Best Home Cinema System 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Home cinema systems are one of the best ways to experience the full effect of your favourite films and TV shows from the comfort of your own home. TVs are becoming bigger and better than ever before, but one of the downsides of having a flat TV is that the sound quality suffers.

For this reason, lots of people opt for a home cinema systems with surround sound to really make the most out of their viewing.

Whether you opt for simple all-in-one sound systems or a huge 7-piece Blu-ray package, you will find systems in all shapes and sizes to suit your needs. Here are some of our top picks for homecinema systems, from soundbars to full suites.

The Home Cinema Systems – Our Top Picks

Best Luxury Home Cinema System: Sonos Playbase
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Sonos Playbase 5.1 Home Cinema System
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  • Type: 5.1
  • Features: See description
  • Number of Items: 4
Best Home Cinema Soundbar: Sonos Playbar Soundbar
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Sonos Playbar Soundbar
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  • Type: Soundbar
  • Features: Wi-Fi, Sonos app, intuitive sound
  • Dimensions: (85 x 900 x 140mm)
Best Budget Home Cinema System: Sony BDVE4100
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Sony BDVE4100 5.1 Surround Smart 3D
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  • Type: 5.1
  • Speaker Output: 1000 Watts
  • Features: 3D Compatible, Smart Technology
  • Number of Items: 7

Best 5.1 Home Cinema Systems

PANASONIC SC-BTT405EBK 5.1

Consisting of four bookshelf speakers, a centre speaker and subwoofer, you can set this home cinema system up as you wish around your room for optimum control. An entire home cinema kit, you can play 3D Blu-ray disks and even upscale some of your older ones to near HD quality. There are catch up services included, as long as everything is connected to your wireless internet.

As it is wireless, connecting your phone or music player is seamless for even more possibilities. Everything is easy to set up, and the instructions talk you through the entire process. You can also connect an external hard drive to the USB port.

There is a slight issue with lagging between picture and sound which can be configured in the settings to get it as close as possible, but it isn’t enough to put a dampener on the experience.

We like

  • Price
  • 3D player included

We disike

  • Fan is slightly noisy

Final Verdict

A full home entertainment system which will make your living room the place to be every evening

+ Specifications

  • Type: 5:1
  • Speaker output: 500W
  • Features: 3D compatible, Fixed apps with catch-up services
  • Number of items: 6

+ Downloads

PANASONIC SC-BTT405EBK 5.1 Smart 3D Blu-ray & DVD Home Cinema System

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Sonos Playbase 5.1 Home Cinema System

Another cutting-edge release from one of the biggest names in the game!

This stylish and bespoke sound system is one that excels on all levels and it would have to do just that in order to justify its big price tag. Sonos is renowned for providing ground-breaking sound, and they’ve done it again! This is their official 5.1 entry that brandishes a stunning display, the main speaker can easily sit under your television whilst the other unobtrusive speakers can be made at home anywhere else in your living room.

It makes your home the epitome of sound quality as you boast the greatest movie experience, music-playing, drama-enhancing abode- this system provides everything you want as you simply hook it up to your device and enjoy Alexa. You can stream from your favourite apps and sites.

The clean matte finish means that it doesn’t just fit into your room but it actually enhances it! The system is simple to use and can be set up to sync with all of your other Sonos products. The price is steep but if you’re serious about every sound detail and a real system then this is the choice for you.

Features: 3D Compatible, Smart Technology, Compatible with other SONOS

We like

  • SONOS and the fact it can be synced
  • How easy it is to setup and use
  • It’s sleek style

We disike

  • The price despite it being worth it

Final Verdict

It may well be expensive but if you're after the full ultimate experience then there is few other options

+ Specifications

  • Type: 5.1
  • Features: See description
  • Number of Items: 4

+ Downloads

Sonos Playbase 5.1 Home Cinema System Product Guide

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LG LHB645N 5.1 3D Multi-Room Cinema System

Although many Smart TV’s are now embedding high quality sound it’s still nowhere near the quality of separate surround sound systems. Enhance your home cinema experience with exquisite products like this one. We love what LG have done, setting the bar high. This multi-room technology is 3D compatible and has 1000 watts of audio power.

There’s a dream combination of tallboy and satellite speakers that can be positioned perfectly around your seating arrangements ensuring that you’re submersed into the movie. Too often people underestimate the importance of good sound when creating a home entertainment experience, the speakers are just as valuable as the television.

