Posted Fri Nov 20, 2015 at 03:45 PM PST by Internet Brands
Well, it's that time of year again. You know, the season to be jolly… and endure weeks of unrelenting cold with your loved ones! And for home theater enthusiasts like us, nothing could make us jollier -- or warmer -- than all of the latest and greatest HD gear and gadgets powered up in our living rooms. Forget the fire place, the holiday's real best source for heat is a brand new shiny 60-inch 4K TV surrounded by a full 7.2.4 audio system.
But just what gear items are really worth your hard earned money? With so many great TV, audio, and streaming player options out there, figuring out exactly what gift to buy your Ultra HD-loving family and friends can be a very daunting task. Thankfully, we here at High-Def Digest have got you covered with the ultimate list of worthy gear gifts. That's right, you'll find no naughty items here!
With an emphasis on Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X, this year's list features several display and audio options for every budget -- offering specific home theater gear selections specially picked to create the perfect Budget 5.1.2 HD Systems, Entry-Level 5.1.4 Ultra HD Systems, High-End 7.1.4 Ultra HD Systems, and even Reference 7.2.4 Ultra HD Systems. And most of these products and setups can be mixed, matched, and customized together or with alternate gear, letting customers add or subtract items to suit their specific needs and room dynamics.
Likewise, we've also got an expansive list of great gift ideas for Dolby Atmos speaker modules, projectors, media players, soundbars, wireless speakers, headphones, and accessories.
So, without further ado, here's our 2015 gear gift guide, filled with all of the year's top home theater products and gadgets. From Ultra HD TVs to full Dolby Atmos systems, we've got every resolution, dongle, app, and wallet size accounted for.
Note: All listed prices reflect current Amazon discounts at press time and do not include taxes or accessories.
Looking for a quality Dolby Atmos home theater system without breaking the bank? Well, it turns out that there are actually quite a few budget friendly display and audio options that offer solid picture and immersive audio solutions for under $1,500 combined! Though 4K is the hot commodity this holiday season, regular old HD is still alive and kicking, and 1080p models from VIZIO even include advanced features like local dimming. Likewise, TCL's Roku HDTVs are being praised for their simple and expansive smart TV options, making them the perfect fit for wallet-conscious buyers who want great plug-and-play streaming access. Meanwhile, Onkyo is doing a fine job filling our Dolby Atmos budget needs with several home-theater-in-a-box packages that include receivers and speakers with up-firing fronts or dedicated heights to create full 5.1.2 systems.
Pros: Affordable price; Full Array Local Dimming w/ 12 Active LED Zones; VIZIO Internet Apps Plus.
Cons: No 3D; No Ultra HD; No HDR.
Pros: Affordable price; Extensive and intuitive Roku Smart TV platform.
Cons: No 3D; No Ultra HD; No HDR; No Local Dimming.
Pros: Compact all-in-one Dolby Atmos surround sound systems; 4K & HDCP 2.2 ready; 3D support.
Cons: Not expandable to 5.1.4 or 7.1.2; No DTS:X support.
1080p just not good enough for you? Well, the 4K revolution starts here with these surprisingly affordable and well performing Ultra HD TV options. One again, VIZIO steps in with the best bang-for-your-buck prices and advanced picture quality features like full array local dimming with their M-Series. And though they lose the local dimming options, Samsung and Sony offer entry-level displays with HDR (high dynamic range) support. On the audio front, this price tier will allow users to add two more height speakers to create a 5.1.4 audio system. Thankfully, Pioneer offers a reasonably priced receiver with Atmos and future DTS:X support, and two great Andrew Jones speaker package options. Likewise, we're recommending a compact SVS surround sound system along with extra high-mounted downward angled satellites to serve as height speakers.
Pros: Full Array Local Dimming w/ 32 Active LED Zones; VIZIO Internet Apps Plus Smart TV platform.
Cons: No 3D; Only 1 HDMI 2.0 (w HDCP 2.2); No HDR.
Pros: Direct-Lit LED; Nano-Crystal Technology; HDR support; Tizen Smart TV platform.
