Best home theatres to buy in India 2022: Sony Z9F, Sonos Beam 2 and more

While home theatres have ceded some amount of their importance to portable speakers in many homes, they still offer great entertainment value. Here’s our pick.

Home theatres were once upon a time a much-desired add-on after you got your hands on the large, flat-screen television that you were eyeing for long. However, as TV technologies evolved, so did the quality of the native speakers of a television. Furthermore, audio manufacturers capitalised on the rise of smartphones, going hand in hand with the advent of mainstream Bluetooth connectivity to create portable, wireless speakers. The latter did not only bolster the audio performance of a TV but also had the added functionality of being able to offer good audio any time, anywhere. Speaking of which, do check out our list of the best 4K TVs for 2022.

Home theatres, as a result, gradually became an even more niche concept. However, their ability to augment a home cinema experience is unparalleled – even with portable speakers galore in the market. To rival the latter, home theatres today offer wireless connectivity, multi-room setups, sleek designs, and a whole bunch of future-proof features at hand. On this note, here’s looking at the best home theatres that you can buy in India today. Our selection takes into account small, compact rooms – as well as large and expansive living halls. Alongside the latest generation of connectivity, each of our choices focuses on the overall quality of audio – something that we’ve held paramount over other factors such as finesse of design, the convenience of usage, and more.

We’ve also included a list of factors for you to consider before buying home theatres and listed a set of the most asked questions that buyers have before purchasing home theatres. Here’s our list.

Key features to look for in a home theatre system

Home theatres are a unique breed of gadgets in terms of what they bring to the table. While not being essential in nature, they add great value to your home entertainment setup. As a result, it is important to carefully pick the features that you must have in your home theatre. Here’s what you should look out for.

Good surround sound abilities

The default sound quality from televisions has improved enough to be a good-enough fit for you in basic usage. However, if you are investing in a home theatre setup, ensure that you are getting your hands on a configuration that offers you a great surround sound experience. This is only possible in systems that offer multi-channel audio. In other words, when you have multiple speakers delivering different channels of sound, you get a cinematic sound that is delivered through multiple directions. This makes sure that you can understand which direction of the screen a particular sound generates at – and you get a theatrical experience as a result. Look for home theatres that offer upward of 3.1 channel audio – with isolated bass delivery through subwoofers.

High-resolution playback

It is important to ensure that alongside multi-channel audio delivery, your home theatre setup also offers high-resolution playback. Look for home theatres that are compatible with a 4K TV – and can deliver sound output befitting of a 4K video stream. Multiple home theatres today offer augmented audio delivery certified via Dolby, while DTS certification is also another feature that you must look for when buying your home theatre setup. Also look for audio upscaling technologies, which can ensure that even if the default audio track of your video is not high resolution, the home theatre system can upscale the audio to make it sound richer and fuller.

Multiple input sources

It is important to invest in versatility when you are looking to upgrade your home audio experience. As a result, look for a setup that can double up as a home theatre system to compliment your TV in the living room, as well as a dedicated audio system that you can enjoy just listening to music through. This is only possible when you have multiple audio input sources built into your home theatre setup. Look for options where you can plug in HDMI for audio, and also optical audio sources. Also look for options that are compatible with the 3.5mm audio port for universal compatibility, while in the present world, wireless audio sources and multi-room compatibility with smart assistant capabilities are important as well.

Wireless elements

Given that we are increasingly migrating to a wirelessly connected world, it is important to ensure that your home theatre system offers wireless connectivity as well. Look for options that offer Bluetooth-based audio delivery for sure. This will ensure that you can seamlessly connect your phone or laptop to the home theatre system so that you can wirelessly enjoy dedicated music playback without needing to look for adapters to connect your smartphone to the system for wired playback. Most wireless home theatre options also include compatibility with multi-room home theatre systems – look for choices that are certified to work in pairing, and are also compatible with the likes of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple’s AirPlay.

Ancillary aspects

While all of the audio performance and connectivity features are highly important, it is also key to make sure that your home theatre system fits well with the overall aesthetics of your home. After all, a home theatre is expected to be a lifestyle gadget – and not a geeky device per se. As a result, look for home theatre setups that look elegant, and offer you all the surround sound and connectivity chops without needing to look too large, bulky or elaborate. Also look for choices that offer sleek remote-based controls, which ensures that you can control all your audio requirements with a single remote – no physical buttons required.