This choice is one that’s great value and if you shop around you may struggle to find this quality at this price. LG strive to create the best quality at great value and we definitely give them the thumbs up on this attempt. It’s great to enjoy your favourite music and movies, as this multi-purpose system delivers all of the sounds you couldn’t hear on your bog standard outlets before.

We like

  • Powerful sound at a reasonable price
  • Different combination of speakers
  • Works with 3D

We disike

  • No 4K upscaling
  • No smart technology

Final Verdict

This product provides an awesome sound to match your dynamic picture and having the perfect sound completes the entire experience.

+ Specifications

  • 3D compatible
  • HDMI output
  • Blu-ray player
  • Audio power of 1000 watts
  • 1080p upscaling

+ Downloads

LG LHB645N user manual

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LG LOUDR LHB655NW 5.1 Theatre Speaker System

Immerse yourself in this innovative system that pairs with your television to create the most enthralling movie, programme or music track. The hardware is capable of bringing your film to life with its precise detailing and surround sound features.

LG often flies under the radar and that’s a good thing for sound connoisseurs like ourselves because it enables us to capitalise on low prices. There are two options for this system, one with two tallboy speakers that are priced below £400 or you can opt for the upgraded version that incorporates four tallboy speakers. Either-way they encapsulate quality sound and a sleek design that can easily fit in with your home.

The package comes complete with two/four tallboy speakers, subwoofer and speakers. This purchase gives you a lot for your money as it not only offers some of the highest quality sound but it simultaneously showcases some intriguing features including the Personal Noise Mode, this mode enables you to connect your phone via Wi-Fi and instead of disturbing the whole house with your film, you can play the sound from your phone or tablet.

One of the common issues with cheaper 5.1 systems was that they overcompensated on bass and treble and sacrificed the voice, which can be a little nauseating when enjoying a movie. In this case- they have integrated little satellite speakers to help you effortless embrace the narrative unfold.

We like

  • The option for two or four tallboy speakers
  • The aesthetically pleasing design
  • The little satellite speakers for voice sound
  • The Personal Noise Mode

We disike

  • The software isn’t the easiest to use

Final Verdict

One of the best options if you like to fully adapt your sound and cinema system depending on what it is you're doing

+ Specifications

  • Type: 5.1
  • Speaker Output: 1000 Watts
  • Features: Personal Noise Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Number of Items: 5 or 7

Sony BDVE4100 5.1 Surround Smart 3D

If you wish to augment your television experience with detailed sound then you may want to look at Sony’s latest protégé. This home cinema system is a lot of bang for your buck and can easily be integrated into your entire entertainment system with its smart technology.

The easy-to-use entertainment package can be set-up within minutes; it has a USB input and can be connected to the Wi-Fi. Upon reviewing this product we discovered it also has Bluetooth and can be paired with your favourite device, despite many of the retailers failing to mention this, what a great added bonus!

You can bring your movies to life with the powerful 1000-watt speaker playback and 5.1-surround sound. The sleek system comes in seven pieces with two very large and contemporary speakers that will add to your room, it also comes complete with an antenna, remote control and a warranty. The two big freestanding speakers are made to be streamline and can easily be adapted to the ambience of any room. There are some more advanced systems to put into your home but none within this price range- this is an unusually fantastic price for what really generates dynamic sound.

We like

  • The contemporary design
  • The sound quality
  • Bluetooth and 3D compatibility
  • Smart features

We disike

  • No wall bracket or speaker stand

Final Verdict

Easy to set up and will fit seamlessly into any room no matter the size, style or layout - a must for any surround sound lovers

+ Specifications

  • Type: 5.1
  • Speaker Output: 1000 Watts
  • Features: 3D Compatible, Smart Technology
  • Number of Items: 7

Samsung HT-J5150 5.1 Blu-ray & DVD

Budget 5:1 systems with Blu-ray and subwoofer

With its distinctive tall speakers, this 5:1 option offers powerful surround sound for those looking to spend a little less. Its wired subwoofer allows you to up the bass levels for added drama, whatever it is you’re watching – whether movies or sports. A Blu-ray player comes included with this sound-system, offering sharp, full HD resolution in stunning colour while you watch your favourite films.

Samsung’s ‘Connect Share Movie’ feature means you can easily use a USB memory stick to import photo and video files, in addition to HDMI ports which will allow you to connect your other devices.

