The Top Rated Home Theater Speakers Of 2011

by Justin Thomas •

KEF KHT 3005

Energy Take Classic 5.1 ($400)

Top Review Sources:

  • CNET: 4.5/5.0 “Editors’ Choice”
  • Amazon: 5.0/5.0 (125+ reviews)
  • G4TV: 5.0/5.0 “This is one of the best home theatres we’ve ever reviewed, and the low price is just a bonus”

Energy Speaker Systems’ Take Classic 5.1 manages to distinguish itself in the crowded field of affordable 5.1 speaker systems. It’s difficult to find any serious consumer or expert criticism of the Take Classic, which is repeatedly praised for its unexpectedly great sound. Specifically, the system generates expansive audio that belies its size. The output is balanced right out of the box, and music comes across as rich and detailed. For movies and television, the sound is clear and the speakers reveal details that more expensive systems miss.

The Take Classic also pleases the crowd with its compact and handsome looks. The four satellites measure a mere 6 7/8 x 4 1/8 x 4 1/8 inches (H x W x D) and weigh less than three pounds. Wall mounting is effortless, but keep in mind the satellites’ bass reflex ports are in the rear, so wall mounting will result in slightly diminished bass output. The center speaker’s front ports eliminate this minor concern; it weighs just over three pounds and has dimensions of 4 1/8 x 10 1/4 x 4 1/8 inches. The cube-shaped (12 5/8 inches), 20-pound subwoofer also has a front port. All speakers sport a piano black finish and sharp lines.

The Energy Speaker Systems’ Take Classic 5.1 can be purchased on Amazon.

KEF KHT 3005 ($1,700)


KEF KHT 3005

Top Review Sources:

  • Home Theater Magazine: 95/100 “A sub/sat set for the gods”
  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “Editors’ Choice”
  • Amazon: 5.0/5.0 (20+ reviews)

The KHT 3005 by KEF grabs your attention with its egg-shaped design and keeps your attention with its phenomenal sound. It’s impossible to discuss the KHT 3005 without mentioning its cutting-edge style. The cast aluminum, egg-shaped speakers and round subwoofer don’t blend into the background, yet they aren’t over the top. Choose between painted finishes of gloss silver or black. The satellites are small (H x W x D: 9.6 x 4.9 x 5.9 inches) yet solid (4.5 pounds). They can be set on a table, wall mounted, or elevated with optional floor posts. The center speaker has dimensions of 5.1 x 11.8 x 7.3 inches, and the subwoofer measures 15.4 x 17.3 x 7.7 inches when standing. The shape of the speakers isn’t arbitrary; KEF had ultimate audio quality in mind. The sound profile of the KHT 3005 can be summed up in one word: clear. The speakers work together to produce a harmonious, layered soundstage that is punctuated by the 250-watt subwoofer’s tight, powerful bass. The price suggests high-end, and the performance confirms that impression.

Purchase the KHT 3005 on Amazon.


Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 ($1,200)

Definitive Technology ProCinema 800

Top Review Sources:

  • Crutchfield: “Staff Pick”
  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “Redefined our expectations of what a small surround speaker system can do”
  • SOUND+VISION: “If you’ve simply got to have really small and (by serious home theater standards) really inexpensive speakers, I don’t think you can do very much better.”

The Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 is compact and potent, delivering room-rocking sound with precision. Reviewers describe the audio output as detail-rich; when a soundtrack is filled with simultaneous effects, the ProCinema 800 preserves the fidelity of them all. Part of the reason that sounds are kept distinct is that the ProCinema 800’s 300-watt subwoofer produces deep, taut bass even at high volumes. The ProCinema 800 is a combination of speakers that Definitive Technology once sold only separately. In the box are four ProMonitor 800 satellites (W x D x H: 4 3/4 x 5 x 8 3/8 inches, 4 pounds), one ProCenter 1000 center speaker (W x D x H: 14 3/4 x 5 x 5 inches, 6 pounds), and one ProSub 800 subwoofer (10 5/16 x 15 3/4 x 12 7/8 inches, 26 pounds). All speakers are black and unassuming in design. Each speaker is highly regarded in its own right, and together they represent a great value in high-performance audio. To complement the system, Definitive Technology offers pairs of wall mounts and floor-standing speaker pedestals.

You’ll find the Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 on Amazon.


Mirage MX 5.1 ($675)

Top Review Sources:

  • Home Theater Magazine: “Expect big things of the Mirage MX”
  • CNET: 4.0/5.0 “You’ve never heard a 5.1 system this small sound so good”
  • Amazon: 4.5/5.0 (15+ reviews)

The five speakers of the Mirage MX 5.1 measure 3.2 x 4.04 x 3.54 inches (W x H x D) and weigh less than a pound and a half each. The system’s 200-watt subwoofer is an eight-inch cube that tips the scale at just over ten pounds. Room-filling dimensions they are not, but room-filling sound they do produce. Each of the small speakers projects 360-degree sound by aiming audio waves at deflectors. The speakers should be aimed at the listener (where 30% of the sound will go), but most of the sound reflects in all other directions. Mirage employs this unique setup in order to generate expansive sound from small drivers. Given its similarly diminutive size, the subwoofer also delivers remarkable punch. While its output won’t rattle pictures off the walls, the small sub’s deep and balanced range impressively fills in the low end. Though additional satellites and subwoofers can be purchased to expand the soundstage, keep in mind that the MX 5.1 is designed for small- to medium-sized spaces.

The Mirage MX 5.1 is for sale on Amazon.

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