Consumer Reports: Easier, Cheaper Surround Sound

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Consumer Reports tested a dozen home-theater-in-a-box surround sound systems that can save you money and hassle.

    Watching movies in your living room with surround sound is great, but getting set up can set you back big bucks. Home-theater-in-a-box systems can save you money and hassle.

    The box has all the components you need: a center channel speaker, two speakers for the front of the room, another set for the back of the room, and a subwoofer to enhance the bass. Many systems also come with a Blu-ray player. The big advantage is that all the components come together in one box—everything connects easily.

    In Consumer Reports’ audio lab, testers checked out dozens of those systems, costing $250 to almost $2,000. Some of the best systems had audio quality that approached that of separate components.

    An $800 system, the Samsung HT-E6730W, is among them. It delivers terrific sound, includes a Blu-ray player, and has other nice features such as an iPod dock, so you can listen to your iTunes library as well.

    If you don’t need a Blu-ray player, you can get a surround-sound system for half the price. Consumer Reports recommends the Yamaha YHT 497, which costs about $400. It delivers very good sound and also has an iPod dock.

    Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.