Have you ever watched a movie at home, only to find that it doesn’t offer the same viewing experience as in a cinema? One of the main differences is the lack of high-quality surround sound from your television at home. Fortunately, it’s easy to install a home theatre system to provide the same impressive visual experience in your living room, whether you’re watching TV, a feature film, or video games. Best of all, a home theatre system doesn’t have to break the bank. In this article, we’ll help you find the best home cinema system for under £500.
And, if you like, not just the home theatre system: we can help you design the whole entertainment area, from the table tennis table to the treadmill, to fit perfectly with your home theatre system.
The many home theatre systems on the market today, we’ve taken into account several features that have made a few systems stand out from the crowd. The most important feature we looked at was the number of channels each home theatre system has, which determines how many speakers you can connect to the system. We also took a close look at the sound quality and the amount of power the cinema systems are designed to handle. Finally, we looked at how easy these systems are to install and whether they come with a warranty to give you peace of mind when you buy.
We spent dozens of hours reading customer reviews and studying the technical specifications of many of the most popular home cinema systems under £500, and the result is a list of the top four systems. Our choices are summarised in the table below. Read on for a detailed analysis of each home cinema system, with its pros and cons. Our buying guide and FAQ sections cover everything
Finally, we summarise our top three home theatre systems under $500 and explain why we liked them.
Energy 5.1 Take Classic six-piece home theatre system
This home theatre system from Energy is priced at well under £500, making it a great value and one of the best starter sound systems to add to your living room for the cinema experience. The speaker system is a 5.1 system and channels 200 watts through the five surround speakers, as well as a further 200 watts through the subwoofer. Note that the speaker system does not come with a receiver set, so you’ll need to purchase it separately to use the speakers with your TV or other devices.
Users were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of these inexpensive speakers, noting that they offered relatively tight bass control that worked well for music and movies. However, the aluminum dome inside the speakers requires a break-in period of about 50 hours, so expect an overly bright sound that will gradually warm up and become richer as you use the speakers.
The speakers are nicely finished, although the exterior is compressed cardboard rather than real wood, so watch out for scratches. Users also liked the fact that the satellite and center speakers can be placed on a shelf or wall-mounted using an after-market kit. In case of problems, Energy offers 60 days of free technical support.
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Speaker System
This small, inexpensive home theater system from Logitech is surprisingly powerful, delivering up to 500 watts of continuous power through the five speakers and up to 1,000 watts of peak power. In addition, the subwoofer delivers room-shaking bass when you need it, with up to 300 watts of peak power. Users praised the low distortion of these THX-certified speakers and the subwoofer at high volumes, noting that sound quality didn’t diminish even at volumes too high for comfort. At the quiet end of the spectrum, however, the subwoofer’s bass can sound relatively flat.
All satellite speakers can be wall-mounted using an after-market kit or placed on shelves, but it should be noted that the receiver unit is not designed to be mounted. The overall footprint of the system is quite small, making it suitable for small and large rooms. In addition, the amplifier and center speaker are stackable to save space. The speakers themselves are wired rather than wireless, and some users have noted that the cabling seems a little flimsy. For this reason, the lack of a warranty is a major issue with this speaker set.
Nakamichi Shockwave Elite 7.1.4 channel 600W Dolby Atmos soundbar
Third, on this list is the Nakamichi Shockwave Elite 7.1.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos soundbar. Given its unique surround sound style, this should come as no surprise. The comes with two subwoofers, two satellite speakers, and a single soundbar, completing a rather unorthodox setup. Rather than having multiple satellite speakers, the included soundbar simulates the function of the front left, center, and right channels, as well as wide soundstage speakers for left and right ambient effects.
In addition, the system comes with two two-way rear speakers and two wireless subwoofers, with the rear speakers connected directly to the subwoofers. Installation is very simple, to say the least. The system also comes with remote control, which makes it easy to use. Unfortunately, we would have liked the range of the remote control to be a little longer. To make your connections, you have an optical input, three HDMI inputs, and a coaxial input.
The coaxial input allows you to connect many game consoles and Blu-ray players as it offers many connectivity options. There is also a delay when switching inputs, which we don’t like, and hope something will be done about it.
- 7.1 channel system
- 600 watts
- 370 watts for two units
- in-wall soundbar, floor standing speakers
- 1 year
- wireless subwoofers; reproduces high frequencies with captivating clarity
Yamaha NS-SP1800BL 5.1-channel home cinema speaker system
This Yamaha speaker set offers excellent sound quality at a reasonable price for those on a budget, but be aware that installation is a lot of work and you will need to add components to complete your home theatre system. The speakers do not come with wires, so you will need to buy speaker wires separately and connect the speakers to a central receiver – which also needs to be purchased separately. If you don’t have one, check out our selection of the best A/V receivers under $500. Also, while the speakers can stand alone on shelves, you’ll probably need to buy mounting kits for the satellite speakers.
