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What is the best home sound system?
A good home sound system is a game changer. They're great for entertaining and for when you want to relax and listen to music. They make movie nights more immersive and take live sports to the next level. And if you have a nice TV, you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't pair it with a good sound system.
Shopping for a sound system can be overwhelming, and there are a number of things you should consider. What's your budget? How big is your TV room? Will you be listening to music, watching TV, or both? Do you want a smart speaker?
All of these questions will inform your search for the right sound system. So let's dive in. From multi-room setups to combat soundbars, here's Suddenlink's guide to the best home sound systems.
Where will your sound system be located?
Before you buy anything, you'll want to think about where you'll be using your sound system. If it's going to be primarily a TV speaker, then a soundbar or multi speaker sound system is ideal. For music, a single smart speaker like the Google Home Max or Apple HomePod Mini will be less obtrusive and easier to move if need be. A portable speaker is also an interesting option, especially if you plan on using the speaker outside. A wireless bluetooth speaker is perfect for those use cases.
The best smart speakers and voice assistants
If you want to control your sound system with voice commands or integrate it with smart home devices, then you'll want a smart speaker with a built-in voice assistant. Your choice of voice assistant is important! The three main voice assistants are Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google Home. All three have different strengths and weaknesses.
Siri is ideal if you're heavily invested in Apple's ecosystem. It only works on Apple devices. You can use Siri to control non-Apple devices through HomeKit, but for speakers your only options are Apple’s HomePod and HomePod Mini.
Google Home is excellent at tasks like asking questions and creating grocery lists. It's available on a wider number of speakers, and is a particularly good choice for those with Nest thermostats.
Amazon Alexa is the closest thing there is to a one-size-fits-all choice. It's available on a large number of TVs, speakers, and sound systems, and works with a wide variety of smart devices.
Voice assistants are also important if you're going to play music on your sound system. Alexa and Google Home support most of the major streaming services, so controlling Spotify, Amazon Music or YouTube Music with your voice is easy. Apple's HomePod is fantastic if you use Apple Music, but it doesn't play as nice with other streaming services. You can play them on HomePod using AirPlay, but you won't be able to control them with your voice.
If all you want to do is control your system with voice commands, Alexa is the best choice thanks to sheer variety. If you're looking for a speaker to integrate with your existing smart home system, pick one that works with whatever voice assistant you're already using.
The best Apple speaker
If you’re dead set on getting a speaker with Siri integration, the Apple HomePod Mini is your best option. The speaker uses spatial awareness to fill the room, so it'll sound great no matter where you put it. It works seamlessly with the iPhone, allowing you to hand off calls and music without missing a beat. You can connect multiple HomePod Minis for a home-wide sound system.
The original, larger HomePod is also an option, though Apple discontinued the device in March 2021. Some Apple Stores may still have them, and they may be worth seeking out if you want the best sound possible from an Apple-made home speaker.
The best budget speakers and sound systems
If you’re on a budget, a smart speaker like the Sonos One is a good choice. The One is versatile and sounds great, perfect for listening to music. It also has Alexa and Google Home built in, making it a solid smart home choice. For $199, that's tough to beat.
The One can work with a TV in a pinch, and it'll sound pretty good. But if you're looking for a budget home theater option, a soundbar is a much better choice. Vizio is the go-to brand for budget soundbars. Their most affordable option is the $99 SB3620n-H6, which sounds spectacular for the price.
The best sound system for small spaces
The best sound systems for small spaces actually align pretty closely with the budget options. A single smart speaker is great for music, and a soundbar is perfect for watching TV and movies.
The Sonos Move is one of the best speakers on the market. It sounds great and has Alexa and Google Home built in. It's portable, battery-powered and water resistant. It'll fill a small room easily and hold its own if you take it outside. The only thing it lacks is Siri compatibility, but that's worth the sacrifice for most.
For smaller TV rooms, invest in a nice soundbar. The Yamaha Audio YAS-209BL includes a wireless subwoofer and immersive virtual surround sound. Amazon Alexa is built in, so it'll work as a smart music speaker too.
The best surround sound system for large spaces
Soundbars and smart speakers can work in large spaces, but the absolute best option here is a true surround sound system. You'll need at least five speakers and one subwoofer along with an AV receiver.
It's hard to recommend any one surround sound system, since so much depends on the space they're filling and the receiver they're connected to. Setting one up is an investment, but it's worth it if you're a hardcore movie buff or want the best live sports experience possible. Read our home theater buyer’s guide for more.
The best bluetooth speakers and sound systems
Last but not least are portable speakers. These are great for music, especially if you're entertaining people and need to move your speaker from place to place. The Sonos Move mentioned above is the best-in-class portable bluetooth speaker, though at $399 it's not cheap. The Anker Soundcore Motion+ is a rugged, great sounding budget option.
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