Not satisfied with your TV’s sound? A multi-speaker home cinema system can deliver clearer, louder audio, plus a true cinema-like surround-sound effect – and many include a Blu-ray player, too.
We recently tested 17 new systems, including models from LG, Bose, Yamaha, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung, and found seven new Best Buys capable of delivering a fantastic listening – and viewing – experience.
Our team of experts assessed a range of home cinema systems, priced from £200 to £1,500, to assess sound quality, ease-of-use, power consumption and features. The best models blew us away with great and sometimes even exceptional sound quality, useful features and were reasonably simple to set up.
For home cinema systems with a built-in Blu-ray player, we tested them by watching hours of film and TV footage to uncover any picture quality problems. Only then can we recommend the models that will treat you to a fantastic Blu-ray and DVD picture.
Discover which models are top of the pops on our Best Buy Home cinema systems page.
True surround sound on a budget
Modern ultra-slim TVs look great but sound quality is often compromised as there’s little room inside for built-in speakers. Sound bars, which contain several speakers in one long rectangular chassis, are a compact, stylish and fuss-free way to improve TV sound quality.
However, while sound bars’ simplicity has made them popular, there’s no substitute for a home cinema system with multiple speakers placed around your room to deliver true surround sound.
Our most recent test of home cinema systems uncovered two Best Buys that offer 5.1-channel surround sound and a Blu-ray player with smart-TV features for less than £300.
Premium sound needn’t cost a fortune
Most home cinema systems come in a 5.1 speaker arrangement – one in the centre, front left, front right, rear left, rear right and a bass-boosting subwoofer (the ‘.1’) – to match the widely-used 5.1ch Dolby Digital or DTS surround sound used by many film and TV soundtracks.
But as newer surround sound technologies have emerged, such as 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, DTS-Master HD and Dolby Atmos, home cinema systems have gained even more speakers – some premium systems now have as many as 13 of them.
We tested several 7.1-channel systems in our latest batch, including the LG BH9540TW, Panasonic SC-BTT885, Samsung HT-J7750W, Samsung HT-J7750W, plus the Onkyo HT-S7705 (£699) which supports the new Dolby Atmos format.
Only the most high-performing home cinema systems are awarded our Best Buy rating, and our expert testing has revealed that a high price or total number of speakers is no guarantee of quality – some premium systems scored considerably worse than systems with fewer speakers and a much lower price tag.
Which Home cinema systems have we tested?
We’ve just tested the following products:
Home cinema systems – surround sound with a Blu-ray player:
- Harman Kardon BDS 680
- Harman Kardon BDS 880
- LG LHB725
- LG LHB745
- LG BH9540TW
- Panasonic SC-BTT885
- Samsung HT-J4500
- Samsung HT-J4530
- Samsung HT-J4550
- Samsung HT-J5150
- Samsung HT-J5500
- Samsung HT-J7500W
- Samsung HT-J7750W
- Sony BDV-E3100
Home cinema systems – surround sound without a Blu-ray player: