A good set of speakers is the make-or-break for a home theater. For music, of course, your options are endless, but for a home theater setup it’s more important to see how the speakers hold up to the variety of audio they’ll be working with.
My Recommended Surround Sound Setup
One of the most important aspects to be kept in mind while choosing home theater speakers is Timbre Matching. That’s why experts suggest that, as far as possible, the center and front speakers should be from the same manufacturer.
With this in mind, there is one set of speakers which stands out from the rest in providing IMMENSE value:
- Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers (check prices on Amazon) for front and surrounds
- Polk Audio T30 (check prices on Amazon) for center channel
Note: The T30 center channel speaker can be paired with the Polk Audio T50 tower speakers (Amazon link) as well.
Subwoofers don’t have to be timbre matched with any other speaker. Check out my top recommendations for subwoofers.
Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers
Polk Audio have produced a series of speakers that works for those on a budget, but still delivers amazing audio quality for a home theater system. Their speakers are versatile, meaning you can build anything from a 2.1 channel system to a 9.1 channel, depending on your needs.
What I liked about the T15 speakers
- Good sound quality for the price.
- A versatile system that can be built up as you go along, making it perfect for beginners.
- Easy to set up and integrate into your home theater system.
For me, bookshelf speakers are the way forward. I find them much more versatile than tower speakers, and these from Polk Audio can be mounted on the wall or put on a shelf. This gives you plenty of options when it comes to arranging your speakers, and means you don’t have to take up precious floor space.
Each speaker features a 0.75 inch tweeter and a 5.25 inch dynamic balance driver, meaning they deliver clear, natural audio that’s suitable for a wide range of media. What’s more, they can still pump out decent bass, only missing out on the very lowest frequencies.
Thankfully, these speakers are compatible with most AV receivers and are really easy to set up. Just make sure you’ve got the best wiring so you’re not losing any of your sound quality.
These speakers are perfect for beginners and experts alike, and my favorite feature is the versatility of the setup, allowing you to build as you go.
What I didn’t like about the T15 speakers
For the price, the quality of these speakers is fine, but if you’ve got a bigger budget then I’d recommend splashing out the extra cash. These Polk Audio speakers are great, but even just a bit more money will get you a vastly superior setup.
What’s more, the bass is fine, but is definitely improved by an added subwoofer, which obviously means paying out more money.
Polk Audio T30 Center Channel Speaker
This center channel is a must if you’re building a Polk Audio system, although the product is good enough to be bought on its own merits. Coming in at an entry-level price, this center channel deliver surprising quality.
What I liked about the T30 center channel
- A necessary addition to a T-series speaker setup in order to get the right timbre matching.
- Great at what it does, this center channel is powerful enough to fill a medium or small room.
- Perfect for those on a budget, or those new to the world of home theaters.
This center channel is built with all the same components as Polk Audio’s speakers, and features a 1 inch tweeter and 5.25 inch dynamic balance driver, again meaning you get rich and natural audio from a variety of sources. This system is powerful enough to work in most small and medium sized home theater rooms.
As with the speakers, this center channel is really easy to integrate into a home theater setup, and is a great choice for beginners. It works with most AV receivers and can be put together in minutes. Probably my favorite feature about this whole system is its ease of use.
While this system is great for films and TV shows, the T-series is also great for music too. This makes it a versatile addition to a home theater, and means you can still play all your favorite tracks without having to integrate a new speaker system.
What I didn’t like about the T30 center channel
I don’t really have any criticisms of the T30, as it does exactly what it’s meant to.
Much like with the speakers, my only issue relates to the bass, which is fine on its own, but vastly improved by the addition of a subwoofer. Obviously this issue isn’t unique to the T-series, and is something most home theater users expect to do anyway.
Polk Audio T50 Tower Speaker
If you’re a fan of tower speakers, then don’t worry, Polk have you covered. These speakers are perfect for integration into a surround sound system and deliver some serious audio at an entry-level price.
What I liked about the T50 tower speakers
- A good addition to any T-series speaker system.
