Movie theaters are on their way out, and the home viewing experience is improving every day. Pretty much every movie ever filmed can be streamed on one service or another, whether it’s through a subscription-based service or for a small rental fee. On top of that, more and more movies are being produced and released as straight-to-Netflix titles, and even Oscar-nom films like Uncut Gems and The Irishman never made it to the big screen.
This means that, if you want that cinema experience, it may be time to just create it in your own home. Especially if you already have a top-tier TV in your home, you’ll want an amazing set of surround speakers to tie everything together and bring the audio quality to that ultra HD level. That can sound like an expensive endeavor, but there are always ways to save some money. We compiled this list of the best affordable home theater systems to help you turn movie night into a 4-star experience for everyone, without breaking the bank.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best home theater systems on a budget, followed by a quick recap highlighting which special trait sets each product apart. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
What Should You Look For in a Budget Home Theater System?
If you’re reading this list, there’s a good chance it’s your first time buying a home theater system. Especially when you’re trying to stay on a budget, it can be hard to know what to look for. It also may be hard to get an idea of how much you can expect to spend. How expensive is too expensive? And how cheap is too good to be true? We’ve taken care of all of that worrying for you! We’ve methodically created a list of criteria to help you prioritize the right traits in your home theater system and know what to look for to find the best of the best.
Criteria #1: Sound Quality – Your TV will take care of the visual. Now you just need a good home theater sound system to give you the full movie theater experience from your couch. Sound quality is pretty much the most important aspect, next to visuals, for your home cinema. But how do we know what sounds good before listening? A quick look at the specifications of a speaker system should be able to give you the answer.
A good home theater system will have the full spread of speakers, each with a different purpose, to give you the best surround sound that will capture the full spectrum of notes and sound effects from the lowest bass to the highest shriek. You can check the frequency response range (measured in hertz) and, of course, rely on user reviews when it comes to possible issues like buzz and distortion.
Criteria #2: Size – It’s probably no surprise that any home theater sound system is going to be big. That’s at least five speakers you’ll need to find room for. But we know not everybody lives in a mansion, and we don’t want it to be needlessly big. Whenever possible, we’ll try to keep our home theater systems on the smaller side without sacrificing sound quality. A product’s design will also factor into this criterion, as some speakers have large measurements but are distributed in a way that makes them fit easily in most homes. For example, soundbar speakers are a lot easier to find space for than the standard box speakers.
Criteria #3: Price – We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. That being said, meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. And you will have to spend some money to walk away with a good home theater system, but we’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Budget Home Theater Systems
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best budget home theater systems” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We also made sure to focus on the most popular brands out there so you’re only getting the tried and true products from respected companies.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best budget home theater systems. After a quick read of our list, you’re sure to find the best audio system to make you feel like you brought your comfy sofa to the movie theater.
#1: Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Klipsch earns the honor of our number one spot and gets our list started. Klipsch is one of the bigger names in audio tech, so don’t be surprised if you see their name come up again in this list or if you see them in other lists you may read. Besides having a pretty housing that will give your home theater the professional look you want, the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System offers all the best in audio quality without costing an arm and a leg.
This home theater speaker system promises amazing sound quality without taking up too much space. Its Tractrix Horn technology and aluminum tweeters deliver the crispest surround sound quality possible to make you feel like you’re in the movie, and the down-firing wireless subwoofer gives you the best bass right in your living room, so you’ll get a 4-D experience from the ground shaking from those low-end sounds. Plus, the subwoofer is wireless, so that’s one less cable you need to worry about tripping over in the dark when you’re bringing the popcorn in from the kitchen. On top of all that, the speakers only weigh a few pounds each. The subwoofer is heavier than that and weighs about ten pounds, but you won’t have to worry about throwing your back out setting up these home theater speakers.
Customers were absolutely in love with the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System. Users raved about the amazing sound, the compact design, and the deal you get for your dollar. There’s really nothing to complain about, and pretty much everyone will be happy with this home theater system. That’s why it earned our number one spot as the best budget home theater system. The only drawback is that you will have to buy a separate AV receiver, but that’s common in the more affordable home theater sound systems.
