So you're looking for the ultimate home sound system for your unique lifestyle and needs. Well, you've certainly come to the right place. Welcome to your expert-approved guide to home speakers. We tapped people from all across the industry — Music Producer Sam Lassner (Prince Fox), Record Producer and Mix Engineer Daniel Markus, Music Coordinator Tim Fetcher, and Audio/Video Installation Technician Jeremy Tiffany — to offer us their professional opinions on exactly what to buy based on budget, listening habits, and speaker location. For vinyl lovers, movie snobs, and everyone in between: here are the eight best home audio systems on the market.
Best Sound Bar: Bose Smart Soundbar 900, $899
When it comes to your television and home theater setup, Lassner is all for Bose products. This sleek system is engineered to fit perfectly below your flat screen, equipped with seven individual speakers, and its length makes for spacious sound and a rich listening experience. The best part? Its new Dolby Atmos technology allows artists to place each and every sound into its own part of the room, making you feel like you're truly living inside the movie. Easily connect to Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, Amazon Alexa, and more. The perfect option if you want to amplify your television's sound without installing a full home theater package.
Best Budget Buy: Kanto YU4 Powered Bookshelf Speakers, $369.99 (for pair)
If you're working within a budget, Fetcher says the Kanto YU4 is the way to go. With built-in Bluetooth, an accompanying remote control, and an integrated phono preamp for playing vinyl, this pair gives you the most for your money. The elegant, compact design is a bonus, especially if you're looking to get superb sound in a small space.
Best for Vinyl: McIntosh MP100 Phono Preamplifier, $2,000
Both Lassner and Fetcher couldn't speak highly enough about McIntosh, specifically for listening to records. Perfect on its own or as a modern addition to your current speaker setup, the MP100 is a vinyl lover's fantasy. Even with its price tag, Fetcher notes that this is still a pretty baseline model for McIntosh. No matter the model, "it's a dream to have my own one day," he says.
Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker: JBL FLIP 5, $119.95
Markus isn't the only one who raves about this affordable, compact, and crisp Bluetooth speaker — it's a true fan favorite amongst casual and serious music listeners alike. Boasting over 12 hours of playtime per charge and a waterproof shell, this JBL classic is the ultimate on-the-go speaker no matter how big your adventure is. Boost the party energy one step further with this model's wide selection of fun colors and patterns.
Most Unique Listening Experience: Syng Cell Alpha, $1,799
This innovative speaker looks just as good as it sounds, and Fetcher deems it the premier system to splurge on. It allows your music listening experience to be far more immersive and tangible than ever before. The world's first Triphonic speaker, the Cell enables you to hear, see, and touch music. So what does this mean exactly? Well, the multi-sensory activity is made possible by a machine that detects the walls, room size, and any other surrounding Cells. Your music will immediately be projected properly according to the software's observations. You can also have complete autonomy to customize your own listening experience, selecting where to move, magnify, and shrink sound. Please note: Syng recommends three or more Cells to really get the full effect.
Best Home Theater System: Harman Kardon HKTS 16BQ Home Theater Speaker Package, $649.99
When looking to achieve that movie theater-like surround sound, Lassner opts for Harman Kardon. This six-piece set is the ultimate bang for your buck. Including five voice-matched satellite loudspeakers (center, left front, right front, left surround, and right surround), in addition to an impressive, 200-watt powered subwoofer, get prepared for the full-blown cinematic experience. Between the 360-degree sound and the magnetic shield preventing television damage, this set is expertly built with TV in mind.
Best Overall: Klipsch R-51PM Powered Bluetooth Speaker, $499
Markus couldn't say enough positive things about Klipsch. A few highlights include the system's easy installation, the brand's long legacy, and the most important factor — its speakers just "sound good." The R-51PM is also beautifully designed, relatively affordable, Bluetooth compatible, and requires no receiver to achieve top-notch sound quality, courtesy of the integrated amplifier. Please note: Speakers are sold individually.
Easiest to Use: Sonos One, $199
Last, but certainly not least, we have good old Sonos. Everyone knows it, and it's no surprise why. Sonos truly has an option for every need. Tiffany swears it's by far the easiest to integrate (and he installs these things for a living, so we trust him completely), especially if you use Alexa for voice control. Place the speakers in any room you'd like sound and either opt for the Sonos One with built-in Alexa, or the Sonos One SL without (it can still be paired with Amazon Echo Dots). The One models are the ideal multi-room speaker option on the market. If you're looking for an even higher quality sound, battery-operated, indoor/outdoor option, the Sonos Move is definitely the move. And if you're envisioning speakers installed directly into your ceiling, Sonos has an option for you as well. Looking for a different brand? Denon's Heos products compare in quality, price, and integration (it's what Tiffany actually uses in his own home).