Cons: No Full Array Local Dimming; No 3D support.
Pros: 3D support, HDR support (via firmware upgrade), PlayStation Now Streaming, Triluminos Technology; Android Smart TV platform.
Cons: Edge-lit LED backlight; No Local Dimming
Pros: One of the most affordable AVRs to offer 11 channels of processing; DTS:X Ready; 4K Ready with HDCP 2.2.
Cons: 7.1.4 requires the purchase of an extra amp; Have heard a few complaints about Wi-Fi & Bluetooth connectivity issues.
5.1.4 Pioneer Speakers with Dolby Atmos Modules: $948
Pros: Andrew Jones designed speakers; No ceiling speakers to install.
Cons: 7.1 users might miss side-surrounds; Atmos modules are not built into to the front and back speakers.
5.1.4 SVS Prime Satellite System with Wall-Mounted Height Satellites: $1,900
1 SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 System Piano Gloss Speakers with SB-1000 Subwoofer ($1,200, Full Review Coming Soon!)
4 SVS Prime Satellite Piano Gloss Speakers ($350 pair)
Pros: Airy, impressive tweeter taken from more expensive designs; Clear dialogue reproduction; Balanced cinema system; Seamless blend with powerful sub; Compact footprint; Flexible placement.
Cons: 7.1 users might miss side-surrounds; Piano Gloss finish is extra; Center satellite can be laid on its side, but is still not a traditional center; High wall-mount placement for Atmos is not officially endorsed by Dolby.
5.1.4 Pioneer ELITE Series with Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speakers: $3,139
1 Pioneer ELITE SP-EC73 Center Channel ($397 each)
2 Pioneer ELITE SP-EBS73-LR Dolby-Atmos Speakers ($747 pair)
Pros: Andrew Jones designed speakers; No ceiling speakers to install.
Cons: 7.1 users might miss side-surrounds; A little bright tonally.
This is where things really start to get mouthwatering... and debt inducing. If you've got the cash to spend, then a full 7.1.4 Ultra HD system is truly home theater bliss. On the high end, LG's new 4K OLED displays are the current picture quality champs, with near perfect black levels and HDR support. But for a little less cash, Samsung and Sony both offer strong contenders as well, trading in those inky OLED panels for LED screens with local dimming tech. For your 7.1.4 immersive audio needs, we've got a Denon receiver/Marantz amp combo, and fantastic speaker packages from Klipsch and KEF with up-firing and in-ceiling options from both brands.
Pros: OLED panel for best-in-class black levels; HDR support; 3D support; LG WebOS 2.0 Smart TV platform.
Cons: Still a bit pricey compared to some LED LCD displays.
Pros: Full Array Local Dimming; Nano-crystal technology; HDR support; 3D support; Tizen Smart TV platform.
Cons: No flat-screen option; Viewing angles still not as good as OLED.
Pros: Local Dimming; HDR support; 3D support; Triluminos Technology; Android Smart TV platform.
Cons: Edge-lit LED backlight; Viewing angles still not as good as OLED.
Pros: Full HDCP 2.2 Compliancy; DTS:X ready; 4K & 3D; Lots of power; Quiet; Great initial setup; Dual Subwoofer level adjustments.
Cons: Dolby Surround (upmixer) not available for DTS tracks (PCM & Dolby only); Room calibration needs manual adjustments; Not one built-in unit; Occasional Airplay & Bluetooth dropouts.
Note: We recommended the X6200W because we are currently working on an in-depth review for it. However, if you prefer a system with more matched components, the Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel AV Receiver is the sister model to the X6200W.)
7.1.4 Klipsch Reference Premiere Series with Dolby Atmos-Enabled Speakers: $5,615 (Full Review Here!)
2 RP-280FA Dolby Atmos Floorstanders ($959 each)
1 RP-450CA Center Speaker ($679 each)
4 RP-260F Floorstanders ($450 each)
2 RP-140SA Dolby Atmos Elevation Speakers ($499 pair)
1 R-115SW Subwoofer ($719 each)
Pros: Excellent range; Gorgeous design; Thunderous bass; Almost no break-in time.