That said, the 100-watt output of these speakers provides surprisingly loud volume with relatively low distortion, and the 100-watt subwoofer provides solid bass for the price. However, users note that bass can be somewhat muddied at higher volumes. Users particularly liked the center speaker, which is larger than most comparable speakers for the price and provides sufficient volume for voices to be heard over the background sound from the satellite speakers.
Another advantage of this audio system is that Yamaha backs it with a one-year warranty, which adds to the peace of mind when investing.
- 5.1 channel system
- Power consumption
- Two-way satellite speakers and a single two-way center speaker.
- wall mountable
Why buy a home theatre system with surround sound?
If you’ve ever watched movies or played video games in your living room and felt a little disappointed compared to the viewing experience you get in a cinema, a home cinema system can be a good investment. Compared to the cinema, your TV may have excellent picture quality but a poor audio system – after all, most TV screens are not designed to provide optimal sound on their own. A home theatre system allows you to connect your TV and other devices to a set of speakers, which can then be placed around the room to create a surround sound experience. The difference is immediately noticeable, both in the range of audio frequencies you can hear with the addition of a high-quality speaker system and in the enveloping experience provided by audio signals from around the room. In addition, the addition of a home cinema can allow you to turn up the volume of your movies or games to a much higher level than you could with a TV speaker alone.
Get a Robolox $ 100 Gift Card Now
Roblox Gift Cards are the easiest way to add credit you can spend toward Robux or a Premium subscription.
Each gift card grants a free virtual item upon redemption and comes with a bonus code for an additional exclusive virtual item.
Surprise a Roblox fan today
Choose from dozens of eGift card designs based on your favorite experiences, characters, and more.
Features to consider before buying a home cinema system
One of the most important things to decide when you start looking for home theatre systems is how many audio channels you want the system to have, which directly corresponds to the number of speakers you can connect to it. In general, home theatre systems are classified as either 5.1 – which means they can connect five speakers and a subwoofer – or 7.1 – which means they can connect seven speakers and a subwoofer.
In a 5.1 cinema system, the speakers are usually distributed so that two speakers are on the left and right of the TV screen, one speaker is directly under the TV to transmit the sounds of people talking, and two surround speakers are located to the left and right of your seat. A 7.1 system uses the same configuration, but adds two additional speakers to the left and right behind your seats to provide a richer surround sound experience. In both setups, the subwoofer is usually placed in the center, under the TV, to produce low-frequency sound.
Because of the extra two speakers in a 7.1 cinema system, this type of setup is ideal if you have a large room or several places for people to sit. However, 7.1 cinema systems are generally more expensive or have lower sound quality than 5.1 systems at the same price.
The other important consideration when choosing a home theatre system is the sound quality of the system. Sound quality is difficult to quantify and depends on the combination of speakers, subwoofer, and power output of the entire home theatre system. Speakers and subwoofers can be compared in terms of the power output they provide, and many home theatres are rated according to the total amount of power they distribute between the included speakers. Power in watts is related to volume, but note that the difference between the 200 watt Energy system and the 500 watt Logitech system does not translate into a 2.5x difference in volume – a 2x difference in volume requires 10x more watts. However, it’s still a perceptible difference in volume to the ear, which can be especially important when looking at subwoofer power differences, since this is the primary source of your audio bass.
Even if it costs less than £500, a home theatre system is a significant investment. So you want to be sure it will serve you for many years. Unfortunately, warranties on home theatre systems are relatively short or non-existent, and some manufacturers – like Energy – offer limited free technical support rather than a real warranty. While no warranty stands out on home theatre systems under $500, note that a warranty period is generally preferable to no warranty for peace of mind.
Home theatre systems also vary greatly in terms of how easy or difficult it is to install in your home. While this depends in part on the devices you are trying to connect to your home theatre system, be sure to check what kind of connection ports the audio receiver offers and whether they are compatible with the outputs of your TV, game consoles, and other devices. Also, make sure that the cables from the receiver and the various speakers are long enough to reach the necessary electrical outlets for your living room setup. Note that some cinema systems – such as the Yamaha system or the Nakamichi system – are equipped with in-wall speakers, while others are equipped with tower-type speakers designed to be placed on the floor, and still others with a combination of both.
One of the most important additional features offered by some home theatre systems is the ability to connect devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This makes connecting new devices to the home theatre system much quicker and easier and eliminates the need for a tangle of cables.
Our favorite home theatre systems under $500 are the Energy 5.1 Take Classic Home Theatre System, the Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Speaker System, and the Nakamichi Shockwave Elite 7.2.4 Channel 800W Dolby Atmos Sound Bar. Of these systems, note that only the Logitech system comes with a receiver and all three systems are likely to require speaker mounting kits, so expect additional investment over and above the cost of the speaker systems. That said, all three systems offer incredible sound quality for the price. While the Nakamichi system offered the best overall sound quality and surround sound experience with the 7.2 system, the Logitech system offered the most speaker power. However, we felt that the Energy system was the best home theatre system under $500 because of its balance of high-quality speakers, price, and the addition of 60 days of free technical support to get you started with your new home theatre.