FAQs on buying home theatres in India

While you may have narrowed down on the choices that you can make in the home theatre space, you may still have a number of essential questions in mind before making the final purchase. Here, we take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions that buyers have in mind before choosing their home theatre of choice.

How big should my home theatre setup be?

It is not necessary that you always need to have an elaborate, 5.1-channel home theatre system to get the best audio experience at home. In various compact rooms, a 5.1-channel system might often be overkill. As a result, look for choices based on your room size. For instance, if your main TV consumption is in a compact bedroom, the ideal choice could be a compact soundbar without an additional woofer, which can avoid needless reverberation. If you have a large living room where most of your family watches movies, opt for a large and fully featured home theatre setup that delivers with all bells and whistles included.

Is a soundbar enough for my needs?

In most cases, a soundbar is the perfect addition to your TV. The main reason behind this lies in the fact that most soundbars have evolved significantly over time to deliver a great surround sound experience – making sure that you do not require an elaborate, multi-speaker setup to get good cinematic audio. A soundbar is also a great fit for sleek home aesthetics, making sure that there is minimal wire distribution across rooms – while ensuring that you get the distributed audio experience that you would like to savour.

Can I add speaker units to my setup later?

Yes, a number of home theatre setups allow you to add or remove speaker units based on your convenience. Look for how the entire home theatre setup is configured initially, which would give you a fair idea in terms of how you can add speakers to the entire setup later. You may also wish to purchase a 5.1-channel home theatre setup right now, but remove two of the speakers and use it as a 3.1-channel setup initially if you have a compact room. Most home theatre systems today ensure that if you have such a setup, the overall sound quality is not compromised. However, most home theatres that let you add speakers to the system later are typically placed in the premium category, which may need you to spend a fair bit upfront.

Do Dolby certifications make a difference here?

Yes. Most Dolby-certified home theatre systems offer a minimum benchmark of audio performance, thereby making it a feature that can be a good indicator of the kind of surround sound experience that you would be able to get from the home theatre that you are looking at. Furthermore, numerous video streaming services and televisions today offer dedicated Dolby Atmos sound output, which when paired with a Dolby-certified speaker setup, ensures that you can theoretically get the best surround sound experience that is available in the market. Do look out for the Dolby certification, whenever you choose to invest in a home theatre system.

Can I control the setup with my phone?

This is a feature that largely depends on the system that you are investing in. Do keep in mind that most setups that offer a companion smartphone app to control the essential features of your home theatre system will lie in the premium range, and feature a central audio controller unit that will take care of such a feature. Do opt for it if the product fits your budget since the same would make a significant difference to the convenience of usage of your home theatre system. Most ones that do allow smartphone playback can also ensure multi-room connectivity with other speakers of the same family.

List of best home theatres in India

ProductPrice (in Rs)
Philips SPA8140BRs. 3,990
Boat Aavante Bar 1500Rs. 7,499
LG SL4Rs. 9,999
Sony HT-S20RRs. 17,990
Polk Audio MagniFi MiniRs. 29,398
Yamaha YHT-1840Rs. 29,859
Denon DHT-S316Rs. 33,013
Sony HT-G700Rs. 39,990
Sonos Beam (Gen 2)Rs. 51,999
Sony HT-Z9FRs. 79,990

Philips Audio 8140B 4.1ch 50W speaker system

The Philips Audio 8140B is one of the best basic home theatre upgrades you can get in the present market. While it does not have extra frills such as Dolby certification, smartphone-based audio control, and so on, what it delivers on is the core experience of surround audio through its 4.1-channel audio setup. With four dedicated speakers for directional audio output and a central subwoofer delivering the core bass frequencies, the Philips Audio 8140B also comes with Bluetooth connectivity for smartphone and laptop-based music playback, a USB port for playing offline audio tracks, and a standard 3.5mm wired audio connectivity with your TV for distributing the overall audio with aplomb. You also get a remote control, and a digital display on the subwoofer for easy usage.