Cons: Large speakers; Not for small rooms; Bass takes time to tune.
Note: To make your sub or subs wireless, Klipsch sells the WA2 Wireless Subwoofer Kit for $129.
7.1.4 Klipsch Reference Premiere Series with In-Ceiling Speakers: $5,806
2 RP-280F Floorstanders ($599 each)
1 RP-450C Center Speaker ($649 each)
4 RP-260F Floorstanders ($450 each)
4 CDT-5800-C II 8" In-Ceiling Speakers ($360 each)
1 R-115SW Subwoofer ($719 each)
Pros: Excellent range; Gorgeous design; Thunderous bass; Almost no break-in time; In-ceiling speakers more precise.
Cons: Large speakers; Not for small rooms; In-ceiling installation; Bass takes time to tune.
7.1.4 KEF Q-Series with Dolby Atmos Enabled Speakers: $6,850
2 Q900 Towers ($900 each)
1 Q600c Center Channel ($650 each)
4 Q300 Bookshelf Speakers ($650 pair)
1 Q400b Subwoofer ($700 each)
Or with In-Ceiling Speakers: $5,850
4 Ci200QR In-Ceiling Speakers ($350 each)
Pros: Technology trickled down from more expensive speakers; Accurate, clear, vibrant tones.
Cons: A little light on LFE grunt; Break-in required.
Finally, we reach the true reference setup. With the VIZIO 65-inch Reference Ultra HD TV, the industry now has its first (and currently only) Dolby Vision enabled display, offering HDR and expanded colors. Likewise, the TV doesn't just stop there (it's kind of an overachiever), adding in quantum dots, full array local dimming, and an included 5.1 sound system -- making it one of the most fully-featured sets on the market (sans 3D). And a truly impressive TV deserves a truly impressive audio setup, right? Enter the KEF R Series 7.2.4 speaker package coupled with a Yamaha 11 channel pre-amp/amp combo -- giving customers (and likely all their neighbors) the full immersive audio experience with seven surround sound speakers, four in-ceiling speakers, and two subwoofers!
Pros: First display with Dolby Vision (available via VUDU); Full-Array Local Dimming w/ 384 Active LED Zones; Quantum Dots.
Cons: Comes with a 5.1 sound system that is not Atmos-enabled and might be unnecessary if you already have your own system; No 3D support.
Pros: MusicCast; DTS:X Ready; 4K HDCP 2.2
Cons: Only 11 channels (some AVRs can do 13)
KEF R Series 7.2.4 Speakers: $16,700
2 R900 Floorstanders ($2,500 each)
1 R600c Center Channel ($1,500 each)
4 R300 Bookshelf Speakers ($1,800 / pair)
2 R400b Subwoofers ($1,700 each)
Pros: Extended dynamic range; Delicate; Nuanced; Aggressive; Capable of playing loud and handling lots of power.
Cons: None (if you can afford them).
Atlantic Technology 44-DA Atmos Module: $476 per pair. Module can be used both as a stand-alone elevation speaker or as an expansion to existing speakers, adding overhead sound to a user's home theater.
Elac A4 Dolby Atmos Add-On Speaker: $230 per pair. Module sits on top of your bookshelf or floorstanding speakers to add overhead sound.
KEF R50 Atmos Module: $1,200 per pair. Modules can be placed on top of the company's existing freestanding or wall-mounted satellite speakers, adding overhead sound to a user's home theater. Full Review Here!
Klipsch RP-140SA Elevation Channel Toppers: $499 per pair. Modules sit on top of your bookshelf or floorstanding speakers to add overhead sound.
Pioneer SP-T22A-LR Add-on Speaker: $199 per pair. Modules are designed to sit on top of the Pioneer SP-BS22-LR compact speaker and SP-FS52 floorstanding speaker to add overhead sound, but are also compatible with most speakers that have a flat top big enough to fit them.