We like

  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Superb build quality
  • Easy to setup

We disike

  • HD cable not supplied

Final Verdict

We love how easy this is to set up and navigate, and with great sound to boot, we think this is a great budget option for those who want a full 5:1 surround sound cinema experience at home without breaking the bank.

+ Specifications

  • Type: 5:1
  • Speaker output: 1000W
  • Features: USB sharing, Full HD, HDMI ports
  • Number of items: 6

+ Downloads

Samsung HT-J5150 user manual

Download

Sony BDV-N7200W 5.1 3D Smart Blu-ray/DVD Home Cinema

A smart 5:1 option that ticks all the boxes

If you want an experience that is truly special, then go the whole hog and invest in quality 5:1 systems like this kit from Sony. Its 5:1 surround sound with magnetic fluid speakers gives perfectly clear, undistorted sound (thanks to the amplifier) that is a pleasure to listen to – whether it’s a pin drop or a huge explosion.

We love that this model comes with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which means movies and TV shows can be streamed via the internet. Using smartphone mirroring, you can easily mirror your photos and videos straight onto the big screen.

We like

  • Built in Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
  • Smartphone mirroring
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Easy to setup

We disike

  • Main unit is somewhat of an awkward size

Final Verdict

One of the greatest things about this is the 3D Blu-ray player that comes included, which as well as offering super high picture quality, also allows you to experience films in immersive 3D. Football fans will be thrilled to know that they can enable ‘football mode’, which adjusts the sound levels to amplify the roar of the crowd, so you feel like you’re really there.

+ Specifications

  • Type: 5:1
  • Speaker output: 1200W
  • Features: Wi-Fi connection, NFC mirroring, Bluetooth
  • Number of items: 8

+ Downloads

Sony BDV–N7200W user manual

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Best Soundbar

Bose® Solo 5 Sound Bar with Bluetooth

Bose is known for their products which produce excellent sound and quality control, and this soundbar is no exception. There is Bluetooth built in to reduce the need for extra leads, meaning you can connect up any device as long as it is compatible. Whether you want to play a video or your going out playlist while you get ready, all you need to do is press a few buttons.

All sound is expertly delivered, from the quietest of dialogue to the loud, cinematic effects. The universal remote is designed to save you from having one to control the bar, one to control your TV, one for the music player and another for your set-top box. If your item can be programmed in, then you can put all the other remotes safely away.

This bar can sit on your TV, on top of a dedicated cabinet or shelf, or can even be mounted to the wall if you are furniture and clutter-free.

We like

  • Fabulous sound
  • Compact build

We disike

  • No HDMI port to connect to TV

Final Verdict

Impressive sound, all in one good-sized device - a winner in our eyes

+ Specifications

  • Type: Soundbar
  • Speaker output: N/A
  • Features: Universal remote control, Bluetooth
  • Number of items: 1

+ Downloads

Bose® Solo 5 Sound Bar User Manual

Download

Sonos Beam Compact Smart Sound Bar

This Sonos soundbar has been awarded 5 stars by What hi-fi, so we had high expectations before it was even out of the box. Firstly, it can be controlled by your voice through Alexa and the dedicated app, and five built-in microphones will detect your voice from a really great range. All you need is two cables – one for the power and one to connect it to your TV.

There is a huge offering of 50 music subscription services available to stream from, so whatever your chosen platform, it is bound to be on there. Airplay 2 means it can be controlled directly from your iPhone or through Apple Music, too.

And, if you are a fan of Sonos already, it can be connected up to the rest of your speakers so you can choose to have something different playing in each room or have your music or podcast playing seamlessly throughout the house, so you don’t miss a word.
It is only 61 cm long, so it is unlikely to hang off the sides of your television or your TV stand which can become rather unsightly.

We like

  • Sonos Controller App available for more control
  • Great sound
  • Option to extend the sound further with added speakers

We disike

  • Pricey for one item

Final Verdict

One of the best sounding sound bars on the market, perfect on its own or as an entire set-up (if you are happy with the possible cost)

+ Specifications

  • Type: Soundbar
  • Speaker output: N/A
  • Features: Voice control, app controllability
  • Number of items: 1

Sonos Playbar Soundbar

A powerful all-in-one soundbar for extra oomph.

If you’re looking to simply improve the sound quality of your experience, then look no further than this highly recommended Sonos Playbar. Whether you’re into gaming, films or TV shows, this powerful soundbar brings your living room to life and sends vibrations right through your body.