Pros:
-Excellent value for money
-Good surround sound experience

Cons:
-No smart features
-No audio upscaling

Buy: Amazon | Flipkart

Boat Aavante Bar 1500 2.1ch 120W soundbar and subwoofer

While the Boat Aavante Bar 1500 soundbar offers a 2.1 channel audio output on paper, it is among the best for compact homes and without breaking the bank. In the package is a sleek soundbar with a wired soundbar delivering 120W overall audio output. This ensures that the volume output is loud enough for a cinematic experience. The impressive feature here is the presence of an HDMI audio input for TV connectivity, which ensures that the Boat Aavante Bar 1500 can directly output high-resolution movie audio through its setup – as long as your TV supports the high-resolution audio mode. It also has a remote control that ensures easy switching between modes – letting you connect to your smartphone at the touch of a button. It also features multiple equaliser modes for selecting the right audio balance based on what you are playing on your TV.

Pros:
-Sleek design
-HDMI output for high resolution audio

Cons:
-No smartphone app
-Only 2.1 channel audio output

Buy: Amazon | Flipkart

LG SL4 2.1ch 300W soundbar and subwoofer

The LG SL4 is one of the most beautifully designed soundbar and subwoofer home theatre systems in the market, and the inexpensive price tag makes the deal even sweeter for buyers. The setup's two best features is the clean and powerful bass delivery through the subwoofer, thanks to the use of a carbon diaphragm. This ensures that any reverberations are dampened, letting you crank up the volume to enjoy a cinematic experience at home, without the sound being distorted. It also offers a wireless subwoofer, which ensures a bare minimum usage of wires in the entire setup and makes the overall setup look highly elegant. The LG SL4 also comes with adaptive sound output, which automatically recognises the content playing on the TV to select the right audio balance.

Pros:
-Beautiful and understated design
-Excellent bass delivery

Cons:
-No HDMI audio output
-Only 2.1-channel audio output

Buy: Amazon | Flipkart

Sony S20R 5.1ch 400W home theatre

The Sony S20R is one of the least expensive ways to enjoy the Sony surround sound experience without the overall product costing too much. Featuring a three-channel soundbar, a subwoofer, and two rear speakers, the setup is versatile as it can let you operate the system in a 3.1-channel configuration as well for compact homes. It is Dolby Audio certified, and comes with an HDMI audio input to connect with the TV for high-resolution audio. It is also one of the least expensive, Dolby certified 5.1 channel home theatre systems in the market, ensuring that you get a flagship-grade home audio experience without spending too much. You can also switch to Bluetooth connectivity at the touch of a remote button, making it convenient for mobile playback as well.

Pros:
-Dolby Digital certified
-Full-featured 5.1-channel audio output

Cons:
-No companion app
-Wired rear speakers

Buy: Amazon | Flipkart

Polk Audio MagniFi Mini 5.1ch 150W soundbar and subwoofer

The Polk Audio MagniFi Mini is a bit of a novelty, and on overall terms, is one of our most highly rated home theatre setups based on all metrics taken together. Upon first sight, it features a single, compact soundbar unit that looks more like a large speaker in itself – and a wireless subwoofer in combination. However, the wireless soundbar unit features six direction speakers and combines with the wireless subwoofer to deliver a pristine and highly detailed surround sound experience. This is not all – the setup is ready for multi-room connectivity, and alongside wireless Bluetooth playback, can be configured with Wi-Fi through the Polk Omni companion app. This can let you cast music to the 5.1-channel system from anywhere in the house, as long as you're connected to the same Wi-Fi network. You get Dolby-certified sound, Polk's patented Voice Adjust feature for additional theatrics, and great aesthetics too, making it a highly recommended home theatre to buy.