Optoma HD37 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector: $949. This 1080p DLP projector is capable of 66-inches from 8 feet and 99-inches from 12 feet. The device is rated for 2600 ANSI Lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 20,000:1. Likewise, the projector features Keystone Correction and 2 x HDMI connections with 3D support.
Optoma HD26 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector: $599. This 1080p DLP projector is capable of 71-inches from 8 feet and 107-inches from 12 feet. The device is rated for 3200 ANSI Lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 25,000:1. Likewise, the projector features Keystone Correction and 2 x HDMI connections with 3D support.
Optoma HD141X 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector: $549. This 1080p DLP projector is capable of 66-inches from 8 feet and 107-inches from 12 feet. The device is rated for 3000 ANSI Lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 23,000:1. Likewise, the projector features Keystone Correction and 2 x HDMI connections with 3D support.
BenQ HT1085ST 1080p 3D Short Throw DLP Home Theater Projector: $899. This 1080p DLP projector is capable of 38-inches from 2.1 feet and 300-inches from 16.5 feet. The device is rated for 2200 ANSI Lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Likewise, the projector features Keystone Correction and 2 x HDMI connections with 3D support.
BenQ W1070 1080p 3D DLP Home Theater Projector: $673. This 1080p DLP projector is capable of 40-inches from 3.75 feet and 235-inches from 22.5 feet. The device is rated for 2000 ANSI Lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 10,000:1. Likewise, the projector features Keystone Correction and 2 x HDMI connections with 3D support.
Sony VPLVW665ES 4K 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector (2015 Model): $14,998. This SXRD 4K projector features a resolution of 4096 x 2160. The device is rated for 1800 lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 300,000:1. Likewise, the projector includes HDCP 2.2 compliancy, HDR support, Sony’s proprietary TRILUMINOs engine, Motionflow picture technology, and a built-in RF 3D transmitter.
Sony VPLVW365ES 4K 3D SXRD Home Theater Projector (2015 Model): $9,998. This SXRD 4K projector features a resolution of 4096 x 2160. The device is rated for 1500 lumens of brightness and a contrast ratio of 100,000:1. Likewise, the projector includes HDCP 2.2 compliancy, Sony’s proprietary TRILUMINOs engine, Motionflow picture technology, and a built-in RF 3D transmitter.
Samsung BD-J5900 Curved 3D Blu-ray Player: $87. This speedy Blu-ray player offers a curved design, Wi-Fi, Miracast, 3D support, and Opera Smart TV features with apps like Youtube, Netflix, Yupp TV, Pandora, and Amazon.
Roku 4: $129. Latest Roku media player model with Roku OS 7, 2,500+ streaming channels, a Quad-Core processor, support for 4K Ultra HD playback at up to 60 fps, 4K upscaling of HD content, and audio support for up to Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound. HDCP 2.2 compliancy is integrated as well, along with 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless, 10/100 Base-T Ethernet, an Optical Audio Out, a microSD slot, and a USB port. Likewise, the device includes an enhanced remote with voice search, point anywhere use, a headphone jack, motion-control for gaming, and a speaker for Remote Finder alerts. Full Review Coming Soon!
Amazon Fire TV: $100. Latest Fire TV model with playback support for several 4K content platforms including
Roku 3: $96. Latest Roku 3 model with voice search feature through an integrated microphone in the remote control. The enhanced remote also includes a headphone jack for private listening and motion control for games. In addition, the device supports up to 1080p playback with over 2,000 streaming channels, and Ethernet, USB, and microSD card ports.
Amazon Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote: $50. Newest Fire TV Stick model with with an included Voice Remote. With the remote, customers can now speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director, or genre and get instant search results. Likewise, the voice remote also offers Alexa support, allowing users to ask for info related to weather, sports scores, traffic, music, and more. The device plugs right into the HDMI port of a customer's TV, offering easy access to media, apps, and games, including services like Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Twitch, SHOWTIME ANYTIME, Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, Plex, A&E, PBS, PBS KIDS, WATCH Disney Channel, YouTube.com, and more.