One of the best things about using all-in-one systems or soundbar is its simplicity – it’s one extra device to add to the mix, and what’s more it’s small and inoffensive. This model connects to the TV with a single cable and has built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect with ease. You can control the soundbar from your smartphone or tablet by downloading the Sonos app.

We like

  • Sonos app allows control from your phone
  • Single cable to TV
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • Very simple and easy to use
  • Looks great
  • Fantastic sound quality

We disike

  • We loved everything about this soundbar!

Final Verdict

One of the genius features of this soundbar is that’s intuitive. It can figure out where it is – wherever you place it in the home, it will adapt its output for the best possible sound. Though on the more pricey end of the scale, its cost is reflected in its quality and consistently good performance.

+ Specifications

  • Type: Soundbar
  • Features: Wi-Fi, Sonos app, intuitive sound
  • Dimensions: (85 x 900 x 140mm)

+ Downloads

Sonos Playbar Soundbar user manual

Download

Samsung HW-K950 5.1 Soundbar

It’s probably the most celebrated soundbar on the market and that’s for a good reason- the cinematic bar provides ultra-sound sure to enhance your movie experience. The whole product comes in just four parts and still manages to transform your room into a film setting with an ATMOS style surround sound.

There are a few standout points when it comes to this item and one is the price- when you think of this being a mere soundbar, it seems rather expensive. It is well over £1000 but it’s far more than your average bar, it is a complete home cinema system made compact and versatile. It also comes with a sub woofer and speakers that can play sound separately around the room creating the ultimate surround sound effect.

So apart from the high quality sound (the most desired feature in this case) what else does this Samsung brainchild have to offer? It’s a very easy setup, you can assemble the product within seconds through your smart devices, it is a wireless system and supports all of your streaming devices once it’s been hooked up to your phone or tablet.

It also works in perfect synchronicity with your Blu-ray player, offering what’s probably the best surround sound we have experienced. It also supports Spotify Connect, Tidal, TuneIn and Amazon Music. The innovative system has been created to be the main cinema system in your household.

We like

  • The support of streaming apps/networks
  • The sound quality
  • Blu-ray compatibility

We disike

  • The height of the soundbar can block the television-remote signal

Final Verdict

For something a bit more compact, but without the loss of power or performance, Samsung has you covered

+ Specifications

  • Type: Soundbar
  • Speaker Output: 500 Watts
  • Features: TrueHD, Multi-room, Wi-Fi
  • Number of Items: 4

Help and Resources

Home Cinema Buying Guide

Components

Home-cinemas have become increasingly popular since Blu-ray entered the market. The majority of Blu-ray disks are programmed with 5:1 digital audio, which when paired with 5:1 sound systems gives you the best possible sound quality – as close as you will get to cinema sound in your own home.

Most typical arrangements will include a DVD or Blu-ray player as part of the package, unless you are buying each component separately. They will also tend to include a receiver, a subwoofer (for bass) and additional speakers which can be placed around the room for a surround sound effect.

Speaker systems

There are three types of speaker-systems that are typically used to form a home-cinema experience. These are:

All-in-one-system

These systems encapsulate the speakers, amplification and sound decoding technology in one neat unit, which is usually placed under or next to the TV. With these systems, the DVD or Blu-ray player does not usually come as part of the package – it would be bought separately. With minimal wiring to tidy away, these home systems are a simple and often cost-effective solution to improve your sound.

2.1-systems

The clue is in the name – 2:1 systems use 2 speakers and a subwoofer to create a surround sound experience. They are a great option if you are looking for immersive sound, but only have a small living room or viewing space at home. Some 2:1 systems come with a Blu-ray player, but not all – this varies from model to model.

5.1-systems

The next level up from a 2:1 is a 5:1, which typically includes 6 speakers in addition to a subwoofer. If you’re serious about getting a really top quality experience, then opting for 5:1 systems is worth your while, as all the best sound formats use 5:1 channels. You have more speakers to play with, which means you can position them strategically around the room to get the best effect. Most include a Blu-ray player, but not all.

Soundbars

Rather than going for a full sound-system, some simply choose to amplify the sound of their TV by choosing a soundbar. These long, slim boxes are unobtrusive and offer high quality sound that is designed to mimic a surround sound experience. They are usually placed near or underneath the TV and are a great option for those with limited space or budget.

What features are important to you? Will you opt for an all-in-one-system or a fully built-out 5:1 or 9:1-system? Let us know why in the comments below.