality home theatre speakers. We've taken a look at some the options you have.

JBL ES900 Cinepack — Best for Movie Enthusiasts

There are some times when you just want to sit back and crank the volume. When it comes to floor-shaking, eardrum-bursting power, the ES900 Cinepack stands up with the best.

The system has a moderate-sounding 715 Watts RMS, but don’t be fooled by the numbers. The powerful subwoofer — with 300 Watts RMS to play with — is able to provide more than enough oomph to fill a large room with low frequency effects, and the lively sound that the other speakers possess is great for blockbuster movies. It’s also quite an adjustable system, with in-depth subwoofer controls to tweak the sound.

What's hot: Incredible sound quality, ability to adjust subwoofer.

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the JBL ES900 Cinepack click here.

AAD M Series — Best for Budget Buyers

So maybe you’ve blown your entire budget on the latest 60-inch television and accompanying furniture, and can only scrape together a few measly cents for a sound system. Don’t stress: AAD’s M Series home theatre package offers a measured and detailed sound at a price that even the most miserly can afford.

It’s not a gargantuan system, but a respectable 670 Watts RMS can be pumped out making it more than suitable for a medium room. The styling is unobtrusive and traditional — some might say boring — but there’s nothing boring about the quality of the sound that the M Series produces. It’s not a ‘lively’ system, and errs more on the side of accurate audio reproduction.

What's hot: Detailed highs, incredibly smooth mid-range, tight bass.

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the AAD M Series click here.

Yamaha Soavo 2 — Best Two-Channel Setup

In some situations a full 5.1 system is unfeasible, whether due to space or power needs. A subwoofer is often an annoyance in tight quarters — especially for downstairs neighbours — so you’ll need to find another option for high quality sound. Salvation comes in the form of Yamaha’s ‘bookshelf’-sized Soavo 2 speakers. When combined with some appropriate speaker stands to raise them to ear level the Soavo 2 speakers are able to produce a very detailed and immersive sound without resorting to messy, complicated surround sound.

The fact that they’re a two-channel system also makes them arguably better for music (with no surround sound processing taking place) so if you need a versatile system in a small space, this is it.

What's hot: Exacting build quality, polite and measured sound

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the Yamaha Soavo 2 click here.

B&W VM6 — Best All-Rounder

As much as you might not want to, sometimes you have to make compromises when selecting a home theatre system. Size, power, looks: all of these factors contribute to the suitability of any audio setup. If you need to make these compromises you’d do well to consider the B&W VM6. Small, thin speakers still create an immersive and well-rounded sound, while the PV1 subwoofer’s unique styling doesn’t prevent it from pumping out low frequencies at high volumes.

What's hot: Slim design suits the latest TV sets, great sound for such a small speaker cabinet

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the B&W VM6 click here.

Bose LIFESTYLE 48 — Best for the Trend-Setter

If you’ve got a modern, minimalist living room but don’t want to go all out with an integrated in-wall sound system — which makes upgrading difficult — there are a few companies with surround sound home theatre packages designed to take up as little space as possible.

One frontrunner is Bose’s Lifestyle 48 system, with miniature cube-shaped speakers that can be easily placed around a room unobtrusively. Of course, the sound quality won’t be on par with proper speaker cabinets, but for their diminutive size the Lifestyle 48 speakers put out a crisp, surrounding field of sound.

What's hot: Easy set up, crisp sound quality

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the Bose Lifestyle 48 click here.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?