There are so many different brands of home theater speakers that it is quite impossible to crown one brand or particular brand’s model of speaker as the best speaker available for home theaters. In fact the subject is sure to start an argument among home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles. The best speakers for you is purely a subjective, personal preference based upon your listening environment and budget.
I have seen many heated exchanges (aka “flame wars”) on home theater and audio enthusiasts’ online forums over the years. The differences of opinion make for some interesting reading if accomplishing little else. Although each year “new and improved” models are rolled out by the speaker manufacturers touted to incorporate the latest in audio technology — there have been only a few actual improvements in design over the years with the more significant changes being in the materials with which the speaker is constructed.
The basic components of home theater system speakers have remained the same over time. Each speaker is comprised of an enclosure and driver(s). The design of the speaker’s enclosure and the quality of the voice coil, cone and surround material are crucial elements of a quality speaker. Some improvements have been made regarding the materials used to construct the enclosures and drivers — in particular the drivers. Voice coils are now made with exotic metals such as titanium. Cones are now more rigid than in years past, with fiberglass treatments, rigid plastics and even metal replacing the more-flexible paper as preferred cone materials.
Again I stress that the best speakers for you will be a truly subjective and personal decision based upon what you deem to sound the best to your own ears. Your best bet is to stick with the recognized brand names in the speaker business. JBL, Klipsch, Cerwin Vega, Infinity, Onkyo, Yamaha, Polk and yes even Bose are all trusted manufacturers of high quality speakers. Relatively newer brands such as KLH, KEF, and Orb Audio combine modern style with quality. For more bang for your buck, Athena and Fluance are two critically acclaimed, more modestly priced brands that deliver audio that only soundsexpensive. Of the aforementioned brands my personal preferences are JBL, Klipsch and my value choice is Athena.
Whatever you do, don’t buy a home theater speaker system without listening to them first. Check them out at your local brick and mortar chain store or better yet at a specialty audio boutique (for the higher-end brands) first. Then shop online for the best price — as the mark-up in the chain and specialty stores is what allows them to have their big, fancy showrooms. And NEVER buy your speakers from a couple of guys out of a van in a parking lot claiming they have some extra special deals just for you. They are what’s known as “white van specials” and are total rip-offs no matter how low the price.
With some careful and diligent research you will find the speakers that you like best and that speaker system will be the best home theater speakers for your particular needs.
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