We test the latest all-in-one home theatre systems, priced from $399 to $799.
Through our rigorous testing, we reveal which home theatre systems:
- have the best sound quality
- are the easiest to use, and
- have the lowest standby energy consumption.
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If you want to enjoy cinema at home, where the space ship in a movie sounds like it’s roaring over your head, you need a home theatre system with multiple speakers and a system that can process the sound. However, a true cinema experience at home can cost several thousand dollars and often complex speaker adjustments.
If you don’t want to spend this much on a custom system, you may be satisfied with a combination player/receiver setup with speakers included. These systems, also known as cinema in a box (CIB), offer a value compromise that may satisfy some users.
CHOICE tested eight CIBs, all of which have a BD (Blu-ray disk) player built into the receiver unit. All the models on test have something to offer; some have multiple analog inputs, some have an iPod dock, while others allow you to stream internet video. None of them give you true drama for your home theatre expectations.
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Video: Home theatre system review
We take a look at whether a home entertainment system is worth buying.
Brands and models tested
- LG BH6520TW
- LG BH7520TW
- Panasonic SC-BTT490
- Panasonic SC-BTT790
- Samsung HT-E4500
- Samsung HT-E5550W
- Sony BDV-E690
- Sony BDV-N990W
How we test
The listening panel is made up of at least three people with a background in either sound engineering or production. They’re aware of the average price point of the products, but do not know the specific price point of each set of speakers. They listen to the same tracks at the same peak volume level through each system and agree on a score for each type of input.
Each set of speakers is positioned in the same locations around the listening position and at around head height, except for the subwoofer, which is on the floor. The room is about 5m x 4m x 2.5m (D x W x H) and is acoustically treated to approximate a reasonably sound absorbent lounge room.
We also conduct some technical tests such as frequency response, which tests how well the speakers produce tones evenly, and maximum output level, where we feed a signal to the speaker and measure the outcome.
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These independent ratings are only available through membership with CHOICE Online because no one tests products like we do. Arm yourself with our unique and exclusive information and make your next purchase with confidence.