Roku Streaming Stick: $46. The Roku 3500R Streaming Stick offers 2,000 plus channels filled with movies, TV shows, music, news, sports, and more. Media can be streamed at resolutions up to 1080p and the stick features Roku Search built into its interface. In addition, the media dongle comes complete with a Wi-Fi remote. Likewise, users can download Android and iOS apps to use their smartphones and tablets to control their media as well. The apps can also be used to stream content from mobile devices to the TV.
VIZIO SB2920-C6 29-Inch 2.0 Soundbar: $78. This 29" 2.0 soundbar model is designed for TVs that are 32-inches or larger and can deliver up to 95dB. The device offers integrated DTS TruVolume technology and Bluetooth connectivity.
VIZIO SB3821-C6 38-Inch 2.1 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer: $158. This 38" 2.1 soundbar model is designed for TVs that are 42-inches or larger and can deliver up to 100dB. The device features a wireless subwoofer and offers integrated Dolby and DTS audio technologies and Bluetooth connectivity.
VIZIO SB4051-C0 40-Inch 5.1 Channel Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer: $253. VIZIO's flagship 40" 5.1 Soundbar features a metallic surface and is designed for TVs that are 47-inches or larger. The device includes a 3-channel soundbar, wireless subwoofer, and two rear satellite speakers to output a Sound Pressure Level at 102 dB with less than 1% total harmonic distortion. In addition, Bluetooth with aptX support is integrated, along with HDMI connectivity. Dolby Digital and DTS Digital surround sound tech are included as well.
Yamaha YAS-105 35-Inch Soundbar with Dual Built-in Subwoofers: $250. Yamaha's ultra-slim 39-inch soundbar features dual 2-1/8" drivers, dual 3/4" tweeters, and integrated dual 3" subwoofers. Bluetooth connectivity and AIR SURROUND XTREME, a Yamaha-exclusive virtual surround technology that reproduces 7.1-channel surround, are included as well.
Yamaha YSP-5600 Music Cast Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos & DTS: $1,700. This is the world's first soundbar with Dolby Atmos (and future DTS:X) 7.1.2-channel multi-dimensional sound. The device uses 46 speaker drivers and Yamaha exclusive Digital Sound Projector technology. Likewise, HDMI inputs with 4K Ultra HD pass-through and HDCP 2.2 are included as well, along with MusicCast wireless multiroom audio support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay connectivity.
ZVOX SoundBase 670: $370. This 36" wide SoundBase is designed to sit under a user's TV. The device features 3 built-in powered subwoofers, a 105-watt amplifier, aptX Bluetooth streaming, PhaseCue virtual surround, and AccuVoice dialog enhancement. Full Review Coming Soon!
ZVOX SoundBase 570: $300. This 30" wide SoundBase is designed to sit under a user's TV. The device features 1 built-in powered subwoofer, a 65-watt amplifier, aptX Bluetooth streaming, PhaseCue virtual surround, and AccuVoice dialog enhancement.
ZVOX SoundBase 450: $270. This 28" wide SoundBase is designed to sit under a user's TV. The device features 1 built-in powered subwoofer, a 50-watt amplifier, aptX Bluetooth streaming, PhaseCue virtual surround, and AccuVoice dialog enhancement.
ZVOX SoundBase 350: $220. This 24" wide SoundBase is designed to sit under a user's TV. The device 1 built-in powered subwoofer, a 40-watt amplifier, aptX Bluetooth streaming, PhaseCue virtual surround, and AccuVoice dialog enhancement.
Sony SRSX33 Powerful Portable Bluetooth Speaker: $126. The SRS-X33 features 20-watts with full range stereo speakers and dual passive radiators. In addition, the speaker uses LDAC, NFC, DSEE, and ClearAudio+ technologies for superior wireless streaming, connectivity, and natural sound.
Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker: $145. The speaker is powered by 2 amps and features 5 drivers -- 2 high-frequency drivers, a woofer, and 2 passive radiators. A 6,000 mAh Li-ion battery, MP3 player, voice recorder, and speakerphone are integrated as well. Likewise, the device supports playback from Bluetooth, NFC, USB, and AUX-in. Full Review Here!
