The Best Sound Systems

sound system

Now that football season is in full swing, you’re going to want to see all the action, but hearing every hit, grunt and helmet crash makes it all the more enjoyable. The only way to do this is to install the best surround sound system for your living room and budget, and we’re going to tell you how.

Thanks to home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems combined with a few basic tips, you don’t have to be an audiophile — or a millionaire to set up a killer sound system.

Sound Systems: The Basics

Over the years, sound systems have evolved from the early quadraphonic reel-to-reel systems of the 60’s, to today’s Dolby Pro-Logic surround systems. Understanding completely how today’s systems work would require its own website. More or less, the Dolby 5.1 systems refer to five speaker channels that provide high bandwidth sound in addition to one speaker channel — the subwoofer — to provide low-frequency effects.

There is an abundance of quality sound systems available on the market today, and some employ even more than five speakers — but, for the sake of simplicity and cost, we’re talking about 5.1 systems.

  • HTIB systems incorporate five speakers, a subwoofer, a disc player/amplifier and all necessary wiring.
  • Sound bars provide virtual sound by incorporating several speakers in along, thin bar suitable for wall or TV mounting, creating the illusion of a 360 degree sound spectrum. These sleek systems are ideal for smaller rooms or for those with spare, minimalist design taste.
  • Component systems are comprised of audio/video units combined with a receiver to provide the power to its speaker system.
  • “Separates” are component systems with preamplifier/processor or power amplifiers in place of any receivers. This starts to get into advanced, more expensive territory.

For the beginner, the HTIB systems are the way to go, not to mention, they literally are plug-and-play so you can get into the bone-jarring action much quicker. They provide high-quality sound with easy installation at an affordable price. This allows you to spend more time enjoying your game and less time trying to figure out the dynamics, precise viewing distances and proper sound spectrums of more complicated systems.


The price range for sound systems vary significantly between models and manufacturers. Careful shopping during peak shopping seasons often can save you hundreds of dollars.

  • HTIB Systems: $200-$1000
  • Sound Bars:  $250-$2000
  • Component Systems based on an A/V receiver: $1000 -$3000
  • Component Systems incorporating preamplifier/amplifier separates and large speakers: $3,000+

The Best Sound System for Your Space

The size of your room should dictate the type of sound systems you purchase. This aspect is extremely important as a large system can dominate or overwhelm a small room while a sound bar may be inadequate to fill a large room with quality sound.

  • Small rooms are served best by HTIB systems containing small speakers or small sound bars.
  • Apartment-sized living rooms can handle HTIB, sound bars or smaller component systems. How the system fits into your living area as well as the proximity of your neighbors will also dictate the size of the system.
  • Large living rooms or dedicated home theaters should be equipped with large HTIB or component systems.

All of the systems mentioned provide high-quality sound far superior to anything your standard TV speakers provide. Most manufacturers provide easy installation instructions as well as an installation hotline.