#2: Samsung HW-Q70T 3.1.2ch Soundbar (Best Machine)
Samsung is certainly not a company that needs any introduction. The Korean tech giant is a powerhouse in everything from smartphones to kitchenware, and home cinema systems are no exception. Samsung is right in the mix as always. The Samsung HW-Q70T 3.1.2ch Soundbar, equipped with the Dolby Atmos and DTS: X surround sound systems, is a little more expensive than the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System, and you may feel that it pushes the boundaries of your definition of the word “budget.” But if you’re okay with that, here are some reasons you may decide to go with the Samsung home theater speakers instead of our number one home theater system.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Alexa-Compatible
If you want the most modern experience possible from your home theater system, then you’ll love the Alexa capabilities of the Samsung HW-Q70T 3.1.2ch Soundbar. You can turn your living room into your own personal concert wall without lifting a finger. DJ the soundtrack to your lazy Saturday or work-from-home routing with the most amazing sound quality available and the best modern convenience with Alexa. You can also have Alexa pause, rewind, or fast-forward a movie for you, so the struggle of flipping over the couch cushions looking for the remote will become a distant memory. Kids these days will never know how tough we had it.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: The Soundbar Design
Placement is just as important for saving space as actual size, and this Samsung home theater speaker system gives you the best sleek design to make sure that your speakers don’t take up your entire living room and have you stepping over and around different items just to get anywhere. Consisting of just one standard speaker and a slim, long, bar-shaped speaker, these Samsung home theater speakers will be blend right in with the decor and give your home theater system a nice modern look.
Considering the name Samsung has built for themselves, it’s no surprise that this sound system is a fan favorite. Customers mentioned that the bass and overall sound quality is incredible and that the soundbar offers quality for the mid-level sounds. Just like with our number one pick, these speakers connect wirelessly, adding to the economic design of the soundbar. If you want to push your budget to the limits and get a home cinema system with Dolby Atmos surround sound that can hang with the high-tier systems, the Samsung HW-Q70T 3.1.2ch Soundbar is what you’re looking for.
#3: Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System (Best for Saving Space and Money)
Klipsch is back on our list, and this time it’s with the Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System. This sound system is perfect for anyone that wants to be conservative with how they use their space but can’t quite afford the above-listed Samsung sound system. It has the same compact soundbar design, but it costs less than half the price of Samsung’s surround sound speaker package.
The Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System has the industry-standard 5.1 decoding for virtualized surround sound, a simple and convenient HDMI input port, one remote control, and it comes paired with a wireless 8-inch subwoofer. It also features a peak power output of 600 watts.
This home theater comes with true left and right speakers in addition to a center channel to give you the best surround sound experience. You’ll really feel right in the thick of things. Plus, the center channel will offer amazing clarity even on the low volumes, so you can hear that whispered dialogue without turning on subtitles.
Just like with the first two products on our list, customers had nothing but praise for this Klipsch sound system. As one customer stated, it has “crisp dialog, expansive sound field, thundering bass.” The same customer pointed out that other soundbars in the same price range just couldn’t get you the same home theater sound as these Klipsch speakers. Another user said that the sound system was amazing both for movies and music, so no matter what you’re using it for you know you’re making a good purchase.
Products like this are just what customers have come to expect from Klipsch. If you don’t want something that will empty out your bank account or fill up your living room, you’ll want to buy the Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System for your home cinema. There’s not much better with this price tag.
#4: Rockville HTS45 600w 5.1 Channel Bluetooth Home Theater Audio System (Best Low Cost)
We promised you budget home theater systems, and on our list of budget sound systems, the Rockville HTS45 600w 5.1 Channel Bluetooth Home Theater Audio System is the cheapest of the cheap. This Rockville theater system comes with the standard 5 amps – one in the center and two on each side – and a subwoofer with a built-in receiver. It has a maximum power of 800 watts and has a nice little feature that lets you control the volume of each speaker individually, so you can really tailor everything to your ideal viewing experience.
A big pro of this budget home theater system is that it has a wide variety of input options. In addition to Bluetooth, you can connect a device using a USB cord, or plug in an SD memory card directly, so no matter where your movie or music library is, you’ll be able to access it without having to browse Amazon for some obscure adapter.
As far as sound quality goes, this speaker system has a frequency response rate of 300Hz to 20KHz, which a little high on the low-end but right up there with the best of them at the high-end. Rockville boasts that “zero distortion can be heard even with volume and bass settings all the way up!” So while you may not get the best bass range, it’s comforting if the bass you do get sounds great.
Customers back them up on this, and the crowd agrees that this is one of the best budget purchases out there. You may not be getting the top-tier sound quality that some of our other systems offer, but you’re still getting a sound system that will beef up your movie viewing, music listening, and gaming experience. The Rockville HTS45 600w 5.1 Channel Bluetooth Home Theater Audio System is decently compact, but it does have a lot more wiring running around than our other sound systems. So if that’s a turn-off for you, you may decide to spend a bit more on a different product. But if you want something cheap, the Rockville HTS45 600w 5.1 Channel Bluetooth Home Theater Audio System is just about the cheapest option you can find of this quality.