Sonos Play:1 Smart Speaker: $199. The Play:1 measures just 4.69-inches wide and 6.36-inches tall, and features minimal distortion and a wide soundfield through a custom designed 3.5-inch mid-woofer for deep lows and a tweeter for clean highs. The Play:1 also supports several streaming services, including Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and Hype Machine, as well as radio stations and digital libraries on PCs, Android, and Apple devices. Users can also pair two Play:1 speakers together for stereo audio, or even add a Sonos Sub ($699) and Playbar ($699) for surround sound capabilities.
Yamaha WX-030WH MusicCast Wireless Speaker: $250. This portable speaker uses a two-way speaker design with a large passive radiator for deep bass. In addition, the device supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay and Spotify Connect. Likewise, support for Yamaha's MusicCast wireless multiroom audio system is integrated as well.
Riva Audio Turbo X Bluetooth Speaker: $300. The Turbo X is an audiophile portable speaker with three ADX 60 mm full range proprietary drivers, four ADX custom dual piston bass radiators, 45 watts RMS, and 26+ hours of battery life at 75 dB. Bluetooth connectivity and a speakerphone feature are included as well. Full Review Here!
Polk Omni S6: $350. This is a high-performance wireless speaker with DTS Play-Fi and stereo pairing. The speaker features a curved transducer array with two 4-inch drivers, two 0.75-inch tweeters and a dedicated four-channel, 100-watt digital amplifier.
JVC HAS400B Carbon Nanotube On-Ear Headband Headphones: $27. Though they lack advanced features like noise cancellation, these affordable on-ear headphones offer solid audio performance with a sleek and portable 3-way fold design.
Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Closed-Back Headphones: $54. These high performance headphones feature 40 mm diameter drivers, neodymium magnets and CCAW voice coils. Likewise, the device uses a low-profile, closed-back design for isolation and an adjustable cushioned headband for comfort.
Phiaton BT 330 NC Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones: $179. These active noise cancelling headphones feature 40mm drivers and offer Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity with aptX & AAC and over 18 hours of battery life with NC on. Full Review Coming Soon!
Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones: $299. The highly rated Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones offer great audio performance, noise cancellation, and a lightweight around-ear design.
Audiofly AF140 In-Ear Headphones: $350. These portable audiophile in-ear monitor headphones offer impressive performance and feature a hybrid triple driver design with a dynamic driver & 2 balanced armature drivers. A selection of high grade silicon and COMPLYTM Premium Earphone Tips are included as well, ensuring the best fit. Full Review Coming Soon!
AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable 2-Pack - 9.8 Feet: $10. This is a two-pack (every cable needs a friend) of inexpensive HDMI A Male to A Male Cables perfect for connecting all of your HD gear. And though not technically rated for the newest HDMI 2.0 spec, these cables should be fine for transmitting 4K Ultra HD and HDR video.
AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable 2-Pack - 6.5 Feet: $8.49. The same as the above but just a bit shorter.
Logitech Harmony Elite Remote: $330. The Harmony Elite is the newest and most powerful Harmony universal remote. The device features a customizable full color touch screen with One-touch Activities and closed-cabinet RF that can control up to 15 devices -- allowing users to access all of their home theater gear from one remote. Likewise, the remote supports the Harmony App for smartphones and tablets.
Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830: $73. Perfect for HTPC use, this wireless keyboard features backlit keys, a rechargeable battery, and an integrated touchpad -- making pitch-black Netflix searches a breeze! Full Review Here!
So, there you have it. Those are our top home theater gear gift suggestions for 2015. We hope this guide helps out in your holiday shopping endeavors. For now, though, what do you think about our choices? Are you hoping to find a brand new Ultra HD and immersive audio system under your (really big) tree? Do you have any other gear suggestions for the holiday season? Let us know in the forums! And be sure to check out High-Def Digest every day throughout the next few weeks for all of the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!
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