Can a home theater system be affordable and still create the best viewing experience? If you follow our experts’ advice on the best home theater system under 500, then it can! Otherwise, you could be left with a speaker system that is a far cry from fully cinematic. Read on for more details.
Reviews of the Best Home Theater Systems
1. Yamaha YHT-4950U 4K Ultra HD Home Theater System
The Yamaha home speaker set is a 5.1 fully surround sound capable system with well-balanced sound. The 4K ultra HD system also supports HDR and Dolby Vision.
There is no tuning or placement consideration required with the Yamaha YPAO room optimization technology that analyzes the room and optimizes the soundbar and home theater speakers’ performance.
The subwoofer has virtually no impedance and brings on the heavy bass. Also, to connect the home theater system to other devices, there is Bluetooth streaming available.
The virtual cinema front design means the speakers are all placed at the front of the room to greet you with the most accurate and powerful audio.
2. Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ 5.1 Channel Home Theater
The Harman Kardon 5.1 channel home theater system is designed to provide all-encompassing sound for your living room. It’s a complete system with four 120-watt satellite speakers and a downward-firing 200-watt subwoofer that produces the full spectrum of sound.
For cinephiles, you will be able to adjust and control the bass-boost controls to set it to your preference. The 5.1 system can be upgraded into a more advanced 7.1 system by adding more speakers.
The design of the center speaker, subwoofer and satellites shield your TV and other devices from interference. Every part of the 5.1 surround sound system works together seamlessly to elevate your viewing experience.
3. Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System
The 5.1 channel home theater system supports Dolby Digital and DTS audio formats for 3D surround sound. The Logitech Z906 is THX-certified to bring you the best home theater experience.
Unlike Z5500 with RMS of 505W, the RMS rating of the Z906 is 500W or watts of power, delivering the smoothest and most accurate audio. It has the potential to produce a peak power of 1000 watts, capable of room-vibrating bass sounds.
This best home theater speaker package can connect up to 6 devices, including systems for video games, music players, TVs and more. The setup is easy with digital optical and analog inputs.
Home Theater System Under $500 Buyer’s Guide
Home Theater System Design
Finding a home theater system with a sleek design like the Yamaha SR-B20A is important. You need it to fit into your living room without sticking out like a sore thumb. Many home theaters have multiple speakers hooked up so you need to make sure you have the space to accommodate that.
Does your equipment have a control panel and LED display screen? Having these two features can make controlling your home theater system much easier.
The next part is the receiver in your home theater speaker system. While some sound systems come with a receiver, there are ones that don’t. The receiver is the one thing responsible for the audio quality format support, other than the connection.
So if you plan on enjoying Blu-Ray, 4K and HDR content from your surround speakers, our audio team highly suggests looking for one that can accommodate that.
The rating refers to the power rating of your entire home system. You want to make sure your purchases of these devices will live up to your expectations. There are two ratings of power, the RMS and the peak power rating. They are two different figures that often confuse people, but our experts are here to set things straight.
One refers to the continuous power output at its highest without damaging the full-range speakers and the other is a measurement of the highest power in short bursts. The RMS is often lower than the peak power and is perhaps the more important rating when it comes to the operation.
Size of the Home Theater Stereo System
You need to make sure your new theater system will fit into your living room. You don’t need to largest and most expensive soundbar speaker combo, one within your price range will be more than enough, if you know what to look for.
Your home system will have at least 5 channels, and a separate subwoofer and multiple surround speakers, making it larger than a regular soundbar. The larger size also produces higher sound quality, but you need the space for it.
There are theater systems out there that have a smaller profile than other ones such as the Bose SoundTouch 130 or 300, so if you are tight on space, look for ones that are slimmer in design.
The sound quality of your home system is by far one of the most important features. They provide a means to produce better sound for music and movies and a lot of them can be purchased within your budget.
A full home system like Bose Soundtouch120 is designed to provide superior sound by working together perfectly. Other than the channels, the audio formats the system supports will affect the sound quality as well. Advanced audio technologies such as Dolby and DTS are important to enjoy your movies to their full potential.
Look for devices that feature sound modes. Sound modes are settings preloaded into the soundbar speaker combo that are preset to optimize certain content. For example, movie mode will improve your movies and music mode will enhance the music.
For speech enhancement on the soundbar part of the theater system, a dedicated center channel speaker will be geared solely towards improving dialogue.
According to our experts, a system with a wireless external subwoofer is the best for low notes. LG Electronics, Samsung, Logitech, Bose Cinemate and Yamaha are examples of brands that have systems with an external sub in the price range.
While a subwoofer can be built into the soundbar, our team advises an external one for more power. This way, it can produce Blu Ray  and other high quality movies and TV content acoustics to the best of its ability.
How many channels do you require in your home theater systems? Our audio team suggest 5.1 or higher for the best home theater systems under 500. A 5.1 channel system is the industry standard for a true surround sound effect in a theater system.
The first digit refers to each channel, or sound output source there is. The second digit tells us how many subwoofers there are. Most home theater speaker systems have at least 1 for the best sound.
The more channels you have in your theater system, the better the audio quality. You will also be able to customize the placement of these speakers in your home theater systems.
Home Theater System Setup
The best home theater equipment like the Klipsch Cinema 600 needs to be easy to set up. Soundbar and surround speakers combinations can feature both wired and wireless connections. One provides a mess-free setup and can afford users more placement flexibility, while the other offers a stronger connection.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are the two most common wireless features. They can help you connect to your TV easily with the simple press of a button or stream content from other devices movies, music and podcasts. Bluetooth is more commonly found in home soundbar and speakers combinations but Bluetooth only provides the most stable connection within 33 feet.
As for wired connections, there are HDMI, digital optical, and other digital and analog methods. Our team always suggests HDMI for the best quality sound. Most movies nowadays have high definition audio such as Blu-Ray and Dolby Atmos, and HDMI is the only connection that can support the highest acoustic formats.
You can also add a home theater power conditioner for another layer of protection to your devices.
Other added features in these budget TV home speakers include voice control, a mounting kit and even WiFi. Voice control can perform basic tasks for you completely hands-free and a mounting kit is needed if you intend to wall mount the center channel or soundbar. WiFi is another stable form of wireless connection that is necessary for a buildable system.
How is the soundbar controlled? Many will come with their own remote control or a universal remote control that can be configured to work with your TV system.
It doesn’t matter what your budget is, if you purchase something of a hefty price, you need to make sure you’re protected. A warranty will cover basic defects and other issues you may encounter during use.
Look for longer warranties for more protection. A basic warranty would be anywhere from 1-3 years.
What is the best surround sound system under 500?
The best surround sound system under 500 is the Yamaha YHT-4950U. It features accurate and well-balanced sound optimized with YPAO to take advantage of the acoustics of your room for perfect tuning.
Our Top Pick For A Home Theater System Under $500: Yamaha YHT-4950U
Our experts have chosen the YHT-4059U as the best home theater system under 500. One of the best things about Yamaha systems is the powerful subwoofer and friendly user interface. This system supports highest definition content with a cinematic front setup and YPAO room optimization to guarantee clear and precise audio.
The design is sleek and understated and will fit in with any interior to create the perfect sound stage geared to improving all content.