Ready to step-up your living room sound system? Today’s home theater system setups are more affordable than ever before! More consumers are now making the leap to higher quality entertainment in their homes – which makes sense, considering how expensive going to the movies can be.

Home theater systems have two main “camps”: the home theater in a box camp, and an integrated home theater system camp.

Find out which type is best for your home.

Home theater in a box is an integrated home theater package with everything you need to start a home theater and experience immersive surround sound entertainment in one box – literally. Typically, the home theater in a box includes a DVD or Blu-Ray player, a receiver or multi-channel amplifier (usually with built-in surround sound decoder and radio tuner), speakers and a low-frequency subwoofer. Home theater in a box sets are a great option for individuals who either lack the funds to invest in a high-quality professional surround-sound system or the technological know-how to set up a DIY surround sound system.

Most of the major consumer electronics companies produce home theater in a box systems, including RCA, Philips, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony and Bose. The prices for a home theater in a box range from $100 for a small two-speaker, three channel, DVD system to more than $3000 for a larger system (usually including five or more speakers) from one of the better-known brands, like Bose.


  • Easy to install.
  • Relatively inexpensive.


  • Individual elements are usually exclusive to the system; if one part goes out, the whole system often needs to be replaced.
  • Sound quality may be sub-par, especially in low-end systems.
  • Devices are limited to the number of connections in the receiver or multi-channel amplifier.

On the other side of the coin, we have integrated home theater systems that use individual elements (receiver, television, speakers, universal remotes and subwoofers) to create a professional surround-sound system with exceptional sound and performance. Professional sound technicians don’t always have to be the one to install integrated home theater systems; consumers can definitely put a DIY integrated home theater system in their homes, but they do require a bit more technical expertise or knowledge.

Your integrated home theater system will have these parts: an HDTV; a receiver (the hub that will connect all the other pieces of your integrated home theater system); a speaker or speaker set; a soundbar; and the power cords and connectors to link it together.  Prices vary considerably depending on the brand and quality of the pieces, but it will most likely be more expensive than a theater in a box setup.


  • Richer, truer sound quality
  • The ability to upgrade each piece individually (or replace a piece, if needed, without replacing the entire system)
  • The ability to mix-and-match the best pieces from different brands for the highest quality system for your home.


  • More expensive.
  • More difficult to set up on your own.

Which sound system sounds best for your home?