#5: Samsung HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio (Best for Gaming)
Sure, hosting movie night with the buddies is nice, but you may also want to use your new fancy set up for a gaming session or two. Imagine the immersive experience you’ll get with that brand new surround sound system blasting out of your TV. This Samsung sound system, which is much cheaper than the Samsung HW-Q70T 3.1.2ch Soundbar, comes with a special gaming mode that will give you the perfect sound for that late-night climb up the rankings ladder.
The gaming mode connects to your console directly, which means there will be that much less latency and delay in the sound, as it won’t have to use your TV as a middle man. This soundbar also has Bluetooth capabilities so you can forget about those annoying wires, and all you need to use it is one small, simple remote.
The Samsung HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio has a wireless subwoofer, uses 200 watts of power, and – as the name suggests – is powered by Dolby Digital for its sound to deliver you some of the best sound quality out there.
Customers considered this is a great deal for its price tag. Samsung boosts great bass with this soundbar, while users loved that this soundbar was incredibly easy to set up. Also, if Bluetooth isn’t for you or you have a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities, this Samsung home theater soundbar also has an HDMI port. No matter what console or PC you’re using for your gaming, the Samsung HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio will bring your games to life in a way you’ve never experienced before, and it’ll do it at a cheap price.
How Much Am I Limiting Myself by Staying on a Budget?
In terms of quality, there are plenty of great budget option speaker systems out there. The biggest drawback for a lot of them is that they don’t come with an AC receiver. So if you don’t have one, it might be more economically responsible to just buy a more expensive unit that includes one. But if you already have an AV receiver, you can find a cheaper sound system that will still give you an amazing experience. And your wallet will thank you.
For a frame of reference, most of the products on our list are below $200, while our top two options are below $400. If you wanted to splurge for a real luxury speaker system, you could easily find one for more than $500, and there are some that cost as much as $1000. But you don’t need to feel that you’re missing out if you don’t splurge for those crazy-expensive audio systems.
Verdict: Your Best Home Theater Systems on a Budget
We know that you still might be having some trouble making your decision, so we’ve provided a quick recap. It might help refresh your memory and help you make that final decision. We made sure to focus on what really sets each speaker system apart so you can get the speaker package that’s perfect for your specific home.
If you want the best value for money, pick the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System.
If you’re concerned with making your dollar go the farthest, the Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 is the perfect choice for your home. This surround sound speaker system manages to fit in a compact size, is affordable, and of high quality. The Tractrix Horn technology and aluminum tweeters offer the best sound, and the downward-aiming subwoofers give you the best crystal clear quality on those low-end sounds. This product has something for everyone and comes with a reasonable price tag.
If you need the most modern sound system, pick the Samsung HW-Q70T 3.1.2ch Soundbar.
The soundbar design provides a natural and space-efficient design while still giving you great sound quality, and this Samsung soundbar comes compatible with Alexa to give you the most modern viewing and listening experience possible. You’ll be able to change the song you’re listening to, adjust the volume, and pause, rewind, or fast forward any movie or TV show using just your voice, so you won’t have to look for that remote you still can’t find. This is the best speaker system to bring your home cinema into the modern age.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Rockville HTS45 600w 5.1 Channel Bluetooth Home Theater Audio System.
This budget speaker package is truly the cheapest of the cheap, and you’re still getting great quality and clear bass. It has Bluetooth capabilities as well as an SD memory card slot and a USB cord port, so no matter what device you want to connect to or where you store your movies or music, you’ll be good to go. The only real catch is that you’ll have a lot of wires running through your living room. There’s really not much else to say about these speakers. Customers agree that it’s one of the cheapest products out there, and you won’t find a better set of speakers in this price range.
That ends our list of the best cheap sound systems for your home theater. We gave you five great options for your speakers and highlighted some of the standouts above, but if you’re still not sure which product is right for your home cinematic experience, it may help to think about which traits are deal-breakers for you.
If you want something that won’t waste space or money, you should consider the Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 Home Theater System. If you need a set of speakers that will bring your video games to life, then you’ll have to buy the Samsung HW-T450 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio and get its Gaming Mode running ASAP.
You may also decide that none of our products are right for you, in which case I suggest using the brands we’ve mentioned as a jumping-off point along with our ranking criteria to do your own research and find the theater system perfect for your tastes. No matter what, I hope you find the perfect speakers that let you enjoy your movies in a way you previously could only experience at the theaters.