- Versatile speakers that can easily be integrated into any home theater system.
- As with the other T-series, perfect for beginners or those on a budget.
The T50 is capable of delivering rich and clear audio thanks to its 1 inch tweeter, 6.5 inch driver, and two 6.5 inch bass radiators. The addition of the bass radiators isn’t enough to substitute for a subwoofer, but they certainly give you richer and more rounded bass.
Again, my favorite feature of these speakers is their versatility. It’s incredibly easy to add them into an existing T-series system, meaning you can jump from 2.1 channels all the way to 9.1! This is perfect if you’re budgeting to build your system as you go, and at least you know the quality is there with the T-series.
These speakers are pretty powerful, operating at 150 watts at peak power, with an impedance of 6 ohms. This makes them suitable for most home theater setups, and means they have enough power to fill medium or small rooms. Overall, the T50s are a great choice if you’re wanting a tower speaker in your setup.
What I didn’t like about the T50 tower speakers
My main issue with tower speakers is that they’re too obvious for my tastes. However, this isn’t specific to the T50, although it is pretty glaring as a large black tower.
My only real problem with the T50 is that it’s not powerful enough to fill a large room, but if you’ve got the luxury of a large home theater then you’ve probably got enough money to buy speakers to fill it.
If you’ve got a higher budget and want better performance, consider the following:
- 4x Klipsch RP-250C bookshelf speakers with a Klipsch R-41M center channel (their tower speakers are far too expensive, so I didn’t bother including them).
If you’ve got the budget to splash out on a more expensive set of speakers, Klipsch is the way forward. This center channel is perfect for using with their bookshelf speakers, and is capable of kicking out some serious audio.
What I liked about the RP-250C
- Incredibly clear sound quality with minimal distortion thanks to the superior materials and engineering.
- Professional and attractive design that would make a good addition to any home theater.
The most impressive thing about the RP-250C is the quality put into the components. It features a 1 inch titanium tweeter and two 5.25 inch copper cone woofers. These materials help create crystal clear audio regardless of the source, and the extra money you pay is really noticeable.
Although it might not be as important for everyone, I was equally impressed with the look of the speakers. They look crisp, expensive, and professional, which they should considering the price tag! What’s more, the compact design makes for easy integration into a home theater system, and you don’t have to worry about the speakers taking up loads of space.
What I didn’t like about the RP-250C
My only real criticism of the Klipsch system isn’t a big criticism at all; it’s simply the price. However, the fact that I’ve included these in the more expensive section makes that pretty redundant, as they’re definitely worth the price jump from the Polk speakers.
These are Klipsch’s offering for the world of bookshelf speakers, and what an offering they are. These speakers deliver amazing audio quality, and can be built up to a 9.1 channel system.
What I liked about the R-41M
- Excellent construction make these speakers a fine addition to a home theater.
- If you’ve got the budget, it’s definitely worth the jump from an entry-level model.
- Easy to integrate and build into a 9.1 channel system.
Much like the center channel mentioned above, these bookshelf speakers are built with superior engineering and materials. Each one features a 1 inch aluminum tweeter and 4 inch spun-copper woofer. This means you’ll get almost no distortion, even at high volumes, and audio will always be crystal clear.
Similarly, the speakers can handle peak power of 200 watts, which is double the Polk bookshelf speakers. These speakers pump out great audio even at high volumes, which is ideal when you’re looking to emulate a theater environment as much as possible.
What’s more, they deliver surprising bass for a small bookshelf speaker, even to the point where you might not need a subwoofer.
As with the center channel speaker, the design of these is sleek and interesting, and will make a good addition to your home theater. They have a wood grain finish, which combined with the copper and exposed metalwork, gives the speakers a modern appearance.
What I didn’t like about the R-41M
The biggest issue with these Klipsch speakers is the balance between mids and highs. To the average user this might not even be noticeable, but audiophiles might have an issue with the balance. However, this is only really a problem at high volumes, and is still not even a massive issue.