Pros:
-Excellent feature set
-Multi-room audio
-Great audio
-Good aesthetics

Cons:
-Phone app is flimsy

Buy: Amazon

Yamaha 1840 5.1ch home theatre

While the Polk Audio setup focuses significantly on aesthetics, the Yamaha YHT-1840 is a full-featured 5.1-channel home theatre configuration that delivers an audio performance worthy of serious, professional pedigree. The setup comes with a coveted Yamaha A/V receiver unit that ensures that the home theatre setup is compatible with 4K 60fps videos – hence being compatible with the highest quality movies that you can stream on your TV today. It also has a virtual 5.1-channel surround sound mode, which ensures that the floor standing speakers can emulate rear-facing speakers even if your room setup does not allow you to install speakers behind your video source. It also comes with Yamaha's Cinema Digital Signal Processing technology that ensures true high definition audio playback with all Dolby and DTS certifications in tow. The receiver unit also ensures compatibility with wireless audio playback, and on overall terms, makes for one of the most elaborate home theatre units that you can buy at this price.

Pros:
-Supports pro 4K audio
-Great cinema sound credentials
-Excellent performance

Cons:
-Setup can be large and bulky
-No smart connectivity

Buy: Amazon | Tata Cliq

Denon S316 2.1ch soundbar and subwoofer

The Denon S316 is no ordinary 2.1-channel home theatre setup. Paired with the wireless subwoofer, the Denon S316 soundbar features mid-range audio drivers in its speaker setup for enhanced vocals, as well as dedicated tweeters for high-frequency audio performance range. The Denon S316 also offers Dolby Digital and DTS certifications to ensure that you get the highest range of surround audio experience, while the Dialogue Enhancer built-in mode offers crisp movie performance at home. The low-profile design ensures that you get minimal wires in the entire setup, and you also get Bluetooth connectivity to easily play music from your smartphone or laptop as well.

Pros:
-Great surround sound
-Minimal design

Cons:
-Less elaborate than competitors
-No smart chops

Buy: Amazon

Sony G700 3.1ch 400W soundbar and subwoofer

As far as soundbar-based setups go, the Sony G700 is one of the most sophisticated in terms of surround sound technology. The setup features Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound certifications, which are the best in the industry. The soundbar features Sony's patented S-Force surround sound emulation technology along with the company's own audio enhancement engine, which combine to produce a claimed 7.1.2-channel surround audio experience. The enhancement feature ensures that when connected through HDMI, the soundbar can automatically upscale any input audio signal to the highest quality possible – thereby being the ideal home theatre product for movies at home. You also get a vertical surround sound emulation, thereby producing truly theatrical sound from a three-channel soundbar. It also has a wireless subwoofer to ensure lesser clutter of wires.

Pros:
-Excellent audio upscaling
-Great surround sound experience

Cons:
-Lacks app-based smart features

Buy: Amazon | Flipkart

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) soundbar

The second-gen Sonos Beam soundbar is among the smartest home audio products in the market right now. Case in point is its intelligent surround sound setup within a compact package, which translates into five speakers and a passive radiator built into the soundbar for surround audio and bass delivery. It bears Dolby Atmos certification and is compatible with the latest standards of HDMI and Wi-Fi for high-definition audio output. You also get a neat companion app to set up multi-room configurations, control multiple Sonos speakers at once, adjust the equaliser, and more. It also has a built-in microphone that ensures that you can use your smart virtual assistant directly through the soundbar.

Pros:
-Excellent surround sound
-Great design
-Neat overall package

Cons:
-No Bluetooth
-Expensive for its offering

Buy: Headphone Zone

Sony Z9F 5.1ch 500W home theatre

If you were looking for a one-stop home theatre product that comes with all bells and whistles included, the Sony Z9F is the ultimate choice. It offers a 5.1-channel home theatre experience, paired with the Z9 rear speaker units. You get all the essentials and enhancements mentioned as part of the Sony G700 offering mentioned above, but the Z9F crucially adds superior audio drivers and true 4K HDR audio performance without any loss of audio fidelity. You get multi-room setup and smart home compatibility through the Sony Music Center app and can choose to add the wireless rear speakers to the system later as well. With an overall virtually enhanced rating of 7.1.2 channel audio, a wireless subwoofer, and Sony's patented audio upscaling performance, the Sony Z9F is the ultimate home theatre setup that you can buy today.

Pros:
-Excellent audio fidelity
-Best in class surround sound experience
-Multi-room setup

Cons:
-Expensive

Buy: Amazon | Tata Cliq