Top 5 home theatre systems

We rate the best all-in-one home theatres

All-in-one home theatre systems are a straightforward way of recreating the cinema experience in your lounge room. With everything (sans television) supplied in one purchase, they are a great option for people who require a fast, hassle-free setup. They're also more affordable, require less know-how and are the only sure-fire way to ensure compatibility between each component. If you're on the lookout for a complete audio/visual solution, then the 'everything-in-a-box' route might be the way to go. We have compiled a shortlist of the best home theatre systems currently on the market. For an in-depth review of each unit — along with price and full specifications — click on the links below.

Sony HTSF2000 — best for noise junkies

Sony's HTSF2000 is a handsomely crafted 5.1 home theatre system, comprising of five speakers, a subwoofer and a receiver. Thanks to its great volume output and powerful bass, it will handle action movies and thumping music with considerable aplomb (the volume remains distortion-free even at its highest, which is extremely loud).

The included AV receiver allows you to tweak the volume of individual speakers and subwoofers, and a broad range of sound fields and settings is included. The remote is well laid out, and controlling the unit is quite intuitive. The back panel is replete with a full range of connection options, including three HDMI inputs and one output, as well as optical, coaxial, and analogue audio.

All up, the HTSF2000's attractive design and extensive audio options make it a great option for those looking for a powerful and well-rounded home theatre system.

What's hot: Great volume levels, powerful yet balanced audio range, suitable for both movies and music.

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the Panasonic DMR-BW500, click here.

LG AR702TS — best all-rounder

LG's AR702TS home theatre system is a 6.1 speaker set combined with a receiver. An excellent option for users looking for a complete package, the high quality of the components and relatively inexpensive RRP make this product great value.

The AR702TS boasts excellent audio quality, especially in the treble range, which is nigh on flawless. It will display crystal clarity and sharpness through to the very highest notes. The entire audio range is well balanced, without any particular frequencies overpowering others.

The included receiver has a multitude of composite and analogue audio inputs at the rear, as well as component, coaxial, optical audio, and three HDMI connections (two inputs and one output). A USB connection is also available on the front panel.

All the necessary wiring is included, and calibrating the speakers is quite easy using the inbuilt speaker tone function. All up, the AR702TS is one of the better home theatre/receiver combos we've seen in this price range.

What's hot: Excellent treble, great clarity and definition in all audio, easy to set up.

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the LG AR702TS, click here.

Sharp HT-DV40H — best for quick installations

The Sharp HT-DV40H is a basic stereo system with DVD playback support. It combines the functions of both an up-scaling DVD player and an audio receiver. One of the things we liked most about this unit was the simplified set-up process. The system comprises of just four main components — a 100 Watt subwoofer, a pair of 75 Watt front speakers, and the control unit (which incorporates a DVD player, receiver and amplifier). Assembling the theatre is blessedly easy, with the lengthy cables providing plenty of leeway for distant speaker setups.

Considering it only has two speakers, the sound quality of the HT-DV40H is surprisingly robust. The stereo speakers have a high quality tweeter built-in, which lends the system a very crisp sound. A large range of audio equaliser settings are also included, as well as specific systems which give audio a more cinematic touch.

Basically, if you're not too worried about missing out on surround sound on your favourite DVDs, then you'll be very pleased with the audio from this system.

What's hot: Easy to set up, good sound quality, powerful subwoofer, versatile.

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the Sharp HT-DV40H, click here.

Pioneer HTiB817S — best for enthusiasts

Pioneer has a well-deserved reputation for delivering quality audio, and the HTiB817S is no exception. This easily expandable home theatre system delivers on practically every level and is best suited to high-level sound setups. What's more, it won't empty your bank account, which is an obvious plus.

The centrepiece of this home theatre system is theVSX817S; a 7.1 channel A/V receiver which Pioneer also sells as a separate product. The VSX817S has a vast array of connectors, including three S-Video ports, three component inputs, four composite inputs, three analog RCA inputs, two optical and two coaxial digital inputs. As such, it will form a suitable basis for any serious home theatre system.

In addition to the VSX817S receiver, the system consists of five satellite speakers and a large subwoofer (no CD or DVD player is included). The speakers are solidly built and can be wall-mounted with optional brackets. Volume levels are more than acceptable and will easily fill a large room with minimal distortion.

If you already own a dedicated DVD player and don't mind a somewhat lengthy set-up process, the Pioneer HTiB817S is a solid home theatre solution.

What's hot: Powerful amplifier with plenty of connectivity, well-built speakers

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the Pioneer HTiB817S, click here.

LG AR702TS — best for good looks

The HT762TZ is a mid-range model in LG's line-up, with a decent amount of power and features for the asking price. The system's main drawcard is its contemporary styling, with the front and surround speakers mimicking champagne flutes. As a package it's visually striking, and in addition to this, sound quality is fairly impressive.

The HT762TZ is a normal 5.1 channel DVD speaker system, comprising of four surround speakers, a centre channel speaker and a subwoofer. These are all connected to the receiver, which also handles DVD playing and up-scaling. The receiver houses a large number of inputs and outputs, offering the now-standard HDMI connection as well as component and composite ports. A recessed panel on the unit's front hides both a USB input and a 3.5mm jack for external audio.

A large range of audio tweaking options are available, including LG's Virtual Sound Matrix mode, or VSM. This feature emulates a further five channels, creating an effective 10.1 channel setup.

In addition, the in-built DVD up-scaling does a great job during video playback, with no obvious artefacts or aberrations on the screen. All up, the HT762TZ's sound and video quality are exceptional for the price, and a hefty array of setup features means the system can be tailored to any living space.

What's hot: Beautiful design, great audio and video quality, affordable price.

For full specifications and an in-depth review of the LG AR702TS, click here.

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Chris Jager

Good Gear Guide

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